But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.
I. Concerning THE OBJECT OF OUR FAITH. By these holy writings we know and acknowledge Him to be the Lord our God in Christ.
1. He is the Lord, whose name alone is Jehovah.
(1) His existence. When Moses asked his name, this revelation was made, "I am that I am," which imports that He is the existing One, who is and who was, and who is to come, without variableness or shadow of turning. Assurance of His existence is an high attainment in the life of faith, and essentially necessary to our worshipping and glorifying Him as God. This we infer from the repetitions of these solemn words, "Ye shall know that I am the Lord"; and from the words of the apostle, "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."(2) His glory. The excellency of His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth, is the glory in Him which faith beholds, believes, acknowledges, admires, and adores. In the exercise of it, believers sometimes rejoice in one of His attributes, and sometimes in another, as these appear suited to their temptations and trials. The three witnesses before the king of Babylon rested in his power, and goodness, and sovereignty; "Our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us." But faith embraces the whole of His excellencies, as the revealed and transcendent glory of its great object.
2. The object of faith is the Lord "our God." He says in the ear of His people, "Be not dismayed, for I am thy God"; and hearing His speech, they say, "This God," who speaketh in His holiness, is "Our God." Would ye have an example? ye will see one in the eighteenth Psalm: "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower."
3. The object of faith is the Lord our God in Christ. In the faith of sinners this consideration of Him is essentially important. Without a mediator of righteousness, atonement, and reconciliation, we can have no intercourse with Him in believing. "By Christ we believe in God, who raised Him from the dead, that our faith and hope might be in God." This consideration of the object of faith is not peculiar to the New Testament. Though the revelation of it was comparatively dark, the first believer, and all that followed, had it before them, and saw it truly. God was then, as He is now, in Christ. The witnesses in Babylon saw anal believed in Him as in Christ; and in the furnace had a sensible proof of it.
II. Concerning THE GROUND OF FAITH. The ground on which we stand and build in believing, is the record or testimony of God, revealing Himself to us as the Lord our God in Christ. This record, testimony, or witness, faith believes to be true, receives as good, rests in as sure, and builds on with appropriation, according its address with full assurance of its stability. The truth is, faith can neither stand nor build on any other ground. Unless we have His own testimony before us, we cannot glorify Him in believing. It would be presuming, and not believing, to call Him our God on any other ground. Though the faith of believers doth not fix them always on the same passage, they always build on some passage of the revealed testimony. They never change their ground, but do not always build on the same spot. In the Testimony which is the ground of faith there is an order that ought not to be overlooked, since according to it the exercise of faith is to be regulated. The glorious Object, in the front of the law, says, "I am the Lord thy God"; and in the body of the particular commandment, which turned to His witnesses in the plain of Dura for a testimony, He repeats it, saying, "I the Lord thy God am a jealous God." Upon hearing this gracious declaration from His throne, faith proceeds, and boldly advances its claim, saying, "This God is our God." In this very order the witnesses proceed, and add to their faith virtue.
3. Concerning the exercise of faith. In the exercise of faith there is:(1) The knowledge of its glorious Object, in the revealed grant which He makes of himself in Christ, as the Lord our God. True faith includes true knowledge of its Object, the only living and true God. And these witnesses understood what they affirmed, when they said, "Our God, whom we serve." They knew their God, understood the grant He had made of Himself to them, and believed that in receiving it they were not setting their seal to an untruth.
(2) In the exercise of faith there is a persuasion that the Divine grant is faithful and true. The persuasion is wrought in the heart by the Spirit of faith, and grounds itself upon the grant in the word of faith.
(3) In the exercise of faith there is a conviction that everyone, to whom it is revealed and known in the word of truth, is warranted and commanded to believe and receive it. This conviction is clear, and, in believing, appears and operates in the mind with all the force and beauty of truth. The terms of the grant are without limitation.
(4) The exercise of faith includes the trust, or rest of the heart in the grant, both as it is faithful and true, and worthy of all acceptation. "The Lord is my God, according to His word." Doubts disperse, fears flee away, the storm in the conscience calms, and peace and joy spring up in the heart, which pass all understanding. From these discussions, concerning the object, the ground, and the exercise of faith, we infer:
1. That believing God is warrantable and authourised exercise in all extremities. Warrantable, because it is allowed; authorised, because it is commanded.
2. That the gratuitous deed, which is the ground of believing, proceeds upon a ransom found, and an atonement made. Grace reigns in it. The reign of grace, however, is a righteous administration.
3. We infer the immorality of unbelief. By many in the visibles church unbelief is not held to be an immorality. Discipline cannot lay hands upon it, nor are ministers able to do anything but cry against it, It is, notwithstanding, a crying immorality, denying the truth of God in His word, despising the loving kindness of the Saviour of the world, resisting the spirit of holiness, and drowning in destruction and perdition multitudes of precious souls.
Parallel VersesKJV: But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.