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DANIEL IN BABYLON.
DANIEL, VI. 10.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and, his windows being open in his chamber towards Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
THE chapter relates to us a conspiracy formed by the Babylonian princes against Daniel, because the king, "finding an excellent spirit in him," had preferred him above them all. For we read of no crime but his merit, which, indeed, is a crine sufficiently heinous in the eyes of those who are destitute of it. At all events, therefore, Daniel must be impeached. The only question was, in what form it should be done. "Concerning the kingdom," and his fidelity to his sovereign, "they could find (and "we may be sure it was not for want of diligence in "searching) none occasion or fault; forasmuch as "he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault "found in him." And now, what do they fix upon, as an article of impeachment against him? Why, truly, his PIETY. "We shall not find," say these
statesmen, any occasion against this Daniel, unless "we find it against him concerning the law of his "God." But some difficulty there still remained in the execution of this project; as, it seems, there was no law yet in being, even in Babylon itself, that inflicted a penalty upon a man for being eminently devout. The great men therefore assembling together, went in a body to the king, and prevailed upon him to sign a decree which flattered his pride, that "who"soever should ask a petition of any God, or man, "for thirty days, save of him, should be cast into the "den of lions." Thus was atheism established by the law, in the court, city, and empire of Babylon, for the space of one month; and now, let any one pray who dared. But the contrivers of this new lạw were well enough acquainted with Daniel's character, to know that fear of the lions would never cause him to give over his devotions for one day, much less for thirty. And so accordingly it turned out. For "when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he "went into his house; and, his windows being open "in his chamber towards Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and "gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime." Never, surely, did the spirit and power of devotion shine forth with greater lustre, than at this time, in the person of Daniel upon his knees, in such circumstances. Let us, therefore, meditate for a while on an object which, as we are assured by the sequel, engaged the attention of Heaven itself.
If we consider the situation of Daniel in Babylon, it will teach us that we ought, on no account, to omit
our daily devotions. And if we consider the manner of his praying, it will teach us how we ought to perform them.
With regard to Daniel's situation in Babylon, we may contemplate him as one in captivity in a strange and Heathen land; as one encumbered with the concerns of a vast empire; and as one in danger of his life for what he did.
It had been no wonder to have seen Daniel devout in Jerusalem. For there was the temple of God, the true church and worship, frequented by all his countrymen. There dwelt the Holy One of Israel; and the light of his countenance visited and shone continually upon them. But when Jerusalem was trodden down of the Gentiles, and the temple laid low in the dust; when the Lord had "covered the daughter of Sion with a cloud in the day of his anger;" when "the glory was departed from Israel," and Daniel, with the rest of those that escaped the slaughter, had been led away into captivity among infidels and scoffers; that the holy fire of devotion should burn and shine through all these disadvantages and temptations, this was indeed a sight which God himself delighted to behold; as such devotion could spring from nothing else but that love of him in the heart, mentioned by king Solomon, which " many "waters cannot quench, neither can the floods. "drown it;" all the sorrows and afflictions in the world cannot extinguish it; but it will break through, and triumph gloriously; as we find it did, in the case before us. In Babylon, as well as in Jerusalem, "Daniel prayed three times a day." And there are
two circumstances mentioned, which seem to have contributed towards keeping his faith and devotion alive and vigorous in those worst of times, namely, meditation in the Scriptures, and a severe temperance. For in the ninth chapter he tells us, that "he "understood by books the number of the years "whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah "the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy (( years in the desolation of Jerusalem." And in the first chapter we have an account of his refusing the luxuries of the regal table, and choosing to live upon diet of the plainest kind. Through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, therefore, he had hope, and lived in expectation of seeing the divine promises accomplished, in the restoration of Israel to their own land, and the rebuilding of the temple, for which he continually prayed: while, by a strict and holy abstinence, he kept his heart from being ensnared by the good things of Babylon, and suffered not his body to gain the ascendant over his soul. O great and glorious example to every Israelite in Babylon, that is, to every Christian in the world! Let him likewise understand, by the divine books, the writings of the prophets and apostles, that the time approaches, when the church universal shall be delivered from her captivity and the bondage of corruption, into the glori ous liberty of the sons of God; and therefore, as a stranger and pilgrim here upon earth, let him abstain from fleshly lusts, and not be brought under the power of sense; praying always, and hastening unto the coming of the day of God. This if he shall neglect to do, let him know assuredly, that Daniel will rise
up in the judgement against him, and condemn him. And much more so, if living in a Christian country, where the true church and worship are established, he shall omit to do that which Daniel never omitted to do among his Heathen enemies.
But perhaps we have too much business upon our hands to spare time for our devotions. Time is very precious with most people, when they are to perform their devotions; and if they have not enough for every body, they generally make free, in the first place, with their Creator. But let these men of business consider the case of Daniel. Have they more business than he had, who was the first of the three presidents appointed to receive and audit all the accounts of a hundred and twenty princes set over the vast empire of Persia, of which, at that time, almost all the kingdoms of the earth were provinces ? It would puzzle one to conceive a man in a situation that would afford him less leisure. Yet all this business did Daniel discharge faithfully and punctually, and found time to pray, and give thanks before his God, thrice every day constantly. The same we may observe of king David; who, though frequently. engaged in war, as well as the management of a kingdom, yet made and kept the very same resolution as to his devotions. "At evening, and at morning, and "at noon day," says he, "will I pray, and that in"stantly, and he shall hear my voice." Nay, this did not content him in the matter of thanksgiving; for, "seven times a day," says he elsewhere," do I "praise thee, because of thy righteous judgements." And it was he who, amidst all the cares of state, com