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THE MARTYRS' SPIRIT.
“Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor
worship the golden image which thou hast set up."-Dan. iii. 18.
This resolution displays great fortitude in the midst of danger, heroic courage in the presence of royalty, and a noble testimony against idolatry and false religion. Think of their refusal, and the grounds of it.
Their refusal—They would not obey the king's decree, “We will not serve thy God.” This refusal had all the appearance of direct rebellion. The great king of Babylon, whose word was law to every one in his mighty empire, had made an image of gold, and issued a decree, that all people, nations, and languages should, at a given signal, fall down and worship it; but three young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused. They were, doubtless, willing to obey the king in all civil matters, and render unto Cesar the things that were Cesar's; but they would obey no king, and no government in religious matters. Like the apostles of Christ, they resolved, at all hazards, to obey God rather than men. Noble resolution! Let us imitate it, as well as commend it. This refusal showed apparently great ingratitude. The king had given them, as captives in a strange land, food,
THE MARTYRS' SPIRIT.
clothing, education, home, friendship, and all temporal good things, yet they would not obey his decree. Though indebted to him for so much, yet they would not please him for a little by sinning against God.
Their refusal was very singular. At the given signal, all others, the noblest as well as the meanest, fell down and worshipped the golden image. Why did they not conform, and do as all others did ? · Like Joshua, and Caleb, and Lot, and Noah, they dared to be singular, and so must we, if we fear the Lord God in our hearts. We must not follow a multitude to do evil. Their refusal seemed selfdestruction. A dreadful penalty was threatened, a fiery furnace was prepared, the displeasure of the king was incurred, and a terrible death was the inevitable consequence, yet they risked all, and resolved to resist the unalterable decree. Let me catch and cherish their noble spirit !
The grounds of their refusal—They believed in God as their fathers' God, and their God and portion. They had solemnly given to God the allegiance of their hearts, and this allegiance they would not give to idols, by obeying the king's decree. The world calls such conduct as this, rebellion and obstinacy, but the Bible calls it faithfulness and fortitude. “None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself.” If man demands the allegiance which is due only to God, that allegiance must
be refused, whatever may be the consequences. They believed that God was able to deliver them from the greatest dangers. They took hold of divine strength, and their souls were at peace. A great king and all his subjects were against the three youths ; they seem to have had no friends and no sympathizers; and they had no other refuge, and no other help but God. They had a strong impression, and firmly believed that Jehovah, whom they served, would come to their rescue. “He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.” Truly, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” In order to please men, we may renounce every thing but God, and abandon every cause, but the cause of Christ. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy." They believed that God would abundantly reward them for their faithfulness. They saw the fiery furnace ready to devour, but stood unmoved by their dreadful doom ; for they were willing to die for their religion. They were cast into the seven times heated fire, but one was with them whose form was like the Son of God. Hence, the fire had no power over them; they came out unhurt; they were promoted in the province of Babylon; and after this life they were rewarded in heaven,
"If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be per
suaded though one rose from the dead.''-Luke xvi, 31.
SOME take reason as their guide in religion, but whether their own reason or the reason of others, has not been determined. Reason cannot be a safe guide, because, like the wind, it is constantly changing. What appears agreeable to reason to-day, may appear contrary to reason to-morrow. The word of God, and the word of God only, is the sure guide in religion, and the only rule of heart and life. What does revelation testify ? What is the evidence on which it rests? And what is our duty regarding it ? are the questions that demand our attention.
What does revelation testify? Moses and the prophets, Christ and the apostles testify concerning man, that he has an immortal soul-that he is a sinner by nature and practice-and that he is exposed to the wrath and curse of God. They testify concerning God, that He is holy, just and good—that He must punish sin and uphold the rectitude of His government--that He loves sinners, and has manifested His love in the mission and death of Christ-and that in Christ He is just, and the justifier of the ungodly who believe. They testify concerning Christ, that He
is God man, the only Mediator, holy, and harmless—that by His death, He hath satisfied divine justice for our sins—and that by His gospel we are invited and commanded to believe on Him for salvation. They testify concerning futurity, that there shall be a resurrection of the just and the unjust-a solemn general judgment determining the fate of every human being--and an eternity of rewards and punishments.
What is the evidence on which it rests? It rests on miracles. These were numerous, undisputed, wrought in different countries, in the presence of hostile witnesses, for the good of others, and brought no gain to those that wrought them. In these miracles the finger of God was manifest, and indubitably proved, that the testimony of those who wrought them was divine. “The works that I do bear witness of Me that the Father hath sent Me.” It rests on prophecy. The Scriptures contain numerous predictions, some of them uttered hundreds of years before their fulfilment, while the parties raised up to fulfil them, were ignorant of their existence, and could not, in consequence, practice deception. All the predictions about Christ, spread over a period of four thousand years, were minutely and completely fulfilled, and give strong evidence of the divinity of the Bible. It rests on experience. The word of God alone turns men from their sins, and effects a change on their course of life. As