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THE STONE THAT BECAME A MOUNTAIN
Daniel 2:44. In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in. pieces, and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
THE various revolutions of kingdoms, how casual and contingent soever they may appear, all are fore-ordained in the inscrutable counsels of the Deity, and made subservient to the accomplishment of his eternal purpose; indeed they seem to be marked in Scripture solely in reference to the Church of God; as though the rise and fall of empires were scarcely worth a mention, except as they accelerate or retard the progress of true religion. In the time of the Babylonish captivity God gave to Nebuchadnezzar a very remarkable dream, and interpreted it to him by the Prophet Daniel. There appeared to him an image, whose head was of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, the feet of iron and clay; on the feet of which a stone fell, that utterly demolished the whole. This foretold the succession of four great monarchies, and the erection of the Messiah’s kingdom upon the ruins of them all.
For the elucidation of this subject, it will be proper to consider,
The prophecy itself—
In which we notice,
The time and manner of its establishment—
[The time of its establishment is here clearly marked. The Babylonish, Persian, and Grecian monarchies., were to rise in succession, each on the ruins of that which preceded it; and at last the Roman empire was to swallow up, as it were, and comprehend them all. And “in the time of the kings” belonging to this last kingdom, even while they should enjoy the utmost plenitude of their power, another kingdom was to arise, the kingdom of the Messiah. This was accurately accomplished; for Christ was born in the reign of Augustus Caesar, when the Roman empire was at the summit of its strength and grandeur: and, within the space of about fifty years from that time, his kingdom was spread, not only over Judζa, but over a great part of the known world.
The manner of it is also plainly declared. It was foretold that a “stone which should he cut out without hands, should break in pieces this vast image;” that “the God of heaven should set up a kingdom” solely by his own power, without the intervention of human force or policy; or, to use the words of another prophet, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” This also was remarkably fulfilled in the establishment of Christ’s kingdom in the world. The persons who were his principal agents, were a few illiterate fishermen, alike untutored in philosophy, and unassisted by the authority of earthly magistrates. They were expressly forbidden to use the sword [Note: Matthew 26:52.]; and the most learned of all the apostles suppressed every thing that savoured of carnal wisdom, lest he should make the cross of Christ of none effect [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 2:1.]. Yet, notwithstanding their weapons were not carnal, they were mighty through God to the pulling down of the strong holds of sin and Satan [Note: 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.]. And indeed the heavenly treasure was committed thus to earthen vessels, on purpose that the excellency of the power might more evidently appear to be of God [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:7.].]
The extent and duration of its power—
[It was to have the pre-eminence above all other kingdoms in respect of its extent. All the monarchies referred to by the prophet were great and powerful; but this far excelled them all. The stone cut out without hands fell upon the feet of the image which were of iron and clay, and broke the whole image in pieces; intimating that the kingdom of Christ should prevail over the Roman empire together with the other monarchies which were comprehended in it: all the powers of the world were to be as nothing before it. This was represented in the vision by “the stone becoming a mountain, and this mountain filling the earth.” Christianity is to prevail over the whole earth. The idolatries of Pagan Rome yielded to the sublimer principles of the Gospel; and the superstitions of antichrist, which for a long season obscured divine truth, have in a measure fallen, and shall in due time vanish before its light and influence. Nor shall the authority of Christ extend, like that of earthly monarchs, merely over the bodies of men: it shall reach unto their souls, and “bring into subjection the very thoughts and desires of their hearts.” There shall not be one disaffected subject in his whole empire: the happiness of all his people shall be bound up in their Prince, whose will shall be their only law, and whose honour their only aim.
It was to excel all others also in its duration. All other kingdoms have fallen, and shall fall; nor can the best constituted governments maintain their stability beyond the time allotted them in the Divine counsels. But the kingdom of Christ “shall stand for ever;” his power shall “never be transferred to other hands;” nor shall any revolutions shake the foundations of his throne. “He shall put down all rule and all authority and power, and reign till all his enemies are become his footstool [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:24-25.].” The precise mode of administering his kingdom will indeed terminate when there shall be no more subjects upon earth to govern: but the kingdom itself will exist in heaven to all eternity, when it shall be delivered up into the Father’s hands, and God shall be all in all [Note: The perpetuity of this kingdom was afterwards revealed to Daniel, with some additional circumstances, in a vision similar to that before us. The four great monarchies appeared to him as four great beasts, the last of which had ten horns, corresponding with the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, and intimating that ten smaller powers should grow out of that fourth monarchy, all of which should in due season fall before the kingdom of Christ, which was then to become universal in its extent, and everlasting in its continuance. Daniel 7:3-7; Daniel 7:14.].]
To improve this subject aright, we must distinctly mark,
The practical use of the prediction—
Whilst it prepares us to expect the perfect triumph of Christianity, to the enemies of Christ’s kingdom it speaks terror—
[Persons may be enemies of Christ’s kingdom either by denying the truth of Christianity, or by resisting its influence. But whether we be professed infidels or merely nominal Christians, the subject before us is highly proper for our consideration. Whence carne this marvellous correspondence between the predictions and the accomplishment of them, if Christianity be not of divine original? was it not established at the very time that was fixed in this prophecy? And has it not prevailed, not only without the aid of human authority, but in direct opposition to ali the power and policy of the confederate world? And if it have broken in pieces so many adverse powers, and “made them even as the chaff of the summer threshing-floors,” shall any of us withstand it with impunity? Our Lord, in reference to this very passage, has assured us, that “on whomsoever this stone shall fall it shall grind him to powder [Note: Matthew 21:43-44. See also Isaiah 60:12.].” But remember, it is not a feigned or forced sub-mission that is required of us: Christ reigns over a willing people, and must be enthroned in their hearts. Let such be his influence over you, my Brethren — — — Let “every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ be put down.” Let his law be your only rule, his honour your highest aim, and his service your supreme delight.]
To the friends and subjects of Christ, on the other hand., it is replete with comfort—
[As Christianity has not prevailed in the world without much opposition, so neither will it gain a complete ascendency over the heart without many conflicts. But should any one despond because his adversaries are mighty? We need only look at the prevalence of Christianity in the world, and we may see what shall be accomplished in our hearts. Are we destitute of any power in ourselves? Be it so: yet the stone which was cut out without hands, and became a great mountain, shall crush our enemies, and bring our inmost souls into subjection to Christ. If the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against the Church at large, neither shall they against the weakest member of it. If the greatest empires have yielded to the influence of the Gospel, so shall also the most inveterate lusts. Let Christians then lift up their heads with joy: their conflicts may be severe, but victory is assured to them by the promise and oath of an unchanging God [Note: Hebrews 6:17-18.].]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Daniel 2". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany