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Every one that shall be found written in the book.
Divine Registration, the Pledge of Deliverance in Times of Trouble
The whole history of the Church of God bears one unbroken testimony to the fact that her distinction from the world is essential to her, real prosperity; and the more tenaciously that distinction has been maintained the more conspicuous has been her glory, and the more her experimental joys have abounded. Four things in the text.
I. A DISTINGUISHED PEOPLE. Two distinct families are uniformly set forth in the sacred oracles, from the very opening to the closing of the book of God. The seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Inquire into the origin and descent of the family of God, the distinguished people. Their origin is in the eternal counsel. They were chosen in Christ as their covenant head. Note some of the family peculiarities of this distinguished people, especially that royal dignity which characterises them all. The Christian is born of God, with a nature capable of enjoying God.
II. THE REGISTER OF DANIEL’S FAMILY. They are said to be written in a book. The book of covenant decrees, entitled “The Lamb’s Book of Life.”
Every child of God, every heir of glory, is found written in that book, as an object of everlasting life. Daniel’s people are like himself in four particulars
1. As the children of a covenant head, the true circumcision.
2. As praying souls.
3. As characterised by integrity.
4. As in high favour with God.
III. THE ORDEALS THROUGH WHICH THIS PEOPLE HAVE TO PASS. They are a tried people--in family experience and outward persecutions. (Joseph Irons.)
And at that time shall Michael stand up.
The Great Consummation
It is a little unfortunate that this chapter has been severed from what immediately precedes it. Here we learn:
1. That the time of the Antichrist will be a time of unexampled distress. The trouble will be more or less upon all people then living upon the earth.
2. The time of the Antichrist is the time when Michael, the great prince over the Children of the prophet’s people, shall stand up in their behalf. Some think this is the Lord Jesus himself.
3. The time of the Antichrist is also a time of blessed resurrection.
4. Then shall men receive their eternal rewards. (Joseph A. Seiss, D. D.)
Some to everlasting life, and some to shame.
Unto Life or Death--Which?
Death is not annihilation; the grave is not the end of man. Two facts are indisputable among those who receive the Scriptures.
1. The fact of a general resurrection anterior to the Judgment Day.
2. The righteous will be raised to life eternal; the wicked to “damnation.” The point in the lesson we would enforce--and it is a tremendous point in the matter of personal interest--is embraced in one word “which?” One or the other of these experiences lie before each and every child of Adam. Do what we will, and neglect what we will, we shall have a part in this resurrection; we shall “hear the voice of the Son of God” then, whether we hear it now or not; and we “shall live,” and “come forth” either to be caught up into Heaven, or be banished to hell! In that hour of infinite power and display there will be no place of retreat, no possible concealment of evasion. In the dazzling light of the resurrection day it will be made clear as the noonday sun that there are but two characters, two ways, two destinies in God’s universe, and that an eternal “gulf” divides them, and on whichsoever side of that abyss we find ourselves then and there, there we shall remain as long as the throne of the Almighty endures. “Which?” O my soul! “Which?” (J. M. Sherwood, D.D.)
The Resurrection and its Consequences
I. THE GENERAL RESURRECTION. “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” The word “many,” in view of other Scriptures, must he understood as meaning “all,” or “the many,” the whole collective body of mankind. Our corrupted bodies may, to all human appearance, be lost among their kindred dust; but God hath declared that “those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” The churchyard that surrounds us is filled with earth that once had breath and life. It seems, when you walk among the graves, as if eternal night had closed over them; as if they would never he seen or heard of again. But wait awhile. Their night will have an end. Death itself must at last be swallowed up in victory. If we should inquire no further, this grand promise of fire resurrection might seem to he a doctrine of unmixed comfort and satisfaction. But Consider:
II. THE CERTAIN AND IMMEDIATE CONSEQUENCES OF THE GENERAL RESURRECTION. The final issue is, everlasting life to some; shame and everlasting contempt to others.
1. Some shall awake to everlasting life. What is that life? Does it merely mean that their bodies will revive, and never die again? That cannot be the exclusive meaning of the word Life. It is the life of which St. Paul speaks, “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” Everlasting life is not first begun when the Christian wakes from the grave; it begins here upon earth. The Holy Ghost, who is “the Lord and Giver of life,” implants it in the heart of every believer at his conversion. Heaven is but a completion of that state into which a Christian is first brought while here below. All mankind are by nature dead--“dead in trespasses and sins.” When the heart is softened and humbled, the spirit becomes broken and contrite, and the will subdued and compliant, you are passing from death unto life. You become, by faith, united to Jesus Christ, as the branch is united to the vine, and in consequence of this blessed union you partake of the nature of the tree on which you are engrafted. Being a branch in Him, bring forth good fruit.
2. Some shall awake to shame and everlasting contempt. These words describe the end of the wicked and ungodly. But this description does not give, by any means, a full account of their future misery. The wicked man rises from the grave, and the first objects which be meets are shame and everlasting contempt. These are the consequences of the resurrection to him. Even in this life, sinners are extremely anxious to escape the shame which naturally attends upon transgression. In this, by the help of Satan, they partly succeed. But, how will they appear when, at the resurrection, they awake up from their long sleep? Then the secrets of all hearts will be revealed, and that by One who has seen your life from the beginning to the end. The shame of the wicked will be still further increased by a clear discovery of the mercies which they might have obtained by a penitent faith in Christ. Men pretend that true piety could have no effect but to make them miserable. But when that eternal day shall dawn, the truth will burst upon them at once, and they will learn that “godliness is great again; having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” And he will awake to “everlasting contempt.” Nothing but an assurance of God’s favour and love can fully reconcile a man to the contempt and sneers of the world. Is the contempt of an avenging Judge the whole of what sinners must look for in that day? No; the saints of God will also unite with Him in condemning His enemies. (J. Jowett, MA.)
Describe the familiar picture of St. Augustine and his mother Monica. It depicts two beings aspiring in heart and soul after eternal life, and thinking for a moment that they have hold upon it. These two human beings--outward bound, as they say; bent on a voyage, preparing to cross the sea, to reach an earthly home, and, meanwhile, preparing for another voyage, across that other sea, whose further shore no living human being has ever seen--how does this illustrate our own position on the road to eternal life? We all are preparing to cross the sea. All who have realised the voyage that is to be, begin to ask themselves what there is on the other side. Treat these two points of Scripture.
1. There is eternal life. There is no distinction between the two words, eternal and everlasting; the original word that each of them translates is exactly the same. The text in Daniel is the first in the Bible in which the words “everlasting life” occur. There are only three other passages in the Old Testament where the same meaning, if not quite the same words, is to be found. That is all, so far as I can find, that the Old Testament contains about everlasting life. In the New Testament, everlasting life is everywhere. It is the whole purport of the Gospel to make it possible for human beings to reach “life eternal.” That was the good news for them.
2. What is eternal life? “To know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Christ is the life eternal, the spring and source of it to others, the essence and substance of it in Himself. How is it obtained? “He that believeth on the Son hath life eternal.” The gift is spoken of in the present tense. As soon as the water that Christ gives reaches a human heart, in it the spring of living water bursts forth and flows. Eternal lifo begins here. It consists in the union of the soul through Christ with God. A life in union with God--the selfish will submitted to His will--loving the things that He loves--hating the things that He hates--this wrought by faith in Christ, and the spirit that He has sent--this is what I imagine to be eternal life according to the Scripture idea. (Canon Rawstorne, M.A.)
Moral Distinctions Emphasised at the Resurrection
Men will be sorted yonder. Gravitation will come into play undisturbed; and the pebbles will be ranged according to their weights on the great shore where the sea has cast them up, as they are upon Chesil beach down there in the English Channel, and many another coast besides; all the big ones together and sized off to the smaller ones, regularly and steadily laid out. (A. Maclaren, D.D.)
Resurrection--the Embodiment of Mind
There be two principles at work in the resurrection of the dead. The glorified body is not the physical outcome of the material body here; but is the issue and manifestation, in visible form, of the perfect and Christ-like spirit. Some shall rise to glory and immortality, some to shame and everlasting contempt. If we are to stand at the last, with the body of our humiliation changed into a body of glory, we must begin by being changed in the spirit of our mind. As the mind is, so will the body be one day.
Future Permanence of Character
You and I write out our lives as if on one of those manifold writers which you use. A thin, filmy sheet here, a bit of black paper below it; but the writing goes through upon the next page. And when the blackness that divides the two worlds is swept away there the history of each life, written by ourselves, remains legible in eternity. (A. Maclaren.)
And they that be wise.
Shining as the Stars
The word prudent or wise means endued with intellect. Some take it transitively, and in this passage their opinion is probably correct, because the office of justifying will soon be assigned to these prudent ones. It is better, however, to take it as meaning those who are endued with understanding. The angel says that the “teachers,” or those who excel in understanding, “shall shine forth as the light of Heaven.” The angel contrasts the profane who proudly and contemptuously rage against God, and the faithful whose whole wisdom it is to submit themselves to God, and to worship Him with the purest affection of their minds. Those who retained sincere piety should be like “the light of the firmament”; meaning, they shall be heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven, where they shall enjoy that glory which surpasses all the splendour of the world . . . It is the common duty of the children of God to promote the salvation of their brethren. By this word “justifying,” the angel means, not that it is in the power of one man to justify another, but the property of God is here transferred to His ministers. Meanwhile, we are as clearly justified by any teaching which brings faith within our reach as we are justified by the faith that springs from the teaching. Why is our justification ever ascribed to faith? Because our faith directs us to Christ, in whom is the complete perfection of justification, and thus our justification may be ascribed equally to the faith taught and to the doctrine which teaches it. And those who bring before us this teaching are the ministers of our justification. The assertion of the angel is this--The sons of God, who, being devoted entirely to God, and ruled by the spirit of prudence, point out the way of life to others, shall not only be saved themselves, but shall possess surpassing glory far beyond anything which exists in this world. This is the complete explanation. (John Calvin.)
I. THE CHARACTERS HERE MENTIONED, There are two. “They that be wise.” “They that turn many to righteousness.”
1. “Wise,” that is, instructors, or teachers. By this character of wise is meant all good men, who have a real, a warm concern to know their duty and to put it in practice, who take delight in serving God and doing good. It is religion that teaches what must be known, and done, to make us happy for ever. We have souls, and we have bodies. These constitute the man. Both deserve and demand our care, but not both in the same degree.
2. “Turn many to righteousness.” Some say--If I am good myself, that is enough. Let every man look to himself. But, surely, it is every man’s province, every man’s duty, and it will be every man’s satisfaction, his crown of glory as well as rejoicing, to do all the good that he can. By righteousness is meant in the text, what it usually signifies in holy Scripture, virtue and piety, our duty to God and one another, and a due government of our appetites and passions.
II. IN WHAT MANNER, AND BY WHAT METHODS, MAY THE CONVICTION AND REFORMATION OF SINNERS BE MOST PRUDENTLY ATTEMPTED, AND PROBABLY EFFECTED? Some natures are so corrupted, some wills so obstinate, some wicked habits so strong, that counsel, how good soever, signifies nothing. The most natural and effectual methods to excite a sense of religion, to reclaim those to the paths of piety and virtue who have forsaken and run from them are:
1. Let them be instructed in the knowledge of true religion.
2. Recommend a serious consideration of what they do know.
3. Represent the great encouragement which the word of God gives to enter upon a new and bettor life.
4. Warn them of the dreadful consequences of living and dying in an unpenitent and unpardoned state.
5. We should not fail to enforce a due care of and attendance upon the appointed means of religion.
III. THE ENCOURAGEMENT CONTAINED IN THE TEXT. The glory promised to good men is unfading and everlasting. (Ed. Sandercock.)
The High Reward of Those Who Turn Many to Righteousness
I. THERE IS A REWARD OF GRACE AWAITING ALL GOD’S FAITHFUL SERVANTS. The general character of God’s servants is hero exhibited under the attribute of wisdom.
1. In what does this wisdom consist? In the experimental knowledge of all that is essential to salvation. The wisdom thus obtained has not been wasted in fruitless speculation, or suffered to lie as a dormant or inactive principle in the heart. Without this wisdom all is folly; and with it, men of humblest name shall surpass, in a future world, the proudest sons of that perishable science, which has been confined in its operations within the narrow limits of time.
2. Whence is this wisdom derived, and by whom is it sustained? Is it a distinction originating in the sinful creature, or in the boundless sovereignty of Divine grace? This wisdom is undoubtedly from above. Wherever it is possessed, it is God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness.
3. The blessed consequences to which such wisdom conducts in eternity. It is difficult to conceive of a reward where no merit can exist. Who can tell what it is to “shine as the brightness of the firmament”? The most splendid objects in Nature are the chosen emblems of Heaven to express the high dignity and the unspeakable felicity of those who have become wise unto salvation. Their eternal sphere is one in which all the elements of light, and glory, and peace, and sanctity, combine.
II. THERE ARE SPECIAL RESERVATIONS OF GLORY AWAITING THOSE WHO HAVE TURNED MANY TO RIGHTEOUSNESS. The personal possession of true wisdom is distinguished, in the text, from the act of turning many to righteousness. The latter shall be exalted to spheres of peculiar honour and blessedness. There are various degrees of glory in Heaven. All are with Christ, and all like to Him; and the awards of infinite wisdom and grace awaken no envy, and call forth no unworthy jealousy. The principle on which all are accepted is faith in the Son of God; and the degree of service rendered to Christ in the present life wilt bear an exact proportion to the degree in which the justifying principle was brought into exercise. On the great day, saint and sinner will receive according to the deeds done in the body. The office of ministers is one of extraordinary responsibility, and one which involves peculiar trials. They need great consolations, and great excitements in their arduous work. They have the glorious prospect of gracious and abundant rewards. (John, Morison, D.D.)
Heaven and Earth Reconciled
I. THE WORK.
1. The subject we must exercise our skill on are men, tempered of the same mould, having a soul inspired from the breath of the same God, as dear to Him as ourselves, bought with no worse blood than His Son’s, guarded with angels, protected by the same Providence, and compassed about with the same mercies that we are. This subject is set down indefinitely, “many.” The power of God is here perspicuous, that designs a few to convert many.
2. The predicate we work; men, is righteousness. Righteousness is so fair an object that a man would think there needs no great solicitation to it. The end of the ministry is to bring men to righteousness. It is the cunning of all cunning to govern souls. It is no easy work to make men righteous.
3. The copulatives. The persons whom God hath deputed to atone these two contrary natures, sinful men and righteousness, are the ministers.
II. THE REWARD. Our bliss, our heaven. Ministers are said to be stars in five respects.
1. In name.
2. In substance. A star-like and substantial light, not a flash of lightning.
3. In situation. The stars are placed in their orb, and finish their course in a determined space of time.
4. The motion is four-fold--circular, incessant, swift, and orderly. Orderly.
5. The last similitude consists in the effects. Our influence, our light, our delight. Then despise not, afflict not, impoverish not your stars. (T. Adams.)
You know what the “firmament” is, you young people. It is the blue vault of Heaven above as. And, you know what the stars are. A little girl described their appearance by saying, “They are gimlet holes in the floor of Heaven, to let some of the light shine through.” Of course they are not. They are great worlds, some of them bigger than the world we live in.
1. Let us see that we understand this verse. By “those that are wise,” are here meant those who are “wise unto salvation”--those who have the wisdom to hear God’s voice and have been led to trust it and obey Him. The New Testament speaks of believers as a great “cloud” of witnesses. Here they are compared to the “firmament” itself--vault of God’s great spiritual temple, His purified and glorified Church, far more gloriously “beautiful than the resplendent dome of the sky. By “those that turn many to righteousness” are meant these who are not only wise for themselves, but have wisdom, patience, and love in seeking to bring others also to the love and fear of God. Is not that the noblest kind of life? If you have found the true wisdom yourself, to seek that others may have it too? That is a poor soul who is only careful for himself. The truly noble life is the life which, in gratitude to God, is laid out for the good of others. People often seek to be thought wise among men--to get credit for knowing a great deal more than other people. Be it yours to be accounted wise by God, in knowing Him, and loving Him. For that is the true Wisdom. (C. A. Salmond, M.A.)
Faithfulness Richly Rewarded
1. In these words we have first a general description of all the righteous without exception--they are wise. This description in its highest sense belongs only to the people of God. They only are truly wise, because wise unto salvation. Wisdom was originally the outstanding conspicuous characteristic of man as distinguished from the inferior animals. Wisdom was God’s image in the mind, as holiness was His image in the soul of man unfallen, but the words of our text show that they are no longer characteristic of the race at large, but the distinction of the people of God. True wisdom includes:
(1) Consideration. Man as a rational creditors is influenced by higher principles than the inferior animals; and God, in His word and in His works, appeals to these higher principles. But in vain are we surrounded by instructors if we do not receive and ponder the lessons they teach. In order that we may learn the lessons, we must consider. Before we can wisely consider the works of God, we must first have considered and entertained the lessons of His word. Ancient Israel failed to do this.
(2) Wisdom includes calculation. No man, ever gained the whole world, but thousands have lost their souls for want of consideration and calculation.
(3) Wisdom includes decision. Acting on convictions. To remain undecided is to decide for sin and Satan, the side on which we all are by nature.
(4) To be wise implies not only that a man makes a wise choice, but that he adheres to it, persists in it. A wise man chooses through grace to lead a godly life, not only for a time, but to the end. The new life must begin with a solid work of justification through faith in Christ. Some do not take time to seek and find Christ, but begin at once to build on their convictions, feelings, and resolutions. He that builds on Christ, the Rock of Ages, endureth to the end, and so shall be saved, and is proved to have been wise unto, and up to salvation.
2. The distinction belonging to some of the godly--that of turning many to righteousness. Some are specially diligent and successful in this work. It was said of Richard Baxter that he “never preached without being the means of awakening, convincing, or converting some sinner.” But the work of turning sinners to righteousness seems to refer more specially to personal effort in private.
3. The reward. There are two distinct ideas in this promise, a less glorious, and a more glorious, reward. The brightness of the firmament means the star-sown sky by night, and it implies that all glorified saints will shine as stars, with different degrees of brightness. There will be different degrees of glory among the saints in Heaven, depending upon the qualifies acquired by them, and the character formed in them while they were on earth. What are these stars to which glorified saints are compare? They are suns, conveying light and genial warmth to separate worlds, or whole systems of worlds, as in the case of our own sun. The describing of John Baptist, a “burning and shining light,” applies to all who follow John’s example in influencing graciously the minds and hearts of men. The “seven churches of
Asia” were lights shining in a dark place, slowly dispersing the surrounding darkness of heathenism. So it was with our Culdee forefathers. When each college of twelve holy men, with their presiding abbot, went forth from Iona, and settled down in some dark region of heathen England, or half-heathen Scotland, they were so many star clusters, who, by the blessing of God, spread the light of Gospel truth more rapidly and more thoroughly than any ether missionaries have done since the time of the Apostles. These missions may be described as star clusters, and so every well organised congregation at home, even now, shines with Heavenly light amid surrounding darkness. It seems an appropriate reward that those who are burning and shining lights on earth should continue to burn and shine when transferred to a higher sphere. (C. G. Scott.)
The Peculiar Excellency and Reward of Supporting Schools of Charity
I. THE PERSONS TO WHOM THIS DISTINGUISHING REWARD AND GLORY IN THE NEXT WORLD IS PROMISED. Those, in general, who apply themselves to the most probable and effectual methods of instructing mankind in their duty, and turning them into the paths of righteousness. The text describes them as “wise,” or “teachers,” they who have instructed themselves in the laws of God, and make it their business to see others instructed. A work belonging especially, but by no means exclusively, to ministers. The text also describes them as “turning many to righteousness.” In this work ministers may be greatly aided by a due exercise of authority on the parts of parents, of masters, and of magistrates. It includes bending the minds of children, while they are tender and young, to the ways of goodness and righteousness.
II. THE PARTICULAR EXCELLENCIES OF TRAINING UP MANKIND TO THE KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICE OF THEIR DUTY. The care, especially, of the poorer sort of children is peculiarly acceptable to God.
1. As it is charity.
2. As it is charity to the soul.
3. As it is a charity proceeding from the noblest motives.
4. As it is a charity employed to the best advantage.
5. As it is a charity, extending not only to the present age, but also to posterity. (Bishop Edmund Gibson.)
The Work and Recompense of Christ’s Ministering Servants
I. THE PERSONS TO WHOM THESE GLORIOUS PROMISES ARE MADE. Teachers or preachers of God’s word. The primary duty of a minister of the church is to teach and to instruct the people. But the mere circumstance of being a teacher cannot ensure the promised reward. There may be false teachers. The reward is only for those who “turn many to righteousness.”
II. THE DESIGN OF THEIR OFFICE. In the word of God we are constantly and emphatically told of man’s utter ruin by sin. Having become by the fall not only inclined to sin, but actual transgressors, there must necessarily be a change wrought in us thorough reformation of the inner man--or we cannot be saved. He that has no conviction of sin cannot understand or appreciate the atonement of Christ. This is the turning-point in the life of every child of God, When he comes to himself, bewails his folly, flies to his Father, and seeks forgiveness. How can sinners be turned to righteousness? The shed blood of Christ has procured pardon for any sinner who will accept its benefits. The sinner is not justified because of his faith, but because Christ died. But as faith is the procuring cause, it is important to ascertain where it is to be found, and how it is to be obtained.
III. THE REWARD ATTACHED. The souls of faithful ministers shall be raised in the state of glory to an elevated position among the “spirits of the just made perfect:.” An eternity of uninterrupted joy at God’s right hand awaits them, when they shall be crowned with an immortal diadem. (Isaac D. Winslow.)
Soul-Saving and its Reward
Those engaged in soul-saving are prosecuting a work of eminent wisdom. Cultivated pagans regarded the wise as men of profound knowledge and great attainments in learning; men whose erudition swept a vast compass; men of deep and solid information in philosophy. Daniel held aloof a nobler species of wisdom. “He that winneth souls is wise.” The worth of the soul manifests the wisdom of the work of soul-saving. The, dying Lyman Beecher said, “Theology is great, controversy is great, but the greatest of all things is saving souls.” In turning many to righteousness it is important that we understand the forces by which we can successfully save souls. We can save them by the power of a holy example. In this centre the alms of life must converge. A holy man or woman is a perpetual sermon. The conduct of professed Christians formulates the creeds of the masses. In example we are holding the invisible reins by which we are guiding souls to Heaven or hell. Another force in soul-saving is the power of prayer. Another is earnest and repeated counsel. Advise, and repeat advice. Be not discouraged. Wait God’s time and speak to souls. Faithfully admonish with faith in God, and success will crown your efforts. Where can we best work for the saving of souls? In the home circle. Home is the place of confidence, How glorious the reward celestial! How magnificently the stars shine over old Babylon where Daniel lived! Stars shine in their individuality of beauty. We shall not lose our personal identity in the Kingdom of God. The stars shine in constellations. When the stars all grow dark we shall shine for ever and ever. (S. V. Lech.)
Wisdom Connected with its Reward
The idea contained in this verse is that the reward of wisdom corresponds to the nature of the ends that are sought.
I. WISDOM IN ITS ESSENCE.
1. Wisdom has a wide horizon; therefore its reward is wide as the firmament. We are placed on earth, but we have not the contracted horizon that other creatures on earth have. We are like those who study the stars; earth is only the station from which we look out to the Infinite. In looking away from self to God, we can feel free and joyous in a boundless scope which is given to our life. And wisdom requires that we should take the whole width of horizon that there is. If we have God as our reward we can never feel shut in.
2. Wisdom has a bright horizon; therefore its reward is bright as the firmament. The great object placed before us is Christ. He is the brightness of the Father’s glory. It is He who has made our horizon bright, taking away the darkness caused by our sin, and bringing forth a righteousness for us like the light. It is He who is the brightness of that world into which He has gone. We are, then, to take Him as the end of our being. Christ will be in us as the brightness of the firmament, His splendid sapphire will appear in our bodies and in our souls.
3. Wisdom has a lasting horizon; therefore its reward is lasting as the firmament. We are but of yesterday, and yet we are linked to eternity. We can plan for future years, we can look away beyond death, we can look out into the boundlessness of time. And wisdom requires that we should take in the whole extent that there is, and not a section merely. Our temptation is to think of the present, and not of what the future has to toll the present. If we look to the things which are eternal, then we are promised eternity in our reward.
II. WISDOM IN ITS AGGRESSIVE AND CONQUERING ASPECT. “He that winneth souls is wise.”
1. The results of this aggressive wisdom are of the highest kind; therefore the reward is high. By nature all are turned away from righteousness, and toward sin. If we have seen what is for our own highest good, we will not see it for ourselves alone. For the end which we have in and His Kingdom embraces others as well as ourselves. Our wisdom will be directed to this, to gain men from sin to righteousness, from Satan to God. The Gospel is the wisdom of God for this end. And they are wise who can appreciate its wisdom as a means. If we are instrumental in producing results of so high a kind as this, then our reward shall be correspondingly high. They that turn men to righteousness shall he as the stars. There is no object on earth which can set forth the height of the reward. We need to turn to the sky above us.
2. It has results to individuals; therefore its reward is individual and varied as the stars. “Many.” Numbers are of great consequence when so high a result is involved. Joy is in Heaven over one sinner. There is no saving in the mass; and there will be no rewarding in the mass.
3. It accomplishes lasting results; therefore its reward is as the stars for ever and ever. To turn men to righteousness is to do them lasting good. It is doing what will be felt to all eternity. Who are the star-souls? They are not necessarily the highly gifted, those who have left a name on earth. They shine out of the nebulous mass of humanity, out of the indistinguishable multitude. They shall keep their light, it shall never go out. Because Christ shines they shall shine also. (R. Finlayson B.A.)
Righteousness was the idea of the ancient hierarchy. Righteousness is the result of the work of the Christian Church. What is the power of righteousness, what is the source of righteousness, what is the instrumentality?
1. Righteousness means right in all departments of our being, the brain, the heart, the lips, the life. Righteousness is a power that conquers Time; a power that turns life, not into the victim of the passing day, but in the highest sense into life everlasting.
2. Take another measurement of righteousness. The best, the greatest, the purest, the most loving, are the subjects of imperfection. Andeas del Sarto when he went to look at Raphael’s pictures granted that the drawing was imperfect. He said, “I dare not touch it, because it is marvellous, but certainly it is wrong.” Then the higher genius, the most saintly life, may be the victim of imperfection. Now righteousness conquers that. It changes now.
3. Take another measure. Take friendship, which is one of the dignities of humanity. One thing cuts the tie that binds soul to soul; it is inconstancy, the weakness of will, of heart, of perception, that separates souls. Righteousness conquers it. What is the source of righteousness? It is the glory of God. The glory of God means the sum total, the collection, the complete centre of life, the central point on which we can rest. Righteousness of the soul is the result of God’s power. Our last thought upon God’s glory is the fact that God loves us. (Canon W. J. Knox-Little, M.A.)
Glory in Reserve
The sky is a magnificent object. This magnificent feature of creation has furnished the prophet with an illustration of the glory which awaits a certain part of the human race. The text has a climactic description of Heaven.
I. PIETY ALONE IS HONOURED IN HEAVEN. Men are removed to that blessed land only as a reward of piety.
1. Being in Heaven is itself the reward of piety, as it is an expression of God’s approbation. To be there, is proof of being fit to be there. And, besides expressing fitness, it will be an honour conferred, a reward of service. To be there is to receive the reward of faith, integrity, courage, and patience.
2. The beauty of holiness will be there seen to constitute man’s true glory. Everything else God has made is perfect in its kind and place; and when man shall recover his lost beauty there will be great splendour. There will be the perfectly restored image of God. Each one will look like Jesus. His beauty will be the beauty of holiness; which is love in place of selfishness.
II. THE PIETY MOST HONOURED IN HEAVEN WILL COME FROM THIS EARTH. It is God’s purpose that where sin abounded grace shall superabound.
1. Their glory is a reward indirectly to them, directly to Christ. His suffering and mediation all have their recompense in man’s salvation. Nothing is done directly on their own account. Thee piety will have in itself no peculiar excellence above that of angels; but it will have peculiar relations to the person and work of Christ.
2. They will appear in a peculiar lustre, as conquerors. The angels are represented as fighting; but they never fought an enemy within their own being. They never so taxed the resources of grace as we have.
III. USEFUL PIETY FROM EARTH WILL BE THE BRIGHTEST CREATED OBJECT IN HEAVEN.
1. Usefulness is the highest form of piety. There are two extremes in sincere believers. There may be an excessive cultivation of personal piety; and there may be too much outward activity; that is, disproportioned to personal cultivation. The height of all cultivation is to grow into useful piety. Love is the crowning grace. It has two phases, complacency and beneficence. Love has its perfection in exercise. Self-denial will be honoured in Heaven. The exercise of sentimental love and theoretical love does not disturb our selfishness. They flatter our conceit without taxing our self-love. Practical love develops the highest form of strength.
2. Their own blessedness, too, will be the greatest. The useful will shine in brightness of a peculiar happiness. Theirs will be the joy of seeing those saved for whom they cared. What treasures of joy is every weeping laboured now laying up in Heaven! Theirs is the joy of receiving the love and gratitude of those whom they have saved. Learn:
(1) The world’s wisdom, at best, is short-sighted.
(2) The study of the modes of usefulness is one of the most important branches of human pursuit.
(3) Believers can afford to wait, to toil, and to suffer. The glory that awaits them is an infinite compensation. (E. N. Kirk, D.D.)
The Glorious Reward of the Righteous
In the writings of the prophets we generally find that after predictions of calamitous events consolatory promises are added for the support of the true people of God under them. Daniel is here instructed by the angel to deliver such promises as were adapted to sustain the faith, and console the minds, of the children of God.
I. THE TWO DESCRIPTIONS OF PERSONS SPOKEN OF BY THE ANGEL TO DANIEL. “They that be wise.” “They that turn many to righteousness.” By the wise is not meant the learned, or the subtle, or the worldly-wise, or the politic, but simply those that are godly, or righteous, or that possess genuine religion. True religion is wisdom. It removes the source whence arise most of the follies of mankind. It improves whatever is excellent in human attainments and actions. It fills the mind with tranquility and peace; a kind of wisdom which few rich, great, or learned men attain. Righteousness includes the justification of men’s persons, the renovation of their nature, and a practical obedience to God in heart and life flowing therefrom. The angel does not speak of turning men from one opinion, or mode of worship, or sect and party to another, but to righteousness, true, genuine, Scriptural righteousness. No wonder that the angel should single out the character of those who “turn many to righteousness,” and lay such stress upon it. For by their zeal and labours men escape a misery unspeakable and eternal, and obtain a happiness that has neither measure nor end. The two characters are not opposed to each other. All that are wise will endeavour to turn others to righteousness.
II. THE PROMISES MADE TO SUCH CHARACTERS. “Shine,” as the unclouded sky. They shone on earth by their holy example and conversation. Then every obstruction to their shining will be removed. They shall be as conspicuous and brilliant stem in the right hand of the Creator. (J. Benson.)
Wise and Useful Men will Shine in Glory
I. THE WORK OF THE WISE.
1. They turn many to righteousness. This work is truly good, being a work of mercy to the souls of men. It is a work of vast importance, uniting in its objects the glory of God and the salvation of souls from death.
2. The means which wise men use are calculated to promote the desired end. The weapons of their “warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” They use wine instruction, earnest prayer to God, and a good example.
3. The ends accomplished are valuable beyond description. God is honoured and glorified in their salvation; truth prevails over error; virtue triumphs over vice; and these miserable sinners are made holy and happy. This work is not confined to ministers. Many obscure saints have been happy instruments of saving souls.
II. THEIR FUTURE REWARD.
1. They shall shine as the firmament. The vast expanse around us, illuminated by the sun, moon; and stars, shines with a bright lustre.
2. But the glory of the stars is particularly noticed. The glory of the sun resembles the glory of our Lord, who is the Sun of righteousness. But the glory of the moon and stars resembles the glory of wise and useful men, especially in this particular--they will shine by reflection.
3. The stars are of different magnitudes. This conveys the idea that some will shine with a brighter lustre than others in the world of glory; and this must be the case if everyone be rewarded according to his works.
4. The glory of Heaven will endure. Holy and useful men shall shine there as the stare, for ever. (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
The Christian Minister Turning Many to Righteousness
1. “They that be wise.” Who are they? Two kinds of wisdom are contrasted. Those whom the world counts wise, but who reject the word of the Lord. Those who are wise, because they are willing to come to God to be taught. The true wisdom is treasured up in the word of God.
2. “Turn many to righteousness.” Many who possess worldly wisdom feel no desire to communicate it to others. They are proud of the possession of it, and either keep it to themselves or else impart it to others for selfish considerations; but he who is possessed of true wisdom invariably feels an earnest desire to make others partakers of it. God has been pleased specially to assign the work of turning many to righteousness to His ministers.
How must the Christian minister fulfil his office?
1. He must point out to men the necessity of being turned and converted.
2. He must point out the righteousness of God, and show how men may attain to it.
3. He must lead people to Christ; teach them to renounce their own righteousness, and accept the free offers of the righteousness of Christ made in the Gospel. What result may be expected from such a ministry? (E. Jones.)
As the Stars for Ever
1. How may we turn many to righteousness?
(1) By the charm of a right example
(2) By prayer.
(3) By Christian admonition.
2. What will be our reward for so doing? “Shall shine as the stars.”
(1) The redeemed have a borrowed light.
(2) Christian workers shall be like the stars in the fact that they have a light independent of each other.
(3) They shall shine as the stars in clusters.
(4) In swiftness of motion.
(5) In magnitude: and
(6) In duration. (T. De Witt Talmage, D.D.)
The Distinction of the Wise in Glory
I. THE NATURE OF THAT WISDOM OF WHICH THE PROPHET SPEAKS. It cannot consist in that natural sagacity of which some men are possessed in a much higher degree than others. Nor are we to understand that cunning, or political craftiness, which is sometimes to be found in the most vicious and degraded characters, and is generally the object of fear, rather than of esteem. Neither dons it signify that worldly-acquired wisdom, of which Solomon says, that “in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” True wisdom originates in the “fear of the Lord,” which imports the correct knowledge and supreme love of His character, combined with an esteem of His favour as our chief happiness. With regard to the influence of this wisdom, it leads to a conformity to the will of God in heart and life, to liberality, to patience under affliction, love to our neighbour, and the exercise of every Christian grace; so that it includes both the principles and practice of all true godliness. It is affirmed of this wisdom that “her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace,” Now, it is of the utmost importance to be thoroughly convinced of this. Many will admit that the ways of true religion may conduct to happiness at the end; but they imagine that all the way thither is a most cheerless, melancholy, and unpleasant path. There cannot be a greater mistake than this. Wisdom’s ways are now “ways of pleasantness” to these who walk in them.
II. THE DUTY OF IMPARTING THIS HEAVENLY WISDOM TO OTHERS. The word translated “wise” is in the margin “teachers.” This points out the plain duty of instructing the ignorant, and the quality of the instruction to be imparted. It is one of the essentials of the Sacred Book that it leads men to holiness. Scriptures become the instrument of a moral elevation. In every departure of human learning religion must be the basis upon which the superstructure is reared. We cannot commence our Christian, efforts at too early an age.
III. THE REWARD PROMISED TO THOSE WHO ARE DILIGENTLY EMPLOYED IN THE WORK OF CHRISTIAN INSTRUCTION. What can the most ambitious desire beyond what is here shadowed forth in figurative language? The words evidently denote some high degree of distinction in a future state of existence, but it is not within the power of man to say precisely in what it shall consist. This happiness is not to be only realised hereafter, for true wisdom has in it the elements of present peace and joy, and is at once a foretaste and a pledge of future blessedness. There is, in the wisdom of which we speak, a principle of satisfaction not to be discovered in any mere worldly possession. It brings men into intimate communion with God, as the source of life and salvation through Christ Jesus. Whilst a glorious reward awaits those who are “wise unto salvation,” a peculiar promise is made to those who “turn many to righteousness,” and this should stimulate our most active exertions in the great cause of Christian education. (Edward Pizey, B.A.)
The Supreme Reward of a Devoted Life
These words recognise a broad distinction between being saved and saving others. They that are “wise,” i.e., personally believe and accept Christ, “shall shine as the brightness of the firmament”--like the sky illuminated by the sun; but “they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever”--as suns in the everlasting kingdom! it is is impossible to conceive of a mere glorious reward than this. Let us glance:
I. AT THE SERVICE. “They that turn many to righteousness;” It is not sufficient to be wise in our own behalf to get into the kingdom ourselves. The Christian life is a “calling,” a “service,” in which and by which we are to honour Christ, and walk in His footsteps and strive to save our fellow-sinners, and spend and be spent for the salvation of the world. To live for self, even if it includes our own salvation, is to dishonour our Master, to live contrary to the spirit and teachings of the Gospel
II. AT THE REWARD. Shall shine “as the stars for ever and ever.”
1. The reward of faithful Christian service is sure. It is one of the fundamental principles of Christ’s Kingdom. It was for the glory set before Him that Christ endured and suffered. And He holds out the same motive to His disciples. He does not call us to service without the assurance of a corresponding reward.
2. The reward is a discriminating and proportionate reward. Christ, the final Judge, wilt know the kind and measure and effectiveness of every man’s service, and this reward hereafter will be in strict accordance therewith, Now, it is otherwise. The rule is mot applied here. Each individual is not singled out and the exact results of his life set off to him and the reward rendered.
3. The reward will be one of light and glory unspeakable. There is nothing in nature so glorious as the stars, the centres and illuminating power of vast systems in the stellar universe. And what these are in God’s vast material universe, they that turn many to righteousness will be in the spiritual kingdom of the future.
4. The reward will be enduring; “as the stars for ever and ever.” Never will their lights go out. Never will they cease to roll on in their majestic orbits. (J. M. Sherwood, D.D.)
How to Win a Soul
Dr. Torrey gave us two main thoughts:
(1) Choose the man or woman whose salvation you are determined to compass--choose your “victim” alone with God in prayer; select someone that is
(a) accessible to you--someone in Manchester, not someone in Shangai;
(b) approachable by you--someone of, your own sex, own age, own plane in social life.
(2) Lay siege to the soul you desire to capture in one or all of the following ways:
(a) by prayer;
(b) by personal work;
(c) by letter;
(d) by tract.
How to Win Souls
One of the mightiest soul-winners I knew was Colonel Clarke, of Chicago. He is in Heaven now. He worked his business six days every week, and he kept his mission, open, which he supported out of his own pocket, seven nights every week. He had a wonderful crowd of five or six hundred men every night in the year--drunkards, thieves, pickpockets, gamblers, and everything that was hopeless. I used to go and hear Colonel Clarke talk, and he was one of the dullest talkers I ever heard in my life. Yet, while Colonel Clarke was talking, these men would lean over and listen to him, spellbound. Some of the greatest preachers in Chicago used to go down to help Colonel Clarke, but the men would not listen to them as they did to Colonel Clarke. When he was speaking they would listen and be converted by the score, Why? Because they knew that Colonel Clarke loved them. I heard this story. I don’t know whether he told me or his wife. Colonel Clarke said: “In the early part of this mission I used to weep a great deal for these men who came in, until at last I got ashamed of my tears. Then I steeled my heart, and stopped crying. I lost in power. Then I prayed to God, ‘O God give me hack my tears!’ And God gave me back my tears, and gave me wonderful power over these men.” (R.A. Torrey.)
How to Win Souls
Dr. Theodore Cuyler once said concerning the 3,000 souls he had received into the Church during his ministry, “I have handled every stone.” A lot of men were imprisoned in a coal-mine, as the result of an accident. Great crowds gathered to help to clear away the earth and rescue the men. An old, grey-headed man cane running up, and, seizing a shovel, began to work with the strength of ten men. Someone offered to relieve the old man. “Get out of the way!” he cried. “I have two boys down there!” Nothing but love for the souls of the unsaved can help to provide a way of escape for them. Five things the personal worker needs: A converted heart, a Scripture-stored mind, a love for souls, a prayerful life, the Spirit of God. Dr. Talmage Once said: “Brethren, do not go fishing for souls with a crawfish for bait, a log-chain for a line, a weaver’s beam for a pole, and then scream, ‘Bite, or be lost for ever!’” Spurgeon wisely says: “If a man is to be a soul-winner, there must be in him intensity of emotion as well as sincerity of heart. You may repeat the most affectionate exhortations in such a half-hearted manner that no one will be moved either by love or fear. I believe that for soul-winning there is more in this matter than in almost anything else.”
The Work and the Destiny of a True Preacher
I. The WORK of a true preacher. What is it? To “turn many to righteousness.” To “righteousness.”
1. Not to creeds.
2. Not to sects.
3. Not to ritualisms. “Circumcision or uncircumcision availeth nothing.”
But turn them to righteousness.
1. This is the true evangelical work. “Christ came to establish judgment (rectitude) on the earth.” Righteousness was the grand theme of His ministry. He came to make men righteous in their characters, relations, and engagements. Righteous towards God, towards themselves, and towards the universe. Righteous in commerce, polities, literature, and religion.
2. This is the most difficult work. It is comparatively easy to turn men to theological opinions, to superstitious feelings, to conventional churches, and sensuous ceremonies.
3. This is the most urgent work. Unless you “turn” men to “righteousness,” you do them no real good.
II. The DESTINY of a true preacher. Shall shine “as the stars for ever and ever.” How glorious are the stars!
“Whoever gazed upon them shining And turned to earth without repining, And longed for wings to fly away And mix in their eternal day?”
How do stars shine?
1. They shine in the brightness of the sun. They revolve round one centre; from that centre they borrow the light which they reflect. So that the glory of the true preacher will come from Christ.
2. They shine in endless variety. They differ in size, bulk, and brilliancy.
3. They shine with an imperishable lustre. All the stars perhaps that now shine on this earth are as bright to-night as they were when they shed their radiance on the bowers of Eden. Redeemed spirits will in Heaven neither fall from their orbits nor grow dim. Nay, they will grow brighter with the ages.
4. They shine with an utter unconsciousness of their glory. How indifferent are the stars to the upturned eyes of admiring generations! It is characteristic of a great man that he is unconscious of his greatness; of a glorious soul, that it does not feel its lustre. (Homilist.)
Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Capital and Labour
One of the most striking features of the history of the race has been the want of continuity or conformity in the progress of mankind. Nations have apparently shot up as toadstools do, in a night, and perished like them. Now and then a single nation has made an era. The Jewish people developed a great moral power. They were not preeminently a moral people; yet they gave birth to great natures that understood and gave form and expression to those moralities which have become the common proper of all the people of the earth, and that is about all they did. Faulty in a thousand things, they were employed simply to develop one single element--one letter of that sentence which shall spell final Christian civilisation. Then they subsided, but their work was garnered. The Grecian civilisation developed the intellectual, but in the direction of philosophy and art--not in the direction of domesticity. They had not moral power enough to cohere and maintain a permanent government. Then came the Roman civilisation. It developed itself in engineering; in the science of government pre-eminently. Its literature was a pale reflection of the Grecian. Then came the world’s great plumber; and when mankind aroused out of this, they began that career of knowledge of which our text speaks. It is my purpose to show that it is that the spread of knowledge--real knowledge--among the whole of the peoples of different nations, is bringing forth fruit. The transcendent advance of intellect seems to be confined to the Western world. Still the Orient slumbers. In all previous developments the knowledge that was developed resided in the top of society. It caught only the philosophers, the men of genius, the educated men, the commercialists, the natural rulers of mankind; for where intelligence is, there rule will be. The people were yet left in deep darkness, and were held in contempt. Modern intelligence, unlike any that has preceded it, has neither been provincial nor class intelligence. The causes that have been operating are obvious, by which knowledge that begins at the top penetrates clear to the bottom. The progress of knowledge in science has been astounding. The Beconian philosophy is bearing fruit everywhere. All the more elemental sciences have sprung into existence within one hundred years--I mean, with anything like florescence and fruit. The two great discoveries that underlie or direct almost all others are evolution and the persistence of force. All knowledge has, taken on, or has tended to take on, a practical form. Plato, and the Platonic school, are tainted with the heresy that knowledge should be possessed simply for the love of knowledge, and that a man who wants knowledge for the sake of doing something with it is vulgar. The Baconian philosophy has revolutionised that. The knowledge that is diffusing itself through the world, and infusing the under classes of mankind, is largely concerned, with scientific inductions, and with the realisation of scientific discoveries in the industries: of the world. All knowledge has taken on a practical application, and thus it has aroused and educated the working men of the world. Great Britain may be called an empire of machines. It has been a great benefit, but at the same time it is more or less an injury. Putting machines against men is a dangerous operation. One machine will do more than thirty men. To a large extent machinery is working against opportunities. There has been a steady setting in from the individual industry toward the gigantic machine industry of the land. Where machinery is largely employed, it is generally because capital has organised itself. Where you concentrate capitalists into manufacturers you increase the producing power of material, and diminish the diffusing industry of individuals throughout, the community. You improve goods and deteriorate men. Organised capital is itself a tremendous element of civilisation; but organised capital has not yet learned the gospel. It is capital that is protected--not the working man. It is not my purpose here to enter into any criticism of the rude methods of the workmen who have combined for a greater advantage. I simply consider the effect of growing intelligence upon the conditions of industry and social life in the civilised nations of the earth. It is said that a little knowledge is dangerous. I say there is nothing more dangerous than blindness; an ignorant man is a blind man. Every step of knowledge that a man can get is so much guaranteed that he will be more virtuous and more patriotic Patience, then, Hope,Courage, Justice--these should be our watchwords. We can see partial, imperfect, fulfilments, and can wait. We shall see the fulfilment of the designs of God. Society will grade itself. But there will be a just distribution of influences and results, and there will be peace and good fellowship. (Henry Ward Beecher.)
Science, the Intellectual Gospel
It is not necessary to decide to what period of the world’s history the text has reference. There have been several crises in human affairs at which it has found at least a partial fulfilment. We may apply the prediction to our Own age with the fullest propriety. There was never so much going and coming, and never so vast a growth of knowledge. Deal with that special form of Knowledge which is called science. Science may be described as the knowledge of nature reduced to system. It examines facts, arranges or classifies them, and tries to detect their hidden law. Science is a fact of modern growth. It has sprung forth full armed in these latter days. The world of Greece and Rome was wonderful in its way, but it had no science, in our modern sense of the word. Science dates very much from Bacon. Not entirely. There were other men of science before him. And science has grown wonderfully. It has amazingly enriched human life. It has quickened, too, all the neutral powers. What is there that we do not tabulate and catalogue? To this progress of science we can make no objection. People who object against science in reality do not know what they mean. “What’s the use of screaming at the calm facts of creation?” said the wise American. If fact is on one side, and our dislikes or prejudices, or narrow theories, are on the other, it requires no prophet to tell which shall win. For fact proves itself. I do not admit that there is any inconsistency or opposition between religion and science. They may look at the same facts from different points of view. Yet, though perfectly at one, science and religion are not quite the same thing. Science is related to religion as one sister is to another. There are many questions of which you can scarcely tell whether they are properly scientific or religious. Yet religion is more than science. You may be steeped up to the lips and the eyes in science, and be without religion altogether. Science has a message which, as far as it goes, is a true gospel, a real good news. It promises a great increase of human convenience and comfort. The world is not nearly so pleasant a place to live in as it might be. It promises to give us subjects of thought and investigation which will add greatly to the interest of life. And nobly is the promise fulfilled. It promises a vast enlargement of our view of the world. It will widen the boundaries of thought as to the facts of this wonderful universe; by revealing both the infinitely little and the infinitely great. It promises a great amelioration of our social arrangements. I accept to the full the gospel of science. But no science can fill the place of the Saviour. Science is only for time; it has no gospel as to eternity. Science has no gospel for the sinful and suffering millions. Science has no power of moral inspiration, no spiritual force which can lift the soul of a tempted, sinful man to goodness, holiness, purity. Do not oppose science, but go beyond science, enter the spiritual world. Draw near to God and to His Christ, and then, when knowledge shall vanish away, you may be found doing the will of God, and so may abide for ever. (J. F. Stevenson, LL.D.)
Results of the Exploring Spirit of the Age
One of the most remarkable characteristics in these late times is a moving, roving disposition of mankind. A very great proportion of human beings are seen actuated by a restless impulse to go hither and thither. Impatience of the sameness of life, business, friendship, curiosity, the spirit of enterprise, religious zeal, are carrying multitudes in all directions. This consequence has necessarily followed--a very great increase of knowledge. We are not to regard this as wholly an improvement in the character of these our times. How many do it from no motive of seeking wisdom, or solid good of any kind! Some seem to “run to and fro” for the very purpose of attracting into themselves all the diversified vices and vanities anywhere to be found. A strong magnetism for the attrition of all congenial evil. But turn to the more favourable view of the subject. There has resulted a vast increase of knowledge, which may be of immense value and instruction.
1. Knowledge of the natural world, the whole order of nature on this globe.
2. The remains and monuments of ancient times. We have now a much more comprehensive information of the actual state and quality of the human race. We find that man is everywhere the same; but the human nature is miserably and horribly perverted and depraved.
3. Every extension of our geographical knowledge has enlarged and aggravated the hideous account of what we are to call religion among the human race. All this displays what man is. His reason is as perverted as his moral dispositions.
4. Knowledge reveals the sameness in all parts of the world of the operation in the mind of the converting Christian truth. Our increasing knowledge of this wide world should reader us more fit to live to good purpose in it, and at length to leave it. (The Evangelist.)
The Spread of Knowledge and Scientific Discovery
These words bring before us a great increase of knowledge as one main feature of the last times announced to us in the close of this remarkable prophecy.
I. THE PREDICTION ITSELF IS MOST REMARKABLE. Only two of the prophets were named by our Saviour in His teachings. Esaias and Daniel. Our Lord Himself exhorts His people to pay particular attention to the prophecy Daniel has given. Daniel’s last prophecy closes with the words of the text.
1. What is meant by “the time of the end?” The last times, in contrast to some earlier period. It may apply to three periods.
(1) All the times of the Christian dispensation. The meaning of the prophecy was not to be understood until the Messiah had appeared, and the light of the Gospel had begun to dawn. Until then they must be content to wait. The days of the apostles, when the Christian dispensation began, were, compared with former ages, a time of great social intercourse and large increase of knowledge. It was an age of remarkable civilization; the knowledge of natural science was greatly increased.
(2) The later times of the Christian dispensation; eminently to the period of the great and blessed Reformation. The times of the Reformation were marked by the two features which are mentioned in the text--“Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”
(3) The times in which we are now living, that period of the world’s history which commenced with the outbreak of the flint French Revolution, and reaches to the present hour.
II. THE NOTORIOUS AND STRIKING FACT WHICH CORRESPONDS IN OUR DAYS TO THIS INSPIRED PREDICTION.
1. The means of intercourse were never so abundant as in the present age. It is marked above all others for multiplying the means of rapid communication. The motives for intercourse have been increased in the same proportion. The whole world has been thrown open to our researches. The Colonial empire of our own country is a remarkable feature of the present age. The whole earth is in a manner at our feet, and thus there is a political necessity for our people to be in rapid intercourse with all the countries on the face of the globe. These two things have completely changed the whole character of the age in which we live. The inspired prediction also says, “knowledge shall be increased.”
1. Natural knowledge shall be increased. This seems necessarily to be implied. True, there was some increase of knowledge in the Augustan age. In the days when the Gospel was first preached there were discoveries in science and art of no mean importance. There was a great increase in natural knowledge in the time of the Reformation, when printing and gunpowder, and the telescope and microscope, were first invented. But of all ages, beyond all comparison, Our own age is that in which natural knowledge has been most increased. Look at the grand compartments of human science, and see what an immense development every one of them has received.
(1) The science of the heavens.
(2) Of the earth.
(3) The elements which compose both earth and the heavens.
The words also apply to historical science, the knowledge of the world’s history, including natural knowledge, political knowledge, spiritual or Christian knowledge. Such is the wonderful fact spread before our eyes, what practical lessons then may be gathered from the words of the text?
(1) The wonderful nature of God’s foreknowledge.
(2) The value of Divine truth, and of an insight into the prophecies of the Word of God.
(3) The wonderful and impressive character of the times in which we live.
We are in the midst of wonderful events already past, the precursors of something still more wonderful and glorious, the coming of Christ, and the establishment of that Kingdom which is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (T. R. Birks, M.A.)
The Advancement of Knowledge, the Fulfilment of Prophecy
These words lie in the very midst of a portion of Daniel’s prophecy, which reiterates the glories of the Saviour’s triumph over sin and Satan, and which proclaims the ineffable blessedness of the redeemed, as participating in the victory of the “Lord God Omnipotent,” who shall then reign, His name being one, and His people one.
1. “Many shall run to and fro.” At the time when the prophet uttered these words, the intercourse between men and nations was circumscribed to an extent, of which we, in these modern days, can have no conception. With Greece and Rome, as civilization advanced, the change became more marked and definite. Long after Christianity had prevailed, the transit from country to country was confined to the magnates of the earth. Who that estimates aright these times can fail to perceive that the literal accomplishment of Daniel’s prophecy has begun? The untravelled man is now the exception to the rest of his fellows.
2. “Knowledge shall be increased.” Much of the knowledge which now prevails upon comparatively indifferent subjects was enjoyed by the ancients, and made the subject of their ardent inquiry. Few in the present day are capable of closer reasoning than the learned of Greece and Rome; in literature they were certainly our equals, if not our superiors, and in their writings, still extant, we trace talents of the most transcendent order. But in all these instances, knowledge was confined to the few. And, after all, what was the knowledge even these possessed? It was “of the earth, earthy”; it was circumscribed and bounded by the trammels of time; it soared no higher than the sensual and the intellectual; it elevated no one to a perfect acquaintance with himself; it taught not the attributes of the one true God. The truths of the Gospel had to struggle for acceptance up to the fifteenth century. Since then the prophecy of Daniel has been remarkably fulfilled. While knowledge is increasing upon the earth, it ought not to be forgotten that God uses men as instruments for its diffusion. (John Edmond Cox, M.A.)
The Missionary Movement of the Age
I. THE MISSIONARY MOVEMENT IN PROGRESS. The knowledge that is to be increased is to “turn many to righteousness.” This by imparting knowledge from God’s Word and the Gospel of Christ. This is the work, the errand, of faithful missionaries abroad, this their message to Jew and. Gentile. Wherever men are turned to Christ, they will proceed to turn with abhorrence from the love and the practice of all unrighteousness and sin. Note their number; they are “many.” Observe their activity; they “run.” They are labourers, not loiterers. The promise of the text is not confined to ministers or missionaries. All friends and servants of Christ are included.
II. THE SUCCESS OF THE MOVEMENT. “Knowledge shall be increased.” The knowledge by which “many shall be purified,” etc. There shall be good success in the missionary movement faithfully made. Those “sent of God” shall not run in vain, nor labour in vain; though they may sometimes be discouraged. The prophecy is a promise, and like all the promises of God in Christ Jesus, it is true. (John Hambleton, M.A.)
An Ever-growing Argument for Evangelism
Our age realises the scene here predicted. This generation is pre-eminently migratory; men are everywhere on the move; a restless impulse has seized the world; and the fixed habits which bound our ancestors to their hearth are giving way. Different principles stimulate men in this incessant migration. The intellectual result of all these intermigrations is knowledge. Knowledge increases as men journey to distances and mingle with foreigners. Their knowledge of the physical world increases. Their knowledge of man increases. I shall use this necessary augmentation of knowledge as an argument for the necessity of propagating the Gospel.
I. THE MORE SECULAR KNOWLEDGE THE WORLD HAS, THE MORE NEED IT HAS OF THE GOSPEL.
1. Mere knowledge effects no radical change in the great principles of human character. The sources of all action are in the heart. Our likes and dislikes are our controlling impulses. Now does secular knowledge change the heart? Does it make a dishonest man honest, a selfish man generous, and a sensual man spiritual? Let the history of intelligent nations answer. Greece, Rome. Knowledge may induce and qualify a man to act out the evil principles of his heart in a more refined and less offensive manner. But you may multiply schools on every hand, fill the nation with secular knowledge, and still the springs of morals may remain as polluted as ever. Nothing but the Gospel can act upon the heart.
2. The more knowledge, the greater will be the power for evil. As the world grows in knowledge, it grows in power to trample upon the laws of God, to poison the fountains of influence, and to rebel against the interest of the universe. The power of the Devil is the power of knowledge.
3. The more knowledge, the larger the amount of responsibility. Here, then, is my argument. If secular knowledge is destined to increase, if this knowledge has not the power to change the heart, whilst it increases man’s power to do evil, and enhances his responsibility, ought not our earnestness in the propagation of the Gospel to rise with the increase of general intelligence?
II. THE MORE KNOWLEDGE THE WORLD HAS, THE MELEE LIKELY IS IT TO RECEIVE THE GOSPEL. We rejoice in the fact that the Gospel is suited to man in the lowest stage of development, but we contend that the more intelligent a man is the more favourable his condition for Gospel influence.
1. The more intelligent a man is the more evidence he will have to convince him of the truth of the Gospel.
2. The more illustrations he will have of the power of the Gospel.
3. The more indications he will see for the necessity of the Gospel.
4. The more fitted he will be to appreciate the discoveries of the Gospel. The more knowledge he has, the better will he be able to appreciate the wisdom of the scheme, the righteousness of the claims, and the adaptation of the provisions of the Gospel.
(1) The character of the Gospel encourages this impression.
(2) The effects of missionary labour encourage the impression.
(3) The example of the first ministers of Christianity. They selected the most enlightened and influential parts of the world for their spheres of labour. From this subject we may learn the glory of the Gospel, and our encouragement to diffuse it. (Homilist.)
Knowledge Increased by Many Running To and Fro
I. AN END TO BE ACCOMPLISHED. “Knowledge shall be increased.” The prophetical parts of Scripture describe a happier state of the world than has yet been witnessed; and this shall be introduced by an increase of knowledge.
1. The faculty which man has for acquiring knowledge forms the most obvious distinction of our species.
2. It is to the credit of the Christian religion that it is founded on knowledge.
3. The knowledge of God shall be increased. God is partially known by His works, but fully described in His Word. Experimental knowledge is necessary. This will lead us to love God; it will produce confidence in Him, and also obedience.
4. The knowledge of God will lead to the acquisition of useful knowledge of every kind. Religion enlarges the mind, illuminates the understanding, rectifies the judgment, and teaches men to think more clearly and more comprehensively on subjects of general science.
II. MEANS USED FOR ITS ACCOMPLISHMENT. “Many shall run to and fro.” God works by agents and instruments.
1. The number of gospel ministers. In some periods of the world the advocates of truth have been reduced to a very small number; now they are many.
2. The prompt activity of ministers. Preaching is figured to us as running.
3. The sphere of ministers’ operation. The world. Inferences:
(1) The great end of public preaching is to increase knowledge.
(2) How careful and diligent should ministers be in acquiring knowledge. (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
Then I, Daniel, looked.
The Epilogue to the Vision
Hitherto the angel has prophesied the development of history, without adding any remark or exhortation. Here, however, he concludes his predictions by adding the strongest possible incitement to faithful perseverance; an incitement which must have had all the stronger effect since, though it is occasionally referred to in earlier prophets, the resurrection had never been brought forward so distinctly and powerfully, and especially had never been shown in its connection with retribution. Turning to the history of the period referred to we learn that the hope of resurrection to eternal life did sustain the sufferers of the Maccabean times, under the infliction of the most dreadful cruelties. Fitly, too, does the allusion to the resurrection at the last bring the whole series of predictions to a close, and lead the angel to say, “Shut up the words, and seal the book, oven unto the time of the end.” Viewed in connection with the final judgment, the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is not only a support to those who are suffering wrongfully, but also a warning to all who are dealing unrighteously with God and His people. The present life is connected most intimately and inseparably with that which is to come. Now is for every one of us the germ of hereafter. With what importance does this invest the present life! Observe, also, the reward of the working saint. Probably the two clauses, “They that be wise,” “They that turn,” etc., form one parallelism, after the manner of the Hebrew poets. They who turn many to righteousness shall be honoured with bright and particular glory in the Heavenly state. Here is the grand aim toward which Christian ambition should be directed. Finally, we have here the rest of the waiting saint. Do not disquiet yourself about the future. Leave that in God’s hands. You shall rest in Him during the remainder of your life on earth; and when that shall end, you shall rest with Him. (William M. Taylor, D. D.)
How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?
The Philosophy of Wonders
There are many things at which we need not wonder. There are marvellous things in the kingdom of nature at which we continue to wonder. Man himself, as fearfully and wonderfully made, is as much a source of wonder to the greatest of modern philosophers as he was to the sages of Greece. But what are all the wonders of the material universe in comparison with the more sublime and complicated wonders of Divine grace and providence? These are especially the wonders that will never cease. No man can read the Bible without seeing a very large number of strange historical facts in it, and coincidences.
1. Wonders have an educational value. Coleridge says, “In wonder all philosophy began, in wonder it ends, and admiration fills up the interspace; but the first wonder is the offspring of ignorance, and the last is the parent of devotion. To a child everything is wonderful. Its sense of wonder is the spring of its desire to know. If it be possible to find a man, or a community, who has ceased to wonder, then you have a man--or a community--in a state of mental decay or mortification, for without the sense of wonder and the desire to know, mental, moral, and spiritual progress is impossible.
2. Wonders are God’s voice in man’s soul against materialism. They speak to us of things unseen and eternal. They rouse us to thought and action. Wonders for the mind and heart are as much needed as bread and water for our bodies.
3. Wonders are a kind of protest against rationalism. We are helped by reason in a thousand different ways. But there is something above and beyond reason. Reason has its limits as well as its laws.
4. Wonders are helps to faith. We may wonder at that chemistry in the field of nature by which God gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater, or how He makes the grass to grow for the cattle; but enough that we know whom we have believed, and can pray as children, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (J. Kerr Campbell.)
And I heard, but I understood not.
The Aspect of the Times
I. CONTEMPLATE SOME OF THESE WONDERS--THE CALAMITIES OF THE CHURCH.
1. It is a wonder that the Church of God should be exposed to calamity.
2. That they should sometimes be so great and overwhelming.
3. That they have come visibly from the hand of God, and are accompanied with evident tokens of His displeasure.
4. The duration of the calamity is often another wonder.
5. And it is a wonder that the Church’s calamities produce so little effect. Now proceed to specify some particulars in our present situation which furnish ground for anxious wonder.
(1) It is a dark and portentous spot in our sky that the progress of knowledge should be accompanied with so much infidelity and irreligion.
(2) Another ominous cloud is the engrossing attention to politics, and the indifference or aversion shown to religious privileges amidst the struggle for those of a civil nature.
(3) Another is that those who had so long pleaded for a national reformation of religion should have abandoned that plea at the very time when Providence seemed to present the opportunity of prosecuting it with some measure of success.
(4) Another, that a spirit of determined hostility against the religious establishments of the country should have displayed itself at the very time when a revival of evangelical religion began to make its appearance in them, and internal exertions were making to reform their abuses.
(5) Another, that the late revival of evangelical doctrine should have been followed and checked by enthusiastical extremes.
II. THE EXERCISE AND CONDUCT BECOMING TO US IN CONTEMPLATING AND ENQUIRING INTO THESE WONDERS.
1. Such enquiries should be conducted with holy adoration of the doings of God.
2. With deep humility.
3. In the exercise of fervent prayer.
4. With firm faith in the preservation of the interests of religion, and the deliverance of the Church. (T. M’Crie D.D.)
The Reservations of God
Who can be so perplexing as God? “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing.” We think we have got an answer when we have got a reply. There is a great sound of thunder in the air, but what it all means not even Daniel can tell Yet the thunder is very useful; the thunder is the minister of God. There are mountains that have never been climbed; if they had been climbed they had been vulgarised. The pinnacles of the church were not made to be stood upon. Daniel asked a question and received all these words in reply, and no man knows what they mean. There they are, and they are useful every one of them. Who would be without the mystery? Who would have an earth without the sky? it would not be worth having. Yet the earth is underfoot and comparatively manageable; we can dig it, plough it, put stones into it with a view of putting up a house which the earth will always try to cast out; for the earth does not like masonry, the earth does not like to be violated. But the sky no man has touched. The sky is the best part of us. We get all our vegetables out of the sky, though we think we do not. All the flowers are out of the sun, though we think we planted them. So easily may we be misled by half-truths and by mere aspects of facts! Yet we cannot do without astronomy. We may have it as a science, it is not every mouth that can pronounce long words, but we must have it as a sovereign and gracious effect. What, then, have we to do? We have to do three things. First we have to attend to the practical. Many men have been trying to make out the meaning of the twelve hundred and ninety days who have never kept one of the commandments. If we are to understand the apocalypse we must first keep the commandments. If we would enter Heaven we must keep the commandments first. Do the little which you do know. “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” O thou foolish soul, trying to make out the meaning of the twelve hundred and ninety days, and forgetting to pay the wages of the hireling, forgetting to cool the brow of fever. Then, secondly, we are not to deny the mysterious. The Bible will always be the most mysterious of books. Why shall it always be the most mysterious of writings? Because it contains God. No man can find out the Almighty unto perfection. He cannot be searched or comprehended or weighed in a balance or set forth in words and figures. So long as the Bible tabernacles God it will be an awful sanctuary. Then, in the third place, we have to learn patience. Personally, I am waiting for God’s comment upon God’s words. There are many persons who have handled the Bible indiscreetly. They have been keen in finding discrepancies and contradictions; they have busied themselves about signatures, they have asked whether Moses signed this, and David signed that, and Daniel signed the other; and they have got up a post hoc case in favour of the Bible. On the whole they have come to think that possibly bits of it may be inspired. I have not reached any such conclusion. All I know of it, in the mater of conduct, and elevation of soul, and prospect of salvation, is inspired enough for me; and as for the parts I do not understand I am waiting, and perhaps when God comes to read it to me I shall find that, not God, but the critics have been wrong. (Joseph Parker, D.D.)
Searching into the Deep Things of God
I once heard Mr. George Muller say that he liked be read his Bible through again and again, and he liked specially to read those portions of the Bible which he did not understand. That seems rather a singular thing to say, does it not? For what profit can come to us if we do not understand what we read? The good man put it to me like this: he said, “There is a little boy who is with his father, and there is a good deal of what his father says that he comprehends, and he takes it in, and he is very pleased to hear his father talk. But sometimes his father speaks of things that are quite beyond him, yet the boy likes to listen; he learns a little here and there, and by-and-by, when he has listened year after year, he begins to understand what his father says as he never would have done if he had run away whenever his father began to talk beyond his comprehension.” So is it with the prophecies, and other deep parts of God’s Word. If you read them once or twice, but do not comprehend them, still study them, give your heart to them, for, by-and-by, the precious truth will permeate your spirit, and you will insensibly drink wisdom which otherwise you never would have received. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
For the words are closed
The Sealed Book
Daniel, having heard of the great troubles and afflictions that the Church was to meet with in the last days, was desirous to know how long they should continue, and to have some more particular information concerning the issue of them.
The angel said, “Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end”. As if it had been said, Daniel, what hath been revealed to you already is enough to support your faith and hope, and the faith and hope of my people in future ages, amidst all the troubles and trials that they may be exercised with, and this you must be contented with in the meantime; for a full explication of the mysteries of Divine providence, of God’s dispensations towards the Church made her members, such an explication of them as will leave no darkness, doubt, or difficulty remaining, is not to be expected during the present state of things. In these words We have:
I. A SEASONABLE ADMONITION. “Go thy way, Daniel.” Mind your own business; apply yourself to the performance of your present duty.
1. A needful caution. Not to indulge an unwarrantable curiosity of prying into those things which God hath not seen meet to reveal, into the secrets of His government and providence.
2. A. suitable exhortation. To apply himself to his present work, and set about the performance of present duty, leaving events to the Lord.
II. THE REASON FOR THE ADMONITION. “For the words are sealed up,” etc. There was something intricate and mysterious in the prophecy concerning the Church’s troubles and deliverance that would not be fully unfolded until it was accomplished. By “the time of the end” may be understood the time when the several predictions concerning the troubles and trials that the Church was to meet with should be fulfilled. In every future period new discoveries would be made of the gracious designs and mystery of Providence respecting the Church till all were finished and unfolded. The end of time may be meant. A seal denotes security, as well as secrecy or concealment. When, therefore, it is said that the words were sealed till the time of the end, it might imply that there would be an exact accomplishment of all God’s promises concerning the Church, whatever difficulties appeared to be in the way.
1. Let us observe some things in general concerning those discoveries that God is pleased to make of His mind and will to His people in this world.
(1) All true believers are privileged with some discoveries of the mind of God that others are unacquainted with. They are all taught of God; not doctrinally, or externally, by the word only, but internally, effectually, and savingly, by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit shows them many things concerning Christ; concerning His person and undertaking, righteousness, grace and salvation, which are bid from the rest of mankind.
(2) The discoveries God makes to His people He ordinarily makes to them by means of His Word. The Holy Scriptures are sufficient to “make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The work of the Spirit now is, not to make any new revelations of the will of God, but to open the understandings and enlighten the minds of men to perceive, and make a suitable improvement of, what is already revealed in the written word.
(3) God doth not reveal His mind to His people all at once, but gradually, and as He sees meet.
(4) The discoveries which God makes of His mind and will to His people in this world are still imperfect
(5) Even saints of God are too apt to indulge a sinful curiosity in prying into those things which God hath not been pleased to reveal, and which it is not necessary for them to know in their present state.
(6) However dark and intricate the dispensations of Divine providence may be, so much is made known as is sufficient to support faith and hope, and to encourage behavers in the way of duty.
2. Some of the discoveries which God makes to His people, which are sufficient to direct them in the way of duty. These discoveries may concern the people of God themselves. That He loves them. That the covenant He has made is ordered in all things and sure, immutable and everlasting. That there is a fulness of grace deposited in Christ as the Mediator of the New Covenant. That He will never leave them. That all dispensations shall turn to their advantage. These discoveries may concern the Church in general. Such as that all future troubles of the Church were foreknown and appointed by God. That they would only continue for a limited time. That all the promises would certainly be accomplished. That all the Church’s sufferings would have a glorious issue.
3. Many things are still dark to God’s people, and must remain so as long as they continue in the world. There are still things dark in the Church’s troubles, in the promises of God concerning His Church. Believers have but imperfect views of the privileges conferred upon them; and of the truths and doctrines taught in the Word of God. There is mystery in that gracious work which God has begun, and is carrying on, in souls. There is a veil upon that glory and happiness reserved for them in the other world. There are reasons why we should attend to present day, and not pry into the unrevealed.
(1) Inquiries into those things which God hath not been pleased to reveal are unprofitable and vain.
(2) What God hath clearly revealed is sufficient for their direction and encouragement in the way of duty.
(3) It is the will of God that His people, while they are in this world, should live by faith, and walk by faith.
(4) When the people of God mind their present duty, they greatly honour God. They give Him the glory due unto His name.
(5) All that is now dark and mysterious either in the purposes or promises of God, or in the dispensations of His providence, will at last be clearly manifested and unfolded. (D. Wilson.)
And none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
A Virtuous Mind the Best Help to Understand True Religion
To seek a man’s true and final interest, by parting with some present and inconsiderable advantages for the sake of more and much greater ones to come, is the proper act of wisdom; and the general character of folly is the purchasing of soma trivial present benefit at the hazard of much better and more valuable things in reversion. Folly is but another name for sin. To “understand” may be taken in two senses. Either the understanding of particular providences, or the understanding the true nature of religion in general. Consider the text, according to the latter interpretation. The proposition they contain is this--A virtuous disposition of mind is the beat help, and a vicious inclination the greatest hindrance, to a right understanding of the doctrine of true religion. What is there in the nature of things themselves, and what there is in the positive appointment of God, which makes a virtuous disposition so great a help, and a vicious inclination so great a hindrance, to a right understanding in matters of religion.
1. There is something in the nature of things themselves, something in the very frame and constitution of the mind of man, something in the nature and tendency of all religious truths, which helps to verify the general proposition. In a mind virtuously disposed, there is a native agreeableness to the principles of true religion; in like manner as in a healthful body the organs are fitted to their proper objects; and as in the frame of the material world, everything is suited to its proper use and employment. In the study of every human science there is some particular previous temper, some certain predisposition of mind, which makes men fit for that particular study, and apt to understand it with easiness and delight; generally and specially, a love to that particular science, and a high esteem of its value and usefulness. The same holds true in proportion in religious matters likewise. A general love of virtue, an equitable, fair, and charitable spirit, and a just sense of the necessity and reasonableness of obeying God’s commands, is the first principle and beginning of religion. Practice and experience in the course of a virtuous life, and in the obedience of God’s commands, is in continuance the best information and perpetual improvement of a man’s understanding and judgment in the knowledge of Divine truths. “He that keepeth the law of the Lord, getteth the understanding thereof,” says the wise Son of Sirach. He that practises what he knows, improves his knowledge continually by that practice. “By actions, even more than by speculation and study, is the understanding of practical truths enlarged. There is a spirit and a life in the discourse of a righteous man, proceeding from the sincerity of an upright heart, which no skill or art can imitate. In religion, there is no man truly wise and knowing but he that has lived like a Christian, instead of disputing about it. On the other hand, a vicious disposition blinds men’s eyes, corrupts their principles, and subverts their judgments. It prejudices men against the truth, and causes them even to hate it, and become professed enemies to it. Now we consider what there is in the positive appointment and constitution of God, by which we are assured that none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise (righteous) shall understand.
1. In general, God will take care that righteous and piously-disposed persons shall attain to so much understanding as is necessary for their own particular salvation.
2. By the secret influence and assistance of His Holy Spirit, God will peculiarly direct and enlighten those that are truly sincere. But where there is a vicious inclination, and an affection to wickedness, there men’s minds are not only blinded by the natural consequence of such a disposition, but God moreover withdraws His Spirit from them, and the Holy Ghost will not dwell in a heart that takes pleasure in unrighteousness. Indeed,, God justly permits wicked men, when they obstinately refuse to hear Him, to be deceived by the Evil One to their own destruction. From what has been said, we may infer:
(1) That wicked men have no reason to complain for their not being able to understand religion, and infidels no excuse for their not believing it.
(2) From hence appears the reason of our Saviour’s speaking so much in parables.
(3) We may observe how it comes to pass that faith ,which is generally looked upon us an act of the understanding, and so not in our own power, is yet in the New Testament always required and insisted upon as a moral virtue. The reason is, because faith, in the Scripture sense, is not barely an act of the understanding, but a mixt act of the will also, consisting very much in that simplicity and unprejudicedness of mind which our Saviour calls “receiving the Kingdom of God as a little child.”
(4) There is then no need of an infallible guide on earth, or of an unerring Church. All necessary truth is sufficiently made known in Scripture.
(5) Yet this must be so understood as to be a security, not against all, but against fatal mistakes. The best and most pious persons may in many things err, but their errors cannot be dangerous, or of final ill consequence; for in things absolutely necessary to salvation the wicked only can be void of understanding. (S. Clarke, D. D.)
Ability to Understand Moral rather than an Intellectual Quality
This passage seems to warrant three inferences of importance.
(1) That though God for certain reasons saw fit to give this revelation of the future to Daniel at a certain date, He did not intend it to be understood for centuries; since, whatever may be the exact limits of the “time of the end,” it could not include more than the course of this dispensation, the commencement of which was several centuries distant when Daniel wrote.
(2) That even when in the lapse of ages the men, nine of this prophecy should become apparent to some, even when knowledge “should be increased,” and the wise understand, it was the will of God that it should still remain a dark mystery to others, that “none of the wicked should understand.”
(3) That the comprehension or ignorance of this prophecy, when the time for its being understood at all arrived, would depend rather on the moral than on the intellectual state of those who should study it. The wise alone should understand it; the wicked should not. (H. Grattan Guiness.)
But go thou thy way till the end be.
Go Thou Thy Way
I. GOD HAS A SPECIAL WAR FOR EACH MAN, AND A GENERAL WAY COMMON TO ALL.
1. The special way. Christianity teaches that God is a Being of infinite love and wisdom, who will guide every man into his special way of thought if we seek to do His will. We have neither the right to complain of, nor to attempt to force the belief of other persons who conscientiously follow their own way of thinking and acting, providing their action be within the lines of morality. The text says, “Go thou”--not our way--“Go thou in thy way.” Let men honestly doubt, if they like; it will do them good. I like the idea that each man has a special way appointed for him. Each man is simply a part of God’s plan. The Heavenly Father is the Architect, Sculptor, Modeller of humanity, and He is leading us aright and guiding the world in the proper path. Let each one of us dare to believe that our life is a plan of God.
2. The general way in which God asks all of us to go. Is it not the way of the cross? Until a man takes up his cross, and guides himself by the example of Jesus, it is impossible for him to attain the highest manhood; for the most divine life on earth is that which bears a cross for the benefit of another. Is not the way in which we are all called to go the way of repentance? Is not this also a way that must be approved by every sound thinking man? Though it is a hard way, it is a safe way; for repentance is the passage from death to life. And is not the general way for all of us that we should be religiously decided? We are not to hesitate and turn about, but be decided, making a bold plunge in our determination to be Christ’s, and to live to do good. Let us go in the general way appointed for all--the way of love. In all our doings with our fellow-men, let us go and come in the way of forbearance and compassion and love; and let us go in these ways because God is our Father and men our brethren.
II. GOD EXHORTS US TO GO IN THE APPOINTED WAY. “Go thou thy way till the end be.” It is easy to find fault with another; it is marvellously difficult to do right one’s sell Thou shalt stand in thy lot, the lot that you are now making, the end you are now preparing. Lord Beaconsfield gave this advice to Greece--“Your country has a great future; therefore be patient and wait.” This advice he carried out in his own life. Defeated, he learned to wait. While he waited, he worked. Many men fail because, though they wait, they do nothing. These are the Micawber class of men, who wait for something to turn up instead of setting to work and turning up something. Let us get into the right way, and resolve with a resolution which will carry you on to the end.. Be determined, be resolute. The text says, “Go thou thy way.” The way God has appointed for you. Our Lord’s way is the safest and best. (W. Birch.)
Good Men and the Future
The cry: “ Oh, my Lord, what shall the end of these things be?” is often wrung from the lips of the sufferer about his pains, the friend about the woes of friends, the patriot about the turmoils of his country, the philanthropist about the state of the world.
I. THE BEWILDERMENT OF GOOD MEN CONCERNING THE FUTURE. As we have already hinted, there is frequently this bewilderment:
1. About the future of the world. How shall Christianity conquer heathendom! So also about:
2. The future of individuals. Recalling the unexpected events in our own past, and the surprises we have seen in the biographies of others, what may not befall us? We are led to reflect upon
II. THE EPOCH WHEN THIS BEWILDERMENT WILL TERMINATE. The “end” will come. This is:
1. The anticipation of universal conscience.
2. The prediction of Scripture.
3. The necessity of the present state of things. Chaos cries out for cosmos, as winter does for spring. This “end” may come to the individual at death, to the race at the great “day of the Lord.”
III. THE DUTY OF GOOD MEN WITH REGARD TO THAT EPOCH. There is not only:
1. Hopeful expectation of it, though that is clearly taught; but:
2. Progress towards it. “Go thy way n; not simply drift through the time-spaces that intervene.
IV. THE DESTINY OF GOOD MEN AT THAT EPOCH.
1. Personal existence is implied. “Thou shalt stand in thy lot.”
2. Right condition is assured, “thy lot.”
3. Perfect blessedness is promised. “Thou shalt rest.” With such a prediction the good man is fortified for all the pilgrimage, battles, storms, that are his present experience. (Homilist.)
Our Way and its End
The opening words of the verse do not me much speak of the a end,” as of what shall be “till the end.” Till the end it will be said to each man separately and individually, “Go thy way.”
I. THE SOLEMNITY OF THIS MESSAGE. In turning your thought from “the end of all things,” and fixing them on the separate and successive deaths of individual men, I lose much that is solemn and impressive in grandeur, but I gain in the solemnity and impressiveness of personal interest. Let us realise it. God shall one day speak thus to you and to me--“Go thou thy way.” In the individuality and solitariness of our dying hour we see its solemnity.
II. ITS CERTAINTY. The “end of all things” can be made the subject of doubt, and it influences but few. But we feel that if there is one thing surer than another, it is that “it is appointed for all men once to die.”
III. THE MEANING OF THIS MESSAGE. When we are called to “go our way,” it is implied that this life is not the end of our being, that death does not put an end to our active existence. At death we only go away from time into eternity, from the world that is seen into the world that is not seen. At death we enter into an eternity of conscious and continued activity. The message that calls us away indicates the direction in which we are to go. “Thy way”--the way in which thou art walking. The way in which thou now art walking is now irrevocably, eternally, unalterably, “thy way”--the way which thou hast chosen, and in which thou must go on for ever. Onward and onward, at death, each shall go in his own way. Sinners and saints shall continue to go on in their respective ways. Perpetuity is implied in this going our own way, perpetual progression; and perhaps also is implied accelerating speed. Are we, then, now walking in the way in which we would wish to go on for ever? (W. Grant.)
A New Year’s Message
Daniel had been receiving partial insight into the future by the visions recorded in previous chapters. He sought for clearer knowledge, and was told that the book of the future was sealed and closed, so that no further enlightenment was possible for him. He is bidden back to the common duties of life, and is enjoined to pursue his patient course with an eye on the end to which it conducts, and to leave the unknown future to unfold itself as it may.
I. THE JOURNEY. This is a threadbare metaphor for life. The figure implies perpetual change. The landscape glides by us, and we travel on through it. If life is truly represented under the figure of a journey, nothing is more certain than that we sleep in a fresh hospice every night, and leave behind us every day scenes that we shall never traverse again. What madness, then, to be putting out eager hands to clutch what must be left, and so to contradict the very law under which we live. Another of the commonplaces that spring from this image is that life is continuous. There are no convulsions in life. To-morrow is the child of to-day, and yesterday was the father of this day. What we are springs from what we have been, and settles what we shall be. We make our characters by the continuity of our small actions. Let no man think of his life as if it were a heap of unconnected points. It is a chain of links that are forged together inseparably. Therefore, we ought to see to it that the direction in which our life runs is one that conscience and God can approve. The metaphor further suggests that no life runs its fitting course unless there is continuous effort. There will be crises when we have to run with panting breath and strained muscles. There will be long stretches of commonplace where speed is not needed, but pegging away is, where the one duty is persistent continuousness in a course. Mark the emphasis of the text, “Go thy way till the end.” You older men, do not fancy that in the deepest aspect any life has ever a period in it which a man may “take it easy.” You may do that in regard of outward things, but in regard to all the deepest things of life no man may ever lessen his diligence until he has attained the goal. Until the end is reached we have to use all our power, and to labour as earnestly, and guard ourselves as carefully, as at any period before. And not only “till the end,” but go thy way “to the end.” Let the thought that the road has a termination be ever present with us all. There is a great deal of so-called devout contemplation of death which is anything but wholesome. It is more unwholesome still never to let the contemplation of that end come into our calculations of the future. Is it not strange that the purest thing is the thing that we forget most of all.
II. THE RESTING-PLACE. “Thou shalt rest.” This is a gracious way of speaking about death. It is a thought which takes away a great deal of the grimness and terror with which men generally invest the close. It is a thought the force of which is very different in different stages and conditions of life. Few, if any, however, but have some burden to carry, and know what weariness means. The final cessation of work has a double character. The only way to turn death into the opening of the gate of our resting-place is setting our heart’s desires and our spirit’s trust on the Lord Jesus.
III. THE HOME. “Stand “--that is Daniel’s way of preaching the doctrine of the Resurrection. “Thy lot.” Image from the security of the Israelites in Canaan. Humanity has not attained its perfection until the perfected spirit is mated with a perfect body. God is the true inheritance. In that perfect land each person has precisely as much of God as he is capable of possessing. What determines our lot is how we went our way till that other end, the end of life. Destiny is character worked out. Therefore, tremendous importance attaches to the fugitive moment. Each act that we do is weighted with eternal consequences. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)
The Path and End of the Upright Man
Daniel’s career was neither smooth nor easy. But the course he chose was so sure and true that this text, the last recorded voice to him from Heaven, bade him pursue it patiently, in sure expectation of a happy eternity.
I. HIS WAY.
1. The way of resolute consecration to God.
2. The way d steadfast faith in Divine friendship.
3. The way of regular private devotion and BibLe study.
II. THE END PROMISED HIM. “The end of that man is peace.”
1. Repose in Hades.
2. A personal share, at the resurrection, of Christ’s Kingdom.
3. An inheritance for ever. Let the Heavenly word which closes the book of Daniel
(1) awaken the undecided; and
(2) confirm the resolution of the believing to adopt his course. (David Dale Stewart, M.A.)
The Servant of God Dismissed and Rewarded
1. We are all, like Daniel, servants of God, and charged with the performance of that work which He has respectively assigned us, arising out of our situation in life, and the various duties and engagements connected with it.
(1) We have our providential work to do. The situation and work of mankind are various, but the appointment is of God. There are some persons who imagine that the labours which arise from providential circumstances are distinct from piety and obstructive of it. They may be made so, but they are not so necessarily. No man has a charter to be idle. Idleness as infallibly destroys the soul as open sin committed against God. We are all stewards of his manifold gifts.
(2) Our connection with the Church of Christ opens to us another class of service. As members of religious society we have our duties. When we are ourselves “converted,” we are to “strengthen the brethren.” No Christian man “liveth unto himself,” and no Christian man “dieth unto himself.” Every man that professes the name of Christ is bound to promote His cause--not in the spirit of party, but in the spirit of Christianity. We are to stemthe torrent of iniquity, promote the influence of truth, and endeavour to extend the religion of the Son of God to every land.
(3) There is a work arising out of our personal salvation. The work of salvation can only be elected by strong and vigorous efforts. We cannot of ourselves form a gracious thought or a good desire. We know these things, but let no man plead them as an excuse for his own sloth. God works in us, but He also works by us. He saves us, but He effects our salvation by giving energy and application to our own powers; and in the strength which He imparts He calls us to resist evil, to watch and pray, to mortify our corruptions, to cultivate our knowledge and every grace. This is our personal and our daily work. Every duty assigned to us day by day is the work which God has given us to do. Frequently to reflect on this will produce the happiest results.
2. In the text we have an important intimation of the termination of all things. “Go thy way till the end be.” There will be an end--an “end of all things.” Strangely, we feel little interest in contemplating the end of all things.
(1) There will be an end of the providential dispensations of God. This is strongly marked in the text, which follows a series of prophecies relating to the fate Of empires. An angel reminded Daniel that as end will be put to the dispensations of Providence with respect to nations and empires. A time will come when all the tumults of earth will be hushed into silence. Why should we feel surprised at the changes in our own circles, when things so vast, so firm, so lasting, must end and be forgotten!
(2) There will be an end of that which is of infinitely more importance than the concerns of empires--the mediatorial kingdom of Jesus Christ of that Daniel had an interesting view. Before him the triumphs of the Gospel were displayed. Jesus Christ has a kingdom more extensive than that of any earthly monarch. The Saviour will not always be the Mediator between man and God. He must exchange the office of Intercessor for that of Judge.
(3) There will be an end of the world itself. The heavens and earth that are now shall pass away.
3. An interesting view of the state of the pious dead between death and the end of all things. “Thou shalt rest.” It cannot mean annihilation, nor a loss of consciousness between death and the termination of all things. This rest is the composure and settled triumph of the spirit, escaped from wind, tempest, battle, danger, and at home with God. Rest from religious labours, and from religious fears.
4. Instruction in the closing part of the angel’s address to Daniel. Allusion is to the manner in which the tribes were settled in Canaan.
(1) The Christian’s Heaven is secured as was Canaan to the Israelites.
(2) Rewards relate to character.
(3) Both variety and degree are suggested.
(4) The full reward will come at a fixed period. Two considerations. The faithfulness of Jesus will conduct you to this happy state if you are found faithful. And this subject is well calculated to encourage the faithful saint. (R. Watson.)
The Servant of God Dismissed and Rewarded
These are the words in which the angel Gabriel dismissed the prophet after delivering his message to him. The book of Daniel is interesting for the length of time it covers; the eventful period to which it relates; the nature of the prophecy it contains; and the character of the man who wrote it. In intellect he was a giant; in morals he was a model.
1. Daniel’s death or dismissal. “Go thou thy way.” This may be regarded as the God-sent summons for him to depart this life. The way we have walked through life is the way we must walk in death. Death is only finishing the journey; it is but the last step in the life-trodden way. Daniel could not have been less than ninety years old when he received this angel’s visit. He was full of years and honours. If we are in our sins unreconciled to God, death can only come as the “King of terrors.” If we are at peace with God through Jesus Christ, then death will come to us, as he came to Daniel, in the form of an angel of light; as a blessing, as a friend, as “the servant Jesus sends to call in to His arms.”
2. Notice what the angel said to Daniel about his condition after death. “For thou shalt rest.” A condition of conscious happiness in the presence of the glorified Redeemer. A rest, not of sleep, but of conscious enjoyment. A satisfying rest, but yet a rest that does not bring with it the full reward of final blessedness.
3. How long is this state to continue? “Till the end be.” “In the end of the days.” This end must be the end of the present dispensation; the end of the kingdom of this world. The end of the days means the morning of the resurrection. Then the rest will enter on a new stage of development that will go on in widening and deepening channels of glory and blessedness for ever.
4. Note what the angel said about Daniel’s final state, when the end comes. “Thou shalt stand in thy lot.” (R. Newton, D.D.)
The Christian in Life, in the Grave, and in Heaven
That is a dark leaf in the book of God’s providence which, on account of one man’s disobedience, made it necessary that death should pass upon all men. Partakers of Adam’s fall, we share in Adam’s penalty. The prophet Daniel is the most faultless human character on record. To the young, he is an example of humble and self-denying piety; to those of mature years, of stern and unbending uprightness; to the aged, of holy and triumphant faith in the promises of a covenant, keeping God. Daniel was a life-preacher. His influence is to be found in his daily life. His acts were a commentary on the purity of his creed, and himself a temple to his Maker’s praise. Yet all this could not revoke the sentence of the angel, “Thou shalt rest.”
I. TO EVERY MAN THERE IS APPOINTED SOME USEFUL SPHERE OF LABOUR. Usefulness is one of the ends for which our Maker has formed us. No man can boast a charter for idleness. There is a restlessness about the mind of man which must be employed about something--a perpetual elasticity which must have occupation--whether it be to guide the plough or frame our laws. But if man scorns all useful and good occupations, Satan is sure to provide him with a bad one. Man has not a greater foe than sloth. There is no exemption from appointed labour for those whom Providence has enriched with “all manner of store,” and released from the necessity of toil. Our work must not be confined to the duties which belong to us either as citizens or as men. We call ourselves by the name of Christ; and, if we are wise, we shall not rest till we have made that calling sure. We must, like our Master, “be about our Father’s business”
II. A TIME IS COMING WHEN THE SERVANT OF GOD SHALL BE DISMISSED AND REPOSE FROM HIS LABOURS. The state of the soul between death and judgment has always been a favourite subject of speculation. The state of the soul after death is entirely a matter of revelation. Admitting that the soul will have a conscious existence immediately it leaves the body, our enquiry is, What will that condition be? It is not its most perfect fruition. That is not till “the end of the day.” And yet it must be fruition, or it would not be gain to die. The angel calls it a state of rest. It shall be the first stage in that moral progress in which the soul is changed from glory to glory; never completing the number of its perfections in finding that it can attain no more.
III. THE PERIOD WHEN THE SERVANT OF GOD SHALL RECEIVE HIS ETERNAL RECOMPENSE. Days and months and years are milestones along the road of life. But there shall be an end of these days. Our joys will be always beginning then; one unceasing now of a space that shall never terminate. The soul of the righteous shall “stand” when all else have fallen, erect in the confidence of its own immortality, and waiting for its “lot at the end of the days.” What shall the lot be? Will it be the same for all? Who, then, will be contented to shine as a star when there is another glory, “the glory of the sun,” within his reach? Can we overlook the danger that if we are seeking only the poorest “lot at the end of the days,” it may turn out that we shall find no lot at all; that having sown with a niggard hand we shall find no fruit but bitterness. Forget not that we have every one of us a work to do, and a work in which every day we live must bear its part. (Daniel Moore, M.A.)
The Lot at the End of the Days
These words contain undoubtedly the dismission of Daniel from his whole life work, and may, therefore, be applied to anyone who has been working well for God, and has now gone to rest. The text, taken in its connections, may bring to our view:
I. THE MAJESTY AND GREATNESS OF THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD. There is no subject perhaps which we are so apt to dwarf and belittle in our ordinary conceptions as the subject of the world-providence of God..We require to place ourselves, so to say, in a petition to see it. This book of Daniel is a magnificent climbing-ground. It gives us a succession of far-reaching views. It shows us the continuity of history, the connecting of one thing out of another, the plan of God in it all. God says not only to individuals, but to communities of men, and witnesses for the truth; to churches and to generations, “Go thy way.” What power of will and thought is His which can develop itself in fulness only through all the worlds and along all the ages! How vast is His providence, by which the whole is wrought out. Everything is ruled and used for the accomplishment of His ultimate and perfect will.
II. HOW LITTLE IS INDIVIDUAL MAN. Insignificant as man is, God is mindful of him. A fly is more than a cathedral, for it is living, organised, capable of motion, and of a kind of thought, and is, therefore, more in the scale of being than any form or size of inanimate matter. A man, living, intelligent, immortal, is more than the whole providence of God. It, therefore, may be expected that God will look to and tenderly regard the sons of men. We may trust Him to gather up the fragments of our life activity, so that nothing at all shall be lost. God says to every one of His dying children, “Go thy way. Thy day’s work is done. I have watched thee at it all the day long. I alone know what thy work has been. I have known thy secret purpose, and I have reckoned that in thy work. Thy work is done. Go in trustfulness. Go in peace.”
III. “THOU SHALT REST.” To go from earthly labour for God is to go to Heavenly rest. Even the earthly part rests in the grave. But the better part is carried to the waiting yet happy and restful company of sainted souls. Some interpret “sleeping in Jesus” literally. There is nothing unphilosophical in this theory. The practical extinction of time is not difficult to imagine. No length of time is anything when compared with eternal duration. He that falls asleep in Jesus may sleep safely through all the remaining ages of time, and still have undiminished eternity to live in. But it seems that to sleep in Jesus is not to be unconscious. It is to be in Paradise; and that must mean, to be patient, percipient, happy. The meaning seems to be, “Thou shalt rest,” and know that thou art resting. Of course, this rest after the work of life will be more or less to each, according to the labours that have preceded it. He who does what his hand findeth to do with his might through life’s working day, will go to his Heavenly rest with a satisfaction and a zest which loiterer and laggard can never know.
IV. THE REST AT DEATH IS PREPARATORY TO SOMETHING FAR MORE COMPLETE AT THE “END OF THE DAYS.” Then--when the whole vast system of earthly providence is wound up--then shall each man, woman, and child stand in their “own lot.” The reference here is chiefly to the righteous. The term “stand” expresses the completeness, and above all the permanence of the new life. And it will be our own lot. We shall stand then in that which we are making now. We shall claim that which by our faith we claimed before, and in a measure possessed by our love and hope. (Alex. Raleigh, D.D.)
The Labouring Saint’s Dismissal to Rest
1. The person dismissed, Daniel. Note:
(1) His qualifications; wisdom, love to his people, uprightness and righteousness in the discharge of that high place whereunto he was advanced.
(2) His employment. Consider the nature of the employment itself, and some considerable circumstances of it. All his visions close with some eminent exaltation of the Kingdom of Christ.
2. The dismission itself. Singly, relating to his employment only. In reference to his life also. The Lord dischargeth Daniel from his farther attendance on Him in the way of receiving visions and revelations. And there is also intimation that he must shortly lay down his mortality. Three things may be intended in the word “end.” The end of his life. The end of the world. Or the end of the things whereof the Holy Ghost is peculiarly dealing with Daniel. God oftentimes suffers not His servants to see the issue and accomplishment of these glorious things, wherein themselves have been most eminently engaged. Observe that the condition of a dismissed saint is one of rest. Rest holds out two things to us. A freedom from what is opposite thereunto, wherein those that are at rest have been exercised. And something which suits them, and satisfies their nature in the condition wherein they are. What is it the saints are at rest from? Sin, and labour, and travail. What is it that they are at rest in? In the bosom of God, because in the fruition and enjoyment of Him they are everlastingly satisfied, as having attained the utmost end whereto they were created, all the blessedness whereof they are capable. Every man stands in a threefold capacity, natural, civil, and religious. And there are distinct qualifications that are suited unto these several capacities. (J. Owen, D.D.)
The Assurance of Rest and Future Glory given to Daniel
Many extraordinary discoveries had been made to Daniel of the principal events that were to happen to the Church and world to the end of time. Some hints were given him as to the times when these events should happen. The prophet did not understand them, and, therefore, desired to be more particularly informed concerning them. He is told that they would not be fully understood “till the accomplishment” explained them. He is cut short with the assurance that whatever was the state of the Church and the world, his own state should be happy. He must, therefore, attend to his duty, wait God’s time, and comfort himself with these pleasing prospects.
I. THE CHARGE GIVEN TO DANIEL. “Go thy way till the end be.” Some understand this as a dismission from life. Prefer to understand it as, “attend to your proper business, the duties of your station and age, till the end of life comes.” It may be a discharge from his public of office as prophet. It may be a general admonition not to be too inquisitive about prophetic matters. The Greek version renders, “Go thy way, and be at rest”; be content with that station and condition to which God hath appointed thee. Go on faithfully and cheerfully through that portion of life which yet remaineth unto thee.
II. THE GRACIOUS ENCOURAGEMENT SET BEFORE HIM. Three things are promised.
1. A peaceful rest in the grave. Thou shalt die in peace, and enter upon a state of rest. This implies that the present is a state of trouble and disquietude. Little rest is to be expected here. Good men, and good ministers in particular, have their peculiar troubles. Their bodies shall rest in the grave, and their souls shall rest with God. The former is a kind of negative happiness. The latter is the rest of a being who is still existing, a rational, active spirit. It wants something suited to its nature, that will satisfy and fill its desires; and this it finds in God, to whom it returns, as to its rest, portion, and happiness.
2. Daniel is promised a glorious resurrection from the grave. His rest in the grave was to continue to the end of the days, and that he was then to stand in his lot. The end of the days refers to the resurrection. Observe, then, that days shall have an end. The revolution of seasons shall cease. Then Daniel, with the rest of God’s faithful servants, shall arise and stand upon the earth.
3. Daniel is promised a happy portion in the Heavenly world. The expression in the text intimates that there shall be a day of judgment, when every man shall be tried, and have his lot publicly assigned to him. It may also intimate that good men shall stand in that judgment, and not, like the wicked, flee to hide themselves from the presence of the Judge. The expression intimates that there shall be different lots or portions assigned to good men, according to the degree of their holiness and usefulness here. Application:
(1) See the necessity of securing a happy lot for ourselves. See how kindly God treats His servants, and how comfortably He speaks to them.
(2) Let the servants of God attend to the charge given to Daniel.
(3) Let aged saints comfort themselves with the prospects of this happiness promised to Daniel. It is the lot of all God’s faithful servants. (J. Orton, S. T. P.)
A Divine Course for Every Man
All human affairs are under God’s dominion, and must develop the wisdom of His rule and the glory of His counsel. Daniel’s visions perplexed his soul. He longed for more light, but to his eager cry there came the calming direction, and the consoling assurance, of the text.
I. THERE IS AN APPOINTED COURSE FOR EVERY MAN. With all our similarities, we are made to feel our separateness. “Thou.” “Thy way.”
1. Having a separate existence we have a separate way. This is set forth in Scripture, and evident by observation. (Hebrews 11:1-40 for illustrations.)
(a) Then we should take our case to God, and our course from God. “Wait on the Lord”--consult Him, trust Him, give attention to Divine requirements. “Wait for the Lord “--for the indications of His will within, and the movement of His hand without. “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.”
(b) We should render obedience. “To every man his work.” We are not compelled to “go” by a fixed fate. Man is moral, and, therefore, free to disobey. The element in obedience that pleases God is willingness. Christian principles, right motives, untiring service, will make our days bright with Heavenly light. Is the course you are taking one that God and conscience can approve? “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man”--but what about the end thereof?
2. Providential mysteries ought not to interfere with duty. There are hidden things in creation, secrets in God’s dealings, and mysteries in the Scriptures. Shall all obligation be superseded until these are fully known? There is nothing dark about duty. (Micah 6:8.) O troubled soul, cease repining; weak heart, take courage; depressed, baffled spirit, repose in God! Inactivity brings no solution; fretfulness removes no obscurities. Trust and toil, and life will be a diversity of discoveries. With a separate existence and a peculiar way--do thine individual duty. “ Go thou thy way.” A commonplace but impressive fact is next inculcated.
II. THAT THERE IS AN END TO MAN’S COURSE ON EARTH. “Till the end be.” When, where, or how Daniel passed away, we know not. The end came, “and he died.”
1. Think of the inevitable end
(a) to business engagements;
(b) to Sabbath enjoyments;
(c) present sufferings;
(d) earthly relationships;
(e) our connection with time.
2. The end is under God’s control. “Man’s days are determined, the number of his months are with Thee; ‘Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.”
3. The end of this life is the beginning of another. To abide in our calling, strive after conformity to Christ’s image, daily to renew our acts of trust and service, and faithfully discharge the stewardship of life, will help us to finish our course with joy, and prepare us for the world to come. The words to Daniel give:
III. THE PROMISE OF AN ALLOTTED FUTURE. “For thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.”
1. A pledge of rest. God’s promised rest is not the calm of unfeeling apathy, nor the rest of the grave; but the rest of perfect satisfaction. Revelation 17:13-17; Revelation 21:3-4.)
2. The assurance of a personal portion. The way in which the land of promise was divided to tribes and families supplies the figure. A better inheritance than a few acres of land is assured to the man, Daniel; an individual portion, peculiar and permanent. “Thou shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” At the end of the days will come the day of days--judgment. Then the possession of some shall be “everlasting life,” and the doom of others a shame and everlasting contempt.” (Verses 1-3.) Let us carry away these related and suggestive thoughts--an individual life and path, the burden of singular duties, a separate judgment, and a personal reward. Listen to the voice of your God. He tells you to walk resolutely in the path of His choosing; He reminds you of the end of your earthly course; and predicts, for the obedient, untroubled rest and an enduring portion. “Go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” (Matthew Braithwaite.)
Daniel, His Example and Reward
These words reveal to Daniel three things important to be known. How God’s servants leave of their life-work here. What happens to them immediately it is over. What is their final condition. We have all of us work to do here. Some have to labour, others to direct; some to teach, others to learn; some to rule, others to obey. But whatever our place is, God has put us in it. God gives us our duties in it. Daniel’s had been a long and difficult life. Having a good record, it was a happy day at last when his warfare was accomplished, and he got the message of his dismissal, “Go thy way; faithful servant, thy work is done.” That the end we wish for those we love and live for. At the eventide of our time, God will say to each labourer in his turn, “Go thy way.” What, then, is our intermediate state? Does the Scripture inform us where we are to be, what we are to do, until the end come? Thou shalt “rest”--not in death, or unconsciousness. But this rest will not be then complete. The triumph of the Church, though assured, will not yet be consummated. When the resurrection trumpet of the great jubilee shall sound, then the people of God shall enter each upon the full enjoyment of their inheritance, long ordained and set apart; and to each it shall be true, “Thou shalt stand in thy lot.” You know the reality of life is not in life’s uncertain goods, but in the hopes and promises of God; and those are happy who, walking through the wilderness, use them for a well, and the pools are filled with water. The child of God, walking in an honest, simple faith, may have to face many trials, but never the trial of hearing, like the king, “Thy hope is at an end, thy kingdom is departed from thee.” The longer he works on the brighter grows his promise, and though he go his way and take his rest, he will stand again in his lot at the end of days. (T. F. Crosse, D. C. L.)
The Duty of a Good Man in Time of Trouble
I. A GOOD MAN’S LIFE IS OFTEN PASSED IN THE MIDST OF GREAT EVENTS. This was the case with Daniel.
II. A GOOD MAN’S SOUL IS OFTEN PERPLEXED BY THE VARIETY AND MYSTERIOUSNESS OF THESE GREAT EVENTS. These words of the text show that Daniel was greatly perplexed. How is it that we are so perplexed with the operations of God’s providence.
1. We have not the capacity to judge. The events of time are remote in their causes, and complicate in their details, and vast in their consequences. We cannot understand God, nor find out the Almighty to perfection; therefore, let us be resigned.
2. We are not fit to judge. We love Daniel because we see he was just as weak, and just as foolish, as we are, at times.
III. A GOOD MAN’S DUTY IN THE TIME OF TROUBLE IS TO WAIT THE END OF THESE PERPLEXITIES, RATHER THAN TO TRY AND EXPLAIN THEM. There will be an end. Let us wait till then. We are to stand by as spectators in the great drama of life in which God is all in all. Not careless or uninterested spectators; far from that, but devout and reverent beholders of the great mystery. Nor yet idle spectators either. We are to go and stand in our lot till the end of the days; to go and occupy our place, and fill our niche, and do our work, and be willing, after having served our generation, to die in harness, having accomplished our mission. (W. G. Barrett.)
The Christian’s Path, and its Glorious Termination
We see the wisdom of God in surrounding prophecy generally with obscurity; we see His wisdom in involving it in comparative darkness, because, as men are to be the instruments in executing the Divine purpose and accomplishing the Divine counsels, if prophecy were very clear, the responsibility of these agents would be certainly compromised, and the process of Divine moral government would be certainly interfered with. But in the prophecies of Daniel we see that he was carried far above the ordinary range of prophetic vision. His eye swept down the whole stream of time. He saw the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom, which is to comprehend all kingdoms. In this verse he comes before us to receive his dismissal; prophetic work was done. We are here taught some very important truths.
1. That every child of God has his own way marked out and appointed by Heaven, in which it is his duty, through all the trials and afflictions of his life, faithfully to persevere, till death, the end, has come. The prophet is commanded to go his way, his own special way. I cannot go in another man’s way, neither can another man go in my way. We are born into this world under certain laws and conditions, which determine our fitness for certain situations and employments, and have each a certain path of usefulness and honourable activity marked out for us. These differences in our constitutions, these differences as to peculiar adaptations, these differences as to faculties and susceptibilities--why, they are the very foundation of human society, for what one man is not meet for, another man is. This, kept in mind, will make us more patient and charitable and forbearing towards our fellow-men. No man can tell what it is that his brother man has to contend against; no man can tell what it is that his brother has to do battle with in his own breast, or, it may be, through bodily disorder.
2. Whatever our gifts may be, we should bear in mind that they came from God at first, who gives to every man according to His wisdom and grace. The poor man should remember that his poverty is not dishonourable. He may be as honourable before God as any man can be, and have his rank in the sight of Heaven equally with the prince and the peer. There is nothing dishonourable but sin. Since our way is marked out by God, it would not contribute to our happiness if we could get out of that way. It is not change of situation in this world that can make a man happy.
II. AFTER DEATH THE SOUL OF THE SERVANT OF GOD SHALL ENTER ON A STATE OF REST. The rest of the soul after death is not unconsciousness. Men found this opinion upon a certain philosophic creed. Dreams foreshadow the great truth that the soul of man can exist, yea, be conscious of action, when separated from the body. The Christian enters upon a state which, while it is called rest, is full of unspeakable blessedness. It is rest in contradistinction to the toil and labour and trial, and disappointment and pain, in this mortal world, a state where the mind will be invigorated and exalted to the loftiest degree.
III. THERE WILL BE A RESURRECTION.
1. This is to take place at the “ end of the days.” The great cycles of Providence will come to their termination. There will be an end to the days of grace, an end of Sabbaths, and ministry, and ordinances.
2. There will be the resurrection of the good. Mark the attitude “stand.” Mark the attitude, mark the dignity, mark the nobility, of it.
3. “Thou shalt stand in thy lot.” Israel had, in Canaan, each his own lot. So in the resurrection, each one shall have his own place, and his own inheritance; exactly suited to his intellectual, moral, and spiritual capabilities. We shall find, each of us, that we have got as much given to us as we are capable of receiving. Is not this an encouraging and inspiring prospect? (J. Kernahan, B. A.)
On the Prospect of Heaven
To afford the pained heart desired relief, the prospects of futurity, which the gospel of Jesus Christ affords, are especially suitable and useful.
1. The servants of God shall enjoy rest after death. While their mortal part reposes in the grave, their spirit rests in the embraces of their Lord. We are taught to look on our present life as the season of trouble and exertion. The remembrance of what life is may keep us from idolising present comforts, from making a god of this world. The word “rest,” applied to the future destination of the believer, teaches us also to conceive of the life that precedes it, as one of labour. We are now called to the labour of duty, to improve the spring-time of life, by sowing to ourselves righteousness, that we may reap in mercy. Now we are called to the labour of self-denial, and the labour of watchfulness. Amidst the labours and cares of life, be it our aim to secure, through the Saviour, this place of rest for ourselves.
2. The servant of God shall possess an inheritance in the Heavenly Canaan. The angel said unto Daniel that he should “stand in his lot.” Joshua made the tribes cast lots for their respective portions. When the land was thus divided, they possessed the lot appointed them by Jehovah. That Canaan was type of a better. That better country the God of all grace shall divide amongst His faithful people, and each disciple of Christ shall have his share. This will be larger or smaller, according as believers have, by Divine grace, been made to excel in every Christian virtue, in usefulness in their generation. This place is called an inheritance, to show them that they have not procured a right to it by the purchase of their own works,. but as a legacy left them by a friend. It is upon account of their connection with Christ as their elder brother that they have any right to it--that they shall ever possess it. The promise, “Thou shalt rest,” refers to exemption from evil; the promise, “Thou shalt stand in thy lot,” to the enjoyment of good. By the first, the good man had the prospect of deliverance from pains, and sorrows, and cares, and sins. By the second, his hopes were raised to the possession of a great portion, an inheritance in eternity.
3. This inheritance of the servant of God shall be lasting. “At the end of the days.” At the end of all days. The conviction of the uncertainty of what we have here, casts a damp on the enjoyment of it; but the lot in Heaven, the portion of the Christian, is abiding, is lasting, is for ever.
4. The prospect of this rest, and inheritance, supports the soul in the view of the approaching calamities. The same prospect is the believer’s support in the view of personal trials. We are all taught the uncertainty that hangs over all our present comforts, but with the view of Heaven as his approaching rest the Christian shall never be entirely destitute--never be left without the cheering light of hope.
5. The enjoyment of Heaven will make up the loss of the comforts the Christian possesses below.
6. In Heaven, the glorified saints shall hear of the triumphs of the Church on earth. And
7. We are here taught that the hopes of futurity should impel to present duty, Daniel was not to spend his time in indolent contemplation of those glorious events, but to go on his way in the path of duty. From these remarks learn:
(1) To view afflictions in the light of eternity.
(2) To look at duty in the light of eternity.
(3) Let the Gospel-neglecter contemplate his conduct in the light of eternity. (A. W. Knowles.)
The Christian’s Lot
“Thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot.” Such shall be the word to all who cast in their lot with God. They shall have the sweet assurance, ere they pass through the dark river of Jordan, that they are passing on to their rest. Daniel knew God himself. Many identify knowing of God with knowing God. A man reads about God, hears about God, thinks about God, sees God in nature, traces Him in providence, admires Him in revelation, and then he thinks--I know God. He only knows of God. To know God is much closer and more personal. It is to have heard Him speaking to us as none other ever has spoken to us. It is to have come into spiritual contact with God. And what is our joy in Christ? It is this, that Christ knows not of us, but that he knows us. He knows all about you, and your heaven on earth is that you know Him. (F. Whitfield, M.A.)
I. THE PERPLEXITY. How much in the history of human life there is to perplex! The origin of sin. The reign of wrong. The prosperity of the wicked. The afflictions of the good. The tardy march of the Gospel, etc. These events often make men pessimists, who declare that life is not worth living.
II. THY CRISIS. “Till the end be.” There is a great crisis awaiting the life of mankind.
1. Analogy suggests this.
2. So does science.
3. So does the moral sentiment.
4. So does Scripture. See Mat 25:1-46; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15, etc.
III. THE DUTY. “Go thou thy way.”
1. There is a divinely-appointed way for every man to pursue.
2. It must be pursued, however great the difficulties. Wait calmly and courageously for the end.
IV. THE ULTIMATE DESTINY.
1. “Thou shalt stand,” personally. Thou, not another for thee. Thine individuality will never be amalgamated, thine identity never be lost.
2. “Thou shalt stand,” appropriately. What is the true lot of man? A correspondence of his circumstances with his character. A man’s moral character must ultimately, under the government of a righteous God, determine his position.
3. “Thou shalt stand,” peacefully. “Thou shalt rest.” The moral universe, agitated by the storms of successive ages, shall be hushed, every godly man shall rest. Conclusion. “Go thou thy way till the end be,” brother. The portentous clouds will not always roll over thy sky, nor will confounding whirlwinds always bewilder thee on thy path. There is an end, in that end thou shalt rest, rest in holy faith and love, and shalt have “thy lot.” A sphere suited for thy moral aspirations and faculties, a sphere that will give scope to thy every power, satisfy thy every want, and transcend thy highest expectations. (David Thomas, D.D.)
No Rest Till the End is Reached
“Go thy way till the end.” You, my contemporaries, you older men, do not fancy that in the deepest aspect any life has ever a period in it in which a man may “take it easy.” You may do that in regard of outward things, and it is the hope and the reward of faithfulness in youth and middle age that when the grey hairs come to be upon us we may slack off a little in regard to outward activity. But in regard of all the deepest things of life no man may ever lessen his diligence until he has attained the goal. Some of you will remember how, in a stormy October night years ago, the Royal Charter went down three hours from Liverpool, when the passengers had met in the saloon and voted a testimonial to the captain because he had brought them across the ocean in safety. Until the anchor is down and we are inside the harbour we may be shipwrecked if we are careless in our navigation. “Go thou thy way until the end.” And remember, you older people, that until that end is reached you have to use all your power, and to labour as earnestly, and guard yourselves as carefully, as at any period before. (A. Maclaren, D.D.)
In View of the End
According to Calvin, he was to be content with his lot, and expect no more visions. Bullinger understands the words as an exhortation to persevere, and continue to the end. According to Junius, he was to set all things in order, and make himself ready for his end, without curiously searching further into these things. Brightman understands the words as intimating that what the Lord might have further to reveal, He would do it by other prophets, as He did by Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. (T. Robinson, D.D.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Daniel 12". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12