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the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.”-A large crowd of human beings, is a sight calculated at all times to excite feelings of interest, perhaps of awe.—What must it have done under circumstances such as those to which we are now referring!--When from the huge and gorgeous idol in the midst, the sun glanced upon countless myriads on every side-extended far as the eye could reach, consisting of every variety of complexion and costume—all assembled for the same purpose, all looking for the same appointed signal.
And now let us suppose the signal given.-Let us suppose that at the same moment, from different parts of the vast plain—there arise the loud, wild notes of eastern music :--and behold! as if animated by one soul, the dense immeasurable multitude fall prostrate in adoration before the Idol God.
The whole multitude, did I say ?-So indeed, it would appear at the first glance—so few are the exceptions.-Besides the god, and the haughty monarch
who made the god, there are three men only who stand erect, above the abject grovelling idolaters.--Now, (before examining their motives, how firm of
purpose must these men have been !-How firm of purpose to resist that strong propensity to acquiescence which is a natural feeling, when all around us are of one mind, and which is wont to become overwhelmingly powerful, when backed by the excitement of such a scene as this. The simultaneous prostration of these countless myriads would have bent, we might suppose, for a moment, the sternest principle; and we should no more expect to find three isolated individuals resisting the impulse, than to see the same number of corn-blades standing erect and motionless, while the whole field around was bowing and waving in the wind.
But if we admire their inflexibility when opposing such an influence as this, what shall we think of it, when we find that it was exhibited with the knowledge and in defiance of this fearful sentence, os And whoso falleth not down and wor
shippeth, shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”
And now what was the motive--we cannot forbear to ask-what was the motive which could have prompted men to such conduct ?- Devotion to their God, my brethren,- resolved-unflinching uncompromising devotion to their God. “ The people, nations, and languages” around them, knew not the one Jehovah, and were therefore ready, at the command of their despotic monarch, to "fall down and worship" either Bel, or the golden image, or any other god, “ the work of men's hands,” which in his pride of power he might
he might “set up." But these men had “ not so learned" the Lord. They were of the children of the captivity ---some of the exiled sons of Zion. They were persons, however, so distinguished for their fidelity and zeal in the service of the God of Israel, that the prophet Daniel himself had requested of the king to appoint them rulers under him, “over the affairs of the province of Babylon'."
Were these the men to bow down and worship a golden image, set up by one who but a short time since had declared that “ their God was of a truth, a God of gods, and a Lord of kings '?”—Hear them.-Mark the lofty tone that they assume when dragged before the incensed despot.—“ Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods-nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made, well—but if ye worship not-ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace—and who is that
God that shall deliver you out of my hands ? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king,O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so-our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not-be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."
There spoke, my brethren, the genuine spirit of martyrdom.—There spoke the spirit which shortly after animated Daniel, —when, knowing that the writing was signed which condemned every man who should worship the true God, to the lions' den," he went into his house, and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime,