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12.—Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let

them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. 13.-Then let our countenances be looked upon before thce

and the countenance of the children that eat of the por. tion of the kings meat; and as thou seest, deal with thy

servants. 14.—So he consented to them in this matter, and proved

them ten days. 15.-And at the end of ten days their countenances appear.

ed fairer and fatter in Aesh than all the children which

did eat the portion of the kings's meat. 16.—Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat

and the wine that they should drink, and gave them pulse.

In these verses we perceive the elements of Daniel's eminent character. Observe,

I. The DANGERS by which he was encompassed.

As in all probability, he had not at this time attained to more than twenty years of age, he was much exposed by his youth and inexperience. In that season of life the world assumes its most attractive appearance, and finds the greatest facility in imposing its delusions for realities. The brilliance of the morning deceives the unpractised traveller; and the snares which are laid to entrap virtue, are but too frequently successful. Hence arises the importance of sowing the seeds of religion in 6 the fields of youth.

Daniel was a captive, and yet elevated to a state of flattering distinction. "This was a twofold source of hazard. As a captive he was

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in the power of the conqueror, and of the officers of his court; and as one who was selected on account of his personal appearance and general capacity to be trained to exalted station, he was peculiarly liable to be led astray by the enchantments of the world. His captivity tended to break his spirits ; his distinctions to corrupt his virtue. Authority on the one hand, and flattery on the other, formed a powerful confederacy against his principles.

His destiny, moreover, seemed to be linked with that of his friends; and as the leading

; individual amongst them, upon him fell the greatest weight of responsibility. The conduct they adopted in this emergency was doubtless suggested by him, and his sentiments materially guided their judgment. He thus involved them in the consequences of his decisions; and these were not unimportant to “ strangers in a strange land.”

II. The MORAL TRIUMPH which Daniel obtained. It was complete and glorious.

He appears to have been perfectly conscientious. Reflection roused into action a feeling of insuperable reluctance to what was wrong; he purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself." Much of the food in use among the heathen was forbidden by the Mosaic law; and had not this been the case, their custom of offering up a part at their

swerve.

daily meals, as an acknowledgment to their gods, was revolting to these servants of the Most High. It is unsafe to resist the dictates of an enlightened conscience.

He was besides entirely decided ; having revolved the subject in his mind he would not

We should always think before we act, especially in religion ; but then proceed with a prompt, vigorous, and persevering determination.

There was a graceful modesty in Daniel connected with his moral heroism. Although he had “purposed in his heart" not to defile himself with heathen dainties, yet “he requested of the prince of the eunuchs (or personal attendants of the king) that he might not defile himself.” His conduct was respectful as it

. was firm. When young persons are compelled by principle to forsake father and mother, to separate from the most endeared associations of life, let them avoid all offensiveness of manner. What must be done for conscience-sake, should be done for religion's sake courteously. The proper regulation of the temper is an essential part of piety itself; and never does christianity appear more lovely than when she stands confessed with the spirit of martyrdom in her eye, and the blush of modesty upon her cheek.

Daniel manifested great judgment and wisdom. He did not press the point upou Ashpenaz, who supposed that a compliance with his request would endanger him at court, but made a judicious proposal to Melzar, which that inferior officer consented to adopt, and adopted with success. It is remarked by Poole's Continuators, that by exchanging the meat and wine for pulse, he gained the costly provision of four men for three years, adding, 66 Courtiers are no losers by the favour they procure for God's servants.”

Hence we perceive also that Daniel evinced an exemplary spirit of self-denial and temper

Instead of yielding to the temptations of luxury, he voluntarily subjected bimself to the humblest fare, that appetite might not betray him into sin: besides, his patriotic and religious sympathies determined him to prefer abstinence, while his country and his friends were suffering degradation. The 15th verse furnishes a clear evidence that the divine blessing sanctioned his conduct.

ance.

Verse 17.-As for these four children, God gave them

knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom ; and

Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18.-Now at the end of the days that the king had said he

should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs

brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19.–And the king communed with them; and among them

all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and

Azarith; therefore stood they before the king. 20.-And in all matters of wisdom and understanding,

that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times

of king

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better than all the magicians and astrologers that were

in all his realms. 21.–And Daniel continued even unto the first

year Cyrus.

6. Every good and every perfect gift is from above." It is the prerogative of God to qualify individuals for the stations which his providence destines them to occupy. Daniel was distinguished from his companions as the possessor of prophetic endowments.Though they had “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom,” he had “understanding in all visions and dreams.” . These were among the most ancient modes of divine communication. “If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.” Numb. xii. 6.

The investigation which Nebuchadnezzar instituted, and which he personally undertook, into the literary progress of the Jewish captives, was honorable to his character as a sovereign. It proves that he was by no means an unobservant spectator of what was passing around him ; and that he did not suffer himself to overlook the affairs of state for the sake of self-indulgence. Though we cannot commend the object he had in view, or sympathize with the ambitious motives by which he was guided, yet his activity and zeal merit our approbation.

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