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whom he had set over the affairs of the province of Babylon did not regard him, nor serve his gods, nor worship the golden image which he had set up. Then the king in his rage and fury desired that they might be brought before him; and when they were come into his presence, he said to them, “ Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do ye not 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 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 ?”
Now observe, my child, the conduct of these three Jews; how quiet and sober it was, yet how brave and bold touching their duty towards God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, “ O king, 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."
When the king heard these words, he became, as you may suppose, exceedingly enraged. He commanded the fiery furnace to be heated seven times hotter than it was before, and bade some of the strongest men in his army to bind the three Jews, and cast them into the fire.
The thing was done; but the fire of the furnace,
instead of consuming Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, only burnt the cords by which they were bound, and slew the men which cast them in. As for themselves, they were unhurt, and walked loose in the midst of the fire, and with them was seen a fourth person, so exceeding glorious in his appearance, that the king could not help crying out, “ Lo! I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” What a victory was this, Edward, of truth over falsehood: what a triumph for the servants of God! What a glorious deliverance !
E. What did Nebuchadnezzar do then ?
M. When he saw what great things their God had done for them, he called the young men by their names, and bade them come out; and they came forth, as if it had been from a pleasant garden, without even a hair of their heads singed, or the smell of fire on their clothes. Well, then, may we cry out with this heathen king, 6 Blessed be the God who can thus deliver his servants that trust in him; who is there that can save after this sort, but the living and true God, who ordereth all things in heaven and earth, according to the good pleasure of his own will."
E. What a beautiful and wonderful story, mamma? Can you tell me any thing that I ought to learn from it?
M. Yes, my love; I think I can find a great deal that you may learn from this interesting history. I suppose you ask this, because you think you are not likely to be called to such a trial as these three faithful Jews were.
We seem in no danger of being called
with the sound of the trumpet to fall down before an idol, and then if we refuse, to be burnt alive. No, my child, we are happily free from so dreadful a trial. But for this let us remember praise and thanksgivings are due to the mercies of our gracious God. It is of his goodness, you know, that we live in a Christian country, instead of a heathen one. In many parts of the world, even now, men fall down before the images which their own hands have made, and worship them as Nebuchadnezzar's people worshipped the golden image which he had set up. What a mercy it is that we are not living in such countries, or that we were not born the subjects of king Nebuchadnezzar! We might then have been so foolish and ignorant as to think that a piece of gold or wood or stone, could hear our prayers, and we might have known nothing at all of the true God, who is a spirit, and is present, unseen, throughout the whole world. But it hath pleased this great and only God to call us to the knowledge of Himself, and of bis Son Jesus Christ, whom to know is eternal life.
Think, I pray you, what a blessing it is to have an opportunity every day, of learning something about your God and Saviour, and of knowing that truth which is able, by God's help, to save your soul alive. We are not called to worship gold or silver, or stone, but we are called to give ourselves up to serve the God who made us, the blessed Saviour who died for us, and the Holy Spirit who is ever near to help us to become good and holy.
This then is one use we should make of the history of the three faithful Jews who were cast into the
know the troubles and trials, which attend them, and how seldom the rich and great really deserve to be envied.
This world is not the only world in which we are to live. Let us pray, then, that God would give us grace contentedly to do our duty here, in whatever station he may have placed us; and not to envy those to whom he has given more of this world than we possess.
And now, my love, it is time to leave off; yet I cannot let you go without begging you to learn one lesson more from the beautiful story you have just heard. Observe, I pray you, how able God Almighty is to help, deliver, and reward those who trust in Him. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were about to be burnt alive for serving God. It seemed as if nothing could save them. The fire was so hot and fierce that it slew the men who cast them into it; yet they were taken care of, and came out without the least harm whatever : and when the king saw what was done, he gave glory to God, and added fresh honours to these his servants. Let no fear then ever hinder us from serving God. The Almighty is ever at hand to help his faithful servants. We must not indeed expect such deliverances as the one of which we have now heard, neither have we reason to expect such trials. But God can help and deliver in a common way, as well as in a strange one. He can save without sending an angel to us, and without making his hand seen; for God is every where to behold and, for Jesus Christ's sake, to make all things work together for the good of the humble and sincere Christian.