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Verses 19-21

Daniel 3:19-21. Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury Nebuchadnezzar had himself known and owned so much of the true God, that one would have thought, though his pride and vanity had induced him to make this golden image, and set it up to be worshipped, yet that what these young men now said (whom he had formerly found to be wiser than all his wise men) would have revived his convictions, and at least have engaged him to forbear proceeding to extremities against them; but it proved quite otherwise. 1st, Instead of being convinced by what they said, he was exasperated, and made more outrageous. 2d, Instead of mitigating their punishment, in consideration of their quality and the honourable offices they were in, he ordered it to be heightened, commanding the heat of the furnace to be increased seven-fold; which, though it would not make their death more grievous, but rather despatch them the sooner, yet was designed to signify, that the king looked upon their crime as seven times more heinous than the crimes of others, and so made their death more ignominious. But God brought glory to himself out of this foolish instance of the tyrant’s rage; for though it would not have made their death the more grievous, yet it made their deliverance much the more illustrious. 3d, He ordered them to be bound in their clothes, which was done accordingly. They were bound, that they might not struggle, or make any resistance; were bound in their clothes for haste, or that they might be consumed the more slowly and gradually: but God’s providence ordered it for the increase of the miracle, in that their clothes were not so much as singed. What a terrible death was this, to be cast bound into the midst of a burning fiery furnace! It makes one’s flesh tremble to think of it, and horror to take hold of one. It is amazing that the tyrant was so hard-hearted as to inflict such a punishment, and the confessors possessed of such fortitude as to submit to it, rather than sin against God. But what is this to the second death? to the furnace into which the tares shall be cast in bundles? to that lake which burns eternally with fire and brimstone? Let Nebuchadnezzar heat his furnace as hot as he can, a few minutes will finish the torment of those who are cast into it; but hell-fire tortures, and doth not kill; the pain of damned sinners is more exquisite, and the smoke of their torments ascends for ever and ever, and they have no rest, no intermission, no cessation of their pains, who have worshipped the beast and his image, Revelation 14:10-11; whereas their pain would be soon over that were cast into this furnace, for not worshipping this Babylonian beast and his image.

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