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Daniel 11:5-20 -

The chequered fortunes of earthly empire.

There is but one condition of permanence in any kingdom, viz. righteousness. Success, founded on military power, collapses as quickly as it rose. As night succeeds to day, so misfortune succeeds to fortune. If God be not recognized, the one element of durability is a-wanting.

I. GOD GOVERNS OUR WORLD BY IMPERFECT HUMAN AGENCIES . If men express their astonishment at this, our reply is that it is the best on the whole, and if he did not use imperfect instruments, he must not employ men at all. This allowance of evil men to be monarchs brings to light the evil that is in men; tends to impress the world with the unprofitableness of sin; and prepares the way for the advent of the real King of men. It is best , on the whole, that men should live in communities and nations; best, on the whole, that some should be rulers and some should be subjects; best that God's hand should not appear in the selection of earthly rulers. "His way is in the sea."

II. WAR IS THE MOST PROMINENT FEATURE OF SECULAR HISTORY . Read what chapters in secular history we choose, we find the uniform tale to be ambition, war, disaster, suffering. Man, when left alone by God, becomes his own deadly enemy, and the enemy of the human race. No greater proof can we have of the turpitude and malignancy of sin, than that furnished by the course of human history. Where-ever scope and opportunity have been afforded for the exercise of human inclination, the outcome has been strife and mutual destruction. To rule the world has been the arrogant desire of many, and heedless have they been of the miseries of the human race, so long as one vain man may ride upon the wave of fortune. As a rule, kings have been the curse of our globe. If successful in war, the appetite is whetted for further enterprise; if defeated, the spirit of revenge leaps up, at the first opportunity, to regain its loss.

III. IMPERIAL AMBITION CRUSHES OUT THE BEST AFFECTIONS OF THE HUMAN SOUL . The noblest affection that has survived man's fall is the parental—the love of a father for his children. Yet even this has been persistently trampled on—often trampled out—by the diabolic lust of power. The King of Egypt gives his daughter in marriage to his hereditary foe, not because there was any tie of mutual affection, but solely to promote his ambitious policy. This was nothing less than the sacrifice of his own child to an evil spirit—to the baser lusts of his own depraved nature. On the altar of vain-glory, kings are wont to sacrifice natural affection, domestic peace, the Divine institution of marriage, connubial bliss, the welfare of children, yea, the lives of their own flesh and blood. No blacker biographies can be written than those of successful kings. One bad man has been an active spring of mischief for centuries after his decease. One unworthy king has been a fount of misery and wretchedness for a myriad families of men. If every private individual needs the restraining grace of God, tenfold more does a king.

IV. ISRAEL IS THE CENTRAL OBJECT OF GOD 'S REGARD . It is a very unusual thing for God to make known to men what is about to transpire in the world. As a rule, this course would be full of hazard. It would tend to remove human responsibility. By such a plan, God might defeat his own ends. But God designed to show special favour unto Daniel. He generously conceded, in answer to prayer, what otherwise he would have withheld. Daniel was concerned about Israel's welfare. God was concerned about it also. One mind prevailed with God and with his servant; hence it was in accordance with God's plan to make known, in such a case, his will. The revelation which was vouchsafed respected Israel; for Israel's home lay midway between these kings of Egypt and Syria. Daniel was moved, not by a spirit of curiosity to learn what should happen elsewhere, but by a pure regard for his country's weal. As a fact, well-certified in later history, this prophecy, being shown to Alexander the Great at Jerusalem, secured his favour and protection. In every age, Israel—the true Israel—is God's especial care. He that "toucheth Israel, toucheth the apple of his eye." The arms of Jehovah encircle the righteous. Saith he, "i will never leave thee; I will never forsake thee."

V. SACRED PROPHECY AND SECULAR HISTORY CONFIRM EACH OTHER . All that is true in history, though written by the pen of sceptical men, is from God. He is the sole Author of truth. Hence we may not despise human learning, nor throw contempt upon honest researches into past history. Whatever in the world is true will prove, in the end, a confirmation of the ancient oracles. It is impossible that God can, in any way, contradict himself. If, for a moment, there should seem any discrepancy, we may rest in the tranquil assurance that further light will resolve all difficulty, and that apparent discord will only lead to richer harmony. Every item of prophecy in this chapter has found exact fulfilment. If, in some respects, the predictions of the angel seem obscure, they were as clear as it was proper to make them. The measure of obscurity is an additional proof of Divine wisdom; and, read in the light of later events, every unprejudiced mind feels that such pre-announcements of national events could proceed from none other than the living God. If we are forced to believe that a faithful record of history has proceeded from the hands of an intelligent man, we are also compelled to conclude that accurate predictions of distinct events can only result from supernatural agency—a revelation made from heaven.—D.

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