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Lecture Thirteenth

WE began in the last Lecture to treat of The Golden Statue which Nebuchadnezzar erected, and placed in the plain or open country of Dura. We stated this statue to have been erected for a religious reason, when the ambition of that king or tyrant was at its full sway, which we may always observe in the superstitious. For although they always put forward the name of God, and persuade themselves that they are worshipping God, yet pride always impels them to desire the approbation of the world. Such was the desire of King Nebuchadnezzar in erecting this statue, as its very magnitude displays. For the Prophet says, the height of the statue was sixty cubits, and its breadth six cubits. Such a mass must have cost much expense, for the image was made of gold. Probably this gold was acquired by much rapine and plunder; but whether it was so or not, we may here view, as I have said, the profane king so worshipping God as to propagate the remembrance of his own name to posterity. The region in which he placed the image seems to imply this. Without doubt the Prophet here points out some celebrated place which men were accustomed to frequent for the sake of merchandise and other necessities. But as far as the king’s special intention is concerned, we stated their conjecture to be out of place who think the statue to have been erected for the sake of expiating his dream. It is more probable, since the Jews were dispersed throughout Assyria and Chaldea, that this image was erected, lest those foreigners who were exiles from their country should introduce any novelty. This conjecture carries some weight with it; for Nebuchadnezzar knew the Jews to be so attached to the God of their fathers as to be averse to all the superstitions of the Gentiles. He feared, therefore, lest they should seduce others to their own opinions, and he wished to counteract this by erecting a new statue, and commanding all his subjects to bow down to it. Meanwhile, we see how quickly the acknowledgment of Israel’s God, whose glory and power he had so lately celebrated, had vanished from his mind! Now this trophy is erected to reproach him, as if he had been vanquished as well as the idols of the heathen. But, we have said elsewhere, Nebuchadnezzar never seriously acknowledged the God of Israel, but by a sudden impulse was compelled to confess him to be the Supreme and only God, though he was all the while drowned in his own superstitions. Hence his confession was rather the result of astonishment, and did not proceed from true change of heart. Let us now come to the remainder:

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