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Daniel 2:3-4

3. And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.

3. Et dixit illis rex, Somnium somniavi, et contritus est spiritus meus, ad sciendum 107107     For understanding — Calvin. somnium.

4. Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.

4. Et dixerunt Chaldaei regi Syriace, Rex in eternum vive: dic somnium servis tuis, et expositionem indicabimus.

 

Daniel relates first the great confidence of the Chaldeans, since they dared to promise the interpretation of a dream as yet unknown to them. The king says he was troubled through desire to understand the dream; by which he signifies that a kind of riddle was divinely set, before him. He confesses his ignorance, while the importance of the object may be gathered from his words. Since, then, the king testifies his desire to inquire concerning a matter obscure and profound, and exceeding his comprehension, and since he clearly expresses himself to be contrite in spirit, some kind of fear and anxiety ought to have touched these Chaldeans; yet they securely promise to offer the very best interpretation of the dream as soon as they understood it. When they say, O king live for ever, it is not a simple and unmeaning prayer, but they rather order the king to be cheerful and in good spirits, as they are able to remove all care and anxiety from his mind, because the explanation of the dream was at hand. We know how liberal in words those impostors always were; according to the language of an ancient poet, they enriched the ears and emptied the purses of others. And truly those who curiously court the breeze with their ears deserve to feed upon it, and to be taken in by such deceits. And all ages have proved that nothing exceeds the confidence of astrologers, who are not content with true science, but divine every one’s life and death, and conjecture all events, and profess to know everything.

We must hold generally that the art of conjecturing from dreams is rash and foolish; there is, indeed, a certain fixed interpretation of dreams, as we said yesterday, yet as we shall afterwards see, this ought not to be ascribed to a sure science, but to God’s singular gift. As, therefore, a prophet will not gather what he has to say from fixed reasonings, but will explain God’s oracles, so also he who will interpret dreams correctly, will not follow certain disthief rules; but if God has explained the meaning of the dream, he will then undertake the office of interpreting it according to his endowment with this gift. Properly speaking, these two flyings are opposite to each other and do not mutually agree, general and perpetual science, and special revelation. Since God claims this power of opening by means of a dream, what he has engraven on the minds of men, hence art and science cannot obtain it, but a revelation from the spirit must be waited for. When the Chaldeans thus boldly promise to become good interpreters of the dream, they not only betray their rashness, but become mere impostors, who pretend to be proficients in a science of which they know nothing, as if they could predict by their conjectures the meaning of the king’s dream. It now follows —


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