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Lecture Twenty-Second.

I SHALL now continue the comments which were interrupted yesterday. From Nebuchadnezzar saying, he raised his eyes to heaven, and his intellect returned to him, we understand him to have been for the time deprived of his mind. He is much astonished, in my opinion, by feeling his own evils, but meanwhile he bites the bit and is like a madman. Some think him to have been a complete maniac; I do not contend about this; it is enough for me to know he was deprived of his senses and was altogether like the brutes. But it is probable there was no intelligence remaining, to cause him to feel torture at his slaughter. Meanwhile, he did not raise his eyes to heaven until God drew him to himself. God’s chastisements do not profit us unless they work inwardly by his Spirit, as we said yesterday. The phrase only means, he began to think God to be a just judge. For while at the time he felt the sting of his own disgrace, yet as it is said elsewhere, he did not regard the hand of the striker. (Isaiah 9:13.) He began, therefore, to acknowledge God to be the avenger of pride, after the aforesaid time had elapsed. For those who east their eyes down to the earth raise their eyes to heaven. As Nebuchadnezzar ought to awake from his stupor and rise up towards God, of whom he had been formerly forgetful, so he ought to prostrate himself to the earth, as he had already received the reward of his haughtiness. He had dared to raise his head above the lot of man, when he assumed to himself what was peculiar to God. He does not raise his eyes to heaven by any vain confidence, as he had formerly been intoxicated by the splendor of his monarchy; but he looked up to God, while mentally east down and prostrate.

He afterwards adds, and I blessed him on high, and praised and glorified him living for ever This change shews the punishment to have been chiefly and purposely inflicted on King Nebuchadnezzar, since he spoiled God of his just honor. He here describes the fruit of his repentance. If this feeling flowed from repentance, and Nebuchadnezzar really blessed God, it follows that he was formerly sacrilegious, as he had deprived God of lawful honor and wished to raise himself into his place, as we have already said. Hence, also, we must learn what the true praise of God really is; namely, when reduced to nothing, we acknowledge and determine all firings to be according to his will; for, as we shall afterwards see, he is the Governor of heaven and earth, and we should esteem his will as the source of law and reason, and the final appeal of justice. Per we may sometimes celebrate the praises of God with ostentation, but it will then be mere pretense; for no one can sincerely and heartily praise him, without ascribing to him all the properties which we shall afterwards see. First of all, Nebuchadnezzar says, Because his power is eternal, and his kingdom from age to age. In the first place, he here confesses God to be an eternal king; which is a great step. For human frailty is opposed to this perpetuity; because the greatest monarchs, who excel in power, have nothing firm; they are not only subject to chance and change, as profane men express it — or rather depend upon the will of God — but they utterly fade away through their vanity. We see the whole world fluctuating like the waves of the sea. If there be any tranquillity, in one direction or another, yet every moment something new and sudden may happen, quite unexpectedly. As a tempest arises directly in a calm and serene sky, so also we see it occur in human affairs. Since it is so, no condition upon earth is firm, and monarchs especially disturb themselves by their own turbulent agitation’s. This is, therefore, the perpetuity which is here predicted by King Nebuchadnezzar; because God as an absolute sovereign rules his own empire for himself, and is thus beyond all danger of change. This is the first point. It now follows:

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