40. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
40. Et regnum quartum erit robustum instar ferri: quia sicuti ferrum conterit et comminuit omnia, et sicuti ferrum contundit omnia haec, conteret et contundet.
41. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potter's clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay; so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
43. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men, but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
43. Quod vidisti ferrum commixtum testae luteae, 5 commiscebunt se inter se in semine hominis, et non cohaerebunt alius cum alio, sicuti ferrum non miscetur cum testa.
Here the Fourth Empire is described, which agrees only with the Roman, for we know that the four successors of Alexander were at length subdued. Philip was the first king of Macedon, and Antiochus the second; but yet Philip lost nothing from his own kingdom; he only yielded it to the free cities of Greece. It was, therefore, hitherto, entire, except as it paid tribute to the Romans for some years on account of the expenses of the war. Antiochus, also, when compelled to adopt the conditions imposed by the conqueror, was driven beyond Mount Taurus; but Macedonia was reduced to a province when Perseus was overcome and captured. The kings of Syria and Asia suffered in the same way; and, lastly, Egypt was seized upon by Augustus. For their posterity had reigned up to that period, and Cleopatra was the last of that race, as is sufficiently known. When, therefore, the three monarchies were absorbed by the Romans, the language of the Prophet suits them well enough; for, as the sword diminishes, and destroys, and ruins all things, thus those three monarchies were bruised and broken up by the Roman empire. There is nothing surprising in his here enumerating that popular form of government, among "monarchies," since we know how few were rulers among this people, and how customary it was to call every kind of government among them an empire, and the people themselves the rulers of the whole world! But the Prophet compares them to "iron," not only on account of its hardness, although this reason is clearly expressed, but also through another kind of similitude, -- they were worse than all others, and surpassed in cruelty and barbarity both the Macedonians. and the Medo-Persians. Although they boast much in their own prowess, yet if any one exercises a sound judgment upon their actions, he will discover their tyranny to be far more cruel than all the rest; although they boast in their senators being as great as ordinary kings, yet we shall find them no better than robbers and tyrants, for scarcely one in a hundred of them shewed a grain of equity, either then sent into any province or when discharging any magistracy; and with regard to the body of the empire itself, it was all horrible pollution. This, then, is the reason why the Prophet says that monarchy was partly composed of iron, and partly of potter's clay, since we know how they suffered under intestine disorders. The Prophet requires no other interpretation here, because, he says, this mixture of iron and clay, which unites so badly, is a sign of disunion, through their never mingling together.
We may now inquire why Daniel said,
The Kingdom or Christ is said
No wonder, then, that Daniel here opposes the reign of Christ to such monarchies! Next, as to the Romans, we know how thoroughly and proudly they despised the name of "Christian!" nay, they endeavored by all means to root out from the world the Gospel and the doctrine of salvation, as an abominable thing. With all this we are familiar. Hence, to inform the faithful of their future condition until Christ's advent, Daniel shews how all the empires of the world should be adverse to God, and all its most powerful kings and sovereigns should be his very worst and most cruel enemies, and should use every means in their power to extinguish true piety. Thus he exhorts them to bear their cross, and never to yield to those wretched and sorrowful spectacles, but to proceed steadily in the course of their calling, until the promised Redeemer should appear. We stated this to be "accidental," since all the kingdoms of this world are clearly founded on the power and beneficence of Christ; but a memorable proof of God's anger ought to exist against them all, because they raised themselves against the Son of God, the Supreme King, with such extreme fury and hostility.
Now, Christ is compared
With respect to the word "stone," Christ is not here called a stone in the sense of the word in Psalm 118:22, and Isaiah 8:14, and Zechariah 9:15, and elsewhere. For there the name of a stone is applied to Christ, because his Church is founded on it. The perpetuity of his kingdom is denoted there as well as here; but, as I have already said, these phrases ought to be distinguished. It must now be added, -- Christ is called a stone cut out without human hands, because he was from the beginning almost without form and comeliness, as far as human appearance goes. There is also a silent contrast between its magnitude, which the Prophet will soon mention, and this commencement.
Grant, Almighty God, that we may remember ourselves to be pilgrims in the world, and that no splendor of wealth, or power, or worldly wisdom may blind our eyes, but may we always direct our eyes and all our senses towards the kingdom of thy Son. May we always fix them there, and may nothing hinder us from hastening on in the course of our calling, until at length we pass over the course and reach the goal which thou hast set before us, and to which thou dost this day invite us by the heralding of thy gospel. Do thou at length gather us unto that happy eternity which has been obtained for us through the blood of the same, thy Son. May we never be separated from him, but, being sustained by his power, may we at last be raised by him to the highest heavens. -- Amen.
WE must now explain more clearly what we yesterday stated concerning the eternal kingdom of Christ. In relating the dream, the Prophet said --
1 Or, potter's clay. -- Calvin.
2 Or, moist clay. -- Calvin.
3 Or, if we repeat the verb, it is the accusative case. -- Calvin.
4 Or, of the clay which he mentioned. -- Calvin.
5 For vessels. -- Calvin.