Daniel 12:10

10. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

10. Mundabuntur, et dealbabuntur, et fundentur multi, 1 et impie se gerent impii: et non intelligent omnes impii, et prudentes intelligent.


Again, the angel mentions the persecutions which were at hand for the purpose of arming the faithful for the approaching conflicts. We know from other sources how tender and weak our minds naturally are, for as soon as any cause for fear arises, before it comes to blows, we fall down lifeless through terror. As, therefore, our natural imbecility is so great, we necessarily require many stimulants to patience, and to urge us to contend with earnestness, and never to yield to any temptations. This is the reason why the angel announces the necessity for such multiplied purification's, to cleanse them, as wheat from chaff; to whiten them, as cloth by the fuller; and to melt them, as metal to be separated from dross. First of all, as I have previously explained, he admonishes Daniel and all the pious of the future state of the Church, to lead them to prepare and gird themselves for battle, and to gather up their unconquered fortitude, since the condition of life set before them is that of forcing their way through the midst of troubles. This is one point. Again, the angel shews the practical utility of this kind of life, which might otherwise seem too bitter. We naturally refuse the cross because we feel it contrary to our disposition, while God shews the pious that nothing can be more profitable to them than a variety of afflictions. This is a second point. But afflictions by themselves might possibly consume us, and hence we are cast into a furnace. Now, then, could we expect these sufferings to promote our salvation, except God changed their nature in some wonderful way, as their natural tendency is to effect our destruction? But while we are melted down, and whitened, and cleansed, we perceive how God consults for our welfare by pressing us with his cross and causing us to submit to adversity. Now, thirdly, the angel shews the insufficiency of one single act of cleansing, and our need of many more. This is the object of this numerous heaping together of words, they shall be cleansed, and whitened, and melted down, or poured forth. He might have embraced the whole idea in a single word; but, as through our whole lives God never ceases to test us in various ways, the angel heaps together these three words to shew the faithful their need of continual cleansing as long as they are clothed in flesh; just as garments which are in daily use have need of continual washing. However snowy a mantle may be, it becomes soiled immediately when used for even a single day; requiring constant ablution to restore it to its original purity. Thus we are brought in contact with the defilement's of sin; and as long as we are pilgrims in this world, we necessarily become subject to constant pollution. And as the faithful also are infected with the contagion of numerous iniquities, they require daily purification's hi different ways. We ought, then, diligently to notice these three distinct processes.

The angel afterwards adds, The impious will act impiously, and will never understand anything; but the prudent will be ever endued with intelligence. Here he wishes to fortify the pious against a stumbling block in their way, when they see the profane despisers of God exulting in every direction, and defying God to his face. When the faithful see the world so full of the impious, they seem to be indulging so freely in lust as if there were no God in heaven' time they are naturally subject to grievous sorrow and distress. To prevent this trial from agitating their minds, the angel announces how the impious should conduct themselves impiously; implying, -- there is no reason why thou, O Daniel, or the rest of the righteous, should depend upon the example of others; Satan will cunningly set before you whatever obstacles may draw you into the contempt of God, and the abyss of impiety, unless you are remarkably cautious; but let not the conduct of the impious cause either you or the rest of the pious to stumble. Howsoever they conduct themselves, do you stand invincible. He afterwards assigns a reason for their behavior -- they understand nothing, they are perfectly blinded. But what is the source of this blindness? Their being given over to a reprobate sense. If any one should see a blind man fall, and should cast himself down after this blind man, would he be excusable? Surely his blindness was the cause of his perishing so miserably, but why does the other person destroy himself willingly? Whenever we see the impious rushing furiously on to their destruction, while God is admonishing them that their blindness proceeds from Satan, and that they are given over to a reprobate mind, are we not doubly mad if we willingly follow them? The cause then of this impious behavior on the part of the wicked, is added with good reason; namely, they understand nothing. Meanwhile, the faithful are recalled to the true remedy, and the angel subjoins, But the prudent shall understand, meaning they shall not permit themselves to be implicated in the errors of those whom they see entirely devoted to their own destruction. Lastly, the angel points out to us the true remedy which will prevent Satan from drawing us off towards impiety, and the impious from infecting us with their evil examples, if we earnestly apply ourselves to the pursuit of heavenly doctrine. If, therefore, we heartily desire to be taught by God and to become his true disciples, the instruction which we derive from him will snatch us from destruction. This is the true sense of the passage. It afterwards follows, --

1 Or, "shall be melted by fire;" the word means originally "to pour out," but is here taken transitively for to purify. -- Calvin.