26. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God., come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego came forth of the midst of the fire.
26. Tunc accessit Nebuchadnezer ad ostium fornacis ignis ardentis: loquutus est et dixit, Sadrach, Mesach, et Abednego servi Dei excelsi, egredimini, et venite. Tunc egressi sunt Sadrach, Mesach, et Abednego e medio ignis.
HERE a sudden change is described in the mood of this cruel and proud king. We have already seen how confidently he extracted worship from the servants of God, and when he saw them disobedient to his command, how mightily he raged against them. Now Daniel shews in how short a time this pride was subdued and this cruelty appeased; but we must remark that the king was not so changed as entirely to put his disposition and manners. For when he was touched with this present miracle, he gave God the glory, but only for a moment; and still he did not return to wisdom. We cannot take too diligent notice of examples of this kind, as many estimate the characters of others from a single action. But the worst despisers of God can submit to him for a short time, not merely by feigning to do so before men, but in real seriousness, since God compels them by his power, but meanwhile they retain their pride and ferocity within their breasts. Of this kind, then, was the conversion of King Nebuchadnezzar. For when astonished by the miracle, he could no longer resist the Almighty, he was still inconsistent, as we shall afterwards see. We may also notice how the impious, who are unregenerate by God's Spirit, are often impelled to worship God; but this is only temporary, and this equable tenor never remains through their whole life. But when God renews his own, he undertakes to govern them even to the end; he animates them to perseverance, and confirms them by his Spirit.
We must here remark how God's glory is illustrated by this temporary and vanishing conversion of the reprobate; because, whether they will or not, yet they yield to God for a time, and thus the greatness of his power is acknowledged. God, therefore, turns an event which does not profit the reprobate to his own glory, and at the same time punishes them more severely. For Nebuchadnezzar's conduct was less excusable after his once acknowledging the God of Israel to be the supreme and only God, and then relapsing into his former superstitions. He says, therefore, --
Daniel afterwards relates --
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