34. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation.
34. Eta fine dierum, 1 ego Nebuchadnezer oculos meos in coelum extuli, et intellectus meus ad me rediit, et excelsum benedixi, et viventem in secula laudavi et glorificavi, quia potestas eius potestas seculi, 2 et regnum ejus eum aetate et tetate. 3
The Prophet again introduces King Nebuchadnezzar as the speaker. He says, then, After that time had elapsed, he raised his eyes to heaven. Without doubt, he means those seven years. As to his then beginning to raise his eyes to heaven, this shews how long it takes to cure pride, the disease under which he labored. For when any vital part of the body is corrupt and decaying, its cure is difficult and tedious; so also when pride exists in men's hearts, and gains an entrance within the marrow, and infects the inmost soul, it is not easily plucked out; and this is worthy of notice. Then we are taught how God by his word so operated upon King Nebuchadnezzar, as not immediately and openly to withdraw the effect of his grace. Nebuchadnezzar profited by being' treated disgracefully during those seven years or times, and by being driven from the society of mankind; but he could not perceive this at once till God opened his eyes. So, therefore, God often chastises us, and invites us by degrees, and prepares us for repentance, but his grace is not immediately acknowledged. But lest I should be too prolix, I will leave the rest till to-morrow.
Grant, Almighty God, (since we are nothing in ourselves, and yet we cease not to please ourselves, and so are blinded by our vain confidence, and then we vainly boast in our virtues, which are worthless,) that we may learn to put off these perverse affections. May we so submit to thee as to depend upon thy mere favor: may we know ourselves, to stand and be sustained by thy strength alone: may we learn so to glorify thy name that we may not only obey thy word with true and pure humility, but also earnestly implore thy assistance, and distrusting ourselves, may rely upon thy favor as our only support, until at length thou gather-est us into thy heavenly kingdom, where we may enjoy that blessed eternity which has been obtained for us by thine only-begotten Son -- Amen.
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 ]earn 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: