13. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
13. Sicuti scriptum est in lege Mosis, totum malum hoc venit super nos, et non deprecati sumus faciem Jehovae Dei nostri, ut reverteremur ab iniquitatibus nostris, et attenti essemus ad veritatum tuam.
He repeats what he had already said, without any superfluity, shewing how God's judgments are proved by their effects, as the law of Moses contains within it all the penalties which the Israelites endured. As, therefore, so manifest an agreement existed between the law of God and the people's experience, they ought not to become restive and to have sought every kind of subterfuge without profit. By this alone God sufficiently proved himself a just avenger of their crimes, because he had predicted many ages before what he had afterwards fully carried out. This is the object of the repetition, when Daniel says the people felt the justice of the penalties denounced against them in the law of Moses, for in the meantime he adds, we have not deprecated the face of God. Here he severely blames the people's hardness, because even when beaten with stripes they never grew wise. It is said -- fools require calamities to teach them wisdom. This, therefore, was the height of madness in the people to remain thus stubborn under the rod of the Almighty, even when he inflicted the severest blows. As the people were so obstinate in their wickedness, who does not perceive how sincerely this conduct was to be deplored? We have not deprecated, therefore, the face of our God. This passage teaches us how the Lord exercises his judgments by not utterly destroying men, but holding his final sentence in suspense, as by these means he wishes to impel men to repentance. First of all, he gently and mercifully invites both bad and good by his word, and adds also promises, with the view of enticing them; and then, when he observes them either slow or refractory, he uses threatenings with the view of arousing them from their slumber; and should threats produce no effect, he goes forth in arms and chastises the sluggishness of mankind. Should these stripes produce no improvement, the desperate character of the people becomes apparent. In this way, God complains in Isaiah of their want of soundness; the whole body of the people is subject to ulcers from the head to the sole of the foot, (Isaiah 1:6;) and yet he would lose all his labor, through their being utterly unmanageable. Daniel now asserts the existence of the same failing in the people, while he states the Israelites to be so untouched by a sense of their calamities, as never to supplicate for pardon. I cannot complete the remainder to-day.
Grant, Almighty God, that we may learn seriously to consider in how many ways we become guilty before thee, especially while we daily continue to provoke thy wrath against us. May we be humbled by true and serious repentance, and fly eagerly to thee, as nothing is left to us but thy pity alone; when cast down and confounded, and reduced to nothing in ourselves, may we fly to this sacred anchor, as thou art easily entreated, and hast promised to act as a father of mercies to all sinners who seek thee. Thus may we approach thee with true penitence, and relying on thy goodness, never doubt the granting of our requests; and being freed by thy mercy from the tyranny of Satan and of sin, may we be governed by thy Holy Spirit, and so directed in the way of righteousness as to glorify thy name throughout our lives, till we arrive at that happy and immortal life which we know to be laid up in heaven for us, by Christ our Lord. -- Amen.
IN yesterday's Lecture we dwelt on the Prophet's enlarging upon the people's crime, in resisting the impression made by God's chastisements; but now he more clearly demonstrates the kind of obstinacy displayed. For they did not turn away from their iniquities, and were not attentive to God's truth. He had said before, we have not deprecated the anger of God. But here he expresses something more, namely, allowing the existence of some pretense to prayer, there was no real sincerity, We know how impiously hypocrites abuse God's name, and pretend to the outward form of prayer, and even to the greatest fervor, but there is no reality in their prayers. Thus the Prophet has good reason for uniting what ought never to be separated, and then convicts the Israelites of obstinacy, because they did not flee suppliantly to God's mercy with repentance and faith. There was, doubtless, some form of piety left among the people; but Daniel here estimates prayers according to God's word, and thus puts these two things before us, namely, repentance and faith. We must diligently notice this. For nothing is more common than an earnest supplication for pardon when the signs of God's wrath are apparent; this was always customary among all nations and at all times, and yet there existed neither repentance nor faith. Hence their prayers became mere falsehood and vanity. This is the meaning of the Prophet's language when he says, We have not asked at the face of Jehovah our God, by turning away from our iniquities, (or that we may return,) and by being instructed in thy truth. Finally, we may gather from this passage what the rule of pious and acceptable prayer really is; first, we must be displeased with ourselves for our sins; next, we must regard the threats and promises of the Almighty. As to the first member of the sentence, experience teaches us how rashly many break forth into prayer, even when their evil conduct rises up professedly against God. On the one hand, they are so enraged as not to hesitate to engage in warfare with God, and yet they pray unto him, because terror seizes upon their minds and compels them to submit themselves to God. The Prophet, therefore, here shews the utter inutility of that outward shew and perverse mixture of noise and flattery, because God cannot approve of any prayers, unless they spring equally from repentance and faith. When he says, the people were not attentive to God's truth, in my opinion this is extended equally to threats and promises, and faith apprehends both God's pity and his judgments. For, surely, it cannot be otherwise, when terror rouses the pious to fly to God's mercy. As, therefore, God embraces each quality in his word, as he cites all who have sinned to his own tribunal, and then gives them a hope of reconciliation, if the sinner is really converted to him; so also Daniel, by saying, the Israelites were not attentive to God's truth, doubtless had respect to both objects, namely, their want of sufficient consideration of God's judgments, and next, their stupidity in despising his pity when plainly set before them. On the whole, This passage shews us the impossibility of our prayers being pleasing to God, unless they flow from true repentance and faith; that is, when we heartily feel our wickedness, we then flee to God's mercy and rely upon his promises. Hence we discover three things to be necessary to render God propitious to us; first, dissatisfaction with ourselves which occasions sorrow, through our being conscious of our sins, and of our having provoked God's anger. This is the first point. Secondly, faith must necessarily be added. Lastly, prayer must follow as a proof of our repentance and faith. When men remain without repentance and faith, we observe how God's name is profaned although we conceive and utter many prayers, at the very time when the two principal dispositions are entirely wanting. Now let us proceed, --