Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;Daniel 9:3
Fasting is an indispensable condition of a good life; but in fasting, as in self-control in general, the question arises, With what shall we begin? How to fast, how often to eat, what to eat, what to avoid eating? And as we can do no work seriously without regarding the necessary order of sequence, so also we cannot fast without knowing where to begin—with what to commence self-control in food. Fasting! and even an analysis of how to fast, and where to begin—the very notion of it sounds ridiculous and wild to most men. I remember how, with pride at his originality, an evangelical preacher, who was attacking monastic asceticism, once said to me, 'Ours is not a Christianity of fasting and privations, but of beefsteaks'.
The attractive aspects of God's character must not. be made more apparent to such a being as man than His chastening and severer aspects. We must not be invited to approach the Holy of Holies without being made aware, painfully aware, of what Holiness is We must know our own unworthiness ere we are fit to approach or imagine an Infinite Perfection. The most nauseous of false religions is that which affects a fulsome fondness for a Being not to be thought of without awe, or spoken of without reluctance.
For God is at hand, and the Most High rules in the: children of men.... The same light which lets you see sin and transgression, will let you see the covenant of God, which blots out your sin and transgression, which gives victory and dominion over it, and brings into covenant with God. For looking down at sin and corruption and distraction, ye are swallowed up in it; but looking at the light, which discovers them, ye will see over them.
—George Fox to Lady Claypole.
References.—IX. 14.—J. Bolton, Selected Sermons (2nd Series), p. 229. IX. 14, 23.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlix. No. 2850. IX. 17.—Ibid. vol. xlviii. No. 2788.
See Miss Rossetti's lines,' By the Waters of Babylon'.
Do you know, when I see a poor devil drunk and brutal, I always feel, quite apart from my æsthetical perceptions, a sort of shame, as if I myself had some hand in it.
No man's thoughts ever fell more into the forms of a kind of litany than Mr. Maurice's.... They were the confessions befitting a kind of litany, poured forth in the name of human nature, the weakness and sinfulness of which he felt most keenly, most painfully, but which he felt at least as much in the character of the representative of a race by the infirmities of which he was overwhelmed, as on his own account.... Whenever you catch that he feels—as all the deeper religious natures have always felt—a sort of self-reproachful complicity in every sinful tendency of his age, you feel that the litany in which he expresses his shame is not so much morbid self-depreciation as a deep sense of the cruel burden of social infirmity and social sin.
—R. H. Hutton.
Thomas Boston of Ettrick, in his Memoirs, mentions the scandal caused by a local minister having been guilty of adultery. 'I well know,' he adds, 'that many a heavy heart it made to me, and remember the place where I was wont heavily to lament it before the Lord in secret prayer.'
Remember the rebuke which I once got from old Mr. Dempster of Denny, after preaching to his people: 'I was highly pleased with your discourse, but in prayer it struck me that you thought God unwilling to give'. Remember Daniel: 'At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth'.
—McCheyne to Bonar.
See Keble's lines on 'Thursday Before Easter'.
Reference.—IX. 24.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiii. No. 734.
Not long after Phryne's religious performance at Eleusis came the last days, too, of the national life of the Jews, under the successors of Alexander. The religious conceptions of the Jews of those days are well given by the book of Daniel. How popular and prevalent these conceptions were is proved by their vitality and power some two centuries later at the Christian era, and by the large place which they fill in the New Testament. We are all familiar with them; with their turbid and austere visions of the Ancient of Days on His throne, and the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven to give the kingdom to the saints of the Most High and to bring in everlasting righteousness. Here, then, is the last word of the religion of the Hebrews, when their national life is drawing to an end, when their career has been, for the most part, run; when their religion has had nearly all the development which, within the limits of their national life, belonged to it. This, we say, is its last word: To bring in everlasting righteousness.
See, further, Literature and Dogma, III. ad init.
References.—IX. 24.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No. 1681. IX. 25.—J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in a Religious House, vol. ii. p. 440. IX.—J. G. Murphy, The Book of Daniel, p. 152.
In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;
Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
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.
Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake.
O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;
Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.