But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank…
There are some names, let us thank God not a few, that the world will not willingly let die, and that live on for ever in the charmed memory of mankind — names that have been identified with some noble thought, with some lofty purpose, or with some great and glorious deed; names of men who have struck a blow for freedom or who have helped forward the great chariot of human progress, or of men who in their own person have stemmed the inrushing tide of falsehood and of error. The name of freedom, the struggle for liberty, stands in this land for ever identified with our great national heroes, the heroes of our history of independence; and the names of William Wallace and Robert Bruce live on. And with them, in the minds of the world, are associated such names as William Tell, of Switzerland, and George Washington, of America. Martin Luther and John Knox are names which stand for ever identified with glorious struggles for the right. And just one more illustration; wherever the thought of self-sacrificing labour and toil for the sake of ethers, for the sick and the dying and the wounded — wherever that idea is felt to be a power to quicken the pulses and stir the generous emotions of mankind, there the name of Florence Nightingale will be tenderly enshrined. Now I wish to speak for a little on one of those imperishable names, the name of one who is still remembered and still spoken of when children, older and younger, are inspired to deeds of noble daring.
I. The first thing I wish you to notice — is THE ASPECT IN WHICH DANIEL THINKS AND SPEAKS OF WRONG-DOING, OF WHAT TO HIM AND HIS CONSCIENCE WOULD BE SIN. He does not speak of it as disobedience to God, though he felt it to be that. He does not speak of it as disobedience to his parents, as breaking away from the traditions of his fathers and going over to the customs and religion of another country and people; but he speaks of it as defiling himself. He would not defile himself. And I would like to ask you this: do you realise that every wrong thought, every wrong feeling, every wrong word, every wrong deed is not only wrong because it displeases God, but it is a wrong against your own nature, it is inflicting a mischief upon yourself, upon your own being? A stain we plant there which no human alchemy can remove. I have seen in our police-courts, and I have seen on the streets of the city, the forms and features of men so bruised and blackened and bloated that their very personality seemed to be obscured. One almost imagines that their every feature tells a tale of sin and suffering, and the hardship which sin inevitably brings. Slowly, slowly through the long years have those features been changing from the sweet, pure, clean, healthy flesh of a little child; but the strong years have done it, the "strong years passed in the practice of sin, in the act and life and thought and feeling. And what is written on the outward features of men and women who have thus indulged in sin is written as indelibly, though you cannot see it, on the inner nature, the soul and spirit. The German poet Goethe sings of "spirit ears," and he speaks of these ears hearing the thunder of the sunrise, as if the sun rose with a great crash, which the ears of the spirit could hear; but if we had spirit eyes which could see what is going on in the spirit world, and see our own veritable being as God sees it, then we would recognise how all those unhallowed indulgences in thought and feeling and desire, not to speak even of word and act, how all this illicit thought and feeling has written upon our inner nature its own dread and direful mark, and put a stain there which can only be washed out in the "Fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel's veins," and we thank God that "Sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains." Sin indulged in, even though it be in secret, even though it be only in thought and feeling, sin thus works its inevitable and irretrievable work, and brings about that frightful change which produces such repulsiveness.
II. HOW WAS IT THAT DANIEL ACCOMPLISHED HIS SUCCESS, OVERCAME HIS TEMPTATION, mastered it and trampled it under foot? Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself, that he would not weave across his vision that web which would hide from himself the joy, the peace, the holiness, the triumph, and success which come from communion with the unseen, but really present Jehovah. Daniel purposed in his heart. The greatest danger to which, in my mind, the young men of to-day are exposed, is not that they deliberately walk into temptation or into sin; but because they do not deliberately determine not to do it. It is because they begin their life without any purpose at all, but drift, drift, drift without rudder or compass, without any strong, resolute determination which they have made as in the sight of God, and which they have resolved by God's help to keep, that whatever others do, for them they will not defile themselves. There is no sadder sight to be seen than the number of young men and women who, without any intention or idea that they are going wrong, in their simplicity, which, however, is not guileless simplicity, for they might and ought to know better, but who in their criminal simplicity permit themselves to be ensnared and led into company where they know their ears and eyes and their whole nature will be assailed with that which will defile. It is too late to purpose in your heart not to do it after it is done. It is too late to make a good resolution not to fall after you have fallen, The time to purpose in one's heart not to defile oneself is before the defilement has been produced; when you are sitting at your own fireside in your own room, or on your knees, there and then is the time. It is too late to deliberate when you are face to face with temptation: the excitement is too strong, the power of companionship is too great. One word more: there is no use making a resolution unless it is to be kept. The greatest loss that I can think of in this city, is not the less of money which men spend on that which is not bread, not the loss of labour spent on that which satisfieth not; it is not the loss of life, even, that might be saved if only men and women would act aright — the greatest loss in this city is the loss of mental and spiritual force which is allowed to degenerate into mere drivel, by yielding to the temptations which sap all the mental, intellectual and moral stamina out of the character of our youth. Oh, to see the bright young fellows, the pride of their father, the joy and hope of their mother, who go and throw away the talents God has given them, throw away the noble aspirations of youth, by entangling themselves in scenes and circumstances and aspirations which drag them down; and they become altogether incapable of realising their own aspirations, their own possibilities, because they have allowed themselves to be defiled. This resolution of which I speak must be followed out to be of any service. It is not in resolutions repeated, repeated only to be broken, that you build up a character of force, and strength and power; but it is in solemnly looking at the problems of life, solemnly looking at the circumstances and situations in which you are placed, solemnly confronting the possibilities and temptations that lie before you, and deliberately retaking up your mind, as in God's sight, as to what your duty is, and then purposing, determining, resolving in your heart that you will not be defiled. You will find in that resolution a strength, a help in the hour of temptation.
(Sir Samuel Chisholm.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
WEB: But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king's dainties, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.