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him give order, with a loud voice, that the tree should be hewn down, its branches lopped off, and its fruit scattered, and nothing left of it but "the stump of its roots in the earth;" which was to be secured, however, with a "band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field." Words of menace follow, which are applicable only to a man, and plainly show that the whole vision was typical of some dreadful calamity, to fall for a time, but for a time only, on some one of the sons of men.

The interpretation of this dream was beyond the skill of all the wise men of the kingdom. Daniel was called; who, by the interpretation of a former dream, which had been too hard for the Chaldeans and the Magi, and for the professed diviners of all denominations, had acquired great credit and favour with the king; and before this time had been promoted to the highest offices in the state, and, amongst others, to that of president of the college of the Magi. Daniel told the king, that the tree which he had seen so strong and flourishing was himself, - that the hewing down of the tree was a dreadful calamity that should befall him, and continue till he should be brought to know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will."

Strange as it must seem, notwithstanding Daniel's weight and credit with the king, notwithstanding

the consternation of mind into which the dream had thrown him, this warning had no permanent effect. He was not cured of his overweening pride and vanity till he was overtaken by the threatened judgment. "At the end of twelve months, he was walking in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon," - probably on the flat roof of the building, or, perhaps, on one of

the highest terraces of the hanging gardens, where the whole city would lie in prospect before him; and he said, in the exultation of his heart, "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the seat of empire, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?" The words had scarcely passed his lips, when the might of his power and the honour of his majesty" departed from him: the same voice which in the dream had predicted the judgment now denounced the impending execution; and the voice had no sooner ceased to speak than the thing was done.

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This is "the matter, this judgment, thus predicted and thus executed, is the matter which the text refers to "the decree of the Watchers" and the "word of the Holy Ones."-" The matter is by the decree of the Watchers, and the requisition is by the word of the Holy Ones; and the intent of the matter is to give mankind a proof, in the fall and restoration of this mighty monarch, that the fortunes of kings and empires are in the hand of God, that his providence perpetually interposes in the affairs of men, distributing crowns and sceptres, always for the good of the faithful primarily, ultimately of his whole creation, but according to his will.

To apprehend rightly how the judgment upon Nebuchadnezzar, originating, as it is represented in the text, in the "decree of the Watchers, and in the word of the Holy Ones," affords an instance of the immediate interference of God's providence in the affairs of men, it is very necessary that the text should be, better than it generally has been hitherto, understood and the text never can be rightly understood, until we ascertain who they are, and to what class of

beings they belong, who are called "the Watchers" and the "Holy Ones;" for, according as these terms are differently expounded, the text will lead to very different, indeed to opposite, conclusions, — to true conclusions, if these terms are rightly understood; to most false and dangerous conclusions, if they are ill interpreted.


I am ashamed to say, that if you consult very pious and very learned commentators, justly esteemed for their illustrations of the Bible generally, you will be told these "Watchers" and "Holy Ones" angels, principal angels, of a very high order, they are pleased to say, such as are in constant attendance upon the throne of God. And so much skill have some of these good and learned men affected in the heraldry of angels, that they pretend to distinguish the different ranks of the different denominations. The "Watchers," they say, are of the highest rank; the "Holy Ones," very high in rank, but inferior to the "Watchers:" and the angels are introduced upon this occasion, they say, in allusion to the proceedings of earthly princes, who publish their decrees with the advice of their chief ministers.

This interpretation of these words is founded upon a notion which got ground in the Christian church many ages since, and unfortunately is not yet exploded; namely, that God's government of this lower world is carried on by the administration of the holy angels, that the different orders (and those who broached this doctrine could tell us exactly how many orders there are, and how many angels in each order,) that the different orders have their different departments in government assigned to them: some, constantly attending in the presence of God, form his

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cabinet council: others are his provincial governors; every kingdom in the world having its appointed guardian angel, to whose management it is intrusted : other again are supposed to have the charge and custody of individuals. This system is in truth nothing better than the pagan polytheism, somewhat disguised and qualified; for in the pagan system every nation had its tutelar deity, all subordinate to Jupiter the sire of gods and men. Some of those prodigies of ignorance and folly, the Rabbin of the Jews, who lived since the dispersion of the nation, thought all would be well if for tutelar deities they substituted tutelar angels. From this substitution the system which I have described arose; and from the Jews, the Christians, with other fooleries, adopted it. But, by whatever name these deputy gods be called, — whether you call them gods, or demigods, or demons, or genii, or heroes, or angels, the difference is only in the name; the thing in substance is the same: they still are deputies, invested with a subordinate, indeed, but with a high authority, in the exercise of which they are much at liberty, and at their own discretion. If this opinion were true, it would be difficult to show that the heathen were much to blame in the worship which they rendered to them. The officers of any great king are entitled to homage and respect in proportion to the authority committed to them; and the grant of the power is a legal title to such respect. These officers, therefore, of the greatest of kings will be entitled to the greatest reverence; and as the governor of a distant province will in many cases be more an object of awe and veneration to the inhabitants than the monarch himself, with whom they have no immediate connection, so the tute

lar deity or angel will, with those who are put under him, supersede the Lord of all: and the heathen, who worshipped those who were supposed to have the power over them, were certainly more consistent with themselves than they who acknowledging the power withhold the worship.

or rather so much

So nearly allied to idolatry the same thing with polytheism is this notion of the administration of God's government by the authority of angels. And surely it is strange, that in this age of light and learning Protestant divines should be heard to say that "this doctrine seems to be countenanced by several passages of Scripture."

That the holy angels are often employed by God in his government of this sublunary world is, indeed, clearly to be proved by holy writ. That they have powers over the matter of the universe, analagous to the powers over it which men possess, greater in extent, but still limited, is a thing which might reasonably be supposed, if it were not declared: but it seems to be confirmed by many passages of holy writ; from which it seems also evident that they are occasionally, for certain specific purposes, commissioned to exercise those powers to a prescribed extent. That the evil angels possessed, before their fall, the like powers, which they are still occasionally permitted to exercise for the punishment of wicked nations, seems also evident. That they have a power over the human sensory (which is part of the material universe), which they are occasionally permitted to exercise, by means of which they may inflict diseases, suggest evil thoughts, and be the instruments of temptations, must also be admitted. But all this amounts not to any thing of a discretional authority placed in the hands

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