DANIEL VS. DARWINISM
William B. Riley, D. D.
Pastor First Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minn.
“The Evolution of the Kingdom,” “The Crisis of the Church” “The Finality of Higher Criticism” and other books.
- DANIEL VS. HEATHENISM
- DANIEL VS. DARWINISM
- DANIEL VS. SENSUALISM
- DANIEL VS. BESTIALISM
- THIS WAR AND THE PROPHETIC WORD.
The proportions and horrors of the world-war, raging to-day, have given special impetus to the study of the prophetic Scriptures.
The predictive element, like the Gulf Stream, makes its way from shore to shore of the Sacred Word; hut in three books of the Bible this stream widens and deepens into very seas of prophetic import. I speak, of course, of Daniel, Zechariah and Revelation.
In times past I have led in a somewhat diligent and exhaustive study of the two latter, – Zechariah and Revelation; I now invite to a brief, but earnest review of the book of Daniel.
Dr. C. I. Scofield is wholly justified in his remark, “Daniel is the indispensable introduction to New Testament prophecy, and he is distinctly the Prophet of the ‘times of the Gentiles’ (Lu. 21:24) His vision sweeps the whole course of the Gentile world-rule to its end in catastrophe, and to the setting up of the Messianic Kingdom.”
But, in order to a proper understanding of the book itself, one must become acquainted with Its author; and this first chapter is a fine and somewhat full portrait of the Prophet in the days of his youth; and a corresponding promise of the wisdom he will exercise, the visions lie will experience or interpret, and the ages, he, by the help of the Holy Ghost, will unfold to the good student of sacred Scripture.
Remembering, therefore, the setting of this first chapter, I want us to address ourselves to the subject of Daniel vs. Heathenism.
Three phrases may suffice for our study: The Captive Lad; The Conscientious Lad, and The Competent Lad.
THE CAPTIVE LAD.
“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god. And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the King’s seed, and of the princes; children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat and of the wine which he drank, so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel.”
These six verses invite three remarks:
He was the subject of a captivity for which he was in no wise responsible.
For a long time the threat of judgment had hung over Judah; her true prophets had repeated it again and again to be largely disregarded. This very captivity had been foretold and the desolation, and even destruction, of Jerusalem, had been prophesied.
But, alas, for the little interest men take in pre-written history! Even the professed people of God have slight confidence in the fulfillment of inspired predictions. The reason is not far to seek! They poorly comprehend, and still more poorly believe in inspired truth. The words of Noah were as lucid as language could make them, and yet in the days that were before the flood, men went on “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, unto the day that Noah entered into the ark; and knew not until the flood came and took them all away.”
When the “Prophetic Conference” was held in Los Angeles, February, 1914, and attention was called to the predictive Scriptures concerning the certainty of wars and rumors of wars, “nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” and all to be followed by “famine and pestilence and earthquakes” the Editor of the “Christian Advocate” – mark the name – spoke of such teaching as “Pathetic” and declared that the Conference ought to be called “A Pathetic Conference” instead of “a Prophetic One.”
In less than six months therefrom the great Old World powers had loosed the dogs of war, unlimbered their cannons and commenced the literal fulfillment of the prophetic Word.
As, in that judgment against wicked Judah, the innocent were compelled to suffer with the guilty, so in this visitation of wrath upon those potentates who have provoked battle, blood and death, the peace-loving children shall endure the hardships of privation, captivity and even crucifixion, and the world-condition for which they are in no wise responsible. Truly, “the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children,” and the most pathetic thing about it all is their personal suffering and plaintive cry. The significant words of Mrs. Browning, written as a protest against the sweatshops and factory-slavery of England’s children, find a fulfillment in the face of this judgment upon the nations –
“Do you hear the children weeping, O my brothers;
Ere the sorrow comes with years?
They are leaning their young heads against their mothers,
And that cannot stop their tears.
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows;
The young birds are chirping in the nest;
The young fawns are playing with the shadows,
The young flowers are bending toward the west,
But the young, young children, O my brothers!
They are weeping bitterly, in the playtime of the others,
In the country of the free.”
The captivity of Daniel was the direct consequence of the sins of his seniors and sires.
His very nobility increased the ignominy of his experience. He was “of the King’s seed” (vs. 3). He was born to rule; not to serve. He was bred in the expectation of a scepter, and never dreamed of slavery to heathen masters. It had been spoken by the prophet Isaiah unto Hezekiah, “Behold the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
But his seniors had so far forgotten it, or else so perfectly despised the prophetic Scriptures, that the lad grew in Ignorance of his coming fate. When, therefore, about 606 B. C., the hosts of Nebuchadnezzar came upon Jerusalem, he took not alone the king Jehoiakim, but “of the king’s seed, and the princes,” among whom was Daniel.
Our hearts bleed when men of high birth and breeding are sent to prison by the lowbrowed. The slavery of the African, while transgressing the inalienable rights of man, was to him more blessing than hardship; and the greatest favor that has ever fallen out to the Ethiopian himself occurred when he was carried captive to America, and made a hewer of wood and a drawer of water for his white brethren. It brought him into a new civilization; it opened up to him the privileges of education, and Christianity; and that slavery was the first step toward his real emancipation. How different when the heathen hand was laid upon Judson, and that splendid, cultured, justly proud man, was thrust into prison at Oung-Pen-la to languish for months, and to be treated with every indignity by men who were unfit to loose the latchet of his shoes; and when John Bunyan – that winged intellect – was subjected to the foulness of Bedford’s jail. I have seen a thousand canaries caged. My heart has not been touched with special pity at the sight. The little bird scarcely knows that he is an imprisoned thing; he can fly from perch to perch and feel at freedom still. But I never look upon a great eagle, chained at the feet, without resenting it. He was hatched in a higher altitude. His wing was intended to carry him to the heights; the deep dome of heaven is his homelike atmosphere; and it is both an indignity and an outrage for him to be brought down to the earth and tethered to the same, and looked upon with scorn and contumely by every passer-by.
So with this proud lad! The experience of the deepest ignominy can never he known to the debased; its refinement of cruelties is retained for the proud, the clean, the cultured. “How are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath; publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph”!
His Judean loyalty did not oppose the Chaldean learning. There was a time when the average American imagined that the heathen of the world knew nothing. The fact that they knew nothing of our religion, led us to conclude that their ignorance of natural science was as deep as their heathen superstition! That impression has been corrected, and we know now that even ancient Africa, as well as modem China and Japan, in spite of all their heathenism, have amassed information.
Daniel no more protested against the learning of the Chaldeans than Moses did against that of the Egyptians. Knowledge, gained from whatever source, may be turned to good! It is worth one’s while to make himself familiar even with the premises which he cannot believe, and conclusions to which he cannot consent. Sometime ago a man asked the question as to whether I would at all read a book on Higher Criticism, and seemed somewhat surprised when I told him that my library had as many volumes, published from the standpoint of the Critics, as from that of the Conservatives. Chaldean learning it is! Poor premises and false conclusions characterize it. Those facts, instead of being the reason for refusing to touch it, have always seemed to me an appeal for its study. To deny the devil is to put one’s self in more danger from him; and to ignore errors is to imperil one’s self the more, by their realities. Solomon, wise above his fellows, was doubtless made so by his father’s injunction, who taught him, saying, “Get wisdom, get understanding, forsake her not, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee; she shall bring thee to honor, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.” (Prov. 4:5-9.)
Truly did Swett Marden write: “The ignoramus does not utter laws on science: the dolt never writes an Oddessy, an Eneid, a Paradise Lost, or a Hamlet.” Moses was a bigger man because be was schooled in the Egyptian university; and Daniel a greater one because he added Chaldean to Judean learning; and the greatness of both of them was proven by the fact that they could thread their way through these labyrinths of false teaching and remain alike faithful to God and to His Word.
This is perfectly illustrated by our second phrase.
THE CONSCIENTIOUS LAD.
“And the king appointed them a daily portion of the king’s meat, and the king’s wine which he drank. 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.” Vs. 5 and 8.
He had a conscience and was not ashamed of it. Paul, writing to the Corinthians (1 C. 8:7) declares “There is not in every man that knowledge” namely, that God is one, and beside him there is none other, “For,” says he, “some with conscience of the idol unto this hour, eat it as a thing offered unto an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.”
Daniel knew the law of the Lord against eating meat offered to idols. His conscience was more than a natural one; it was a Scripturally instructed one and was keen accordingly.
To me the greatest change that has come, in modern times; is at this particular point. I am perfectly confident that the whole educational system is now set to the tone of might, so boisterous, so physical, so brutal as to obliterate the quiet voice of conscience! From the day the lad enters the public school, and appears upon the football grounds to the time when he comes away from the University an accomplished athlete, he is made to feel that nothing so effeminate as a parley over the fine points of right and wrong, is to be given even serious consideration. The story that the great Theodore Parker tells of his tender youth, related on the campus of the modern school, would set the children to derisive laughter. He says, “When I was a little boy my father led me to a distant part of the farm one day, but soon sent me home again. On the way I had to pass a little pond; a rhodora in full bloom, a rare flower, attracted my attention, and drew me to the spot. I saw a little tortoise sunning himself in the shallow waters at the roots of the flaming shrub! I lifted the stick I had in my hand to strike the harmless reptile; for though I had never killed any creature, yet I had seen other boys do so. But all at once something checked my arm and a voice within me said, clear and loud, ‘Don’t do it. It is wrong.’ I held my uplifted stick in wonder at the new emotion, and hastened home and told my mother, and asked what it was within that told me it was wrong. She wiped a tear from her eye, and taking me in her arms, said ‘Some men call it conscience; but I prefer to call it the voice of God. If you listen to and obey it, it will speak clearer and clearer, and always guide you right; but if you turn a deaf ear and disobey, then it will fade out, and leave you in the dark and without a guide. Your life depends on heeding that little voice.’ ” It might be well to remind the Center-Rush that the day a man parts company with the effeminate thing known as “conscience,” he loses the first essential to success in life, and the greatest essential to life itself,
Daniel determined to conform his conduct to its dictates. On the one side was custom, and the important people with whom he was associated, and re-enforcing the demand that eat the king’s meat and drink the king’s wine, was the fact that the king himself had appointed it. What an appeal! There are many men who would refuse wine at the hand of an inferior; men who would disdain to drink it over the bar, passed out by some beefy, dull bartender; but when offered by the hand of the politician, or proffered by the man of large means; above all, when presented by the dimpled, jewelled hand of the social queen, who can withstand? But conscience, if it is to be followed at all, will take no account of such circumstances! Compromise with it is inconceivable!
The man, therefore, who proposes to be politic, and when “in Rome, do as the Romans do,” should know that such conduct is death to conscience. And he who silences that small voice has impoverished his soul and sustained a loss from which he can never recover. No wonder George Washington wrote: “Endeavor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of fire called conscience.” No wonder Byron declared:
“Whatever creed be taught,
Or land be trod,
Man’s conscience is the oracle of God.”
No man has ever once regretted that he regarded it; and no man has ever once departed from its voice but lived to regret the hour.
He was thereby compelled to appear peculiar. In his refusal to eat this meat and drink this wine he was not behaving like the elite about him. Remember Daniel did not live in the day when they were teaching the evil effect of alcohol in the public schools – Daniel did not belong to a time when nineteen states of the Union had gone into Prohibition lines; Daniel had not heard of the banishment of Vodka from Russia and of Absinthe from France, nor had he listened to Lloyd George pleading with England to dispose of intoxicating drink that she might enhance her chance of winning the great war. King George had not then spoken in favor of temperance; nor had a majority of the United States congressmen voted to abolish liquor from the land.
But God had spoken, and in the judgment of Daniel the Word of the Lord involved more of wisdom than the will of the Czar, the action of the French Republic, or the opinion of King, or Congress! It would have been unnecessary for Daniel’s father to tell him that the cigarette was deleterious, and for Daniel’s teacher to present a scientific statement of its component parts to prove the same. Daniel went to a higher source of authority and believed, as the Bible teaches, that his body was the temple of God, and he refused to defile it.
Such radicalism in opinion and conduct was the solitary hope of Daniel’s day; and the sole hope of prosperity for Daniel’s people; and such refusal to conform ourselves to the age of which we are a part, is now the only hope of the individual Christian or of the Church of God.
But I may speak to those who are not Christian men, who do not know, and therefore, do not concern themselves with what God has to say upon such subjects. Then see what science has to speak, for possibly you are a devotee of that. When the great Dr. Lorenz was in this country and sat down to a table where the guests indulged in drink, his own wine cup was pushed aside, untasted. His companion at his side, asked, “Are you a teetotaler?” “Yes,” said Dr. Lorenz, “I am; but not a temperance agitator. I am a surgeon. My success depends upon my brain’s being clear, my muscles firm and my nerves steady. No one can take alcoholic liquor without blunting these physical powers which must be kept on edge. As a physician I must not drink.”
I can perfectly understand how a man who is a physical and nervous wreck, may be tempted to try temporarily the use of a stimulant; but does it not seem little short of cowardice for a man in youth, or in all the fullness of middle life, to resort to stimulants when his brain reminds him of the fact that every time he takes the same there is a reaction that reduces his powers and renders him less capable of resistance? Coffee may be a delight; but when I found it injurious, I should have counted myself a coward had I not given it up at once. Tea is, to me, a decided stimulus and the taste of it is attractive. Just on that account I dare not drink it daily lest it lose its wonted effect and in the hour when I am jaded, this overworked servant be unable to come to my relief.
The problem of how to live at one’s best and accomplish one’s work most efficiently is one of the biggest of life. Strong “meats” and “drinks” have never helped to conserve it; but, ten thousand times have they defeated men who, had they resisted them, might have been Daniels indeed. If I could have the ear of the youth of the land, I know of no cause I could plead with greater import than that of conscience in clean, careful, abstemious, scientific living. Daniel will forever stand out as an example in that line.
THE ACCOMPLISHED LAD.
One is quite prepared by his previous study to receive the inspired remark concerning Daniel and his brethren, “God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom;” and in “all matters of wisdom and understanding that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.”
And yet, the lad’s accomplishment was not mental only.
In physical form he was a fine model. “A child in whom was no blemish, but well-favored, fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.” Here is a fair plea, and perhaps even a forceful argument, for the vegetarian. There can be little doubt that meat has as often weakened muscles as made them; and there is no dispute that wines are physically deleterious. False stimulants, whether in the form of highly seasoned meats or intoxicating drinks have never meant physical reinforcement.
Twenty-five years ago I knew a man, well formed in body, well developed in brain, but in his social hours he felt that stimulants were essential to physical endurance and intellectual scintillation. For full fifteen years he has been the weakened victim of this false philosophy. His body and brain have alike been involved and the competent physician to whom he made appeal, held out no promise of permanent recovery. Undoubtedly the adoption of Daniel’s course would have kept his body under blessing.
In mental acumen he was unmatched! The text tells us that “God gave them skill and knowledge in all wisdom,” and declares again “In all the things that the king inquired of them, he found them better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” The amount of gray matter one developes is never determined by the amount of meat and wine he eats and drinks.
Sometimes we have come upon the early History of the man who has become great and noble, and our tears are started by the circumstances, that in the college days, he often endured the pangs of hunger; but when we come to know that an empty stomach makes an active brain, and the very circumstance often produces mental clearness, we must realize that far greater misfortune might be fallen upon than to be denied wine and even meat.
We have sometimes thought that this child of poverty, this victim of hardships, was, after all, the favored lad of the land. We are told that a patrician once said to Cicero, “You are a plebeian.” To this the great Roman orator replied, “I am a plebeian; the nobility of my family begins with me, that of yours will end with you.”
In spiritual discernment he was a child of the King. “Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” That was no natural talent: that was the enduement of the Spirit, the experience of God’s power. One never reads the story of Daniel without being reminded of that of Joseph. In the interpretation of dreams he had presented a like claim, “Not of us, but from God.”
But to be in touch with Him one must be His own, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, they are foolishness unto him, because they are spiritually discerned.”
When one reflects upon this fact he is fitted to join with Isaac Watts in the petitions of the great hymn:
“Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With all thy quickening powers,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
In these cold hearts of ours.
Look! How we grovel here below,
Fond of these earthly toys;
Our souls can neither fly nor go
To reach eternal joys.
In vain we tune our formal songs;
In vain we strive to rise;
Hosannas languish on our tongues,
And our devotion dies.
Dear Lord, and shall we ever live
At this poor dying rate,
Our love so faint, so cold to thee,
And thine to us so great?
Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With all thy quickening powers;
Come shed abroad a Saviour’s love,
And that shall kindle ours.”