Charles Simeon Commentary - Daniel 7:18 - 7:18

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Daniel 7:18 - 7:18


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DISCOURSE: 1135

THE REIGN OF THE SAINTS

Dan_7:18. The saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

THE vision of Daniel contained in this chapter accords with that which had before been vouchsafed to Nebuchadnezzar, and interpreted by Daniel himself [Note: Dan_2:31-45.]. To Nebuchadnezzar it had appeared as a great image, the various materials of which denoted four successive kingdoms, which would yield at last to one universal empire established on their ruins. To Daniel it appeared as four wild beasts, which would successively prevail; till at last the kingdom of the Messiah should be erected, and reduce every adverse power to a state of complete subjection. To Nebuchadnezzar, who saw nothing but glory in the rise and fall of empires, the idea of a glorious image was most suited: but to Daniel, who viewed the malignant dispositions which produced such revolutions, and the miseries that were occasioned by them, they were more fitly represented under the notion of wild beasts, tearing and devouring one another. But in the vision of Daniel there were revealed many additional circumstances, which very greatly interested him, and which he earnestly desired to have explained. The last of the four kingdoms was to be broken into ten smaller kingdoms, represented by ten horns; amongst which “a little horn, that had eyes, and a mouth speaking very great things,” grew up. This little horn (which seems evidently to denote the Papal power) was to make war with the saints; and, after grievously afflicting them for one thousand two hundred and sixty years, to be itself destroyed, and the kingdom to be given to the saints.

On that part of the subject that relates to the little horn, we shall be silent; because the stating of different opinions respecting it would be unprofitable to those who are hungering for the bread of life: but that part which is contained in our text will be edifying to us all: we shall proceed therefore to consider,

I.       The event predicted—

The establishment of the Redeemer’s empire upon earth is that which is foretold in the preceding verses [Note: ver. 13, 14.], and which in reality is meant in the passage now before us. But the kingdom is called the kingdom of the saints, because it will be entirely composed of saints, and altogether under their government [Note: ver. 22, 27.]. That they shall possess it we can have no doubt; and when the time shall arrive, so universal will the reign of piety be, that it will appear as if all the saints who have ever lived upon the earth had risen again, and as if Christ himself had come down again from heaven to reign over them [Note: Rev_5:10; Rev_20:4. Some contend for a literal accomplishment of these predictions: but the view here given of them is greatly to be preferred.]. But respecting the saints there are two things which it will be proper to shew,

1.       How they will take possession of the kingdom—

[They will not do this by force, unless indeed by the holy violence of faith and prayer: in that respect “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force:” but in respect of any exertion on their part to usurp dominion, it will not so much as enter into their minds. Divine grace will have taught them to “be subject to the powers that be; and that not only for wrath, but for conscience sake.” If they lived even under a Nero, they would, notwithstanding all his cruelty, regard him as God’s minister, whom, by any other means than those which the law itself admits, they are bound not to resist [Note: Rom_13:1-5.]. No man can act as becometh a saint, if he be not found amongst those that are “quiet in the land.”

It is through the intervention only of God’s power that they are exalted to posts of honour, and invested with authority over their fellow-creatures. In the days of old, the enemies of God were overruled to execute his will, in the elevation of a Joseph and a Daniel to the command of mighty empires, and of the Hebrew youths to the government of extensive provinces: but at the time to which our text refers, the subjects, as well as the governors, shall all be converted to the faith of Christ; and kings, no less than others, shall submit to the authority of Christ; yea, “all kings shall fall down before him, all nations shall serve him.” There will not need any human efforts to subvert the government of the ungodly: God himself will change, not the persons, but the principles, of those who are in the seat of judgment; and will press into his own service all their faculties and all their powers. Thus without any public commotions will the work be effected: “The stone that will break in pieces all adverse powers will be cut out without hands;” and the kingdom will be erected, “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.”]

2.       How they will administer it—

In this they will differ widely from the monarchs of this world: they will consult, not their own will, but the will of their heavenly Father; and seek, not their own glory, but his. Every nation will have a theocracy, such as obtained in the days of Moses, and of the Judges. Men will be invested with authority indeed; but the Lord Jesus Christ will be the one Head over all: his laws will be the ground-work of every law that shall be enacted, and his glory the end of every ordinance that shall be administered. “Kings will be the nursing-fathers of the Church, and queens her nursing-mothers.” Judges and magistrates will distribute justice with the utmost possible fidelity, all in their several places “fearing God and working righteousness.” All the minor offices in the State shall be executed in like manner with the strictest integrity: “officers of every description will be peace, and exactors righteousness:” “no violence of any kind will be heard [Note: Isa_60:17-18.]” in any of the departments of civil government; nor will any interest be consulted but that of the whole community.]

Such is the event which in God’s own time we assuredly expect: and from the description already given it is easy to anticipate,

II.      The advantages that will accrue from it—

Let us notice,

1.       Those of a temporal nature—

[The first that occurs to our minds is this, that there will be no more foreign wars. The history of the world for four thousand years has been little else than a recital of murderous and desolating wars: but in that day, we are told, that “swords shall be beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not rise against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” What a blessing this will be, can scarcely be estimated by us, who have for so long a period been exempt from the horrors of war; but in those countries where its desolating progress has been felt, this will appear a blessing of no small moment. As “wars will cease among the nations of the earth,” so in the different nations there will be no domestic feuds. “Judah will no more vex Ephraim, nor Ephraim envy Judah.” “The wolf and the lamb shall dwell together” in perfect harmony: the noxious qualities of the human heart shall be universally restrained: love alone will reign in every circle: “they shall not hurt or destroy in all God’s holy mountain, because the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea [Note: Isa_11:6-9.].” We may further add, that in that day there will he no personal wants. Now a great portion of the human race are oppressed with want, so as scarcely to know how they shall provide bread for the morrow: but in that day it will be as on the day of Pentecost, not literally indeed, but in effect, all delighting to supply the necessities of their fellow-saints. As in the wilderness “he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack,” so in that day will “the abundance of some be a supply for the want of others, that, as far as will conduce to the welfare of the whole, there may be equality [Note: 2Co_8:13-15.].”]

2.       Those of a spiritual nature—

[Vast will be the increase of light in that day: “the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven-fold, as the light of seven days.” Hitherto the greatest part of the world have sat in darkness and the shadow of death: but then “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased;” and such shall be the fruit of their exertions, that “all men shall be made to know the Lord, from the least to the greatest.” The diffusion of Divine knowledge will then be a national object: men shall not then be “put into the ministry to supply them with a piece of bread,” but “to feed the flock of God, over which the Holy Ghost has made them overseers:” and patrons will exercise their power for God, to provide the people with “pastors after God’s heart.” The people also, whilst flocking to the church “as doves to their windows,” will so receive the word, that it will universally “have free course and be glorified among them.”

Together with light, there will be among all classes a great augmentation of peace and joy. “The sun shall be no more their light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto them; but the Lord shall be unto them an everlasting light, and their God their glory.” Nor shall their joy be so variable as at present: “their sun shall no more go down, neither shall their moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be unto them an everlasting light; and the days of their mourning shall be ended [Note: Isa_60:19-20.].” To this happy state of the Church shall the reign of the saints essentially contribute: for the zeal of the pastors, the spirituality of the people, and the more abundant effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the souls of men, will all conspire to “turn the wilderness into a garden, and to make the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose: yea, it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing [Note: Isa_35:1-6; Isa_35:10.].”

There will also be a far larger measure of holiness pervading the world. The Canaanite will then “be no more in the land.” “The people will be all righteous [Note: Isa_60:21 and Zec_14:20-21.]:” and surprising will be the beauty and fertility of every plant which the Lord hath planted [Note: Hos_14:5-7.]. To this also will the reign of the saints greatly contribute. Sin of every kind will be discountenanced, and iniquity, if any still exist, will be constrained to hide its head — — —]

Address—

1.       Let none be ashamed of being accounted saints—

[This name, which God so highly honours, is with many a term of reproach. But happy are they who are “counted worthy of this shame.” The day will ere long arrive, when they shall have far higher honours than man can bestow. We who are now alive may not live to see the day predicted in our text; but, if not, we shall see a happier day, when, “having suffered with Christ, we shall reign, and be glorified together with him.” Verily for all the saints there is a kingdom provided; and they who look forward to it shall not be disappointed of their hope [Note: 2Ti_4:8. Rev_3:21.] — — —]

2.       Let all endeavour to help forward the expected day—

[God will make use of instruments, just as he did in the apostolic age: and we apprehend he is evidently preparing the way for the fuller diffusion of his Gospel by the various efforts which his people are now making in every quarter of the globe. He is causing his word to be translated into the different languages of the world, that all may be able to “read in their own tongue the wonderful works of God.” He is sending forth missionaries into different and distant parts; and is uniting myriads of people in the blessed work of instructing the benighted heathens. Let all these works then be dear to you; and help them forward to the utmost of your power: so may we hope that ere long “the crooked places may be made straight, and the rough places plain, and that all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”]