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Commentary On Daniel Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Lecture Thirty-first.

AT the end of yesterday's Lecture, the enemies of Daniel who had malignantly, enviously, and cruelly slandered him, were cast into the lions' den, and were torn to pieces with their wives and children; and thus the miracle was more clearly conspicuous, as we have previously said. Here, again, we may learn how lions are governed by God's hand, and are restrained from shewing their ferocity everywhere and against every one, except when God permits them. As it is said in the ninety-first Psalm, Thou shalt walk upon the lion and the basilisk, and tread upon the lion and the dragon; (Psalm 91:13.) So also, on the other hand, God denounces against the unbelievers by the Prophet Amos, (Amos 5:19,) The lions shall come to meet them, if they go forth from their houses. We see, then, how God restrains the cruelty of lions as often as he pleases, and how he excites them to madness when he wishes to punish mankind. With regard to their wives and children being also cast into the den, we need not dispute with any anxiety, whether or not this punishment was just. For it seems to be a sure rule of equity, that punishment should not pass on to the innocent, especially when it involves their life. In all ages, it has been the custom of well-ordered States, for many punishments to be inflicted on children as well as their parents, as in a public sale of goods, or any charge of violence or treason; in criminal cases also, the infamy of parents extends to the children, (but this is far more severe, to slay children with their parents,) though they cannot possibly be guilty of the same crime. Yet, although this is not one of the customary cases, we must not hastily condemn it as unjust. We see how God orders whole families to be exterminated from the world as a mark of his hatred; but, as a just Judge, he always is moderate in his severity. This example, then, cannot be precisely condemned, but we had better leave it in doubt. We are aware of the cruel and barbarous manner in which the kings of the East exercise their sway, or rather their tyranny, on their subjects. Hence there is no reason why any one should fatigue himself with the question, since King Darius was so much grieved at his being deceived. Hence he not only exacted punishment from these wicked slanderers for oppressing Daniel, but because he was himself affected by their injustice. He wished rather to avenge himself than Daniel; he was not content with retaliation, but condemned their children also to destruction. It follows, --
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