“Conscience above Statute” American Sentinel 10, 37, p. 291.

SEPTEMBER 8, Dr. Talmage preached from the words recorded in Daniel 6:10: “His windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem.” The doctor fully justified the prophet’s disobedience of civil law, in these words:—

The scoundrelly princes of Persia, urged on by political jealousy against Daniel, have succeeded in getting a law passed that whosoever prays to God shall be put under the paws and teeth of the lions, who are lashing themselves in rage and hunger up and down the stone cage, or putting their lower jaws on the ground, bellowing till the earth trembles. But the leonine threat did not hinder the devotions of Daniel, the C?ur de Lion of the ages. His enemies might as well have a law that the sun should not draw water, or that the south wind should not sweep across a garden of magnolias, or that God should be abolished. They could not scarce his companions with the red-hot furnaces, and they cannot now scare him with the lions. As soon as Daniel hears of this enactment he leaves is office of secretary of state, with its upholstery of crimson and gold, and comes down the white marble steps and goes to his own house. He opens his window and puts the shutters back and pulls the curtain aside so that he can look toward the sacred city of Jerusalem, and then prays.

I suppose the people in the street gathered under and before his window and said: “Just see that man defying the law! He ought to be arrested.” And the constabulary of the city rush to the police headquarters and report that Daniel is on his knees at the wide open window. “You are my prisoner,” says the officer of the law, dropping a heavy hand on the shoulders of the kneeling Daniel. As the constables open the door of the cavern to thrust in their prisoner they see the glaring eyes of the monsters. But Daniel becomes the first lion tamer, and they lick his hand and fawn at his feet, and that night he sleeps with the shaggy mane of a wild beast for his pillow, while the king that night, sleepless in the palace, has on him the paw and teeth of a lion he cannot tame—the lion of a remorseful conscience.

These are wholesome words, not because they are uttered by Dr. Talmage, but because they are true; and because so many hold to the utterly mischievous doctrine that the civil law must be obeyed whether right or wrong.

Daniel was right and his persecutors were wrong; and so is every statute-intrenched tyrant wrong. “I recollect well,” says Rev. J. E. Scott, in the September Arena, “when the preaching of human freedom was stigmatized as revolutionary and anarchistic, and fraught with peril to the nation. To the defender of slavery the doctrine that all men are born equal was rankest anarchy. From the standpoint of human freedom the defender of slavery was the anarchist.”

But that day has passed away, and now nobody in the United States defends human slavery, and the nation honors the men it once despised, and covers with flowers the graves of the men the multitudes once mobbed.

“Then to side with Truth is noble when we share her Wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ‘tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,
doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified,
And the multitude make virtue of the faith they Had denied.”

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