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tion and provokes envy among mankind. How happy do multitudes think they should be, if they could have what this man enjoyed! The hope of obtaining something of the kind in their latter days, or of leaving a portion of worldly wealth to their posterity, induces many to rise up early, and to sit up late,49 to work hard, and to endure much vexation and trouble. The cares of this life so occupy the minds of numbers, that they are considered to afford a sufficient excuse for the disregard of every thing beyond it, as if there were no future state of existence. They inquire not, What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?50 But the man before us lived for enjoyment. He possessed all that heart could wish of the things of this life. He was doubtless the object of admiration and envy to many.
With his state is contrasted that of a person in very opposite circumstances. There was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. In what a different state from that of the person before described, was this man. He was diseased and poor. Being unable to move, he
was carried to the door of the rich man's house
49 Psalm cxxvii. 2.
50 Mark viii. 36.
to receive the fragments of broken meat which might be given to him, the crumbs that would otherwise be wasted; the bits that would be thrown to the dogs. But though the rich man saw him lying at his door in this loathsome state of disease and hunger, he does not appear to have taken compassion upon him; but to have suffered him to lie there, in wretchedness and misery, unnoticed by any but the dogs, which manifested more kindness to him than their master did. They did what they could to stanch the poor beggar's wounds; while he was too hard-hearted to have them bound up, or to supply the healing ointment. His concern was only about his self-gratification, and his appearance in the world.
Disease and want shortly accomplished the event that might be expected, with regard to Lazarus. It came to pass that the beggar died. Want of medical aid, and perhaps also want of food, hastened his end. But death was to him the end of all his pains and sorrows. Though living in poverty and pain, in sickness and want, in this world, yet he had by Divine grace been made a partaker of Abraham's faith; and therefore after death, he was blessed with faithful Abraham. He had, according to the language of the text, heard Moses and the prophets, and
51 Galatians iii. 9.
had believed the record which they had made concerning the promised Messiah; so that he was led to look beyond the evil things of this life, to which he was an heir as a transgressor of the holy, just, and good law of God; and to hope for good things to come through faith in the expected Redeemer of mankind. He was therefore acknowledged to be a son of Abraham, and admitted to share the same blessedness as the father of the faithful enjoyed; he was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. If his poverty had kept him humble, if his misery had led him to seek earnestly for Divine mercy; how thankful would he be, when he had reached the abode of the blessed, that poverty and pain had been his lot in this life. He would look back with gratitude and praise at the Divine dispensation towards him; though in the time of his suffering, he might have thought that he was rather hardly dealt with; and he would adore the Divine goodness which had led him, through privation and sickness, through pain and distress, to seek for a better portion than this world can give. Want and wretchedness do not, however, necessarily lead to this. Many, it is to be feared, go out of a world in which they have been very wretched, into a still more deplorable state for eternity. But as poverty and pain are calculated to humble the proud heart of man, we find the Apostle James saying,
Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him ?52 Let those who are poor in this world seek for the durable riches of righteousness, that they may be blessed. Every encouragement is given in the word of God, to induce the children of men to seek spiritual and heavenly blessings. He who bestows them regardeth not the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of His hands. 53 Let not those who are poor in this world, neglect to seek heavenly riches, in the knowledge and love of God in Christ, through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. For oh! how dreadful is it to think, that
any should go out of a life of misery on earth, to one of greater misery for ever. Yet it is to be
feared that this is frequently the case.
But there seems to be greater need, if possible, to exhort those who are in a state of worldly prosperity, to take heed lest they should neglect the care of their immortal souls. How often does this prove a snare, even to professors of religion. How many have given over a profession of religion, in consequence of meeting with worldly prosperity. The abundance with which he was favoured, proved a snare to the rich man in the parable before us.
clothing and his sumptuous fare led him to disregard and to despise the poor and needy. And being sensible of no wants or privations, he seems to have neglected the means of grace, while they were within his reach. He had Moses and the prophets, but he did not hear them. He forsook his own mercies. And is not this too commonly the case with those who possess worldly abundance? His own personal gratification, and the admiration of the world, were the objects which this rich man pursued, hence his sumptuous fare and his gay clothing; and he attained to all that he desired.
But at length the rich man also died, and was buried. As he had lived in splendour, he was buried with pomp, and perhaps had a stately tomb. But although his virtues might be emblazoned on his sepulchre, his record was not on high. Though while he lived, he blessed his soul, and all around him flattered and spoke well of him; yet after death, the pleasing expectations which self-love and flattery had led him to form with regard to futurity were all cut off. And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments. Oh! what a dreadful change of condition was this, from that in which he had been on earth. His pleasures were all turned to pain, his gratifications into torments. His good things were all
54 Psalm xlix. 18.