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tiating either the doctrine of the Calvinist, concerning election and reprobation, or of the Arminian, concerning rewards and punishments in the future state for the conduct of men in this life.
2d. That the literal sense of the parable, differs essentially from the doctrine of those who give it that construction.
3d. That the passage is a PARABLE,
4th. Its true application.
It is believed by Calvinists, that God elected to his favor before the world was created, those who will finally be saved; and that he reprobated to his eternal ire all the rest of mankind. What evidence does the parable before us furnish in favor of this doctrine? What do we find in it about election and reprobation? Are we informed that the rich man was reprobated to God's eternal wrath? Or that God hated him? Or that he loved Abraham or Lazarus more? Are we informed that Lazarus was elected to God's peculiar favor? We cannot see one word in favor of the notion, either of election or reprobation. How then does the parable afford this doctrine any proof? How can it prove that to which it does not contain even a reference?
The other doctrine of which we spoke is, that mankind will be recompensed in the future state for the vices and virtues of this world. Understanding the parable literally, what evidence does it furnish in favor of this doctrine? We read that the rich man was in torments in hades; but not because he had been wicked: and we read that the beggar was happy; but not because he had been good. We see no evidence in the parable, that the rich man was a very bad man, or that the beggar was better than he. We are not informed that the former obtained his riches improperly, or that the
beggar did not become poor by his own negligence or imprudence. It has been alleged against the rich man, that he refused Lazarus the crumbs which fell from his table. If this be a fact, why did Lazarus lay at his gate? We should judge by the account, that some persons, through compassion, perhaps the friends of the beggar, carried him to the rich man's gate, and laid him there. Would they have done this, had they known the rich man o be covetous? Of all places the rich man's gate was selected, as the most proper for the poor man to lay at. Besides, the word translated desiring in the account, is sometimes rendered delighting.
1 The word here rendered desiring is epithumon. Of this word Parkhurst says, that, written with an infinitive following, it signifiés "to be content, or glad, to esteem it a great matter;" and he adduces the instance in the parable before us, of its occurring in this sense. To which he adds, thus Elsner on Luke xvi. 21, explains it, and observes not only that the LXX. have so applied it, Isa. Iviii. 2, but that Lysias has used it in a like sense, Orat. 24." Lex. sub Dr. Campbell says, "I agree with those who do not think there is any foundation, in this expression, for saying that he was refused the crumbs. When the historian says, that he was laid at the rich man's gate, he means not, surely, that he was once there, but that he was usually so placed, which would not probably have happened, if he had got nothing at all. The other circumstances concur in heightening the probability. Such are, the rich man's immediately knowing him, his asking that he might be made the instrument of the relief he wanted; and, let me add this, that though the Patri arch upbraids the rich man with the carelessness and luxury in which he had lived, he says not a word of inhumanity; yet, if we consider Lazarus as having experienced it so recently, it could hardly, on this occasion, have failed to be taken notice of. Can we suppose that Abraham, in the charge he brought against him, would have mentioned only the things of least moment, and omitted those of the greatest? "Much injury has been done to our Saviour's instructions by the illjudged endeavors of some expositors to improve and strengthen them. I know no better example for illustrating this remark, than the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Many, dissatisfied with its simplicity, as related by the evangelist, and desirous, one would think, to vindicate the character of the judge from the
And if we read that the beggar delighted to be fed with the crumbs, is not this a proof that he was not denied them? How then will the parable prove that men will be punished in the future state, because they are sinful in this world? We repeat, we see no evidence that the rich man was a bad man. The prayer which he offered to Abraham is the manifestation of a good spirit. How much better could Lazarus or Abraham have prayed, had either been in the rich man's situation? The rich man prayed that his five brethren might be warned, and prevented from coming to that place of torment. Abraham seems at one time to be accounting for the rich man's torment: but he says nothing about any previous wickedness in him. "Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst
charge of excessive severity in the condemnation of the former, load that wretched man with all the crimes which blacken huiman nature, and for which they have no authority from the words of inspiration. They will have him to have been a glutton and a drunkard, rapacious and unjust, cruel and hardhearted, one who spent in intemperance what he had acquired by extortion and fraud. Now, I must be allowed to remark, that, by so doing, they totally pervert the design of this most instructive lesson," &c. Thus far Dr. Campbell. See his whole note on Luke xvi. 21. Adam Clarke's note is to the same purport, as follows; "It is likely his desire was complied with, for it is not intimated that he spurned away the poor man from the gate, or that his suit was rejected. And as we find, ver. 24, that the rich man desi ed that Lazarus should be sent with a little water to him, it is a strong intimation that he considered him under some kind of obligation to him for had he refused him a few crumbs in his time, it is not reasonable to suppose, that he would now have requested such a favor from him; nor does Abraham glance at any such uncharitable conduct on the part of the rich man.' Comment. on Luke xvi. 21. Bp. Pearce says, the desire of Lazarus was probably complied with, and adds, "we may presume that there is a consistency in the several parts of this parable; and, if so, then we may conclude, that Lazarus had not been refused relief at the rich man's door; otherwise the rich man would have asked for any other, rather than Lazarus, to be sent to him." Com. on Luke xvi. 24.
thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted and thou art tormented " He did not say, remember thou in thy lifetime wast wicked, but Lazarus good.
Another inquiry properly arising in this place is, does not the literal sense of the passage pointedly disagree with the notions of those who contend that it is not a parable? We often hear that such as go to hell never have one holy feeling; no desire for the company of the blessed; that they spend their time in blaspheniing God. Was it so with the rich man? Do we read of his blaspheming God? No; but we read of his offering up a prayer, and a good one too. "I pray thee therefore, father," said he, "that thou wouldst send him (Lazarus) to my father's house: for I have five brethren; and that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment." Did he not in this language breathe forth a good desire? Did he not have a holy feeling? Again. Abraham, when speaking of the great gulf, said it was fixed "so that they who would pass from hence to you cannot neither can they pass to us that would come from thence." Here two things should be noticed. 1. There were some with Abraham that would go to the rich man; but could not. And, 2. There were some with the rich man who would go to Abraham; but could not. It appears from this, that there were some in hell who had a desire for the company of the blessed, and would have gone to them, had it been in their power. And we learn, furthermore, that hell cannot be so hot a place as it has been represented. For if it were so, the rich man, we should think, would have called for more water than Lazarus could have carried on the tip of his finger. And suppose the common idea of
a devil be correct, how would he be pleased to have so benevolent a prayer as that of the rich man, offered up in his dark dominions? The literal sense of the text comes in direct contact with many people's notions of a future world.
Now let us turn to Abraham and those with him. It is commonly supposed, that those who are in heaven are happy, and perfectly reconciled to the will of God. We have already shown that there were some in the place of happiness who would go to the rich man; but could not. They were not, therefore, perfectly happy, inasmuch as they were desirous of doing that which they were not permitted to do. Neither were they reconciled to the will of God; for it was the will of God that they should not go, and he had made the great gulf to prevent them. Wishing to do what was not permitted to be done, they were unhappy, and being unreconciled to God, they were wicked. If wicked, they must have been miserable. So we have one argument to prove that those who were with Abraham were wicked, and two that they were miserable. How will these things agree with the opinions of those who contend that the parable is a literal relation of facts? Those who were in heaven were unreconciled to God, and those who were in hell were unreconciled to the supposed devil. How can the passage be explained literally?
But it may be said, those in heaven were benevolent, sympathetic, and were urged by good motives to endeavor to relieve the distressed. Permit us to ask, how could they be ignorant of God's determination to punish the wicked eternally? And will it be said, they were better than God? Was not he as good, sympathetic and benevolent as they? Let those who interpret the passage literally con