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sider these things. Let them tell us why those in heaven wished to go down to hell. Was it to abide there? Was it to relieve some friend, some relation? Would some parent comfort his child? Some child, its parent? Some brother, a sister? Some husband, a wife? No, answer the orthodox, the saints say Amen, alleluia, when they see the smoke of the torment of the wicked ascend. How will those who do not allow that the passage is a parable, surmount these difficulties?
Now allowing the passage to be a literal relation, what will it prove? It will not prove the doctrine of election and reprobation; it will not prove that men are to be punished or rewarded in the next life for their conduct in this; but it will prove that there was a man tormented in hades, who was a good man in some respects, and for aught we know, as good as any body else it will prove that those who are in heaven are both wicked and miscrable, that they wish to leave the place and go to hell; and it will prove that some notions which orthodox people have entertained for years, are totally erroneous. Those who contend that it is not a parable, for any thing we see, must allow all these things.
But it may be said that the passage understood literally, proves that men will be punished after death We answer, if we interpret it literally, and suppose the death of the rich man to mean the departure of life from his animal frame, then it will teach that one man was tormented in another state of being; but whether it should be for one year, one day or hour, we could not tell. One thing is certain, it would not then prove the doctrine of endless torment, for the place, the hell, in which the rich man was tormented, is to be destroyed, according to the testimony of Hosea, "O hades, I will be thy
destruction," (Hos. xiii. 14,) and of John, “And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire," (Rev. xx. 14,) and of Paul, "O hades where is thy victory," (1 Cor. xv. 55.) But if we may have the liberty of interpreting parables literally, we will engage to prove almost any thing. There is no intelligent christian who does not know, that those things which Jesus used as figures of the reality, should not be considered the reality itself.
There is sufficient evidence, both internal and external, to prove that the passage is a parable. We will first briefly examine the internal. It is stated the beggar was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom. Now we ask, can any one suppose that this is to be understood in the literal sense? These people are represented as having bodily organs and powers. The rich man had eyes and a tongue, and Lazarus fingers, Can this be interpreted literally? Do disembodied spirits in the world to come have eyes, and tongues, and fingers, and the powers of speech, of hearing and seeing i
"Lift up his eyes. These words, like as some of the following, must not be understood properly, for the soul being a spiritual being, hath neither eyes, nor tongue, nor finger, but by similitude, See the Dutch Annotations, according to the translation of the Bible as ordered by the Synod of Dort. Loudon, 1 57.
Ver. 19. "This is more likely to be a parable than a true history." 23. Lift up. "All this ought to be understood figuratively." See pious and learned Annotations on the Holy Bible by John Diodati, of Geneva. London, 1651.
Dr. Whitby argues conclusively that the passage is a parable, and states that it was not original with Jesus, but was quoted by him from some Jewish writings. "That this is only a parable, and not a real history of what was actually done, is evident, 1st, because we find this very parable in the Gemara Babylonicum, whence it is cited by Mr. Sheringham, in the preface to his Joma. 2d. From the circumstances of it, viz. the rich man's lifting up his eyes in hell, and seeing Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, his discourse with Abraham, his complaint of being tormented with flames, and his desire
We do not profess to know much about spirits in another world, but we believe this is not the common opinion upon the subject. However, it belongs to those who say the passage is not a parable, to solve these difficulties, and to show us how people in heaven and hell can converse with apparent ease from one place to the other.
The external evidence that the passage is a parable, is the connexion in which it is found. should maintain a proper connexion throughout our Lord's discourse. But we see no way to do this, if we do not consider the passage a parable. It is found connected with a number of parables, in Luke xv. and xvi. as we have already shown.
In the beginning of the 15th chapter, we find that the Scribes and Pharisees murmured, because Jesus received sinners and ate with them. In the three parables which fill up the remainder of this chapter, viz. that of the lost sheep, of the lost piece of silver, and of the prodigal son, Jesus vindicated that part of his conduct of which they had complained. But in the last of these three parables, a character was presented which had not appeared in either of the others. This was the elder son, who was angry because the prodigal was received into favor, and who very justly represented the scribes and Pharisees; for they murmured because Jesus Christ received sinners and ate with them. These Pharisees rejected the gospel; and this is represented by the elder son's refusing to go
that Lazarus might be sent to cool his tongue; and if all this he confessedly parable, why should the rest, which is the very parable in the Gemara, be accounted history?" Note on Luke xvi. 29.
'Arch Bishop Tillotson remarks, that in some ancient A SS. the passage commences as follows: "And he spake a parable unto them, saying, there was a certain rich man, &c." See his Sermon on the parable. Dr. Gill has the same remark in his Commentary.
into his father's house. In the parable of the unjust steward, with which the 16th chapter is commenced, the same people are admonished for not making such improvement of the law, as would introduce them into the christian faith and church. The Pharisees being provoked at this, derided Jesus. After briefly describing to them their conduct, he says, "the law and the prophets were until John since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it." Jesus then spake another parable, in which the folly of the Jews, in rejecting the gospel and adhering to the law, is represented by the sin of adultery. Then come the word of the passage before us; "There was a certain rich man," &c. What is there in all this connexion which would have the least tendency to lead the mind to the doctrine which the passage is used to support? It has been justly said, "To suppose that he who spake as never man spake, abruptly dropped, the subject of the end of the law dispensation, and the introduction of the gospel, or kingdom of heaven, and having no further allusion to this subject, proceeded to give an account of the sin of adultery, which account occupies but one verse, and then again flies directly from this subject, to give a literal account about a rich man and a beggar, in this world and in an eternal state, is so unwarrantable, and so derogatory to the character of the divine orator, that it is a matter of wonder that such an opinion should ever have been honored with the consent of learned commentators."
Having provedl, as we think, that the passage is a parable, we shall now proceed to show the true meaning of the word hades; and why our Lord
1 Ballou's Sermon on the Parable, edition of 1819, page 7.
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