Page images
PDF
EPUB

ham for mercy. But their national greatness is gone, and the glory of their ancestors can afford them no relief. Abraham is represented as recognizing the relationship. He refers the rich man to his former condition, as well as to that of the beg. gar, and seems to give this as a reason why the former was tormented and the latter blessed. This is according to the equality of God's ways.

The Jews had possessed a knowledge of God, and been blessed for a long time, while the Gentiles had been without hope, and without God in the world. Now the scene is reversed according to the appointment of God. " It was necessary," said the apostles to them, “that the word of God should first have been spoken to you : but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldst be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” Acts xiji. 46, 4

The gulf which separated the rich man from Lazarus, very well represents any circumstance by which the Jews are separated from the Gentile nations. That such a separation has long existed, admits not of a doubt; and when we reflect that, although many centuries have passed away since the Jews forfeited their national character, they have never become mixed and lost among the nations, we can but recognize some manifest design of Providence in the event. By this gulf we may more particularly understand that purpose of God, in which it is determined, that the Jews shall not believe the gospel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. This was the subject of prophecy. Isaiah says, “who hath believed our report? And John applies this to the unbelief of the Jews

, 47.

in the Messiahship of Jesus. He says, “therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." John xii. 38–40. Matt. xiii. 14, 15. Mark iv. 11, 12. Luke viii. 10. Acts. xxviii. 26–28. Rom. xi. 8. The divine purpose in this, is consistent with God's impartial character. This blindness of the Jews is to bring about the conversion of the Gentiles, through whose mercy the Jews will at lasi obtain mercy. Paul, addressing one of the Gentile churches, says, "For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief; even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.” Rom. xi. 30, 31. Of the unbelief of the Jews, the prophets had prophesied. When the Gentiles saw the prophesies fulfilled in the obstinacy of the Jews, they were convinced of the divine origin of Christianity; they pressed into the kingdom of God. By the mercy

of the Gentiles the Jews are at last to obtain mercy. Paul says, “ For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, (lest ye should be wise in your own conceits) that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED; as it is written, there shall come out of Zion the deliverer,and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Rom, xi. 25, 26. Although the Jews are now shut out of the kingdom, we can easily perceive they are finally to be brought in, Jesus said unto thein, “ye shall not see me hence forth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Matt, xxiii. 39. When

[ocr errors]

they will say this, we are not yet permitted to know; but no one believes the divine testimony can doubt that they will at a proper time. The benefit derived from the gulf, will then be obtained, and Jews and Gentiles will rejoice together in the fruition of eternal life.

Appendix. We cannot refrain from adding, by way of appendix to the notes on this parable, that writers of different christian denominations have taken the same view of it with ourselves. The following extracts from two authors of some note, confirm the remark here made.

Theophylact, from whose Commentary on the Four Gospels the following extract was made, lived in the eleventh century, and was Metropolitan of Bulgaria. He certainly was not an Universalist; yet he considered it as by no means doing injustice to the parable, to explain it as we have done. Here follows the extract :

“In the preceding verses, our Lord had taught us to conduct ourselves properly with regard to our riches; and to the same purpose, he adds, by way of example, this Parable. For this is a Parable, and not, as some have thought, a history ; because that the blessings of eternity were not yet adjudged to the righteous, nor the judgments to the wicked. But the Lord spake figuratively, designing to teach the unmerçiful what was at length to come upon them, and on the other hand, to assure the afflicted how happy they are to become, for the evils they here sustain. Accordingly, Theophy

lact proceeds to apply this Parable, as a representation of the different conditions of the proud sinner and of the humble saint, after the general judgment ; and he incidentally reasons from the Parable, against Origen's doctrine of the restoration, because Abraham says, " that they which would pass from hence to you, cannot, neither can they pass to us that would come from thence.”

At last, however, Theophylact says, “ But this Parable can also be explained in the way of allegory; so that we may say that by the rich man is signified the Jewish people. For they were formerly rich, abounding in all divine knowledge, wisdom and instruction, which are more excellent than gold and precious stones. And they were arrayed in purple and fine linen, as they possessed a kingdom, and a priesthood, and were themselves a royal priesthood to God. The purple denoted their kingdom; and the fine linen, their priesthood. For the Levites were clothed in sacerdotal vestinents of fine linen; and they fed sumptuously and lived spendidly, every day. Daily did they offer the morning and the evening sacrifice; which they also called the continual sacrifice. But Lazarus was the Gentile people; poor in divine grace and wisdom, and lying before the gates : for it was not permitted to the Gentiles to enter the house itself, because they were considered a pollution. Thus, in the Acts of the apostles, we read that it was alleged against Paul that he had introduced Gentiles into the temple, and made that holy place common or unclean. Moreover, those people were full of fetid sures of sin, on which the impudent dogs, or devils, fed, who delight themselves in our sores. The Gentiles likewise desired even the crumbs which fell from the tables of the rich ; for

they were wholly destitute of that bread which strengthens the heart of man, and wanted even the smallest morsel of food; so that the Canaanite woman (Matt. xv. 27,) when she was a heathen, desired to be fed with the crumbs. In short the Hebrew people were dead unto God, and their bones, which could not be moved to do good, were perished. Lazarus also, I mean the Gentile people, were dead in sin. And the envious Jews who were dead in sins, did actually burn in a flame of jealousy, as saith the apostle, on account of the Gentiles being received into the faith, and because that those who had before been a poor and despised Gentile race, were now in the bosom of Abraham, the father of nations. And justly, indeed, were they thus revived. For it was while Abraham was yet a Gentile, that he believed God, and turned from the worship of idols to the knowledge of God. Therefore, it was proper that they who were partakers of his conversion and faith, should rest in his bosom, sharing the same final lot, the same habitation and the same blessedness. And the Jewish people longed for one drop of the former legal sprinklings and purifications to refresh their tongue, that they might confidently say to us that the Law was still efficacious and availing. But it was not, For the Law was only until John. And the Psalinist says, sacrifice and oblations thou wouldst not, &c.”

Theophylact then briefly observes, that we ought to make a moral use of this Parable, and not despise our servants who stand at our gates.

Theophylacti in Quatuor Evangelia Enarrationes, p. 119, Edit. Basil, 1525,

We may add the testimony of another writer, who, we suppose, was not an Universalist, to the

« PreviousContinue »