Page images



LUKE XVI. 19, 20, 21. ...

There was a certain Rich Man, who was

clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain Beggar named Lazarus, who 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. TN the former part of this Chapter our SERN. I Lord had been instructing his Dis: XII. ciples both by parable and precept br in the wisest disposal of their worldly wealth, and in the best application of their services in life. Their wealth he taught them was to be employed in making to themselves a Friend, who upon their faiļure might receive them ? ?


SERM. into everlasting habitations: and their X11. services were to be devoted to that

Master, who could most abundantly recompense their labours.

It is recorded on this occasion, that the Pharisees who were covetous heard all these things, and they derided him. Though assuming to themselves the character of being righteous, yet they gave

their friendship to the Mammon of unrighteousness: though affecting an exclusive zeal for the service of God, yet they strove to divide their services between God and Mammon. Hereupon they treated with derision doctrines, which were too much at variance with their own dispositions and sentiments. Perceiving his instructions to be thus despised, he addressed them in a tone of more direct reproof; Ye are they who justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts.

For that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. Though they bore a show of righteousness, which imposed upon mankind, yet their secret thoughts were known to God, who accurately notices every movement of the mind, and ac. counts many things odious which are applauded by the world.


[ocr errors]



In the sequel of the same discourse SERM. he delivers the ensuing parable.

There was a certain Rich Man, who was clothed in purple and fine liner, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain Beggar named Lazarus, who 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.

We are here presented with a brief but expressive image of human life in the remote extremes of prosperity and affliction. The one is supplied with every luxury that can minister to his pleasures : and the other is destitute of the common comforts and necessaries of life. Thus the Rich man has his good things, and the Poor man his evil things. And should we look no farther than the present scene of life, we might suppose the Rich man to have been eminently happy, and the Poor man to have been of all men most miserable.

But if we would make a due estimation of their several lots in the scale of happiness and misery, we must take into our view the whole compass of their existence. Now the parable not only represents their fortunes in life,

2 3


S'ERM. but also opens to our sight their desa XII. tinies after death. Whatever might be

their respective enjoyments or sufferings in the present state, they were equally subject to the sentence of mortality, though there might be some difference in the external circumstances of their departure. It came to pass that the Beggar died;-No notice was taken of his decease, and no attention was paid to his remains. The Rich man also diedand was buried: his death was publicly recorded, and sumptuous obsequies consigned him to the tomb. Very different was the reception of their souls in another world. The Poor man was conveyed by Angels into Abraham's bosom: While in hell the Rich man lifted up


eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom.

In this dreadful state he sought some mitigation of torment from his great Progenitor Abraham, whom he saw at a distance in the highest eminence of bliss; nor did he scruple to ask it through the ministry of that very Beggar, who had formerly lain at his gate in pain and hunger and disregard, but was now advanced to a distinguished place in the mansions of happines: Father Abra,


ham, have mercy on me ; and send Lazarus, sERM, that he may dip the tip of his finger in X11, water and cool my tongue, for I am tormerted in this flame.

But Abraham said, Son, remember, that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus his evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us und you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they who would pass from hence to you cannot, neither can they pass to us that would come from thence.

Thus finding the door of mercy for eyer shut against himself, the unhappy soul petitions for the charitable service of Lazarus in behalf of his Brethren, who were going on in the same way of destruction, but were yet in a capacity to retrieve their errors by repentance: I pray thee therefore, Father, that thou wouldst send him to my Father's house, for I have five Brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come to this place of torment. In answer to this petition the Patriarch alleges that they possessed every reasonable means of salvation: They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. The unhappy Spirit perseveres in his suit, on a presumption

« PreviousContinue »