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advice or assistance; that he therefore hath pur, posely fo mixed the wheat and the tares in this world, as seemed best to his divine wifdom; that he suffereth the tares to remain until the day of harvest; that he will then make a proper distinction between them; that he will burn up the one, and gather the other into his own garner.
ON THE PARABLE OF DIVES AND LAZARUS.
SE R M ,0 N
LUKE XVI. 3I.
If they hear not Mofes and the prophets, neither
will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead,
considers the conduct and behaviour of the Jewish nation under their divine Law-giver, as recorded in Holy Writ, cannot fail of being struck with an admiration of his goodness and beneficence towards a people so undeserving of it: he will perceive the Almighty acting like a kind and tender father, and will not behold without indignation the pride, ingratitude, and disobedience of his children. Though his own arm strengthened, and his own right hand conquered for them; though he changed, fufpended, and reversed the laws and powers of nature for their preservation and support, yet both his works and his wonders were forgotten
bythem. Instead of adoring they disputed his power, and doubted that very omnipotence which he had everted in their favour. Can he give bread also, said they, or provide flesh for his people? He commanded the clouds from above, and opened the door of heaven to rain down månna upon them, and fed them with the food of angels who had not deserved that of meni and in return for it, while the flesh was yet in their mouths, they rebelled against him? their wickedness constantly increased in proportion to his indulgence; the greater his goodness to theni, the stronger their averfion to him; and the more miracles he performed, the less was their inclination to believe them.
Such was the temper and disposition of that nation, which God, for reasons best known to his divine wisdom, had thought fit to mark out for his peculiar people; and that their temper and disposition was the same at the time of our Saviour's appearance upon earth, is indisputable. The Son of God experienced the same obftinacy, perverseness, and incredulity, which his almighty Father had met with from them; they were perpetually alking him for fresh miracles, which yet still as he performed had not the least effect
them The Pharisees in particular who excelled their brethren in pride and infolence, were always demanding of him much more than he thought proper to grant. To them therefore, in the párable now before us, he applies himself, rebukes in a tender and artful manner their pride, avarice, and infidelity; foretelling, as it
were, at the same time, what did afterwards most exactly come to pass; namely, that such was their averfion to truth and righteousness, that it was not in the power of any miracles to recommend, or indeed of God himself to enforce the practice of them. If they hear not Moles and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
À tacit reproach of their past conduct, and a visible allusion to his own approaching fate, seem to be the chief end and scope of this divine parable: but as various lessons of instruction may also be drawn from the various parts of it, I shall endeavour briefly to illustrate and explain the whole, and to draw from it, as we pass along, such observations as may be most useful to us in our future conduct.
The parable opens with a most beautiful contrast of riches and poverty. On the one hand is the picture drawn in the liveliest colours of a man in all the pride of youth, health, and affluence, a favourite of fortune, even in the bosom of plenty and prosperity; clothed with fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day. On the other, a poor and miserable being, befct with ills, and overwhelmed with misfortunes: reduced to the lowest ftate of penury and forrow: Lazarus was laid at the rich man's gate, full of fores, with a body cruelly distempered, and a mind, no doubt, fallen, fpiritless, and a fligted.
In this condition, as we may infer from what follows, the rich man leaves him to thift for himself , without affording him that comfort
and relief which he might fo easily have beftowed on him. The crime of the rich man was most probably that which too often difgraces the character of the great, an utter insensibility of the sufferings of his fellow-crea
Lazarus desired, we are told, (but as we may suppose in vain) to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table.
We have no reason to imagine that the rich man was punished (as we find him to have been) after death, because he was rewarded before, or that because he had good things in this life he met with evil things in the other : that were indeed to doubt the goodness and to arraign the justice of the Most High. God loveth the chearful giver, and doubtless the chearful receiver also. Not to taste of the feast which he has set before us, would be ingratitude, and not to enjoy would be to disobey. But then it is our duty to invite others also to the banquet: God would not have punished the rich man for faring sumptuously, if he had fed the hungry; nor for wearing purple and fine linen, if he had clothed the naked also.
But to proceed: It came to pass, says the parable, that the beggar died.
The consequence of the rich man's infenfi. bility and neglect was, that Lazarus could no longer support his wretched being: death took poffesfion on, freed him from all his pains and afflictions, and conveyed him, as we shall find, to a world very different from that which he had so long inhabited.
The rich man also, in spite of all his honours, riches, and power, did not long survive him: though he fared sumptuously every day; and perhaps indeed because he did so-he perished: ‘all his power and splendor could not procure a respite, nor all his riches purchase a moment for him.
And now let us mark, with an eye of concern and astonishment, the dreadful vicissitude; and let the melancholy change afford a leffon of instruction to us.
The beggar is not only relieved from all his wants and calamities, but conveyed to the regions of joy and happiness; the ministers of God himself are employed to transport him thither, and the favourite of the Almighty is commissioned to receive him-he was carried, says the parable, by the angels into Abraham's bolom.
The rich man, on the other hand, is hurried away from the possession of all that he held dear and valuable, stripped of his wealth and honours, and transported to a scene of misery and horror; from the gaudy pleasures of plenty and prosperity to the gloomy and uncomforta. ble regions of pain and sorrow. To complete his woes, and aggravate lis misfortunes, the first object which his eyes behold is that which he least desired to see; that very Lazarus whom he had treated with such contempt, no longer poor and miserable, but abounding in treasures which life could never give, nor death take away from him. He finds him in the fociety of blessed fpirits, with the great patriarch