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propriety of representing the Jewish nation as a man, a RICH man. His clothing and his fare are described in the scriptures of truth, and to this the parabolic language of our Saviour agrees. But the life of this privileged man closes. The law, which had been a lamp to his feet, and a lantern to his path, had been made void by vain traditions. He had neglected attendance on those oracles of divine wisdom, which had been his life, and he is now dead. The legal dispensation had ceased. Having misimproved his talent, the kingdom of God was taken from him and given to another, bringing forth the fruits thereof. He was consequently shut out into utter darkness, where is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Blindness in part had now happened to Israel, and shall continue until the fullness of the Gentiles shall come in. He was therefore buried in the darkness expressed by an apostleLet their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. He now saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom. Thus was the prediction of the Saviour fulfilled, recorded Luke 13: 28, 29, 30.
"There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last."
It was at the close of the Mosaic dispensation, when the master of the house, the high priest of our profession, had shut the door on the Jews, and opened it to the Gentiles, that those which had been the first, and highly favoured people, became the last; and the Gentiles, who had been the last, were in the same sense made the first. The Gentiles came from the four quar
ters of the earth, and found life in the dispensation of the Gospel, the same gospel which had been preached to Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
We have before said, that this is the only passage in the New-Testament, in which hades is connected with punishment. You will recollect that the original term signifies unqualified darkness. If this is a parable, hell is here used to signify mental darkness, as it literally signifies physical darkness. Thus does the figure completely correspond with the fact. Hence it is obvious, that as the Jewish nation looked to the righteousness of the ritual law, which consisted of carnal ordinances, so the rich man in the parable calls to his father after the flesh for assistance. Having rejected the counsel of God against themselves, and refused to submit to the rule of a suffering Messiah, they judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, and the angels, or ministers of the gospel, turned to the Gentiles, who were thus brought into the life of the gospel, the faith of Abraham.
To exhibit the force of Abraham's closing reply to the rich man, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither would they be persuaded though one rose from the dead," let us refer to John 5: 45, 46.
"Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me."
But what says Paul to the Romans on this subject? "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."
It hence appears obvious, that the unbelief of the Jews, and the faith of the Gentiles, were simultane
ous. The one died to all which distinguished them as rich in their life time-the other died to their idolatrous worship, and to their ignorance of the true God, and no wonder the Apostles exclaimed in astonishment, "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." Thus the rich man died, and was buried-the poor man needed no burial, he came to life-the life of the new dispensation.
In speaking of this passage literally, notice was taken of the entire want of character from which to infer the cause of the sudden change of circumstances related of these two men. As a figure, it is truly characteristic of the relative rituation of the two grand divisions of men. Not only were the Jews highly privileged as a people, but their exclusive claim to these privileges was so deeply rooted, that even the apostles of our Lord, had strong doubts of the propriety of teaching the way of life to the Gentiles. Nay, the Saviour of men, while under the Mosaic dispensation, afforded strong evidence of this exclusive spirit. His disciples were forbidden to preach to the Gentiles, and he declared himself not sent, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. True, after his reurrection, the commission was extended to every creature; yet before his crucifixion, he declared it not meet to give the children's bread to dogs, alluding to the case of the Gentile woman. Here then is a case in point. The woman answered-"Truth Lord, yet the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master's table." What a singular coincidence! The Jews, and even Christ, at that time, considered the Gentiles as dogs.
That the Gentiles, who are here represented in the character of a beggar, were poor in the same sense in which the Jews were rich, will hardly be disputed, when reference is made to Eph. 2: 11, 12.
"Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision
by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world."
The poor man is represented as outside the rich man's gate. Without are dogs." He is also said to be full of sores. If being strangers from the covenants of promise, and without hope, does not sufficiently point out the moral ulcers of the Gentile world, we know not in what language to describe it. See Isa. 1: 5, 6.
That the exclusive spirit of the Jewish nation was highly provoked by any intimation of granting their privileges to the Gentile world, is manifested by their conduct to the Messiah, on his hinting the change which was about to take place between these two grand divisions of men. They thrust him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. What, did the Spirit of Pharisaic pride, which says, "Stand by thyself-I am holier than thou;" prompt them to murder! It did-nor is this a solitary instance.
"And he said unto me, depart : for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, away with such a fellow from the earth; for it is not fit that he should live."
But perhaps you are ready to inquire, what is meant by the dogs licking his sores? We conceive it points to the instructions of the heathen philosophers, which might palliate, but could not heal, their moral diseases. "Life and immortality were brought to light through the gospel." The death of the poor man was the close of his dispensation of misery. The life time in which he had received his evil things terminated,
and he was brought by the angels, or messengers, or ministers of the gospel, into the glorious life, and light, and liberty of the new dispensation. He came from darkness into the light of divine truth, he was not buried. The rich man died to the light, and was buried in darkness as profound as that from which Abraham was taken-he was therefore buried he is buried still. He listened not to the voice which said, Turn ye, turn ye, O house of Israel, for why will ye die? But the Deliverer shall come out of Zion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob. The vision of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37: will yet be fulfilled.
"Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophecy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live; and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord."
That the primitive preachers of the gospel were termed angels, will not admit of disputation, and that they were commisioned to turn the Gentiles from a state of mental darkness and moral degradation, to the light of the gospel, is evident from Acts 36: 17, 18.
"Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith which is in me."