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how shameful it is to heap. reproach and infamy upon an unspotted family; and lastly, how dreadful are, the curses, which are denounced against those who are disobedient or unthankful to, parents. If therefore any such hear me this day, let them seriously lay their wickedness to heart ; let them see, from the daily. examples before their eyes, in what their wickedness, will certainly end ; and may God grant, that seeing it, they may turn from the error of their ways, and live !..,
LUKE xvi. 19, 20, 21,
There was a certain rich man, which was
clothed in purple and fine linen; and fared sumptuously every day :--And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, which 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.
THERE is not throughout the whole
Gospel a more affecting picture than that which is here given under the characters of a rich voluptuous glutton and a poor despised beggar; whether we con sider the difference of their circumstances
when living, or the difference of their fates when dead.
The one is represented to us under all the circumstances of regal affluence and splendour, clothed in purple and fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day. The other under all the bitter evils of misery and destitution; naked and full of sores; desiring only to be fed with the crumbs which fell froin the rich man's table; which seem however to have been cruelly denied him. Nor does he appear to have received any other relief, than that the dogs, more benevolent than their master, came and licked his sores... .
We are not long kept in suspence with regard to the event of this shocking scene, which does so much dishonour to humanity. For soon a new and dreadful change succeeds, which clears up the wisdom and justice of Providence. The poor despised beggar dies, and leaving behind him all . the wants and miseries of afflicted mortality, is carried by a guard of angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man also
dies and is buried. And was the memory of his past cruelty buried with him? No: in that hell, which he so well deserved, he lifts up his eyes in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
It has been much controverted among the learned, whether our Saviour proposes this narration -as a real history, or only as a parable. There are, however, several circumstances, which seem very clearly to determine it to be the latter. For in the first place it is hardly possible to suppose, that what is here said of the rich man's conversation with Abraham; of his lifting up his eyes in torments and seeing Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, with theseveral other particulars of the story, should be any other than a fable. Again, we know that the whole story itself is taken from an antient Jewish tradition, and only accommodated by our Saviour to enforce the great doctrine of commiserating and relieving the necessities of the distressed. And in fact we find, that the several parts of this story are exactly agreeable to, and founded upon, Jewish notions. Thus where it is said, that the beggar was carried by angels, into Abraham's bosom, there is a plain allusion to the Jewish doctrine, which represented the happiness of heaven under the similitude of a feast, at which the righteous were seated with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kinodom of God. Thus also when it is said, that the rich man lift up his eyes in hell, and saw. Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom, we in like manner trace the footsteps of Jewish fable and antiquity. For the word adns, which we translate hell, properly signifies an invisible place, which the Jews supposed to be divided into two parts, the one for the reception of the souls of the righteous, the other for those of the wicked. And in this hell it was, that the rich man being in torments, that is, in the part appropriated to the wicked, saw Abraham afar off, beyond that gulph which was fixed for an impassable boundary, in the mansion of the blessed. I might make the same observation upon some other parts of this affecting story; but perhaps enough has been said already