« AnteriorContinua »
-Immediately a place
Before his eyes appear'd, sad, noisome, dark,
The account of the Lazar-house is so strikingly impressive, that I could not forbear transcribing it, especially as all these calamities are consequent upon transgression. The character, rich man, did not more properly belong to the Jewish nation, while their dispensation continued, than that of a Lazar to the Gentiles, for in almost, every particular wherein the one were considered as rich, the other may be considered as poor. The apostle, writing to the Gentiles, informs them what they were in times past, Ephesians, chapter ii. 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: "Was it possible for this heaven directed master in Israel, to have given a picture more answerable to the character in the Gospel? How very destitute !
18th. The place of this poor mendicant, at the rich man's door. True, there was but the door between them, neither are they now separated by aught except the door. The door was then shut upon the Gentiles, it is now shut upon the Jews. By the door the believing man enters, whenever he is saved; within is peace and
plenty, without is misery and want; it is outside the door this Lazar is found.
14th. His condition, full of sores. How expressive, full of sores. Thus saith the Lord, by the prophet Isaiah, chapter i. 5, and 6, "The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises and putrifying sores; they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment," and if the diseases of the Lazar house, enumerated by the poet, are made use of in sacred writ as figures, and if Jesus be the great Physician, and the Gentiles were at that time without Christ, as the Apostle declares they were, the propriety of representing Lazarus as full of sores, while laying at the rich man's door, is sufficiently manifest.
15th. His request. Only the crumbs which fall from the rich man's table; could there be a less presuming petition?-only the crumbs-and he who preferred his unassuming suit, absolutely ready to perish, under an accumulating weight of calamity. Yet whatever unfeeling parsimony of disposition, the rich man's rude refusal may seem to evince, we find abundantly exemplified in the character of the Jewish nation. Nothing offended this people more than the idea that the Gentiles should be allowed to partake with them in any of their privileges; indeed we find Jesus Christ himself while sustaining the character of a Jew, as made under the Law, given to them, while that dispensation lasted, while yet the partition wall remained unbroken. He, even He, the Redeemer of the world, seemed to act in conformity to the practice of those to whom, as concerning the flesh, he traced his lineage. We are aware that the clothing the Godhead in flesh was but a harbinger of a more blessed era, but ere yet the morning dawned, he not unfrequently suggested to the Jews in general, and to his disciples in particular, his high consideration of their exclusive advantages, and I assert positively, that our Saviour's conduct as a descendant of Abraham, was, in many respects, expressive of what is contained in this division of the parable-refusing the suffering mendicant even a crumb from the table. Many scriptural testimonies are full to this effect-suffer me to turn your attention to the following, Matthew, chapter x. 5, 6, "These twelve Jesus sent forth and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." And again, Matthew, xv. 22, 23, 24, 25,
26," And behold a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David: my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it unto dogs." Thus while we trace the footsteps of the benign Redeemer going about, and with divine philanthropy doing good to the evil, and unthankful, bestowing indiscriminately the mighty blessings which could only be in the gift of Omnipotence; receiving sinners and eating with them. Yet, true to the dispensation, he was ordained to close, we find him, on various occasions conforming to the prevailing spirit of the peculiar people among which he stood. We cannot then wonder that the Jews are uniformly solicitous to confine to themselves the distinguishing privileges which appertained to their house, that they are jealous of covenant blessings, and extremely indignant when the provisions of their table were said to be laid before the Gentiles. Perhaps the unwarrantable parsimony of their appropriations, is in no passage more conspicuous than in Luke, chap iv. "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down, and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened upon him. And he began to say unto thern, this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And he said, Verily I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heavens wefe shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land: But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them were cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled
with wrath. And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might east him down headleng." And even after the expiring, the risen Saviour had by his life, his sufferings, his death, and his ascension, abolished all distinctions, we still observe the same wrathful spirit, audaciously operating through the Apostolic era, Acts, chap. xxii. 22, 23, “And they gave him audience unto this word," What word? verse 21st, "For I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. When they lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit he should live. And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, they threw dust into the air." But proofs of this sort are so multiplied, that to produce them all would far exceed the compass of a letter, and I pass on to consider,
16th. The dogs licked his sores. What, you demand, do these animals represent? I answer, individuals who could feel compassion for the afflicted, although destitute of the teachings of religion, they espoused no particular sect; and, as the prejudices of the nation in general, against the Gentiles, or, to speak the language of the parable of this rich man against the poor man, were principally of a religious nature, and of that description of religion, the natural tendency of which is to indurate the heart, compassion came more naturally from those who were without. Revelations, chap. xxii. 15, "For without are dogs," and perhaps it is a fact, that no individuals evince a greater want of benevolence, and sympathy, than those who have drank deepest into the spirit of that religion which prevailed amongst the Jews-"Stand off from me, I am holier than thou," this is the language of their every movement, and I hazard an opinion, that were a number of self righteous Pharisees, who are viewed by mankind in general as the excellent of the earth, set on one hand, and an equal number of non-professing Publicans on the other, men who were constrained to exclaim, "God be merciful to us sinners;" thus circumstanced, were an unhappy wretch who had nothing to recommend him but his misery set before them, I am, I say, from observation induced to believe that the aid he would receive from the less assuming part of the family, would be more prompt than from those who were puffed up in their own imaginations; and if my conjecture corresponds with experience, and the latter are viewed as dogs, when compared with the former, then this part of the parable is apposite and easy.
17th. The poor man's death. And the begger died. I have expatiated so largely upon this part of our subject, when treating of the death of the rich man, that I have only here to observe, that this death, is the conclusion of a dispensation of misery; a life time wherein he received his evil things. But one particular I cannot forbear remarking, although this poor man dies, he is not buriedThe rich man was. This division of the parable, as I conceive, decidedly points out the information which our blessed Lord intended to convey. The rich man was buried, because, when his dispensation was closed, a period was put to his illustrious career. He must be shut up in darkness; not so the mendicant, he dies, and is brought into light. Thus he who would save his life shall lose it, and he who loses his life shall find it. Instead therefore of his being buried, he is carried by
18th. The angels; a period is put to his life of misery, and the angels carry him. Who are these angels, made use of upon this occasion, to convey this poor man from darkness and despair, to light and happiness? The scriptures inform us that the angels in the parable are properly messengers, indeed the angels of God in heaven are described in this character, as swift messengers, who cheerfully fly to execute the divine will. But as the portion of the sacred volume, now under consideration, is indubitably a grand allegory, after the eastern manner, it would be as absurd to suppose that the individuals of the celestial hierarchy had really left the abodes of blessedness, as to contemplate a material gulf between Abraham and the rich man, or that our Saviour was a door, a vine, a piece of bread, &c. &c. I conceive there is nothing more intended by these angels, than what the character contains-messengers; and this may with beautiful propriety be applied to the first preachers of the Gospel of God our Saviour, for they were indeed messengers, sent forth to publish glad tidings. The angels of the several churches were severally addressed. The apostle, in the 13th chapter, ver. 2, of his Epistle to the Hebrews, exhorts his kindred, not "to be forgetful to entertain strangers," and, he adds, for thereby some have entertained "angels unawares." Concurring sentiments have induced a conclusion, that by the angels in this passage, the apostle undoubtedly intended preachers of the gospel. These itinerant messengers were at that period travelling from place to place, and as after the resurrection of our Saviour from the dead, they were, by his positive command, sent to the Gentiles, for the express pur