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1. The high priest, under the law, is represented by a rich man, whose clothing was purple and fine linen ; a garment which God commanded Moses to put upon Aaron, the first high priest. And as a portion of the sacrifices belonged to those who administered at the altar, his fare was every day sumptuous; and his riches consisted in the righteousness of the law.
2. The Gentiles are signified by a beggar, who lay at the rich man's gate, full of sores, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table, having respect to the tables of stone, on which the oracles of God were written. Instructions from those oracles, are represented by crumbs falling from a table; which instructions the Gentiles enjoyed not, under that dispensation. And those ancient philosophers of the Gentiles, who endeavored to cure the moral infirmities of their disciples, and to lead them in the path of moral righteousness, are represented by dogs licking the sores of a beggar.
3. By the death of the beggar, I understand the conversion of the Gentiles to Christianity. Christ having closed the law dispensation, and introduced the gospel of salvation preached to Abraham by Jehovah himself, who said, 'In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed,' the Gentiles, being children and heirs of that promise, received 'the unsearchable riches of Christ;' which caused them to die to all the life they before possessed. They died to all their gods and idolatrous worship, and were carried by the apostles of Jesus into Abraham's faith; which is represented by angels carrying Lazarus into Abraham's bosom.
4. By the death of the rich man, I understand the close of that dispensation which gave him all the pre
eminence which he enjoyed above the beggar under the law. And his not being alive to the gospel, being dead in the sin of the adultery before described, he was in a fit condition for burial, in which he differs from the beggar, as the death which Lazarus died did not admit of a burial. The high priest being shut up from the light of the gospel, in the legal ordinances, is signified by his being buried.
5. His lifting up his eyes in hell, being tormented in flames, represents a conviction of the condemning power of the law, and the ragings of that fire represented by the fire on Sinai at the giving of the law.
6. The rich man seeing Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom, is the fulfilment of the words of Christ to the Pharisees. Ye shall see them come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves cast out' by which was intended the conversion of the Gentiles to the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and the rejection of the house of Israel.
7. That the rich man was a descendant from Abraham, and that he stood in need of the favors which Lazarus enjoyed, we learn by the rich man calling Abraham father, and praying that Lazarus might be sent to his relief; to which Abraham replies, (acknowledging him his son) Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented;' having allusion to their different circumstances, under different dispensations. Abraham observes further, that between him and the rich man, there was a great gulf fixed, so that those who would go from Abraham to the rich man, could not;
and those who would come from the rich man to Abraham, could not. By this gulf, I understand that divine purpose of God, communicated by Christ, who said, ‘Henceforth, your house is left unto you desolate, and ye shall not see me until ye shall say, Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord.' The same thing is meant in that text in Romans, which I have before quoted: 'I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness, in part, hath happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.' By these passages, we learn, that it was the purpose of infinite wisdom, that there should be a time, in which the Jews, who rejected the Saviour, should wander in darkness and desolation, and by no means whatever be brought to see the Saviour until that time be elapsed. By those who are in Abraham's bosom desiring to go to the rich man, I understand the desire of the Gentile believers of going to the apostate Jews with the gospel of salvation which they reject. And the wish of those who are with the rich man to go to Abraham, signifies the longings of the Jews for the fulfilment of the promises made to Abraham concerning a Messiah.
8. By the rich man's five brethren, in his father's house, is meant that part of the house of Israel, which, was broken off through unbelief. Moses was the rich man's legal father; and the dispensation of law his father's house. Those Jews, therefore, who committed the adultery to which I have before alluded, continued under the law of works, as did the high priest. For those the rich man prays, that Lazarus might go to persuade them to the acceptance of the gospel, before they should open their eyes to all the torments
which he felt in the state of conviction.
answers, 'They have Moses and the them hear them :' meaning, that while they turned a deaf ear to the law and the prophets, it would be of no avail to send one from the dead; that is, one possessed of the knowledge of the gospel, being dead as before described.
The reader will observe the parable beginning at the 12th verse, chapter xix, and learn its meaning by comparing it with the parable of the sheep and goats in chapter xxv, of Matthew. This parable points to the destruction of the Jews particularly, see verse 27: 'But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me;' compared with verses 43, 44: 'For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.'
No wonder, perfect humanity wept over Jerusalem, when viewing the dreadful calamities which were immediately coming upon the ancient people of God, in consequence of their abusing the many blessings and privileges which the Lord bestowed upon an ungrateful people.
I close by asking, Do the Scriptures less condemn those nations who have made void the gospel, through their traditions, than they did the Jews, for abusing the law?
As the Saviour concluded the last parable in chapter xv, with the pathetic address of the father to the angry son, so in the succeeding three parables he alluded to the same general subject; the whole of which may be clearly seen, by beginning the 15th chapter and reading, with attention to the conclusion of the 16th. By thus connecting this discourse, as it evidently ought to be, two valuable ends are answered:
1. The true application of these parables is obtained; and,
2. The usual method of treating the parable of the rich man, makes it wholly irrelevant to the subject on which the Saviour was speaking.
With a view to dispose this general subject so that the mind may find an easy access to its various parts, the following method will be observed:
1. The dispensation of the first, or legal priesthood, will be illustrated by the similitude of a stewardship, as stated in the first paragraph of this 16th of St. Luke.
2. The dissolution of the legal priesthood, with some attendant circumstances, all which are represented by the dissolution of a marriage covenant, as stated in the 18th verse of this chapter, will be noticed.
3. The miserable state of moral darkness and death into which the order of high priests under the law, and those of the house of Israel who adhered to those blind guides, were cast, will be shown, under the similitude