Page images

they must very shortly lye all miserable together in Hell. See how there he is petitioning Abrabam, that Lazarus may be sent to his Father's House, to give warning to his Bret bren, that they may not c'me into the same place of Torment, wherein he now is made sensible, he must forever abide, One from the dead (faith he) will persuade them to repent; though nothing else will work upon them, this will.

But observe what Abrabam answereth to this Petition. He tells him, they stood in need of no such Mellenger from the dead, neither would such an one, were he sent, prevail with them to repent. God had not left them without sufficient Witness of his Will, he had already sent into the World Mofes, and the Prophets to testifie unto them. These (faith he) thy Brethren bave; their Books,which were written for their use, are in their Hands, and read in their Synagogues, let them bear them. Here they have a certain Rule of Faith and Life, whereby, if they will govern themselves, they shall do well. If these will not suffice them, one from the dead will not. He that would when he dieth go into Abrabam's Bofom, and not lye in Hell tormented in those flames with thee, must be content with, and make good Use of the means and helps, which God hath been pleased in his Word to give and direct him to, and not expect such Evidences and Helps as himself thinks most proper.

Thus hath our blessed Saviour laid Paradise and Hell both open before our Eyes at once ; and shew'd us by what Rule we must walk, if we desire to be happy when Death puts an end to our Pilgrimage on Earth, Let us devoutly pray unto Him, who hath set all Things, which are


of greatest Concernment to us, in so clear a light before us; that he would give us Eyes to fee them, and Hearts to consider them; and that he would help us all by his holy Spirit to profit by them, and to receive thankfully, and make a right Use of all that Instruction, Direction and Consolation in the way of Righteousness and Life, which it was his gracious Design in this Parable to give us. To this end, let us consider,

1. What kind of Persons these two are, which are

.. here commended to our Observation ? II. What manner of departure they had cut of this

World? III. What was their Condition immediately after

Death? IV. Wbat Discourse is supposed to have been held be

tween Abraham above, and the rich Man below.

[ocr errors]

1. The first thing to be considered is, What kind of Persons these two are, which are here commended to our Observation? There was (saith our Saviour) a certain rich Man, (his name he mentioneth not) and there was a certain Beggar, named Lazarus.

These two Persons, the rich Man, and the Beggar, are both of them here reprefented to us as the Sons of Abraham ; that is, of Abrabam's Race, and Branches of his family. They are both Fews, and by Profession, Members of the then true Church, and of the peculiar People of God. They were both Partakers of the fame Sacraments, Circumcifion, and the Pallover; and they had Moses, and the Prophets, read unto them. They enjoy'd the same Priviledges, and had the

fame fame means of Knowledge, and of Holiness: But they did not both make the same good Use and Improvement of them. Abraham was a very * great Man, the Friend of God; and to Abraham, and his Seed were the promises given. The 7ews were God's chosen and peculiar People, to them pertained the Adoption, and the Glory, and the Covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the Service of God, and the Promises; and of them, as concerning the Flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. It was therefore no small Priviledge or Honour to be of the Seed of Abraham, and of the Church of the Jews. But alas, all these Honours apd Priviledges, all these means and helps profited the rich Man nothing, because they did not make him a good Man. All the Seed of Abrabam, are not to be reckoned for the Children of Abraham. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for Rigbteousness. And they which are of Faith, the same are the Children of Abraham, and blessed with faithful Abraham, Gal. 3.6,7,9, They are not all Israel, which are of Israel. - Neither because they are the Seed of Abraham, are they all Children, Rom. 9. 6, 7. He is nor a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that Circumcifion, which is outward in the Flesh; but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and Circumcision is that of the Heart, in the Spirit, and not in the Letter, whose praise is not of Men, but of God. Circumcifion verily profiteth, if thou keep the Law; but if thou be a breaker of the Law,' thy Çircumcision is made Uncircumcision, Rom. 2. 25, 28, 29.,

Here then was the great Difference between these two Sons of Abraham. The one was a good Man, and kept the Law; and the other did not. The rich Man was indeed of the stock of Abra

i bam,

ham, but the Beggar was also of the faith of A: braham. The rich Man had the Circumcifion of the Flesh, but the Beggar had also the Circumcision of the Heart. The former had the Law written on Tables of Stone, but the latter had it also written in his Mind, and in the fleshly Tables of bis Heart. The rich Man beard Moses, and the Propbets, but the Begger obeyed them also. Hence the Beggar became the Child of God, whilst the rich Man continued a Child of the Devil.

Tho' we be not of Abraham's Seed according to the Flesh, we are not one jot the worse for that, if so be that we have the faith of Abraham. Abraham is the Father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised ; of them that walk in the fteps of that Faith, which Abraham had being yet uncircumcised. The promise is made sure to all the Seed, not to that only which is of the Law; but to tbat also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the Father of us all, Rom. 4. 11, 12, 16. Indeed it is no great matter what Man upon Earth, rich or poor, honourable or base, good or bad, was our Fatber; fo that we be the Children of God by faith in Chrif JESUS. It is nothing to us, whether we are come of Jewish or Gentile Ancestors, whether we be of noble or of mean Extraction, the Children of Princes, or of Beggars, we are neither the better nor the worfe Men on this account. Yea, though we be in outward Conformity and Profession Members of the purest and best constituted Church in the whole world, and tho we have been solemnly dedicated to the worship and service of the ever blessed and most Glorious TRINITY in the holy Sacrament of Baptism, and tho? wę daily partake in all the holy Ordinances of Christ


and enjoy all the external Priviledges of Christin ans : Yer we are to know, that no Formalities of Profession, no Ceremonies of Religion, no Som crifice or Sacrament, 'no hearing or reading, no long Prayers, or loud Praises, no glorious Outside, or affe&ted and glorying Inside of Religion will avail us any thing, so long as we want the faith of

Abrabam. That faith, I say, we must have which workerb by love, Gal. 5. 6. That faith which overcometh the World, 1 Joh. si 4: That faitb whereby even againft bope, we can believe in bope, and not stagger at the promises of God through uns, belief, Rom. 4. 18, 20. That Faith, which being the substance of Things boped for, the evidence of Things not feen, persuadeth us in Expectation of a City wbicb bath Foundations, whose builder and maker is God, to go forth chearfully, which way foever it pleaseth God to call us, tho' we know not whither we go; and all along to behave our selves in this world, as Sojourners in a strange Country: As Travellers towards Heaven. In short, it must be such a faith, as will make the poor Man rich in Hope, and the rich Man poor in Spirit ; the poor Man Patient and Content, and the rich Man Charitable and Liberal : Yea, as will make the rich Man, whenfoever Christ commands it, to sell all that be hath, and distribute unto the poor, and follow his Saviour for inexhaustible Treafures in Heaven, Luke 18. 22. This is the faith of sbrabam, which lodged poor Lazarus in Abrabam's Bosom; and for want of which the rich Man was cast into the flames of Hell.

That he was rich, was not the rich Man's Sin. Neither was it aVirtue in the poor Man to be poor. There have been, and I hope, there are yet some good rich Men in the World; and I am roo


« PreviousContinue »