« PreviousContinue »
the? must very shortly lye all miserable together in Hell. See how there he is petitioning Abraham, that Lazarus may be sent to bis Father's House, to give warning to his Brethren, that they may not cine into the fame place os 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 Abraham anfwereth to this Petition. He tells him, they stood in need of no such Messenger 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 Moses, and the Propbets to testifie unto them. These (faith he) thy Brethren havs^ their Books,which were written for their use, are in their Hands, and read in their Synagogues, let them hear them. Here they have a ceitain 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 Abrahams Bosom, and not lye in Hell tormented in those slames 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 axe of greatest Concernment to us, in so clear a light before us; that he would give us Eyes to sec 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,
I. What kind of Persons these two are, which are
here commended to our Observation?
II. What manner of departure they had cut of this
III. What was their Condition immediately after
IV. What Discourse is supposed to have been held between Abraham above, and the rich Man below.
I. The sirst thing to be considered' is, What kind of Persons these two are, which are here commended to our Observation? There was (faith 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 represented to us as the Sons of Abraham; that is, of Abraham's Race, and Branches of his Family. They are both Jews, and by Profession, Members of ihe then true Church, and of the peculiar People of God. They were both Partakers of the fame Sacraments, Circumcision, and the Passover; and they had Moses, and the Prophets, read unto them. They enjoy'd the fame Privilidges, and had the •' * ,'' fem? fame means of Knowledge, and of Holiness: But they did not both make the fame good Use and Improvement of them. Abraham was a veiy great Man, the Friend of God; and to Abraham, and his Seed were the promises given. The Jews 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 ever all, God blessed for ever. It was therefore no small Privilege 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 makehim Zgoed Man. All the Seed of Abraham, art not to be reckoned for the Children of Abraham. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for Righteousness. And they which are of Faith, the same are the Children ^Abraham, and blessed with faithful Abraham, Gal. 2. 6, J, 9, They are not all Israel, which are of Israel. Neither because they are the Seed os Abraham, are they all Children, Rom. 9. 6, 7. He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that Circumcision, which is outward in the Flesh; but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly j and CirCumcifion is that of the Heart, in the Spirit, and not in the Letter, whose praise is not of Men, but of God. Circumcision verily prositeth, if thou keep the Law, but if thou be a breaker of the Law, thy Circumcision is made Uncircumcision, Rom. 2. 2"5, 28, 29.
Here then was the great Difference between these two Sons of Abraham. The one Was Zgood Man, and kept the Law; and the other did not. The rich Man was indeed of the stock of Abra
'- ham, ham, but the Beggar was also of the faith of A" braham. The rich Man had the Circumcision cfi the Flesh, but the Beggar had also the Circumcision of the fsetfrf. The former had the Law written on Tables of Stone, but the latter had it also written in his Mind, and in the sleshly Tables of his Heart. The rich Man heard Moses, and the "Prophets, but the Begger obeyed them also. Hence the Beggar became the Child of God, whilst the fuh Man continued a Child of the Devil.
Tho' we be not of Abrahams 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 « the Father of all them thft believe, though they be not circumcised; of them that walk intpe steps of that Faith, which Abraham had being yet uncircumcifed. The promise is made sure to all the Seed, not to that only -which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the Father of us all, Rom. 4. 11, ii, 16. Jndeed it is no great matter what Man upon fcarth, rich or poor, honourable or base, good or bad, was our Father; so that we be the Children of God by faith in Chrisi 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 worse 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 th®' we daily partake in all the holy Ordinances of Christ
and enjoy all the external Priviledges of Christians :- Yet we are to know, that no Formalititi of Profession, no Ceremonies of Religion, no Sacrisice or Sacraments no hearing or readings no long Prayers, Ot loud 'Praises, no glorious Outside^ or affected and glorying Inside of Religion will avail us any thing, so long as we want the saith of Abraham. That I fay, we must have
which worketh by love, Gal. 5. (J. That/<«V/& which overcometh the World, 1 Joh. 5; 4. That /J»Y£ whereby even against hope, wt can believe in hopet and not ftagger at the fromijes of God through unbelief, Rom. 4. 18, 10. That Faith, which being the substance of Things hoped for, the evidence of Things not seen, perfuadeth us in Expectation of a City which hath Foundations, whose builder and maker is God, to go forth chearfully, which way soever 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 /hon, 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, whensoever Christ commands it, to fell all that he hath, and distribute unto the poor, and follow his Saviour for inexhaustible Treasures in Heaven, Luke 18. 21. This is the faith of Abraham, which lodged poor Lazarus in Abraham's Bosom; and for want of which the rich Man was cast into the slames of Hell.
That he was rich, was not the rich Man's Sin. Neither was it ^Virtue in the poor Man to be poor. There have been, and 1 hope, there are yet fomegood rich Men in the World; and I am too