Page images

posed to be by the Disputers against Providence Yet must we grant, that not only sometimes, but very often it is, and in all Ages hath been fo. On this very Supposition the design of this Parable is founded. The Wicked Man here is a Rich Man, who hath a great deal more than enough. And the Good Man is very poor, and wants of his own whereon to Live. The Former is supposed to live in Health, and to have so strong a Constitution of Body, as to rejoice in his Wealth, and to hold our in all his Excess and Intemperance; and the Good Man is as deftitute of Health, as of Riches; and had a Body as full of Sores, as his Purse was empty of Money, or his Belly of Meat. Probable it is also, that the Rich Man was had in Honour, and greatly reverenc'd by his poorer Neighbours; that he had great Acquaintance, and many Visitants, who were his frequenc Guests, making merry with him, and praising, with much flattery, his Hospitality, and Noble way of Living; and magnifying his sumptuous Fare; whilft Good Lazarus lay disregarded, scorn'd, and despis'd by almost every one, as a vile and despicable Creature, not fit to be taken Notice of, or vouchsafed a pitiful look by them that pass’d in and out through the Rich Man's Gate. The poor is bated cven of bis Neighbour, but the Rich hath many Friends. Prov. 14. 20. All the Brethren of the Poor do hate him, bow much more do bis Friends go far from him? He pursuetb them with Words, but they are wanting to bim. Prov. 19. 7.8.

Thus it often comes to pass at this day, and thus it hath been in all ages of the World. Righteous Abel could not by his Righteousness efcape, but for it fell a Sacrifice to the Envy and Haired of his wicked Brother Cain, And this is a

thing · thing which the Devil hach taught the World to make a very ill use of, both for the hardening of the prosperous Sinner in his Wickedness, and for the weakening the Faith of good Men in their Affli. ctions; of tempting fome to deny the Providence and Righteous Government of God, and even very good Men, at sometimes, to doubt of it. Because they, that is, the Wicked, who live in a constant Prosperity, have no changes, therefore they fear not God, Psal. 55. 19. Let favour be Shew'n to the Wicked, yet will be not learn Righteousness, in the Land of uprightness will be deal unjustly, and will not bebold the Majesty of the Lord. Isai. 26. 10. Because Sentence against an evil Work is not speedily executed, therefore the Heart of the Sons of Men is fully set in them to do Evil. Eccl. 8. 11. Because Moab had been at ease from his Youth, and he hath settled on bis Lees, and bath not been emptied from Vesleb to Vessel, neither bath be gone into Captivity; therefore his Taste remain'd in him, and his Scent is not chang'd. Jer. 48. 11. These Things hast thou done, and I kept silence, (faith God to the Wicked) Tbou thought that I was altogether such an one as thy Self. Pfal. 50. 21. They are not in trouble as on ther Men, neither are they plagu'd like other Men; therefore Pride compasseth them about as a Chain, Violence coveret b them as a Garment. Their Eyes stand cut with fatness, they have more than Heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly, concerning Oppression, they Speak loftily. They set their Mouth against the Heavens, they fay, How doth. God know? And is there Knowledge in the most High? Behold these are the Ungodly, that profper in the World, they increase in Riches. Psal 73.4. Bc. Thus the thriving Sinner encourageth himself in his prosperous Wickedness, and grows daring


enongh to deny the Providence of God. They pay the Widow and the Stranger, and murder the Fatherless; yet they say, the LORD doth not see it, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it. Psal. 94. 6,7. He bath said in bis Heart, God bath forgotten, he bidetb bis Face, he will never see it. Plal. 10. SI, Bebold they belcb out with their Mouths, Swords are in their Lips, for who ( say they) doth bear? Psal. 59.7. They encourage themselves in an evil Matter, they commune of laying Snares privily, they say, who shall see them? Psal. 64. 5. Eliphaz understood well enough all this, when he charged holy 7ob with it. Thou say't (saith he to that good Man) How doth God know? And can be judge through the dark Cloud? Thick Clouds are a cover. ing to him, that he seeth not, and be walketh in the Circuit of Heaven. Job. 22. 13, 14. Because the Wicked prosper, They say unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty that we should serve him, and wbat Profit Shall we have if we pray unto him? Job 21. 1

And not only the Wicked, but even good Men, have been sometimes tempted to think hardly of God. Holy Fob seems to have been a litele di. fturbed in his mind on this account. Wherefore do the Wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? Their Seed is Establish'd in their fiybt with them, and their Off-Spring before i keir Eyes. Their Houses are safe from fear, neither is the Rod of God upon them. Their Bull gendereth and faileth not ; their Cow calveth, and casterb not her Calf. They fend forth their little ones like a Flock, and their Children dance. They take theTimbrel and Harp, and rejoice at the sound of the Organ. They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the


Grave, Job 21.7. My Soul is weary of my Life, Job 10.1. Is it good for thee, that thou shouldst oppress that thou shouldst despise the Work of thine bands, and fine upon the counsel of the wicked, v. 3. Wherefore (faith Feremy ) doth the way of the wicked prosper? Wherefore are all they bappy that deal very treacberously? Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root; tbey grow; yea, they bring forth Fruit, thou art near in their Montb, but far from their Reins, Jer. Í 2. 1. The devout Psalmist confesseth his own weakness in this case. Psal. 73. 2. As for me, my Feet were almost gone, my Steps bad well nigh Ripped. For I was envious at the Foolish, when I saw the ProSperity of the Wicked. And v. 13; he cries out, Ves rily I have cleans'd my Heart in vain, and washed my Hands in Innocence. For all the Day long have I been plagued, and chastened every Morning. Thus also the Propher Habakkuk, c. 1. 13e Seeing God fo profpered the Idolatrous Cbaldeans against Ifa rael, expoftulates with God. Wherefore looket thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdet thy Tongue, when the Wicked devoureth the Manthat is more righteous than be? And makest Men as the Fishes of the Sea, as the creeping Things that have no Ruler over them? They take up all with the Angle, they catch them in their Net, and gather tbem in their Drag, therefore they rejoice, and are glad, Therefore they sacrifice to their Net, and burn incense unto their Drag, because by them their Portion is fat, and their Meat plenteous. And so again, Job. Job. 12.6. The Tabernacles of the Robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure, into whose Hand God bringeih abundantly. To the Jews this was a mighty tempration always, and is to this day. Mal. 2. 17. Ye say, every one that doth evil is good in the fight of the Lord; and be delighteth in them : or where is the God of Judgment? And Ch. 3. 14. Ye have said, It is vain to serve God, and what profit is it that we have kept his Ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hofts?

And now we call the Proud happy, and they tbat work Wickedness are set up, yea, they that tempt God, are even delivered.

What now shall we fay to all this? Shall we deny what the holy Scripture, as well as Reafon, doch alert as strongly, as that there is a God, Thas God governs the World in righteousnefs ; and that only because there be some things in God's Gom vernment, whereof we know not the reason? Can God do nothing becoming his Divine Wisdom and Goodness, but what we must needs have understanding enough clearly to comprehend, and to give a rational account of, such as shall fatisfy all pretenders to reason? Certainly the Works of God, as well as his Nature, may be too mysterious for our short Understandings to dive into the bottom of; and he may be wise, and righteous, tho' his Fudgments to us are wonderful, and his ways past finding out. He may have very good Reasons for what he doth, cho' we have not the Wit to discern them. However, what Abraham here minds the Rich Man of, is enough of it self to answer all chat can be on this account objected against the good Providence of God. But now he is comforted, and thou art formented. All the time of Life was the time of Service. Now, that is, afm ter Death is the cime of rewarding. Now in this Life we are but Sowing, then in the other Life we must Reap. We are here but Pilgrims, and Travellers, and Seekers ; then, afier Death hath called us hence shall we be at Home, at Reft, and in pofefsion of what we seek. Here we are Probati


of Litcarb is the ri Sowing here but excha hath

« PreviousContinue »