Page images
PDF
EPUB

Now as all the tribes of Israel presented themselves before the divine glory, on the mercy seat, in this great high priest, thus adorned in purple, and fine linen, is not the purpose of our Lord fully evinced, when he describes this man as rich, and clothed in purple and fine linen?

3d. His provision. He fared sumptuously every day. And if we consider the grandeur of the prescribed sacrifices, and the account which was made of them, we shall have no hesitancy in pronouncing that Israel did indeed, fare sumptuously every day.

Abundant provision was made, and made by divine appointment. Morning and evening sacrifices called the people unto the mountains, where they offered sacrifices of righteousness, partaking of the abundance of the sea, and of treasures hid in the sands. King Solomon appears, (2 Chronicles, chapter vii. 5.) offering a sacrifice which consisted of twenty and two thousand oxen, and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep, and he and all Israel with him, is said to have kept the feast seven days. But instances, I had almost said, countless instances, of this sort, are to be found in the sacred records.

Our Saviour, speaking to this people (John, chapter vi. 32, 33,35.) when they told him their Fathers did eat manna in the desert said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven ; but my Father giveth you the true bread from he.ro en. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." And on their asking for this bread, Jesus answered “ I am the bread of Life. Yca assuredly Emmanuel was the true substantial provision made for them by the Father, first, by promise, second, in figure, third, in covenant, and fourth, in person, when he gave them his son, and in him all spiritual blessings ; for as all fulness dwells in him, He never can be given empty. View, then, this rich man, thus provided for, and tell me if he did not fare sumptuously every day.

4th. His death. The rich man died. This life, thus dignified, finds a period. The dispensation is closed, and at the memorably eventful era, when the sons of Israel, judging themselves unworthy of eternal life, the messengers of the Most High turned to the Gentiles; that elevated life, during which the Jewish world receive ed their good things, was finished. The rich man therefore is now no more; He is indeed very poor; dead with respect to that hereditary opulence in which he had so much reason to cxult,

while to him pertained the adoption, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises, whose are the Fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. But, we repeat, this distinguished life, as peculiar to that nation, is closed, the middle wall is broken down, and when the Redeemer triumphantly exclaimed, “It is finished,” the veil of the temple was rent in twain, ..from the tof, to the bottom, that long standing emblem of separation, and whatever gave Israel the character of rich, in contradistinction to the rest of mankind, expired: the rich man died, and 5th. He was buried. As when a body is dead, it is closed in the earth, from whence it was taken, so the Jewish dispensation having terminated, that nation is shut up in as thick darkness, as that from which they were called, when it pleased God to name them his chosen people. This event was clearly predicted by our general head, in Luke, chapter xiii. from the 25th to the 28th verse. “When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence you are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drank in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence you are ; depart from me all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and wou yourselves thrust out. But, as the body when buried, must remain in that state till the resurrection, so must this once opulent man continue in durance, until the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in. Romans, xi. 25, 26. “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery (lest ye should be wise in your own conceits) that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the deliverer and turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” 6th. In Hell he list up his eyes. The learned inform us that the radical signification of the term Hell, is darkness, and such darkness as may, or may not be felt. There is a Hell spoken of as proper to the body, the Grave, in which there is darkness without sensation, for there is no knowledge nor device in the grave; and there is a Hell proper to the soul and body together. This Hell may be felt. Jonah, ii. 2. “Out of the belly of Hell cried I, and thou hearedst my voice.” But there is a Hell proper to the soul, when separated from the body. Psalm xvi. 10. “Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hell.” The two latter always convey the idea of ‘misery, and I am strongly inclined to think may be in some sense applicable to the rich, man before us. It was some such Hell as one of these the inhabitants of the antideluvian world were in, when Jesus went in spirit, and preached to their spirits, thus imprisoned, (1 Peter, iii. 19) thus illumining by the consolations of irradiating mercy, these benighted regions of despair; and blessed be God, so just so, shall the Hell to which both body and soul is condemned finally deliver up the dead which are in them. Rev. xx. 13. “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hell delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to his works.” But,

7th. He was in torment. In Hell he lift up his eyes being in torment. We have said that the Hebrew word Sheol, translated Hell, conveys throughout the whole of the Old Testament an idea of unqualified darkness, and this idea exactly corresponds with the condition of the rich, or rather the reduced man in the Parable. In his lifetime he had light, the light of Divine vision, the word of a God, and that word was a light to the feet, and a lanthorn to the path, making plain the things which made for peace. But now the sad reverse prevails, they are shut up in darkness; in Sheol; the things that make for their peace are hid from their eyes, and though the word be with them still, it is not now a light unto their feet, for when they read Moses, the veil is on their hearts, the commandments of the Lord are rendered void by their traditions, nor is this strange, for whatever maketh manifest is light, but as the light in manifesting to the soul the things that make for peace, gives peace and joy in believing, so, when the soul enveloped in darkness, discerneth not these precious truths, it must have fear and agonizing inquietude—yea verily, the word of our God is true, fear hath torment. Indeed as there cannot be a greater heaven than to dwell in the light, as God is in the light, so I cannot conceive of a more gloomy, a more dreadful Hell, than to be shut from this light, into outer darkness. This is the state of this rich man in the parable, and if it be admitted that to dwell in the light of life bestoweth sulness of joy, and that to be excluded therefrom is the source of tor. ment, then it will follow, that the description is striking, and every way adequate to the purpose. Guilt is the parent of terror, and darkness always genders fear. What state can be more dreadful than to possess a consciousness of guilt, without the radiant torch of faith to point us where the mountain is removed, the transgression forever put away. See a person in absolute despair, indeed it is rare in the present state to find an individual utterly deprived of hope : generally amused by the fleeting scenes of time, we do not frequently investigate our future prospects, and the important subject of eternal happiness, or misery, is reserved to a more convenient season. Yet some few there have been, whose souls were so exceedingly dark, and by consequence so distressingly fearful, that they have despised all pleasant meat, have loathed life, and in the bitterness of their spirits have, with great propriety declared themselves already in Hell; their torments they have said were more then they could bear, and indeed this would be the precise situation of every unbeliever, awakened to a just sense of his own demerits. But the children of men are too often like the expiring patient lulled by narcotics, or blinded by the potent influence of a strong delirium. The ran in the parable however is not thus circumstanced, here is sensibility, for he is in torment, he did not know the Redeemer of men surely not. He came to his own, but his own resused to receive him, because they knew him not; had they known him, they would have asked of him, and he would have given them living water; but then they would not have fulfilled the codhcil of God respecting the Saviour of the world, and the preachers of this Saviour. “ These things shall they do unto you,” because they have not known the Father, nor me. No, God hath blinded them, so that they shall not know Him, seat they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and be converted, and he should heal them, and thus deliver them from torment, by removing their fears, for (1 John, iv. 18.) far hath torment, and it is love, perfect love that casteth out fear. But to love God we must first know him, and we cannot know him without light. The sufferer before us is represented as complaining principally of his tongue. The apostle James, chapter iii. 6. writing to the twelve tribes scattered abroad, thus expresses himself. “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of Hell. Thus this part of the figure becomes strikingly apposite, and of course easy to be understood, we cease to wonder why the offender recurs principally to his tongue, and we comprehend the nature of his sufferings. 8th. He calls on his father Abraham for relief. This is a corroborating proof of what went before; if he had not been blinded he would not have called upon his father after the flesh, who was not able to help him, but on the Father of his spirit, with whom all things were possible. Yet this is perfectly in châracter for a figure of the Jewish nation; speaking to our Saviour they say, John, chap. viii. 53, “Art thou greater than our father Abraham ” and again, Matthew, chapter iii. 9, “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father,” and thus our rich man is represented as calling in his distress upon this comparatively imbecile Father, nay, he is so blind as to pray that Abraham would send Lazarus that he may dip his finger in water, and put it on his tongue; gladly would he derive consolation from a source so recently, and so greatly despised. He who in the days of his prosperity, indignantly refused the crumbs from his table, supplicates aid through the instrumentality of that very forlorn individual, he had treated with such unexampled contumely; this aid, however, must be sent him by his father Abraham, whom he beheld a great way off, and Lazarus in his bosom. But 9th. Abraham replies, Son, thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things and Lazarus his evil things, but now he is comforted and thou art tormented. Of the rich man's torment we have already attempted an explanation, and we shall in the sequel, have the pleasure of dwelling upon the consolation administered to the poor man ; but Abraham proceeds, “and besides all this, between me and you, there is a great gulf fixed, so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, neither can they pass to us who come from thence.” If what has already been said on this subject be consistent with reason, and with scripture, the reply made by the patriarch is in course. If it be conceded that the rich man is a figure of God's peculiar people, and his life time, the dispensation with which they were indulged, then we shall be constrained to acknowledge and with devout admiration, the equal ways of our God. Thus proclaimeth the prophet Ezekiel, chap. xviii. 25, “Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal?” the 4th verse of the same chapter Vol. I. 4.

« PreviousContinue »