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furnisheth a reason for the impartial distribution of Deity, “Behold all souls are mine, as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine,” and surely the potter hath not only power to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour, but a nation also ; Jeremiah, chap. xviii, 7, “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it.” How transcendently decisive is the exemplification. The righteous God, whose way is always equal, shut up the Gentiles for a long season in darkness, confining his irradiating manifestations to the descendants of Abraham, but now the divine Oracles are in effect, taken away, for they are blinded respecting the things which make for their peace, which renovating truths are, in those sacred 1ecords, abundantly contained, and perhaps the way of God may ultimately appear equal even in the term of the duration,” should the fulness of the Gentiles be brought in at the close of a similar number of years to those in which his peculiar people enjoyed their inestimable privileges. But what I would, in an especial manner attend to, in this place, is the gulf which Abraham informs this tormented petitioner, is fixed between them, so that it is impossible for one in the state of torment before described to pass to the state which he is in, and equally impossible for any one, circumstanced like Lazarus, to pass over this gulf to him. Is not this gulf the decrees of God? Hath God said it, and shall it not stand 2 according as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, ears that they should not hear unto this day. And David said, Let their table be made a snare, and a traft and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them; Let their eyes bc darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. That these denunciations pointed to the shutting up the Jews in darkness is manifest from the use the Apostle makes of them, and, he adds, “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God, on them who fell severity;” and again, Romans, chap. xi. 32, “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” From these testimonies, and others of like import, it is manifest, that God doeth as seemeth good in his sight with respect to the whole of his inheriance, and that with him are the issues of Life, and of Death. He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. When he shuts, no man can open; and if he vouchsafe to open the eyes of the understanding, the power exists not which can draw the obscuring veil of darkness. Omnipotence
is the attribute of the Creator, the creature can neither do, nor undo. The vision is for an appointed time. But this brings us to consider, 10th. The rich man's request for his brethren. I pray thee, father Abraham, that thou send him to my father's house, for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they come into this place of torment. The parabolical style is admirably supported. The rich man is represented as wishing happiness to his own house, and evincing much and very tender compassion for the individuals of which it was composed. However obdurate he had been to Lazarus, he is solicitous for their felicity, even should it be procured through the instrumentality of so obnoxious a character as this same Lazarus. As though he lod said, if we in this present day are ordained to remain in this miserable state of adversity, let even Lazarus be sent by you, father Abraham, and the morning of felicity may yet dawn upon futurity. 11th. Abraham replies. They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them; if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded although one'should rise from the dead. There is great strength of argument in this reply : as though he had said, the people who are so strongly prejudiced in favour of their own writers, writers who have testified so clearly of the Messiah, of the Shiloh, unto whom the gathering of the people should be, if the veil is continued on their hearts, while they peruse predictions so unequivocal, testimonies so apposite, neither will they be persuaded by a messenger from the Gentiles, from nations who were, who are still considered by them as dead, and who would testify of themselves as dead, having no life but what is hid with Christ in God; and, as whatever maketh manifest is light, and God hath shut them up in darkness, it would be impossible for any created power, to bring them acquainted with the things which make for their peace—such I conceive is the language of the Patriarch's reply. Thus I have minutely attended to the character of the rich man, in all its parts, my reason is obvious ; we are by this arrangement enabled to investigate, without confusion. We are now to consider, 12th. The beggar named Lazarus, in other words a being infested with loathsome diseases. Our inimitable poet, Milton, points out the appalling magnitude of this terrifically comprehensive character, in the view the archangel gives to our first general head :
Immediately a place
Dry ey'd behold ?" The account of the Lazar-house is so strikingly impressive, that I could not forbear transcribing it, especially as all these calamities are consequent upon transgression. The character, rich man, did not more properly belong to the Jewish nation, while their dispensation continued, than that of a Lazar to the Gentiles, for in almost, every particular wherein the one were considered as rich, the other may be considered as poor. The apostle, writing to the Gentiles, informs them what they were in times past, Ephesians, chapter ii. 11, 12, “Wherefore remember that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision, by that which is called the circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
“ That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world : “ Was it possible for this heaven directed master in Israel, to have given a picture more answerable to the character in the Gospel? How very destitute !
15th. The place of this poor mendicant, at the rich man's door. True, there was but the door between them, neither are they now separated by aught except the door. The door was then shut upon the Gentiles, it is now shut upon the Jews. By the door the believing man enters, whenever he is saved ; within is peace and
plenty, without is misery and want; it is outside the door this Lazar is found. 14th. His condition, full of sores. How expressive, full of sores. Thus saith the Lord, by the prophet Isaiah, chapter i. 5, and 6, “The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot cven unto the head, there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises and putrifying sores; they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment,” and if the diseases of the Lazar house, enumerated by the poet, are made use of in sacred writ as figures, and if Jesus be the great Physician, and the Gentiles were at that time without Christ, as the Apostle declares they were, the propricty of representing Lazarus as full of sores, while laying at the rich man's door, is sufficiently manifest. 15th. His request. Only the crumbs which fall from the rich man's table ; could there be a less presuming petition ?—only the crumbs—and he who preferred his unassuming suit, absolutely ready to perish, under an accumulating weight of calamity. Yet whatever unfeeling parsimony of disposition, the rich man’s rude refusal may seem to evince, we find abundantly exemplified in the character of the Jewish nation. Nothing offended this people more than the idea that the Gentiles should be allowed to partake with them in any of their privileges; indeed we find Jesus Christ himself while sustaining the character of a Jew, as made under the Law, given to them, while that dispensation lasted, while yet the partition wall remained unbroken. He, even He, the Redeemer of the world, seemed to act in conformity to the practice of those to whom, as concerning the flesh, he traced his lineage. We are aware that the clothing the Godhead in flesh was but a harbinger of a more blessed era, but ere yet the morning dawned, he not unfrequently suggested to the Jews in general, and to his disciples in particular, his high consideration of their exclusive advantages, and I assert positively, that our Saviour's conduct as a descendant of Abraham, was, in many respects, expressive of what is contained in this division of the parable—refusing the suffering mendicant even a crumb from the table. Many scriptural testimonies are full to this effect—suffer me to turn your attention to the following, Matthew, chapter x. 5, 6, “These twelve Jesus sent forth and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans cnter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” And again, Matthew, xv. 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, “And behold a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David : my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away ; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and cast it unto dogs.” Thus while we trace the footsteps of the benign Redeemer going about, and with divine philanthropy doing good to the evil, and unthankful, bestowing indiscriminately the mighty blessings which could only be in the gift of Omnipotence ; receiving sinners and eating with them. Yet, true to the dispensation, he was ordained to close, we find him, on various occasions conforming to the prevailing spirit of the peculiar people among which he stood. We cannot then wonder that the Jews are uniformly solicitous to confine to themselves the distinguishing privileges which appertained to their house, that they are jealous of covenant blessings, and extremely indignant when the provisions of their table were said to be laid before the Gentiles. Perhaps the unwarrantable parsimony of their appropriations, is in no passage more conspicuous than in Luke, chap iv. “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down, and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened upon him. And he began to say unto them, this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And he said, Verily I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land : But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them were cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled