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with wrath. And rose ufi, and thrust him oui of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they ght cast him down headleng." And even after the expiring, the risen Saviour had by his life, his sufferings, his death, and his ascension, abolished all distinctions, we still observe the same wrathful spirit, audaciously operating through the Apostolic era, Acts, chap. xxii. 22, 23, “ And they gave him audience unto this word,” What word? verse 2 1st, « For I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. When they lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit he should live. And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, they threw dust into the air.” But proofs of this sort are so multiplied, that to produce them all would far exceed the compass of a letter, and I pass on to consider,
16th. The dogs licked his sores. What, you demand, do these animals represent? I answer, individuals who could feel compassion for the afflicted, although destitute of the teachings of religion, they espoused no particular sect; and, as the prejudices of the nation in general, against the Gentiles, or, to speak the language of the parable of this rich man against the poor man, were principally of a religious nature, and of that description of religion, the natural tendency of which is to indurate the heart, compassion came more naturally from those who were without. Revelations, chap. xxii. 15, “ For without are dogs," and perhaps it is a fact, that no individuals evince a greater want of benevolence, and sympathy, than those who have drank deepest into the spirit of that religion which prevailed amongst the Jews—“Stand off from me, I am holier than thou,” this is the language of their every movement, and I hazard an opinion, that were a number of self righteous Pharisees, who are viewed by mankind in general as the excellent of the earth, set on one hand, and an equal number of non-professing Publicans on the other, men who were constrained to exclaim, “God be merciful to us sinners;" thus circumstanced, were an unhappy wretch who had nothing to recommend him but his misery set before them, I am, I say, from observation induced to believe that the aid he would receive from the less assuming part of the family, would be more prompt than from those who were puffed up in their own imaginations; and if my conjecture corresponds with experience, and the latter are viewed as dogs, when compared with the former, then this part of the parable is apposite and easy.
17th. The poor man's death. And the begger died. I have expatiated so largely upon this part of our subject, when treating of the death of the rich man, that I have only here to observe, that this death, is the conclusion of a dispensation of misery; a life time wherein he received his evil things. But one particular I cannot forbear remarking, although this poor man dies, he is not buried— The rich man was. This division of the parable, as I conceive, decidedly points out the information which our blessed Lord intended to convey. The rich man was buried, because, when his dispensation was closed, a period was put to his illustrious career. He must be shut up in darkness; not so the mendicant, he dies, and is brought into light. Thus he who would save his life shall lose it, and he who loses his life shall find it. Instead therefore of his being buried, he is carried by
18th. The angels; a period is put to his life of misery, and the angels carry him. Who are these angels, made use of upon this occasion, to convey this poor man from darkness and despair, to light and happiness? The scriptures inform us that the angels in the parable are properly messengers, indeed the angels of God in heaven are described in this character, as swift messengers, who cheerfully fly to execute the divine will. But as the portion of the sacred volume, now under consideration, is indubitably a grand allegory, after the eastern manner, it would be as absurd to suppose that the individuals of the celestial hierarchy had really left the abodes of blessedness, as to contemplate a material gulf between Abraham and the rich man, or that our Saviour was a door, a vine, a piece of bread, &c. &c. I conceive there is nothing more intended by these angels, than what the character contains—messengers; and this may with beautiful propriety be applied to the first preachers of the Gospel of God our Saviour, sor they were indeed messengers, sent forth to publish glad tidings. The angels of the several churches were severally addressed. The apostle, in the 13th chapter, ver. 2, of his Epistle to the Hebrews, exhorts his kindred, not “to be forgetful to entertain strangers,” and, he adds, for thereby some have entertained “angels unawares.” Concurring sentiments have induced a conclusion, that by the angels in this passage, the apostle undoubtedly intended preachers of the gospel. These itinerant messengers were at that period travelling from place to place, and as after the resurrection of our Saviour from the dead, they were, by his positive command, sent to the Gentiles, for the express purpose of turning them from darkness to light, Acts, xxvi. 17, 18, “Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, “ and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them who are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Thus I ground my opinion that these evangelical preachers are the angels of the parable. He was carried by angels into, where : 19. Abraham's bosom. What are we to understand by the bosom of Abraham : The character of Abraham was rendered illustrious by faith, and the bosom is the proper seat of this grace. With the heart man believeth. The apostle James, ii. 21. asketh “Was not Abraham our father justified by works.” But the apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians, iii. 6, 7, 8, 9, fully explains whatever may appear problematical “even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scriptures, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So, then, they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” From these testimonies may we not conclude that the angel’s carrying this poor man into Abraham's bosom is a striking figure of the apostles, by their administration, bringing the Gentiles into that same irradiating faith, by which the mind of Abraham was illumined, when he confidently believed, that in his seed, which the apostle informs us is Christ, all the nations of the earth should be blessed ? And was not this the view of our blessed Lord, when he told the Jews, Matthew, viii. 11, 12. “That many should come from the east and the west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom should be cast out into outer darkness where should be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Blessed, forever blessed be the God of our salvation, that even this darkness, this gnashing of teeth, shall, at the winding up of the great drama, be no more: for the word of omnipotence is pledged, Matthew, xix. 30, that though this peculiar nation, once the first, hath, for wise, and paternal reasons, become the last, yet the last shall be first, and thus the individuals who make up the race of Adam being included in Vol. I. 5
unbelief, the head of every man will have mercy upon every member of his extensive family.
20. He is comforted-Certainly, for as a state of darkness is a state of gloom, and consequent terror, so light, the refulgent light of life, dispelleth those terrific, and heart appalling fears, which so deeply torture the reflecting mind, yea verily, there is peace and joy, light, and life, in believing. The prophet Isaiah seems to have the aggregate plan of Jehovah in view, when under the influence of holy inspiration, he says, chapter xxxii, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, “Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briars; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens forever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks." Here the destruction of this city is explicitly foretold, until how long ? Let the evangelical prophet give the answer. « Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever." This is indeed an exhaustless source of consolation. The beatified state of this poor man, or tlie Gentiles brought into the faith of Abraham, is very beautifully described by our Lord under the metaphor of a marriage, or a wedding feast, and in Matthew, xiii. 16, he says, “ Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. Incalculable indeed are the blessings consequent upon hear. ing and seeing the things that make for our eternal peace. Justly then does the Patriarch observe “ He is comforted." He is under the influence of, and continually taught by that spirit, who is by way of eminence, called the comforter, and this spirit is constantly taking of the things of Jesus, and exhibiting them to the believing soul. So great is the peace of the Christian man, that it floweth like a river, it is to him like a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. Nay, so incommunicable is the felicity of those carried by angels into the bosom of Abraham that after every figure expressive of completely perfect bliss is introduced, for the purpose of evincing their unclouded, unexampled happiness, it is added, “a stranger intermeddleth not with their joy.
I could dwell with peculiar pleasure upon this last head, but I may already be considered as sufficiently prolix, yet I have but just
touched on the proposed particulars, though it must be confessed that however brief, and even obscure, these hints may be, the disciple of Jesus Christ will not fail to trace, and understand them, and were they much more explicit, and copious, upon the disciple of Moses, the veil would still be continued.
Should my views appear to consist with those holy records which you treasure as the good words of your God, you will gladly adopt them, although they may not correspond with the creeds and traditions of men. I am aware that among those who are hailed as scribes, instructed in the kingdom of Heaven, there are, who departing from the idea of metaphor, regard the parable as an historical fact, among those we, in times past, had our conversation, and we know they will raise objections to our ideas, and exposition, if for no other reason than because they are not in unison with the sentiments they have adopted. Such persons will demand “How can this parable be figurative of the Jewish, and Gentile nations, when it is notorious that many of the former are brought into the light, and many of the latter remain in darkness, after the time of shutting up the one, and emancipating the other.”
To which we answer, that as much the greatest number of the Jews then, and all now, were, and are, enveloped in thick darkness, and as there were a greater number of the Gentiles then, and all shall be, illumined by the light of life, ere the people of Israel recover their elevated standing, ere the deliverer shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob, and all Israel shall be saved, and as God often speaketh of things that are not yet accomplished (prescience ranking among the attributes of Deity, and giving a decided knowledge of futurity) as though events had absolutely succeeded. I conceive our foundation is too deeply laid, for objections like these to demolish a superstructure, consisting in every part, and cemented by, I had almost said, numerous scripture testimonies.
I do not however assume the chair of infallibility: I but deliver my sentiments. If I can meet an exposition more agreeable to reason, and scripture, I will unhesitatingly embrace it, surrendering, without a sigh, the conjecture I have hazarded.
I am, &c. &c, &c.