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person, either Sadducee or Pharisee, living a Sadducean life. There were certainly many such ; but it was beneath the dignity of the Divine-human Teacher to draw His illustrations from any individual character, and out of harmony with His spirit to pronounce the certain doom of a living man, or to dwell upon the miseries of an unhappy lost one. The riches of this man were his chief good. From them he derived his importance in his own estimation, and in that of those around him. Like many others, in our own age, he prided himself upon earthly possessions, and employed them to dignify and elevate bimself. The fact of his stewardship was never allowed to obtain a place in his mind; he regarded himself as accountable for the use of his riches to no one but himself. The principles of benevolence, of love to man, which the Scriptures that he no doubt outwardly held in the highest veneration-teach in so great variety of form, were never recognised by him as being of universal obligation. He never reflected upon the case of the sons of Abraham who were in poverty and distress; never, seemingly, for a moment thought upon the vast amount of suffering that he might remove or alleviate, by the charitable distribution of his means, nor upon the wealth of enjoyment and reward which such distribution would bring back into his own heart. It is scarcely necessary for us to say that riches are a gift of God; and are designed by Him to be a blessing alike to their possessor, and to those who come within the range of his influence; a blessing to him in their loving dispensation, and to them in the grateful acceptance of them. Where this is recognised and acted upon, the heart, both of him who gives and him who receives, is made the better and happier by the mutual action : both feel themselves, as they could not otherwise have done, the children of one common Father. These acts of tender and fraternal consideration make the characters of men bud and blossom with every moral beauty, as the soft showers and genial suns of spring clothe the trees of the field with their rich and delicate verdure.
Incontrast to this rich man," there was a certain,” Ttwxòs,“ beggar named Lazarus." We cannot think that this case was presented merely as a foil to the other. It is an essential part of the picture, with out which the final issues would be unexplained, and the moral of the whole unpointed. A name is given to this man.
We do not suppose, however, that it is mentioned by Jesus “ as the authentication of an actual incident." There was probably many a poor Lazarus in Jerusalem and its neighbourhood; but not one exactly answering to the Lazarus of our parable. His "name probably describes, by its double meaning, both the external appearance and the inner state of the man so named : before man he is helpless ; and he is at the same time thrown before the gate of His mercy for God to help.” Emphatically, he is a “beggar,” depending for the continuance of bis wretched life upon the casual generosity of others. To this condition he appears to be reduced in the very providence of God. His diseased state has deprived him of the power of self-help. He has literally no possessions : his destitution is complete. The Saviour does not abolish the distinction between rich and poor: however dark the enigma to us, its existence is compatible with the exercise of a beneficent and just providence. Poverty is one of the forms of trial to which men are subjected ; and it is one often sufficiently painful to claim the commiseration of those who are not called to endure its bitter disadvantages. When borne in the spirit of childlike submission, it does not fail to secure, as our parable teaches, a peculiar blessedness : God hath “chosen the poor of this world” to be "rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love Him."
The rich man, we see also, was splendidly attired; while the man of poverty lacked the clothing which was necessary for the warmth and protection of his body. The adornment of his own person was, on the part of the former, one of the principal objects of his life. On this he freely expended his riches, robing himself in the most imposing and costly style. His outer garment was of brilliant purple, which appeared the richer by its contrast with the pure white of the “fine linen," over which it hung in graceful folds. This “fine linen " was an Egyptian product. The looms of Egypt had produced such a fabric from the days of Moses ; and no doubt its texture and purity were of a rare description. Its value is indicated by the fact that it was sold for its weight in gold. Every other article of dress would, in the case of the “rich man,” be in harmony with these costly robes; and gems and gold flashed their varied colours upon the admiring eyes that gazed upon him. The weakness of our nature not unfrequently finds its expression in costly apparel, which is productive of numerous evils. We do not hold that a uniform order of dress can be prescribed for all persons. Reference undoubtedly must be had to station, rank, and means; but in such cases great judgment is required, lest the style which rank imposes should be permitted to feed the natural pride of the heart. The modern disposition to imitate the appearance of superiors is the occasion of a much larger amount of mischief and misery than meets the eye of a general observer; and it needs to be repressed with a steady but firm hand. Those who are the victims of this disposition should be kindly reminded that they fail to command the attention to which they aspire, waste their humble resources, largely diminish their material comfort, imperil their moral character, and too often involve themselves in life-long difficulty.
At the other extreme is poor Lazarus. He was “Awuévos, “ full of sores," quite covered with them : "ulcers, which he cannot hide, were
his covering, his costly attire.” In this forlorn condition, éBébanto, "he was laid," após tòv trd@va, "at the gate," at the principal entrance, the colonnade of the rich man's palace. It is scarcely neces. sary to suppose that he was carried there by others, who desired "thus to discharge themselves of their obligation, to pacify their consciences ; " nor that he was “cast down there, once for all," and remained day and night in that position. It is enough to suppose that either by a painful effort of his own, or the kindly assistance of others, he was daily placed where he might hope to obtain some scanty supply of his wants. “A rich man's portal was the constant resort of the destitute poor."
We have yet another point in the contrast. While the master of the lordly house made daily festival, Lazarus suffered the pangs of unalleviated hunger. The table, as well as the person, of the rich man was amply furnished : "he fared sumptuously every day.” Jubilant festivity reigned in his household, apparently without interruption. The banquet-hall was supplied with every requisite for the pleasure and satisfaction of himself and his guests. It was a display of convivial, if not of riotous, enjoyment. The terms employed by the Saviour cannot mean less than this ; they may mean that he and his boon companions held the daily festival “ of a rich voluptuary." In that case, it was the constant scene “of riotous living," which he possessed abundant means to maintain.
Meanwhile, Lazarus lay at the porch, witnessing this daily feasting, “ desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from” the richly-supplied “table.” It cannot be correct to say, " that in his pining hunger he longed in vain for a crumb." Offensive as his appearance must have been, he is allowed to lie at the porch. The gay owner does not give the command to have him removed out of his sight. Are we to interpret this in his favour, or against him ? Some may be disposed to think that it indicates some degree of kindly feeling in the heart of the feaster. But a closer look discovers otherwise. By this very feature of the picture, the Great Teacher intended to shade more darkly the hard, indifferent heart of this self-absorbed man. He does not permit the sight of so unhappy a creature to disturb his enjoyment. “Nothing availed to carry trouble to the hard heart which was covered with purple and fine linen ; warmed, indeed, with wine, but cold to all sympathy.” Im. pelled by the pangs of nature, Lazarus is ever " desiring” to be, but never is actually,“ fed,” though it is the pixiwv, “ crumbs," merely, for which he would be meekly thankful. His hunger is never positively removed. It is, at the most, only partially appeased by the scanty portion of the scraps, fallen from the sumptuous table, which he can succeed in appropriating when they are thrown out by the servants, who would not take the trouble of conveying them to the helpless
mendicant. The "dogs" are agile, and are successful competitors with him; and the tortures of Tantalus are endured by him, though in the form of hunger instead of thirst. The "icking" of the “ dogs" is oppositely interpreted by expositors of the highest authority, some regarding it as an alleviation, and others as an aggravation, of his sufferings. These animals bear an evil character in the language of Scripture, but we do not think that this fact decides the question; as an unclean creature, the raven, was for once, at least, sanctified by its employment by God in the service of Elijah ; and as the dog alleviates his own sufferings by the aid of bis tongue, we are inclined to think that its use on the wounds of Lazarus would bave a similar effect. It is difficult to think that they were “the stray dogs," that in their voracity prowled about in search of anything they could consume, and were not restrained from making a kind of assault upon the helpless body of Lazarus. They were either “the dogs" of the establishment, which, though they would unceremoniously take precedence of Lazarus in the appropriation of the "crumbs,” by frequent intercourse became familiar with bim. Their instinct would induce the action mentioned, and the Saviour introduced it probably to give a severer comment upon the unsympathetic hearts of Lazarus' fellow. men. This half-friendly act is so slight in itself as not to diminish the force of the representation of the sufferer's extreme destitution. He still remains isolated and alone in the depth of adversity; and this action of the “ dogs," while assuaging, perhaps, the irritation of his wounds, would make the utter indifference to his miseries on the part of men more poignantly afflictive to his soul. The terms employed by the Saviour scarcely admit of our speaking of “the sym. pathy of the animals ; " but we have no hesitation in saying, "such a sympathy, if unaccompanied by any other, would be an aggravation of his sorrow.”
The contrast is complete. The extremes of earthly enjoyment and sorrow are here presented with such fulness of outline, such delicate touches of light and shade, as shows the perfection of a master. The portrait of the selfish, godless worldling stands distinctly before us. Here is a man to whom self and this life are everything. It is not said that he acquired his wealth by means like those to which it is probable Zacchæus had recourse; and yet the end of Zaccbæus was the opposite of his. Not the slightest intimation is given that he was guilty of any open and flagrant sin. Yet the pleasures of life were the object for which he lived; the idea of responsibility to God was never allowed to trouble him for a moment. He was a son of Abrabam; and the final inheritance of Abraham must be his, as a matter of right. The picture on the other side is equally complete in its moral and religious aspect. As many other sufferers, Lazarus
might have raved and blasphemed in his heart." He might have sbrieked his bitter complaints into the ears of men; he might have been consumed with envy. But there is not an indication of such a feeling in his outward expression, or in the condition of his heart. There is a positive intimation to the contrary. His very "desiring"
that he bore his sad lot in patient silence. He does not rebel against the dark dispensation that has doomed him to this dismal state. He is being prepared by the “much tribulation " of hunger, nakedness, and suffering, for the feast, and the robes, and the joys of heaven; while his counterpart is being fitted by the “purple and fine linen,” the sumptuous fare, and the free enjoyment of this life, for the destitution and the“ torment” of “hell ;” though it is not improbable that in the self-abaseinent of the one, “ Abraham's bosom was not counted on so assuredly as it was, in his blinded pride," by the other.
We have now to look at another picture,—the reversed conditions of the subjects of our parable. The contrast is as marked now as before. We bere find Lazarus in a state of the highest happiness and konour ; while the man of earthly honour and joy is sunk in the deepest degradation and misery. “It came to pass,"—indicating not an immediate event, yet one not long delayed, -" that the beggar died." His trial is finished, and deliverance is granted to him : how great a mercy! Lazarus appears at the porch of the palace for the last time, his pitiable condition necessitating him to the end to appropriate his share of the "crumbs.” The fiery rays of the mid-day sun so exhaust and consume him, that he lies in utter prostration. No cup of cold water is placed to his fevered lips. No human voice speaks words of peace and hope into the dying man's ears. He languishes out the day; but as the chilly coldness of the dewy night creeps upon him, the “beggar" at last yields up his patient spirit to the charge of watching angels. What became of his body? The absence of intimation designedly preserves the distinction between the cases; and also silently says to us,-the question is one of no real importance. He has no brother on earth to give him decent burial; but still his body is in the best of keeping. Certainly it was not taken away by the angels with his soul, as some have very unnecessarily supposed. The true Lazarus was "carried into Abraham's bosom." Closeness of fellowship and similarity of condition are clearly expressed by these terms, as more fully appears, when we remember that, in the same terms, it is said, the eternal Son Himself, before time began, was “in the bosom of the Father.” As the body of Lazarus did not accompany his soul, so neither did his soul remain with the body. It passed immediately to the fellowship of Abraham, and to the peace of Paradise. How vast