« AnteriorContinuar »
thought, when stripped of its poetical ornaments, is no more than this : When the priests had carried the ark to the temple, Solomon ordered the gates to be thrown open to admit the ark. How much this thought is improved, when embellished by the fine imagination of the sweet singer of Israel, and clothed in all the graces of poetry, let persons of the smallest critical discernment judge. In short, the passage is too well known, and 100 beautiful, to need or admit of any illustration. Like the meridian sun, it shines in its own light, and to endeavour to adorn it, were wasteful and ridiculous excess.
As we are assured by an authority that cannot err, that the ceremonies of the Jewish law were a figure of good things to come, and as the ark has been considered as a type of our Saviour, it is highly probable, that its introduction into the temple prefigured to the faithful among the Jews, that fol. emn and triumphant period when our Saviour af. cended into the heaven of heavens, to take possession of the glory which he had with the Father before the world was.
Luke xvi. 19-31.
19 There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared fumptuously every day.
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who was laid at bis gate, full of fores,
21 And defiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table : moreover, the dogs came and licked his fores.
22 And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bofom : the rich man also died, and was buried.
23 And in bell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and feeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bofom.
24 And he cried, and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and fend Lazards, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue ; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham faid, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things : but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixe ed: so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot ; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou would fend him to my father's house:
28 For I have five brethren ; that he may testify unto them, left they also come into this place. of torment.
29 Abraham faith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets ; bet them hear them.
30 And he faid, Nay, father Abraham : but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Mofes and the prophets, neither will they be perfuaded though one rose from the dead.
THE method of instruction by para. bles, was much in use among the eastern nations. Both physical and moral causes contributed to intro
duce and to support this custom. The people of the east have always been more under the government of the imagination and fancy, than the nations of the north. They use the liveliest and the boldelt figures of speech in their ordinary conversation ; and their writings are all in the manner as well as in the spirit of poetry. What the influence of the climate
made natural, the form of their government rendermed necessary. As the form of their government has
always been despotic and tyrannical, they were afraid to speak out their sentiments with openness and with freedom. Truth durft not approach the throne, nor appear in public.
Such was the origin of parables. This method of instruction possesses many advantages. It is obvious to all capacities, and has a charm for every hearer. It is well adapted to strike the fancy; it interests the passions, and thus makes a deeper and more lasting impression than mere moral instruction could convey. It likewise possesses one advantage peculiar to itself. It makes a man his own instructor. When the parable is told, we ourselves draw the moral, and make the application. Observations and reflections that we make ourselves, are of more avail to us in the conduct of life, than any instruction we can learn from others.
The parable now before us contains many useful and important lessons. We have here represented two characters not uncommon in the world; a rich man, who enjoyed the pleasures and the luxuries of life, and a poor beggar, who lived and who died in poverty, and in distress. This man was a signal object of pity. He was a beggar, and he was full of fores. Notwithstanding this double call to sympathy and compassion, the heart of the rich man was hardened against him. All the advantage he reaped from lying at the great man's gate, was, that his dogs, who had more feeling than their master, came and licked his sores. Nevertheless this rich man was not a miser. He was not a niggard of the gifts of Providence. He enjoyed life. He was arrayed in purple, which, in those days, was the vestment of kings. Hospitality presided in his hall, and luxury reigned at his table. He made sumptuous entertainments for his friends, and he made them every day. He seems to have been one of that class of men, and a very numerous class they are, and very fre. quently to be found in life, who are very hospitable to those who do not want, but very unfriendly to those that do; who prepare rich and splendid entertainments for those tribes of flatterers and fycophants who always crowd the mansions of the great, and at the same time have nothing to spare to a real object of distress. However, he acted very agreeably to the principles of his sect; for, as we learn from the sequel, he was a Sadducee, or what in our days we call an infidel, that is, one who has no religion at all. He did not believe in the immortality of the soul. He did not believe that there was either a heaven or a hell. Accordingly, he endeavoured to make the most of this life, and acted up to the maxims of his fect, “ Let us eat and drink, for to morrow we shall 66 die."
Learn hence the folly and the danger of endeavouring to establish virtue upon any foundation but chat of true religion. People may tell us that social
affe&tion is the law of our being; they may talk of virtue being its own reward; they may sing the praises of disinterested benevolence; but if you take away the rewards and punishments of the world to come, you set the greatest part of mankind free from every moral obligation, and open a door to univers sal depravity and corruption of manners. If the beauty of virtue is laid in one scale, and interest in the other, it will not be difficult to determine to which side the balance will incline.
The accusations of conscience will be little regard. ed, unless they are considered as an earnest of the worm that never dies. Take away the doctrine of a world to come, and you make this world a scene of universal depravity and open wickedness.
At first view we would be apt to wonder at the ways of Heaven, and perhaps tempted in our minds to arraign the conduct of Providence, in crowning this worthless and wicked man with wealth and prof. perity, whilst all that diversified the good man's lot was scene after scene of poverty and pain. But let us suspend our judgment. We fee but one link in the great chain of Providence. We live but in the infancy of being. The great drama of life is but begun. When the catastrophe is brought about, when the curtain berween both worlds is undrawn, the morn will arise that wiļl light the Almighty's footsteps in the deep, and pour full day upon all the paths of his providence,
VERSE 22. And it came to pass that the beggar died. He died, and all his miseries died with him. He whom this rich man would have disdained to have considered as his fellow-creature, had a company of