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RICH MAN AND LAZARUS,
DELIVERED AT THE SECOND UNIVERSALIST MEETING HOUSE IN
ST. LUKE xvi. 19-31. There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and five linen, and fared sumptuously every day. . And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table : moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. ---And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom : the rich man also died, and was buried ; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy life-time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And, beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed : so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot : neither can they pass to us that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee, therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house, for I have five brethren ; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, they have Moses and the prophets ; let them hear them. And he said, nay, father Abraham : but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."
That the letter of this passage is familiar to the mind of the hearer, no doubt iš entertained ; but that the right sense and true meaning of the text are as generally understood, is very much to be doubted.
In treating on this subject, the following method will serve to direct our researches :
I. The current opinion and common use of this portion of our Saviour's words, will be laid before
II. This current opinion and common use of the text will be disproved by the divine testimony
III. The true sense of the text will be sought and illustrated, in as plain a manner as our ability and opportunity will permit.
On our first proposition little needs to be said, as id the current opinion and common use of our text is ille familiar to the hearer.
a de The current opinion may be said to embrace the me following particulars. 1st. That our Saviour, in En this text, spake no parable, but gave a plain, títė. ral account of the different situations and circum- hit stances of a rich man and a beggar, first in this world, and secondly in a future state of existence. ! 2d. That the beggarliterally died, and was carried by angels into a state of eternal blessedness, called in the text, Abraham’s bosom. 3d. That the rich man also died a natural death, and went into x a state of endless torment. In this situation he moth sees Abraham afar off in heaven, with Lazarus te in his bosom, and makes his request for a drop of water, and is denied. 4th. That the gulf between Abraham and the rich man, is the distance which heaven and hell are from each other, which will: eternally remain, and never be passėd.
The common use which is made of this portion of scripture, is to support and confirm the opinion of endless punishment in a future state, for sins committed in this natural life, and particularly for the sins of luxurious living, and the neglect of the poor.
Believers in the doctrine of endless punishment i resort to this passage as to a place of security, and as an impregnable bulwark. Here they maintain di that God, who is good and kind to sinners in this world, will be utterly unmerciful to them in the world to come. That Jesus, the friend and redeemer of sinners, will have, in the next state of existence, no, compassion. And saints, who in this world pray most sincerely for the conversion and salvation of sinners, will then feel no desires in their favour. As Abraham acknowledged the rich man in hell to be his son, yet would grant him a
sangh no favour, nor even express a desire so to do, it is
maintained that parents hereafter in heaven, will
see their own natural offspring in hell, without aile having it in their power to grant them the least fa
vour, or of feeling the least desire thus to do.
In this description of the current opinion and acely common use of our text, simplicity has been duly
regarded, and care taken to avoid giving a false colour to any part of the representation. Much more might be said, but it is believed that the general subject, as commonly understood, has been comprehended.
Secondly. In disproving the foregoing opinion and use of our text, arguments will be brought from the scriptures to show that they are contrary to the scheme of the gospel. It will likewise be shown that the connection in which our text is. found, gives no support to the current opinion and common use of the passage. And finally, in the text itself, evidence will be found sufficient to refute the common application of these words.
1st. The gospel is the doctrine of repentance and salvation from sin. Mat. i, 21. And thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.” Acts v, 31. " Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a prince and a saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. Nothing is more evident, than that the scheme of the gospel designs the repentance and salvation of sinners. But the endless punishment of sinners is totally inconsistent with such a scheme.
The gospel teaches us that God is possessed of GREAT Love to sinners. Eph. ii, 4, 5. who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sin, hath quickened us together with Christ.” 1st John iv, 10 “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." To represent the divine Being as inficting an unmerciful punishment
" But God,
on sinners, whom he loves with a GREAT LOVE, and a hihe for whom he sent his son to be the propitiation for berib their sins, is most surely, a very unscriptural and ET unreasonable representation.
The gospel assures us that God "will have all para men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of psc the the truth.” 1st Tim. ii, 4.-If this be the will of kasi God, it must be a mistake to suppose that our Saimond viour taught the doctrine of endless punishment. For it must be supposed that he knew the will of 1 him who sent him, for the accomplishment of whicho will he came down from heaven. John vi, 38.
Our blessed redeemer teaches us to love mankind with the same manner of love with which sinners are loved of God. Mat. v, 44, 45. If this be the spirit of the gospel, which cannot be des grande nied, the notion that saints in bliss will be spectators of the endless torments of their fellow creatures, and even of their own offspring, without feeling one friendly desire towards them, must be absurd in the extreme. | 2d. That the connection in which our text is found, gives no support to the current opinion and common use of the passage, may be seen by a little attention.
Our text is found in connection with a number of beautifully instructive parables occupying the one 15th and 16th chapters of St. Luke.
We are informed in the beginning of the 15th chapter as follows; " Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him: And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying, this man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." In reply to this, the Saviour spake the three parables which occupy the whole of the remaining part of the chapter. By the parables of the lost sheep, the lost piece of money, and the prodigal son, in which was represented the recovery of all that was lost, and the joys of heaven in consequence of the repentance of sinners, he vindicated his corduct in receiving sinners and eating with them
The 16th chapter, in which our text is recoraed, tiatie: begins with the parable of the unjust steward, by sture, which is represented the folly of the Pharisees and
Scribes in not improving the law dispensation in a Il here! way to introduce them into the everlasting habiwapel tations of the gospel. Directly following this parne militable, Jesus speaks of the continuance of the law
and the prophets until John, and of the kingdom zishni of heaven which succeeded them. He says, verse
17. "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” The propriety of this he shows by the following parable,
verse 18 “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and harti marrieth another, committeth adultery: and who
soever marrieth her that is put away from her the dis husband, committéth adultery". The next words
are those of our text.
Now what is there in all, or in any part of the withers sayings of Jesus, which go before our text, that must gives the least intimation of a subject like the one
to which our text is usually applied ? Or what is there in all this connection, properly calculated to introduce such a sentiment as we are endeavouring to disprove?
To suppose that he who spake as never man. spake, abruptly dropped the subject of the end of the law dispensation, and the introduction of the gospel, or kingdom of heaven, and having no further allusion to this subject, proceeded to give an account of the sin of adultery, which account occupies but one verse, and then again fies directly from this subject, to give a literal account about a rich mån and a beggar, in this world and in an eter-. nal state, is so unwarrantable, and so derogatory to the character of the divine orator, that it is a matter of wonder that such an opinion should ever have been honoured with the consent of learned commentators.
3. Let us now look and see if there be not sufficient evidence in the text itself; to refute the com. mon application of it.
tert i ion and