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that, of the two beings who appeared with Christ on this occasion, and who belonged to the race of man, one should be of a complete nature, and the other not. May we not therefore infer from this also, that one of them was from heaven, and the other from Hades, both summoned to the earth by our Lord to receive directions for his reception in Hades first, and afterwards in Heaven? The separate souls would receive him as their Head and King in place of Abraham, and all in Hades would own his indisputable right to reign over them. His kingdom was not of this world, neither is it in heaven, for there the Father will reign-all in all, and we pray to the Latter that his kingdom may come speedily. Christ's kingdom now is, as before shown, and he shall reign till he has put all his enemies under his feet : the last of them is death, or he who brought death upon us, and has the power of it; which victory, we know, shall not be gained till the end of this world. The spirit of our Lord entered not into the mansions of the departed as a conqueror over death, but as one under the power of that tyrant, for his body lay dead in the tomb, and the separate or disembodied condition of souls proves them to be suffering under the doom of death. The state of death, as has been proved, does not properly mean one of insensibility, but merely a separation between soul and body, and were the soul even to remain on the earth after death, we could not expect to see or hear it, when we did not see it during the life of the body, nor were then sensible of its presence but from the exertion of its bodily organs, which, when crumbled to dust, cannot, of course, longer indicate its existence to our eyes or ears in their present natural state. Our Saviour's victory in his own person as of the race of man, was when he reanimated his body which he had left in the grave, but he did not visibly triumph as a conqueror, until his ascension from the earth to heaven. At the last day he will utterly abolish death, or take that dread and awful power from our enemy altogether; thus gaining a general and complete victory, giving liberty to the captives, and securing them from ever again undergoing a like fate.
The Parable of Dives and Lazarus considered.
“ The essential or fundamental parts of a scriptural parable never embody any
ideas which are opposed to truth, otherwise it would be fitted to mislead
The Parable of Dives and Lazarus here deserves all the elucidation which can be given to it, and in order to bring it more distinctly before my readers, I shall insert it, as translated by Dr. Campbell.
“There was a certain rich man, that wore purple and fine linen, and feasted splendidly every day. There was also a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, that was laid at his gate, and was fain to feed on the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table : yea, even the dogs came and licked his sores. It happened that the poor man died, and was conveyed by angels to Abraham's bosom : the rich man also died, and was buried. And in Hades, being in torments, he looked up, and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom, and cried, saying, 'Have pity on me, father Abraham, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tortured in this flame.' Abraham answered, "Son, remember that thou in thy life-time receivedst good things, and Lazarus received evil things ; but now, he is in joy, and thou art in torments. Besides, there lieth a huge gulf betwixt us and you, so that they who would pass to you cannot, neither can they pass to us who would come thence !' The other replied, 'I entreat thee, then, father, to send him to my father's house ; for I have five brothers, that he may admonish them, lest they also come into this place of torments. Abraham answered, "They have Moses and the prophets : let them hear them.' 'Nay,' said he, 'father Abraham, but if one went to them from the dead, they would reform.' Abraham replied, 'If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one should arise from the dead.'”
When the above is referred to as any evidence of what is passing in the world of spirits, and the condition in which our souls shall be placed as soon as we are dead, many think it quite sufficient to say that—" It is only a parable ;” meaning thereby, that it is founded on what was not, and could not be the case in the ordinary course of things, but is to be considered entirely as a mere fable. Such theological reasoners forget that there is not one of our Lord's other parables which can be argued to be so completely grounded in illusion. All the rest of these they will readily admit to be taken from events and scenes which at least might have been; and why this one should form a solitary exception to the other twenty-eight, (without the slightest intimation from Scripture that it does so) they could give no substantial reason ; for our Lord was as well acquainted with what was passing in the unseen world, as with the events around him on earth; and had this story been impossible, or even thought so by our great Master's audience, it could have done no good. As the Jews really had such a belief current among them, he would have been encouraging it when it was not true, if such a story was absolutely impossible, from no such region existing as Hades, with a pleasant place of rest in it for the good after the labours and miseries of mortal life and trial, and with another place of a different description for the doers of evil.
“A Country Pastor,” in his work entitled Scripture Revelations concerning a Future State, wishes to show that the parable makes no real allusion to what takes place with regard to souls after death, and argues as follows :
“Those who believe* that the soul, when separated from the body by death, retains its activity, and consciousness, and sensibility to pleasure and pain, and that it enters immediately on a state of enjoyment or of suffering, appeal to several passages of Scripture, which appear to favour this doctrine, though without expressly declaring it : among which is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man ;t the one of whom is represented as being in a state of torment, although the end of the world is plainly supposed not to have arrived, as he is described as entreating Lazarus to warn his surviving brethren, “lest they also come into this place of torment.” And if all that is here told were to be considered as a narrative of a matter of fact which actually took place, it would be perfectly decisive ; I but all allow that the narrative is a parable, that is, a fictitious tale, formed in order to teach or illustrate some doctrine : and although such a tale may chance to agree in every point with matter of fact, -with events which actually take place,—there is no necessity that it should. The only truth that is essential in a parable is the truth of the moral or doctrine conveyed by it. Many, accordingly, of our Lord's parables are not, though many are exactly correspondent with facts which actually
* Which this author does not.
+ If the parable can be understood to mean that such an event might in common course have happened, then it does expressly declare the truth of the doctrine, or what is the same thing, and the author of the remarks quoted allows, a few lines further on, that in such a case “it would be perfectly decisive."
I Or, if without alluding to particular persons, the fact might have been essentially true with regard to some rich and some poor man, this conclusion would be the same.
§ Although there is no necessity in a parable for naming or even alluding to real individuals, or of founding on a certain event which actually did happen, yet if it supposes, and is grounded entirely on what could not have ever occurred in the nature of things, then it could not be supposed capable of making a serious impression on any one.