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to be more immediately applicable:-“ Son,
remember, that thou in thy lifetime re“ceivedst thy good things, and likewise La
zarus evil things : but now he is comforted, " and thou art tormented.” It has been observed by most commentators, that the words here addressed to the Rich Man are emphatical, and have a peculiar force as applied to his case :-“Thou in thy lifetime receivedst
The good things,”—those things which he then preferred above all others, and in which he had centred all his enjoyments, his desires, and expectations. He had received these things, in the fullest acceptation of the term, as looking for nothing further; in the same sense in which our Lord says elsewhere of those who performed their alms or their devotions to be seen of men only, “ Verily, I
say unto you, they have their reward,” they have it now, and will have no claim to it hereafter :-—and again,
6 Woe unto you “ rich, for ye have received your consolation,” implying, that, having placed their whole trust and confidence in worldly possessions, they should find no consolation in a state where these could not avail them.
Such comparisons of this world with the next, teach us how inconsiderately we oftentimes envy those above us, or despise those
who are below us, as to worldly circumstances. They shew that no station in this life is to be considered as the standard of a man's deserts, or to be judged of abstractedly from the conduct of its possessor. They admonish us also, that the Almighty in thus unequally, yet unpartially, distributing temporal good and evil among the sons of men, intended that we should become instruments of our own final happiness or misery, by acquitting ourselves, under whatever circumstances, as accountable before him.
That the Jewish Rulers and Teachers stood greatly in need of such admonitions, may be inferred from our Lord's frequent and severe reproofs of their misconduct, in many of the most important relations of social life. But, in truth, the instruction is of too general importance to be confined to any age or nation. For, where is the person, whether Jew or Christian, who is not often tempted by riches and pleasures, to fix his thoughts and affections upon this present world, and to forget that for all these things he must hereafter be brought to judgment? Whatever might be the other offences of the rich man in the Parable, whether he was unjust, oppressive, intemperate, or uncharitable, (respecting which the Parable itself conveys no positive infor
mation,) it is at least evident that he was one of those who considered the world as if it were made merely for him to take his pastime therein; or as if he might live in it for ever, and have no account to give of his stewardship, when he should be no longer steward. And characters of this description are, it is to be feared, but too frequent, not only among Sceptics and Unbelievers, but even among those who profess to be Believers in the Word of God.
Every circumstance introduced into the Parable has a tendency to awaken the mind to an awful contemplation of a Future State, and to heighten the impression of it by the glowing colours in which it is represented.
The narrative is told with exquisite simplicity and pathos. 6 There was a certain “ rich man, which was clothed in purple and “ fine 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 6 crumbs which fell from the rich man's ta
ble:”—desiring to be fed ;-an expression which intimates that his wretched state had hitherto excited no attention or commiseration-and, perhaps, that his request was denied :—“ moreover, the dogs came and licked
“ his sores.” The inhumanity, or the neglect, at least, of the Rich Man, and the patience and humility of Lazarus, are here pretty clearly implied.
“ And it came to pass that the beggar died, “ and was carried by the angels into Abra“ ham's bosom." “ Into Abraham's bosom”an expression familiar to the Jews, denoting the happy state of departed spirits, between Death and the Resurrection: or rather, denoting, in this instance, the highest degree of honour and felicity in that state.
It is a figure of speech adopted from the custom of ancient times, that the person highest in rank or favour at an entertainment reclined upon the same couch with the Master of the feast. Hence St. John, the beloved disciple of our Lord, is said to have “ leaned on Jesus' bo
som.” And as our Lord elsewhere described the happiness of the Blessed by saying that
they should sit down with Abraham, and “ Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of Hea
ven,” Lazarus's lying in Abraham’s bosom may easily be understood to denote his advancement to a state of preeminent reward.
“ The rich man also died, and was bu" ried.”—He also died.- His riches were of no avail to avert the stroke of death. All
that his wealth could then procure for him was the distinction of funeral
pomp “ And in hell" (in Hades, the invisible receptacle of all departed spirits before the general Resurrection) “ he lift 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 upon “ 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.” Here is figuratively represented the intermediate state of the wicked also between Death and the Resurrection :a state of consciousness both of what is past, and of what is to come;-a state of tormenting disquietude and dread of final judgment, and of fruitless remorse and lamentation for what is irrecoverably lost. That the soul, when separated from the body, still retains such a consciousness, and such a susceptibility of enjoyment or suffering, may justly be inferred from this Parable. Respecting the mode of its existence in that state, all inquiry must at present be fruitless : for, says the Apostle, “ it doth “ not yet appear what we shall be.” That the Jews, however, professed their belief in this, is evident from a remarkable passage
in the Apocryphal book of the Wisdom of Solo