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The parable of the rich man and Lazarus.
LUXE xvi. 19, 20. There was a certain rich man, which was cloathed
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.
The second sermon on this text.
T Proceed to our second observation, that a man I may be poor and miserable in this world, and 1 yet' dear to God. The beggar Lazarus, though he was so much Nighted, and despised in his lifetime by this great rich man, yet it appeared when he came to dy, that he was not neglected by God, for he gave his Angels charge concerning him, to convey him to happiness; ver. 22. The beggar died, and was carried into Abraham's bofom.
But this truth is not only represented to us in a parable, but exemplified in the life of our blessed Saviour. Never was any man so dear to God as he was, for he was his only begotten Son, his beloved Son, in whom he was well pleased : And yet how poor and mean was his condition in this world! insomuch that the Jews were offended at him, and could not own one that appeared in so much meanness, for the true Mellias. He was born of mean parents, and persecuted as soon as he was born ; he was destitute of worldly accommodations; The foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests; but the Son of man had not where to lay his head. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief.
God could have sent his Son into the world with majesty and great glory, and have made all the kings of the earth to have bowed before him, and paid homage to him :.but the wisdom of God chose rather that he hould appear in a poor and humble, in a suffering and afflicted condition, to confound the pride of the world, who measure the love of God by these outward things, and think that God hates all those whom he permits to be afflicted.
Now it was not poslible to give a greater and clearer demonstration of this truth, that goodness and suffering may meet together in the same person, than in the Son of God, who did no fin, neither was guile found in his mouth; yet it pleased the Lord to bruise bim, and to put him to grief.
Afflictions in this world are so far from being a sign of God's hatred, that they are an argument of his love and care ; whom the Lord loveth he chastenia 8th, and scourgeth every fon whom he receiveth. Those he deligns for great things hereafter, he trains up by great hardships in this world, and by many tribula. tions prepares them for a kingdom. This course God took more especially in the first planting of Chritianity; the poor chiefly were those that received the gospel. Not many mighty, nor many noble; but the base things of the world, and the things that were despised, did God choose. Hearken, my beloved brethren, saith St. James, chap. ii. 5. Hath not God chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the king dom, which he hath promised to them that love him
Now this consideration should persuade to patience under the greatest sufferings and affligions in this world. God may be our Father, and, chaften us fes verely; nay, this very thing is rather an argument that he is fo. God may love usj. though the world hate us. 'Tis but exercising a little patience, and there
storms will blow over, and we shall be removed into a caliner region, where all tears Mall. be wiped from our eyes; and death and forrow fall be no more: This was the portion of the Son of God here ; but it is a faithful saying, that if we be dead with him; we fall also live with him ; if we suffer with him, we R. 3
Mall also reign with him. Therefore those who suffer in this world ought not to be moved, as though fome strange thing happened unto them; but they mould rather rejoice, in as much as they are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that, when his glory hall be re. vealed, they also may be glad with exceeding joy, Į Pet. iv. 12, 13. I proceed to a
Third observation, which is the different estate of good and bad men after this life. Lazarus died, and was carried by the Angels into Abraham's bofom : the rich man died, and went to hell. This the justice of divine providence feems to require ; so that if there had been no revelation of God to this purpose, it is. a thing very credible to natural reason, whether we consider God or ourselves. If we consider God, our reason tells us, that he is the holy and righteous Governor of the world, and consequently, that he loves goodness, and hates fin; and therefore is concerned to countenance the one, and discountenance the o. ther, in such a folemn and publick manner, as may vindicate his holiness and justice to the world. Now the dispensations of his providence are promiscuous in this world; and therefore it seeins very reasonable that there should be a general assize, a fair and on pen trial, when God will render to every man accorda ing to his works.
And if we consider ourselves, this will appear very credible ; for this has been the constant opinion not only of the common people, but of the wiseft perfons, who had only the light of nature to guide them. Nay, if we do but search our own consciences, we thall find an inward and secret acknowledgment of this, in that inward peace and satisfaction we find in any good action, and, in that shame, and fear, and horror, that haunts a man after the commission of any... though never so secret a sin.
And as reason and scripture together do assure us. of a future judgment; so likewise, that men, when they pass out of this world, shall meet with the pro. per confequences and rewards of their actions in the other. And though the happiness or mifery of men. be not so compleat as it shall be after the publick judga
ment; yet it is unspeakably great. Lazarus is reprefented as very happy immediately after his passing out of this world , he is said to be carried into Å braham's borom : by which the Jews exprefs the happiness of the future state. And the rich man is represented as in great anguish and torment. But what the happiness of good men, and the misery of wicked men shall be in the other state, we can but now imperfectly and unskilfully describe. Each of these I have in another discourse (Sermon clxiii. on Rom. vi. 21. 22.] spoken something to. I proceed to a
Fourth observation, the vast difference between mens conditions in this world, and the other. The rich man prospered here, and was afterwards tormented: Lazarus was poor and miserable in this world,' and happy in the other; ver. 25. Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And it is very agreeable to the wisdom of. God, to make such a difference between mens con. ditions in this world and the other; and that for there two reasons:
ift, For the trying of mens virtue.
1. For the trial of mens virtue. For this end prin. cipally God ordains the sufferings of good men, and permits the best of his servants many times to be in. volved in the greatest calamities, to try their faith in him, and love to him; to improve their virtue, and to prevent those fins into which the mighty temptations of a perpetual prosperity are apt to draw even the best of men; to take off their affections from the love of this vain world, and to engage and fix them there, where they shall never repent that they have placed them; to prove their sincerity towards God, and to exercise their patience and submission to his will; to prepare them for the glory of the next life, and to make the happiness of heaven more welcome to them, when they shall come to it. · 2dly, In order to the recompensing of men: that they who will take up with the pleasures and enjoymeats of this present world, and take no care for
their future state; that they who will gratify their senses, and neglect their immortal souls, may inherit the proper consequences of their wretched choice. And on the other hand, that they who love God above all things, and had rather endure the greatest evils, than do the least ; that they who look beyond the present scene of things, and believe the reality and eternity of the other state, and live accordingly, may not be disappointed in their hopes, and serve God and suffer for him for nothing. From this consideration of the difference between the condition of men in this world and the other, we may infer,
1. That no man should measure his felicity or unhappiness by his lot in this world. If thou receivest: thy good things, art rich and honourable, and halt as much of the things of this world as thine heart can wish, art splendidly attired, and fareft fumptu. ously every day; art in no: trouble like other men, neia ther art plagued like other folk; do not upon this bless thy self as the happy man. On the other hand, art thou poor and miserable, destitute of all the conveniencies and accommodations of this life. I do not repine at thy lot, and murmur at God for having dealt hardly with thee. No man can be pronounced happy or miserable for what befals him in this life; no man knows love or hatred by these things: this life: is but a short and inconsiderable duration, and it matters not much what entertainment we meet withal, as we are passing through this world : The state of eternity is that wherein the happiness or misery of men shall be determined. He is the happy man who is so in that life which shall never have an an end; and he is miserable that shall be so for ever.
2. We should not set too great a value upon the: bleflings of this life. We may receive our good things here, and be tormented hereafter; nay, this very thing will be no inconsiderable part of our torment, none of the least aggravations of our misery, that we did receive our good things. Nothing atiets as man more, and toucheth himn more sensibly when he is in misery, than the remembrance of his former