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therefore, describes the character and condition of two men in this world, and then draws aside the veil, and we behold them in their final destination. Is there anything said of Dives (the rich man) that would lead us to think he was à wicked man ?
It is stated that he lived in luxury, and was clothed handsomely.
The purple cloth was made at Tyre, and was dyed with the blood of shell-fish, which were found in the sea on the north-west of Canaan, and are still found about the Caribbee Islands and coast of America, and even on the west of England. The purple cloth was very costly-worn only by kings and great men. Perhaps you can recollect a few instances of this ?
Daniel was rewarded, for interpreting Belshazzar's dream, by their “clothing him with scarlet, and putting a chain of gold about his neck.”Daniel v. 29. Mordecai, when made chief minister of state in Persia, wore a garment of fine linen and purple.”—Esther viii. 15. And, in ridicule of our Saviour's royalty, His enemies “ clothed Him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about His head.”—Mark
To explain a difficulty you may find in reconciling St. Mark with St. Matthew's account (chapter xxvii. 28), I will tell you, that the ancients gave the name purple to any color that had a mixture of red in it: these different colors might therefore be sometimes called by the same
The flax, from which the fine linen was made, grew on the banks of the Nile (a river in Egypt). You can, I doubt not, bring texts where this is mentioned.
“ I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.”—Prov. vii. 16. 6 Fine linen with broidered work, from Egypt, was that which thou spreadest forth to be thy sail ; blue and purple from the isles of Elishah was that which covered thee.”—Ezek. xxvii. 7.
You must bring me examples of kings and priests wearing fine linen.
“ David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah, the master of the song, with the singers : David also had upon him an ephod of linen.”—1 Chron. xv. 27. They shall make holy garments for Aaron, thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. And they shall take gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen ; and they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.”—Ex. xxviii. 4, 6.
We have digressed from, but must now return to, our subject. The rich man was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day; but did this stamp him as a wicked
Had he gained his wealth by improper means ?
No. But he selfishly used it for his own pleasure only, disregarding the distress of a poor man who was laid at his very gate, sorely afflicted.
Lazarus is a contraction of the Hebrew word Eliezar, which signifies the help or assistance of God |-a name properly given to a man who was both
poor and afflicted, and had no help but that which came from heaven. Had he no friends to assist him ?
Those he had, must have been as poor as himself, for all they did, was to carry and lay him at the gate of the rich man's house.
Did this poor beggar apply for relief?
Yes. He humbly craved for the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table—the offals-the leavings of the dogs.
Did not Dives assist him ? It does not appear that he did; and, from what is related of the dogs coming and licking his sores, we may imagine Dives took no notice of him, being too intent on his own amusement, and worldly gratifications.
Is there not a parable in which Christ discloses the secret thoughts of a man of the same character as Dives ?
Yes. In the parable of the rich fool (Luke xii. 16, 21), who thought within himself, and said to his soul, “ Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry
Was his anticipation of enjoyment and long lile realised ?
No. God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall these things be, which thou hast provided ? “ Riches profit not in the day of wrath.”—Prov. xi. 4.
The self-deception and folly of this man have thus been shewn; but to whom does our Saviour apply the warning?
“ To those who lay up treasure for themselves, and are not rich toward God.”
But to resume our subject-you see there was no provision made for the relief of the poor. I dare say you can quote other passages where beggars were placed in public resorts to ask alms ?
Yes. “ A certain man, lame from his mother's womb, was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the Temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the Temple.”
-Acts iii. 2.
“ Two blind men sitting by the way-side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, () Lord, thou son of David.” — Matt. xx. 30.
Should not the poor be indeed thankful for the Gospel ? To it they should ascribe the care that is taken in England, and all other Christian countries, to assist them in sickness and old age, by erecting hospitals and alms-houses. You must have read in the Missionary Reports, how the Hindoos and the Sandwich Islanders destroy their aged parents and friends. To worldly minds perhaps it may appear strange to see Dives surrounded with every luxury, and Lazarus in want and misery : but you know our days
“short” (Ps. cii. 23); and this is not to be our portion for ever. I must beg you to prove, by a text from Scripture, the truth of what I have stated ?
“ Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him : but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow ; because he feareth not before God.”—Eccles. viii. 12, 13.
I should wish to guard you against the error of thinking, that it is any proof that a man is ungodly and unmerciful, because he is wealthy ; for are there not examples of good men having been blessed with riches ?
Solomon, (1 Kings iii. 11 ;) Job, (Job i. 1, 3, and xlii. 12). David says “ Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth : the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house : and his righteousness endureth for ever."
-Ps. cxii. 1, 3. ‘Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour."Prov. iii. 16. 6 Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”—1 Tim. iv. 8. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”—Matt. vi. 33.
As a good man of old says—“ If thou have a concern for the things that are God's, He will also be careful for thee and thine.” * On the other hand, you must beware of supposing that poverty necessarily proves a man to be in the
* St. Chrysostom.