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favour of God. Can you not point out many
sins to which that situation exposes a man?
Discontent and envy at the lot of others, and unbelieving thoughts of God.
These are ruinous sins : it is said indeed Envy is a passion actually diabolical in its nature, for it makes war against God Himself, and being incapable in its impotence of clouding His sovereign majesty, it attacks Him in the gifts His beneficence has bestowed on man.” * A safe rule is to “be moderate in our desires of what we have not, and moderate in the use of what we have:” † and whatever difficulties you have to encounter, be not perplexed, but think only of what is right in the sight of Him who seeth all things, and bear, without repining, the result. I should now wish you to find a strong contrast to this rich man, Dives, in the conduct of one in affluent circumstances, shewing how riches may become a blessing, and not a curse.
In the case of Job. 66 When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me; because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me : my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame: I was a father to the poor : and the cause which I knew not I searched out.”—Job xxix. 11, 16.
* Book of the Father3. † Bishop Patrick
I beg you
How happy would it have been for Dives, had he used his talents in a similar manner; hut, alas! his opportunity had filed unimproved. Both he and Lazarus had now run their appointed course: “ their days had passed upon earth as a shadow,” Job viii. 9., or “as a tale that is told.”—Ps. xc. 9. Nothing is related of the funeral of Lazarus : the rich man's alone is mentioned ; we may therefore suppose he was buried with much pomp and splendour ; but “the dust (of both) returned to the earth as it was.”_Eccles. xii. 7. to mark the vast difference in the honour now conferred on them ;-Dives had only his friends to attend him to the grave : but who took charge of the soul of Lazarus ?
Angels-who are “ministering spirits, (not in life only, but in death) sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation,” Heb. i. 14, and they carried him into Abraham's bosom.
By the phrase “ Abraham's bosom,” an allusion is made to the custom, at Jewish feasts, when three persons reclining on their left elbows on a couch, the person whose head came near the breast of the other, was said to “lie in his bosom.” So it is said of the beloved disciple, St. John, “ There was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.”—John xiji. 23. The Jews expressed the happiness of the righteous after death in three ways: they go to the garden of Eden; they go to be under the throne of glory; and they go to the bosom of Abraham. You must recollect this is a parable, and, therefore, there are some parts in it (as the dialogue, and
Dives “lifting up his eyes and seeing Lazarus”) which we must not take in their literal sense. The Jews expressed the act of seeing “ as lifting up the eyes.” I am sure you must have observed that in reading the Bible. Name a few places where this occurs.
“ Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.”—Gen. xiii. 10. “ Abraham lift
eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground.”— Gen. xviii. 2. “ Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide : and he lifted
his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.”. Gen. xxiv. 63. - Jesus lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor : for yours is the kingdom of God.”—Luke vi. 20.
When Dives saw the happiness Lazarus was enjoying, did he wish to partake of it?
No. He only begged Abraham would have mercy on him, and send Lazarus, that he might dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool his tongue; for he was tormented in that flame.
Dives could not desire that for which he had no tasie. Heaven would not be happiness for unsanctified souls ;-were it possible for them to go there, they would meet with no one who had feelings like their own, and, therefore, they would be miserable ; they would wander about, like evil spirits, "seeking rest and finding none." Can you bring a text where the punishment of hell is described as a fire ?
Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”-Rey. xx. 15.
Was Lazarus sent to relieve his pains ?
No. Abraham reminded him that he had received his "good things" on earth, and given his heart to them; and how the “evil things” had led Lazarus to look beyond them for happiness, and, therefore, he was now comforted, while Dives was tormented.
You perceive, then, the fault was not in the possession of riches, but in the neglect of his God. I will relate a short anecdote (which some of you may have heard before) of one who had lived only for this world, to the neglect of his soul's interest, and who, bitterly lamenting his choice in his last moments, exclaimed, “ Had I but served God as diligently as I have served the king, He would not have given me over in my gray hairs; but this is the just reward that I must receive for my indulgent pains and study, not regarding my service to God, but only to my prince." Does, not Abraham give Dives another reason for not sending Lazarus to assuage his pains ?
Yes,—that there was a great gulf fixed between them, which prevented any one passing from one place to the other. We were told in a former
parable, that there is no warrant in Scripture for believing in a Purgatory to purge a lost soul from its sins : Dives' doom was eternally fixed : he could never escape from that place of endless anguish, to enter among the blessed.
I am glad you remember that ; for it is a dangerous Popish delusion: but in this world, blessed be God! there is no gulf between a state of nature and of grace. Dives, therefore, begged that Lazarus might be permitted to warn his five brethren of the certainty of an eternal life, lest they, continuing in their sins, should come into a place of torment. You have never remarked how Dives addressed Abraham as his " Father.” Did not the Jews boast that they were Abraham's descendants ?
Yes. John the Baptist said unto the Pharisees and Sadducees, “ Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father : for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”—Matt. iii. 9. Jesus said unto them, “ If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God : this did not Abraham.”-John viii. 39.
Will it not aggravate the misery of the lost, to know of the happiness they have forfeited ? Yes. Christ says,
“ There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the Prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.”—Luke xiii. 28.