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in judgment, in taste, and in fairness, may manage to derive improper lessons from parables in a greater degree than from ordinary teaching. No parable offers a full and clear statement of doctrine, except by hints and pictorial touches that are most suggestive to the apt learner in the school of Christ. No parable explains itself even, unless it is lovingly studied, as Christ's words deserve to be studied.
4. From this parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, we may justly conclude, as we may from other words of the Saviour, that riches are frequently a great snare and danger; St. Paul has presented this truth at length in these words (1 Timothy vi, 6): “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which, while some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." These words are in harmony with the evident meaning suggested by the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. So are the following words of our Lord (Luke vi. 20—26): “Blessed be
ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now, for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep
shall laugh. Blessed are ye when men shall hate you and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day and leap for joy : for behold your reward is great in heaven; for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. But woe unto you that are rich ! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full ! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now ! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." Equally in harmony with the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is the parable of the Rich Man, whose soul was required of him the very night in which he was saying, "Soul, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” Again, in Luke xviii. 24, our Lord is represented as saying of one whom he asked to part with riches and follow Him: “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God.” This, too, was said of one whose conduct, in many respects, our Lord approved. “Jesus beholding him, loved him," when he heard him
saying of the commandments : “ All these things have I kept from my youth up." It was his mental distress at having to part with his riches that led
our Lord to add : “How hardly shall they that trust in riches enter into the kingdom of God."
5. Neither in sentiment nor in imagery does the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus differ from the other discourses and parables of our Lord. He often spoke of the future torments of wicked souls—of the outer darkness of the place where there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth—of the furnace of fire-of everlasting fire prepared for the wicked and for the devil and his angels. He also promised happy mansions to his followers--where they should shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father-where they should enter into the joy of their Lord—where they should inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. He also contrasted the future fate of the saved and the lost in such terms as these, quite parallel with the picture of Dives and Lazarus : “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets in the king. dom of God, and you yourselves thrust out."
6. It cannot be held that the doctrine of a general judgment, when the affairs of this world shall be finally wound up, and the justice of God openly vindicated before men and angels, interferes with the doctrine that the souls of penitent believers pass at death into a state of happiness; and that the souls of the impenitent and unbelieving pass at once into a state of misery. Quite parallel with the statements of the parable in this respect, also, is our Lord's declaration to the thief on the cross, whose eager wish was at once answered in the comforting words, “ Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise." Parallel, also, are St. Paul's words : “ Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better.” Death is often and appropriately compared to sleep, because in relation to this world and its inhabitants, those who have closed their eyes on all that is earthly are asleep. But the absolute insensibility of the immortal soul after death is nowhere to be gathered from Scripture. Nowhere is it said that the final judgment and its arrangements prevent the wicked from passing into a miserable state at death, or the adopted and sanctified family of God from entering at their deaths on a state of happiness. It is said even “ of the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation," that God hath reserved them “in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day;" and of Sodom and Gomorrah, though they, too, abide the judgment, it is said that they are suffering "the vengeance of eternal fire.” The saints of God of every age are to appear in the day of judgment; but not the less do they experience beforehand the happiness of those
of whom it has been declared, “ Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth. Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” And for whom the Saviour prayed, saying, “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me."
It is the imperfection of earthly justice that the innocent man, when accused, continues to be treated as if he might yet deserve punishment, until the day comes when he is tried and acquitted ; and that the criminal escapes punishment, however deserved, until some time passes, and all things are ready for his trial and condemnation. Now we are not to insist on human imperfection being fastened upon Divine justice before that supreme justice shall meet our approval. Nor, although glorious spiritual bodies are foretold as the clothing of the souls of the redeemed, can we limit the power of God to time or place, in thus clothing them with incorruptible and beautiful forms.
A large amount of modern scepticism arises from the effort, vainly renewed ad nauseam, to confer human imperfection of thought, heart, and purpose, upon the ways and works of Divine wisdom, love, and power.
7. In what has been said, we have not endeavoured to do more than trace the general connection and harmony of the parable with the context and with Scripture. Much more might have been said in the way of deriving lessons from it, calculated to warn and alarm all who lap themselves in luxurious ease, and continue to despise the destitute and outcast, whom they might greatly aid. There is a much more dangerous fallacy than that which is erroneously attributed to the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus-a much more dangerous fallacy than to say the rich will be condemned because they are rich, and the poor will be saved because they are—not poor in spirit but-poor in purse. Indeed, it may be doubted if any one ever was a believer in that fallacy. But a quiet and almost irresistible belief may be cherished by the wealthy and prosperous, that they shall continue so—that the life to come will give them a similar degree of rank and prosperity to that which they now enjoy. So also, the poor and care-burdened, the outcast and destitute may be tempted to think that they shall never be otherwise. The parable is admirably destructive of this fallacy. It warns the rich and encourages the poor to walk according to the light that heaven sheds down on earth, and to hope the best from Divine mercy and Divine justice.
It is impossible to deny that the parable teaches distrust in riches, pity for the destitute, reverence for the word, the will, and the judgments of God. Tbese were the very lessons needed by the Pharisees, who favoured the rich, despised outcasts in their worldliness, by their traditions made void the Holy Word of God, and derided his Eternal Son.
At the lifting of the veil that hid the future, and with the momentary glance into its awful secrets, Pharisaic derision died away.
J. L. BLAKE. Stobo, 7th April.
III. The remarks of Mr. W.C. Flower, though very much opposed to the common opinion of the genuineness of the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, are brought forward in such a fair and equitable spirit that, though I may totally differ from him as to the conclusions which he draws, I cannot but, as in duty bound, give him all due credit for the temperate and impartial tone in which he has brought them forward. I may also add, that many of the objections which he adduces had been for some time floating in my own mind, and I was glad to have an opportunity of bringing them to the test of Scripture and fair critical deduction.
Your correspondent states, and with truth, that no less than twenty-nine parables are recorded in the gospels, every one of which is described as having been spoken by Christ himself. Of the whole number, no less than seventeen are introduced by some such phrase as, “He spake a parable unto them,” and of the
“ other twelve, each of them is distinctly stated, as shewn by unavoidable inference arising from the context, to have been spoken by Him. As regards this parable, however, the Evans gelist does not state, nor in any way imply, that it was uttered by our Lord;” and this, as he observes,
may suggest doubts as to how far we are justified in attributing it to Him."
To this, I would answer, that though the usual formula, “He spake a parable unto them,” is wanting in this instance, the whole structure of this sixteenth chapter of St. Luke implies that it was uttered by Him. The most cursory inspection of it will shew that the words with which it commences, And He said also unto His disciples," must refer to “every” portion of it, for I can discern no break which can warrant us in any opposite conclusion. I am fully prepared to admit that our parable is not placed in the situation in which we might expect to find it. More naturally it would follow, perhaps, as a "practical
“ illustration” of the conclusion of the thirteenth verse, “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” But be this as it may, it is probable that the whole difficulty has been created by
position," as in the case of the thirty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. A very casual reference to this will easily shew the extreme probability that the twenty-second verse ought really to stand before the seventh. He must be a bold man who would venture to impugn the genuineness of any portion of that chapter from such a circumstance.
But your correspondent is “unable to recognize any resemblance in matter or in form, in letter or in spirit, between this parable and those (which in contradistinction) he believes to have been undoubtedly spoken by Christ.” I hope to shew that though the resemblance may fail in the two former (as it would necessarily from the nature of the subject), it perfectly corresponds both in the letter and the spirit to our Lord's teaching.
The parable, he says, seems to be a lesson of retribution, or rather of compensation, because the Rich Man had been prosperous and Lazarus had been wretched.” “This doctrine of compensation," as he justly says, "was not taught by our Lord,
" consequently he would infer the want of truth in the parable, because the author of it has" simply reversed the conditions of happiness and misery by way of “compensation," and of “compensation only."
I hope to shew that this view of our parable is erroneous, and that it teaches not compensation but righteous retribution.
We have not far to go for proof that our Lord considered the mere possession of riches as implying a state highly dangerous to the soul's welfare. “ How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God (St. Mark x. 23). It is evident, then, that Dives, during his lifetime, was placed in this state of perilous temptation, for he was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously (napr pôs, splendidly) every day. Your correspondent wishes to imply that he lived merely as rich men usually do-in that manner which, according to the usages of society, became his station and life.” This might have been supposed, had not another character made his appearance on the scene, a circumstance which removes altogether any such favourable supposition. “And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table.” The original word, éßeßrnto, implies that he was frequently laid there, desiring to be so fed. Whether he succeeded in his application may be doubtful, considering that it is added, “ Moreover (árra kai, nay even), the dogs came and licked his sores," a circumstance (as Bloomfield observes) intended to contrast the compassion and sympathy of brutes with the insensibility of the rich man.” It will be impossible, therefore, to agree with your