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cile us to the awful judgment, which the Parable represents, as having been finally pronounced after death, without supposing, that the voluptuary had abused, or at least sinfully neglected to improve, the many blessings of Providence; and that the poor afflicted beggar had shewn," under all his sufferings and privations, those patient, humble virtues, which entitled him to the mercy of his heavenly Father, who saw' him in secret," and, in the great day of final retribution," rewarded him openly."
Let us then distinctly consider, how far we are justified in forming this inference, from the short narrative of the Parable before us.
With respect to the wretched Lazarus, we may remark that his sufferings must have been greatly aggravated by the bigotry and superstition of many of his countrymen, who would conclude, that his disease was the evidence of divine judgment on his own sins, or on the sins of his parents; and that his condition of beggary was a proof of God's curse pronounced on him in the land of the living. Notwithstanding this, we hear of no expostulations, or com-plaints. His aggravated sufferings seem to have been endured with patience, meekness, and humility. This will appear more evident from the
consideration, that he did not obtrude himself on the rich man's notice; but was laid at his gate" that is, unable to walk, some kindhearted fellow-creature, who could not himself relieve him, had carried him, and laid him there, with the reasonable hope, that his deplorable. state would excite compassion, and procure him, at least, sufficient to satisfy the irresistible cravings of hunger-While lying there, and hearing, perhaps, the noise of merriment, festivity, and joy within, he felt a desire, and doubtless a longing desire, "to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table;" but, as we may safely conclude, and, indeed, as some copies of the evangelist add, "no one gave unto him."
Here, also, it is to be observed, that his desire of food appears to have been indulged in silence. There was no clamorous importunity, and nothing that could prove offensive to the joyous guests that were assembled in the house.
Now, what could beget this quietness of suffering, this apparent resignation, and meekness of spirit? It will be difficult to account for it, on any other supposition, than that, though humble and afflicted, wretchedly poor, and sorely smitten with disease, he had a stedfast
reliance on the divine Justice and mercy;-he knew that his trials in this life, though severe, would soon be over, and he hoped that the reward of his virtues, if he fainted not, would "through patience, and comfort of God's holy Word," be the blessings of immortal life.
We are warranted in forming these inferences from the nature of the context, and especially from an assumption, which all will admit, namely, that our blessed Lord, in the Parable before us, must have intended to represent his heavenly Father as dealing out the measure of strict, retributive justice to both the parties.
Let us now advert to the consideration of the rich man's probable character and conduct. The first thing that claims our attention is, the habitual pride, luxury, and ostentation in which he lived. In his dress and equipage, he assumed. the purple; which, in ancient times, was the appropriate distinction of kings and emperors; and, with respect to the voluptuous indulgence of his appetites, it is said, that "he fared sumptuously every day." It was not an occasional feast, or banquet, to solemnise a marriage, or any other joyful event, according to the custom of the times; but it was the same round of ostentation and parade, of eating and drinking,
with daintiness, and, at the same time, we may suppose, to excess, from day to day, and year.
Now, such an established, regular course of luxurious indulgence must necessarily beget an intolerable degree of vanity, pride, and thoughtlessness. He whose whole mind is devoted to selfish gratifications, and those of the lowest order, can have no proper feeling for others. The generous sentiments of pity and compassion, of brotherly kindness and charity, therefore, will be either utterly suppressed, or never cultivated and indulged as they ought.
That this was the case with the rich man in the Parable, we need no further proof, than the cruel indifference, and neglect, which he manifested towards such a poor, afflicted fellowcreature as Lazarus. How cold, how hard, and insensible must that heart have been, which, in the midst of health, happiness, and enjoyment, could not feel for such a state of suffering humanity, as his form must have exhibited, and which could neglect even to order a small portion of the fragments, that came from his table, to be given him, to satisfy the necessary wants of nature!
The case is highly aggravated, also, by the
consideration, that, in those days, there were no legislative provisions for the poor. No rich man was called on authoritatively, by the official agents of the government, or police, to pay a tax, levied with some reference to his possessions, and style of life; but every one, who sunk into a state of helpless poverty, either from misfortunes, old age, or disease, was compelled to depend for a wretched, and precarious subsistence, on the donations of the charitable, and the alms of the pious.
Without imputing to the rich man any of the grosser vices, or going farther into his character than the context seems to warrant, we may conclude, that his habitual voluptuousness, and the constant routine of luxury, pride, and ostentation, in which he lived, had produced that thoughtless and unfeeling selfishness, which is the bane of social virtue, and is in direct hostility to our most essential duties. Where that prevails to such sinful excess, it is in vain to look for any of the generous, humane, or pa>tient virtues. Sympathy for the afflicted, therefore, assistance to those who need it, humility in reference to our own merits, forbearance to some, and brotherly kindness towards all, will be banished from the heart; while pride and