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easy to find on what account the rich man was condemned, as the case is generally supposed to be stated : the rich man is said to be ' clothed in purple and fine linen, and to fare sumptuously every day:' he was not covetous, it seems; he lived answerably to his fortuné; his life is represented as a scene of ease and pleasure, but is not taxed with any notable vice or enormity : he is said to fare sumptuously, which I take to be a description of his state and grandeur, rather than an imputation of any vice; for he is not accused either of gluttony or drunkenness. But was he not, you will say, uncharitable ? for poor Lazarus lay at his door, desiring the crumbs that fell from his table.' This circumstance rather shows that the poor used to be fed at his door. Had the intent of the parable been to have represented this rich man‘as hard to the poor, it would have been said that his servant drove away the poor from the door; or at least, when the poor came, that they were sent empty away: neither of which is said ; but Lazarus is represented as feeding on the crumbs of the rich man's table. And this is the image given us of their different conditions in this world : the rich man sat down to a sumptuous table; the poor man was glad to feed on the crumbs and scraps that fell from it. The end of these men is well known : Lazarus was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom; the rich man was tormented in hell-flames. What then does the parable teach us? Why it represents to us the dangerous state of great men, who live without the fear or love of God in their hearts; and the much happier condition of the poor,
who have their share of misery in this world, which often leads to glory and immortality hereafter. If you look forward, you will see this is the true aim of the parable : when the rich man applies to Abraham for relief, and finds none, he then
petitions for his brethren, that they might be warned against the danger that hung over their heads, against coming into the same sad state with himself. Here you may well imagine that he would desire they should be particularly warned against those crimes which had proved his ruin. Had he burnt in the flames for intemperance or uncharitableness, he would have begged that his brethren might have been exhorted to fly the sins that were his tormentors. But of this nothing is said : he only desires that Lazarus might go in quality of a prophet to testify
the truth and reality of a future state : which plainly shows that his condemnation was the effect of irreligion and unbelief: he lived at ease, and God was not in all his thoughts. To his request Abraham replies, • They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them :' showing us again that the fault of these rich men was contempt of the prophets and irreligion. The rich man tacitly owns this contempt, both for himself and his brethren, by saying, “Nay, but if one went from the dead, they will repent :' which was confessing that they had not reverence enough for Moses and the prophets, to repent on their authority and admonition, but wanted some greater motive, which he thought might be found in the appearance of one coming from
From these circumstances, it is evident that the purport of the parable is not to represent to us the heinousness of any one particular crime for which the rich man suffered; but to show how fatally riches influence the mind to irreligion, and make men forget God; whilst the poor, living in continual want, have a perpetual sense of their dependence, and do in all their distress look up to Him of whom cometh their salvation. This sense of dependence creates in the poor man a fear to offend, a desire to please ; whilst the rich man, wanting, as he thinks, nothing from God, has no desire to court his favor; but grows negligent and remiss in all the parts of religion, from which it is a very easy step to infidelity.
It is from these considerations that the love of the world' is said in Scripture to be enmity with God. All vices are not attended with hatred and contempt of God; not all the vices that are commonly ascribed to riches : and therefore the love of the world, that is enmity with God, is not to be expounded by covetousness or uncharitableness, or any other particular vice; but denotes the rich man's temper and disposition, the habit of mind that grows out of a plentiful estate : and this indeed is very commonly enmity with God, inclining men not only to disobey his commands, but, as far as lies in them, to throw him out of the world, and depose him from the throne of heaven.
To the same purpose our Lord speaks, when he tells us, “No man can serve two masters : for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise
the other: ye cannot serve God and Mammon.' Here our Lord speaks without a parable, and tells us plainly what it is that makes wealth to be so dangerous a possession; namely, because it is the rival of God : and if it once get possession of the mind, it will expel all trust and confidence in God, all regard to faith and religion : ‘for ye cannot serve God and Mammon.'
From what has been discoursed on this subject, we may learn where a rich man ought to place his guard : if he is not covetous or uncharitable, if he is not luxurious and intemperate, so far it is well : but above all, let him take heed that the pride and insolence of mind, too common in plentiful circumstances, grow not on him; the pride, I mean, of self-sufficiency, as if he were able to guide and to guard himself through the world, and had not so much need of the care of God over him, as the poor who enjoy nothing: let him learn to know that in riches is no security, and that he wants the protection of Heaven as much as the poorest wretch in the world. A rich man, that has this sense as he ought to have, will in consequence have the other virtues proper to his state : he will be gentle, affable, kind, and charitable; and his spirit, in the height of fortune, will be adorned with the meekness of the gospel of Christ. A man of sense need not go far to learn this submission to God in the highest fortune: our Saviour's argument, that follows close after the text, will teach him the reasonableness of the duty : • The life,' says he, is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.' The utmost riches can do, on the largest concessions made to them, is to provide food and raiment, and such like necessaries and conveniences of life. Put the case then, that, by being master of a great estate, you are master of food and raiment, and can have them in what quantity or quality you please : what then ? Have you less reason on this account to depend on God, and implore his aid ? Consider a little : to what purpose serves food ? Is it not for the support of life? But can food ward off death ? Are you, in all your plenty of provisions, one jot securer against sickness, or any accident that may rob you of your life, than the poorest man ? Will not a tile from a house kill a rich man as well as a beggar? If this be the case, is it not very absurd to plume
yourself, and to think of security, because of your plenty, when life itself, which is more than meat, is still exposed, and for which you can have no security, but in the goodness of God? You have many changes of raiment, and the poor has only tags. What then? Will the gout or stone or burning fever pay such respect to fine clothes, as not to approach them? Will health always attend on gold lace and embroidery? If it will, you are right to multiply garments : but if, after all your care for råiment, you must still depend on God, as well as the beggar, for health and strength of body, how ridiculous is the joy over many changes of garments ! · Is not the body more than raiment ?' Since then you must trust God for your life and ștrength, because they are things which no care of your own, no degree of wealth can insure ; had you not even as good trust him a little farther, and ease yourself of this unreasonable care for the things of life? From these and the like considerations you may see, that dependence on God is as much the rich man's duty and interest, as it is the poor man's; that to trust God, and to rely on his goodness, is to be rich towards God, and is that sort of riches which will make us easy and happy in this life, and glorious and ever-blessed in that which is to
By these means we may still enjoy our fortunes; and our Church has taught us to pray, “We may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal.'
SUMMARY OF DISCOURSE XXX.
LUKE, CHAP. XXII.–VERSES 61, 62.
The fall of St. Peter would be a very melancholy instance of human infirmity, did it not also set before us a signal example of divine mercy, and a triumph of grace over human weak
It is shown, from various instances, that St. Peter was superior to the other disciples in natural courage, resolution, and faith. When his Master's life was assaulted, he attempted to defend him, and had it been a cause proper for the decision of the sword, he would have died with glory; but his subsequent conduct, when he found the succors of natural courage useless, and the hopes of defence taken away, plainly shows that this courage is not the true source of confidence in spiritual trials, where they only can conquer whose strength is not of man but of God. Peter afterwards (forgetting his earnest profession to our Saviour) thrice denied his Master; and it was not till the cock crew, and the Lord turned and looked on him, that he felt his presumption and baseness, and wept bitterly. Not long after this we find him boldly preaching Christ before the high priests and elders, and continuing constant under all trials, until he at length suffered martyrdom. Some reflexions suggested by the example of St. Peter. First : confidence and presumption do not argue steadfastness in religion : the courage natural to some men, which gives them great reliance on themselves, being generally attended with great passions that prevent thought and reflexion, is not favorable to true religion, which produces fear of God, and mistrust of ourselves : hence it is that some fierce spirits become despisers of religion. Chris