Imágenes de páginas

Why did he mention the story of the good Samaritan? Because one asked who was his neighbor.

In the fourth place, you must not seek a meaning to any parable which could not possibly have suggested itself to the minds of the hearers. For in such a case the story could have been neither pertinent, interesting, nor profitable; it would neither have enlightened his countrymen as to duty, nor given his disciples any new views of the religion of which they were to be trustees; consequently such instruction must have been unworthy an inspired teacher.

Now the exposition which some of your writers have given of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus openly violates these fundamental principles of interpretation, and consequently cannot stand the test of sound criticism. I will examine the one which your oldest and ablest divine has published. I will suppose for the sake of avoiding names, and making my remarks more direct, that you have adopted this explanation as your own, to all intents and purposes. Now you draw from this relation not a single lesson of doctrine or duty. On the contrary you find in it a full account of the gospel economy, of the whole christian system, as you think it should exist. In order to make consistency you are obliged to give the most forced interpretations possible to every circumstance, and to magnify the most trivial incidents into matters of high and deep import. You call the rich man the high priest under the law. But these priests were never wealthy; in fact poverty was entailed upon the whole fraternity. You give an allegorical interpretation to the man's property. You say that “his riches consisted in the righteousness of the law.' You make the beggar represent the gentiles. The beggar in the parable however desired to be fed with crumbs from the rich man's table. And what do you make of the high priest's table to which the gentiles looked with such earnest longings? The tables of stone on which the oracles of God were written." A little knowledge of the greek language would have shown you that a table to eat on and the one written upon were never called by the same name. And what are the crumbs from these tables? Instructions. Now is this supposed fact verified by any historical evidence? Were any portion of the gentiles ever peculiarly anxious to derive instructions from the two tables of stone? Suppose they were, according to your own statement they never received the desired information. Though the Jews compassed sea and land to make a single proselyte, yet the person you call the high priest is unwilling to bestow his instructions on these longing gentiles. The dogs however were more merciful, for they came and licked the sores. And who were these dogs! No less personages than Socrates, Plato and all such characters; the ancient heathen philosophers who endeavored to cure the moral infirmities of their disciples. But notwithstanding the care of these kind dogs, the gentiles die. Die to what? To idolatry, and after death they are carried by angels, that is, by the apostles, to Abraham's bosom, that is, to his faith. Would it not be a better figure to represent the apostles as angels of death, since they were the agents in making the heathen die to idolatry? But you employ these same angelic apostles on a most eccentric mission. You send them to convert the gentiles to Abraham's faith which most believers suppose the gospel was designed to supersede. And what do you understand by the death of the rich man? The close of the dispensation of which the high priest was minister. And what by his burial? being closed up in the earthly character and nature.”

5. His

This is a little beyond my depth, but no matter. ' Lifting up his eyes in hell represents the high priest feeling a conviction of the condemning power of the law. Is this according to history? And also the ragings of the fire represented by that on mount Sinai and by the flaming appearance of the first stone on his breastplate. Seeing Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom, indicates the fulfilment of these words of our Savior, Ye shall see them come from the east and from the west, the north and the south.” Lazarus being willing to go to the rich man, implies a missionary spirit in the converted gentiles with regard to the Jews, and the great gulph an indisposition on the part of the Almighty to have that spirit gratified. Moses was this high priest’s father, the dispensation of the law his father's house, and the five brethren that part of the house of Israel represented by the five foolish virgins. Which part this was we are not informed. Sending one risen from the dead means one possessed of a knowledge of the gospel, being dead as before described.”

Now I suppose every sound critic will pronounce this exposition a miserable tissue of nonsense and absurdity and ignorance. For my own part I refrain from all remarks, for I dare not trust myself to give utterance to my honest opinions respecting many of the writings of your sect which I have been obliged to peruse in preparing for this discussion. I would merely ask, if this explanation looks any thing like the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus? Is not unity of design the prominent characteristic in the parables of our Savior? Must not this one be necessarily an exception? Remove a single component part of your structure and the whole fabric falls to the ground. Not only so, you have given the true exposition, this parable was altogether impertinent to the occasion. Nothing had


previously been said concerning the high priest or the gentiles or Abraham; nothing that would lead to such a meaning as you suppose.

But this is not the worst of the case.

It is very manifest that those who heard the story could have had no conception of its true import. We are very certain the inspired apostles never penetrated so deeply into its design. Nay, it is in the highest degree probable that none but the author of this exposition ever ascertained the whole meaning of the anointed Jesus. And if his book containing this specimen of originality should now be lost, there is not one chance in ten thousand that


would again discover so much hidden wisdom in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

I will now present you with my exposition of the parable. You may determine its intent and import in some degree from the context. After relating the parable of the unjust steward, our Savior warns his disciples in the hearing of many others, against an undue attachment to worldly possessions, which he represents under the figure of Mammon, a Syrian divinity, answering to the classical Plutus, the god of riches. “ Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” When the covetous pharisees heard all these things they derided him. Here then you have the occasion on which the following parable was related, and of course you will look for something pertinent to the occasion. The sacred historian would not have mentioned the derision of the covetous pharisees, unless to have introduced the discourse to which their derision gave rise. Their scornful looks, words or actions, it appears broke off his discourse to his disciples, and he turns immediately to them with these words: “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men, but God knoweth your hearts.” He then assures them in the following verses


of the perpetuity of the moral obligations of the law, implies that it was not his office to relax or abrogate it, but to render its requisitions the more strict. He then proceeds to rebuke more particularly that sin which had always been the most prominent in his reproaches of the pharisees, a supreme love of wealth, which they had sought by extortion from the widow, the orphan and the fatherless.

Now to discern the point of the parable you must remember the fundamental error of the pharisees on this subject. When Jesus said, ye cannot serve God and mammon, it was a hard saying to them. For they had attempted to serve both; they had thought their service acceptable in the sight of heaven; they had imagined that while their hearts were bound in this world's goods, they were still faithful in their duty to God, were objects of his special favor, and the heirs of his kingdom. And this sin is the very point at which our Savior aims in this parable. His grand design is to teach that riches do not commend a man to the favor of our father, or confer permanent felicity; but that covetousness must be punished hereafter. In order to do this he represents an affluent man, surrounded by every object of desire, seeking happiness in splendid attire and sumptuous living. He neglects his social duties, is selfish and unfeeling. A beggar is laid at his gate, poor, diseased and miserable. He lays there from day to day unheeded. He finds more sympathy from the dogs than from his rich fellow man.

At length he dies and is buried. He is carried by angels into Abraham's bosom. This phrase was common among the Jews, and its meaning may be illustrated by the following quotation from the Babylonish Talmud. “Holy men did all they could to detain Rabbi Judah here, but angels carried him to heaven. Now he sits in Abraham's

« AnteriorContinuar »