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the Jewish priesthood under the law, from the time that the sacrifice and oblation ceased to the present, ever desired or thought of receiving the gospel through the Gentiles. But this explanation makes the high-priest plead with father Abraham to send the Gentiles to his poor brethren to prevent their coming to a place, where they were as old inhabitants as the high-priest himself! That the Jews should receive the light of the gospel from the Gentiles, is a doctrine of Christianity, and not of Judaism. The Jews never asked for this privilege, nor will they, so long as they labor under the full power of the blindness” that "hath happened unto Israel.”
3d. The above explanation appears discordant in itself. For the 7th section places those Jews to whom blindness in part had happened," as engulfed in hell by “the divine purpose of God;"? whereas the 8th section represents them out of hell, and the subjects of the rich man's commiseration and prayer.
This discordance and want of analogy in the foregoing interpretation of the rich man and Lazarus, affect some of the most important points therein contained, and we trust are amply sufficient to authorize us to reject the whole.
Our Lord was not a temporal prince; and we have reason to believe he had less to do with the people in a national, than in an individual capacity. It is therefore, more consistent with his labors and mission on the earth, to consider him as having reference to individuals, the these individuals may compose multitudes, than to consider him as dealing in national polity; or as treating 'ecclesiastical matters in a national capacity. This will appear the more evident in this place, when we learn from the context, the object was to reprove the Pharisees, who were covetous, and who had just derided him for his sayings. He said unto them, “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men ; but God knoweth your hearts : for that which is highly esteem. ed among men, is abomination in the sight of God." If, then, we have the object of our Savior, in communisating the subject of the rich man and Lazarus, and have found that object to be a reproof to rich men who are covetous, we should remember that no interpretation which leads directly or indirectly from this object, is to be approved.
We make no pretensions to an absolute knowledge of the subject before us; but judging from our views of * the analogy of scripture, and the apparent object of our Savior, it appears to import the following ideas.
1st. The rich man may denote any rich man who is covetous, and who places his felicity in the riches and splendor of this world. “Woe unto you that are rich ! for ye have received your consolation,” Luke vi. 24. "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl, for your miseries that shall come upon you.”
James v. 1. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.”. Matt. xix. 24.
2d. Lazarus may denote any poor man of a virtuous life, who is little accounted, and perhaps less regarded by the rich.
8d. The wants of the poor, and the indifferent manner by which they are treated by the rich, is pointed out by Lazarus' sores and his desiring “to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table."*
4th. Their death may signify a peculiar reverse of fortune, which will be death to the rich man's riches and to the poor man's poverty ; or, what, in most cases, is more probable, it may signify the temporal death of cach. This introduces both to the day of retribution. See Heb. ix. 27, 28.
5th. The rich man was buried; his death and burial
*The dogs that licked the poor man's sores may represent such as have and exercise some little ability to help the poor ; yet, as dogo to their masters, they are servants to the richs
noise or pomp
was a subject of notoriety. "The rich have many friends;" but the poor are soon forgotten ; and at their death, their remains are disposed of by a few, without
Hence Lazarus’ burial was not mentioned; for he had none of any
note. 6th. In hell (hades) the rich man lifted up his eyes. By hades here we understand not the final state of man. Wakefield in his note upon this passage, says, “it must be remembered that hades no where means hell, in any author whatsoever, sacred or profane. The universal meaning of hades, is the state of the dead,"s The same doubtless is meant by prison in 1 Pet. iii. 19. The same hell, or hades is mentioned, Rev. i. 18, where Christ is said to have the keys.
7th. By the gulf, we understand that fixed state which renders a just retribution unavoidable. Sin dug the pit, and retributive justice will not permit the criminal to pass over it. But the Lord in his own due time can make "an high way there," which shall be called “the way of holiness ;" "and the ransomed of the Lord shall return”-they had before gone wrong—"and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon
their heads." The reader will bear in mind, that the ransomed of the Lord which had gone astray, were all those for whom he tasted death.
9th. By Abraham's bosom, we understand that rest, and enjoyment, which is the happy result of a faith, like that of Abraham's, which works by love and purifies the heart. It is said to be a Hebrew phrase for paradise.
On this subject, we shall particularize no further at this time. If this application be just, the subject itself will suggest all that need be said by way of illustration. The whole appears to be a sort of allegory, abounding with figurative expressions. Altho we understand the rich man,” “Lazarus," death," "burial," &c. to be literal representations, it follows not of necessary consequence that we should so understand the lifting of the eyes," "Abraham's bosom,” and “a drop of water on the tip of the finger.” Figures thrown in the midst of literal description, abound in all languages, and are the usages of all ages.
ANSWER TO THB COMMUNICATION FROM JOHN BROOKS,
PUBLISHED IN OUR LAST. I am now to set about answering my brother Brooks, on the subject of future punishment. He offers me his arguments under two distinct heads, in opposition to my numbers upon this subject, published in the last vol ume of the Christian Repository. His first appears to be an attempt to maintain, that man possesses nothing here, but principles strictly perishable in every sense, and in his future state he can possess nothing but what is strictly pure ; consequently, there can be no future punishment. We may here observe that it is a common opinion among Christians, that man possesses an "immortal soul,” which must survive this its tenement of clay. Our brother, no doubt, considered that we were at liberty to take sentiment for granted. Therefore, he has not called upon me to prove the position, but has undertaken to support its negative. So I have only to show the inconcludvenesss of his arguments, and then I have the same liberty to take this subject for granted that I had before. This liberty I had before from the general consent of the Christian world. This I do not name as a proof that'I am correct in this idea, but as a circumstance which favors the mode of argument that I am disposed to pursue.
"I think,” says he, "it cannot reasonably be disputed, that the image of the earthly man is destroyed at death; for, saith the Creator to this earthly man, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." From this he concludes, “If the earthly man is dust, he certainly is
not spirit.” He further says, “Altho this earthly man was made a living soul, yet, as God pronounced him dust, it cannot consistently be argued that a living soul is any thing more than dust.” So we see that because man was pronounced "dust,” every thing that belongs to him is to be resolved into dust. When God breathed into man the breath of life, the man became a living soul ; but because man is dust, a living soul is nothing but dust. But did my dear brother forget “the spirit of man that is in him p»* Is this dust? He has just told as that man is not spirit, because he is dust. How could he have any spirit, if he is not spirit as well as dust ? St. James speaks of saving “a soul from death,”! and St. Paul, “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”+ It seems then a spirit may need saving as well as a soul.
In Isaiah xl. 6, 7, it is asserted that “All flesh is grass,” and “Surely the people is grass." We have before learned from Br. Brooks that a living soul is nothing but dust; but the "people" and "all flesh" are living souls. Now let his train of reasoning be pursued, and we have the following conclusion, a living soul is nothing but grass ! So the horses that we ride, the oxen that we drive, and the cows that we milk, feed on living souls, when they eat grass! The serpent, likewise, whose meat is dust, has not so dry a living as some might imagine ; in common with other beasts, he likewise eats living souls. But does not Br. Loveland know better than to suppose this good reasoning? Yes; he thought he knew better than to suppose a living soul to be nothing but dust. But he finds this for an argument. And the scripture as plainly asserts that man is grass as that he is dust. I believe man is literally neither dust nor grass. The expressions in relation to both are clearly figurative. The manner in which man is said to be dust
* 1 Cor. ii. 11.
+ James v. 20. 1 Cor. v. 5.