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The tenth and eleventh are calculated to Thew, that true religion is a reasonable service. In the latter, the author takes occasion to consider the case of Abraham, as represented by Chubb. And having exposed the sophistry of that writer, he concludes with observing, " That any seeming difficulty in the divine commands is no just reason for withdrawing our obedi. ence ; but that the obligation which binds most in nature, and stands foremost as most fit and right in all morality, is 10 walk bumbly with our God.' •
In the twelfth discourse he lhews, that religion is the best fecurity against the delusions of fin; in the writeenth, that sudden prosperity is fatal to religion ; in the fourteenth, that the finner's hope of impunity is groundless ; in the fifteenth, that reflection on past errors is the ground of future caution ; and in the sixteenth, that the Christian hope is founded on argument: or, that the expeclation of future happiness does not reft upon flight and groundless presumptions, but is built upon rational and certain principles, deduced from strong and convincing proofs.
The design of the seventeenth sermon is to shew, that Isaiah's prophesy- A virgin fhall conceive and bear a son,'-was liter ally accomplished in our Saviour.---In explaining this prophecy, Dr. Aliton observes, as others have done, that the prophet, ch. vii. 13, turns abruptly to the whole house of Da. vid ; and says, “A virgin shall conceive, and bear a fon ; but. ter and honey shall he eat.' That is, « Till you see this won. der performed, you may rest assured, that plenty fhail remain in your land.'-- But does not our interpreter, in this place, forget the Babylonian captivity, or is the devastation of the whole country by Nebuchadnezzar, within 200 years after this occurrence, a matter of no consideration? The author adds, as a paraphrase on the text, - As to the present fear which the Lord hath declared thall not take effect, my infant shall not be able to distinguish between good and evil before that shall be wiped away and be no more' And this account of the transaction will free us, he thinks, from all the absurdities which have been fixed upon another account, for which the prophet is no more answerable than any man is to another, who either willingly, or otherwise, mistakes his meaning.--The critical reader may, possibly, find some observations on this prophecy worth his notice, in our Review for May 1767, and November 1768..
In the eighteenth fermon, the author news, wlierein true liberty confifts, or in what sense the knowledge of the truth may be faid to make a man free. In the nineteenth, he confi. ders prayer as an antidote against temptation; and in the
twentieth, he makes some observations on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.
The following extract from this discourse may serve as a specimen of our author's lively imagination and expressive lan
• Abraham Said, Son, remember that thou in thy life-time re-. ceivedft thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things. But now be is comforted, and thou art formented.
• This sentence, I need not tell you, is taken out of one of the most striking parables of the gospel. The parable is addresied by our blessed Lord to the Pharisees, whose character in it is, that they loved money, but neglected the proper use of it.
· The very end and design of this parable, therefore is, to teach those who abound in wealth in what manner they ought to apply some part of it, at least, by Thewing them what will be the dreadful, the unavoidable, and the irreversible consequence of misapplying it. * "Whoever supposes it to be a rude undistinguishing satire upon those who are possessed of large estates, is mistaken, both in the disposition of the blessed Author of this instruction, and in the intent of the instruction itself; which is plainly calculated, not as an insult upon men of great fortunes, but as an adınonition to those who have great fortunes indeed, but little minds, to enlarge their hearts with their estates.
• Let men be as rich as they will, provided their humanity and benevolence bear a just proportion to their wealth. It is a notion as wild as it is uncharitable, to fancy that it is literally impoflible for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. The sich man here condemned, is condemned for
his luxury and inhumanity; but if there be others as rich as, · but more, humane and charitable than, he was, we may be
assured that such men are as far from this man's condemnation, as they have been from his character.
I will give you some account of this man, as it may be collected from this representation of him in the gospel, that, by avoiding his conduct, you inay avoid his punishment. He was rich--by inheritance is not faid, or by his own acquia fition--probably by both, for we find that he had five brethren, who are all represented as in the same case with himself. But by which foever of these ways he became rich there is yet no harm done ; if by his own industry, the man was to be commended ; if by deicent- who can blame him ?
• But he lived and dressed with state and delicacy; he was cloathed in purple and fine linell, and fared sumptuously
and this not occasionally and by accident, but it was his man. ner and custom of life-he did it every day.
In this perhaps you may think he carried the matter too far; in interval now and then of falling and sackcloth might have hay interrupted the luxury of his table, and the ele. gance of jis üress. However, even this will admit of some excule; ii cono buted to the circulation of money. The tradeiman proba'y was the better, and the man himself, if he did it upon thai con:ideration, poflibly, not much worse.
• But there was an object of charity who lay at his door ; his name was Lazarus, and his condition corresponded with his name. He had no patron but Providence. This man, poor and helpless, and full of ulcers, lay at the rich man's door. He could hardly be a stranger to his misery and necessity-we are assured, from the sequel of the story, that he was not; for as soon as he saw him, but afar off in another place, where it was more convenient for him to be acquainted with him, he knew him at first sight-he loft no time in seeking his acquaintance-he cried out, “ Father Abraham, send Lazarus."
• This very Lazarus is now begging to be fed-with what ? not with the sumptuous dishes that adorned his board-of these, 'tis likely, he hardly knew the names! not with the food which regaled the haughty master-nor even with the fragments which surfeited his pampered servants—but with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table! This was no sturdy beggar ; nothing could be more modest than this request. His modesty, however, had as little effect as his poverty or his wounds; neither the lord nor his retinue supplied him with any relief, or so much as recommended him to an infirmary. Nay more--the very dogs came and licked his wounds! was this, by an office of tenderness, to reproach the hard heartedness of their master, or, in imitation of his inhumanity, to fall upon him as their prey ?
• Worn out at last with poverty and pain, he funk into that fure refuge of the miserable, where the wicked cease from troubiing, where the weary be at reft-he died-and, by the filence of the historian, we may fairly suppose, was thrown agde without any other care, than what was conve. nient for the ease of those who survived him. So inhuman a difpofition, as this conduct towards Lazarus discovered in this rich man, would have been inexcusable in a heathen ; doubly so in one who lived under a written law of God. For this man is supposed to have been a son of Abraham, a Jew, subject consequently to the force and penalty of a statute which he acknowledged to be divine, by wbich it was ex
pressly enacted, Deut. *v. 7, 8, “ If there be among you a poor man, of one of thy brethren, within any of thy gates, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shale not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand against thy poor brother. But thou shalt open thine band wide unto him, and malt surely lend himn fufficient for his need in that which he wanteth."
* By this institute,, you see, the poor amongst the Jews became an essential part of their retinue to the rich. They caine recommended by God, who declared that they should never cease out of the land ; that the reciprocal duties of charity and humility, of benevolence, on both sides, might be kept up for ever--therefore I command thee, saying, “ Thou malt open thine liand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor and to thy needy in thy land." The poor, under this economy, had as good a right to what the rich could i conveniently spare, as he himself could have to what he could properly enjoy.
• This right the rich man in the parable withheld-he fac' crificed to his vanity, the health, the ease, the life of the poor--the curse of him that was ready to perish came upon him—and all his wealth could not retrieve from, perhaps haftened him to, the grave. Thither let us follow him. The fame pomp which gave the colour to his life, attended his exit also; for the rich man died, and was buried. In this too he was distinguished from Lazarus. Here no expence was wanting, to represent the inexpressible concern of the person who succeeded him in his estates, who was undoubtedly too much affected to attend to any thing but the will of the decealed. Nor could there be wanting some friendly priest to dress out the funeral oration, some favorite poet to adorn the monumental brass with a long catalogue of all his virtues, particularly his benevolence and his bounty.
· Here was an end of the poor man's patience, and of the rich man's pleasure.' God took the poor man first, to remove him from the inconvenience of the present life. To the rich man he gave longer time, that he might not want opportunity to shake off his attachment to this, and prepare himself for the account to be given in another life.
"You have heard what happened to them here; our blessed Lord has been pleased to draw the curtain, and show us them in very different circumstances hereafter. After he was dead, the poor man was carried by angels—the host of hea. ven were stationed to receive him, and to bear hiin on joyful wings to che place which had been prepared for him they carried hiin to Abraham's bolom. The father of the faith
find out on God, to malied it! to Abrahami,
ful, moved with compassion at the long forrows of his son, received him into his bofom. He whom we saw cast out at the rich man's door, is now placed nearest to the king, at the marriage-feast of his son. He who had imitated Abraham's faith, was now partaking the reward of Abraham.
. With the rich man too, the scene was changed. Instead of being cloathed with purple and fine line , he is exposed naked to the flames. Instead of faring fumptuously, he conTumes with drought ; if Lazarus begged in vain for crumbs of meat, so does he now for one drop of water. In hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments. And to increase his torment, at a distance, and in a happier place, the first object he knows is Lazarus. That Lazarus who was not admitted to partake with his dogs, is now feasting with an. gels and with Abraham. Unhappy man! Not one of thy purple friends, not one of thy haughty family, not one of thy numerous servants, to attend thee now. What wretched company hast thou kept on earth, that thou art not able to find out one of them in heaven? Too just judgment of an avenging God, to make thee beg relief of the very wretch to whom thou hadst denied it! to make thee ask in vain as he did ! “ Send Lazarus, father Abraham, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this fame."
• To be funk down from plenty to absolute want, from the highest pomp to the most abject beggary ; to see those who were lately dependent upon you exalted in an instant above you, and yourself reduced to a Itate of dependance upon them; would raise a hard struggle even in a good mind, and prove an insupportable trial to a bad one.
• To be reduced by your misery to ask for help, to be condemned for your pupilhment to be refused it! Yet this hard case is the rich man's case ; he is forced to seek for succour of the last person in the world to whom he would chuse to be obliged, and has the mortification not to succeed in his request. For what fays Abraham ? " Son, remember that thou in thy life-time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things--but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented."
Is prosperity then a crime, and is a man to be punished in the next world, nierely because he is prosperous in this? or are the sufferings of one man to be placed to the account of another? and am I to be condenined because you are unfortunate? Neither. Prosperity is then only culpable, when it is unsocial and selfilh; and we are then only accountable M 4