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in him, in regard to things of little value, will be equally faithful in regard to things of greater worth. He* therefore, who has made a right use of temporal good things committed to his care, deserves to be intrusted with such as are of infinitely greater value, even such as are eternal. On the contrary, if he has been unfaithful in the less instance, he does not deserve to be trusted in the greater.
And he that is unjust in the least, is
unjust also in much.
11. If, therefore, ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous Mammon, "in the uncertain riches " who will commit to your trust the true riches?
He who has been unfaithful to the trust reposed in him, in regard to the good things of this life, which are so uncertain and perishable, by abusing the gifts of Providence, or by neglecting to apply them to the purposes for which they were bestowed, how can he expect to be trusted with the permanent joys of heaven, which will be much more capable of being abused or misemployed?
12. And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, or, "which belongs to others," that is, riches which pass
from hand to hand, who shall give you that which is your own, "that which is permanent?"
Christ is still speaking upon the same subject as before, and infers that those who do not make a right use of what is so changeable as human riches, are not worthy to be trusted with the riches of heaven, which can never be taken from them, and which would be entirely at their own disposal.
13. No servant 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.
Christ is here replying to a secret objection, which he perceived would be made to the advice that he had just given respecting the right use of riches: for covetous persons would say; Although we love money, and devote much of our time and attention to it, yet we discharge our duty to God. This Christ says is impossible; in the same manner as it is impossible that a servant should, at the same time, please two masters, who are of opposite dispositions, and each of whom expects all his services and the whole of his affections. Riches are here personified, and spoken of as a living being; just in the same manner as in our own language we frequently personify the world, saying, The wui Id does this or that.
1. In this parable, we may see how pride and an aversion to labour urge men to the commission of great crimes. Having brought themselves into difficulties by their extravagance, they fancy that there is no other way of extricating themselves than by fraud or rapine: for they cannot dig, and to beg they are ashamed.— Having been accustomed all their days to an easy employment, they cannot submit to one that is more laborious; and to solicit the means of subsistence from the charity of others, is what their pride cannot stoop to. They have, therefore, recourse to secret fraud or open violence for support; and thus the commission of one crime leads them to a greater, till they have sunk themselves into the lowest depths of guilt and ruin.— Toprevent such fatal consequences, let parents accustom their children, whatever their prospects in life may be,
Vol. 8.] Q
to honest labour, and train them up to habits of industry; tbat if, by their own folly .or the hand of Providence, their circumstances should be reduced, they may still have a resource within themselves, and not be tempted to betake themselves for subsistence to unlawful means. Let them carefully inculcate upon their minds, that although poverty, when the consequence of idleness or misconduct, is a disgrace; when the effect of misfortune, it ceases to be so; and that in any case, it is better to be poor than dishonest, and to beg bread than to cheat or steal, in order to obtain it.
2. There is in this parable much to alarm and much to comfort the rich: for it must Surely be deemed matter of serious alarm, to find that their possessions are no more than a trust, committed unto their hands by the Governor of the universe; that he watches over the execution of it, and will punish their mismanagement and unfaithfulness with the loss of what is Of infinitely greater value. It may well be deemed good ground of alarm to learn, as they do here, that those riches in which they place their nope, and which they are disposed to think secure, are so uncertain and transitory, that they cannot be called their own, but are , properly denominated the property of others, who are to enjoy them after them; and that, however they may flatter themselves with the hope of being able to unite the love of the world with the performance of their duty to God, they arc absolutely irreconcileable; like serving two masters. It may afford them comfort, however, to know, that the uncertain possessions of this life, when properlv employed, will secure to them the true riches: that if they seek them only to do good, and expend them, when obtained, in providing for their relatives and friends, in acts of beneficence to the poor, in promoting the interests of truth and virtue in the world, in advancing the religious instruction and moral improvement of mankind; instead of being snares t) their peace and the cause of their condemnation, they will prove their best friends, and procure for them the most important benefits. 1 will, therefore, congratulate those who arc thus distinguished by Providence,
upon their having in their hands the means of securing to themselves everlasting habitations, and exhort them to employ these means for that purpose, in the way just mentioned. Do good, my brethren: be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that you may lay hold on eternal lire. Be assured that in acting thus you proceed upon principles of the truest prudence; upon such principles as guide those children of this world who stand in the highest reputation for wisdom. You part with a less good to secure a greater; with what is fleeting and transitory for what is substantial and everlasting; while enjoying the present moment, you are by that means mindful of the future.
Luke xvi. 16—18, corresponds with Matt. xi. 12, 13.
v. 18, 32.
Luke xvi. 19. to the endf
The ensuing parable relates to the same subject as the last, the right use of wealth; and was intended to show that rich men, if they attend to nothing but the gratification of their passions, will be miserable in a future life; but that the poor, if they arc virtuous, will be happy. It is formed upon a supposition that two men, at their death, are immediately removed to a place of reward or punishment. This is not agreeable to the language of scripture in other instances, which always speaks of retribution as taking place only after the general resurrection: but it is very allowable in a parable, where the speaker does not confine himself to strict matter of fact, but supposes things which have no real foundation, in order to convey more effectually moral instruction.
10. There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and tine linen, and fared sumptuously every day.
This is the description of a person of-the first rank in point of wealth: for to fare sumptuously or feast every dav, must be very expensive, and require great riches; and purple, which was afterwards the peculiar habit of kings and emperors, was always deemed the richest and most superb of dresses, which none but the very great presumed to wear. The purple of the ancients consisted of fine linen died of a purple colour; hence it is here described as purple and fine linen.
20. And there was a certain beggar, "a certain poor man^ named Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, full of sores;
21. And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
He was so feeble and decrepid, through ulcers and want of food, that he could not walk to the rich man's gate, but was obliged to be carried thither; so poor, that he was willing to accept of the crumbs from his table, in which he was probably gratified; and so destitute of clothing, that he had nothing to cover his ulcers. Such a man seemed to have united in his person all the evils which belong to human wretchedness: to him the name of Lazarus, which signifies no help, was properly applied; while his rich neighbour was the reverse of all this, and seemed to possess every enjoyment which the heart of man could desire.
|^ 22. And it came to pass that the poor man died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom.
Christ, after the language of the Jews, speaks of heaven, or the future state of good men, as a feast or entertainment, to which a number of persons sit down, or lie down, after the manner of the ancients, in order to partake of it; and as among the progenitors of the Jews, Abraham was distinguished for his piety, to him the