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one another, never met. The distance between them was not bridged over in this world, as it ought to have been, by mutual giving and receiving—they kept each his own position to the end—the one at the gate, desiring to be fed, and yet finding no succour—without so much as the crumbs in token that he was recognized-left to the tenderer mercies of the very dogs—the other at the sumptuous board within-knowing no abatement in his daily indulgence—unvexed in his ease by a single thought about the beggar at his door, or a single look at his misery. They kept, I say, apart to the end—the riches of Dives ministered not to the relief of Lazarus and the misery of Lazarus awakened no sense of brotherly kindness in his rich neighbour. In their lives they were divided in their deaths they were divided—and now, when both have passed from this present scene, a great gulf divides them still!
In that future state from which for a moment we see here the veil lifted up-Dives and Lazarus are as much --aye, far more asunder than they were in this world. But their places are changed-their relative condition is exactly reversed. It is the rich man who is the sufferer—it is the rich man who is the beggar-I pray thee, father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue --for I am tormented in this flame. And Lazarus—he is become rich-where he is, all his wants are satisfied where he is, there is no hunger, no thirst, no nakedness, no sorrow or pain of any kind-he has all things, and is full-he is comforted, while the other is tormented!
Thus far, brethren, of the parable, as it serves to elucidate the general teaching of Holy Scripture about wealth. By the example of that one rich man we are shewn, in a way not to be forgotten, the dangerous side of riches.
I say the dangerous side, because there are two sides to a condition of wealth.
A man may do so much good with his wealth in this world, as to find it a stepping-stone to life eternal-he may make with it friends, as our Lord teaches us in the Gospel-who, when he dies, shall receive him into the everlasting habitations.
Think not, then, from what I have said to-day, that I blame a rich man simply because he is rich. Riches in themselves are no curse-neither is poverty in itself a virtue. They are both conditions of life allowed of God. He maketh poor, and He maketh rich-and poor and rich there will be while the world lasts.
In both conditions, too, we may glorify God-and in both we may, through Christ's merits, work out our eternal salvation. It is only of the dangers that attend wealth, that this parable warns us—just as, in other parts of Scripture, we are warned against other conditions.
May those of you, brethren, whom such a warning seems to concern, lay it well to heart ! May you see the
ock, and steer clear of it! May you learn to regard your wealth as a trust from God-put into your hands for a time, that you may employ it for His honour, by doing all the good you can with it in the world ! If your riches increase, let your charities increase with them.
Inasmuch as ye
Let your watchfulness increase let your sympathies be more widely extended. Let no Lazarus lie at your gate neglected, but rather go out yourselves and seek for Lazarus-seek for occasions of Christian service-seek for your brother less fortunate than yourselves, that you may minister to him of your substance, and in him to our common Lord !
have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me. These are gracious words—let every man “ rich in this world,” bear them in mind. For while he acts on the principle which they enjoin, while he sees, in the various objects of suffering and distress by which he is surrounded, in the sick, in the hungry, in the orphan, in the ignorant, so many of his Lord's brethren, and is prompt to come to their relief, his riches, be they what they may, will do the owner no hurt-they will prove aids to his highest good : they will lay up a good foundation for him against the time to come. It is when this principle is forgotten—when we turn away our face from the poor-when, having this world's goods, we see our brother have need, and shut up our compassion from him—when we know no use of wealth beyond its power to serve our own enjoyment-or when we heap it up in unused hoards—why then, the voice of Scripture speaks loud in our condemnation, loud in its warning-Go to, ye rich men—your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last day!
To conclude. I said, at the beginning, that the
parable in this day's Gospel had lessons for us all-what its lessons are for the rich has occupied us this morning. If God will, I may take up the subject at another time, and shew what lessons it contains for the poor. At present, I would close with one remark, arising out of the matter already considered.
When we look at the peril of wealth, is it not strange that men should care, as they do, to grow rich ? Does it not seem to be rushing wilfully in a direction forbidden us, when we shew great anxiety to have a large share of this world's goods? Surely a middle state is best surely, having food and raiment, a wise man will be content!
Surely the prayer of Agur, which we read in the book of Proverbs (chap. xxx.), is a prayer that all of us must wish to offer. For it is but the enlargement of that petition wbich our Lord has taught us to prefer--the petition for our “ daily bread ”—Two things have I required of Thee-deny me them not before I die. Remove from me vanity and lies-give me neither poverty nor riches : feed me with food convenient for me. Lest I be full, and deny Thee; and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain !
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
THE THREE EXCUSES.
ST. LUKE XIV. 17, 18.
And he sent his servant at supper time, to say to them that were bidden,
Come : for all things are now ready. And they all, with one consent, began to make excuse.
In the parable from whence the text is taken, three persons are introduced as excusing themselves from the proffered hospitality of a certain man, who had invited them to a great supper. The first said, to the servant who was sent to summons him to the banquet, I have bought a piece of ground and I must needs go and see it; I pray thee have me excused : and another said, I have bought five yoke of oscen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused: and another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
Now it is impossible for us not to connect these excuses with what happens amongst ourselves with regard to the Holy Communion. And our Church has done so expressly in that Exhortation which the Minister is ordered to read when he giveth warning for the celebra