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The example of this rich man, is a proof to us, that it is impossible that he who is destitute of faith should love his neighbour. And so, on the opposite, that it is impossible that he who is destitute of the affections of love, should be a believer. These two things will ever be united together in an indissoluble bond. He that is anointed with faith, loves all alike, and stands ready as a kind of common servant to wait on all. On the other hand, he that is destitute of faith hates all in his heart, and wants rather to be served by all; so far is he from being ready to serve all others. And although he be lying under these enormous sins, yet, he imagines that he so covers them, by his hypocrisy, with holy and specious works, as with a sheep's skin, that he is just like that vast bird the ostrich, which, when it has put its head into a bush is so stupid as to think that its whole body is concealed. And hence we may see, that nothing is more blind, nothing more destitute of mercy, than a man devoid of faith. For dogs, which are the most irascible of all animals, seem to have a greater feeling of mercy towards this poor Lazarus, than this rich man has. These seem to behold his poverty, for they lick his sores; while that blind and obstinately hardened hypocrite is so merciless, that he will not give the poor famishing Lazarus so much as the crumbs that fall from his table.
Like unto this rich hypocrite are all unbelievers, whom unbelief will not permit to be, and to do, otherwise than this rich man is said to have done, who is set before us as an example of all such. And, exactly like this man, are all those of our day whom they call spiritual, and that is manifest to every one. These never can perform any really good work. All their desires are directed to live the life of Epicures, serving no one, and doing a kindness to no one. Nay, utterly reversing the whole matter, they think it just and right that they should be served by all. Like harpies, they claw all things to themselves, and, according to the old adage, • Rob the poor of his purse.' They are nothing moved at the poverty of others, and only think how they can
live jovially themselves. And even if some of them have not a luxurious profusion of raiment and food, yet nevertheless, they have luxurious hearts and desires. And such as these are sought for by those Midases of ours, our princes, and others who have immense fortunes, who
many great works in hypocrisy; building temples, and raising grand structures for I know not what institutions; with which gaudy outside show, they basely conceal their iniquity, and their wolf of incredulity; until their hearts become so callous, that they lose every kind of natural affection for all mankind, and live like so many Timons.
And now, we are not to judge of this miserable and afflicted Lazarus, according to that outward appearance wherein he appears so deformed; we are not to look at his sores only, and his poverty and wretchedness; for you may find many men equally poor and wretched, and yet are nothing the better for it. King Herod was eaten up with the most dreadful disease of putrid consumption; but yet, he was not on that account one straw the better in God's esteem. Poverty and bodily disease gain no one favour with God. But, he who was before accepted of God, his poverty and pain are precious in the sight of God, as the 116th Psalm testifies, “ Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Hence therefore, we are to look into the heart of this poor Lazarus: in which, that treasure is hidden which made his sores of such great price in the sight of God. This treasure was faith and love. For without faith, no one can please God, Heb. xi. Wherefore, his heart was in that state, that, in the midst of these calamities and afflictions, he conceived a steady confidence in God; and, with an immovable mind, put himself wholly into the hands of his goodness. In doing which, he was so dependent and contented, that he was prepared to endure more and greater pains, if it should seem good to his merciful God. This is true and living faith; whereby, through the
knowledge of the goodness of God, the heart becomes so broken and softened, that nothing can be enjoined so great and so arduous, which it would not be ready to undertake and to accomplish with fortitude. To such a degree does faith fortify the heart, if a man have but a feeling sense of the goodness and grace of God! And moreover, another grace accompanies this faith: namely, the love of our neighbour: so that, the man has a willing inclination of mind to serve all men. But because he is in want of all things, and is encompassed about with calamities, he has it not in his power to do these good offices to each other; and therefore, his willing mind is accepted for the deed.
But however, the man abundantly compensates for this deficiency in carnal service, by spiritual service. For now, since he has left this world, by his bitter hunger and misery he renders a service to the whole world. His corporal hunger, feeds the hunger of our spirit: his bodily nakedness, clothes the nakedness of our souls: the putrid sores of his body, are a medicine for the sores of our mind. Because, by his example he consoles us; teaching us, how we please God if we believe on him on earth, when we are exercised by calamities; and also admonishes us, how we are under the wrath of God, if we be destitute of faith here, and living in luxury. For we here see, that he, though covered with sores, was of great price in the sight of God; but that the rich glutton was hated of God.
Herey tell me;—what king, with all his wealth and power, could ever bestow upon the world a benefit so great and so widely extensive as this poor Lazarus has done with his sores, his hunger, and his poverty! O the wondeful works and judgments of God! How does the prudence of the flesh, and all the wisdom of the world, rot and sink into nothing! It stalks abroad with haughty brow, and fixes its eyes rather upon the gold and purple of splendor, than upon the putrifying sores of the wretched Lazarus. Those whose eyes stand out with fatness, can only receive and admire that wisdom. But when they see this poor object, they hold their nose
lest it should be offended with the stench of his sores, and turn away their eyes from beholding his nakedness. Hence it comes to pass, that they foolishly pass by and disregard this precious treasure which God thus puts in their path; while the same God, nevertheless, proceeds in his secret will and judgments, and raises this poor contemptible creature to that state of exaltation and honour, that all the kings of the earth are not worthy to bring him a napkin to wipe away the filth from his sores. For who, think ye, of the kings of the earth would not, from his heart, be glad to exchange his soundness of body, his purple, and his crown, for the sores, the poverty, and the wretchedness of this poor Lazarus, if it were but allowed him! And who among the men of the world is so mad, who would purchase to himself the purple, and all the pomp and ambition of this rich man, if he might have it for dung?
And thinkest thou that this rich man, if he had not been blinder than a mole, or if he had known that such a treasure, and a man of so great a price in the sight of God, was lying at his door, would not have gone out to wipe, and even to kiss his sores? Yea, he would have put him on the softest couch, and nursed him, and would have parted with all his purple and all his wealth to serve him. But at that time, when the judgments of God were on the way to their accomplishment, he must of necessity do as he did, and see nothing. The thoughts of God in the meantime were-Behold! Be thou unworthy of assisting him with thy service.—But when the work and judgment of God were accomplished, then the mad wisdom of the man begins to bethink itself. And when he was in hell, and wracked with torments, he would gladly have given his houses and all that he had to him, to whom, a little before, he denied a crumb of bread! And now, all things being directly reversed, he entreats that the same Lazarus, who a little before he disdained to touch, might cool his tongue with the tip of his finger.
Behold God is, even at this day, filling the world with judgments and works of this kind, but no one
regards them; nay, nearly all men despise them. There are continually before our eyes poor and miserable men, whom God sets before our view as his most precious treasure, and we all the while know not what they
But when the work of God is done, and this treasure is taken away, then we all run up out of breath, offering our assistance, when it is too late to be of any service. Then we catch hold of their garments, their shoes, and their common furniture, and begin to look upon them as holy things; we undertake long pilgrimages to go and worship them ; we build churches over their tombs; and are occupied in many vanities of that kind ; but we are all the while only mocking ourselves. For those saints whom, while they were with us, we trampled under our feet, and looked on while they perished under the axe; the garments of these same saints, when they are of no longer use, we begin to worship; so much so, that there is danger lest we come under these woes denounced by the Lord with so much severity, Matt. xxiii
. Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, ye build the sepulchres of the prophets and adorn them: your fathers killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. Therefore, ye are witnesses against yourselves, that ye are the sons of them that killed the prophets. They punished them with death, and ye build their sepulchres.
And this mind and spirit all the godly have. For all are true Lazaruses who shew forth the same faith, the same mind, and the same will. And therefore, he that is not like this Lazarus, shall, without doubt, have his portion with this rich man in hell. And all we indeed ought, after the example of Lazarus, to commit ourselves with steady confidence unto God, that he would work in us according to his will, and make us prepared to do good unto all men. And even though we may not all be poor, and covered with sores, yet we ought to be of the same mind that Lazarus was ; that, if God should require any such thing of us, we may endure it without a murmur.
For with this poverty of spirit, even the most rich may be endued. Thus Job,