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" And in all these things there is a great gulf fixed between us
and you." — Luke xvi. 26.

" And in all these things there is a great gulf fixed between us
and you." — Luke xvi. 26.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 09, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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DIVES AND LAZARUS.BY SAMUEL COX" And in all these things there is a great gulf fixed between usand you." — Luke xvi. 26.From the first this parable of the Rich Man and Lazarushas profoundly impressed the imaginaiion of the Church.It has been expounded by all the great fathers, preachers,divines. And yet it is as difficult as ever to say whatits special moral or intention is, what doctrine it wasdesigned to illustrate. It can hardly have been intendedfor a revelation of the life to come, or surely our Lordwould have spoken to us more plainly, and not have leftus to gather his meaning from broken hints of dubiousinterpretation. Those who, in the very spirit of Diveshimself, insist on finding in it a disclosure of the ex-ternal conditions and incidents of the life beyond thegrave, who ivill build on this unsure foundation theirtheories of what we call the future state, only succeedin reducing both themselves and the Parable to hopelessconfusion. For if, for example, we are to take the flamein which Dives was tormented as a literal flame, and toinfer that at their death wicked men pass into a lake of fire and brimstone in which they are for ever consumed,156 DIVES AND LAZARUS.we must also take Abraham's bosom literally, and thegreat gulf, and the conversation between father Abrahamand his hapless son ; in which case we are bound toconceive of heaven as a great feast of which Abrahamis the host, and in which Lazarus occupies the place of 
honour. We are also bound ,to believe that heaven andhell, though separated from each other by an impassablechasm, are nevertheless so close together that the in-habitants of the one may hold converse with the deni-zens of the other ; that the torments of the lost areaggravated by the perfect bliss which they behold butcan never hope to share, while the spirits of the savedcan abide in an unbroken blessedness as they gaze downon the torments of the pit and listen to its shrieks of horror and despair. We must believe that, thougha man in hell can still care and plead for his lostbrethren on earth, a man in heaven can be quite in-different to the fate of his lost brethren in hell : nay,we must believe that, though there are some in heavenwho " would'' pass across the great gulf if they could, thevery God of heaven will not suffer them to do it, andhas lost all pity for the children whom He once lovedso well.All this being simply incredible — as opposed to theteaching of Scripture as to the dictates of reason andconscience — we are compelled to conclude that in thisParable our Lord adopted the current language of hisday about the world invisible, and did not intend that weshould infer dogmas from it by process of logic. Lazaruswearing purple and fine linen in heaven, and faringDIVES AND LAZARUS. 157sumptuously every day at Abraham's table, is not neces-sarily one whit better, or one whit better off, than Diveswas on earth ; nay, he is worse and worse off if he willnot carry a drop of water to the parched tongue of theman who at least did not grudge him the crumbs whichfell from his table.
What, then, is the moral of the Parable ? How doesit bear on the life to come of which it says so much,although it says it in terms so ambiguous ?If it is a moral we are seeking, if, i.e., it is a truthwhich will purge and raise the tons of our moral life,and not a disclosure which will gratify our curiosityabout the future, that moral is not far to seek. For just as the Parable teaches us that this life is not whatit seems,! that heaven and hell lie behind its outwardshows — the heaven of being good and the hell of beingbad, so also it teaches us that the life to come is thecontinuation and the product of the life we now live inthe flesh : and this is indeed a moral, a truth which bearsdirectly on our present conduct and duty.Put in the most general terms, its teaching and sug-gestion seem to be that, viewed from the Christianstandpoint, every man's life here moves along a linewhich is the resultant of a vast complex of forces, forceswhich draw him now in this direction and now in that :not a straight line in any case, since no life is moved' Dr. John Service, in the first discourse included in hisSalvation Here and Hereafter, works out this thought so finely asto leave no room for other handling of it ; and therefore I simplymention it and pass by.158 DIVES AND LAZARUS.by a single force or runs undiverted to its end ; but acurve, influenced by many forces, the dominant sweepor direction of which is determined by its bias towardthat which is inward, spiritual, good, or its bias towardthat which is outward, temporal, evil. All these curvinglines meet in the single point of death, but meet only tostart afresh, and to start in the direction of the dominantimpulse. And, hence, the lives which were separated

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