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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE - Chapter 16 - Verse 31
Verse 31. Be persuaded. Be convinced of the truth; of the danger and folly of their way; of the certainty of their suffering hereafter, and be induced to turn from sin to holiness, and from Satan unto God.
From this impressive and instructive parable we may learn—
1st. That the souls of men do not die with their bodies.
2nd. That the soul is conscious after death; that it does not sleep, as some have supposed, till the morning of the resurrection.
3rd. That the righteous are taken to a place of happiness immediately at death, and the wicked consigned at once to misery.
4th. That wealth does not secure from death.
"How vain are riches to secure
Their haughty owners from the grave !"
The rich, the beautiful, the gay, as well as the poor, go down to the grave. All their pomp and apparel, all their honours, their palaces, and their gold cannot save them. Death can as easily find his way into the splendid mansions of the rich as into the cottages of the poor; and the rich shall turn to the same corruption, and soon, like the poor, be undistinguished from common dust and be unknown.
5th. We should not envy the condition of the rich.
"On slippery rocks I see them stand,
And fiery billows roll below.
"Now let them boast how tall they rise,
I'll never envy them again;
There they may stand with haughty eyes,
Till they plunge deep in endless pain.
"Their fancied joys how fast they flee!
Like dreams, as fleeting and as vain;
Their songs of softest harmony
Are but a prelude to their pain."
6th. We should strive for a better inheritance than can be possessed in this life.
"Now I esteem their mirth and wine
Too dear to purchase with my blood:
Lord, 'tis enough that thou art mine—
My life, my portion, and my God."
7th. The sufferings of the wicked in hell will be indescribably great. Think what is represented by torment; by burning flame; by insupportable thirst; by that state where a single drop of water would afford relief. Remember that all this is but a representation of the pains of the damned, and that this will have no intermission day or night, but will continue from year to year, and age to age, without any end, and you have a faint view of the sufferings of those who are in hell.
8th. There is a place of sufferings beyond the grave—a hell. If there is not, then this parable has no meaning. It is impossible to make anything of it unless it be designed to teach that.
9th. There will never be any escape from those gloomy regions. There is a gulf fixed-:fixed, not movable. Nor can any of the damned beat a pathway across this gulf to the world of holiness.
10th. We see the amazing folly of those who suppose there may be an end to the sufferings of the wicked, and who, on that supposition, seem willing to go down to hell to suffer a long time, rather than go at once to heaven. If man were to suffer but a thousand years, or even one year, why should he be so foolish as to choose that suffering rather than go at once to heaven, and be happy at once when he dies?
11th. God gives us sufficient warning to prepare for death. He has sent his Word, his servants, his Son; he warns us by his Spirit and his providence; by the entreaties of our friends and by the death of sinners; he offers us heaven, and he threatens hell. If all this will not move sinners, what would do it? There is nothing that would.
12th. God will give us nothing farther to warn us. No dead man will come to life to tell us of what he has seen. If he did, we would not believe him. Religion appeals to man not by ghosts and frightful apparitions. It appeals to their reason, their conscience, their hopes, their fears. It sets life and death soberly before men, and if they will not choose the former, they must die. If you will not hear the Son of God and the warnings of the Scriptures, there is nothing which you will or can hear. You will never be persuaded, and will never escape the place of torment.
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