There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:…
It is not necessary that these men should expect some one to rise from the dead in order to be like Dives. That is only an accident of the parable. The true likeness lies here — in thinking that God will deal with us in some new way; in a man's thinking that he may neglect his present means of serving God, and of growing to love Him, and yet that in some way or other, over and above these ordinary means, he shall be interfered for, and that work done in him which is not to be done as things now are. One of the most common forms of this delusion, which lies lurking in the heart of many a man, is to expect that death will do it. Perhaps the man has seen death-beds; and he knows very well that upon a death-bed a man will begin to cry out, and that there will be a sort of show of change sometimes coming from the man's excited feelings at such a time, which is very often nothing more than his trying to deceive himself by putting on an appearance of religion when he can have no more of this world. For the experience of many death-beds has convinced me, as I believe it has convinced many others who attend them, that, so far from the death-bed being the place where you will seethe greatest sincerity, there are very few places where you oftener see men hypocrites, very few times and very few places, where men are more desperately striving to deceive themselves, because they feel that now it is almost hopeless to turn. And so the tempter comes to them with this deceit. They dare not look the whole matter in the face; they dare not see that it is everything which needs to be changed within them; and so they go on in a vain show deceiving themselves even to the end. And yet I believe that this is lurking in the heart of very many of us at this moment — "I cannot, so long as common life and its temptations are round about me, I cannot shake off this worldliness; but it will be altogether a different thing when I come to the great reality of a death-bed." Another very common form is, that men believe that old age will do it for them. They say, "My passions are so strong now that I am young; but when I am older, when I have passed through all this burning heat of life, and when I get to that time when everything fades upon the senses, I shall find it comparatively easy to turn then, and then I will turn." And others believe that some sudden sickness will do it, or that some sudden supply of serious thoughts will do it, or that some outward thing or other will convert them, turn them to God, and make it easy for them to begin to live heartily a religious life. Oh! I ask you as reasonable men, do not these deceits abound amongst us Have we not people who think, and who do not mind saying to themselves, that it is their children, or their work, or their particular temper, or the people round about them, or the necessity of conforming to this or that evil custom — that it is something accidental which makes them sin, and that when this accident is removed, then they shall begin to serve God in truth and verity? And oh! have we not on every side of us delayers of repentance, and delayers in receiving the communion, and delayers in leading a life of devotion — all hoping still to be better, all thinking that some time or other there will be some alteration in their lives which will make it easy for them to repent, and that then they too shall become saints and be saved? And, even, once more, in those who in the main are leading a life altogether of a different character from this, in those who are striving to serve God, yet are not they too greatly hindered by this self-same temptation? I ask you, have you not too often secretly given way to the difficulties which prevent you from forming habits of earnest prayer, which prevent you from leading a life of greater devotedness and zeal, of greater self-denial and earnestness? Are you not perfectly well aware that you have often given secretly way to the continuance in you of some temptation, which you know to be contrary to God's will, and which you are in a measure striving against, which you do not altogether rule over, which you have not yet cast out, or some evil habit, or some worldly desire or gratification? And yet, how exactly does our Lord's reproof apply to every one of these cases! That reproof is, as I have shown you, that they have proof enough; that they have the means, the means which the wisdom of God sees to be fittest, and deems to be sufficient; that what they want is not more help from God, but the using the help they have got; that if they had more help from God, it would only expose them to a greater condemnation, for that those who do not yield to that help which is sufficient, would not yield to any measure of help, and so that the only result of their having more help would be that they would incur greater condemnation by sinning against greater light, and being lost in spite of greater assistance.
(Bishop S. Wilberforce.).
Parallel VersesKJV: There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: