LXI. The Impotence of Miracles.

LUKE xvi. 31..
” And He said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the
prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from
the dead.”

THIS parable contains three vivid contrasts :—
1st. Between the rich and the poor.
2nd. Between the living and the dead.
3rd. Between the saved and the lost.
To the last of these three contrasts our text belongs.
Dives and Lazarus are now among the dead, not yet
separated as they will be after the final judgment, but
separated, we are told, by an impassable gulf. Some sort
of communication is still possible. Abraham’s answer to
Dives is meant to represent the mind and judgment of our
Lord Himself.
I. This reply teaches us how far the actual sight of a
miracle would be likely to produce real faith in the unseen
world. Dives let Lazarus lie at his gate, because he had
no true belief in the unseen.
II. A miracle is only likely to have real effect when
addressed to a particular set of men. The man must have
an eye to God if he is to be lightened by the miracle.
Miracles are intended to assist those who are already seek-
ing God. They cannot force a soul to believe.
III. Abraham’s reply teaches us how far circumstances
can be presumed to determine conduct. What a miracle
is to faith—that favourable circumstances are to duty.
They make it easy. Favourable circumstances have an
immense restraining power, but of themselves they have
no active power to change the heart. Dives and his
brethren were flooded with the light of God’s moral law,
but Dives thinks that is not enough. If we have listened
to Moses and the prophets and to the Lord of life Himself
to no lasting purpose, we should not be persuaded though
the buried dead were to come forth to tell us of the reality
of that future world.
In conclusion, Lazarus is close to us. “Inasmuch as ye
have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye
have done it unto Me.”
Henry Parry Liddon, D.C.L.