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Yet it is the same nature still, man's affections, man's thoughts, man's energies, restored, renewed, refreshed, and gladdened with the bright light of heaven; but it is human still. If this be true of our being, it is also true of our modes of being; it is true of the desires of our hearts, of the affections of our souls, of the thoughts of our minds, and of the energies of our bodies. And this truth is intimated in the joy of discovering the hidden treasure, as we shall see more fully as I unfold the parable. Jesus said, " Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field, the which, when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”
The parable was given privately, not to the multitude, but to the disciples, when they had accompanied their Master into the house; and yet there does not appear anything peculiar in the parable, why it should have been given privately. It was, probably, simply the increased instruction which our blessed Saviour gave to those who were more constantly about his person. Some have thought that it may have been predicted of Jew and Gentile. They have gathered the idea from the prediction of the 65th chap. of Isaiah, in which the Lord declares the way of the calling in of the Gentiles, “I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.” The apostle, in the 10th chap. of the Epistle to the Romans, applies that in the 20th verse to the calling in of the Gentiles in the place of the Jews : “But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was nade manifest with them that asked not after me.” But
connection with the next parable forbids the idea of
Jews and Gentiles in this place, because if this refer to the Gentile finding a treasure which he did not expect, the next would refer to the Jew finding a treasure he did expect : “ The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” For the same apostle represents the Jews as following after the law of righteousness, and not attaining to it. We are not, therefore, to look for any prediction of Jew or Gentile in this parable. It teaches, in reality, an individual lesson; and, brethren, it teaches us a very solemn heart-searching lesson, an individual lesson, respecting our spiritual condition. The natural allusion here is to what commonly takes place in the East. We know from the frequent confusion of its governments, from its political and social troubles and disorganizations, that men who have wealth are obliged to hide part of it, and to conceal from the knowledge of all around where they had hidden it. Now, through the mischances of these social disorders, the owners of that wealth are often unable to recover it again ; persons, consequently, purchasing fields, will unexpectedly find the treasures which were thus left by their former owners; and Christ brings this thought before us,- a man is in a field. Some consider him a workman labouring in the field, but the parable says nothing of that; it is simply a casual visitor in a field, who, having discovered that there is a treasure in the field, wishes to get possession of it, and so to get possession of it as that people cannot dispute his ownership; for, having found the treasure, he might have taken it out of the field, and instead of hoarding it he might have taken it home and appropriated it, but then he would have been in continual danger of losing the treasure.
He wished to get it in such a way as that the law will secure him in the possession of it, and therefore he hides the treasure in the field, discloses to no one what he had found there, goes and buys the field from its legal owner, and thus becomes the legal possessor of the treasure of the field, and becomes legally entitled to the treasure : “He goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”
Whether this was a right thing for him to do or not is not the purpose of this parable. The object of the parable is not to teach whether the man that found the treasure did right or did wrong, but whether we may learn from the conduct of the man something that suits our own circumstances in life. In comparing things, parabolic teaching consists simply in the resemblance, not in the excellence or otherwise of the thing from which the resemblance is drawn, for sometimes that resem. blance is to be carried out in moral contrast rather than in similarity of imitation. For example, the unjust judge Christ presents to us as something to remind us of the all-just Judge, the maker of all the earth, who cannot but do right; the comparison in that parable is by contrast, that if an unjust judge will deliver an importunate widow, how much more will the just Judge do so.
And again, in the unjust steward, the comparison is by contrast, that if a man whose desires, and hopes, and fears were merely bounded by the grave, if he calculated upon and acted prudently for the future, how much more should those whose desires, and hopes, and fears are as boundless as heaven, and as enduring as eternity? And so, in this parable, it does not necessarily belong to the instruction, whether the man did right or did wrong, in concealing the knowledge of the treasure. What Christ
brings before our thoughts in this was the joy he had in finding that treasure, the earnest desire he had to obtain possession of it: “he went and sold all that he had, and bought that field.” From this parable, then, we must consider three things :
I. Man's universal desire for a treasure.
Man's universal desire for a treasure arises out of the very nature of creatures; no being but God is self-containing, no being but God is self-satisfying, and it could not be that the creature could find within himself the satisfaction of his own nature, - that belongs alone to God. We must, therefore, of necessity seek outside ourselves for that which is to satisfy our nature and our being: and here is one deep truth intimated to us in this parable, this man found a treasure that suited his desires, and he went and sold all that he had, that he might obtain possession of that treasure. Let us ex&mine our own nature, brethren; and is there one of us who does not feel, that it is from what is external to ourselves that we must find our satisfaction? The heart must find some object or other, the mind must find some outward subject upon which to exercise itself, the energy of body cannot be occupied solely with itself, it must find something upon which to exercise its energies; we all need some treasure, something that can satisfy our nature, that can fill our being; and therefore that universal cry that rises from the whole world, will show us any good ?” This, then, is the first truth which our Saviour brings before us here, the feeling of the want of some treasure, of some satisfying portion in every human being, and I might say in every created being.
II. Now, in considering the manner in which this treasure was found, our Lord brings before us this thought respecting the kingdom of heaven,-it was found unexpectedly: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field, the which, when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field." Here, then, is the treasure not looked for but found, unexpectedly found. How much is implied in that one word, found. Men think that they know how to seek their own satisfaction when they are crying out,
" Who will show us any good ?" We are all looking for the good that our own hearts choose, for the good that we think will make ourselves happy: the mighty man rejoices in his strength, the wise man rejoices in his wisdom, the ambitious man longs for honours, and all men by nature long for that which their own hearts will choose, the treasure that will satisfy their hearts. And God permits all men to make the choice, and to a certain extent to try the choice; and it is not solely by disappointments in not attaining to the objects of our desires, but by the bitter disappointments of the attainment of our desires that God teaches this serious and bitter lesson which our nature has to learn before we can find the treasure. We make our choice according to the predominant character of our nature, not necessarily sinful things, but even lawful things. It is not what we choose for ourselves that can give us the true treasure of our being, or of our nature. And that is a great lesson taught us here. He gives the treasure ; it is a hidden one; it is a thing found. It is, indeed, true of every human being, what our Lord Jesus Christ said of those chosen privileged ones that were permitted to accompany him