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an opening in the walls, and a gate there, you see the same thing before you : every single gate was according to one fashion, made of one material - Christ. Each one was intended to open out to us the same One Being, He who alone can say, “I am the door; by me, if any man enter in, he shall go in and out, and find pasture.” Here is that gate which is never shut, an entrance into the holy city, which being thus always open, those who are prepared shall enter therein. The defiled shall not enter there. And yet those that had been defiled, but are now washed, and sanctified, and made white, these shall find their ingress and their egress to that everlasting city, which is indeed the glory of God and the blessedness of everlasting joy. Thus we have Christ himself set before us in this beautiful figure of the pearl of great price, which was found by this merchantman in the world, and for which he most gladly went and sold all that he had that he might buy that one inestimable pearl. If St. John tells us that our Saviour is the pearl of great price, St. Peter testifies to the inestimable value, as the other testifies to the nature, of the pearl, as you will find in the second chapter of the First Epistle of St. Peter, where he says in the fourth verse, “ To whom coming as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious." He is the one pearl, precious in the sight of God, disallowed of men, but precious in the sight of the Lord. And in the seventh verse he tells us, that he is also precious in the sight of those who have found his value. Unto you, therefore, which believe he is precious." This, then, is another feature of the kingdom of heaven, that those who are to obtain that inestimable treasure are taught by the grace of God to seek for something good, for something noble, for
something satisfying; and never did any one soul seek for that good that did not obtain it, and enter into the fulness of its blessedness. “They that seek him early shall find him." "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” How are we all taught here the ignorance of those who are seeking for that goodly pearl "He was seeking goodly pearls.” It is not, brethren, our own skill or our own knowledge that reveals to us the inestimable treasure ; it is only when we are disappointed in other treasures that we really seek for Christ as the pearl above all price. And even the converted heart has to confess the same thing : “ Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I have kept thy word.” One of the most comforting truths respecting the dealings of God with our own souls is, that his inestimable love is willing to receive the disappointed broken-hearted man, that he does not reproach us with all our erring ways, for every vanity; he does not reject us because we have spent our strength upon other things, and only come to him when we have found the dissatisfaction of other joys. He giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and if we have been seeking one pearl and another, if we have made trial of ten thousand channels of joy to us, and one after another found them to disappoint us, that does not hinder Him who knows our frame, who remembers that we are but dust, from receiving us. When we are willing to come in at last, he allows us to be like the prodigal who wasted his father's goods and went from his father's presence, and was sunk down to be but a feeder of swine, only to be recovered to a sense of himself by the experience of his degeneration, who returned to his father's home, and when he was a good way off, his father ran and met
him, and fell upon his neck and kissed him. It is in the experience that every one of our hearts leads us to, that we may learn the true comfort that is in Christ. He does not reject us because we have been seeking other pearls. He often permits us to do so, that when we find the emptiness of the one we may find the fulness and everlasting blessedness of the other. “He found one pearl of great price, and sold all that he had to obtain it.”
Now if Christ be this pearl of great price, we have earnestly to consider how it is that we are to obtain Christ.
I. We must, as we have seen in the last parable, obtain legal possession of Christ.
II. We must obtain actual and real possession of - Christ.
There are two ways in which the pearl of great price can thus be obtained. The one, when the soul discovers himself to be a lost sinner; when he has made an effort in all his own strength to obtain heaven by his own deserving, or to obtain satisfaction from his own efforts in the world, and finds the emptiness of the whole, and the nature of his guilt, and the wretchedness of his misery, and then sees that God hath laid on Christ the iniquity of us all; when he can see that Christ, having borne our sins, became our substitute, and that we may change places with him and make Christ ours, all the blood that he shed, our atoning blood; all the sufferings that he endured, our sufferings; all the merit that he acquired, our
all the title that the Son of man, the Son of God had to heaven and its eternal blessedness, all that, ours, by simple faith in him. Here is the 'first and great step by which we become possessed of that pearl of great
price, by which we take Christ as our own, having sold all that we had to get it; sold all, that is, giving it up, not giving it up in payment to God, but yet giving it away as the price that we have to pay for Christ; as the Lord says to the ignorant and miserable bishop of the church of Laodicea, in the 18th verse of the 3rd chap. of the Book of Revelations: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.” Not that we have to pay a price for it: we have to pay nothing for it to God or Christ, as he says in the 58th chapter of the prophet Isaiah :
Ho! every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight in fatness.” We must indeed sell all that we have ; that is, we must surrender all that we have. We must give up our own doings, our own deservings, our own sufferings, our own merits of any kind. We must entirely take Christ as the substitute for us, not to be mixed with us; and we must stand in his place as he stood in ours. We must consider Christ as our substitute, the thing that became ours, which we can present to God as our title, and which does indeed entitle us to heaven. And in this point of view he is indeed the pearl of great price : “ Unto you that believe he is precious." Oh! of what priceless
. value to the guilty conscience is that cross that takes away all our guilt. Of what priceless value to the burdened soul is that One who can say,
- Come unto me all who can say,
that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Of what priceless value to the desiring, needy heart is He
Incline your ear and come unto me: hear, and your souls shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." Thus we must not mix up two things together : we must give up the one that we may obtain the other. And he who is thus able to look to Christ and make him his own, has cast away everything of his own that he may take him, is sure of finding that pearl of great price, which can make him rich, and make him blessed, not for time only, but also for eternity.
II. But if we are to have Christ purchased by us in this manner, without money and without price, we are also to obtain Christ in the impartation of his nature as well as in the imputatiou of his merits. And here we have that other exhortation to us : “ Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof." We must obtain the heart of Christ in us in the communion of heart with heart, as Christ himself speaks to his people. If there was the fundamental love of Christ, by which, looking at us in our wretchedness and sin, he bestowed his love upod us all, bestowed his affections upon us all, there is the communication of the love of Christ and the reception of our love by Christ, which is the characteristic of the continuance of the Christian love, which is the continually, increasing riches of the converted, consistent, Christ-seeking heart. We find our Saviour himself speaking and exhorting us in the 15th chapter of St. John, and the 10th verse, where he says, “ If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.” Aud here, brethren, is