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another application of the acquisition of the pearl of great price, which belongs to every one of us as an incitement to go forward, growing in grace, and acquiring more and more of the communicated light and being of the Lord Jesus Christ to us. We can add to our treasures from day to day, as we are seeking for the pearl of great price. Christ joins himself to all the knowledge that we have in this world, all the things that we have in this world, Christ the light and the brightness that gives value to them all. In this point of view, our Saviour said, bour not for the meat which perisheth, but labour for the meat which endureth to everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you." Christ not only gave him. self upon the cross for us, but Christ gives himself to us in the dispensations of his grace and goodness on earth, and especially in that holy ordinance in which he has provided himself as heavenly food for our souls. And in this manner we have set before us the seeking for the pearl of great price, as you will find in the 2nd chapter of Proverbs, where the wise man says,
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee, so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding: yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding, if thou seekest her as silver and searchest for her as for hid treasures, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God." The pearl of great price in this respect, then, is found in portions from day to day, as we go on in our earnest search, in the Christian life. In him," the apostle says, hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” They are hidden there as in a safe treasure-house, where we can find all things. In the recorded life of our blessed Saviour in the Gospels, we have set before us,
what treasures are to be found in him. The riches of his grace, the depths of his teaching, the brightness of his example, the warmth of his love, the completeness of his self-surrender, the willingness of his giving of himself to all those who are willing to go to him for the teaching and the supply which their necessities demand; and in the ordinances of his church, as well as in the business of the world, we should in the same way seek Christ as the unsearchable riches; that as the whole world without the sun would be darkness, those ordinances without him would be but emptiness, and worse than nothing, and vanity. And yet they are fitted to convey to us all that is indeed the pearl of great price. In the various dispensations of life, or rather of providence or of grace, we can find Christ in them all, become the pearl of great price; and in each one we must have the same principle running through the whole: he sold all that he had to buy that. Our self-surrender is not a momentary surrendering; it is a continual one: “Always bearing about in the body of the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal bodies. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”
To acquire the pearl of great price, in this second point of view, then, is to have gradually imparted to us Christ; Christ giving himself to us, Christ working his own graces in us, Christ enriching us with the unsearchable treasure of his most blessed self.
Brethren, is this your experience of the kingdom of heaven? Have you yet made the beginning of seeking the goodly pearl ? Or, are your hearts still seeking amongst the lower corrupted, tainted pearls, that are so common
in the world, the satisfaction they desire ? If you are satisfied with that which is tainted and corrupted, you are not seeking the goodly pearl: you have to begin your work. If, on the other hand, you are seeking the goodly pearl, and have not yet found it; if you are desiring that which alone is worth calling good, spotless holiness, pure joy, heavenly brightness; and if you have not yet found it, you assuredly shall as certainly as that God's word is true. Here is the practical application of this seeking of the goodly pearl, which may be of great blessing and comfort to many a wearied, darkened, troubled spirit that hears me this morning. As saith the Prophet, “Who is among you, that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light, let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” It does not follow, that we are not to find the pearl because we have not yet obtained it. If we feel our darkness, if we feel our sin, if we are willing to give np all that we have to find it, we assuredly shall find it. Brethren, if you have not found that pearl of great price, the reason is not in Christ; the reason is in yourselves. What is it that withholds you from taking Christ as the inestimable pearl ? What is that can be in the creature, that can hold you back from giving up all that
have to him? Can there be more joy in the things of the world than in Christ, than in the same worldly things glorified by Christ? Can it be, that you doubt his willingness to give himself to you? Look to Calvary, and see him hanging there for you. When we were enemies he died for us, that he might bring us to God. Does he come to call the righteous, or does he not rather come to call sinners to repentance? There is no reason why this might not be the hour in which
you might indeed find him. If you have been seeking him, you may this morning find him the pearl of great price, who asks you to take him who is bearing with your long-continued refusals of him, if indeed you have done so. But what is it, to take Christ? Is it only to take him as our escape from hell ?
To take him, that we may have him when we die, and must leave this world ? No! brethren. To take Christ is not only to take him as the sin-pardoner, but as the soul-cleanser; to take him as the satisfaction of the heart, as the supplier of all our need, the deliverer from all our burdens, the wonderful, him of whom we can say, * This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem !" To take him not only as our substitute, by whom we have pardon from God; but as our companion, who shall walk with us in the road of life, that we deem our very heaven to be where we may the more sweetly find his sustaining love ; that permits us to be spotted with the pollutions of this world, that he may teach how it is that we can only find our washing and cleansing in him, and yet who has promised never to leave us, never to be absent from ils, always to supply our need, always to be with us in heavenly wisdom; always to bear with us in patient long-suffering, always to feel for us in most tender compassion, and finally to bring us faultless into the presence of the Divine glory with exceeding joy. . Oh! may we indeed be taught of God not only to seek, but to find this pearl of great price; throughout our whole lives to sell all that we have, to surrender all that we have, that we may find him the sweetness of our joy, the calmness of our peace, the fulness of our blessedness, him of whom we can say, that “ He is indeed precious.”
THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM.
THE GOSPEL NET.
St. MATTHEW, xiii., v. 47 to 50.—“ Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind : which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world : the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just; and shall cast them into the furnace of fire : there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
This parable, like that of the tares and the wheat, teaches us the mixed condition of the Christian Church. They differ however in very important particulars. In that parable, the tares were sown while men slept; in this the fishermen had no choice, their net must gather in whatever came within its reach. That parable teaches the corruption of man by false principles; this one teaches that men are gathered into the church just as they are. Each being intended to teach only the point of comparison, both omit many equally important truths. The parable of the tares does not suggest the idea that a bad man may become a good one: in like manner this parable does not suggest any change in “the fish" after they are taken into the net. We have, therefore, to consider this and other doctrines as not being touched upon