ページの画像
PDF
ePub

of his power, and we become his humble and faithful subjects, He is a prince to govern, and protect us from all our crafty and powerful enemies, who lie in wait to destroy. We need a Friend-Jesus is that friend--a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, whose compassion and fidelity render him the best friend we can possibly find. We want a Counsellor :-He is our advocate, and will be our guide in every difficulty,—for he has promised, that if we acknowledge him in all our ways, he will direct our paths. We are diseased, and ready to die.—He is the great Physician, who is ready and able to restore us to health. We are poor,--He “counsels us to buy gold of him," and then are we rich indeed, rich towards God, and rich for ever.

Jewels are prized by vain mortals as ornaments. Wearing them is a mark of distinction; for inferior people cannot obtain them; and thus the wearer excites notice and admiration in the gav circles of the great. This may be thought a pitiable weakness ; when poor vain mortals value themselves on a profusion of sparkling stones-but he who possesses the pearl of great price is fine indeed; he that “puts on the Lord Jesus Christ” surpasses an angel in splendour ; like the church, in the vision of St. John, he may be said to be "clothed with the sun ;” and those become honourable—for " to them that believe he is precious,” or, “ an honour.” Dignified indeed, beyond expression, is he who possesses this pearl of great price.

In the days of superstition, precious stones were worn as amulets, or charms, to protect the wearer from divers diseases and mischiefs. We know of no such virtue in earthly jewels; but we assert that Christ is the true Amulet; and if we “bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus,” nothing shall by any means hurt us ;

[graphic]

“ We shall be safe ;

For God displays.
Superior power,

And guardian grace."

Now, if Jesus Christ possess all these excellencies, (and the one half has not been told you) and if the soul that obtains an interest in him will be thus benefited, it is no wonder that the wise merchant, discovering his inestimable worth, should be willing to sell all that he hath, for his sake.

He is found: and blessed is he who has found him. In the parable of "the treasure,” which precedes our text, it is represented as "hid in a field;" not obvious to the eye of the careless and inattentive traveller : and pearls are generally procured from the bottom of the ocean; so that he who finds the one, must dig for it; and he who gets the other must dive for them. The blessings of salvation escape the notice of the careless and the carnal; but “he that seeks shall find.”—Here, then, in the word of the gospel, is this mighty treasure to be found. It is the business of the minister of the gospel to display this treasure, to proclaim its value, and to invite his hearers instantly to seek it ; but it is the office of the Holy Spirit alone, to lead the seeking soul to obtain the prize ; it is his gracious business to glorify Christ, and this he does by “taking of the things of Christ, and shewing them to men.”

When this discovery is once made, then holy and earnest desires will rise in the soul, or rather this desire-this one desire, swallowing up, as it were, all the rest ; so that he, who once was used to say, “Who will shew me any good ?” now cries, “ Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me.” He who once was used to say, “ I see no form nor comeliness in him, wherefore I should desire him,” now exclaims, “ He is the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely.” He, who when formerly invited to the gospel feast, “ desired to be excused," now “ hungers and thirsts after righteousness.” “ Yea, doubtless," says the believer, with holy Paul, “ I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; and count them (all things) but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him.”

[graphic]

Thou, O Christ, art all I want,
More than all in thee I find.

[graphic]

But how is this pearl to be obtained ? It is to be bought," he goes and sells all that he has, and buys it." We are not to strain the metaphor, as if it were to imply that, by any valuable consideration whatever, we can merit this inestimable treasure ; the meaning is, that the Christian gives such a hearty and decided preference to Christ, above all worldly things whatever, as to be willing, if need be, to part with them all, should they stand in the way of ob. taining his grace, his righteousness, and his salvation. And, indeed, to say the truth, there are some things which must be parted with. That good opinion, for instance, of ourselves, which we are too apt to entertain ; that dependence we are prone to place upon a religious education, upon freedom from gross vices, upon our goodness, virtue, sincerity, charityall must be parted with. Our own righteousness must be accounted as filthy rags, if we would wear the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Sinful indul. gences, of whatever description they may be, must also be given up. This splendid jewel would look ill upon him, who is covered with the deformity of sinful practices ; and however dear these indulgences may be, and though the parting with them may be painful, as the plucking out the right eye, or cutting off the right hand, it must be done. We must " crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts ;” and those who are Christ's are willing so to do.

Reputation must not seldom be forfeited, in consequence of our attachment to Christ, his cause and his people. If we cleave to Christ as we ought, we must separate ourselves from the world ; and if we do so we shall find by experience the truth of our Lord's saying, John xv. 18, 19. “ If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me be

. 201 fore it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own : but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”—Protected, as we happily are by the laws of our country, from the hand of violence on account of our religion; yet, there is no power upon earth that can screen us from the reproach of the cross. Men will “ speak evil of us;" but let it be "falsely, and for Christ's sake."

And shall we not be willing to bear reproach for him who “ made himself of no reputation” for us? Shall we not readily part with our reputation, and “ follow him without the camp, bearing his reproach? Fear it not; it should rather be esteemed a jewel that adorns us. The cross of Jesus is our best ornament; God forbid we should glory in any thing except in that cross.

In the times of persecution, not character only, but liberty, and life itself were forfeited. Our Lord most candidly told his disciples, upon what terms they must become such, that they must be willing to part with father and mother, wife and children, houses and land, and to be hated and persecuted by all; and to take up their cross and follow him, or else they could not be his disciples. Nor did they think the purchase too dear. Did they refuse the terms ? By no means. Like Moses of old, they “esteemed the reproach of Christ, greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt.” The Apostles of our Lord, when evil entreated, “ departed from the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ ;" and “ they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that in heaven they had a better and a more enduring substance."

[graphic]

"IMPROVEMENT.

To conclude_You have heard the character of the wise merchant, and do you not approve of it?

[graphic]

Did he not act judiciously? Is not gain the proper object of a tradesman ? and who blames a man for making a good bargain ?-Now, say, Is this your character? What is your chief object-the object of your warmest desires? and that for which you are ready to part with all? Is it the World ? Alas! it is vain! Make it not your portion; it will deceive and disappoint you. Even now, it does not afford you satisfaction ; but think, O think of the solemnities of a dying hour. Think of that awful period, when you shall stand before the judgmentseat of Christ.--I ask, What then will profit you? what but Christ? Then, every soul will be ready to say with the Martyr, “ None but Christ, none but Christ.” I demand, Why do you not say so now ?-_Why should not that now be the language of your hearts ; not waiting till the horrors of death and the dread of judgment shall extort it? O let me entreat you now, even now, to turn away your eyes from beholding vanity, and such will all terrestrial objects prove. Behold this great and glorious object, Jesus, with his great and eternal salvation, is set before you. How are you dis.. posed towards it? Perhaps this may be the last time that ever this gracious Saviour may be thus presented to you, or that you may be affectionately invited to regard and receive him. If you reject him now, perhaps he will be for ever rejected. How then will you decide? Do you esteem him or not? Methinks, angels pause to witness your answer, and report it in heaven. Be persuaded to take the advice of Jesus—especially you who are young—" Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things, (needful for life and for godliness) shall be added unto you.”

It may be that you are seeking; and perhaps, you may be seeking in sorrow: but, fear not, the Lord hath said, “He that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth,” and the wise man, to whom I before referred, who not only knew the

« 前へ次へ »