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The Treasure and the Pearl

The Treasure and the Pearl

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 06, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE TREASURE AD THE PEARLALEXADER BALMAI BRUCE, D.D.,OR, THE KIGDOM OF GOD THE SUMMUM BOUM.These two parables constitute together but one text, andteach the same general lesson, namely, the incomparableworth of the kingdom of God. They show us how the kingdomought to be esteemed, in whatever esteem it may in fact beheld. They are thus an important supplement to the parableof the Sower. That parable teaches that the kingdom of heaven is far enough from being the chief good to many. Tosome it is simply nothing at all, the word of the kingdomawakening no interest whatever in their minds ; to others it isbut the occasion of a short-lived excitement ; to a third classit is only one of many objects of desire ; only to a chosen fewis it the first thing worthy to be loved above all things, withpure, undivided, devoted heart. The two parables now to beconsidered teach us that the kingdom deserves to be so lovedby all. It is a treasure of such value that all other possessionsmay reasonably be given in exchange for it ; a pearl of suchexcellence that he who sells all his property in order to obtainit may not justly be accounted a fool. How quietly andsimply is this momentous truth insinuated in those two littlesimilitudes ! One is tempted to say that so important adoctrine should have been taught with more emphasis and atgreater length. We might have said this with some show of reason had these two sayings been the only texts in therecorded teaching of Christ containing the doctrine in question.But they are not ; they are simply the only recorded instancesin which the Great Teacher set forth that doctrine in parabolicform. The truth that the kingdom of heaven is the summumCH. III.] The Treasttre and the Pearl. 69bo7i?iJfi to which everything else must be subordinated, and if necessary sacrificed, occupied the foremost place in Hisdoctrinal system. He taught that truth on many occasions,to many persons, to individual followers, to the collectivebody of disciples, to the multitude at large, and often in moststartling terms. " Let the dead bury their dead, but go thouand preach the kingdom of God."^ " If thou wilt be perfect,
go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalthave treasure in heaven, and come and follow Me."^ " If anyman will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take uphis cross, and follow Me."^ " If any man come to Me, andhate not his father and mother and wife and children andbrethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot beMy disciple."* What are these, and many other kindredsayings, but an emphatic proclamation of the truth taught inour parables that the Kingdom of heaven or its King (the twoare practically one) is entitled to the first place in our regard,as at once man's chief good and chief end .'When and to whom these parables were spoken cannotwith perfect certainty be decided. From the manner in whichthey are recorded by the Evangelist, there is, of course, apresumption in favour of the view that they were uttered atthe same time as the preceding four, but to the disciples, afterthe multitude to which the parable of the Sower was addressedhad been dismissed. But it is quite possible that they be-longed originally to another connection, and formed part of adiscourse having for its aim to enforce the precept, " Seek yefirst the kingdom of God." The abrupt and disconnectedway in which, according to the reading approved by critics,the former of the two is introduced, seems to favour this view."The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hid in afield ; " so, without any mediating word like the -naXiv in thereceived text, does the narrative pass from the interpretationof the parable of the Tares to the wholly dissimilar pirable of the Hidden Treasure, suggesting the idea of a water-wornpebble which has been rolled away by the stream from itsoriginal bed. And as the parable might have been utteredon a different occasion, so it might have been addressed to a* Luke ix. 60. 2 ^att. xix. 21.* Matt. xvi. 24. * Luke xiv. 26.70 The Parabolic Teaching of Christ, [book i.different audience than Matthew's narrative seems to imply ;not to the disciples, but to a miscellaneous group of hearerslike that which listened to the parable of the Sower, Such aview, indeed, would be inadmissible if we could attach asmuch importance as Origen did to the circumstance that thelast three parables in the group of seven are not called
parables.' That Father, in his commentary on the passage,suggests as the reason of the fact stated that the last threewere spoken to the disciples, not to the multitude ; proceed-ing on the assumption that parables were meant exclusivelyfor those without, and therefore holding that we ought not tocall the three last figurative representatives of the Divinekingdom parables, but similitudes.^ If this opinion werecorrect, we might infer, from the simple fact that the nameparable is not applied to these similitudes, that they werespoken not to a miscellaneous audience, but to a closer circleof the disciples. But it is not true that parables were spokento the multitude alone, and therefore the non-use of the namein the case of the last three parables can have no such sig-nificance as Origen alleges. It is indeed incredible that theEvangelist can have seriously meant to withhold the namefrom these parables as inapplicable, when he had previouslyapplied it to the equally brief similitudes of the Mustard Seedand the Leaven. The omission of the name must be regardedas purely accidental.We proceed to the consideration of our two parables — those of the Treasure and the Pearl, placing them as of kindred significance side by side, and treating them in thefirst place as one text in the exposition of the great truthwhich they teach in common, reserving for the close observ-ations on the points in which they differ.^TJie kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hid in the fietd,^ which aman having found hid, and in his joy ^ he goeth and selleth all thathe hath, and buyeth that field.* They are introduced "with o/to/a iarXv. ' onouoaitg from c'/io/a.^ The same method of treatment is adopted by Greswell and Arndt.* iv Tw dyp(^ ; " in the field in which it lies" (Meyer). "The field inwhich the finder was working" (Greswell). " The article implies that inthe mind of hearers the idea of a hidden treasure would be associatedwith that of a field as the usual hiding-place " (Goebel).' The ai/Tov is genit. subj., not obj. So Meyer. Vide also Trench.CH. III.] The Treasure and the Pearl, 71Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman ^ seeking goodlypearls, who when he had found one pearl of great price went and

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