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BY THE REV. DAIEL MOORE, M.A.
" Again, tlie kingdom of heaven is like unto treasnre hid in a field ; the which when
a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that ho hath,
and buyeth that field."— Matthew xiii. 41.
There are no less than seven parables put forth in this chapter, and all in-
tended to illustrate some aspect of the same general subject, namely, the
nature of the gospel kingdom, the method of God's dealings underthe economy
of grace, the signs that shall betoken, the instrumentalities that shall aid, the
retarding influence that shall obstruct, and the beneficent effects that shall
follow from the setting up of Christ's kingdom on the earth. The first is the
parable of the sower and the seed — a mournful picture, and one which might
well have put the first preachers of the gospel altogether out of heart. Hard
enough to get hearers at all; the many refuse, and are deaf, and turn away;
but to be told that when you have prevailed with some to attend, so that they
may be said to have received the word, yet of these one will be saved and
three will be lost — one will hold on by the plough, and many will look back —
one from the soil of a good heart will send up vigorous and healthy shoots,
while three, through thoughtlessness, through worldliness, through impatience
of the cross, will bring forth no fruit unto perfection. — truly this was a hard
But another parable follows, scarcely more encouraging ; for it gives the
reason of these disproporlioned successes, namely, that there is a sleepless
and malignant enemy, who no sooner finds that good seed has been cast into
a field than he sows tares among the wiieat, and goes his way; thus inti-
mating that the spiritual life will be a struggle, and that for ever, until tlie
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THE IIISDB TREASURE.
usurper shall he cast down, and the strong man armed be bound eternally by
the might of one stronger than the strong.
Following in order come the two next parables, the grain of mustard seed
and the leaven hid in three measures of meal. They point to the expanding,
progressive, impregnating character of vital Christianity. It is a light,
and must shine, and shine on, till it culminate in the meridian of uni-
versal truth ; it is a river, which shall meet with no interruption in its flow,
until " the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of
Cod as the waters cover the sea." At the close of the last of these illus-
trations the sacred writer adds — " All these things spake Jesus unto the
multitude in parables ; and without a parable spake he not unto them."
"Then he sent the multitude away, and went into the house." And now
in the house, and with none but disciples present, it is observable that the
parables take a different form. From being general statements, descriptive
of gospel success or failure, they become rules or marks for an indwelling
application of its benefits. We try in vain to escape under cover of verbal
generalities ; we are pressed with a sharply defined portraiture of spiritual
character. The question is not how far the expanded mustard grain may have
shot out its branches; but does my soul repose under its shadow ? ot how
much of the mighty aggregate of corruption has become leavened by the sanc-
tifying influences of the gospel ; but whether I have become a participant of
those influences by a distinct act of my own will. To this point both the
parable of the text and the one which immediately follows seem specially ad-
dressed. Spoken not to the multitude, but to the professed followers of the
Saviour, the supposition is made that by them the hidden treasure has been
discovered — that within their reach has been placed already "the pearl of
great price;" and they are urged, by a consideration of its high and surpass-
ing worth, to omit no securities and to spare no cost, that the prize may be
made entirely and irrevocably their own. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is
like unto a treasure iiid in a field ; the which when a man hath found, he
liideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that
The passage will suggest some reflections on the treasure hidden, and the
I. And, first, with regard to the treasure hidden. "The kingdom of heaven
is like unto treasure liid in a field." The often noticed exactness of our
Lord's illustrations from local usages does not forsake him on the present
occasion. Throughout the East, especially in an insecure state of society,
nothing is more common than for persons to conceal treasures of different
kinds in the earth for the purposes of safety. A writer on Oriental literature
and customs mentions, that in the East, on account of the frequent changes of
dynasties, and the revolutions which accompany them, many rich men divide
their goods into three parts; one they employ in commerce, or for their
necessary support, one tliey turn into jewels, wliich, should it prove needful
to fly, could be easily carried witli them, and a third part, he says, tliey bury
in the earth. In the truthfulness of this latter suggestion other authorities
concur. In the Book of Jeremiah, you may remember, after Ishmael had
THB HIDDE TREASURE.
slain Gedaliali, and was proceeding to slay some others, the lives of ten men
were spared on the plea, that they had treasure in the field. Modern travellers,
it is known, often experience great difficulty, in their search after buried
antiquities, owing to the jealousy of the inhabitants of the country, lest they
should be coming to carry from among them some concealed hordes of wealth.
This was especially the case with those enterprising travellers, who both from
this country and from France, were engaged in exhuming the marvellous
remains of ineveh. The idea was inconceivable by the natives, that men
could be at so much pains merely to throw light on the scenes and facts of
history; and, therefore, they came to the conclusion, that under the pretence
of digging out winged bulls and alabaster slabs these travellers had found a
clue to some precious deposit, with which they might enrich European coffers,
and be rewarded abundantly for all their toil. Our own expression, too, it is
observable, of not leaving a stone unturned, has been referred by proverb
collectors to the assiduity with which, in obedience to an oracle, a certain
Theban turned up every part of a field he had purchased, in which
certain treasures were reported to be concealed. Well, here the promised
blessings of the gospel are compared to a treasure; and we allow at once the
fitness of the name. For is a treasure that which makes a man rich ? Who
so rich as he who has the Lord for his portion, Christ for his friend, heaven
for his home, eternal life for his reward ? If Christ be ours, all things are
ours; the Father's love, the Spirit's guidance, angel's guardianship, saints'
prayers. We may be, by nature we are, " wretched, and miserable, and poor,
and blind, and naked ;" and yet Christ counsels us, that if we buy of him we
shall have gold, that we may he rich, and white raiment, that we may be
clothed, and anointed eyes, that we should see a full redemption to deliver
our souls from death, and sufficient grace to keep our feet from falling. " In
him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" — of life and peace,
of help and hope, of grace and glory. " Length of days is in his right hand,
and in his left hand riches and honour." Christ communicates to his people
out of his own fulness — that is, out of a treasury which can never be ex-
liausted. one shall ever find the bottom of that sea ; not the angels shall
ever see the end of his pardons, or the limit of his grace, or the uttermost of
his salvation. According as his people have need for him, he brings the whole
divinity of his nature to bear on the required relief. When they are walking
in darkness he becomes wisdom to them ; when arraigned before the great
accuser he stands up as their righteousness ; he is their sanctification, when
struggling with the remainders of indwelling sin, and their redemption to lead
captivity captive, and say, " Let my people go." He who can say, " The
Lord is my portion," can always add, " Therefore I shall not want." The
promise stands sure, " My God shall supply all your need, according to his
riches in glory by Christ Jesus." The believer is to see Christ in all things,
and to have all things in Christ ; he is not to be enriched out of any measur-
able or finite stores ; he is to be " filled with all the fulness of God,"
Moreover, Christ and his gospel are a treasure to the believer, because out
of it he may minister to the needs of others. God does not give spiritual
bread as he gave natural bread in the wilderness, just enough for every man,
THE HIDDE TUEASURE.
SO ihat wliile "he that gathered least had no lack, he that gathered most luul
iiolhing over." o, he gives us bread enough and to spare. The lips of the
righteous arc to feed many, and the prayers of the righteous are to help many,
and the example and counsel of the righteous are to strengthen many. Let
us not, in our estimate of gospel blessings, part with the precious notion of a
treasure — something which we may take from, and yet not decrease the store —
a barrel of meal that never wastes — living waters which cannot spend — a holy
and eternal light which shall never lose its brightness, when a thousand dark
souls around it have come to kindle at its flame.
But observe, in the next place, this treasure is said to be "hid'* — "hid in
a field." The expression commends itself on many accounts. Thus it points
to that order of the Almiglity's procedure by which he saw fit gradually and in
parts to make known the mystery of his saving purposes. According to that
language of the apostle — "To make all men see what is the fellowship of the
mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God." And
again — " Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from genera-
tions, but now is made manifest to his saints." Or, further, the gospel may be
called a hidden treasure, because its leading scope and purpose were so
largely concealed in the language and ritual of the Old Testament, in the types
and sacraments and other acted parables of the Mosaic Law, in the bright
obscurities of prophecy, and in the gorgeous poetry of cherished, though par-
tially apprehended song. From the eyes of the Jewish mind for ages the veil
has remained untaken away; the Sun of llighteousness is still far back in deep
shadow, judicial shadow. "He holdeth back the face of his throne, and
spreadeth his cloud upon it."
But we are to note, further, that this treasure is said to be " hid in a field."
Were we to be told of some great wealth which was to be found, it would be
something to have a certain circumscribed space, within which to look for it.
With the whole world before us, we should be glad to know of a huge ex-
cepted territory, where it was certain the great prize would not be found.
Without pressing the accidents of a simile with needless closeness, but simply
looking for a depository to contain the treasure, a casket to hold " the pearl
of great price," we are led to look upon the field here as the outward or
visible church, with all its divinely appointed appliances for the administration
of the word and sacraments. The Apostle Paul would bear us harmless for such
an application of the parable, saying as he does, when speaking of the blessings
of the gospel — " But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency
of the power may be of God, and not of us." We touch upon no vexed
questions, when we assume that the promised grace and glory of the gospel
are offered only to a certain spiritual corporation, a visible earthly society,
gathered out of the rest of the world. o assumption is made that all who
are in this society shall inherit the blessing, any more than it is assumed by
vhe parable that all who were in the field would be sure to find the treasure ;
but it is assumed that out of communion with the baptized Christian body,
there is no more promise of salvation than in the parable before us there is
any promise of the treasure to a man who had never gone into the field.
The church is no human institute^ and cannot be subject to the accidents, or
THE HIDDE TREASURE.
failures, or decays of luiman instilutcs; it is as miicli an ordained mediiiiu
for dispensing truth and blessedness through the world, as the sun is an
ordained medium for transmitting and diffusing light. The very passage I
just now quoted to show how long the gospel treasure had been hidden goes
on to announce, that to the church is delegated the mighty mission of making
that treasure known. "To the intent that now unto the principalities and
powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wis-
dom of God." Thus he who looks to partake of the golden oil of the upper
sanctuary must look to receive it only through the golden pipes. When God
has told us where we ought to expect a blessing, it must be at our own peril
and our own loss, if we go in quest of it elsewhere. The gospel treasure is
"in a field." Still, although this treasure is in the field, it is hid there. It is
not so broadly and patently open as that it may not be overlooked by the
careless, and remain unseen by those whose eyes the love of this world has
turned another way. Many have remained utterly ignorant of the treasure, who
yet have spent their whole life time in the field.
Brethren, the thought should stir us up to great searchingsof heart. As sure
as there are objects in the spiritual world, so sure is there a corresponding
faculty of spiritual discernment. The natural man can no more understand
the things of the Spirit of God than the eyes of the blind can try colours.
When Christ sees fit to make his gospel a closed book, the strongest human
intellect avails not to loosen the seals thereof. Minds of the highest order
have lost themselves in trying to Aithom the deep things of God ; whilst to the
lowly and the learner they have come as easy as the first lessons of childhood.
" I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid
these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes ;
even so. Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." "So it seemed good."
Further explanation is not to be demanded. "To you it is given to know
the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven ; but to them it is not given." " If our
gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost" — lost through some form of
criminal and wilful blindness — lost, at that mysterious and untraced junction
point which connects the volitions of responsible agents with the ordinations
and will of heaven. Such a point there is. The initiative of all gracious
communications, we know, must be of God ; but equally true is it, that what-
ever comes afterwards must be connected with the definite and concise acts of
the recipient mind, in the improvement of what is given at first. " Whosoever
hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whoso-
ever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath." It is a
standing law of the spiritual kingdom — " Yet for this will I be inquired of;"
that is, for all the good things promised in the field, for the treasure, for the
will to seek, and for the eyes to find. David's prayer must be our prayer —
" Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."
Here the wondrous things are seen not: they are in our hands, but they are
writ in an undeciphered character. It is " the wisdom of God in a mystery ;"
it is the love of Christ under a seal ; it is the fine gold of Ophir lying at our
feet, but as yet " a treasure hid in a field."
.11. But let us dwell for a short time on the other division of our subject;
TIIE HTDDE XnEASURE.
ancestry, my learning, my spreading fame, my lofty morality, and my burn-
ing zeal, — "and do count them but dung, tliat I may win Ciirist and be
found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but
that which is through the faith of Chiist, the righteousness \vl)ich is of God by
And now, my brethren, let me exhort you, in conclusion, not to overlook
the everlasting connection which God has ordained to subsist between the
treasure sought, and the treasure found. Do not be hampered by the difficul-
ties, assumed or real, which beset our speculative theology, but take God's
words in their palpable and surface meaning, the only meaning they will bear,
and which it would stultify the human intelligence and be a reproach to the
truth of God, to suppose that they were capable of any other. " Seek, and ye
shall find," it is said in one place; and in another, as if in prospective refe-
rence to this very parable — " If thou seekest her as silver, and searches! for
her as for hid treasure, then shall thou understand the fear of the Lord,
and find the knowledge of God." " If thou seekest her as silver;" that is,
as men seek for silver, as meyi search for hid treasure. The zeal of mam-
mon's votaries reproaches the lukewarmness of those who serve the living God.
See ye how the one seek and search? For years past, as we know, there
has been a literal search for hid treasures, and both to the Western shores of
America and to the great Australian Continent have flocked a vast population
of European adventurers, breaking the thick silence of many an ancient forest
by the sound of spade and pickaxe, or sifting the precious ore from deposits
on the river's bank ; and to secure possession of this hidden treasure no toils
have been too arduous, no sacrifices too costly, no dangers too discouraging.
The scorching sun by day, and the chilling dews by night, the rudest con-
trivances, for beds and tents for shelter, exposed and bleak as a Crimean
hut — perils from the native tribes around them, and perils from the more
savage natures with which they had cast in their lot ; these and a thousand
other ills, were scorned, braved, endured cheefully, so only that out of the
bowels of the earth they could exhume the hoarded gold. Or if this illus-
tration suit not, are we not shamed by the zeal of our gold diggers at home —
a zeal which rises superior to all the restraints of principle, which turns a
deaf ear to the antiquated scruples of honourable commerce, which without
the toil of digging makes its own fictitious mines, threatening to make the
mercantile character of our nation a byeword, and her traffickers the reckless
and unscrupulous of the earth? Well, all we quote these examples for is to
quicken those who have a real treasure within reach to more diligent and energetic
search. We would have them seek the right riches, in the right spirits in the
right way. There is no promise in the gospel to indolence — no promise to
half-heartedness — no promise to a vacillating and wavering choice. You must
seek the things of the kingdom of God, and seek them " first." This is the law
of the heavenly subordinations. Tiie right things are to be sought in the right
order. You are to seek the " treasure hid in the field" first, and leave every-
thing beside the treasure to seek you. Your heart, your home, your treasure,
are all to be in one place — a place unapproachable by death, or decay, or
change, even among the holy societies of the blessed, and in the immediate
presence of God.
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