Page images

one motive after another for their return to God. They were “ without”-“outside”_separated, even from the time of the great transgression in Eden, from the joys of their Father's house, and such was Immanuel's love, that he came and stood beside them-he left his home in the Father's heart in order that he might meet God's fallen creatures in this world's streets, and plead with them to bring their love back to the blessed God again. He saw how the pursuit of vanities absorbed their energies, and he drew near to them, and, in the deep whispers of a love which many waters could not quench, he said—“Listen to me,I will speak excellent things." He beheld the deep degradation of heart-idolatry into which men had sunk, and he longed to lift them up to a nobler worship than that of gold, and to set before their great faculties a prize worth running for—a prize more splendid than the blushing ruby. He saw their craving for happiness, and he sought to lead them to a fountain of bliss, which the world reckons not of. Thus he says"Receive my instruction, it is better than silver--my knowledge, it is worth more than choice gold-my wisdom, for rubies cannot match it: the priceless dazzling diamond, the laughing amethyst, the soft, green-lustered emerald could not buy this wisdom. But with me is wisdom-I have understanding. Come close to me then, ye lost, labouring, deceived, weary, weary ones, and

ye shall find present peace, and eternal satisfaction and joy. I cause them that love me to inherit substance with me are durable riches.”

What are these riches which are with Christ for man ? In such pleading as we find in Proverbs viii., and in other portions of the Scriptures, the great design of the Wisdom

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

you,” he

of God is to rescue man from the thraldom of heartidolatry, and to engage the emancipated affections on one entirely and eternally suitable for them. Thus, after having given prominence to man's love for the world in the form of earthly riches, he sets alongside of these his own person, the gifts and graces of his Spirit, the glories of his eternal Sonship, and the Godhead fulness of blessing in him; and, drawing the eye of man from the things seen, he fixes it on those not seen, those spiritual and heavenly. Then, appealing to the same moral faculties which were conversant with the former—the riches of earth—he seeks to make them in love with the latter—the durable riches and righteousness. “You prize the pearl which comes to

says, “ with vanity marked upon it, for it cannot be

yours but in the death of one of God's creatures ; but am not I the pearl of great price ?—sell all that you have, and buy me. You gaze on gold until the whole tide of desire goes out toward it, and your hearts become harder than it; but though, as to the earth, money answereth all things, you cannot hold it firmly in the grasp of death, and take it with you to the wondrous world which lies forward on the other side of death. Could

you do this, the fire of judgment would destroy it. Could you do this, it would be all as naught in that good land where the foundations of the city are of precious stones, the gates pearls, and the city and the streets thereof pure gold. But I have true riches. Buy, then, of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich—that thou mayest have treasure in heaven.” The riches which are in Christ are thus the

grace which is in him in Godhead fulness for sinners. In him is all


that we need for life, and all that we need for the growth of that life up into the image of God. Thus these riches are unsearchable. We have such expressions in the New Testament as “ riches of grace," "

' exceeding riches of grace,” and “unsearchable riches of Christ.' That God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, should ever have thought of lost, sinful man, tells of riches of


That the blessed Godhead should have brought before the universe this thought embodied in action, in the full provision for sinful man being delivered from guilt and admitted to everlasting glory, tells of exceeding riches of grace. And that, ever since that day when Abel laid his lamb on God's altar, as a true worshipper, and his head in the lap of covenant love, as a true child of the Father, up through thousands of generations, and on through thousands of years, myriads from among the children of men should have been folded to the heart of God as a Father, kept through constant temptations, upheld in the midst of great tribulation, and, after years of struggle, years of toil, have been carried in triumph on to the incorruptible habitations, tell that in Christ the Saviour, the Substitute, the Sacrifice, the Advocate with the Father, the Mediator, are unsearchable riches of

grace. These riches are ever-satisfying. Thus they are suitable. The higher nature of man cannot find complete satisfaction in what might seem to fill up every void in the heart of a man without God. The material riches of earth are God's good gift to man for wise purposes; and when these become ours as the fruit of industry, work, honest toil, either with head or hands, they come with a blessing in them. And coming thus, the religion of Jesus will welcome them. It is not money, but the love of money, the idolatry of it, which is the root of all evil" Put, manifestly, there is nothing in it, even when it enmes 28 a pit of Cort's goodness, fitted to satisfy the soul It can minister to the gratification of many lawtil desires, but yet it could never be to the soul all it seeks after, when zwakeneri to know the dignity from which it has fallen, and the destiny which awaits it. To tell a dying man that he is rich, would not bring rest to a tossed and weary soul. It would only intensity its misery. But the durable riches fill fully up the eternal heart, gratify all its cravings after the unseen and heavenly, and tix its lovelongings on a love-worthy object, even Immanuel himself. And while they are thus ours in health, deepening our confidence in God, and keeping us daily in contact with the thought of living for and before him,—when the cares of earth cease to interest, and the joyous things of beauty on the earth stand out before eyes too dim to see them, and the music of the voices of beloved ones no more falls upon the soul, when disease or coming dissolution has sealed the ears, these riches of grace in Christ are ministered to us by the Holy Ghost, when he only, only he, can help us.

There is a graphic outline portrait in the book of Job of a man who was surrounded with all that he could desire for the gratification of the lust of the eye, the lusst of the flesh, and the pride of life, but who, nevertheless, was ill at ease and discontented. The feeling that there was something wrong about him darkened his joy, and hung over him like a dark, angry cloud hanging on the edge of the bright blue sky, and throwing its shadows

in upon a sunny landscape. “In the fulness of his sufficiency he was in straits.” The state of mind referred to here is not confined to the book of Job.

Nought but God

Can satisfy the soul he maketh great." It is very different with those who have found, in the free and all-sufficient salvation of Christ, true riches. “ Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."

Now, great prominence is given, in the chapter in Proverbs to which we have referred, to one aspect of these riches of grace in Christ. They are said to be durable. This word suggests their certainty and their permanence. They are no doubt purely spiritual, but not less real on this account. The visible and tangible are only the upper surface of the spiritual and truly real. The outward aspects of things which we are wont to honour with the name of true, certain, and substantial, are the aspects which pass away. We leave them, and they leave us. They are uncertain—corruptible—destructible. We cannot count on them. The riches of earth are lost—the bodies of beloved ones around whom homely affections have twined, and towards whom the tenderest sympathies of earth have gone out, are taken from us; but that which is spiritual abides. It is not with it as with that which is material and outward. It is not thus with that faith which embraces the Lord Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel,—nor with that hope whose keen glance gazes on that which is heavenly, realises it in the heart of the world-pilgrim, and which looks beyond Jordan,

« PreviousContinue »