« PreviousContinue »
take away the blessing connected with the victory.
The lesson taught man by his present circumstances is, that, in the consciousness of his inability by his unassisted efforts, to resist the temptations which are continually assailing him from within and from without, he should be continually looking to God for help, and taking hold of that strength which God actually gives, in the good seed, to those who in faith and patience wait for it. But if the temptations were taken away, this lesson would be lost; “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him." James i. 12. The continual system of retri
. butive judgment carried on during this life, and consummated at the conclusion of it, depends on the growing together of the tares and the wheat, in the little world of each heart, as much as in the great world. God was present with Israel to drive the Gentile nations out of Canaan before them, but He would not do it except through their own faith. Man is continually left to make his own choice in this world, between the two
seeds; and man is himself the Moses who gives the victory either to Israel or to Amalek.
I rest the longer on this parable, because I know that it is liable to misinterpretation, from forgetting that man really becomes identified with the seed to which he yields himself, and because I remember the time when I laboured myself under the burden of this misinterpretation. No man can understand the application of a parable to the great world without him, until he has felt its application to the little world within him-for when Jesus is alone with his disciple, the very secret of the interpretation is, “ Thou art the man." Nathan's parable was a dark saying to David, till he received that word into his heart; and so all the prophecies concerning the world without, and the church without, have their true interpretation, as well as their first fulfilment, within the man's heart. And as there is a danger of spiritualizing away the substantial realities of prophecy in its application to the outward history of the race, so is there a danger of materializing away the no less substantial realities of prophecy in relation to the inward history of each soul.
At the 44th verse of this same chapter, there is another remarkable parable closely connected with those which we have been considering. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field, which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” The field is the same field, and the treasure is the same good seed; it is there hid,- unknown and unthought of by the heart of man,—the field in which it is hid ; but when a man has discovered that he has this treasure in him, then for joy he makes room for it in his heart, by casting out other hopes and fears, (the offspring of the tares,) that he may have the full benefit of it. “Jesus was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not; He came unto his own, and his own received him not; but as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.” His Spirit is the seed, which is sown in each heart, and as many as will receive this seed, will find in it power, whereby they may become sons of God. This was and is the treasure hid in every field, as the germ in the corn of wheat, , the hope and the life of the second vessel ;
but till we consent to the breaking of the first vessel, which is here expressed by the words "selling all,” we are nothing the richer by that treasure. It has been hid in the heart, that it might be as leaven, leavening the whole lump, and that it might grow up into a tree, under whose shadow the birds of the air—the winged restless thoughts which fly through the heart—might find rest; and if man frustrates this purpose, by allowing the talent to remain hid in the earth, at the last it shall be taken from him, and he shall be cast into outer darkness.
Men did, indeed, by the fall, lose all spiritual life; but, in the Living Word Jesus Christ, God hath said to all men, “ Live;" “ Look unto me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth.” This word is the word of Him who said, “Let there be light,” and forthwith “ there was light;" and it contains in it as much of the power of God. Why then, it may be asked, does it not produce its effect so readily? The only reason which can be given is, that there is something in man's will which can resist God's word, whereas there is nothing in mere matter that can do so. I know that there are many who will feel startled by such a state
ment, as if it were dishonouring to God; but surely the substance of it is implied in such words as, “O that my people had hearkened unto me;" Psalm lxxxi. 13; and Isaiah xlviii. 18, and in all the expressions of the grieving of the Spirit. And moreover the fact stands undisputed,—that God's mighty word has been spoken to man, and has been resisted. But, though resisted, it abides on him; and whenever he ceases his resistance, he becomes sensible of its presence, and in it finds a mighty power in contact with him, to which he may join himself, and then it will do its errand.
As long as a man continues to desire only seen things, and to live for the first vessel, he is joining himself to that which is under the sentence of death he is identifying himself with the tare, and thus he is said to be dead in sins. But the mighty word of God, which is the good seed, is also in him, though he is not joining himself to it; and the presence of that seed in him is the presence of a power, by which he may separate himself from the flesh, and join himself to the spirit at any moment. « Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light,” is a word which,