THIS verse very naturally refers us to its antecedent; and we shall do well, therefore, to read the two preceding verses, in order to ascertain the mind of the Spirit and the apostle in the expressive sentence I have just quoted in your hearing. The apostle, in opening this chapter, under the Divine teaching, says, "I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of the Father, and of Christ." What a blessed attainment! And mark where it all centers, "To the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ." So that he would inform the church at Colosse, that the attainment of experience, "unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding," centered in the doctrine of the Trinity; that the doctrine of the Trinity is not what human sagacity can understand or explain; but is it that which faith receives, and in full assurance of understanding acknowledges.
Mark the expression here employed. It is a very peculiar one. It does not say that "the riches of the full assurance of understanding" are to the understanding or comprehending of the mystery, but "to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ." And having thus named this glorious fundamental principle, he immediately adds, in the language of my text--"in whom"--(God the Holy Ghost--the Father, and Christ)"in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Then it must be an unavoidable inference that they who are rejecters of the doctrine of the Trinity have neither wisdom nor knowledge; for all wisdom and knowledge center in that grand doctrine. It must follow that, with regard to being spiritually wise, all mankind who reject the doctrine of the Trinity are fools and idiots, having neither wisdom nor knowledge. And it must also follow as unavoidable, for the encouragement of the family of God, that, when in "the riches of the full assurance of understanding" they are brought to acknowledge, to adore, and to bow down to God the Holy Ghost, the Father, and Christ, the Three-One Jehovah, wisdom from above is imparted, knowledge and salvation are communicated, and a distinction is at once made between their souls and the great mass of the population of the world.
You will perceive by these two or three remarks, what our drift is to be this morning in treating the subject before us. And there is something so expressive in the words, that I would dilate upon them a little further before I open them in the usual form of division; and, first, do mark the word "treasure." People are very fond of their treasures. They will rise early, and sit up late, and eat the bread of carefulness, in order to increase their treasures. But when they have increased them, there are sure to be difficulties following those which they have overcome. It is very generally the case that those difficulties surround, encompass, and envelope all who will be rich; and the first difficulty is that of realizing their desire after riches; the second is the manner in which they shall employ them; the third is how to secure them, and the fourth is how they shall dispose of them. In most instances, these four difficulties are like four brazen mountains, and generally pour forth upon the devotees of earthly gain torrents of sorrow. Not so, however, with our treasures, "The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it." All is pleasant there.
Mark, further, the word "hid." The treasures mentioned in the text are not thrown forth to be scrambled for, as a mock divine once said, they are "hid." We shall have to enlarge upon this presently; and let it be remembered that this makes the difference between the Church and the world, "They are hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes;" and nothing of these treasures is known, possessed, or enjoyed, but as it is revealed and manifested from above. Observe, yet further, that all these treasures are hid in the glorious Persons of the Deity as the sole property of Jehovah; and mark, yet more, what they consist of--"wisdom and knowledge"--a great deal better than white and yellow earth--"wisdom and knowledge." May the Holy Ghost enable me to open this portion of Holy Writ to your view, and may He apply it with power Divine. If He give you but to enjoy in the proclamation, what my soul yesterday enjoyed in the meditation, you will not find this a lost hour in listening to the precious Word of the Lord. I really felt myself for once to be a rich man, and I really believe that I am. In point of wealth I would not change situations with any man that I know upon earth. Nor would I with any man, since dear old Dr. Hawker went to heaven. Though he left but a few pence of the worldling's property behind him, yet he was a wealthy man, because he got into this mine of "hid treasure," explored it, and became enriched from it--"filled with the fulness of God"--was wise unto salvation, and knew God for himself; and I have never known a man since he ascended to glory whom I envied upon that point. Now I want all my hearers to be very wealthy, and to have a large portion of treasure. I wish you to be all rich--all heirs of the kingdom. Then you will understand what the apostle means by those treasures being "hid" in Christ, in the Father's bosom, and in the Holy Spirit's secret communication.
First, then, let us glance at this mine of hid treasure. Then inquire how it is explored by the living. And then give a little inventory of the never-failing wealth to be obtained therefrom. A word or two according to this order as the Lord shall give ability. Oh, Holy Ghost, descend, we pray thee, and throw open to our view the precious things which are contained in this portion of thy word.
I. First of all, let us make a few remarks relative to the mine of hid treasure; for the very fact of its being hid conveyed to my thoughts the idea of a mine of gold, or a mine of silver, or of something exceedingly valuable. And let it be remembered that the precious things of God that are named in my text are the revenue of the King of kings, His property, His possession, His own creating, and His own disposing. See what they are. "Wisdom and knowledge," the revenue of Jehovah's grace, held secret on behalf of His Church, and whence His whole Church in every age, has been, still is, and shall ever be supplied. Whatever progress may have been made in natural wisdom, in human wisdom, and in scientific knowledge, it all amounts to absolute foolery when put in comparison with the knowledge that cometh out of this mine, the wisdom that comes from God. Now I read the account of it thus, that the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, then gentle, easy to be entreated, and full of mercy and good fruits. Here are treasures for you. Here are the treasures of wisdom.
I conceive that the wisdom of God is here intended, as well as that which He communicates. And I cannot avoid glancing at this treasure, the wisdom of God, and Christ is said to be both the wisdom and the power of God, as it is displayed in the plan of salvation and redemption; as it is seen in the performance of that plan; as it is seen in the complete work of salvation; and it is seen in the preservation of that salvation. What wisdom is displayed here, that the salvation should be all of God from first to last! And may I not ask, where would have been the wisdom worthy of a God in the plan of salvation and redemption, if there had been a contingency in it, if there had been a proposal in it, if there had been terms published and proclaimed, which men could not meet, but which were left with the creature? Would there have been any wisdom in that? I trow not. I think that man would not be accounted a wise man who should invent some scheme, or contrive some plan, for the improvement of society which he had not the means of accomplishing, or of carrying out, or which he left so dependent upon a contingency that the probability is, that it must all fail on account of that contingency. The man must have misemployed his time; he must have misdirected his talents, he could not have been a wise man. The wise man would contrive his scheme with a probability, at least, that it would succeed, and as he would suppose a certainty of carrying it out and accomplishing it, or he would not be wise. And shall our God contrive a plan for the salvation of ruined sinners, and put it out of His own reach and power to complete it, leaving certain features of it contingent and conditional to be performed by dead persons. Where would be the wisdom of God? I tell you, beloved, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is declared to be the wisdom of God and the power of God unto every one that believeth, and that His wise plan left not a feature, or a point, or an iota of the salvation that pertains to poor ruined sinners, contingent or uncertain, or by possibility to fail or be lost. All is rendered perfectly secure. My soul was refreshed and delighted in reading in this morning's portion that God is engaged on all sides and for all parties. "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." (Jer. 32:40) Now that is a wise plan. But our covenant God has gone further. He has all wisdom in Himself. The apostle calls Him, "the only wise God;" and as the only wise God His plan was a wise one, for it excluded all contingencies, and all possibility of a failure; and rendered the matter certain with, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." (Rom. 9:15)
Moreover, there was wisdom in the performance. Look for a moment, at the glorifying of all the perfections and attributes of the Deity in the performance of the plan; that whilst He was determined that He would not turn from His people, and that they should not depart from Him, their security, their preservation, and their salvation were accomplished in such a manner, that the justice of God was as much honored as the mercy of God, that the truth of God was as fully displayed as the love of God, that the holiness of God emphatically glorified as the condescension and forbearance of God relative to His people. Here is wisdom, infinite wisdom, impeccable wisdom, eternal wisdom in planning the method of salvation, and performing it so completely and entirely, that all the attributes of the Deity should be glorified and exalted, and the vilest of sinners be brought within the bonds of the covenant, by being made to pass under His rod, and to discover that his salvation is as complete as that of Paul, or of Peter, or of John.
Moreover, the wisdom of God as His hid treasure is seen also in the preservation of that grand scheme of salvation; and I think the wisdom and the power of God too are more displayed here, at least to our view, then anywhere else; because, ever since God's method of saving sinners has been published upon earth all the world and the powers of darkness have been hostile to it. They have warred against it. They have persecuted the recipients of it. And when they could not accomplish their ends by violence they have gone about in a crafty, deceitful, and guileful manner, and particularly of late years by attempting to counterfeit it, so that nothing but the wisdom of God could have preserved it. When I read some of the trash that is printed now-a-days, and observe what is going on amongst the professors of Christianity, I take, as it were, a bird's-eye view of the whole, and come to the conclusion that this is the devil's aim to pervert, and obscure, and disguise, and, if possible, destroy that glorious plan of salvation which emanates from the wisdom of God. This is the craft and subtlety of carnal-minded professors, and my firm conviction is, that all the devil is now doing by means of Popery, Puseyism, and Infidelity, as well as by all the abominable heresies which have gone forth among Nonconformists, is with the sole object of frustrating the wisdom of God in His plan of saving sinners. But it cannot be, "Christ the wisdom and the power of God," is yet proclaimed and published, and what is more, every elect vessel of mercy shall receive it. His permission shall not be sought; but every elect vessel of mercy shall be led to this mine of eternal riches and treasures, the wisdom of God, in the preservation of His Church, and the method of salvation continued and perpetuated amongst us. Be ye sure of this, that whatever convulsions may yet shake the professing world--that is the best name to give it--not the Church--to its center; and shaken to its center it must be--"Overturn, overturn, overturn, till He shall come whose right it is to reign"--not an elect vessel of mercy can by any possibility be lost; not an elect vessel of mercy can by any possibility be beguiled by the fatal deception. The Lord will take care of His own. The Lord will take care of His living family, and having called them, will preserve them in Jesus Christ unto the end of their career.
Our beloved Lord, in one of His beautiful parables, compares him who hears His sayings and does them, to a man who built his house upon a rock, and calls him a wise man; whilst He compares him who rejects the grand truths He published to a foolish man who built his house on the sands. This parable clearly points out the distinction which exists between the wise and foolish man. Now the man who receives wisdom from above, who is really taught of God, who is inspired with a new understanding, who possesses a clear spiritual eyesight and discernment, spiritual wisdom and knowledge, builds his house upon a rock, Jesus Christ; rests all there, confides for time and for eternity exclusively in Jesus; rests his immortal soul and all her interests in His covenant love and faithfulness, His official character and perfect work; and builds all his enjoyment, all his hopes, all his prospects, all his usefulness, all his activity, all his comforts, and all his anticipation, upon this precious rock, the "Rock of Ages." He is a wise man. And this is the treasury of God, from which he communicates this wisdom, and brings the sinner to build wholly upon Christ. What multitudes of men who pass for Christians in these days, are building upon the sand; upon something in the creature. And millions are so foolish as to build even on quicksands. It is bad enough to build upon sand, in a situation where it has the appearance of solidity; but to build upon quicksands, which are always shifting, perpetually in a state of agitation, and never firm and solid--why who would be such a fool? Yet, beloved, there are millions who build up their hopes of salvation on rites, ceremonies, forms, externals, and abominable idolatries--all of which are quicksands; and their ruin is inevitable unless God shall give them wisdom from above.
Moreover, the form "knowledge" in my text has to be explained. "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Say you, wherein do those terms, "wisdom" and "knowledge," differ? Here are the words before us, let us follow them with our inquiries for a few moments. You will recollect that the prophet Isaiah was commissioned to set it down concerning our precious Christ, "By His knowledge my righteous servant shall justify many." (Isa. 53:11) Then, it is the knowledge of Christ that we shall first dwell upon. For brevity sake, I have passed over the eternal foreknowledge of God the Father, which is alluded to in the declaration--"whom He did foreknow them He did predestinate." (Rom. 8:29) Christ is the Father's "righteous servant" in the grand business and work of redemption and salvation, "and by His knowledge He shall justify many;" that is, He shall not exhibit a justifying robe as belonging to any one or no one as it may happen, much less exhibit by the highest bidder of good works, human merits, and creature doings, penances and pains. No such thing is to be found in the book of God. But, by His knowledge of their persons; by His knowledge of their guilt; by His knowledge of their helplessness; by His knowledge of their names registered in the Lamb's book of life; by His knowledge of the amount of merit requisite for them; by His knowledge of the glory of the Divine attributes, that must be honored and exalted; and by His knowledge of all that heaven requires, the sinner needs, and all His official fullness contains; by His knowledge from first to last, from the beginning to the end, of all Jehovah's designs, "He shall justify many." So that the plain matter of fact is, that our precious, glorious Christ knows the sheep. "I know my sheep," He says, "and am known of mine." (John 10:14) He knew them when He received them at the Father's hand in gift, and trust, and under responsibility. He knew them when He saw the Holy Ghost register their names in the book of life. He knew them when He came into the world to find them out, and therefore gave us that interesting parable that the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that had an hundred sheep in the wilderness, and one was lost; and he left the ninety and nine to go after the one so lost. Do you think that he made a mistake, and picked up a dog instead? No, he went after the lost sheep until he had found it. He did not make a mistake. He did not bring back a goat instead, much less a swine. No, he brought back the lost sheep itself. Well then, the shepherd knew it. "There is my sheep," said he, "in that bog or ditch, and I will take it out. There is my sheep ready to faint. It cannot walk, it is so lame;" and then he lays it over his shoulder, and rejoices at having recovered it. Such is Jesus' tender care, and such His definite knowledge of His own, that He will find them out, whether they have fallen into the ditch of sin, or into the bogs and quagmires of idolatry, whether they are in caves or dens, or in the marshy places of the earth. He will find them out when they are driven afar off and astray; and whenever he finds one--oh, glorious Shepherd, find one out this morning, if it be Thy gracious will!--He says, "This is my sheep--the Father gave it unto me--I shed my blood for it--it is to be in my fold above unto all eternity." And He lays it on His shoulder, supports it by His own strength, upholds it by His own arm, and brings it home rejoicing over it. So that His knowledge is His treasure. If He left me to find them out, it is a thousand to one that I should make sad mistakes. Perhaps the exhibition of an amiable temper would induce me to say of a person, "That must be one of Christ's sheep, he is such an abiable creature." Or the ties of relationship might prompt me to say the same. But we do not know all. The knowledge belongeth to Christ. Hid in Him are the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Not only has He knowledge Himself of His own sheep, His own sons and daughters; not only are they all open to His view, and their hearts searched by Him, but He communicates knowledge unto them, and the treasures of this knowledge are such that they are proclaimed by Himself to be nothing less than eternal life. "This is life eternal, to know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." (John 17:3)
I beseech you, beloved, to mark what constitutes a Christian here: an intimate, personal, affectionate knowledge of Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; a familiar acquaintance, if I may be allowed so to speak, with the Most High God in His Trinity of Persons and His holy perfections. Have you this? There is no knowledge of God in unregenerate men. "God is not in all their thoughts." They desire not a knowledge of His ways. The knowledge is hid in Christ. In the next place, the world is excluded from the possession of this knowledge. It comes only from above. Oh, how solemn is that ejaculation, so to call it, of our beloved Lord, when His disciples returned to Him with an account of their mission, rejoicing that the devils were subjected unto them, and He takes them off from the mere joy of circumstances, and frames, and feelings, to rejoice more especially that their names were written in heaven; and then, having replied to them, He addresses His Father with, "Father, I thank Thee"--what for?--that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent." (Matt. 11:25) What! the Son of God thank the Father that these things are hidden. Beloved, they are hidden. "Father, I thank Thee." Now the ambassadors of Christ are very frequently charged with being extravagantly high in doctrine. I ask, did you ever hear one of those who are so charged--and perhaps I am the most of all so charged; but, be it so, I count it a high honor--did you ever hear me or any one else go further in speaking of this distinction between the Church and the world than to thank God for it; than to thank God that these things are hidden? I know that the common courtesy of human nature, the "milk of human kindness," and natural feelings, would lead men to say, "It should not be hid from any--reveal it to all;" and on this ground of nature's feelings people have gone forth with the pretension to convert the whole world. Now nothing of the sort is in the precious word of God. And I find His declaration to be, "I thank Thee, O Father, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes." Beloved, the things of God are unsearchable unto carnal reason. The apostle, addressing the Church relative to his own commission, says, "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles"--the uncovered, the revealed, the universal, the general property that is in Christ. No, no, no;--"that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph. 3:8)--unsearchable treasures such as are specified in my text.
I entreat you here to bear with me patiently whilst I urge this important point upon your attention, because the awful day of degeneracy in which we live has brought about a prevailing notion and a general opinion, that everything essential to Christianity is within the ken of the natural man, that everything pertaining to godliness and the salvation that is in Christ Jesus is within the reach of literature, of science, and the mind of the creature. Why this is plainly saying no other than that the dead can walk, and work, and eat, and drink; that the blind can see; that the deaf, who have not the faculty of hearing, can listen to the sweet whispers of love Divine. Gross absurdities all; clearly proving that such persons have neither wisdom nor knowledge in a spiritual sense. How solemn is the fact that the wise and prudent are so especially pointed out by Christ as the very persons from whom these things are hid! The wise and the prudent are too wise, and too proud, and too self-conceited, and vain, in their own strength of mind, to stoop to the grand principles of the gospel, on which alone Jehovah saves sinners. And wherever a wise man after the world, and wherever a prudent man, a scientific man, and a learned man, such as Paul was, becomes a partaker of the mighty grace of God, and a recipient of the wisdom which is from above, and the knowledge which it is the office of the Holy Ghost only to impart, all his own he lays at the foot of the cross--all his own attainments, however brilliant they appear in the sight of his fellow-creatures, all are consecrated to the glory of Christ, all are laid at the foot of the cross. Mind you, we do not undervalue these attainments; but this I say, that literature and scientific knowledge, when devoted to the service of the devil, are a horrid curse; but when consecrated by being laid at the foot of the cross they may be an extensive blessing.
I pray you to mark, that the great secrets of our holy religion are impenetrable by human discernment. The Holy Ghost commanded the apostle thus to set it down:--"The natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14) And yet the order and the fashion of the present times are, that the book of God has told a falsehood, that God Himself has deceived us with a falsehood, and that man can discern and know by dint of personal application. Now I believe God rather than man, and prefer to stick to my Bible, and confide in the truths it contains; and I am quite certain that the highest attainments mortals can ever reach to, without the Divine teaching, will leave them fools as regards their own souls, and the things pertaining to eternity. The treasures are so hidden that the world and the devil cannot find them. The devil sees them brought forth, and marks their effects as they are communicated to the souls of God's elect, but he cannot get at them to do violence to them, for they are hid in God. It is the grand doctrine of the Trinity wherein all this is discovered. It is the grand doctrine of the Trinity which is the pillar and ground of truth, and the fundamental principle of the gospel of Christ. And I do not hesitate to say, that there is no such thing as Christianity in the world without the doctrine of the Trinity; that there is no such thing as vital godliness apart from the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, and that in God the Holy Ghost--in the Father and in Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
II. Let us now hasten to the inquiry how this mine is to be explored. O course it must be by living persons. Those who know aught of the mining districts will be prepared to admit that they never set dead men about sinking shafts, and bringing up from the mine the treasures contained therein. The living work there. And therefore, while I speak of the task of exploring, do not imagine I am setting a task for the dead to perform; I mean "the dead in trespasses and in sins," (Eph. 2:1) but you living souls, who are written among the living in Jerusalem, and blessed with life Divine personal experience; and to you I have a word or two of explanation relative to exploring this deep mine.
And, first, I would say, that some effort is required. This effort is the effort of faith, and faith digs deep to get at the secret treasures which are hid in God. Among those treasures, says the apostle, is our very life--"our life is hid with Christ in God." There is something then, to explore; and we want to get at and discover, to see and possess, what the wisdom and knowledge of God are, and what is the life of the real believer--"hid with Christ in God." There wants effort to get at, and look upon, the precious inventory and catalogue which are given of those treasures in God's holy oracles. There are the efforts of faith wanted to penetrate into the deep things of God, as they are set forth in prophecy, in privileges, in promises, in personal experience, in precepts, and in all the sacred verities which the precious oracles of Divine truth set forth.
Moreover, in the exploring of a mine, there must of necessity be the removal of a vast deal of surface rubbish--the casting away of a vast deal of rubbish, before you get at the valuable things which are hidden in the mine. I have never seen much of mining; but this I have seen, that around the mouths of the shafts there are heaps upon heaps of rubbish that may be considered surface rubbish, and which employs a great number of persons in carting it away. It is only in the way, and they must dig through it, and remove it, before they can get at the ores. I mention this in order to remind you that in the young Christian's experience there is a vast deal of surface rubbish, vows, resolutions, free-wills exploits, creature dependencies, frames and feelings, and legal notions--all which must be removed, for you cannot get at the mine else. In some places the rubbish is thicker and deeper, and more difficult to remove; such, for instance, is the rubbish of rites and ceremonies, and castes and denominations. It is marvelous what a hard, rocky--nay, rather clayey,--slimy thing to remove is the prejudice of what they call the Church. "Oh! I belong to the Church; I must not leave the Church." If I were asked--but they know better than to put a question of the sort to me--if I have left the Church, I should say, "No; I have left the seat of idolatry, but I have come to the Church of God--the living Church of the living God. No, no; I am a stickler for the idea of being a high Churchman, and I do not like the Church that is so low as a steeple. I do not like the Church that is so low as rites, ceremonies, water life-givings, creature doings, and the like. Such a Church as that is beneath the contempt of a real child of God; and if they call that the Church, I shall be glad if I am known to have nothing at all to do with it. But to say that I have left the Church of God, is to slander me; and I bless God that He has given unto me to partake in its enjoyments. It is extraordinary how this slimy prejudice will stick to persons' fingers, and they cannot get rid of it. My hearers, you must dig deeper; you must get rid of this useless rubbish; you must get rid of this nuisance, before you can reach the mine and dig into the treasure it contains.
Then, perhaps, some of you may say, "There is a good deal of tackling used in a mine, is there not?" Indeed there is. "But why do you descend to such things at this moment?" What I state is in the Word: "Thy tacklings are loosed (referring to the tackling of a ship); they could not well strengthen their mast; they could not spread the sail;" and therefore could not go further. Now, if I look at a mine, I shall find three things, which I will mention to you: the first is, cords or ropes; the second, wheels; and the third, rough tools; and, depend upon it, you will never be able to explore the treasures of the mine without them. Well, then, you see immense cords in me. Very well; and the Lord God has said that He will draw His people with the cords of a man, with bands of love. (Hos. 11:4) In the very chapter we have been reading we are reminded that not one of the cords of Zion's tents or tabernacles shall be broken or destroyed. Then you see that the figure is employed in Scripture itself. And you will never go any depth into the things of God; you will never go down into the mine of infinite wisdom and knowledge in the glorious doctrine of salvation, so as to receive that wealth yourself, until the threefold cord of love Divine, in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is your entire dependence; and as the entire weight of all that is brought up out of a mine hangs and depends upon the cord, so all the blessings of the gospel, all the provisions of grace, all the salvation of souls, and all the comfort of believers, must hang and depend upon the threefold cord, the love of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Again, wheels are employed in a mine, and I will not say how multiplied or complicated. Sometimes one wheel may be seen to work in a positively opposite direction to another, yet actually helping it; and the one grand design is accomplished by this apparent contrariety in the working. What was Ezekiel's wheel, the wheel within wheel, but the order of God's providence, the manner in which He is ordering the affairs of His Church. And when He sends one servant here, and another servant yonder, brings them back again, and causes them to go in a zig-zag direction, like the journey of the children of Israel in the wilderness, in the midst of all these apparent contrary movements of the wheels of Providence, God is carrying out His grand designs for enabling His people to get deeper into the hid treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are in the glorious doctrine of the Trinity. Not infrequently have you and I been in such situations, that the wheels of Providence moved with such reverses as seemed to be fatal to us, and we have been ready to cry, "All is over with us now." We did not watch those other wheels which moved in the opposite directions; and, probably at the moment when we feared all was lost, and all was a failure, up came the treasure of the mine, supported by this precious cord over those wheels, and put our souls into the possession of a joy, a peace and comfort that we could not possibly have obtained in any other way. The Lord's ways are right.
Moreover, rough tools must be employed. When God means you to explore His blessedness, His love, His faithfulness, to get more of Jesus and His salvation; or, to keep to the words of our text, more of the wisdom and knowledge that are hid in Him, trials, afflictions, persecutions, vexations, disappointments, and a variety of things, supposed to be evils by us, and incident to human life, rough tools are employed, and they dig sometimes into your every comfort for awhile, and appear to undermine, as the miners would do, all that is solid and comfortable. And what do you do all that time? Why, whilst these afflictions, trials, temptations, vexations, and disappointments, are going on, God is leading you deeper and deeper into His truth, God is leading you deeper and deeper into the hid treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are in Himself, secure and hidden from the world. Methinks I hear the child of God ready to respond, "Then let me no more complain, murmur, or repine at any rough tools my God may use, if He will only enable me to dig deeper, to go into the recesses of His love, to get into the heart and bowels of His covenant, and explore and bring up the sacred produce of His salvation. Let the tools be rough as they may, and the wheels of Providence run contrary as they may, so long as the rope of love is strong, all must succeed in making me wise unto salvation, and rich unto eternal glory.
III. Let us now take a glance at the never-failing wealth that is brought out of this mine. I was going to say that I would, for brevity sake, give you four words, and leave you to improve them at your leisure. But, perhaps, I may as well drop a hint or two upon each of them. Truth, holiness, intimacy, and salvation, all fetched out of this mine--the wisdom and knowledge of God hidden from the world.
Truth. There are multitudes of real Christians who have but a very superficial, a very slight acquaintance with God's truth. They seem to me to have hardly got through the rubbish that lies upon the surface, and that some more still requires to be carted away; and, I think I may say of many Christians, what Nehemiah said when he was so busily employed about the walls of Jerusalem and the temple, or rather what he heard Judah say in her complaint, "The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish, so that we are not able to build the wall;" there was "much rubbish" to be removed before they could proceed with the work. And I think I may say of multitudes of Christians, and, I fear, of some of my hearers also, there remaineth very much rubbish to be removed; and, depend upon it, beloved, that the rubbish will always be in the way of the tackling, and obstruct your entrance into the mine. "The strength of the bearers of burden is decayed." Then we must seek for strength from on high; for the rubbish must positively be removed, because we want the people of God to get at truth in its depth, its fullness, its clearness, and its adaptation, as fully as the precious Christ of God describes it when He says, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) This is getting something in possession--this is drawing up treasure from the mine.
Then we want holiness with truth. It is not enough to satisfy my mind that the professing people of God should have clear and accurate views of the doctrines of truth. I value them as every man ought; but if they have not holiness with it, observe that that very truth will add to their damnation, and be a dead weight about their necks to sink them into the bottomless pit for ever--that very truth, if known only in theory, and not felt in the heart, may add to their condemnation at the last great day. Do you not remember what was said by our precious Lord upon this point, "that the servant which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes." From this statement, I gather that the man who listens to the proclamation of the doctrines of grace, who knows God's method of saving sinners, and acknowledges the truth of the doctrines of grace, yet has never felt their influence upon his heart, but continues in the love and practice of sin, is doing all he can to seal his damnation, and make his hell hotter than even the wrath of God makes it. If there be hardened sinner of that description now present, when I meet you at the day of judgment, I shall say, "I am clear of that man's blood; for I told him what would be the result of his life of impenitence and sin." You will find, then, that holiness is part of our wealth--"without holiness no man shall see the Lord." A life of holiness constitutes the Christian character; therefore the injunction runs, "Be ye holy, even as He is holy."
I hurry on to observe that all interests will be rendered secure by the discovery and exploring of this mine. And those interests are the interests of Christ in His people, and the interest of His people in Him. His interest in His people is such, that He would as soon part with His throne as part with one of them; He would as soon abdicate His government and His crown as allow one of them to perish. Hence He has sworn by Himself that none of them shall perish, neither shall any pluck them out of His hand. Then, with regard to their interest in Him. They appropriate all His merits, His righteousness, His offices, His responsibility, and His work. Faith lays her hand upon them, and says, "These have I explored, and found in the mine, by digging deeply into the 'unsearchable riches of Christ,' and 'having Christ, I possess all things.'"
Moreover, to sum up all, salvation is explored, discovered, received, and enjoyed as full, perfect, complete, immutable, and eternal. Salvation, and that of God, is discovered. Salvation discovered in the bestowment of Divine life; salvation accomplished in the perfect work of God the Saviour; salvation proclaimed in the precious Word of God; salvation applied by the power of the Holy Ghost to the sinner's heart; salvation appropriated, with all its blessings and privileges, as my own salvation; salvation consummated on the coronation day, when "God, the righteous Judge, shall give the crown of righteousness unto all that love the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Oh! ye followers of the Lamb, what are you doing in this work of exploring? I want you all to become miners. I want you all to become busy, active, diligent, and persevering in your digging, penetrating and prying into the great things of God, always looking for the one thing essential in the grand concern of mining--power. All the ropes, and wheels, and tools in the world, would be of no use without power. I shall not detain you to speak of manual power and labor, or the power of machinery and steam. I leave men to their devices and discoveries in relation to that. But there is one power that we must wholly depend upon as Christians, for the movement of every wheel, the use of every rope, and the success of every tool employed. "God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God." (Ps. 62:11) And all that can be done in the use of means, public or private, and they are both binding and imperative upon us; and all that can be done with your Bibles in the closet, in mediation, and by preaching, and hearing, and the like--they all amount to nothing in the exploration of this mine without the power of God the Holy Ghost accompanying them, and effecting all in the personal experience of the whole election of grace.
Oh, thou Most High! we close the proclamation of thy truth this morning with an earnest request, that power, power, power, may go forth with thy word. Amen.