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But how is the treasure to be bought? This is the first point that demands our attention here. We have already seen that it cannot be bought in any commercial sense, because the truth is not a marketable commodity; it is not an article of traffic. But yet it is to the laws of trade and commerce that Solomon alludes, and it is in the light of these laws that the subject before us ought to be viewed. Following, therefore, the figure which is here used, we remark

1. That the truth ought to be carefully examined. No wise man will buy an article, especially one for which a high price is demanded, without looking very closely into it; and the higher the price, the more anxious will he be to test and prove it before making up his mind to offer for it. There is no good thing but has its counterfeits and imitations. Gold or silver may be corrupted by an admixture of baser metals; compositions of paste and of coloured glass may be passed off for diamonds and pearls; and hence those who deal in these precious articles find it necessary to examine them very carefully, ere they venture to buy them. Now, the article we are here advised to purchase is admitted to be the most valuable of all things, and it is therefore the last thing that should be taken upon trust.

That it is liable to be perverted and debased, we all know, and we also know how pernicious such perversions may be. Truth is the aliment of the soul, the spiritual food which God has provided for us; and hence Moses, speaking of it to the people of Israel, says, “It is not a vain (or light) thing for you, because it is your life.” But just as the best things, if adulterated, become the worst, so the Gospel itself may prove a savour of death unto death as well as a savour of life unto life. It is therefore of the utmost consequence that we should ascertain the soundness of those things that are set before us as “truth,” so that we may not be led away by the good words and fair speeches of those who trade upon the credulity of the ignorant, and lie in wait to deceive. We are warned not to believe any spirit, but to try the spirits, whether they are of God. Even the great Teacher sent from God, He who was not only the anointed Revealer, but the living embodiment of “the truth,"—did not require His hearers to take His declarations upon trust. On the contrary, He not only courted but demanded enquiry; He referred His disciples to the great standard of appeal, and charged them to search the Scriptures, and judge for themselves as to the character of His doctrines and the legitimacy of His claims. And one of the

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most eminent of His followers speaks with high admiration of the people of Berea, because of the thoughtful and conscientious spirit which they manifested in this respect. For, while they listened attentively to all he had to say concerning the faith of Christ, they took care, at the same time, to bring his statements to the test of the inspired record. “They received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so." For this he declared that the men of Berea were a noble set of men, who were equally faithful to their responsibilities and their rights. So far was St Paul from cherishing that spirit of priestly assumption which is claimed by certain teachers, and so little did he wish to usurp dominion over the faith of his hearers, ignorant as many of them must have been as compared with himself, that he counselled his converts to prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good, that their faith might not stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God. This, then, is sufficient to show the importance which he attached to the principle of private judgment.

It is no doubt true that this principle may be abused. It is true that the unlearned and unstable may wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction, but that is no reason why the Scriptures should be wrested out of their hands. There are some, however, who, in sefish insolence and total disregard of all rights but their own, would trample their fellow-men under their feet, and keep them in bondage all their days. Such is the spirit of those ecclesiastical usurpers who deny the right of private judgment, and denounce the exercise of rational independence. These men may well talk of the antiquity of their churches and the unchangeableness of their creeds, for they have managed to carry down into the midst of this century the feudal despotism of the middle ages. Yes, while the civil governments of Europe have all recognised the principle of popular freedom, while even Russia has emancipated her serfs, and Spain-priest-ridden Spain, the cradle of the Jesuits, and the nursing-mother of the Holy Inquisition—has at last proclaimed liberty of conscience throughout all the provinces, from the rock of Gibraltar to the Bay of Biscay-while this mighty change has been going on among the nations of the earth, the priest (no matter whether he calls himself Roman or Anglican) has either been going backward or standing still. But (what is far more astonishing) we find him at this day surrounded by a multitude of voluntary slaves, so pitifully abject, so utterly bereft of their manhood, that they hug

their chains with a sort of loyal pride, and kiss the feet that are planted on their breasts. What a fearful picture of grinding superstition and of human degradation !

If, then, we wish to buy the truth, let us be sure that it is the truth that we buy; for we may see, in the very case we have now cited, that falsehood may prove fatal to our best interests, both as men and as Christians. Let us, therefore, stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free; and, in the exercise of that liberty, let us carefully examine the nature of those principles that are held forth to us, before we adopt them.

2. Having thus tested and ascertained the genuineness of the article, the next step that the buyer is called upon to take is that of appraising it, or forming some estimate of its value. The price put upon it is high-the highest, indeed, that can be demanded for anything in this world. For it is offered only on one condition, and that is, the sacrifice, or, at least, the free surrender of all we have. Like certain stock transactions, a large instalment must be paid in at once, and the whole of the rest of our substance is to be kept in hand, as it were, to answer the calls of the creditor. And there is this peculiarity connected with it, that it is quite as much within the reach of the poorest as of the richest. While the price is the same to all, the advantage in this case is on the side of those who have least to give, for they are only required to give what they have, be it more or less. As the same rule applies to the rich, they have, in a manner, a greater sacrifice to make, a heavier stake to lay down, in order to secure the prize. Hence, when the bargain is concluded, they are both placed on the same level. As it was with the manna-gatherers of old, so is it here : “He that had gathered much had nothing over, and he that had gathered little had no lack.” And, therefore, as the apostle says, “there is an equality."

That these are the terms or conditions on which the truth is to be bought, is clearly intimated by our Lord in two of His parables. "The kingdom of heaven,” He says, “is like unto a merchantman seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” And again, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field, the which when a man has found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” The first of these parables speaks of those who are seeking after wisdom, who are directly engaged in this high department

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of spiritual commerce, and who, in the midst of the many goodly pearls which come to them in the course of their traffic, find one that is worth all the rest, and for which, therefore, they are willing to pay down the whole of their fortune,-finding infinitely more satisfaction and profit in that transcendent pearl than in all their precious gains. For although the truth consists of many parts, every one of them more or less valuable, yet they all converge to one point, which contains the entire sum of these parts, and combines them in their fullest perfection. As man is the king of the creatures, as the sovereign is (morally and politically) the king of men, so Christ, who is the King of kings, is the King of truth. And being thus the great central Light-the incarnation of Wisdom, He is the perfection of excellency, and the perfection of beauty. To Him, therefore, the words of Solomon apply in the highest sense; for the blessings held forth to us in Him are more precious than rubies, and among all the things that we desire there is nothing which is, for a moment, to be compared with them. Here, in short, we shall find “ the one thing needful;" and that which the poet of Olney said of the Father may be also said of the Son

"Thou art of all Thy gifts Thyself the crown:

Give what Thou wilt, without Thee we are poor,
And with Thee rich, take what Thou wilt away.”

The other of our Lord's parables to which we have referred, viz., the treasure hid in the field, represents the case of those who, without seeking after wisdom, come upon it accidentally, as it were; perceiving how great a treasure it is, they are ready to part with all their possessions in order to obtain it. But is this sacrifice actually required? Are we really called upon to give all that we have in exchange for the truth as it is in Jesus? To many, this may seem a mere figure of speech, but it is not so; for we find it literally exemplified in the history of the primitive Church. We read that, “as many as were possessed of houses, or lands, sold them, and laid the price at the feet of the apostles ;" and the story of Ananias and Sapphira shows how those were dealt with who kept back any part of the price that was demanded. It was not simply for the purpose of trying him that our Lord told the rich youth to go and sell all that he had, and then to come and follow Him. He was but laying down the fundamental rule of discipleship; for He had declared, over and over again, that He would have no followers who were not prepared to make this sacrifice; that “whosoever loved father, or mother, or houses, or lands, more than Him, were not worthy of Him." It was on this express understanding that the whole of His disciples went, when they cast in their lot with Him; and Peter brings out that fact distinctly, when he says of himself and his brethren as a body, “Lo, we have left all and followed Thee.” But they were no losers by the bargain. On the contrary, it yielded them a rich return, both presently and prospectively. What their Master promised they found to be true: "Every one,” says He," that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit eternal.” Such, then, are the terms on which this treasure is offered to us; such is the only condition on which the truth can be bought.

3. But, in order to conclude this transaction, there is yet one other step which requires to be taken. We must close with the terms on which the article is offered. It is not enough to ascertain its value; if we wish to buy it, we must appropriate as well as appraise it, before we can look upon it as ours.

And this requires some pains and labour on the part of the purchaser. For the truth is not an external thing, that can be secured and set up at once, like a piece of furniture; but a system of doctrine and discipline, which needs to be carefully studied, thoroughly grasped, and diligently improved. Hence, he who seeks to have and to hold it must devote much time and attention to the acquirement of it. He must “ learn to scorn delights, and live laborious days." It must, in short, be the great theme of his thoughts, and of his enquiries, and, like the psalmist, he must meditate upon it day and night. But as our time will not allow us to dwell on this point, we shall now go on to the second part of our text, and look at the advice that is there given us.

II. "Buy the truth,” says the wise king of Israel," and sell it not." From what has been already said, it is very plain that it can never be sold, except at a very serious loss. Still, there are often foolish bargains made, even with respect to matters of the highest importance, and, therefore, the caution here inculcated is by no means unnecessary. But how, it may be asked, can the truth be sold? Of course, the buying and the selling in this case are both to be understood in a figurative or metaphorical sense. By the one, we are to understand the importance of securing

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