Page images



Ah what is life ? a flower, a vapor!

The dew of morning, passing soon!
Or like the sudden wasting taper,

Soon out-alas, how short the boon!
Approach with silent grief the mansion,

Where mortals slumber in the grave;-
Where now that damsel once so handsome ?

Where now that hero once so brave?
Where now those eyes once sparkling, glancing,

Diffusing joy on all around
Where now that graceful form, enchanting ?

That voice ?-in silence-how profound !
What lamentation and what wailing!

What mourning, struggling and what pain !
When the grief-worn body's failing -

The soul now flies-now comes again!
This life's a shadow, O how fleeting!

How vain and transient all its joys !
Its seeming pleasures all retreating,

Leave but a name of fancied toys.
Then since 'tis but a sleep of error,

An unavailing imag?d life,
Let us with wisdom view the mirror,

And in religion seek relief.
Let us anticipate with pleasure

A life to come that never ends;
And in that house lay up our treasure,

Where we shall meet departed friends.
Where grief and pain have no admission,

And heavenly pleasure ceaseless reigns ;
Where every soul in true submission,
Shall praise our God while he remains.

D. S.

No. 3.

,OCTOBER, 1823.

Vol. IV.

SERMON, NO. XII. Matthew xiii. 44. The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field, the which when a man hath found he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyetle that field.

These words may require some general explanation, before we proceed to the particulars which they enibrace. They are susceptible of the following amplification; "the kingdom of God, which is the gospel in its illuminating and moralizing effects is like a rich treasure in a field, hidden from common observation, and of course not sought after, and perhaps its existence denied or treated as a chimera. But a man, having satisfied himself that a treasure is deposited there, "hideth it,” he keeps it secret, he makes no one acquainted with his discovery; and in the joy of his heart, parts with all his possessions, and cheerfully gives up all other considerations, to purchase that field, and thus secure to himself great and permanent wealth."

In no part of divine revelation are we presented with such a variety of images of the kingdom of heaven, as in the parables of the New Testament. It was the intention of our Lord to exhibit his kingdom in every point of view, in which it could be considered ; and when he had shown it in one light, he turned it round, or brought, the beholder to a different station, and exhibited it in another." It will contribute to our acquaintance with the immediate subject, to run the mental eye along the line of beautiful images, which satch our attention in every parable; as by comparing them, we shall acquire a more extensive knowledge of the object which they resemble, and better deternine the use and application of the similes in the text. "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, hid in three

measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”

» This parable describes the gospel in its essential properties and operations. Its qualities are good, capable of diffusion, possessing the power of assimilating and operating in a silent and unseen way, without noise, or disturbance, or ostentation. “The kingdom of God comcth not with observation. It is not preceded by heralds, crying, 'lo here or lo there” Again, “so is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up he knoweth not how.” 'As the grain progresses in growth, tho robody sees it grow, so the advances we make in knowledge, as they consist of such minute steps, are only perceivable by the distance gone over. «The king dom of heaven is like a merchant man seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." There, under the appellation of skingdom," our Savior describes himself, and points out the design and tendency of his religion, to seek, to improve, and to save the world. “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard-seed which a man took and sowed in his field ; which is indeed the least of all seeds ; but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." The operations and effects of moral truth have commenced upon very small scale; and, of course, the world has been accustomed to think very lightly and diminutively of it There has been “but a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountain.” The flock of the great Shepherd has usually been "a little flock," and they who composed it, have, like Joshua

and his fellows; "been men wondered-at;” yet this diminutive and de: spised company will increase as with the increase of God." The minutest of all seeds will produce a tree, extending its protecting branches in every direction. The “fruit of the handful of corn shall shake like Lebanon." "A little one shall become a thausand,


and a small one a strong nation.” Lastly, some para bles which present images of the kingdom of 'God, describe, so to speak, the materials of which it is composed; they define the ground on which the work of moral improvement is predicated. Of this character, is the parable which stands at the head of this dis

In discussing the subject before us, we shall, first, inquire, in what respects the kingdom of heaveu is like a treasure hidden in a field :

There are two ways in which this metaphor may be explained, and in both it will be found to form a resemblance to the object which it is said to reprosent. It may be understood as describing the king, dom of heaven to be like a sum of money, deposited in the earth, or like a valuable mine of gold or silver, contained in some field, under the surface of the earth, the existence of which treasure is unknown, except to the man, who sells all that he possesses to purchase the field. How far this method of description accords with real fact, you may be able to judge from a few brief considerations, which will be laid before you.


may occur to you, as it has to ine, that the analogy between the two cases is considerable, and deserving our attention. He that buys a field for the sake of the hidden treasure it contains, buys all that appertains to the field ; the useless as well as the useful becomes his, the purchaser's property. The man who should make a purchase of this kind, if the soil wore an unpromising appearance ; if it was barren, except in briars and thorns, in noxious weeds and poisonous herbs, and if, at the same time, the secret treasure was unknown to all but the purchaser ; 1

say, under such circumstances, the man might naturally enough be called unwise to part with his wealth, for that which is thought to be worth nothing. You scarcely need be told that the gospel was first proached under the most unpromising and appalling circumstances. What must inust have been the expectations of the founder of the new kingdom, what the calcu


lations of his few, despised followers, when he and they saw nothing before them but a dreary, barren waste, the thorn instead of the myrtle, and tares instead of wheat? In a word, what animating considerations could attend the contemplation of a world, "dead in trespasses and sins ?” These were solemn facts attested by history and experience, yet we are not at liberty to believe, that the Redeemer of the world undertook his work heartlessly, and hopeless of suc

We are not to indulge the impious thought, that he had no object, or was ignorant of the means of securing his object. But his object must have been hidden from the common view of mankind. The Savior must have known of the existence of a treasure, which, "for ages and generations had been concealed" : from the world. This treasure was his kingdom, his inheritance, "the joy set before him. He said to the people, the "kingdom of God is within you." Who would have expected any thing valuable in such persons as Matthew and Zaccheus, both publicans and sinners,” the openly immoral and profane ? Yet the address, “come, and follow me,” made to one of them, and the declaration, “this day is salvation come to this house," made to the other, brings these persons forth in a new character. The treasure which they contained was exposed, and their relative value to the gospel kingdom fully established. We have been too much habituated to "judge of things after the outward appearance," and hence, we “judge unrighteous judgement.” He who "came to seek and to save,” öknew what was in man." And tho appearances were mosť inauspicious, and circumstances most unpromising, yet he exulted in his prospects ; "tho Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord; my work is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.”

Again, there is another point in this analogy, that deniands attention. The treasure which is contained in the bowels of the earth, must be sought after with labor and toil, and when found, may require the exercise of

« PreviousContinue »