Sister Peck, of Catskill, N. Y., requests our views of the parables of the treasure hid in a field, and of the merchant-man seeking goodly pearls, &c., presented in this portion of the divine testimony. Unwilling as we are to withhold from any of God’s dear children such views of the Scriptures as we have, we feel more hesitation in writing on the parables generally, than on those positive and emphatic declarations of the word which declare the truth, which parables are intended to illustrate. Parables or figures may bear some analogy to other subjects than those which were primarily set forth by them; and it is sometimes difficult for us, with our limited understanding, to tell with certainty the precise design or application intended by our Lord in the use of them. The two parables now under consideration, both have reference to the kingdom of heaven; thus far we are certain, for it is so written; and therefore, cannot without violence to the truth be applied to the world, or to the children of men indiscriminately. For the same Jesus, who spake them, has said, “My kingdom is not of the world, but [it is stated in both these parables,] of heaven.” It is neither of the world nor visible to the world; for, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see it.” This kingdom of heaven, Jesus says, was prepared for those who are, and shall be, found at the King’s right hand, from the foundation of the world, and was revealed by the angel of the Lord Jesus to John, as coming down from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband. And Jesus testifies that it is a kingdom which he has received of his Father, and which he has appointed to his disciples and farther, that it is their Father’s good pleasure that the little flock of Jesus, shall inherit it. In the word of God it is declared to be an everlasting kingdom, and a dominion that shall not end. And all saints are taught by the word and by the spirit to confess unto God, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.” In its gospel organization, or manifestation, in this world, it is a kingdom which the God of heaven has set up, a tabernacle which God hath pitched, and not men; and can in this respect be easily distinguished from all the religious organizations on earth which are set up by the wisdom or works of men; its maker and builder is God. If we would be instructed by the parable, we must not forget that it is the kingdom of heaven, and not the kingdom of Satan, or anti-Christ, that it is like treasure hid in a field, &c., and that there must be a sense in which this kingdom is like treasure which is so hidden. Our object is now to inquire after that likeness, or resemblance. If the earthly nature of the saints constituted this kingdom, we could not see how it could be hidden; but we are expressly informed that flesh and blood doth not inherit it, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption, it must therefore be a spiritual kingdom, which none but they who are born again, of an incorruptible seed, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, can enter, or inherit. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit, and this kingdom embraces the spirit of just men made perfect, by their vital union with the King, and their interest in his atoning blood and justifying righteousness, and so far as they walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, there is no condemnation to them; they are holy and without blame before God in love; made acceptable in the Beloved.
Three questions are now presented:
1. What field is this treasure hidden in?
2. How is it hidden, and for what purpose?
3. From whom is it hidden?
First. In a field. A field, in the common acceptation of the word, is a certain quantity, a specific portion of the surface of the earth that is set apart, and inclosed by the proprietor for the purpose of sowing seed, and from that seed producing by development a harvest. The specific quantity of this field, is indicated in the parable in the same chapter of the leaven, as three measures; a measured quantity, so much, and no more. The field being a portion of the earth, may well signify the chosen, redeemed and purchased members of the human family, chosen from among men, redeemed out of every kindred and tribe of mankind, bought with a price, sanctified, set apart, or inclosed, by the Spirit’s sealing operation. Or, in other words, embracing the mortal bodies of all the saints, which are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise; and predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son of God, that he may be the firstborn among many brethren, which bodies shall accordingly be changed at their resurrection, and fashioned and made like the glorious, risen body of our Lord Jesus, who is the first begotten from the dead, and the first fruits of them that slept, and in whose resurrection all the saints are begotten to a lively hope, to an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and that cannot fade away, being reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God, &c.
Second. How, and for what purpose is this immortal treasure hidden in the people of God whom he hath chosen from among men? To hide, is to conceal, according to the illustration in the parable of the leaven, which was hidden in three measures of meal, and which is to work secretly but effectually in the measured quantity of meal, until the measured mass shall become perfectly assimilated to the nature and quality of the leaven which was hidden in it. The leaven hidden in the meal, thus signifying the same as the treasure hidden in the field. The three measures, having reference to the people of God, under the three dispensations, patriarchal, legal and gospel. The holy seed from heaven, being the germ, or the entire kingdom of heaven in the germ, is the treasure, hidden in the elect of God, out of Adam’s race, as the leaven was hid in the measures of meal, or as the mustard seed, which had in it the tree which should be developed, expanded, and made manifest. But first, the seed must be cast in the earth, Christ, who in his Mediatorial character as the Son of God and Head of the Church, is the embodiment of this seed, (and that seed is Christ,) said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth alone,” and thus applied the figure to himself, as dying for our offences, and rising for our justification, and securing the full harvest of what the seed should develop. The life of the church is hid with Christ in God, and God was in Christ, reconciling, or subduing all things to himself, and the angel, or Spirit of Christ, was in and with his people, from the days of Abel, and he carried them and bare them all the days of old, and still in this third measure of the meal, we have the same treasure in earthen vessels, which is Christ in you the hope of glory, and it is so that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
Third. From whom is it hidden? From the wise and prudent, from the learned and great of the world, and from all natural men. God hath hidden it effectually from them, because so it seemed good in his sight. And the same God, and for the same reason or purpose has revealed it to babes, that no man should glory in the flesh, but that he that glorieth shall glory in the Lord. Except a man be born again, whatever may be the amount of his wisdom, learning, or of his work of willing or of doing, he cannot see the kingdom of God, for it cometh not by observation; it is hidden in the field, and shall be there concealed from human scrutiny until God shall make it manifest.
The which, when a man hath found, he hideth. Who is the man that hath found this treasure in the field? It cannot be those men from whom God hath hidden these things, unless men have power to thwart, or make void the purpose of God, and that they cannot do, unless they are wiser and stronger than he. Men in nature who cannot see the kingdom, would make a sorry work of searching for what they cannot see. And we are told in the Scriptures, that neither the kingdom, nor any of the things of the Spirit of God can be seen by any man who is not a subject of the new birth. The natural man, or unregenerated man, however wise, and prudent, receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. This then, settles that matter, that it cannot possibly be a natural man, that findeth the hidden treasure in the field, and if he could find it, all his possessions will not sell in any market, for a price sufficient to purchase the field in which the treasure is concealed. This field cannot be bought with corruptible things, as silver and gold; nothing short of the precious blood of Christ, is an equivalent for this field. It was the Man Christ Jesus who came down from heaven to seek and to save that which was lost. The Man which is my fellow, or equal, saith the Lord of hosts. He is not only the Mighty God of heaven and of earth, but he sustains equally the character of the Man of God’s right hand. The Man whom God has made strong for himself. The Man that shall be and is a hiding place from the wind, and covert from the tempest, &c., and the Man by whom God will judge the world in righteousness at the last day. This Man of God’s right hand, was made flesh and dwelt among us; was manifested in the flesh, seen of angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory; he took the responsible work upon himself, saying, I will both seek my flock, and find them out; he possessed in his own right an interest, a treasure, in the field which he came to look after, to seek, to find and to redeem, and he found Jacob in a waste howling wilderness, and he is successful in his researches, he knows where to look, and with his omniscient eye he has the power to see. All things are naked and open to the eye of him with whom we have to do, and the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.
But, sister Peck will inquire, Did the Man Christ Jesus sell all that he had and buy the field in which this treasure was hidden?
We reply, So it appears to us. We must remember the language is figurative, it is a parable. Jesus was rich, but for our sake became poor. The glory which he had with the Father before the world began was exceedingly rich and valuable, but all was laid aside, and the form of a servant put on. A babe is born in Bethlehem, he reclines in a manger, there is no room for him in the inn; the foxes have holes to burrow in, the birds have nests adapted to their comfort and convenience, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. But is all this humiliation and poverty enough to buy the field? Eternal Justice demands an infinitely greater price. His life, his blood, the Shepherd pays. Himself he gives, for nothing less could buy the field; and the field must be bought, that is, redeemed. Now, we ask, Has this field ever been bought by any other man than the Man which is the fellow of the Lord of hosts, whose name is The God of the whole Earth? And did it not cost him all that he was and all he had? “He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people,” &c. If we are right in understanding the field to be the chosen vessels of God’s election from the tribes of the earth, and the kingdom of heaven, as that which was hidden in them, then we must regard the final resurrection of the bodies of all the saints, changed to the fashion, purity and immortality of Christ’s glorious body, inevitable and certain, as the redemption of the purchased possession. The Lord Jesus did not sell all that he had to buy life for the church, for that life he himself is, but he gave his life for them. Hence Paul says to the saints, Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are his. And to the Elders the charge is given, Feed the flock of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. He findeth the treasure in the field, he hideth it, and for joy thereof goeth and buyeth the field. The treasure was hidden before, it still is hidden, it is in the secret place of the Most High under the shadow of the Almighty; hidden with Christ in God, in the safe hiding place, the pavilion of God.
And for joy thereof goeth and buyeth the field. “Who for the joy which was set before him, endured the cross, and despised the shame.” Ought not Christ to suffer these things and then enter into his glory? His life which he gave, he was able to take again, as his resurrection has proved, and although he came forth to this work, weeping, he returns to his Father in glory, rejoicing, bearing his sheaves with him. That spiritual, immortal and divine life which he gives, he had no occasion to buy, it was in him secure, but the vessels in which this treasure should be developed, were members of the fallen family of the earthly Adam, and the demands of the law which they in that earthly nature had transgressed, had to be met and canceled, and the amount required was all that he had. Not one jot or tittle less than Jesus Christ could pay the price, or be received as an equivalent for the purchased possession.
We have dwelt so lengthy on this parable, that we have very little space in which to express our views on the parable of the merchantman, and the goodly pearl, but we will briefly remark that we understand this parable to be substantially the same as the one which we have considered, with some change in the figures used. As Christ is the King, and all that constitutes the kingdom of heaven is in him, and called by his name, so we suppose that he as embodying the whole Church, and especially in his connection with her, is called the Kingdom of Heaven, and is, in the sense intended, like a merchantman, seeking goodly pearls. But very unlike a merchantman offering to dispose of pearls, or to sell merchandise for a profit. All that he had advertised for sale is, Milk and Wine, garments, eye salve, &c. And all these are bestowed without money and without price; freely, graciously and unconditionally, not to the rich, but to the poor, the needy, and to those who have no money. But as the preceding parable shows, he was seeking goodly pearls, or a treasure which was hidden. The subjects of his grace which were invaluable in his estimation, like the hidden treasure in the field, or the precious pearl in the unfathomed deeps, was to be sought by him and found. Therefore, from his radiant courts on high, he bowed his heavens and came down to seek and save that which was lost. Nor did he miss his object; the treasure he found, the field he purchased, the pearl, and the casket in which it was concealed he secured. This was a pearl of great price. All the gold of Ophir could not buy it. All the treasures of this world, all the works and merits, could not make up the amount. To estimate the price demanded by Eternal Justice for this pearl, think of the cross, the spear, the nails; think of the agony, the sweat, think of the scourging, buffeting, the pain, the grief, the dying groans, the rending rocks, the opening graves, the darkened skies, the rending veil, and quaking earth, and such was the price; justice could not take one farthing less. His holy soul was poured out unto death; his marred, pierced, but unblemished body sinks in death upon the cruel cross, and his Spirit is committed to his Father in heaven; justice sums up what is the exact amount; this, but nothing less, could buy the pearl which Jesus came to seek and save. Now resounds the loud anthem!
“His work forever is complete;
Forever undisturb’d his seat;
Myriads of angels round him fly,
And sing his well gain’d victory.”
These, sister Peck, are such views as we have on the subject submitted, if our views are not satisfactory, they are at least, as good as we can give. The writer of this article finds it much easier to see the defects, in the views of others, than to give an explanation with which he is perfectly satisfied himself. If we have failed to present the true design and doctrine of the subject, let those who are blessed with clearer views present them.
Middletown, N. Y.
June 1, 1859.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 226 - 233