<< THE MERCHANT SEEKING PEARLS. >>
ACKNOWLEDGING THE DIVINE HUMANITY.
45"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.(MATTHEW XIII. 45. 46.)
THE CENTRAL TRUTH.
The most important of all knowledge is that concerning God .. The grandest theme of all the Divine Word, the most precious pearl of Christianity, is the truth of the Divine character of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
This is the central and pervading topic of the Sacred Scriptures, dwelling as an inward meaning, within all the various teachings of the Bible. And this is the especial lesson of the parable before us. The parable of "The Hidden Treasure" suggests that the Church is in possession of a great treasure, hidden from the careless world; the inward spiritual meaning of the Scriptures, hidden from the merely natural thought, but revealed to the spiritual mind. And now the present parable displays the fact that there is one greatest central truth of the Lord's Word; viz., the truth of the Divinity of the Humanity of Jesus Christ.
THE DIVINE HUMANITY.
We use the term with exactness, "the Divinity of the Humanity of Jesus Christ." For many persons admit something Divine in the character of Jesus, especially in His inward life. But few grasp the full idea of the entire deity of Jesus Christ. The Old Theology, burdened with the irrational "mystery of the trinity," has nothing to teach, as to the Divine character of the Lord, Jesus Christ, except the general fact, coupled with incomprehensible dogmas.
But it is the mission of the New-Church to fulfil the Lord's own promise, "The time cometh, when I shall show you plainly of the Father." And, in the New-Church, the Lord, Jesus Christ, has shown us plainly of the Father, by showing us His own identity with the Father, in one Divine Person. He has shown us the Divine character of His own Humanity; not the mere physical body; (for the mere material body is not an essential part of the humanity of any man;) but the assumed natural manhood of Jesus Christ, (all that is beyond the merely material part,) glorified, and united with the indwelling Father, and thus made one, in the one Person of the one God, Jesus Christ. "I and the Father are one." "He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father." This grand truth of the Divinity of the Humanity of Jesus Christ, is the" stone which the builders [have] rejected" from many of the Churches, but which, in the New-Jerusalem, "has become the head of the corner," the grand cornerstone of the holy city.
SELLING ALL THAT HE HATH.
When this great truth dawns upon a man who is seeking spiritual truth, it throws a flood of heavenly light upon all things of man's two-fold life. In its glorious light, all things that the man has known before, and has held as truth, are tested. And whatever, among his feelings, thoughts and habits, he finds to be inconsistent with the great central truth of Christianity, he gladly gives up. Spiritually, he sells them all, to possess the greatest pearl. He gladly rises above old, and now outgrown, views, as he makes a genuine effort to live as Jesus lived; to fulfil the whole truth, and to outgrow his old and selfish ways of life.
A merchant is one who buys and sells, in trade. And one who buys and sells useful articles represents one who procures knowledges of truth and good, that he may acquire intelligence and wisdom, and that he may communicate these to others. He is one who learns and teaches truths, for the sake of good. Trading represents making use of our mental riches.
In the parable of "The Talents," those who used their talents, or traded with them, increased their fortune, and were commended, while he who kept his talent without use, lost it, and was censured.
Spiritually, merchants are those who collect truths from the Lord's Word, for use. And, in communicating knowledge for use, they are rewarded by the spiritual compensation of increase in knowledge and intelligence, and in affection for good and truth. "Happy is the man who findeth wisdom, and the man who draweth out understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold."
The merchant was “seeking goodly pearls." Seeking is an effort of the will, from the love of truth, for the sake of truth. We are commanded, “Seek ye the Lord," and to seek heaven, etc.; because we should make an effort of our will to attain spiritual life, in union with the Lord. “Blessed are they that keep His testimonies ; that seek Him with the whole heart."
One who is seeking regeneration, and in whose mind the kingdom of heaven is forming, is seeking knowledges and truths, that he may live by them. He spiritually seeks goodly pearls, that he may mentally trade with them.
"Pearls" represent knowledges of truth and good, or in the abstract sense. truths, themselves. Pearls are knowledges of an external degree, such as are in the letter of the Word. But by correspondence, these truths make one with the inward sense of the Word, its spiritual meaning. So, in advanced states of regeneration, pearls are not only knowledges, but also truths; for then we know and understand the truth. Whether a known doctrine is mere knowledge, or truth, or wisdom, in our minds, depends on the state of our regeneration.
As pearls represent external truths, therefore it is said that, in the holy city, the gates are of pearl. "And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl." For gates are external truths, which serve as an introduction to what lies beyond, or within. The gates of the holy city are the external truths which introduce the mind into the knowledges of the system of spiritual truth. Every gate was of one pearl, to show the unity of truth. For the Lord is one; and every truth is, in its best sense, an introduction to some further knowledge of the Lord. And our knowledge and acknowledgment of the Lord draw together, and conjoin into one, all the knowledges of truth and good which are derived from the Divine Word. All knowledge is, in its essence, knowledge of the Lord. Theology is knowledge of God.
As the parts of the human body are various and distinct, and yet all connected in one body, and all united in their active co-operation, for the common good of the body; so, in the mind, all truths are parts of a general system of thought; and all are related and connected in their co-operation, in uses. As the body acts as one, moved by the indwelling spirit, so all truths are as one body, acting as one, under the Divine Spirit, which is their soul and life.
THE LORD IN ALL.
Only as we see the Lord, in any knowledge, does that knowledge become of any spiritual use to us. "I am the Door," said the Lord, "by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved."
The very same knowledge, or doctrine, if separated from the Lord, will not enable the man to enter into spiritual life, nor to be saved from the spiritually deadening influence of his own evils. Hence, we see the great importance of an acknowledgment of the Lord, and the great danger of infidelity towards God. The trouble with the merely moral man, is that he attempts to do good for his own sake, while the spiritual man does good for the sake of the Lord.
As a man seeks knowledge, and uses it, in living by the truth, he acquires good. And, in earnestly seeking, he finds what he seeks; and more, also. He finds pearls, in great numbers; but he also finds one great pearl of immense value, which is worth more than all he before possessed. Seeking knowledge, he attains truth; and seeking the truth, he attains goodness. He finds the good towards which all truths point, the good of regenerate union with the Lord.
While Martha was seeking many things, and full of trouble about them, she was told by the Lord, that Mary had chosen the one thing needful, in seeking to draw nearer to the Lord, in heart and in life.
THE UNITY OF GOD.
Only as we see the unity of God, can we comprehend the unity of truth. In the old mythology, there were various gods, often opposed to each other. And so, in the mind of the natural man, who sees not the unity of God, most of the truths seem to be separate, different, and often in conflict, not harmonizing under any grand central truth, and not co-operating in any united purpose. Only as we see the unity of God, in the Lord, Jesus Christ, can we comprehend Christianity, in the fulness of its spirit and scope.
But, as we learn to comprehend the fulness of the Divine character in the glorified Humanity of Jesus Christ, the one grand central truth of spiritual life arises, like a king, and draws together, systematizes, and unitizes, all the truths that we know, on all the planes, and in all the degrees, of our varied human life, Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." And He said, also, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me."
THE GROWTH OF THE TRUTH.
A pearl is formed gradually, layer upon layer. It is not a simple ball, but a series of coverings, over a small core. So, the knowledge of the Lord gradually forms in our minds, from a small beginning, "line upon line," until the grand truth is complete, as a finished pearl. The mind that is seeking goodly pearls, is looking for important knowledges and truths; and when prepared, by gradual growth, it finds the priceless pearl of the knowledge of the real character of the Lord, Jesus Christ, as the one Person of God.
But knowing the genuine truth, does not mean knowing it merely in theory, as a doctrine, but knowing it practically; knowing it so that we keep it in mind, and act from it, as a living principle. Knowing the truth thus, we see the Lord in all truth.
As the Lord is the incarnate Word, and as the written Word is the Divine Truth, so we see all good and truth to be in the Lord, and of the Lord; and we see all truth to be in the Lord's Word, and from the Word. Especially are these thing's seen and known in and from the inward, spiritual sense of the Word, in which the Divine Humanity of Jesus Christ is clearly shown.
THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF TRUTHS.
We may hold this great truth, and yet we may not have noticed that it is the most valuable of all truths that ,we have. Our minds may not have been directed to the real quality of this one great pearl. For it is, with knowledges, as with pearls; their value depends not on their quantity alone, but also upon their quality. The largest is not always the most valuable.
In the beginning of our Christian knowledge and experience, the doctrine of the Lord may not seem to be of very great importance. It may be one of the doctrines we know, and which we suppose we believe; but it may not seem to be the most important. It may seem to be more important to have the practical doctrines, which regulate our daily life.
But as we love the truth, and see the Lord in it, and go on selling all that we have, in order to make the truth our own, we see, more and more, that the Lord is in all truths; and that all knowledges point to the Lord, as "the Way, the Truth, and the Life;" that every truth in the
Lord's Word, however it may seem to refer to outward things only, still teaches, in its inward sense, something concerning the Lord, while it shows us how to make our manhood more like His, the full" measure of a man, that is, of an angel."
In the Mosaic account of creation, the Light is said to have been created some days before the sun was created. But Genesis, as the Word of the Lord, treats not of geology and the making of the physical world ; but, in the language of symbols, it treats of theology, and of the making of the mental world of the human spirit.
Light was distinguished, before the sun was seen, to represent the fact that general truths are seen, by the growing mind, before the Lord, the Divine Sun, is seen, and recognized, individually, as the Source of all truth, or mental light.
Suppose a little child should be shown the light, without being shown the sun, and without knowing the connection between the light and the sun. He might see the sunlight; the moonlight, the firelight, etc.; and he would regard them as derived from several different origins. But, show him the sun, and teach him the origin of light in and from the sun, and he will understand the connection. Then, gradually, as he becomes more and more intelligent, he will, from instruction, understand that all light originates in and from the sun, whether it be direct light, or reflected, or refracted, or light now brought out of the heat that was long ago stored in the coal, the coal-oil, etc., by the sun.
So, the spiritually intelligent mind, thoroughly instructed in the truth of the Divine Humanity of Jesus Christ, understands the Lord as the one Source of all life and light.
He sees that every truth is the Lord's, and that it is filled with His life. He will never fail to ascribe all truth to the Lord, Jesus Christ. He will walk in the way of the Lord's commandments. He will go to work, in earnest, to free himself of such things as prevent his spiritual progress.
In the parable of "The Hidden Treasure," the man went and sold all that he had, and purchased the field. And now, in the next parable of the series, the finder of the pearl must sell all that he has. And yet these parables represent progressive and successive states of the same mind.
But, it may be asked, if the man has sold all he had, how can he sell any more? The first case refers more especially to giving up the love of the world; and the second refers to giving up the love of self. Each advance in character brings another advance in mental light. And then the man sees more things, in himself, that he needs to give up. In each stage of progress, he sells, or gives up, all that he then sees, in himself, of evil and falsity.
PEARLS BEFORE SWINE.
Our Lord warns us, "neither cast ye your pearls before swine." These swine are our own sensuous lusts of evil. Our Lord cannot lift us up into heavenly life, by means of heavenly truths, if our affections grovel in the filth of a corrupt nature. It is one thing to know the truth, theoretically, and another thing to live by it. Even profane Babylon, corrupt and worldly, is, in the Scriptures, represented by a woman arrayed "in purple and scarlet, and decked with gold, 'and precious stones, and pearls." She knows the truth, and professes holiness in outward things, but profanes all good and truth, by inward corruption.
THE JOY OF KNOWING TRUTH.
Both this parable and that of "The Hidden Treasure," show us that the knowledge of spiritual truth brings with it many joys. "The secret of the Lord is with those that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant." And the higher the truth, the higher the joy.
The Divine Word is inexhaustible; we can never outgrow its truths; but we can grow more and more intelligent in seeing and understanding what is in the Divine Word. The Word is Divine Truth, in all degrees, and adapted to all degrees and planes of human thought and life. All our new light is from the Lord's Word : and all our new truth is only new knowledge of what is in the Divine Word. All the pearls of knowledge are but gates to the holy city of the New-Jerusalem, the mental city of our Lord. "Every several gate is of one pearl."
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell 1887