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Matt. Chap. XIII. Ver. 44.
Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hid in the field; which when a man hath found, hehideth it, and forjoy thereof departeth, and sell- eth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
In this chapter, well beloved, are set down a number of parables, which were uttered by our Saviour Christ, to declare the mystery of the Gospel; wherein was fulfilled that prophecy which went before in Psalm 78. "I will open my mouth in parables, 1 will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundations of the world." The disciples of our Saviour Christ, asked him why he used this kind of obscure teaching? Why he delivered not the doctrine of the Gospel plainly; but covered and veiled with parables, that every man could not understand the same? Unto whom our Saviour Christ giveth this answer and reply, that his drift in so delivering the Gospel thus veiled with parables was this: that he might keep it from those who were not the children of life; that he might conceal it from those who would not inquire into the same, nor the meaning thereof, reserving the husks only for such hogs; that in them might be fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet", that they might hear and not understand, that they might plainly see, and not perceive, that their ears might be heavy, and their eyes shut, lest they hear with their ears, and see with their eyes, and so convert and be healed. This restraint then he showeth them is first in regard of the reprobate, who will take no pains to search into these mysteries, but tread and trample them under
their feet. As also in regard of the knowledge of God's children, the elect, who are careful to make a search and inquiry into the deepest of these parables.
Parables are so far from obscuring a thing, that by them a point of doctrine is made more clear and manifest. Now amongst the parables whereby our Saviour setteth forth the nature of the kingdom of heaven, some signify the power and force of the kingdom. Such were the foregoing parables, where our Saviour compareth the same to a grain of mustard seedb,and to a piece of leaven0. A mean and base thing you will think; and yet as this by a secret power in nature growethto a great tree, and as a piece of leaven, by a hidden operation overspreadeth the whole lump; so this kingdom of the powerful preaching of God's word hath like effects, and the same operation in the soul of man. So that these two parables are set down to signify the force and operation of the Gospel. Now, in this verse now read, and in these following, are set down two other parables, to signify the high value and price of the Gospel. That as by the parables foregoing was proved the powerful and effectual operation of his Gospel, so is it also likened unto a pearl, yea to such a precious pearl, that he, which hath any understanding thereof, will sell all that he hath to buy and purchase it. And here again in my text, it is compared to a treasure hid in the ground, which when a man hath found, he hideth it, and for joy thereof departeth, and selleth all that he hath to buy that field. In which two things are to be considered.
1. What the thing is which is found.
2. How the party who findeth it is affected. How this treasure affecteth him who hath understanding to know the price thereof.
Concerning the first, the thing found, which is like unto a treasure hid in the field; in this first, before we proceed we must understand, what is meant by this kingdom? A kind of speech it is which is used in all these parables. The kingdom of God is like unto this or that, &c.
Matt. chap. 13. ver. 81. c Matt. chap. 13. ver. 33.
For answering of which question we must understand that kingdom, in this place, is to be taken in the most general signification, to signify the outward ministry of the Gospel by the delivery of the word and sacraments, as also the inward operation of God's spirit, accompanying this outward ministry. Asd, whensoever any man heareth the words of this kingdom, and understandeth it not, the evil one cometh, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. Some there are upon whom this word (though powerfully delivered) yet it worketh not effectually. And yet saith our Saviour, where his sceptre is held up, where his mace is carried before him, there is his kingdom powerful, there is it effectual.
In verse 41 it is said also, that the Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things which offend, and them which do iniquity. Where kingdom is taken for the visible company, amongst whom the word of God is powerfully preached, which hath in it things which offend, which are not yet, but shall be in the day of judgment separated. They who now carry their faces aloft like sheep, shall then be thrust out like dogs, and set on the left hand like goats. So againe, when our Saviour had proved that by the finger of God he had cast forth devils, he gathers this conclusion. If it be so that by the finger of God I have cast out devils, if the name of God be with me, then is the kingdom of God come among you. Where the kingdom of God is taken for the outward ministry of the Gospel, which kingdom we may rather resemble to the field than to the treasure. But we have this treasure (as the apostle speaketh) in earthen vessels, it lieth hid in this field. It is not every one who beholdeth this generally, who can see this treasure contained therein. We may therefore cry out with the prophet', " Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" It is a treasure enclosed in the field: and therefore if we do but generally behold it, if we hear not Christ's inward voice quick
d Matt. chap. 13. ver. 19. e Luke, chap. 11. ver. 20.
f Isaiah, chap. 53. ver. 1.
ening and raising up our dead souls, and his power ruling in our conscience, we have not this treasure. But his outward ministry in this case is no otherwise unto us, but like unto a trumpet sounded in a dead man's ear. And thus you see the kingdom of God taken in a general sense for the outward ministry of the Gospel, accompanied with the inward operation of God's spirit; for which it is likened unto a treasure hid in a field. Now, therefore, let us proceed in the next place to see,
Wherefore it is called a kingdom.
It is called a kingdom, and yet upon the earth. The kingdom of God is come amongst you. To this I answer, the Lord would intimate unto us thus much, that he in this earth erecteth up his throne, gathereth subjects unto himself; and that none can be added unto that everlasting kingdom (properly called the kingdom of glory), unless he be a citizen in the kingdom of grace, and submit himself to the sceptre of God's Son here upon earth. God hath here established a kingdom upon earth, he hath placed his Son here to rule in the midst of his enemies, he hath charged every soul to submit itself unto his government. Here are heaven-gates either opened or shut against every sinner. And therefore, if here we will not have this man to rule over us now, hereafter he shall utterly reject us before men and angels, where we shall have shame for evermore. This is beyond the conceit of ordinary men, who think we cannot know the estate of men until hereafter. But in the mean time these little think that the foundation must be laid upon earth, and that Christ must first rule here in our hearts, by his kingdom of grace, before we can reign with him in his kingdom of glory. Now we see, Matt. chap. 16.ver. 19. there the message of God is tendered by his ministers, who have commission either to open or shut heaven-gates. I will give unto thee (saith Christ) the keys of the kingdom of heaven ; whatsoever thou loosest in earth shall be loosed in heaven; whatsoever also you shall bind upon earth shall be bound in heaven. We have then the keys of this kingdom. Will you enter into an house when the doors are shut? Wilt thou enter into heaven? Why you must have an entrance, and he hath given unto us the message of peace, and the ministry of reconciliation; we tender it unto you. Is there then a son of peace? Is there any who will receive our report, is there any who will entertain our message, that will have Christ to rule and govern him, and will willingly submit himself prisoner for his cause? Why to him we may open heaven-gates here, and they shall be opened unto him hereafter. But contrarily, will he be rebellious, will he reject his message, will he not have Christ to reign over him? But will voluntarily cast off his yoke, and refuse that reconciliation offered? Against that man we may shut heaven-gates: we may clap them upon his face, and the Lord will ratify this in heaven (saith he); if the case be so, that a man discern the law of Christ, and yet will not submit himself to that law, power and authority are given unto us to shut up the gates against that man, to pronounce him to have no interest in God, to arrest him with the Lord's mace, and to deliver him up unto Satan. And therefore when the kingdom of God cometh unto a man, when the Lord dispatcheth a messenger from the court of heaven, and this, like heavenly manna, is dropped down at the doors, it is a fearful thing to refuse it, it is a matter which concerneth our life. Here, at this time, are life and deathset before us. If we will not receive life, the Lord accounteth us rebellious, and the rebellion against the ministry of the Gospel to be the highest rebellion that may be.
But you will object and say, was Christ our king before the Gospel? I answer there was another king before Christ came, that ruled over our hearts, even the strong man Satan; he held possession, and sat as a lord, and a tyrant in the wicked natural man, making him subject and obedient unto him. For if thou swear, profane the sabbath, and follow the lusts of thine own wicked heart, let Satan but instil his suggestions, and presently thou canst not choose but do his will, which is the most vile slavery that can be, when a man is thus made a drudge to Satan, and to his own corruptions. The apostle, speaking of that kind of bon