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that “ there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.” Yes, and God's saving work in a soul is a hidden work. The dew of His blessing comes down gently, with its refreshing and renewing power. The dawn of a new life breaks silently upon the soul. The spiritual temple is built up, without any outward signs of what is going on within.
And is it not better, far better, if God is carrying on a work of grace within us, that that work should go on quietly and unnoticed ? It is more likely to be a sure work, a real work, a lasting work.
Observe also that grace does its work effectually in the soul. The leaven, or yeast, leavens the whole lump--all the meal with which it is mixed. And where there is true religion in any heart, the whole inner man is influenced by it, and the whole character undergoes a change. Our thoughts, our desires, our feelings, our words, our life is altered by it. In short, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature : old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
But the grace of God works effectually in another way. It does not arouse and awaken the heart, and then leave it. It goes on working, till the work is completed. We see this both in the Mustard-seed, and in the Leaven. The grain is dropped into the ground; but it is not left there to rot; the blade springs up, and grows, till it comes to perfection. And the Leaven in the meal works on, until every particle of it is leavened.
And God will not leave you, my Christian Brother or Sister. He will perfect that which concerneth you. Have you begun to feel your soul moved by the love of Christ ? Are you beginning to take an interest in His word? Do you find a comfort in prayer, which is quite new to you? Ah, men may think, this will all pass away, and come to nought. No, not if it is a real work of grace. The world may come in like a flood, and almost smother your religious feelings. Your hope may be dimmed for a time. Satan may tempt you sorely, and try hard to bring you once more under his power. But, if God is on your side, He can and will carry you through. Look up, and be encouraged. “He who hath
begun a good work in you will perform it unto the day of Christ.” “No man can pluck you out of His hands.”
There are two more points in these Parables to be noticed.
One is that the ground in which the mustard-seed is sown must first be dug and broken up, or the plant will not grow. And again, the meal must be first ground and bruised, or the leaven will have no effect upon it.
And oh what bruising and breaking do our hard hearts undergo, when grace takes any effect! Why is it that some of us reject God's grace, resist His Holy Spirit, are unmoved by His gracious calls ? It is because our hearts are not in a fit state to receive religious impressions. Like a piece of untilled earth, the plant cannot thrive on it; or like a grain of unground wheat, the leaven cannot penetrate it. It has been well said, “ The Law grinds the heart, and then the Gospel leavens it.”
The other point to be noticed is this--the Mustard-tree is represented in the Parable as
a shelter for the fowls of the air. This tells us what the Gospel is to us. It is a shelter for man's great need. Are we sick at heart? Here is a remedy. Are we sad? Here is peace. Are we poor? Here are the truest riches. Are we weary of this world ? Here is rest.
Have you found it so ? Go, like a poor homeless one, to Christ. In Him there is perfect safety. He will shelter you from every storm, and defend you from every danger.
THE HID TREASURE, AND THE
PEARL OF GREAT PRICE.
Matt. XIII. 44–46. “ Again 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 buyeth that field. “ Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a mer
chantman, seeking goodly pearls; who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it."
HERE again, are two Parables, which are so much alike in the lessons which they are intended to teach, that we will consider them together, as we did those of the Mustard-seed and the Leaven. And may the Holy Ghost be our Teacher and Guide, whilst we examine them!
Let us see what are the points in which they are alike, and in what respect they differ.
First, both Parables describe something of great value being found.