Spiritual Meaning of
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THE MERCHANT-MAN SEEKING GOOD PEARLS.
Again, the Kingdom 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.
A merchant-man, in the spiritual sense of the word, means one who procures to himself the knowledges of truth and of good, and thus attains intelligence and wisdom, agreeably to which idea, it is said, in the book of Proverbs, that the merchandise of wisdom is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold (Prov. 3:14).
By goodly pearls are meant the knowledges of truth, and by seeking those pearls is meant the affection of truth for its own sake, because nothing but such an affection can properly discover the truth. In the same sense, we are called to seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, to teach us that we ought to be affected with the Kingdom of God and His righteousness above all other things.
By the one pearl of great price is meant the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and especially of the union of His Divine Nature with the human, and of the human reciprocally with the Divine, until He became, even as to His humanity, the only God of heaven and earth.
This pearl is called a pearl of great price, because the knowledge of Jesus Christ is the most precious and blessed of all other knowledges, being the essential life of all others, insomuch that without this knowledge, all other knowledges are comparatively as dead, having no connection with their living source.
Man is said to find this precious pearl of spiritual knowledge when, from the affection of truth, for its own sake, he seeks it in the Word of God, and discovers its brightness and value in his understanding: and he is said to find the knowledge of Jesus Christ when, from the same affection, he delights in the discovery from the Holy Word, that Jesus Christ is the Most High God, because in His Divine Person the Father and the Son, or the Divinity and Humanity are made eternally One, and constitute the Supreme and Sole Object of all Christian worship.
By the man's going is meant that he formed his life according to the knowledge of truth which he had discovered; and by his selling all that he had and buying it, is meant that he submitted all things of his natural life to be governed and guided by the Lord's life, that is to say, by His Divine Love and Wisdom.
We learn from this parable that every man ought to consider himself as a spiritual merchant-man, sent into the world to seek the goodly pearls of the Eternal Wisdom, which are the bright knowledges of heavenly truth, procured by devout affection from the Word of God. We learn, also, that in seeking these heavenly pearls, if he be sincere in his search, he is sure, sooner or later, to discover the one pearl of great price, which is the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And, lastly, we learn, that when he has found this pearl, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it; in other words, he renounces self-love, that he may submit all his affections, thoughts, words, and works, to the mild and gentle government of the Divine Love and Wisdom of Jesus Christ.