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Natural Emblems Of Spiritual Life
By A. B. Simpson
"And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my Jewels; and 1 will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." Malachi 3:17
IN oriental countries and in ancient times, jewelry was much worn, and was more valuable, than at the present day.
It was the child-age of the world, and children always value trinkets. As they get wiser, they come to dispense with everything that is not valuable, and retain only that which is of real worth. Treasures of all kinds are mentioned in the Scriptures, but people in those days were wont to invest their money in precious stones more than in anything else. There were many reasons for this. Although they brought no rental for their money, yet they were easy to keep, they were portable, they could be easily hidden in time of danger, and even swallowed, if necessary, to prevent their being stolen. They were convenient also, for the money which they represented was in a small space. Their great value was typical of corresponding prices in other things. Particularly, are they expressive of the value which God places upon His children. He calls us His jewels or special treasures.
The first lesson, which we may learn from these jewels, is their value, of which we have already spoken. They teach us that we are very dear to God. We are highly prized by Him, far above our intrinsic worth. We are bits of glass, but we are more valuable to Him than common glass. You have heard the story, no doubt, of the traveller over the desert who was fainting for water. He hurried on, as he came in sight of the debris of a camping party before him, hoping that they had left some water there. He found a parcel on the ground, and picked it up.
But a bitter cry came from him when he found that they were only pearls. What is the real value of precious gems? How much are they worth in themselves? No more than so much sand or coal. And yet men and women prize them very highly, and will sell all that is dear to them to possess them. Kings and queens prize them far above their intrinsic worth, altogether. God values you and me far above our real worth. The slave mother values her child, not by how much it will bring in the market, but by how much it is worth to her in love and blessing. God counts us his treasures, not because we are worth anything; and yet He values us highly and seeks for us as a merchant man seeketh goodly pearls, which we buy to wear upon our breast or upon our foreheads. God wants to decorate Himself with His people.
He wears His dear ones on His breast and on His arm. You are His peculiar treasure. You are dear to God. You are not a worthless thing. You are not a poor broken-down woman, or an obscure girl, or a homeless wanderer. You are eternally loved, and dear to God. So dear, that He could give His only Son to shed the last drop of His life-blood for you; as dear to Him as Jesus Himself. Let it make it easy to love Him back; to be true to Him. When the land was divided among the tribes, there was no parcel given to God. The only possession He had was you and I. His portion was His people; "Jacob was the lot of His inheritance." He sold all that He had, and invested all His treasure in us. Do not let Him be disappointed.
One of the most valuable jewels in the world is the Sancy diamond, which is a brilliant worth half a million dollars. It is possessed by a Russian nobleman, who paid that sum for it. It was once owned by a French nobleman who sent his servant on an important embassy, which required him to carry this jewel as a hostage. He would not be received unless it was with him. On his journey he was attacked by robbers, and soon saw he must lose this jewel or lose his life. True to the trust that was given him, he chose the latter alternative, and swallowed the diamond.
As he expected, the robbers slew him and searched for the brilliant which, they knew, was in his possession. Not being able to find it, they went away, leaving his bleeding body upon the sand. When his master heard the sad story, he was certain that his faithful servant had not lost the jewel, even if he had lost his life. He went to the spot where the body lay, and had it opened, and found his jewel. This makes us think, dear friends, of the treasure that Jesus Christ was entrusted with once.
He had the keeping of you and me, and, when He found He could not keep His treasure without losing His life, He lost His life; and when He was dead His treasure was found in His bosom. He had saved it. That is the value which God sets on you and me. That is what it means to be one of His jewels. Let the figure and the outward encompassing of the thought pass from our minds, dear friends, and let us remember only this about it: "I am dear to God, so dear to Him, that He has given His precious life for me. I am the disciple whom Jesus loves, and He will keep His treasure.
He has done so much for me already that He will not let me fall now. I shall be saved gloriously. I need not fear that I shall be rejected, nor even that I shall not be true to Him to whom I am so precious." "All things are yours - and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." "Ye are Christ's," not, "Christ is yours." If He were yours, you might lose Him, but ye are Christ's, and He cannot lose you. He will take care of His property, which is, indeed, to Him a peculiar treasure. We may think that we are a very worthless treasure, but so is a diamond worthless, and so is a baby worthless. "What are you good for?" a father once asked of his baby. "I don't know, the little thing answered, "unless it is to love you, papa."
We next see that jewels, in themselves are valueless, unless they are brought in contact with light. If they are put in certain positions, they will reflect the beauty of the sun. There is no beauty in them otherwise. The diamond that is back in its gallery or down in the deep mine, displays no beauty whatever. What is it but a piece of charcoal, a bit of common carbon until it becomes a medium for reflecting light? And so it is also with the other precious gems. Their varied tents are nothing without light. If they are many sided, they reflect more light, and display more beauty. If you put paste around a diamond, there is no brilliancy in it. In its crude state it does not reflect light at all. So we are in a crude state, and are of no use at all until God comes and shines upon us.
The light that is in the diamond is not its own possession; it is the beauty of the sun. What beauty is there in the child of God? Only the beauty of Jesus. We are His peculiar people, chosen to show forth His excellencies who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light. It is not your excellencies, for there is no light in you. So, poor sinner, there is nothing in you that is worth anything, until you have come in contact with Jesus; until you are encompassed with Him, and until you are filled more and more with His blessed presence, and God is shining upon you more and more of His Heavenly light.
We learn another lesson from the places in which these jewels are found. They always come from some dark depth; either from the abyss of the sea, from the sand of the river's bed, or out of the heart of the rocks. They are all scattered, and the great thing is that these fragments of wrecks which are strewed like waifs upon the sea, shall be carefully found and gathered together, So it is with God's peculiar treasure. It, too, was lost. You were torn and wrecked, and scattered, and He found you, and gathered you out of the darkness. I do not know where He has found all His treasure, but I know it has been in very dark places. Oh, that we, His children, were as zealous in embracing our opportunities of snatching more of this treasure from the depths of sin that He might wear it as a precious jewel forevermore.
The origin of precious gems is also suggestive of precious lessons. The existence of the diamond is due to the action of fire, and the convulsion of earlier creations. It is uncertain what the force was which produced diamonds, but they are probably due to the action of heat on vegetable substance, which consumed all that was consumable, and left only bits of condensed carbon. The action of heat, and the convulsion of nature was necessary to their existence. God makes his treasures thus. Our hearts must be purified before they can shine. They must endure the fire of testing before they can reflect His character. The pearl has the strangest origin of all the gems. It is formed from the very life of the pearl oyster.
It is the result of fluid which has crystallized around something within its shell; a grain of sand, perhaps, or a little parasite some nasty thing which irritated and vexed it, until it killed it with kindness. It wrapped it up there with its own precious life, and made a jewel of it; it turned it into an exquisite pearl. It was not able to fight it; it could not resist the evil thing. If it had, it would only have been wounded and made to suffer without harming its enemy. But it wrapped it all around with its soft arms, it smoothed it gently over, and made it into a gem. This is the genesis of the pearl, and this is the genesis of everything precious in human character.
If sin comes in, we learn not to strike it, but to put our arms around it, and cover it with the blood of Calvary, until we are saved from its power. The grains of sand that come in your life and mine, if we resist them will only irritate and make the sore places sorer, and gall and vex us. There is no use in attacking them. We must learn to make them into pearls, and they will become perhaps the most beautiful things in all our life. The little parasites that prey upon us, the doubts and fears that enter into our lives, the temptations that the devil sends against us, there is no use in merely resisting. We shall get the worst of it if we do.
The only way to overcome them is to love them to death; we shall get the victory over them only through love. The most beautiful things in Christian life are those which have come out of some trial, or some sickness, or some difficulty. If you want any beautiful furniture in your heavenly house, you must make it out of the knots and twisted fibres of trees that can be made beautiful because they are so cross-grained. Oh that God would take the babyishness out of our discontent! We deserve to have these irritating things until we can learn to stand in them in His strength.
Then we shall be able to turn them into priceless jewels, which can be worn as exquisite ornaments, far more valuable than those which are used to adorn the beauty of woman, or the magnificence of princes and kings, or the crown of royalty. Christ is preparing you and me, dear friends, for places of glory. He expects us to be so lovely that we shall decorate his palace. He expects us to be so beautiful that we shall adorn even the gospel; we are to "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." We are to make the doctrine more beautiful. It is to seem more beautiful to others on account of the lives that you and I are living.
The Word to be engraved upon us in precious letters. God means you shall not be commonplace nor home-spun, but He would have you show forth His glorious workmanship. The King's daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needle-work. "As a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels." That is what God expects of us, that our lives shall be lives of victory and praise to His glory.
The jewels are to be made ready and fit for the place they are to occupy. Nearly all jewels require to be polished and prepared by the most skilful handi-work that the world affords. In all ages the art of engraving precious stones has been one of rare value, and has commanded the highest recompense. The polishing of diamonds is more rare than the finding of them. The finest diamonds have lost the greatest portion of their substance in their preparation. The largest diamond in the world weighs now 367 carats, but it weighed originally four times that amount and it lost all this weight in the process of cutting. In its present reduced state it is worth $1,250,000.
The next is the Orloff of Russia, which weighed originally 780 carats, but now weighs only 195. What is the reason the diamond was so cut down? Why was all this waste? Ah, it is worth much more in its reduced state than it was before. The next, and by many people considered the purest and most beautiful gem of all, is the Pitt diamond, the treasure of the Prussian crown. It weighs now 136.75 carats, and originally 600. It has been cut down into one of the most exquisite gems to be found in the world.
The best known diamond of all is the Koh-I-Noor diamond. It is the most popularly known of all the royal gems, although it is not the largest. It was bought from a Hindoo Prince, and weighed at first 900 carats. It was reduced to 106 carats. It lost 800 carats simply to be made beautiful. It seems to me I have known Christians, who, years ago, weighed 900 carats also, but who have now not more than 100 carats of consequence. But I would give more for them a great deal than in their old condition. What is the reason? They have been reduced, that is all. God has been polishing them, putting on their many sides of beauty and glory, and He will go on grinding, and filing, and polishing, until they are proportional, symmetrical and beautiful.
They will not show themselves at all then. But everywhere you look at them, you will see the reflection of Jesus. They were formerly dull, dead glass, but this is what God has been doing for them. The process has not been pleasant, and they have felt like asking, "What does it all mean? Why is it that things are trying me so much?" These things will come and continue to come until they have done their work. This very morning, perhaps, you have met them, and they will meet you again, until their work of polishing is done, and then you will be tried in some other place. God is not purifying us in one part of our nature only.
If He did the soul would be only a flat surface, and a flat diamond is not worth much. God is rubbing you on every side, but you will yet thank Him that He has allowed the trouble to come. Next month He will rub you upon another side, and so prepare another face of this exquisite gem to reflect the glory of the sun. When a workman wishes to polish a gem, he does not use a chisel and mallet to do it; he does not even use fine steel, the most perfect that ever was made. He does not take the finest sand or emery. What does he do? He uses another diamond, very often small bits of diamond, called diamond dust.
Beloved, God is purifying you, by means of all the people that you meet with in life. Everyone is polished, not with tools and edges, but with diamond dust. The people that try you and with whom you are thrown in contact so often, and with whom you have so little real companionship, are the diamond dust God is using for this purpose. I am afraid to follow out this thought too far, lest some one should be impressed with the thought itself, and that is not what God wants. He would have us lay hold upon the living truth. Every position that you are in in life can yield this ministry of polishing to you. The trifling business transaction of yesterday, so trifling that perhaps no one knew anything about it, may have thrown a pressure on your heart for hours, because of some little hasty word in it.
You cannot go down town and spend an hour with a printer or a clerk, without feeling when you get home that you have had diamond dust rubbed on you, which has either smoothed you, or made you feel how rough you were. From Monday morning until Saturday night is the most important work of the week. The practical tests of life are what are doing the polishing work for men and women, and are showing them how much reality there is in their religion. The sermon is of no use, unless you can live it out all the week. The lesson will be but idle, unless you take it home and let God work it out to His divine praise, and honor, and glory.
Precious gems have utility as well as beauty. There is service for them to do. The wheels of a watch would be useless unless they rested on jewels. Some precious stones are worn on people's breasts and some are carried in their watch cases. Are you willing to be inside, unseen in your work, and simply help to make the wheels go round. As a stamp is used to impress wax, so may we be willing to stamp other lives in every way He may choose to make us. Shall we let Him use us for others, and prepare us also for the more beautiful place He has for you and me in the more glorious future.
Let us stop and gather up the meaning of these thoughts for each of us. Do not let them glide away from the memory without stopping before them and searching our heart to see if we have learned the lesson He would bring. Let us behold the great Redeemer of our soul; let us think of how much we owe to His precious blood; let us think how He prizes us far above our worth; let us think what His death has saved us from and the glorious possession it has bought for you and me. Then let us be ashamed of our fears and wanderings, and come and yield our being to Him in full surrender, and let Him make of us what He would have us be. Let us see how much we are going to lose by resisting His purpose concerning us, remembering, that He must increase, and we must decrease. He knoweth the way He taketh. Let sorrow do its work in us. Let grief and pain be His messengers coming with the sweet refrain:
More love to Thee, O Christ;
More love to Thee.
God help you to be among those who are His jewels, in the day that He shall make them up. Some are not His jewels. But may He be able to say of each of us, "they shall be mine; no breast but mine shall wear them."
"They shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts when I make up my jewels."