To me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given…
Some riches are unsearchable because they are inaccessible, like jewels guarded by jealous sentinels, and pearls in sea-caves, and the gold-mines of remote stars. Some riches are unsearchable because they are secret, like treasure hid in a field, and ancient records in undeciphered hieroglyphics; in this sense an illiterate man finds the wealth of a library, and an unscientific man the stores of a museum, unsearchable. No doubt there are wonderful graces in Christ that are as yet above and beyond our grasp, and deep mysteries that we cannot fathom, and a spiritual worth in all his blessings that cannot be discovered by the unspiritual. But it is not in these senses that the riches of Christ are called unsearchable. The doors of his treasure-chamber are flung wide that the poorest may enter. There is no veil of mystery to prevent a little child from seeing the beauty within. The riches of Christ are unsearchable simply because they are so abundant and so various that no man can ever measure the extent, or count the number, or distinguish all the forms of them. For near upon nineteen centuries this great treasury has been ransacked by friends and foes, by hungering inquirers and by keen-eyed critics, with the result that, like the infinite wealth of nature - which is felt to be more immeasurable in our own day, after the fruitful labors of the most indefatigable naturalists, than ever it was when not one-tenth of what we now know was discovered - these riches of Christ amaze and fascinate and overwhelm us with an ever-growing sense of their magnificent unsearchableness.
I. THE RICHES OF THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST ARE UNSEARCHABLE.
1. They have been searched into by uncompromising foes, at first by bitter Pharisees and scoffing Sadducees, later by clever philosophical opponents, such as Celsus and Porphyry, down to the times of Voltaire's sparkling sarcasm and Strauss's dry criticism. And the verdict of mankind is distinctly against the fault-finders, confessing with Pilate, "I find no fault in him."
2. These riches have also been searched into by adoring disciples, some with the profundity of St. Augustine, others with the simplicity of St. Frances; and all types of Christians in every succeeding age unhesitatingly declare that they never weary of worshipping fresh wonders in that life of unearthly loveliness. The more our eyes are opened to discern spiritual worth, and the more the character of Christ is studied, the more are we astonished and delighted by the vision of infinite perfection.
II. THE RICHES OF THE TRUTH OF CHRIST ARE UNSEARCHABLE. Christ is the Truth and the Light of the world. The ideas of Plato may be measured - the truth of Christ never. Yet two classes of people deny the unsearchable nature of the riches of this truth.
1. Those who say the world has outgrown Christianity. Perhaps they mistake the dogmas of the creeds for the truth as it is in Jesus. The former are necessarily limited, and some of them may have to break up and give place to larger ideas. But the latter is living, infinite, and eternal.
2. Those who are satisfied that they know everything. They are usually the people who know least. A smooth and rounded scheme of doctrine comprehends their universe. Because they have shaped it into logical consistency, they assume that no truth can lie outside it. They have yet to learn that the Word made flesh, like the Word in nature, is infinite.
III. THE RICHES OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST ARE UNSEARCHABLE. Human love commonly diminishes in intensity in proportion to the extent of the area over which it is spread; family affection being warmer than our interest in the wider circle of friends, and this than general philanthropy, just as the river is deep where it is narrow, but becomes shallow as its banks open out in width. But the grace of Christ, in depth and breadth like the sea, has a vast comprehensiveness for all, together with a strong intensity for each. So that in the last great assembly, when some come from distant isles and some from hidden valleys, some from populous cities and some from lonesome deserts, to confess that the grace of Christ has reached them in the fullness of its power, none will be found so remote as to have been beyond reach, so undeserving as to have been past mercy, or so needy as not to have been able to find the supply of every real want in his great riches of love.
IV. THE RICHES OF THE BLESSINGS GIVEN BY CHRIST ARE UNSEARCHABLE. There is still an unhappy habit among some of listening only to the evil report of the spies who tell of the giants, and turning a deaf ear to the spies who bring the grapes and pomegranates, No wonder that this habit leads to the painting of the blessings of Christianity with very dull shades. Rightly understood, the gospel offers a pearl of great price, reveals hidden treasures, strips off the rags and brings forth the best robe and the ring. From the first grace of forgiveness to the last grace of peace in death, Christ is breathing benedictions on the Christian's life, so that when he reflects, he is astonished at what he has already received, and yet learns to accept all this as only the earnest of the blessings of light, and strength, and purity, and peace, that are reserved for his future inheritance. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;