For I would that you knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea…
"Where shall wisdom be found?" etc. (Job 28:12-20). These sublime words have been echoed by the inquiring spirits of every age; but the only true reply is in the text. There are modern forms of old Colossian error: those who say that there is no reliable truth but in the facts of nature; no religion but in science; no progress but in rejecting revelation.
I. IN CHRIST ARE HID ALL THE TREASURES OF WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE.
1. They are deposited in Him as the God-man, the image of the invisible God, etc.
2. Knowledge is simply enlightenment, acquaintance with truth; wisdom is the use and result of that enlightenment, the application of the truth. Knowledge is the study, wisdom its fruit.
3. Treasures suggest great value and excellence. All the treasures are in Christ; not select truths, but all kinds of truth.As all things were made and consist by Christ, so all branches of knowledge for the human soul have a relation to Him and find their truest meaning in Him.
1. Jesus Christ is the key to human history.
(1) The history of ancient nations cannot be considered thoroughly apart from the Jews, with whom they were brought into contact, and every one sees that the Hebrews had relations with Jesus, clear, manifold, and vital. Their ancient records, too, bear constant reference to One, the light of whose promised and expected advent flashed back on Egypt, Assyria, etc., making every page of this history instinct with living interest.
(2) The same holds good in regard to modern nations. The unbeliever may reject Christ, still he has to account for the presence of His religion and to explain its influence as by far the mightiest moral impulse which men or nations have received. The pathway of Christ's name and influence is easily traced among the nations in the lines of light and liberty.
2. Christ is the ground of all true philosophy.
(1) Nature is hung with all the insignia of Divine skill, power, and glory. Yet experience proves that the light of nature cannot make this impression an abiding principle of action. It is only when we see the material world as the theatre of redemption, and the work of creation the work of the Reconciler, that nature leads up to nature's God.
(2) The philosophy of mind likewise finds its meaning in Christ. How is it possible to estimate the value of the soul without a knowledge of Him whose death was the price of its redemption? Philosophy teaches something of the prerogatives of reason, of the power of conscience, and of the relation of the animal to the spiritual nature: but what do we find? The harmony of this lofty nature disturbed, its liberty gone, the prerogative of reason overborne by the power of passion. Where is the light or wisdom that can secure the harmony between what man is and what he ought to be? Where is the knowledge or power that can bring beauty out of the chaos which religion discovers? It is in Christ alone: in Him are hid all the treasures of the only wisdom which expounds the lofty relations of man's mental being and the value and vigour of his spirit.
(3) The philosophy of morals in the relation of man to man, and to society at large, is a perplexing study. We see virtue oppressed and vice triumphant, might supreme over right, etc. The solution is in the gospel. In the knowledge of Christ we see the rule of a "righteous Father" — the triumph of law and of love, the harmony of righteousness and peace, and the evidence that whatever anomalies may appear in society now, all will yet be explained and rectified, and issue in the glory of God and the good of man.
3. Christ is the substance of a true theology.
(1) All saving knowledge of God and our relations to Him we find in Christ.
(2) The peace with God which men have sought everywhere by sacrifice and prayer is secured by Him who is the propitiation for our sins.
(3) The future, which has baffled all human inquiries, has been revealed by Him who has brought life and immortality to light.
II. THE RELATION OF CHRIST GENERALLY TO ALL HUMAN STUDIES.
1. In Him the mind finds its truest stimulus and healthiest impulse. He is the fosterer and guide of all wise intellectual pursuits. It is in countries where He is known and worshipped that literature and science exercise their widest sway. He emancipates the mind from the bondage of corruption and fear, and as the wisdom of God hallows all wisdom.
(1) If we investigate nature, does it make no difference whether we examine a world without God, or a world which God has made the object of His special interest?
(2) If we study the human mind, will it make no difference whether we view it as a taper to be extinguished or the offspring of an infinite Father?
(3) If we examine the human frame, will it make no difference whether we consider it as destined to rot in the grave, or as the tabernacle of the immortal spirit destined to be restored? Who does not see that the light which Christ brings enhances and elevates every branch of knowledge?
2. The word "hid" implies that wisdom and knowledge are stored up in Him in a hidden manner, suggesting —
(1) Concealment. All these treasures are not seen at once by the bodily or spiritual eye. They are hid from the thoughtless and unbelieving world, from the vain and unassisted intellect (1 Corinthians 2:8). God has hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes. Just as many with an uneducated eye traverse a country rich in mineral wealth, and have no idea of what lies under the surface, so the treasures that are hid in Christ are only seen by the eye of faith, and found by the devout and contrite soul taught by the Spirit of God.
(2) But these treasures thus hid are intended for discovery and appropriation. They are gradually unfolded. The number of those enriched daily increases, yet the riches are still inexhaustible, and the oldest disciples are ever discovering some new vein of preciousness in their Lord. So it will ever be.
(J. Spence, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;