Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, does not light a candle, and sweep the house…
I. THE HOMELY STORY.
1. It may seem like a little thing to you — this sixpence; but what is great to a child is not small to the father; and that is not little to God that is great to any man. He who knows all about the homes, and the hearts that beat in London in such homes, knows that sometimes the difference between sixpence and no sixpence may mean all the difference between food and no food, shelter and no shelter for the night, ease from pain, or no ease from pain. Oh, what magic that prosaic thing, the piece of silver, can work! Look at our Nonconformist father. Lawrence. See him seated under a hedgerow on the morning of the great Puritan exodus in 1662; see him looking as if fit to die, for he thinks about his hungry and homeless little ones. What is it that suddenly makes the eye flash, and the face quiver, and the foot spring? Only the sight of a lost piece of silver. He had just found a sixpence in the ditch before him, and it fairly seemed to him as if it had come down into that ditch from the very Throne of thrones that very moment.
2. The central person in this story is a woman — not some stately Cleopatra, not some gay Herodias, not some grand lady with face beautiful as a dream, and step graceful as a wave, who, having possessed ten gems of rarest water, or ten pearls of great price, has lost one of them; but only a poor village woman, who, having saved up for the rent, or a rainy day, ten pieces of silver, has lost one. She searches; finds; calls her neighbours together to rejoice with her. The event was not enough to electrify a cabinet but it was enough to lighten her heart, and to send a sensation all through her little world.
II. THE DIVINE MEANING.
1. Look at the coin, and then think of the value of the soul. Souls look through those waiting, gazing eyes around me, souls look out from those listening ears, souls thrill along those nerves. Souls! Why will ye cleave to the dust? Awake, know yourselves, and try to think about your own unimaginable value.
2. Look at the coin lost, and think of the soul lost in the house of this world. Some years ago the men working on the Thames Embankment — laying its foundations — found a lost piece of silver, stamped with the image of a Roman Emperor. Perhaps that piece of silver had been lost 1,800 years. My spirit flashes back to that spot, and to that moment, and I see the scene just how it all happened. I see a man coming down from the green solitudes of Camberwell, where the Roman station is, coming down to the edge of the river. I see him cross from what we now call the Surrey side, to what we now call the city side. I see him, as he step"" out of the boat, take his purse out to pay the ferryman, and I see the piece of silver slip from his fingers through the water, and there it stuck in the black slime of the river. It was for ages lost to the purpose for which it was made. It might as well not have been silver. Now I say there are souls lost like that coin.
3. Look at the coin lost, but not knowing that it is lost, and think of the soul lost in this house and not knowing that it is lost. The frivolist. The sensualist. The formalist. These no more know they are lost than does the coin when it has rippled along the floor and slipped into a chink in the darkness! But it is a fact all the same. Once, certain explorers on an Arctic expedition were working their way through the still, gray air in the eternal silence, when they suddenly came upon an antique, spectral-looking ship locked in blocks of ice. They boarded it, and one man took his lantern and ran down the campanion-ladder into the state-cabin. He held it up. He found all the ship's company there. There sat the captain, with his hand upon the log-book; and there sat the mate, and there sat the doctor, and there sat the others. "Captain!" There was no stir. He cried again, "Captain!" But there was only the silence that creeps and shudders. "Captain!" He held his light up again and flashed it around — and what did that light reveal? Dead hands! dead lips! dead eyes! — dead men! The cold that had been strong enough to steel them through, and to freeze the life of their blood, had been strong enough to arrest the touch of Decay's hastening fingers, and to keep fixed in the form and attitude of life Death itself, and to keep it thus — so it was said — for nearly half a century. Oh I man do but think of what it is of which I am speaking. Dead souls! Lost souls!
4. Look at the search which this woman is making in the house, and think of the Holy Spirit's part in searching for the lost soul. There was once heard in the Isle of Wight a little girl say to her mother, when sweeping the cottage floor, "Mother, mother, pull the blind down, the sunshine makes the room so dusty." And so it is that the light in the house of the Interpreter may seem to make the room dusty, but it seems to create what it only reveals: it makes us think that we are worse than we are when we are only wiser than we were; it make us see ourselves, see our Saviour, and then, " there is joy in the presence of the angels of God."
(C. Standford, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?