Ephesians 3:8
Though I am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Sermons
Christ Above All PraiseFoster's CyclopaediaEphesians 3:8
Christ's RichesW. Graham, D. D.Ephesians 3:8
Christ's Unsearchable RichesA. F. Mitchell, D. D.Ephesians 3:8
Christ's Unsearchable RichesR. J. McGhee, M. A.Ephesians 3:8
Further Riches in ChristEphesians 3:8
Great Saints are LowlyC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 3:8
Humility of a MinisterEphesians 3:8
Humility of GreatnessEphesians 3:8
Less than the Least of All SaintsW.F. Adeny Ephesians 3:8
Ministerial Humility and ZealPaul Bayne.Ephesians 3:8
Our Spiritual TreasuryJ. Eadie, D. D.Ephesians 3:8
Paul's Humility and Zeal a Pattern for ChristiansW. Jay.Ephesians 3:8
Preaching the Unsearchable Riches of ChristJ. Burns, D. D.Ephesians 3:8
Self-Knowledge HumiliatesC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 3:8
St. Paul's Lowly Estimate of HimselfC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 3:8
The Apostle and His MinistryJ. Lathrop, D. D.Ephesians 3:8
The Gospel MessageJ. Stratten.Ephesians 3:8
The Grace Given to PaulR. W. Dale, LL. D.Ephesians 3:8
The Humility of St. PaulC. Bradley, M. A.Ephesians 3:8
The Ministry and Message of St. PaulF. Dobbin, M. A.Ephesians 3:8
The Ministry of the Apostle PaulA. S. Patterson.Ephesians 3:8
The Missionary CallingBishop E. Steere.Ephesians 3:8
The Riches Implied in the Methods by Which Christ Brings Us to Enjoy SalvationJ. Benson.Ephesians 3:8
The Riches of ChristW. Ormiston, D. D.Ephesians 3:8
The Riches of Christ's Redeeming ActsJ. Benson.Ephesians 3:8
The Riches of Christ's Saving BenefitsJ. Benson.Ephesians 3:8
The Riches of the Gospel of ChristR. J. McGhee, M. A.Ephesians 3:8
The Subject and Spirit of the Christian MinistryW. Ormiston, D. D.Ephesians 3:8
The True RichesE. Blencowe, M. A.Ephesians 3:8
The Unsearchable Riches of ChristC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 3:8
The Unsearchable Riches of ChristS. Martin, D. D.Ephesians 3:8
The Unsearchable Riches of ChristJ. Slade, M. A.Ephesians 3:8
The Unsearchable Riches of ChristT. Raffles, D. D.Ephesians 3:8
The Unsearchable Riches of ChristF. Tucker, B. A.Ephesians 3:8
The Unsearchable Riches of ChristA. Barry, D. D.Ephesians 3:8
The Unsearchable Riches of ChristW.F. Adeny Ephesians 3:8
Unsearchable RichesBishop Ryle.Ephesians 3:8
Unsearchable RichesJohn Trapp.Ephesians 3:8
Unsearchable Riches for Men of All NationsJ. Pulsford.Ephesians 3:8
Unsearchable Riches Offered to the GentilesJ. Mackay, B. D.Ephesians 3:8
Variety of RichesJ. Pulsford.Ephesians 3:8
Wealth in ChristE. Aston.Ephesians 3:8
Aspects of the True Gospel MinistryD. Thomas Ephesians 3:1-13
Paul's Apostleship to the Gentiles: IntroductionR. Finlayson Ephesians 3:1-13
The Death of the Tribal SpiritR.M. Edgar Ephesians 3:1-13
The Apostle's High PrivilegeT. Croskery Ephesians 3:8, 9
Very often does he refer, with a sort of grateful humility, to the Divine favor in attaching him to the service of the gospel.

I. MARK THE CONTRAST BETWEEN HIS CALL AND HIS SENSE OF PERSONAL NOTHINGNESS. "Less than the least of all saints." The expression is exceedingly emphatic, being a comparative formed upon a superlative. He could never forget his share in the death of Stephen, and his fierce persecutions of the Church of God. This was the sin which, though forgiven by God, could never be forgiven by himself. But he was likewise conscious of his own weakness and sinfulness, as we know by the very forcible phrase, "of sinners I am chief," which he uses as a presently believing man. Such language of self abasement is a mark of true saintship. The highest saints are usually the most distinguished by their humility. The term by which he describes himself implies that there are saints in Christ's kingdom - little, less, least; not that there is any difference in their title, but a difference at once in their realization of their own unworthiness and in the degree of their conformity to him who was at once "meek and lowly." Now, while the consciousness of his own unworthiness steed out in marked contrast to the high function to which he was called in God's grace, he does not shrink from asserting his authority as an ambassador of Christ in the strongest terms, but always with the conviction of one who ascribes all his success, not to his own merits, but to "the gift of the grace of God? His call to the apostleship involved his conversion, and his conversion was "by the effectual working of God's power."

II. CONSIDER HIS MESSAGE TO THE GENTILES. "The unsearchable riches of Christ." We read of riches of grace and riches of glory, but the plenitude of all Divine blessings is in him.

1. The apostle does not specify what is included in the riches of Christ." He who was rich for our sakes became poor that "ye through his poverty might be made rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). We see the source of all the riches - it is in himself. But Scripture shows that, while in him there was all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, with the real design of his filling us eventually with all the fullness of God, "the riches of Christ" are scattered over the whole path of a believer, from its starting-point in conversion till it is lost in the glories of the eternal inheritance. He is rich in love, rich in compassion, rich in mercy, rich in grace, rich in peace, rich in promise, rich in reward, rich in all the blessings of the new and better covenant, as he must be because he is "made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption."

2. The riches of Christ are "unsearchable." The word suggests the idea of the difficulty of tracing footsteps. Who can trace the footsteps of God? Whatever of power is infinite power; whatever of wisdom is infinite wisdom; whatever of love is infinite love.

(1) We cannot trace the extent of the "riches of Christ." We may apply a double standard of measurement, taking account of the infinite altitude of the sources whence his salvation has flowed, and of the depths of sin and misery to which salvation had to descend in order to reach its objects. Yet we have not searched out the riches of Christ. He put forth upon our salvation all the invention of his omniscient wisdom, applied to it the utmost energies of his omnipotent power, and lavished upon it the exceeding riches of his infinite goodness - neither mercy conflicting with justice, nor love with righteousness, nor compassion for the sinner with hatred of his sins.

(2) The riches of Christ are unsearchable so far they are undiminished with use or time. Who can trace the limits of their application? Millions have drunk of the "water of the wells of salvation?" but these wells are still unexhausted and inexhaustible. The rivers of the earth may fail; there may be dry wastes where now there are running streams; but the riches of Christ can never fail, though thousands of needy souls have drawn from them and twice ten thousand more will yet come to draw. The fountain of supply is full as it is free, and free as it is full.

3. Consider his larger message to the whole world of man. "And to make all men see the dispensation of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God." The apostle's object was to enlighten the Jew as well as the Gentile upon the true nature of the dispensation which displaced so much that was dear to the Jewish heart in order that the true glory of the Lord might shine forth, not as a mere minister of the circumcision, but as the uniter of Jew and Gentile, bond and free, male and female, in his own body. The mystery was hid for ages, but was now made known by apostles and prophets. We see how revelation was an historical movement, subject to the usual laws of historical development; for the redemptive purpose," hid for ages," was evolved by a gradual process of growth, till in Christianity it became a full-grown fact. It was part of the discipline of man to go through all these stages of imperfect knowledge till "the perfect day" dawned upon the world. But it was through all the ages "the mystery of redemption," going back to the ages that date from creation - "creation building the platform on which the strange mystery of redemption was disclosed." - T.C.







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.
It is evident from Scripture that God never intended that the privileges of adoption into His family and kingdom should be permanently confined to any particular nation. It is evident that the promise was originally given to Abraham, as the father of all them that believe, and not as a promise to be restricted to those who should be his posterity according to the flesh. And, although our Saviour's personal ministry was limited almost entirely to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel," He Himself expressly asserted that He had "other sheep" who were "not of that fold" — that "them also He must bring" within the sacred enclosure — and that, after a time, there would thus be but "one fold and one Shepherd."

I. HOW HUMBLE HE WAS. He considered himself "less than the least of all saints." There was no affectation of humility here; the apostle felt as he wrote. Once he made his boast of the law, and relied on his own righteousness; now he felt that the law condemned him, and that the righteousness of Christ must be his only plea. Brethren, have you never persecuted Jesus in the persons of His saints? Have you never sneered at what the world calls the over strictness of His true disciples? Have you never treated individuals among them with scorn and derision? Have you never espoused the cause and followed the example of Christ's enemies?

II. HOW CATHOLIC HE WAS. "Unto me is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles." He rejoiced that God had given him this grace, conferred upon him this favour, distinguished him by this honour. He was, par excellence, the apostle of the Gentiles, and he gloried in the distinction. His Jewish prejudices had melted away like wreaths of night mist at the rising of the sun. His Christian sympathies now embraced the whole family of man; he was now as catholic as he had formerly been bigoted. Whether among the philosophers of Athens, or the sensualists of Corinth whether among the worshippers of Diana at Ephesus, or the worshippers of Jupiter at Lystra — whether among Jews in their synagogues, or among Gentiles in their market places — Paul preached a free and full gospel, declaring that it was the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believed, and that now God called on all men everywhere to repent. One effect of the Holy Spirit's teaching was, to enable him to contemplate mankind from a higher point of view, and with a wider range of vision, as all the offspring of one heavenly Father, against whom they had rebelled, and to whom now they might be reconciled. Brethren, let us beware against cherishing in the Christian Church a spirit of Jewish exclusiveness. It is begotten of ignorance and pride, and kept alive by a spurious zeal "not according to knowledge."

III. HOW HE VALUED THE GOSPEL. He calls it "the unsearchable riches of Christ." If men believed that the gospel could lead to "unsearchable riches," how anxious they would be to inquire into it, and to appropriate its benefits! See how St. Paul valued the gospel. He valued it because he had experienced the blessedness of being at peace with God through Christ; he valued it because it gave him a foretaste of heaven here, and the sure prospect of heaven hereafter; he valued it because he had found in it what a sinner ought to prize more than ten thousand worlds — "the unsearchable riches of Christ," a treasury of wisdom, a bank of merit, a storehouse of rewards, from which the soul may continue to draw throughout eternity, without exhausting, or even diminishing the supply; for in Christ there is infinite "fulness," in Him "dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead.

(J. Mackay, B. D.)

I. Let us observe what he says of HIMSELF. "I am less than the least of all saints." However high religion may rise in the superstructure, it always lays the foundation very low, in the deepest self-abasement. And those of you who have passed through the process, well know that the day of conviction is a day of self-annihilation. I believe, that if there be one word that will comprehend more than another the substance of genuine religion, it will be found to be "humility." For which reason, we presume, our great reformer, Luther, when he was asked, "What is the first step in religion?" replied, "Humility." "What is the second?" he replied, "Humility." "What is the third?" he replied, "Humility." And does not the language of the Apostle Peter correspond with this, when he says, "Be ye clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." Abraham said, "I am but dust and ashes"; Jacob — "I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies"; Job — "Behold I am vile, what shall I answer thee?" Isaiah — "Woe is me, for I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips"; Peter — "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord"; John, the forerunner of the Saviour — "Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose." A few words, however, will be here necessary, by way of elucidation, or rather qualification.

1. I hope you will not consider this character of Paul, as the offspring of falsehood and affectation. Christians have often been ridiculed for depreciating themselves. The case is this: where show is a substitute for reality it is always excessive. Actors always surpass the original characters. Some people angle for praise with the bait of humility; I hope you will never be caught by it. Adams, in his "Private Thoughts," with that searchingness of spirit so peculiar to him, says, "O Lord, I want more humility. And why do I want it? To be noticed and admired for it. Ah, my God, I see that my humility is very little better than pride." Baxter observes that he had always considered Judge Hale defective with regard to experimental religion; "But," says he, "the cause was, he had witnessed so much pretence and hypocrisy during the Commonwealth, that he rushed into the opposite extreme." Remember that Paul here speaks from his real views and feelings, when he says, "I am less than the least of all saints?" And you will observe also on what he fixes his eye in this comparative depreciation of himself. "I am less," says he, "than the least of all saints." "Saints" means "holy ones"; it is therefore of holiness of which he speaks; not of his condition, not of his natural talents, not of his learning, not of his knowledge, but of holiness. "Let each esteem other better than himself." The maxim will not apply universally; to use it in some cases would be folly. It would be absurdity, not humility, for a strong and healthy man to esteem a weak, sick one, as more able to do many things than himself; or for a wealthy man to suppose that a poor man is richer than himself; or a scholar to suppose that an illiterate man is wiser than himself. But it is otherwise with regard to holiness: there you never should presume in your own favour; never suppose that another exercises less self-denial or conscientiousness than yourselves. He may have imperfections, but those imperfections may have extenuations which may not attach to your deficiencies. In a word, you only see the actions of another; whereas you may feed upon your own motives and principles.

II. Observe what he says of his OFFICE. "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach." calls Paul "the herald of grace." He well deserves the name; he is always magnifying it; never loses sight of it for a moment. He connects it, you see, with everything. He connects it with his conversion, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ was exceeding abundant to me-ward." He connects it with his conversation in the world, "Not by fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God we have our conversation in the world." He connects it with his unparalleled exertions: "I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." He connects it with his functions: "Unto me, who am less than the least; of all saints, is this grace given." What grace is there here? What do princes when they want ministers, or masters when they want servants? They will be sure to take those who seem the most meritorious, and who already possess the qualities and excellences they require in them. Why? Because if they have them not, they cannot impart them. God can; and therefore, in calling His servants He also qualifies them; and therefore frequently takes the most unsuitable and the most inadequate, in order to show that the excellency of the power is of God, and not of man. When the apostle says, "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given," he shows the estimation in which he held the work in which he was engaged. And, my brethren, though the ministry has been degraded and rendered despicable by many who have been attached to it; yet; in itself the work is honourable and glorious; and they who properly discharge it, as the apostle says, ought to be "highly esteemed in love, for their works' sake."

III. Let us observe what he says of his AUDIENCE. "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles"; not exclusively, but immediately, extensively, and peculiarly. And there is something remarkable and worthy of notice in this. And here you see in the apostle's case the nature of the Christian dispensation. You will observe that the Christian dispensation did not properly commence till the death of Christ. Accordingly during His abode on earth He was the Minister of the circumcision only. And when He sent forth the apostles and the seventy, He said, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But upon His resurrection from the dead, when this glorious economy had actually commenced, His language and His commission was conformable to it; then said He to them, "Go into all the world, and teach the gospel to every creature." There is nothing, therefore, in the Christian dispensation like that of Judaism. Judaism was of Divine origin: but then it was exclusive; it was confined, and it was necessarily confined, to a particular nation. In the nature of the case it never could have become a universal religion. How could all the males in all the countries of the earth have repaired three times a your to Jerusalem, to appear before the Lord and to worship there? Christianity has no localities; our Saviour said to the woman, "The hour cometh, yea, now is, when neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem (exclusively) shall men worship the Father; but all shall worship Him in spirit and in truth." The gospel therefore overlooks everything that is external and adventitious in men's condition, and regards them as men only.

IV. Observe what he says of his SUBJECT. "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;" the model after which all ministers should be conformed; all of us should be able to make use of the same language with them. They could say, "We preach not heathen virtues, not Jewish economies, not moral systems, not worldly politics, not Church discipline, not the difference in forms and modes of worship; we have a noble theme. We leave nature to the philosophers; our philosophy is to know 'God manifest in the flesh.' We leave the planets to astronomers; our astronomy is to teach people to adore 'the bright and morning Star,' to adore 'the Sun of Righteousness,' rising with healing under His wings. We leave geometry to the mathematicians; our geometry is to teach people 'to comprehend with all saints, what is the height, and depth, and length, and breadth, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge'; our arithmetics to teach men 'so to number their days, as to apply their hearts unto wisdom.' We leave criticism and language to the rhetoricians, concerned only to be skilled in the language of Canaan, and to speak according to the living oracles of God. 'We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord'; 'We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but to them which are called both Jew and Greek, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.'" The world has its riches, but they are easily comprehended; and Solomon summed them all up when he said, "Vanity of vanities; vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity." All the wealth of the world, all the world calls good and great, is infinitely inferior to mind. I say to mind. The riches of the Saviour are for the soul, and for eternity; they are therefore invisible as to the senses; and they are boundless too, so that no creature in heaven or earth can ever fully explore them.

(W. Jay.)

I. Let us cursorily glance at THE CHARACTER OF ST. PAUL AS HERE DESCRIBED. "Me, who am less than the least of all saints."

1. The description which the apostle here gives us of his character must not, on any account, encourage the idea that personal piety can be dispensed with in a Christian minister.

2. The description which St. Paul here gives us of his character may teach us that, even where an individual is a decided and distinguished saint, the level which he occupies as a religious man may be, in some sense, comparatively low. The circumstance which may be regarded as having mainly contributed to lower the apostle's place in the catalogue of the saints was this, that he spent so large and important a portion of his life in pursuits that were not only alien from the gospel of Christ, but fiercely opposed to His kingdom and His cause. But there is also another principle which determines the comparative place which a particular believer occupies in the scale of Christian saintship, namely, the amount of his actual attainments. And oh, to whatever extent St. Paul may have able to abide this searching test, what a humiliating view might it give, if fairly applied, of a multitude of saints! How many of those who obtain the character, and with sufficient reason, of enlightened and devoted Christians, are, if contemplated in the light of their religious advantages, but faint and feeble after all!

3. The description which St. Paul here gives of himself, as "less than the least of all saints," may serve as a model of humility.

II. Let us glance at THE FUNCTIONS WHICH ST. PAUL WAS CALLED TO EXECUTE. "That I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God."

1. St. Paul was called to "preach." The original word here rendered "preach," means to be the messenger of good tidings. It is a verb corresponding to the substantive translated "gospel." The apostle, then, was to announce the gospel — a message to which the name of good tidings may be attached, both because of its essential character as a record of God's pardoning and saving mercy, and because of its relative character as "the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth." O blessed and delightful view of the apostle's ministry! He had a gospel to declare.

2. St. Paul was called to "preach the unsearchable riches of Christ." The expression, "riches of Christ," comprehensively denotes the personal excellence and mediatorial sufficiency of Jesus. There are seven constituent elements more especially in "the unsearchable riches of Christ," which, in the name and by the authority of God, the apostle preached.(1) He preached the Divine supremacy of Christ.(2) St. Paul preached the prophetic excellence of Christ — disclosing the depths of celestial wisdom which, in person, and by his commissioned messengers, that infallible instructor taught, and making manifest that, in teaching thus, the Redeemer spake the words of God.(3) He preached the perfection of the Lord's humanity, announcing him for the vindication of the Father's righteousness, and the satisfaction of the sinner's soul, as the spotless Lamb of sacrifice.(4) He preached Christ's atoning sacrifice. But(5) it the apostle preached Christ as the Saviour on the cross, he also preached Him as the Saviour on the throne.(6) From heaven he descended, as it were, along with Him, to earth amidst the thunders of the day of doom. But(7) the Apostle Paul set forth not only the personal qualifications which Christ possesses, but also the benefits which He has purchased and procured for men.

3. St. Paul was called to preach these riches "among the Gentiles."

4. The apostle was commissioned "to make all men see what was the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God."

III. Let us very briefly notice THE SOURCE TO WHICH ST. PAUL ATTRIBUTES HIS POSSESSION OF THE MINISTERIAL OFFICE. "Unto me is this grace given."

1. To his God and Saviour the apostle attributes his possession of the ministerial office; and well might he do so. From them he received his commission to preach the gospel (Acts 9:15; Acts 13:2).

2. The apostle's words suggest that to hold the office of the ministry is a privilege.

(A. S. Patterson.)

I. CONSIDER WHAT AN HUMBLE OPINION THE APOSTLE HAD OF HIMSELF. True religion in the heart will produce self-abasing thoughts.

II. THE APOSTLE EXPRESSES HIS ADMIRING APPREHENSIONS OF GOD'S GRACE in calling him to the ministry.

III. THE APOSTLE'S ELEVATED SENTIMENTS CONCERNING THE GOSPEL WHICH HE PREACHED.

1. The blessings of the gospel, being purchased by the blood of Christ, are called "riches."

2. They have called "riches" on account of their excellency, fulness, and variety.

3. They are called "unsearchable riches," because undiscoverable by human wisdom, and made known only by revelation.

IV. CONSIDER WHAT GRAND AND ENLARGED CONCEPTIONS THE APOSTLE ENTERTAINED OF THE DESIGN AND IMPORTANCE OF HIS MINISTRY. Concluding reflections.

1. This subject may serve to enlarge our views of the Divine government.

2. This subject suggests to us, that heaven is a place of improvement.

3. We see the humility of angels.

(J. Lathrop, D. D.)

I. THE MAN. His humility! The bird that sings sweetest, and soars highest, builds upon the ground. The flower of richest fragrance is the lowly violet. So humility is the fairest of Christian graces. Notice St. Paul's growth in this. He calls himself successively —

1. The least of the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:9).

2. Less than the least of all saints (Ephesians 3:8).

3. The chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).

II. THE MINISTRY HE HAD RECEIVED. Its excellence in contrast with his own conscious unworthiness. The treasure on the one hand — the earthen vessel on the other,

1. This ministry a grace given to him. All work for Christ should be so regarded. Accepted as a privilege it ceases to be a task.

2. The grace given. St. Paul's special work as the apostle of the Gentiles. The gathering in of the Jews the difficulty in many minds now; the gathering in of the Gentiles the difficulty then. Duty of the Church as regards missions.

III. THE MESSAGE. Good tidings.

1. Christ: the substance and life of all true preaching.

2. The riches of Christ. Favourite expression of the apostle. Riches of Christ's grace (Ephesians 1:7). Riches of Christ's glory (Ephesians 3:16).

3. Unsearchable riches. Not traced out (Greek); but now revealed.

(F. Dobbin, M. A.)

I am sure Paul was never guilty of mock modesty, and never pretended to be humbler than he really was. At suitable times he could vindicate himself, and claim his position among his fellow men.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Was Paul really less than the least of all saints? Was not this too low an estimate of himself? Brethren, I suppose he meant that he felt this to be the case when he looked at himself from certain aspects. He was one of the late converts, many of his comrades were in Christ before him, and he yielded precedence to the older ones. He had been aforetime a persecutor and injurious, and, though God had forgiven him, he had never forgiven himself; and when he recollected his share in the sufferings and martyrdom of the saints, he felt that, though now numbered among them, he could only dare to sit in the lowliest place. Besides, any devout man, however eminent he may be in most respects, will find that there are certain other points in which he falls short; and the apostle, instead of looking at the points in which he excelled, singled out with modest eye those qualities in which he felt he failed, and in those respects he put himself down as "less than the least of all saints." This strikes us as being a very different mode of speech from that which is adopted by certain brethren. One friend asserts that he has ceased from known sin for some months; and then another brother, to go a little further, asserts that the very being of sin in him has been destroyed, root and branch; of which I believe in both cases not one single word. If those brethren had said that they were sixteen feet high, that their eyes were solid diamonds, and that their hair was Prussian blue, I should feel towards them very much as I do now. They simply do not know themselves, and the best article of furniture they could have in their houses would be a looking glass which would let them see their own selves; if they had once had such a sight, I warrant you they would sing another tune, pitched to a far lower key. Many who now shine in the highest places of self-estimation, will one day be glad enough to sit at the feet of the poorest of the saints, unless I am greatly mistaken; for everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. IN WHAT DID THE HUMILITY OF ST. PAUL CONSIST? How did it manifest itself? The slightest acquaintance with his character leaves us no room to suspect that it consisted in words only. There is such an appearance of simplicity and honesty in his writings, that they give us at once a full conviction that the humility which appears in his language, was to be found also in his heart and life.

1. We cannot take even the most hasty glance at these, without at once noticing the entire submission of his mind to the gospel of Christ, the simple and full reception which he gave to every Divine truth.

2. The writings of St. Paul prove the greatness of his humility by showing us also, that the highest spiritual attainments could not make him forget his meanness and guilt.

3. The sense which the apostle had of his own sinfulness, did not however prevent him from seeing and acknowledging what Divine grace had done for his soul, and what it had enabled him to do for God. He sometimes mentions these things, but he never mentions them without affording us another proof of his lowliness of heart — a marked anxiety to give all the glory of all his labours and attainments to God.

4. His humility was manifested also in the low opinion which he had of himself, when compared with his Christian brethren. He speaks not, in the text, the unmeaning language of compliment, but the language of godly sincerity.

5. The humility of St. Paul consisted, lastly, in his simple dependence on Christ.

II. BY WHAT MEANS THAT SPIRIT OF SELF-ABASEMENT WHICH REIGNED IN HIS HEART MAY BE HABITUALLY MAINTAINED IN OUR OWN. Now let us never forget that we have no power in ourselves to do anything as of ourselves. We are not able to plant a single grace within us; and when any spiritual seed has been planted there, we have no power to keep it alive, and cause it to bring forth fruit. But though we are thus impotent in ourselves, the Holy Spirit generally works His purposes of grace by the use of means, and through these means He allows, yea, He commands, us to seek His grace.

1. One of these means must immediately occur to us; it is this — a frequent remembrance of our former iniquities, and an abiding sense of our present corruptions. Remember, Christian brethren, what you once were.

2. If we would habitually maintain an humble frame of mind, we must have a lively sense of the freeness and fulness of Divine mercy. Think of its beginning in the councils of eternity. Think of its freeness, its greatness, its unchangeableness. Think of that depth of misery from which it has raised you, and of that height of blessedness to which it is gradually lifting you. If such thoughts as these never humble you, write bitter things against yourselves, and deem yourselves strangers to the grace of Christ.

3. The Christian will also find his humility increased by frequently meditating on the infinite purity and majesty of the living God (see Isaiah 6:5; Job 42:6, 6).

4. A due sense of the great importance of an humble spirit will also have a tendency to keep us low in our own eyes. The grace of humility is not a merely ornamental grace, a something which it is desirable, but not absolutely necessary, to possess. It lies at the very root of all true religion. It is the source from which almost every spiritual grace must spring. Where this is wanting, everything is wanting.

5. If we would become more lowly in heart, we must, finally, look more to Christ than we have hitherto looked to Him. We must look to Him for humility. "We must regard Him as our only Sanctifier, as well as our only Saviour. We must apply to Him to subdue the pride of our hearts, as well as to blot out their sins.

(C. Bradley, M. A.)

This passage is an humble, grateful, and exulting recognition of the sovereign, distinguishing grace of God, which had called, commissioned, and qualified him for the ministry of the gospel, for the defence of which he was now set, and on account of which he was then in bonds; and it presents a statement of the wondrous theme, the grand design, and the appropriate character of the Christian ministry.

I. THE DISTINGUISHING AND COMPREHENSIVE THEME OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY — "THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST." The phraseology is singularly expressive and affluent. The sentiment is in perfect accord with every avowal of the apostle, and with other statements of the Word of God. The Lord Jesus Christ in His person and work — His attributes and offices — His sufferings and glory — His cross and crown — what He is in Himself and what He is to us, and to the whole universe of God, is the one all-absorbing and exhaustless topic of Divine revelation and apostolic discourse. The expression "riches of Christ" is a peculiar Pauline phrase, indicating the most exuberant and exhaustless profusion. It denotes whatever is grand and abundant, substantial and permanent, admirable and desirable; and may be applied either to the personal glories pertaining to Christ, or to official blessings bestowed by Him. All spiritual riches are His, and ours only in Him. They flow from Him as their source, and through Him as their channel. Purchased by His blood, obtained by His intercession, supplied by His Spirit, they become ours only as we are united to Him by a living faith.

II. THE HIGH CHARACTER AND HUMBLE SPIRIT OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. In view of the momentous mysterious truths, the grand comprehensive design, and the wonderful inconceivable results of the gospel of Christ, we are constrained to ask who is worthy to open the book and break the seal of such a Divine mystery. Not one of the shining seraphs before the throne would dare self-impelled to say, "Let me fly"; yet it has pleased the God of all wisdom and grace to entrust the Divine mission to human agency, to put the treasure into earthen vessels. It is through the sanctified agency of human sympathy, and the earnestness of human conviction, "testifying of the gospel of the grace of God," and proclaiming in simplicity and sincerity "the unsearchable riches of Christ," that the world is to be enlightened and saved. The Christian minister must be saved and sent.

1. Saved. The first and indispensable qualification of a minister of the gospel is, that he be personally a subject of its saving power, a saint, though in his own estimation one of the least.

2. Sent — grace given; made a minister. The manner of the apostle's call was as strikingly supernatural as his work was distinctively peculiar; and no minister can expect such a personal commission, or such a Divine revelation. Yet to all, as to him, the commission and necessity to preach comes from the Lord — the authority and ability are both imparted. The man who feels he has a message from God to deliver, full of meaning as it is full of power, is fearless as a prophet, and brave as an apostle. He has comfort in his work, is confident of its success, and assured of its triumph.

(W. Ormiston, D. D.)

On his way to Sweden the celebrated Grotius was overtaken by mortal sickness; and when the clergyman, Quinstorp, reminded him of his sins on the one hand, and on the other, not of his services and worldwide reputation, but the grace of God in Christ Jesus, with a reference to the publican — "I am that publican," replied Grotius, and then expired. Hooker, the author of the "Ecclesiastical Polity," one of the noblest books in the language, after he had been made preacher at the Temple Church, besought Archbishop Whitgift, who had given him that position, to remove him to a lowlier sphere of labour.

When Mr. Morrison, the Missionary to China, needed an assistant, Mr. Milne, afterwards the celebrated Dr. Milne, offered himself. As soon as the examiners had talked with him, they saw that his heart was right enough, but he had a clownish look, and a dullness of expression; when the youth was gone out of the room, one of the examiners said, "He is scarcely a proper person to send, we need a man of greater intellect." At last they agreed that they had better send him as a servant, the servant of the mission, to do the work of the household, clean Dr. Morrison's boots, and such like things, I suppose. So Dr. Phillip was requested to communicate this to him, and he told him that the committee did not feel he was qualified to go as a missionary, would. he mind going as a servant? The youth's eye sparkled, and he said, "It is too much honour for me even if I am but a hewer of wood and a drawer of water for the Lord my God." And thus he went forth, and afterwards, as you know, became one of the most useful of missionaries. How many a man would have said, "Gentle, men, I did not come for that; this is treating me with a want of respect. Surely you do not know who I am, or else you would not suppose for a moment that I would be willing to be a mere drudge and menial servant!" They know not the Lord who only desire His service for the honour which it brings; but they have their hearts right before Him who want no honour for themselves, but only desire that His name may be extolled above the hills, that He may be made famous.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Few men are so great as St. Paul. Few know even the names of other men of his time. Emperors and great men, their kingdoms and languages, are all perished. But his name and his power is as fresh as ever. The science of today lowers all human power, but raises the intellect and the spirit. It raises the kings of the spirit rather than the body, and amongst these St. Paul. The more a man can grasp, the more important becomes his fate. Not the body, so small. Not the earthly life, so short. But the being which can see further than the eye, and look on, and back, and before, and beyond even the earth itself. Wisdom for this life is a goad thing, and well rewarded. Wisdom that sees through nature is a great thing, and we are proud of those who have it. There is a wisdom beyond either. Of what use is it to grow rich and die? to know all things, and be the victim of remorse, or of evil passions that will not let the soul rest? Our perfections are the reflections of God's perfections. He is Almighty and Omniscient, and the strong and knowing are good. He is all Good and all Merciful, and the reflection of these attributes is better than knowledge or strength. He is a benefactor to mankind who makes grass grow where it never grew before. He was, who made the first almanac. But he is much more so who first declared "the unsearchable riches" of God.

I. THE HIGHEST CALLING IS THAT OF A MISSIONARY. St. Paul is the great pattern missionary, and, therefore, the greatest figure in history. It is necessary thus to raise our thoughts, in order to think rightly of missionary work. I do not ask your charity to give a trifle to a poor missionary or to a poor heathen. But I ask you to consider what is the greatest and noblest work in the world, and in charity to yourselves to take a part in it. It was the greatest glory of St. Paul that he was called to take a part in it. He did not condescend to it, but it to him. We know how hopelessly it tangles a work to begin at the wrong end. So it is, if we look upon missions as what we benefit, and not as what benefit us.

II. DUTIES COME TO US IN MANY SHAPES AND WITH MANY SANCTIONS.

1. This comes to us as a "grace." St. Paul accepted the duty as a grace, a gift, and using it as such is great. So accepting our duties we turn them to our profit.

2. And this grace comes to us as Christians. Christ has given Himself to us, that we should share His character and His work.

3. It comes to us peculiarly as Englishmen. The nation whose rule is so wide, that other nations come to evangelize our possessions, and reap a part of our reward. The question before us is, how is the highest work of man to be done? It is God's work, and in His own time will be done. But, by us? or, by whom?

III. HERE ARE BOTH HONOUR AND PROFIT THAT ARE OUR OWN.

1. The honour to work God's own work, who is the true fountain of honour.

2. The profit, which transcends the profit that fills men's minds, as heaven does earth, and eternity does a man's life. What is there more noble than to give one's whole power and life to pure benevolence? And what reward greater than the eternal company of those who owe these blessings to us? To us all is this grace given. Take your part — if you cannot in body, at least in heart; if not your life, at least offer of your gains for this greatest and holiest of callings.

(Bishop E. Steere.)

The enthusiasm with which the apostle speaks of preaching the gospel to the heathen is contagious. His words burn on the page, and our hearts take fire as we read them. What was the secret of this exultation in the gospel and in his commission to make the gospel known to all mankind?

1. Paul had a vivid intellectual interest in the Christian gospel. To him it was a real revelation of the most wonderful and surprising truths concerning God and the relations of God to the human race. It urged his intellectual posers to their most strenuous activity. It never lost its freshness. It was never exhausted. Its boundaries were always advancing. In all the great movements of religious reform that have permanently elevated the religious life of Christendom, there has been a renewal of intellectual interest in the Christian revelation. Some forgotten aspects of the gospel have been recovered; the theological definitions which had for a generation or two been a sufficient expression of the results at which human speculation had arrived concerning the great facts of revelation have been challenged and discredited, and the mind of the Church has been brought into immediate contact with the facts themselves; the methods which had determined the construction of theological systems have become obsolete, and the work of reconstruction has tasked the genius and the learning of the leaders of Christian thought; the central principles of the gospel have received new applications to individual conduct and to the organization of social life; in all these ways a fresh and keen intellectual interest has been excited in Christian truth, and the intellectual interest has deepened moral and spiritual earnestness.

2. The heart and imagination of Paul were filled with the infinite and eternal blessings which were the inheritance of the human race in Christ. For human sin there was the Divine forgiveness. For human weakness in its baffled attempts to emancipate itself from the tyranny of evil habits and evil passions there was Divine redemption. For human uncertainty and doubt in the presence of the great problems of life and death there was the illumination of the Spirit and free access to God. For restless discontent at the limitations of human virtue there was the possibility of a transcendent righteousness through union with the life of the eternal Son of God. Paul believed in "the unsearchable riches of Christ." We shall never recover his enthusiasm as long as we dwell chiefly on the external and incidental benefits which follow the acceptance of the Christian gospel. As a Christian minister at home I decline to have the value of my work estimated by the extent to which it lightens the work of the police, and diminishes the cost to the ratepayers and the nation of maintaining workhouses and jails. As an advocate of Christian missions to the heathen, I decline to have the value of missionary faith and heroism measured by the annual value of the new markets in Africa and the Pacific for English hardware and cotton goods. Give to every cluster of miserable huts in Central Africa and in the islands of the South Pacific, the material wealth and splendour of the foremost cities of Europe; transform their savage chiefs into cultivated statesmen; let their people be trained to discuss the philosophy of Plato and to admire the majesty of the genius of AEschylus; let them become famous for their brilliant discoveries in science, let them create a literature with an original grace, beauty, and dignity; and all this would be as nothing compared with what you have done for them, in bringing them home to God, in assuring them of the tenderness and strength of the love of the Father whom they had forgotten, in opening to them the fountains of eternal life and eternal righteousness, in making them the heirs of eternal glory. This was Paul's faith, and this faith was, in fact, the source of his invincible energy and his passionate enthusiasm.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

How the apostle could say he was the least of all saints. Because for Christ a servant of all saints; also because of his base intreaty from men. Moreover, he saw more clearly his own corruption than that of others; and the true speech follows the true apprehension. Boughs most ]laden with fruit bow more than the empty.

1. The most excellent men must think submissively of themselves.

2. A great favour of God to be called to the ministry.

3. To abase ourselves is the way to extol God's grace.

4. Ministers of the gospel bring good tidings to men.

(1)They are swinish who neglect the gospel.

(2)We must depend on the gospel.

5. Ministers must principally preach Christ Jesus.

6. None are able to come to the full knowledge of Christ. "Unsearchable riches." The veins of this mine are never worked out.

(Paul Bayne.)

Doctor Durham, of the Scottish Presbyterians, and a popular young minister, were walking together to their several places of worship, situated near to each other, into one of which multitudes crowded, while but few entered the other. "Brother," said the Doctor to his young friend, "You will have a crowded church today." The other replied, "They are to blame who leave you and come to us." "Not so," replied the Doctor, "for a minister can receive no such honour and success in his ministry, except it be given him from heaven. I rejoice that Christ is preached, and that His kingdom is gaining ground, though my estimation in people's hearts should decrease; for I am content to be anything, so that Christ may be all in all."

The unsearchable riches of Christ
The Apostle Paul felt it to be a great privilege to be allowed to preach the gospel. He did not look upon his calling as a drudgery, or a servitude, but he entered upon it with intense delight. If a herald were sent to a besieged city with the tidings that no terms of capitulation would be offered, but that every rebel without exception should be put to death, methinks he would go with lingering footsteps; but if instead thereof, he were commissioned to go to the gates with the white flag to proclaim a free pardon, a general act of amnesty and oblivion, surely he would run as though he had wings to his heels, with a joyful alacrity, to tell to his fellow citizens the good pleasure of their merciful king. Heralds of salvation, ye carry the most joyful of all messages to the sons of men.

I. THE PERSON MENTIONED — JESUS CHRIST. Do not many preachers make a great mistake by preaching doctrine instead of preaching the Saviour? Certainly the doctrines are to be preached, but they ought to be looked upon as the robes and vestments of the man Christ Jesus, and not as complete in themselves. The doctrines of the gospel are a golden throne upon which Jesus sits, as king. In the old romance, they tell us that at the gate of a certain noble hall there hung a horn, and none could blow that horn but the true heir to the castle and its wide domains. Many tried it. They could make sweet music on other instruments; they could wake the echoes by other bugles; but that horn was mute, let them blow as they might. At last, the true heir came, and when he set his lips to the horn, shrill was the sound and indisputable his claim. He who can preach Christ is the true minister. Brethren, the Christian minister should be like these golden spring flowers which we are so glad to see. Have you observed them when the sun is shining? How they open their golden cups, and each one whispers to the great sun, "Fill me with thy beams!" but when the sun is hidden behind a cloud, where are they? They close their cups and droop their heads. So should the Christian feel the sweet influences of Jesus; so especially should the Christian minister be subject to his Lord. Jesus must be his sun, and he must be the flower which yields itself to the Sun of Righteousness. Happy would it be for us if our hearts and our lips could become like Anacreon's harp, which was wedded to one subject, and would learn no ether. He wished to sing of the sons of Atreus, and the mighty deeds of Hercules, but his harp resounded love alone; and when he would have sung of Cadmus, his harp refused it would sing of love alone. Oh! to speak of Christ alone — to be tied and bound to this one theme forever; to speak alone of Jesus, and of the amazing love of the glorious Son of God, who, "though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor." This is the subject which is both "seed for the sower, and bread for the eater." This is the live coal for the lip of the preacher, and the master key to the heart of the hearer.

II. THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES spoken of in the text. In what respects may we ascribe to our Lord Jesus the possession of unsearchable riches?

1. He has unsearchable riches of love for sinners as they are. Jesus so loved the souls of men that we can only use the "so," but we cannot find the word to match with it. In the French Revolution, there was a young man condemned to the guillotine, and shut up in one of the prisons. He was greatly loved by many, but there was one who loved him more than all put together. How know we this? It was his own father; and the love he bore his son was proved in this way: when the lists were called, the father, whose name was exactly the same as his son's, answered to the name, and the father rode in the gloomy tumbril out to the place of execution, and his head rolled beneath the axe instead of his son's, a victim to mighty love. An image of the love of Christ to sinners; thus Jesus died for the ungodly, viewed as such.

2. Jesus has riches of pardon for those who repent of their sins. No guiltiness can possibly transcend the efficacy of His precious blood. The gospel of Christ is meant for the lowest of the low. There is no den where the Saviour cannot work; there is no loathsome haunt of sin too foul for Him to cleanse. The heathen fabled of their Hercules that he cleansed the Augean stables by turning a river through them, and so washing away the filth of ages; if your heart be such a stable, Christ is greater than the mightiest Hercules — He can cause the river of His cleansing blood to flow right through your heart, and your iniquities, though they are a heap of abominations, shall be put away forever. Riches of love to sinners as such, and riches of pardon to sinners who repent, are stored up in the Lord Jesus.

3. Christ has riches of comfort for all who mourn.

4. He has riches of wisdom. The desire to know has sent men roving over all the world, but he who finds Jesus may stay at home and be wise. If you sit at His feet, you shall know what Plato could not teach you, and what Socrates never learned. When the old schoolmen could not answer and defend a proposition, they were wont to say, "I will go to Aristotle: he shall help me out." If you do but learn of Christ, He shall help you out of all difficulties; and that which is most useful for your soul to know, the knowledge, which will last you in eternity, Christ shall teach to you.

5. My Master has riches of happiness to bestow upon you. After all, he is the rich man who wears heart's ease in his button hole. The man who can say, "I have enough," is richer than the peer of the realm who is discontented. Believe me, my Lord can make you to lie down in green pastures, and lead you beside still waters. There is no music like the music of His pipe, when He is the Shepherd and you are the sheep, and: you lie down at His feet. There is no love like His, neither earth nor heaven can match it.

6. The unsearchable riches of Christ will be best known in eternity.

III. Lastly, there must have been A ROYAL INTENTION in the heart of Christ in sending out Paul to preach of His unsearchable riches, because every man must have a motive for what he does, and beyond all question, Jesus Christ has a motive. Did you ever hear of a man who employed a number of persons to go about to proclaim his riches, and call hundreds of people together, and thousands, as on this occasion, simply to tell them that So-and-so was very rich? Why, the crowds would say, "What is that to us?" But if at the conclusion, the messenger could say, "But all these riches he presents to you, and whoever among you shall desire to be made rich, can be enriched now by him." Ah! then you would say, "Now we see the sense of it. Now we perceive the gracious drift of it all." Now, my Lord Jesus Christ is very strong, but all that strength is pledged to help a poor weak sinner to enter into heaven.

1. How rich must those be who have Christ for a friend! They who get Christ to be their own property are like the man who, having long eaten of fruit from a certain tree, was no longer satisfied with having the fruit, but he must needs take up the tree and plant it in his own garden. Happy those who have Christ planted as the tree of life in the soil of their hearts! You not only have His grace, and His love, and His merit, but you have Himself.

2. How transcendently foolish, on the other hand, must those be who will not have Christ when He is to be had for the asking! who prefer the baubles and the bubbles of this world, and let the solid gold of eternity go by!

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. One of the gifts which Christ bestows upon us out of the unsearchable riches of His grace and love, IS THE FORGIVENESS OF OUR SINS.

II. Another gift which Christ bestows, IS THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. "To be spiritually minded is life and peace." "To be spiritually minded" means to have our thoughts and affections, our hearts and minds, changed by the Holy Spirit of God. Rich, then, is he with the truest riches, in whose heart God's Holy Spirit dwells and is not driven away.

III. Nor are these all the gifts out of Christ's unsearchable riches. He promises to His people ENOUGH TO CARRY THEM THROUGH THIS WORLD, where they are but strangers and travellers; and He plainly tells us, that if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, other things, as far as is good for us, shall be added.

IV. BUT CHRIST KEEPS HIS RICHEST GIFTS TO THE LAST. It is after death that He bestows on them that love Him the full cup of salvation, the everlasting blessedness of heaven (1 John 3:2).

(E. Blencowe, M. A.)

I. Paul preached "RICHES." This word represents three things — value, abundance, and supply. Let us look briefly at these three things.

1. He exhibited to the Gentiles that which is truly and supremely valuable — valuable to a man's whole nature — valuable for the life which now is, and for that which is to come — that which God by everything that He has said concerning it, and by all that He has done concerning it, recognizes as supremely valuable.

2. He preached also abundance — not something valuable, but much — not competency, but wealth — as much as a man needs — more than we could ask or think — such abundance as that it does not diminish with scattering — such abundance as that it does not perish with using — water, it is true, but not water in cisterns which may become leaky, or a short supply which will soon be exhausted; but water in fountains, even living water, everlasting water, outflowing water.

3. Now you may have value without abundance; you may have abundance without value; you may have value and abundance without supply: but here, brethren, is value, abundance, and supply. The value, the precious thing existing in abundance, is abundantly supplied. Paul preached therefore not only that which he knew to be supremely valuable and fully abundant, but that which was as freely given — subjective riches — that which is wealth to the man who hath it. I do not know much about earthly wealth, and I dare say some of you, when you hear me talking about it, say that I know very little about it; and therefore should perhaps scarcely speak of wealth, but so far as I can understand this matter, there does not seem to be such a thing as subjective riches to the men who are trying to get rich in this world's goods. Let me just explain myself. A man is starting in business, and he says to himself, Well, I will try to make, if I can, £20,000 or £30,000, and when I have this in store I shall never need or wish to add to it a farthing. He aims after this £30,000, and he gets it; but when he has it does he feel rich? No such thing. In order to feel rich he must have £30,000 more; and he starts again for that goal. Now his aim is £60,000. He gets £60,000; but does he now feel rich? No, there is somebody else who has £120,000; and he starts for the third goal; and he reaches it. And now there is somebody else — some fellow merchant, or some neighbour — who has twice £120,000; and you find the man again striving after that twice £120,000. So that, as far as I understand it (and I admit that I know very little about it), rich men do not feel rich — they never have enough. You who have only your daily bread put upon your table think men rich when they have in store some ten thousands of pounds, and very rich if some hundreds of thousands of pounds; but the possessors do not feel rich. How often do we find them, even with these large resources, complaining of poverty; and how often do these rich men live in far more dread of dying in the workhouse than those of us have who receive from heaven day by day our daily bread! You see, therefore, that earthly riches are not in every case subjective wealth; for a man may have a very large amount of treasure upon earth, and yet not feel to be a rich man. But now, brethren, look at this. The man who has "the unsearchable riches of Christ" feels to be enriched by those unsearchable riches.

II. UNSEARCHABLE riches; that is, value not traced by inquiry and investigation. Who can set a price upon truth? Who can tell what a right idea about anything is worth? The thing is too good to have a price set upon it. You cannot tell what one right thought may be to you, or what one right thought might do for you. Now look at the thoughts that cluster around this word "riches" as representing value, abundance, and supply. Unsearchable riches — value not fixed, not traced out by investigation — abundance inexplorable by want and by desire — supply inexhaustible by enjoyment and by use — "the unsearchable riches of Christ;" that is, inconceivable value in Christ Himself. He is of inconceivable value as the manifestation of God. Then look at abundance in gifts which Christ has ready for men — pardon, acquittal, restoration to the position of children, regeneration, and the entire purification and spiritual elevation of our nature, the lost Paradise restored and regained — all these things in His hand, mark, ready, so that we have only to ask and to have. Marvellous is all this, but it is true. Then, mark also, Christ's freedom of bestowal. Everyone that asketh receiveth. Everyone. There is not an exception. I know that men try to make exceptions; and I do not wonder at it. We are such stingy, selfish, hard-hearted, close-fisted, stingy creatures ourselves, and so unwilling to make sacrifices, that we cannot believe that Christ gives so freely. A man's faith is very much influenced by his own disposition. You see this continually. And our dispositions make us unbelievers in God's loving words.

(S. Martin, D. D.)

1. Here, then, in the very outset, is unsearchable mercy; the immensity of the Divine Redeemer's condescension and love! Who can search, who can understand it? "It is higher than heaven, what canst thou know" of it? Admire thou mayest, and adore and love; but it is beyond the stretch of thy created powers to conceive, beyond the capacity of any creature.

2. We may consider, in the next place, the preciousness, the value, the efficacy of the incarnation and sufferings of our Redeemer. All the attributes of the Godhead are perfect and infinite; His holiness and justice, as well as His mercy.

3. Intimately connected with this consideration is the recollection of God's exceeding love towards us, in that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Every believing soul must be overpowered by the contemplation of such a mystery of Divine goodness; must be lost in wonder, love, and praise.

4. Nor can we learn the manner or degree in which our merciful Lord is at this moment bestowing blessings upon His Church, and upon every individual believer.

5. And what are the privileges of Christ's redeemed people? What their present state, what their glorious inheritance? How unsearchable both the one and the other?

(J. Slade, M. A.)

I. WHAT ST. PAUL SAYS OF HIMSELF. Humility is one leading mark of all the most eminent saints of God in every age. The more real grace men have in their hearts, the deeper is their sense of sin. The more light the Holy Ghost pours into their souls, the more do they discern their own infirmities, defilements, and darkness. The dead soul feels and sees nothing; with life comes clear vision, a tender conscience, and spiritual sensibility. Depend on it, the nearer men draw to heaven, the more humble do they become. In the hour of death, with one foot in the grave, with something of the light of heaven shining down upon them, hundreds of great saints and Church dignitaries — such men as Selden, Bishop Butler, Archbishop Longley — have left on record their confession, that never till that hour did they see their sins so clearly, and feel so deeply their debt to mercy and grace. Heaven alone, I suppose, will fully teach us how humble we ought to be. Then only, when we stand within the veil, and look back on all the way of life by which we were led, then only shall we completely understand the need and beauty of humility.

II. WHAT ST. PAUL SAYS OF HIS MINISTERIAL OFFICE. The meaning of the sentence is plain: "To me is granted the privilege of being a messenger of good news. I have been commissioned to be a herald of glad tidings." Of course we cannot doubt that St. Paul's conception of the minister's office included the administration of the sacraments, and the doing all other things needful for the edifying of the body of Christ.

1. The ministerial office is a ministerial institution.

2. A most wise and useful provision of God.

3. An honourable privilege.It is an honour to bear the tidings of a victory such as Trafalgar and Waterloo: before the invention of telegraphs it was a highly coveted distinction. But how much greater honour is it to be the ambassador of the King of kings, and to proclaim the good news of the conquest achieved on Calvary!

III. WHAT ST. PAUL SAYS OF THE GREAT SUBJECT OF HIS PREACHING. That the converted man of Tarsus should preach "Christ," is no more than we might expect from his antecedents. Having found peace through the blood of the Cross himself, we may be sure he would always tell the story of the Cross to others. That he should preach Christ among "the Gentiles," again, is in keeping with all we know of his line of action in all places and among all people. Varying his mode of address according to his audience, as he wisely did, the pith and heart of his preaching was Christ crucified. But in the text before us, you will observe, he uses a peculiar expression, an expression which unquestionably stands alone in his writings, "the unsearchable riches of Christ." It is the strong burning language of one who always remembered his debt to Christ's mercy and grace, and loved to show how intensely he felt it by his words.

1. There are unsearchable riches in Christ's person. That miraculous union of perfect man and perfect God in our Lord Jesus Christ is a great mystery, no doubt, which we have no line to fathom. It is a high thing; and we cannot attain to it. But, mysterious as that union may be, it is a mine of comfort and consolation to all who can rightly regard it. Infinite power and infinite sympathy are met together and combined in our Saviour.

2. There are unsearchable riches in the work which Christ accomplished for us, when He lived on earth, died, and rose again.

3. There are unsearchable riches in the offices which Christ at this moment fills, as He lives for us at the right hand of God. He is at once our Mediator, our Advocate, our Priest, our Intercessor, our Shepherd, our Bishop, our Physician, our Captain, our King, our Master, our Head, our Forerunner, our Elder Brother, the Bridegroom of our souls.

4. There are unsearchable riches in the names and titles which are applied to Christ in the Scriptures. Their number is very great, every careful Bible reader knows, and I cannot of course pretend to do more than select a few of them. Think for a moment of such titles as the Lamb of God, the Bread of Life, the Fountain of Living Waters, the Light of the World, the Door, the Way, the Vine, the Rock, the Cornerstone, the Christian's Robe, the Christian's Altar. Think of all these names, I say, and consider how much they contain.

5. There are unsearchable riches in the characteristic qualities, attributes, dispositions, and intentions of Christ's mind towards man, as we find them revealed in the New Testament. In Him there are riches of mercy, love, and compassion for sinners; riches of power to cleanse, pardon, forgive, and to save to the uttermost; riches of willingness to receive all who come to Him repenting and believing; riches of ability to change by His Spirit the hardest hearts and worst characters; riches of tender patience to bear with the weakest believer; riches of strength to help His people to the end, notwithstanding every foe without and within; riches of sympathy for all who are cast down and bring their troubles to Him; and last, but not least, riches of glory to reward, when He comes again to raise the dead and gather His people to be with Him in His kingdom. Who can estimate these riches? The children of this world may regard them with indifference, or turn away from them with disdain; but those who feel the value of their souls know better. They will say with one voice, "There are no riches like those which are laid up in Christ for His people." For, best of all, these riches are unsearchable. They are a mine which, however long it may be worked, is never exhausted. They are a fountain which, however many draw its waters, never runs dry. The sun in heaven above us has been shining for 6,000 years, and giving light, and life, and warmth, and fertility to the whole surface of the globe. There is not a tree or a flower in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America which is not a debtor to the sun. And still the sun shines on for generation after generation, and season after season, rising and setting with unbroken regularity, giving to all, taking from none, and to all ordinary eyes the same in light and heat that it was in the day of creation, the great common benefactor of mankind. Just so it is — if any illustration can approach the reality — just so it is with Christ.

(Bishop Ryle.)

I. That the riches of Christ's PARDONING MERCY are unsearchable. There can be no searching out of the riches of His pardoning mercy, any more than of the value of that mysterious work which secures our pardon, or of the breadth and length, and depth and height, of that love which led Him to undertake and accomplish the work. The stream that issues from it, like that which Ezekiel saw in vision, flows on till it expands into a river that cannot be passed over — waters to swim in — an ocean whose vast extent we can never traverse, whose hidden depths we can never sound. In this gospel field, wherein lie hid unsearchable riches, He has opened for the poor and needy an exhaustless mine of heavenly treasure.

II. That the riches of Christ's SANCTIFYING GRACE are unsearchable. By His obedience unto death, our Lord Jesus Christ has fully merited for sinners, not only mercy to pardon, but grace to sanctify, and to help them in every time of need. And He accomplishes this by the power of His risen life, working in all who accept His offered mercy, according to the working of the mighty power which was wrought in Him, when He was raised from the dead and exalted to the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, that they may be raised to a holy and truly heavenly life, seeking the things which are above, where He is, and imitating His blessed example.

III. That the riches of His REWARDING GLORY are unsearchable. By His obedience unto death, our Lord Jesus Christ merited for His people, not only mercy to pardon and grace to sanctify in the life that now is, but a glorious reward, an exceeding weight of glory, in the life to come. Indeed, the latter is the end to which the former are the means — or rather, it is the fulness and perfection of that higher life, of which the former are the earnests and first-fruits. The life of glory is the crown and complement of the life of grace. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him; but God hath revealed them unto us by His spirit. He hath given us, in His indwelling, an earnest and foretaste of them; and, by images borrowed from things temporal and material, He hath dimly shadowed forth, in Holy Scripture, the glory of those new heavens and the new earth for which we look.

(A. F. Mitchell, D. D.)

I. "THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST."

1. They are riches of heavenly knowledge.

2. Riches of redeeming love.

3. Riches of pardoning mercy.

4. Riches of sanctifying grace.

5. Riches of consolation and hope.

6. Riches of immortality and glory.

7. All of them "riches of Christ"; and all of them "unsearchable."

II. AMONG WHOM ARE THEY TO BE PREACHED?

1. Paul's commission, and that of the other apostles, was to "preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15); and to bring all nations to the obedience of the faith.

2. St. Paul thoroughly understood that the gospel he preached was emphatically the gospel of the Gentiles.

3. The manner in which St. Paul speaks of the calling of the Gentiles is highly worthy of observation. He calls it a mystery — "the mystery of Christ — revealed unto the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, etc.

III. I PROCEED TO OBSERVE ON THE DIGNIFIED IDEA ST. PAUL HAD OF THE APOSTOLIC MISSION — "Unto me is this grace given." Let us cast our eye —

1. On the labours and sufferings of the mission.

2. On the grounds of St. Paul's triumph.

IV. THE FORCIBLE ADMONITION GIVEN TO MINISTERS AND MISSIONARIES, TO THINK HUMBLY AND SOBERLY OF THEMSELVES, AS THEY OUGHT TO THINK.

1. When the Lord will make a man a chosen vessel, eminently serviceable in the Church, it is the method of His grace to humble that man in the dust, and to remove from him every ground of vain-glory. This is necessary to secure all the glory to the Lord, to whom alone it is justly due.

2. That it is impossible a missionary should engage in his work in a better spirit than of that humility of which St. Paul is the example.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

I. IN WHAT DO THE RICHES OF CHRIST CONSIST? Natural to ask this; but a complete answer cannot be expected. Whatever these riches are, in whatever they may consist, they are unsearchable, unspeakable, inconceivable. We can only give a hint, take a glimpse.

1. They are the riches of Christ's glory (John 17:5; 2 Corinthians 8:8).

2. The riches of His merit. The merit of His obedience and sacrifice, His service and His sufferings, as our substitute and surety, in His obedience on earth and His intercession in heaven.

3. The riches of His grace.

(1)Grace to pardon.

(2)Grace to justify.

(3)Grace to purify.

(4)Grace to sustain.All the grace we can require, in order to assure us, in the face of a thousand obstacles and perils, of arrival at home, triumph over every foe, and ultimate possession of every enjoyment in the promised land.

II. IN WHAT RESPECTS ARE THESE RICHES UNSEARCHABLE?

1. They cannot be discovered. They are beyond the utmost reach of human penetration and sagacity; they defy the most laborious and persevering research. They are alike unknown to the speculations and philosophy and the investigations of science. Yet God has revealed them unto babes.

2. They cannot be fathomed, measured, grasped, calculated. Boundless as infinity, high as heaven, deep as hell. The measure of them is rounder than the earth, and broader than the sea.

3. They cannot be described. That which the mind cannot grasp, the tongue cannot tell, the pen cannot write — our imagination is all too weak to deal with such a theme. They are a hope, and that hope is of immortality; they are a peace, and that peace passeth understanding; they are a joy, but it is unspeakable and full of glory; they are a knowledge, but it is life eternal; they are a well of water, but it is in the man's bosom, springing up to everlasting life. In short, they are riches that fill their possessor with all the fulness of God.

4. They cannot be exhausted, diminished, impaired. What countless millions have they enriched through the long succession of ages that are past, who are now before the throne of God and the Lamb; and they are as ample as at first, and shall continue to be so to the last, though myriads more shall be enriched by them in the ages yet to come. Like the sun that shines so gloriously with a splendour so bright — bright as when the beams of the first morning were shed upon the darkness that brooded over the face of the deep — just like that sun these riches remain in all their plenty. And when that material orb is but a spark of fire, they shall yet remain; they shall survive in all their fulness when that sun is plucked from the firmament, and the universe is wrapped in flame.

(T. Raffles, D. D.)

I. THE RICHES OF CHRIST'S PERSON. Underived, independent, everlasting, Lord of all.

II. THE RICHES OF CHRIST'S DOMINION. "All power is given unto Me."

III. THE RICHES OF CHRIST'S WORK. Through His intervention God is just, and yet man may be saved.

IV. THE RICHES OF CHRIST'S PROMISES. Vast, comprehensive, abundant, sufficient in all the exigencies of life; sufficient in all the solemnity of death; and then, beyond, the crown of glory, the purity, the fellowship, the joy of the saints in heaven.

(F. Tucker, B. A.)

There was a very eloquent and able minister of our Church, who went to labour among his flock, ignorant of the gospel of Christ, but at the same time very zealous and devoted in his own way of religion. He was sedulously endeavouring to deliver them from their sins, and to promote morality and virtue among them by every means in his power; and you may suppose with the same success that must always attend such vain efforts as these, to make the law do "what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh." Whitewashing the sepulchre can never purify the corruption within. Outward reformation can never renew the heart and save the soul, or bring the sinner nearer to his God. But this clergyman was reading this chapter one day, and when he came to this verse, he began to consider what this doctrine was which St. Paul was preaching — "the unsearchable riches of Christ." "What is that?" said he. "Is this what I preach? I am preaching virtue, amiability, goodness, devotedness to God, attendance on ordinances, I am preaching against all sorts of sins; St. Paul was preaching 'the unsearchable riches of Christ!' what is that? what can he mean?" See how the Holy Ghost is pleased to use various means in bringing sinners into the light of truth! The blessed Spirit fastened that word on that man's mind — "the unsearchable riches of Christ," and led him to see that that was not the doctrine what he taught, that he did not even understand the meaning of the expression. This led him to inquire into what the meaning was, and the same blessed Spirit satisfied the inquiry, and led him to discover the treasure hid in the field, even "the unsearchable riches of Christ," and then he went forth and preached those unsearchable riches, and the blessing of God attended his labours.

(R. J. McGhee, M. A.)

The unsearchable riches of Christ:" what are they? Go to a man in an arid desert, lying on the ground gasping with thirst, at the gate of death, beneath a burning sun; take to him gold and jewels; offer them to him; promise him a kingdom; and what do you bestow on him? There is that for which, if he had it, he would barter them all. A cup of water — one draught from the stream — for this he pants; this would be wealth and a kingdom for him. Go again to another in the jaws of famine, dying from hunger; pour out silver and gold, the wealth of a world, at his feet; and what do you confer upon him? He would give a world, or a thousand worlds, for a single morsel of bread. Again, take a man gasping on the field of battle, mortally wounded, writhing in agony; offer him riches, offer him a crown; will he thank you? No. If you could heal his wounds, if you could raise him up from the cold bed of death, if you could restore him to the life and health he enjoyed an hour before; that would be wealth and riches for the dying man. Take a poor criminal, led out to execution; offer him all that earth could give; what could he do with it? what is the earth to him? But procure a pardon for him; gain for him a reprieve; there is a world, and more than a world for him. Well then, if you knew your own actual state, you would see that your spiritual condition before God is just as hopeless, just as miserable, just as desperate, as the temporal condition of any one of those sufferers I have described; you are spiritually the poor wretch in the burning desert without a drop of water, and if you die in your unconverted state you must be without a drop of water to cool your tongue for eternity. You are worse than the poor creature who is famishing with hunger — worse, far worse than him writhing in agony on the field of battle — worse than the criminal about to be led to execution; these, however agonizing their state, are merely suffering for time; considered in reference to man's mere animal existence, their pangs soon must terminate; but the misery in which your immortal soul is sunk, unless you are delivered, must endure for eternity. Now Christ is the Water to the soul that is dying of thirst (John 4:10; John 7:37). Christ is the Bread of Life to the sinner, perishing for hunger (John 6:32, 33, 35). Christ is the Great Physician that can heal the dying man (Mark 2:10, 11). Christ is the King that extends His pardon to the criminal led forth to execution (Luke 23:43). These serve as a partial illustration of the "unsearchable riches of Christ." You understand the application, if you know Christ as the Deliverer, the Healer, the Saviour of your immortal souls.

(R. J. McGhee, M. A.)

The apostle does not intend to discourage examination of these riches which he describes as unsearchable, but he does tell us that, search as we may, we shall never be able to fathom that ocean in which are concealed the riches of Christ. And in order to appreciate the riches we do not know of, let us look at those we have actually in possession. So long as men stand on the sea shore, and praise the riches of the sea, they do not gain much impression of the reality of what they are talking about. It is only as we dive under the surface that we get a distinct impression of the wealth that lies hid under the rolling waves that break musically at our feet. So, then, let us this morning make an effort to appreciate the resources open to us in the unsearchable riches of Christ. I think that Christ has enriched us beyond all our powers of imagination to conceive the value of our wealth.

I. I THINK HE HAS ENRICHED US BY HIS MANNER TOWARDS MEN, AND HIS TREATMENT OF THEM. He has taught us what men are — that they are not merely the crown of creation, not simply intelligent, and clever, and enterprising, and powerful — He has made men feel, made us realize that we are the children of God. The way we treat men is the sign of what we think of them. The world has a very sorry opinion of itself. It would treat itself better if it had higher appreciation of its value. And nowhere does Christ show His power more clearly than in His treatment of those around Him. He sees in every man the promise of something that might be, infinitely transcending all that is and was. I want you to feel your value in the eyes of Christ. None in your own family circle appreciate you and treat you as Christ does. He has a standard of your value higher and grander than any possessed by your friends. Oh! how has Christ enriched this world by telling us what we are by His constant treatment of us! He has taken our poor humanity as it lay dead at His feet, and, taken by the hand and lifted up by His love, the world has risen into a new conception of its nature. Never let us again lose the consciousness of our real nature. Moving in the midst of human society, and taking men at their very worst, Christ has turned the light of His love upon the outcast, the selfish, the mean, and the unlovely, and in the splendid inspiration which burns in His eyes, flows from His tongue, and radiates from His life, we are enriched with the glad and thrilling hope that there is a way for man to rise out of the dust and grossness of his present life, till, by the power of Christ, he shall be established forever in the glory of a new heart, and character, and life. Well may the apostle preach the unsearchable riches of Christ when we call to mind how He has lifted us into a more blessed and hopeful thought of the character and destiny of man.

II. Further, CHRIST HAS ENRICHED THE WORLD BY HIS CONDUCT AND TEACHING IN RELATION TO OUR SINFULNESS. When a man has his attention drawn to one of his neighbour's notorious wickednesses, and forthwith begins to pray, "God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican" that is Pharisaism. When another, either by act or speech, hides or attempts to obscure the awful and eternal distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, that is practical Atheism; and between these two extremes the public opinion of the world oscillated from age to age, till Christ began to teach and preach. But Christ has enriched the world by the mighty blows He dealt against the Pharisee, and by the splendid rebuke He administered to shameless sin. One of the grand fruits of His life is this, that by it men are convinced of sin. The practical question for us all today is — are we appropriating any of these riches of Christ? Are we content to hear about them, and talk about them, and never take them for our soul's life? Riches there are; we may be rich in health, rich in intelligence, rich in friends and in opportunity; yea, we may have those riches that soonest flee away, but have you any of the riches of Christ? Without these riches, you are and must be poor.

(E. Aston.)

Grace not to be traced out. Should not ministers be made welcome that come on such golden messages. In Christ are riches of justification (Titus 2:14), sanctification (Philippians 4:12), consolation (2 Corinthians 12:9), glorification (1 Peter 1:5).

(John Trapp.)

Foster's Cyclopaedia.
When Mr. Dawson was preaching in South Lambeth on the offices of Christ, he presented Him as Prophet and Priest, and then as the King. of saints. He marshalled patriarchs, kings, prophets and apostles, martyrs and confessors of every age and clime, to place the insignia of royalty upon the head of the King of kings. The audience was wrought up to the highest pitch of excitement, and, as if waiting to hear the anthem peal out the coronation hymn, the preacher commenced singing, "All hail the power of Jesus' Name." The audience, rising as one man, sang the hymn as perhaps it was never sung before.

(Foster's Cyclopaedia.)

It is said that in the "Green Room" at Dresden, where for centuries the Saxon princes have gathered their gems and treasures, may be seen a silver egg, a present to one of the Saxon queens, which, when you touch a spring, opens and reveals a golden yolk. Within the yolk is a chicken. Press the wing, and the chicken flies open, disclosing a splendid gold crown studded with jewels. Nor is this all. Touch another secret spring, and you find hid in the centre a magnificent diamond ring! It is even so with those who know Jesus; they are always finding new wonders, fresh delights, and further glories in Him. And it will be so forever, for Jesus is infinitely full of all bliss.

The wealth of all worlds, the agency of all elements, and the energies of all creatures in existence, are under His control; while the illimitable possibilities which lie hid in the undisclosed treasures of infinite fulness, and the unknown powers of unwearied omnipotence, are the fertile resources ever at His command. By Him all things were made — by Him all things consist. He rules over all; all are His servants. All worlds pay Him tribute, and all creatures do Him homage. All nature, animate and inanimate, draw their supply out of His perennial fulness, and spend their powers in fulfilling His behests. The sons of the mighty who surround the eternal throne, however illustrious in rank or elevated in character, owe their existence, powers, position, and continuance to Him, who is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. All peoples upon the face of the whole earth ceaselessly receive from His hand the full supply of their recurring wants — physical, mental, and spiritual. Being and all its blessings, life and all its joys, our souls and all their hopes, we own to Him. All things are for Him as well as by Him. The sovereignty of the universe, the dispensations of providence, the government of the Church, the salvation of His people, the judgment of the world, and the throne of heaven, are His. The loftiest hierarchies of heaven cast their crowns at His feet, and unite in celebrating His praise. His power supreme, His resources exhaustless, His goodness unbounded, His felicity ineffable, who can count His "unsearchable riches," or unveil the brightness of His glory? To whom shall He be compared, and with what can He be likened? The greatest, and wisest, and purest, and best. The Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. Emanuel, God with us — God manifest in the flesh, Creator, Saviour, Sovereign, Redeemer. Nor in viewing His personal excellence can we overlook the fact that He is the Son of man as well as the Son of God. Fairest of the children of men — "the chief among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." All the virtues that ennoble, the graces that adorn, the gifts that elevate our nature, are complete in Him. His character a radiant exhibition of moral grandeur and, beauty — His life the symmetrical embodiment of the holiest affection, the most self-denying love, the broadest and kindliest sympathies — His example the purest, most perfect, heroic, and inspiring model for the race. His love so strong, His sympathies so tender, His forbearance so great, His grace so rich and free — to believers He is unspeakably precious. There is none like Christ. By the tongues of angels even one half could not be told of what He is, and what He has, and what He has done for us. He loved us and gave Himself for us. The story of His wondrous birth, His suffering life, His cruel death, His victorious resurrection, His glorious ascension — Bethlehem and Nazareth, Gethsemane and Calvary, Tabor and Olivet — with their thrilling associations, hallowed memories, and spiritual meaning, will never lose their power to charm while tongues can speak or hearts can feel. The power of His words, the grandeur of His deeds, the greatness of His sorrows, the light of His teaching, the merit of His sacrifice, the efficacy of His intercession, the work of His Spirit, and the glory of His coming and kingdom are each exhaustless as His own fulness, and fresh as the wants and woes of every needy, burdened soul. Of the truth He taught, the blood He shed, the promises He left, the Spirit He sent, the inheritance He secured, the riches are unsearchable. Unsearchable in their source, in everlasting love, their origin and power far transcend our feeble ken — in their extent, which embraces all possible blessings for our souls through an endless duration — in their manifestation, application, and enjoyment, which are shrouded in mystery — in their permanence, for they endure forever. The latest ages will find these riches unimpaired in value and. undiminished in supply. Nor dimmed by age, nor worn by use, nor lessened by distribution, and throughout eternity, though more amply displayed, more extensively enjoyed, and more fully appreciated, they will remain as inscrutable and unsearchable as ever.

(W. Ormiston, D. D.)

1. Of these, we notice, His incarnation. I need not prove to you that the apostle preached this, and bore continual testimony that "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," etc. (John 1:14); that "God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16); that "forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself took part of the same" (Hebrews 2:14). Now in this is contained unsearchable riches. That we should have God's incarnate Wisdom and Word for our instructor in matters the most important, of infinite because everlasting concern to us; that He should teach us such things in a most condescending, free, and familiar way, as one of ourselves, is an unspeakable advantage and blessing. That we should be permitted to behold in Him a perfect and suitable example of humility, meekness, benevolence, patience, purity, etc., is equally an inestimable privilege. But what is yet more, by His incarnation He became God and man in one person, was qualified to be a Mediator between God and man, etc.

2. His enduring temptation. In this also are contained unsearchable riches. Hereby He worsted our grand adversary, Satan.

3. His obedience unto death. By this He fulfilled all righteousness, obeying the precepts, and suffering the penalty of the law for us.

4. His resurrection from the dead. That unsearchable riches are included herein appears from hence, that we are hereby assured He is the Son of God (Romans 1:4).

5. His ascension is the next in order of His redeeming acts. This is not to be overlooked, as it was not overlooked by our Lord and His apostles (John 20:17; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 8:1). It contains unsearchable riches; for hereby also, as well as by His resurrection, we are assured He "hath purged our sins," as the Father would not have received Him to His bosom to speak on our behalf, if he had not been well pleased with His atonement. Hereby He triumphed over His and our enemies, and "made a show of them openly"; over Satan, sin, and death, which all stood in the way, and opposed the ascension and exaltation of bur common human nature to heaven (Psalm 68:18; Isaiah 53:10, 12; Philippians 2:8-10). Since He ascended as our Forerunner, and is at the right hand of God, and has "all power in heaven and on earth," being "Head over all things to the Church," we shall ascend also (John 14:2; Hebrews 6:18, 20).

6. His intercession and advocateship come next to be considered. The prophets and apostles have laid great stress on this (Isaiah 53:12; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1). What a treasure, then, have we in the advocateship of Christi The cause we have depending in the court above, involves our all to all eternity. Our property: how poor shall we be if we lose this cause! how rich if we carry it! Our liberty: what slaves in hell if we lose it! how free in heaven if we carry it! Our life: we must suffer death of body and soul forever, if we lose it! and shall obtain life if we gain it! Christ is a skilful, able, kind, and faithful counsellor, and is infallible in every cause He undertakes!

7. The final judgment is the last and finishing act of our redemption. This is insisted on frequently and largely by the apostles (Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31). It implies unsearchable riches; for how desirable to use and what an advantage if we must be judged, to be judged by One who is a friend, kinsman, brother, husband; by One who assumed our nature, with all its infirmities; who feels for us, died in our stead, will excuse our failings, manifest our virtues, judge between us and our enemies and persecutors I Being accused, what a blessing to be tried and acquitted, which God's people shall be, before men and angels; yea, and applauded. As our Judges He will assign to us a reward in proportion to our holiness, labours, and sufferings in His service.

(J. Benson.)

1. Divine illumination (see Isaiah 9:2; Luke 1:78; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Peter 2:9). This Divine illumination implies unsearchable riches; for it includes the understanding the Scriptures in all essential points, the necessity and worth of which are great indeed; the knowledge of ourselves, which is the foundation of all religion; the knowledge of God and Christ, occasioning us peace and good unspeakable (Job 22:21), and even eternal life (John 17:3); the knowledge of the "truth as it is in Jesus," or the way of salvation (John 8:32; John 16:13, 14). And consider the vast importance of this (Romans 9:30, 31; Romans 10:2); the knowledge of God's will (Colossians 1:9); the necessity and usefulness of which appears from hence, that we cannot enter heaven without "doing the will" of God (Matthew 7:21); and cannot do it unless we know it.

2. Justification. This is the same with the remission of sins, or imputed righteousness (Romans 4:2-8). This is enjoined to be preached by Christ (Luke 24:47), and was preached by His evangelists and apostles (Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:38). The value of this appears — from our great want of it: we are guilty and condemned, and have need to be acquitted (Romans 3:23): — from a consideration of the great and eternal misery from which it rescues us: a condemned malefactor knows the worth of a pardon; it is as valuable to him as his life, because it saves him from death: — from a consideration of the blessed and eternal life, to which it entitles us (Titus 3:7). It is as valuable, and contains riches as unsearchably great, as that everlasting felicity which is the consequence of it. How immense a treasure is a free and full justification!

3. The peculiar favour and friendship of God. This is the never-failing fruit of justification (Romans 5:1), and was continually preached by the apostle (2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Ephesians 1:6; Ephesians 2:13-19). Think of the infinite and eternal riches, honour, and felicity, implied in the favour and friendship of an all-wise, all-mighty, and all-gracious, infinite, and everlasting Being.

4. Adoption into His family. This is insisted on by the apostles as one important end of the incarnation, life, and death of Christ (Galatians 4:4), and the never-failing fruit of faith in Him (John 1:12; Galatians 3:26). Adoption is an unspeakable honour and happiness. To be so nearly related to God, so peculiarly dear to Him, as children to a father; to be under His peculiar direction, protection, and care, having liberty of access to Him as children to a father, and intercourse with Him, being provided with everything needful and useful (Matthew 6:33; Psalm 84:11); to be chastised when and as far as necessary, and to have this, with every other dispensation, made to work for our good (Hebrews 12:10, 11; Romans 8:28); to be His heirs, heirs of all He is, and of all He hath: in each of these particulars is comprehended unsearchable riches.

5. The Holy Spirit. This is the fruit of Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension (John 16:7; Psalm 68:18), given only through Him (Titus 3:6; John 1:16), and by Him (Matthew 3:11; John 4:10, 14; John 7:37, 38); and is therefore a branch of His unsearchable riches. Hereby our minds are enlightened, we are enabled to understand and relish Divine things; we are prepared, by conviction of sin and of righteousness (John 16:8-10), by repentance and faith, for justification; we are assured of it, as also of God's favour and of our adoption (Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15, 16); we are regenerated (John 1:13; John 3:5, 6); are led, assisted in prayer and every duty, and comforted (Jude 1:20; Romans 8:14, 26; Romans 15:13; John 14:16-20); we are sanctified, viz., delivered from the power and being of sin, and consecrated to God in heart and life (Romans 8:2; Titus 3:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2); we are enriched with all gifts and graces (Galatians 5:22). How unspeakable then the necessity and worth of this blessing! how unsearchable the riches contained in it!

6. This leads me to notice another unspeakable benefit, implied indeed in the last mentioned, but, because of its magnitude, deserving of more particular notice, viz., the restoration of God's image to the soul. Man having been created in this (Genesis 1:27), lost it by the Fall; so that he is naturally earthly, sensual, and devilish. The restoration of it is one principal end of our redemption (Ephesians 5:25-27; Romans 8:3, 4; Ephesians 4:20-24; 2 Peter 1:4).

(J. Benson.)

I. THE PROPERTIES AND POWERS EXERTED.

1. The wisdom of our Lord. St. Paul informs us, that "in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3), and that He "hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence" (Ephesians 1:8). As His knowledge and His wisdom are unsearchable, so they are an unsearchable treasure to His Church in general, and to every individual member of it in particular.

2. His almighty power. What a treasure subjects have in the power of a just and good king, or children in the power of a wise and kind father! What an advantage it is to the Church that Christ "has all power in heaven and on earth," is "Head over all things," can make the temptations of devils, and the enmity of sinners, as well as the ministry of angels, and the advice and prayers of saints, yea, and absolutely "all things work together for the good" of her members; can at all times defend, strengthen, support, and comfort them, and execute every scheme His wisdom has devised for their present and eternal good.

3. His infinite love (Ephesians 3:18, 19). His wisdom and power would be nothing to us, without this; this sets them to work, and keeps them employed continually for our benefit. This, therefore, is an inestimable blessing to His people, and a source of unsearchable riches. "Who gave His life, what gift can He deny?"

4. His unwearied patience, or His forbearance and long suffering (2 Corinthians 10:1). How much need had we all of this in our state of ignorance and sin! What need have we of it still! How is it exercised towards us from day to day! What a treasure is it to us! our present and eternal salvation depending upon it.

II. THE MEANS AND ORDINANCES APPOINTED.

1. Affliction. Without this, probably we should never have been brought to Christ. Without this, we should not have continued in His ways; without this, we should not have made progress in holiness or usefulness: therefore, without this we should not have attained "an exceeding great and eternal weight of glory."

2. The Word of God. He, by Christ's unsearchable riches are revealed, displayed, offered, and, as it were, bequeathed to us. Christ's redeeming acts are unfolded one after another, as in the writings of the prophets and evangelists, with the unsearchable riches they contain, and we are offered an interest in them. The Word of God is a bill of spiritual and heavenly rights, a charter of sacred and Divine privileges, or an attested deed of conveyance, making over to us an immense property; or it may be considered as the last will and testament of our Redeemer, bequeathing to us legacies and inheritances without end.

3. The ordinances.

(1)Baptism.

(2)Holy Communion.

4. The fellowship of saints. Here Jesus Himself, with all His unsearchable riches of grace and glory, is always present (Matthew 18:20). This is an emblem and earnest of heaven, and a preparation for it. — Prayer. In this also we have an unspeakable treasure. For it is the key with which we open the Divine storehouse, and take as much of the riches of Christ as we need.

III. THE INWARD GRACES WHICH ARE TO BE EXERCISED. These also include unsearchable riches, because by these Christ's redeeming acts and saving benefits become our own. These form a third particular to be considered. Faith, having for its object the doctrines of His Word, which display His acts and benefits: the invitations and promises which make them over to us; Jesus Himself, the source and centre of both, in whom the doctrines and promises "are yea and amen." By this we obtain an interest in His redeeming acts, and become entitled to, or have a foretaste of, all His saving benefits. Hope: Those benefits, which we cannot here partake of, we expect and desire, and hereby we both anticipate the enjoyment of them. Reflect on the vast worth of a well grounded and lively hope. It is the source of patience (Romans 8:25; 1 Thessalonians 1:3), gratitude (1 Peter 1:3), joy (Romans 5:2), purity (1 John 3:3), and even of good works (1 Corinthians 15 ult.; Hebrews 6:11). Hence arise the unsearchable riches of an eternal reward. Love: Hereby we embrace both Christ and His riches, nay, and associate with angels and saints, and "sit in heavenly places."

(J. Benson.)

The riches of Christ are not simply "riches of grace" — "riches of glory" — "riches of inheritance," as some are inclined to restrict them, but the treasury of spiritual blessing which is Christ's — so vast that the comprehension of its limits and the exhaustion of its contents are alike impossible. What the apostle wishes to characterize as grand in itself, or in its abundance, adaptation, and substantial permanence, he terms "riches." The riches of Christ are the true wealth of men and nations. And those riches are "unsearchable," Even the value of the portion already possessed cannot be told by any symbols of numeration, for such riches can have no adequate exponent or representative. Their source is in eternity, and in a love whose fervour and origin are above our ken, and whose duration shall be for ages of ages beyond compute. Their extent is boundless, for they stretch into infinitude, and the mode in which they have been wrought out reveals a spiritual mechanism whose results astonish and satisfy us, but whose inner springs and movements lie beyond our keenest inspection. And our appropriation of these riches, though it be a matter of consciousness, shrouds itself from our scrutiny, for it indicates the presence of the Divine spirit in His power — a power exerted upon man, beyond resistance, but without compulsion; and in its mighty and gracious operation neither wounding his moral freedom nor impinging on his perfect and undeniable responsibility. The latest periods of time shall find these riches unimpaired, and eternity shall behold the same wealth neither worn by use nor dimmed by age, nor yet diminished by the myriads of its happy participants.

(J. Eadie, D. D.)

The word "unsearchable" properly carries with it the metaphor (latent in our word "investigate") of tracking the footsteps, but not tracking them completely to their source or issue — thus gaining an evidence of a living power, but "not knowing whence it cometh or whither it goeth." In this proper sense it is used in Romans 11:33, "How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (as also in Job 5:9; Job 9:10). Here it is used in a slightly different sense — applied to that "wealth" or fulness of Christ on which this Epistle lays such especial stress, as a wealth of truth which we can see in part but cannot wholly measure, and a wealth of grace which we can enjoy but cannot exhaust.

(A. Barry, D. D.)

We may realize something of the unsearchable riches of Christ by glancing at —

I. HIS CHARACTER. The vast and the little, the awful and the attractive, meet in His person in wonderful harmony and beauty.

II. Only a few words on the riches of HIS WORK, for the theme is so vast that we cannot enter upon it particularly.

III. HIS DOMINION. Jesus Christ is the Lord and Redeemer of the human soul.

(W. Graham, D. D.)

God proposes to make man rich in wisdom, rich in goodness, rich in joy, rich in beauty, rich in influence; and to make him essentially and unchangeably rich, by making his wealth inseparable from his being. The world is but a false answer to man's desire for wealth. God warns him of the temptation, and reveals to Him the infinite mine where all the gold is human and eternal. As all material gold, before it came into the possession of men, was first in the earth, so were all the spiritual riches of the angels derived from the Son of God. The Maker of all things must be unsearchably rich. There must be more in His nature than in all things which He has made. There must be worlds on worlds of undiscovered wealth in Him who made the worlds. /iii lovely and precious things are but hints of the riches of the Son of God. Floral loveliness, the fruits of the earth, the splendour of metals, the lights in precious stones, and the glories of the firmament, are the material shadows of His wealth. The beauties of Paradise, and the wonders of the heavens, are higher manifestations of His riches. How can one help being ambitious "to win Christ, and be found in Him"? to exchange the straitness of one's own nature, and the thinness and poverty of one's own righteousness, for the resources of His nature, and the riches of His righteousness!

(J. Pulsford.)

All the members of Christ will inherit and dispense His riches, but diversely; no one possessing precisely the same measure, or the same combination of virtues as another. The endless variety of glorified men will be an open, and ever opening, manifestation of the riches of God.

(J. Pulsford.)

I. First, for THE SUBJECT OF THE MINISTRY. "The unsearchable riches of Christ." I might advert at once to His Divine nature and perfections. In Christ, then, I observe, first, there are "unsearchable riches" of wisdom and knowledge. "Unsearchable riches" of expiation and sacrifice. "Unsearchable riches" of grace. We read, it is the intention of God to magnify "the exceeding riches of His grace." "Riches," further, of power and energy. We value power; we think highly of energy; even if it be power of body — physical strength — as David did, when he said, "A bow of steel is broken by mine arms," and Samson, when he bore aloft the gates of Gaza upon his shoulders. But especially mental power — the bright, clear understanding — the radiant, sparkling intellect — the flashes of pure, strong genius. And what is physical power, or mental power, in comparison with moral strength — the strength of immaculacy, the strength to sustain innocence and virtue, in the face of all temptation, and as conquering all difficulties? What strength had the Lord Jesus! How He vanquished temptation, maintained His purity and perfection! So that He could say, when the conquest was complete, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth!" "Riches" of power! So He is said to be exalted to the throne of power, and to have made manifest His power in His Word. "The Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword." And here I notice, again, His power for our use — energy for our succour — strength that will make us strong in the evil day, in the reception of which we may "mount up with wings as eagles." Once more, "riches" of glory. His own glory, His essential glory; as He is "the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of His person" — as He is the uncreated and the eternal light, to which it is said "no man can approach" — the unaccessible glory, as well as the glory which shines and is revealed. And if Christ be a participator of the Divine nature, if He be God, then, we say, here is original and essential glory unsearchable. Can you get to the bottom of it? Can you enter into its depths? Can you explore and fathom them? Rut the mediatorial glory. He is ascended into glory; He is invested with glory; when He comes again it will be in glory. There is the glory which He has to bestow — which He does bestow. He has glorified "the spirits of just men made perfect" already; they are with Him, and see His glory. He will glorify the redeemed and restored Church in body and in soul, and unto perfection. And finally, "unsearchable riches" of happiness. How happy He is! "God over all, blessed forever" — which means, happy forever. The gospel is "the glorious gospel of the blessed God" — the glorious gospel of the happy Christ. Now, we say, in relation to all human riches, and every form and variety of earthly wealth, that it can be searched into and explored — that a catalogue of it can be given, and the exact amount of it certified. You can tell how rich you are; you can know exactly what you possess, or most men can. If not, you can search into it, and it can be known. It can be known what money there is in the Bank of England; the wealth of England may be known. It is possible to make a computation and a calculation. So of other forms of wealth. Suppose it be a granary of food indispensable to sustenance of a nation; the sacks could be counted, and brought out and told. So in relation to human knowledge and wisdom. Give me the most learned man alive; in a very few minutes he can tell me all the subjects with which he is acquainted; but the innumerable subjects with which he is not acquainted he cannot tell me. He has light as far as it goes, and it is light; but it is encompassed by a boundary of darkness, into which he cannot see. On the other hand, it is said, "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." There is no boundary of darkness to intercept the view. Human virtue and goodness, how soon you are at the bottom of it! How searchable it is! How insignificant it is! How small it is! There seems to me to be nothing unsearchable about man except his sinfulness. There may be things not unsearchable in their own nature, but unsearchable by us; there may be beings who can get to the bottom of them, though you and I cannot. The ocean, for example, has not been searched by man; man does not know what there is at the bottom — what precious stones, what coral reefs, what beauty, what vastness, what monstrosity; he has not searched, he cannot search it. Man has net searched into the centre of the globe; he does not know whether it is a prodigious furnace of fire, or rolling, tossing, tempestuous water; he has not gone in his geology more than half a mile perpendicularly downwards. Will you tell me there is no eye that can see, and no being that can search? And going up aloft, can you tell me if there are inhabitants in the moon? Can you give me any account of the population of the planets? Can you tell me who are the creatures that inhabit and adorn the wide and beautiful universe? You cannot; it is unknown and unsearchable at present by you. Do you mean to say there is none that can search — no beings that do know? So even in respect to human science. You or I may be overpowered by numbers; are there not loftier intellects that can carry the process of numbers immeasurably beyond your mind and mine? So with the piles of reasoning upon reasoning, demonstration upon demonstration, in mathematics — you and I may be overcome presently; are there not minds stronger than ours that can soar into the illimitable fields? Yet I am prepared to say, with regard to these riches of Christ, searched into by the loftiest minds — let Gabriel, if you will, take his loftiest flight — that the unsearchableness is absolute and infinite. "The unsearchable riches of Christ."

II. Now, then, briefly, FOR THE MINISTRY OF THESE, OR THE MINISTRY WHICH RESPECTS THESE "UNSEARCHABLE RICHES." It is simply, as it seems to me, for two purposes. The first is, to make known the existence of the riches — to testify to the facts and principles, because they might sleep in the world, or be unnoticed, or unrecognized, or unrealized, as they are near us and in existence and exercise in the universe. The ministry is to assert and affirm, to bring to knowledge and recollection, and to present to the understanding and the conscience the reality respecting Christ — what I have been endeavouring most inadequately and imperfectly to do. And the second point is, to make it manifest — to make all men see that, as I have said, the riches of Christ are available for our use. Take the wisdom and the knowledge, as you find them in the Scriptures, and make them your own. The atonement and expiation; what is it presented to your attention for? That by faith you may bring it home. There is the Priest; let Him do His work; He will take the sacrifice, and sprinkle your conscience, and purify your soul and mine, if believingly we come to Him for that purpose. He is able to do it, and will. With respect to the ministry I just observe, further, it is a ministry of ineffable grace on the part of God, in respect to those whom He calls into it. It was deemed a great privilege and favour, and so it was, to be a Levite, or a priest under the old law, to burn the incense and offer sacrifice; it was a great privilege and favour to be called as a prophet, though in evil times, as Jeremiah and Isaiah were. They were honoured by God as His ministers; and then Saul the persecutor was called and made an apostle, and he said, "To me is this grace given" — ineffable, unspeakable, unsearchable grace. He was conscious of it. Notwithstanding this, a ministry of holiness. "Less than the least of all saints." And then a happy ministry. The word "preach" implies this to do the office of a herald — to publish and proclaim glad tidings. "Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!" Blessed is the man who has to make "the joyful sound"!

III. Finally, TO WHOM IS HIS MINISTRY EXERCISED? "The Gentiles." Christ's own ministry was to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel"; and He said to the apostles, "Into the way of the Gentiles and any city of the Samaritans enter ye not." But in Christ's ministry there were indications of peace to the Gentiles. The Syro-Phoenician woman was a Greek, and though repulsed with the inquiry, "Is it lawful to give the children's food unto dogs?" she yet eventually obtained mercy. The parable of the prodigal son is another indication of this; and our Lord Himself said, "Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold." Yet on the day of Pentecost there was not a single Gentile present — "devout men from every nation under heaven," out of all the provinces, but every one of them Jews. It was not till after Peter's vision and the incoming of the Holy Ghost in the house of Cornelius, as on the day of Pentecost, that the door was fully opened and the doctrine adequately revealed. And there seems to have been an impulse of new joy, arising from the entrance of new light, when the apostolic college resounded with the cry, "Then hath God also granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life!" We are Gentiles, and the Gentiles are now to be divided into two classes. The Gentiles who believe — the Gentiles who have received Christ the Gentiles who are confederated in Churches, and have ministered in the midst of them the ordinances of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And in respect to these Gentiles, let me say, that although we have not at present, as all ministers of all sections and communities do deplore, awakening signal manifestations of the power of God for the conversion of unbelievers, yet we have a perpetual edification, instruction, and improvement of those who do believe. The Spirit has not gone from the Churches; the arm of God in the other form may yet be mightily revealed. There is another class of Gentiles — the ignorant, the vicious, the stupid, the sleepy, the irreligious — those who pray not, read not, think not, keep no Sabbath, visit no sanctuary. Oh! we would desire that "the unsearchable riches of Christ" should be made known among them, that there should be a shaking among the "dry bones," and as it were a resurrection from the dead!

(J. Stratten.)

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