Invest in truth and never sell it--in wisdom and instruction and understanding.
I. THE FREEDOM OF THE TRUTH. In one sense, truth is essentially free. If firm and strong as the granite rock, it is also fluent as the water, elastic as the air. It belongs to no man, and cannot be patented or monopolized; it is the inheritance of mankind. We are all of us bound to communicate it freely, to "pass it on like bread at sacrament." This is emphatically the case with the truth of the gospel. "Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat... without money and without price;" "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. But the lesson of the text is -
II. THE PRICE OF TRUTH. Truth has sometimes to be paid for; it has its own price, and we must be willing to buy it.
1. That truth for which we involuntarily pay some price. We go forth into the world with crude, immature notions, which we find, by painful experience, have to be corrected and perhaps changed.. Sometimes this necessary lesson is very costly to us. In this way we have to buy the truth as to:
(1) The checkered character of our human life. We have to learn, painfully enough, that it does not answer to our early dreams, but is sadly dashed with disappointment, with failure, with loss, with trouble; that it is many coloured, with a large admixture of the dull or even the dark.
(2) The imperfections of the good. That there is a large amount of profession without any reality at all; that some really good men allow themselves to be overtaken in serious fault; that all good men have some defects which tarnish the perfect brightness of their character; that human excellency is not so much an attainment as an earnest and admirable endeavour.
(3) The strength and weakness of our own character. We have to find, at the cost of much humiliation, where our strength ends and our weakness begins. Such truths as these we buy without bargain; we do not agree to the price that we pay. There is not the freedom of contract we usually have in any purchase we make. But we may part willingly, and even cheerfully, as we are called upon to do, with that which we lose, thankfully accepting the truth we acquire; and so doing we practically and wisely buy the truth."
2. The truth for which we voluntarily pay the price.
(1) A completer knowledge of God's Word. Our knowledge of the book of God is very varied; it may be very slight or it may be very deep and full. How deep or how full depends on whether or not we will pay the price of this excellent wisdom; the price is that of patient, reverent study.
(2) The surpassing blessedness of true consecration; the peace and the joy to be had in Christ and in his holy and happy service. We do not know as much as we might, and as we should, of this; but we do not pay the price of knowledge. That price is whole-hearted surrender of ourselves to our Saviour and to his service. So long as we "keep back part of the price" we cannot know this experience; but if we will "yield ourselves unto God" unreservedly, we shall know the truth in its fulness. We may make a special point of
(3) the beauty and excellency of Christian work; and the price of knowing this is the act of hearty and faithful labour, sustained by much earnest prayer for the inspiration and the blessing of God. We complete the thought of the text by considering -
III. THE ABSOLUTE PRICELESSNESS OF THE TRUTH. "Sell it not." Heavenly wisdom, once gained, is not to be parted with for any consideration whatever. Nothing on earth represents its value. To lose it is to sign away our inheritance. It is to be held at all costs whatever. - C.
I. INQUIRE WHAT TRUTH IS. Of truths there are many kinds.
Buy the truth, and sell it not.
I. THE TRUTH IS AN EMINENTLY DESIRABLE POSSESSION. Truth is capable of becoming much more intimately and inseparably the possession of a man than any of those things which men usually call their possessions. The truth bought secures to men the great end of all possessions — blessedness. The truth restores conscience to an active and undisputed sovereignty, harmonises the will and the reason, and casts out the foreign elements which have disturbed the movements of the inner life.
II. IT IS OUR DUTY TO SECURE THE TRUTH AS OUR POSSESSION. "Buy." Do not stand chaffering about it; promptly make it your own.
1. We must go in quest of it. A man must be assiduous, painstaking, persevering in his search. And he must be cautious.
2. We must approach Truth, and live with her, trustfully. The intellect may assent, while the soul remains sceptical, and stands aloof.
3. The truth must be obeyed. She enters the soul as a queen. She demands to dictate every action, to shape every plan, to control every feeling. There is, perhaps, no utterly conclusive evidence of what is strictly moral or religious truth, but that of the inward witness, which speaks in the soul of the man who is living in the truth; that is, cordially and spontaneously obeying it.
4. We must be ready to make sacrifice for the truth. Prejudices must be sacrificed. Tastes, appetites, and passions, which the truth cannot sanction, must be sacrificed. If we are to get and hold the truth we must search, trust, obey, and make sacrifice.
(Alex. Hannay, D.D.)
I. HOW IS TRUTH BOUGHT? In one sense it is free as air, but in seeking and keeping it we make surrenders. Labour and search may need to be paid. Prejudice, pride of heart, illusions broken. Sins of heart and life forsaken. Esteem of friends and of the world may need to be parted with.
II. HOW TRUTH MAY BE SOLD. Not when it is communicated; thereby we buy more. But when it is not communicated, when it is betrayed from fear or allurement, when it is held in unrighteousness, selfishness, treachery, inconsistency, we sell the truth.
III. WHY, WHEN BOUGHT, IT SHOULD NEVER BE SOLD. It has a value beyond all you can get for it. Its value grows the longer you keep it. It buys all other good things at last. When sold, it is hard to be bought back.
(John Ker, D.D.)
1. Those proper to the studies of great scholars.
2. Those concerning the preservation of our bodies.
3. Those concerning the making and executing of laws.
4. Those relating to husbandry, tillage, and business. The truth here is "the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus."
II. THE NATURE AND QUALITY OF THIS MERCHANDISE. It containeth all those precepts and conclusions that concern the knowledge and service of God, and that conduce to virtue and integrity and uprightness of life. This truth is fit and proportionable to the soul of man, which is made capable of it. As it is fitted to all, so it is lovely and amiable in the eyes of all, even of those who will not buy it.
III. THE TRUTH MUST BE BOUGHT. It will not be ours unless we lay out something and purchase it. We do not stumble on this truth by chance. If men's faith cost them more, they would make more use of it than they do.
IV. WHAT IS IT TO BUY THE TRUTH? The price is yourselves. Ye must lay down yourselves at the altar of truth, and be offered up as sacrifice for it. You must offer up your understandings, your wills, and your affections. Give up your prejudices. Cast away all malice to the truth, all distasting of it, all averseness to it. What helps does the God of truth afford us for the obtaining of the truth?
1. Meditation, or fixing of our thoughts upon the truth.
2. Prayer, which draweth down grace.
3. Exercise and practice of those truths we learn.
(A. Farindon, B.D.)
(S. Hieron.)I. TRUTH IS A MATTER OF PURCHASE. Truth is, in itself, one, perfect, and eternal. To us it is a growing and increasing treasure. The truth we consider is that which has been delivered down to us through the Scriptures. We get truth by having the eye ever open to observe it; by reading, meditation, and conversation.
II. TRUTH MUST NOT BE SOLD. Amongst other shrines at which we shall be tempted to sell the truth is —
1. The commercial spirit of the day. We are tempted by the mode in which the arrangements of the kingdom of Christ are compelled to make way for the arrangements of this world. This absorption of mind by the spirit of earthly gain gives little time for religious exercises, and breeds an inclination to extol certain business virtues.
2. Men sacrifice the truth on the altar of narrow-minded exclusiveness in the application of the privileges and blessings of truth. Truth is lost in sectarianism.
3. There is peril for truth in the spirit of rationalism that is abroad.
(E. Monro.)I. WHAT IT COSTS TO KNOW TRUTH. By truth we mean, an agreement between an object and our idea of it. We want to know, What is moral truth? What is universal truth? To attain it, take seven precepts. Be attentive. Do not be discouraged at labour. Suspend your judgment. Let prejudice yield to reason. Be teachable. Restrain your avidity of knowing. In order to edify your mind, subdue your heart.
II. THE WORTH AND ADVANTAGES OF TRUTH.
1. It will open to you an infinite source of pleasure.
2. It will fit you for the various employments to which you may be called in society.
3. It will free you from many disagreeable doubts about religion.
4. It will render you intrepid at the approach of death.
1. Do not lose the disposition of mind, the aptness to universal truth, when ye have acquired it.
2. It reproves those mercenary souls who trade with their wisdom and sell it, as it were, by the penny.
3. By selling may be understood, betraying truth. To betray truth is, through any sordid motive, to suppress, or to disguise, things of consequence to the glory of religion, the interest of a neighbour, or the good of society.There are six orders of persons who may sell truth —
1. The courtier.
2. The indiscreet zealot.
3. The apostate.
4. The judge.
5. The politician.
6. The pastor.
(A. Macdonald.)I. THE VALUE AND IMPORTANCE OF TRUTH. Were it a matter of equal and unavailing indifference whether we embraced truth or error, what advantages could be derived from the culture of education, from the progress of learning, or the discoveries of knowledge? Were this maxim once admissible, the untutored heathen, and the enlightened Christian would be completely on a level. Were truth of no importance to the security, the welfare, and the happiness of mankind, what occasion is there for the deep researches of philosophers, for the ardent zeal of theologians, and for the wearisome labours of the real student? But in the awful concerns of religion, where the salvation of the soul is at stake, the value and importance of truth rises in an infinite proportion!
II. IN WHAT MANNER WE MUST BUY IT. Solomon does not intimate in my text at what rate we must buy the truth, because we cannot buy it too dear. We may be said, then, to buy the truth when we devote our earthly riches to the attainment and diffusion of Christian knowledge. For it has been well remarked, "Riches should be employed for the getting knowledge rather than knowledge for the getting riches." We also buy the truth when we pay attention to the means of obtaining it. Thus, when we diligently search the Holy Scriptures, and make them our chief study, when we pray to God in secret, and when we strictly regard the ordinances of the gospel, we then bestow some pains to know the truth.
III. THE DANGER AND GUILT OF SELLING IT.
(John Grose, M.A.)
1. That there are no certain truths pertaining to religion; or else —
2. That these truths have no necessary connection with the conduct of men; or —
3. That the consequences of their conduct, whether right or wrong, will be the same. Our conclusion is, that it is not to be expected that the conduct, the lives of men, will be materially better than their opinions; by opinions understanding the actual living convictions of their minds. It is therefore an imperative duty to set a high value upon truth in our religious thinking. Religious opinions should not only be firmly fixed; they should also be right opinions.
(R. Palmer, D.D.)
(J. Vaughan, M.A.)
1. He will not neglect to take an account of stock.
2. He will be on his guard against burglars.
3. He will watch the state of the markets.
4. He will be careful to get a profit out of everything that passes through his hands.
5. He will not take any unnecessary risks.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D.D.)
I. THAT THE TRUTH OUGHT TO BE CAREFULLY EXAMINED. No wise man buys an article without looking very closely into it. There is no good thing but has its counterfeits and imitations. The article we are here advised to purchase is admitted to be the most valuable of all things, and it is therefore the last thing that should be taken on trust. That it is liable to be perverted and debased we all know. The great Teacher did not require His hearers to take His declarations upon trust. He courted and even demanded inquiry. The principle of private judgment may be abused.
II. THE TRUTH HAS TO BE APPRAISED. A careful estimate of its value has to be formed. It is offered only on one condition — the sacrifice, or at least the free surrender of all we have.
III. TO COMPLETE THE TRANSACTION WE MUST CLOSE WITH THE TERMS ON WHICH ARTICLE IS OFFERED. The truth is a system of doctrine and discipline, which needs to be carefully studied, thoroughly grasped, and diligently improved.
IV. THE TRUTH CAN NEVER BE SOLD, EXCEPT AT A SERIOUS LOSS. It may be sold or sacrificed —
1. From a spirit of mere cowardice.
2. From a feeling of false charity and selfish complaisance.
3. By being accommodated to what is called "the spirit of the age."
(Walter M. Giloray, D.D.)I. THE COMMODITY RECOMMENDED. "The truth."
1. There is doctrinal truth.
2. There is experimental truth.
3. There is practical truth.
II. THE COUNSEL GIVEN. "Buy the truth." To obtain the truth we must —
1. Come to the mart of truth.
2. Sacrifice the hindrances to truth.
3. Employ the means truth recommends.
III. LET THIS PURCHASE BE URGED BY SEVERAL CONSIDERATIONS.
1. From your absolute need of it.
2. From the free and easy mode of its acquisition.
3. From its essential worth. When possessed it must be retained.
IV. BY WHOM IS THE TRUTH SOLD.
1. By the mercenary minister.
2. By the temporising professor.
3. By the false speaker.
4. By the flatterer.
5. By the backslider.
V. REASONS WHY WE SHOULD NOT SELL THE TRUTH.
(J. Burns, D.D.)
(E. Birch, M.A.)I. WHAT TRUTH IS. By truth, I mean a right apprehension of all those things which tend to promote the happiness of mankind. This includes the idea of all virtuous and religious obligations. Truth, in its utmost latitude, relates to a variety of things which are matters of mere speculation only; and these may afford some pleasure to men of deep thought and learning. But that truth which is the object of all men's concern has a more immediate respect to happiness. And this consists in a right knowledge of religion and virtue. This shines in practice more than in speculation. Other truths may please the ear, and soothe the fancy; but this improves the judgment, and mends the heart.
II. WE SHOULD USE ALL PROPER MEANS TO OBTAIN THE KNOWLEDGE OF TRUTH. It is absolutely requisite that a man should first know, before he can rightly do, what is good; and therefore if the soul of man be ignorant of truth, it must at the same time be destitute of virtue; and if it be destitute of virtue, it is utterly incapable of happiness. Nor is the search after truth less pleasant than profitable. For, in the course of our inquiry, we must contemplate God, nature, and ourselves. In contemplating the Divine Being, what a spacious field of pleasure lies open to the mind! What noble transports must the soul feel from a view of Him, who is the fountain of perfection; in whom dwells beauty, knowledge, truth, wisdom, virtue, and all moral excellence! In the contemplation of nature, we see as it were in perspective an infinite variety of beautiful appearances, and relations of things to each other; all which serve to fill the mind with the most pleasing ideas of beauty, order, and harmony. And in the survey of ourselves we may observe a curious machine consisting of various springs and movements, each of which contributes some pleasure or advantage either to ourselves or others. Again, truth is the most beautiful, as well as pleasant. For all "beauty is truth. Thus, in architecture true proportions make the beauty of a building. In music, true measures make the beauty of harmony; and in poetry, which deals so much in fable, truth still is the foundation: for all fiction is no longer pleasing than while it bears a resemblance with truth." And so, in like manner, the beauty of actions, affections, and characters arises from honesty and moral truth. For what can be more beautiful than just sentiments, graceful actions, regular passions, and agreeable behaviour? Thus nature itself leads to virtue, and truth has a kind of moral magic in it which charms irresistibly. Who, then, would refuse at any rate to purchase the knowledge of truth, which is so pleasant, so beautiful, so advantageous? But in this honest way of merchandising truth, and in all our researches after it, great care must be taken that we are not imposed upon either by ignorant or designing men. Falsehood often courts us under the appearance of truth, as some sort of glittering stones will counterfeit true diamonds. Thus, among some professors of Christianity, superstition counterfeits the name of religion, and many idle ceremonies pass current instead of pure substantial virtue. To prevent this, we should study human nature, and the nature of God, so far as He is discovered to us by the light of reason and revelation.
III. When by our faithful endeavours we have gained the truth the text suggests to us, WE SHOULD UPON NO CONSIDERATION PART WITH IT. "Buy the truth, and sell it not." If truth be of so great importance as to have virtue, religion, and even happiness depend upon it, what wise man would ever part with it? For can any equivalent be given for the loss of it? And why should we exchange a greater for a lesser good? In our journey through this world we meet with many rugged ways and difficulties. But truth will lead us safely through all into the wished-for haven. All worldly goods are imperfect and of short duration; but truth is eternal in its original, and will never fail to give complete satisfaction to all who persevere in it. But you will ask, When may we be said to part with the truth? We part with it whenever we let any interest, prejudice, or passion prevail over us, contrary to the dictates of right reason. As, therefore, we value our greatest interest, let us honestly endeavour to know the truth; and let us apply ourselves to all proper means for this purpose, such as reading, conversation, and prayer to God. The same honest diligence which is used in learning other arts and sciences will bring us to the knowledge of all that truth which is necessary for any to know. And God requires no more of us than what our respective capacities and opportunities will allow.
(N. Ball.)I. THE VALUABLE COMMODITY REQUISITE FOR HUMAN LIFE. Truth is that commodity which feeds the moral life.
1. It is of universal comprehension.
2. It is of common necessity and fitness.
3. It is a thing of common end in life.
4. It is the crown and complement of life.
II. THE COMMERCE OF TRUTH.
1. One compartment in the market of truth is acquaintance and fair dealing with ourselves.
2. Communion with the Father of our spirit.
3. Study of the works and words of God.
4. Acquaintance with humanity.
5. Christian means and provision.Truth is cheap at any cost. One condition in the pursuit of truth is a high and holy motive. Another is right use of our powers and opportunities. A third is seeking and following the best. A fourth is submission to the Divine will. Another is perseverance; and another faith.
III. THE CONSERVATIVE DUTY. It is easy in the sale, but difficult to buy. Nothing can compensate for its absence. The sale of truth always means an unjust bargain.
Homilist.I. THE TRUTH IS A PRECIOUS THING. "Buy the truth." What is truth? It is reality. In contradistinction to all that is fictitious and false.
1. Reality in relation to the chief good. What a number of false theories there are concerning human dignity and human happiness. Truth is the reality of these.
2. Reality in relation to personal conduct. There are hollow men, sham men. Truth makes men real. Brings their conceptions into perfect accord with eternal facts, and their personal conduct into perfect accord with their conceptions. Christ is embodied truth. The preciousness of this truth may be estimated by the influence it has exerted on the race. Intellectual truth is precious, moral truth is more precious, redemptive truth is more precious than all.
II. TRUTH TO BE OBTAINED MUST BE PURCHASED. It can only be purchased by —
III. Truth once purchased SHOULD NEVER BE SOLD. "Sell it not." Truth can be sold. Judas sold it. It can be sold for power, for fame, for worldly pleasure, etc. "Sell it not." If you sell it, you sell your moral usefulness. You sell your self-respect. You sell your power of conscience. You sell your dignity. Hold it as Daniel, Stephen, and Paul held it.
(Homilist.)I. THE IMPORTANCE OF ACQUIRING THE TRUTH.
1. We should make diligent search for it.
2. We should be willing to sacrifice and surrender all for it.
3. Again, truth must be obeyed in order to be made our own.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF RETAINING THE TRUTH. "Sell it not." We should not part with it.
1. Because of its intrinsic value.
2. Because it does not rise and fall in value like other things. The markets of this world are for ever fluctuating, etc. Truth is ever the same.
3. Because it can be appropriated or made our own as nothing else can. "A man's life (well-being) consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." Worldly goods are of no value to a man when the last hour comes. But true religion will go with him into adversity, into affliction, and will comfort him even in death.
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