The Rubbish-heap and the Palace Treasures

Everybody who has read Bunyan's immortal story must have felt sorry for the man with the "muck-rake," the man who, though there stood one over his head, with a celestial crown in his hand, and proffered to give him the crown for his muck-rake, did neither look up nor regard, but raked to himself the straws, the small sticks, and dust of the floor. Foolish man, and apt picture of those who choose the world instead of Christ.

But let us illustrate another kind of folly. Yonder is a magnificent palace: the rooms of it are filled with priceless treasures, and there is one in attendance who knows every treasure perfectly, and finds a great joy in showing them to all who care to know them; indeed, it is his business to do so. A banquet is prepared also, and the tables groan beneath the weight of the choicest viands, and the doors of the banqueting hall are open to all. But in the stable-yard there labours a man with a pitch-fork; he labours at a self-imposed task, and his labour is in vain; for if you watch him closely you will see that he does nothing but turn over and over a heap of rubbish as though he expected to find some jewel there. He finds nothing, and groans in his disappointment, and yet he continues his searching — hungry and tired, too. He is a joyless and dejected man.

Is the man a menial, stable-boy, working for a mere pittance? No, his, as we have said, it is a self-imposed task; but that is not all the truth: he is son of the palace; his place is in its glorious rooms; he is an heir to its splendid wealth, and the banquet is spread for him, and the guide, counsellor, and friend who knows the place so well is there to show it all to him.

That man has been born again. He will tell you, if you ask him, that Jesus is the only Saviour and he has put his trust in Him for heaven at last. But he is held in the bondage of self-occupation. He has often read the words: "I know that in me, that is in my flesh dwells no good thing" but he does not believe it. He searches his heart and tests his power and feelings; he concentrates all thoughts on the rubbish-heap of his own evil nature, hoping that he may find some good there, or change that which is bad into good; and he is miserable because he is disappointed — a truly "wretched man."

And Christ, the mighty treasure-house of every good thing, is open for him, and the Holy Spirit of God waits upon him to take of the things of Christ and show them to him, and to feed him with the fatness of God's house. But he continues to search the rubbish-heap; and he will continue to do so until he acknowledges that there is no good in him, and that all good is in Christ.

"But you don't mean that I am nothing but a rubbish-heap?" said a young lady who was miserable with self-occupation, after listening to my parable; and the tone in which she said it proved that her pride had been touched. She did not believe that she was quite as bad as that.

The learning of the inherent and unmendable badness of the flesh is a bitter lesson; it were quickly learnt if the truth of God as to it were fully believed, but until it is learnt we are not wholly free to be led by the Holy Ghost into the knowledge of the glories of Christ, yet only on this line is the full liberty and joy of the Christian life known.

Christians, God's richest treasures lie open for you, the fullness of His grace is revealed in Christ; waste not the time in a vain search for good in the rubbish heap in which no good dwells, but lift your eyes to Him who rightly, sits in heaven's highest throne — your Saviour and mine. He is the preciousness, and He waits to be everything to you that the Word of God says He can be.