The Unsearchable Riches of Christ

Thomas Brooks, 1655

"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!" Ephesians 3:8

"It pleased the father, that in him should all fullness dwell." Col. 1:19.

"In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Col. 2:3.


Epistle Dedicatory

To all true Israelites, in whom there is no guile—Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied.

Dear hearts,
My design in appearing once more in print is not to please the captious critic, or the sullen cynic—but to heighten your "fellowship with the Father and the Son," 1 John 1:3-4, and to further you in a closer walking with God, and to ripen you more and more for reigning with God when you shall be here no more.

"Beloved in our Lord," there are two sad and great evils—oh that there were no more!—among the saints this day. The strong are very apt, yes, they make little of offending the weak; and the weak are as apt, and make as little of judging and condemning the strong, Romans 14:1-10. The serious and conscientious perusal of this treatise may, by the blessing of the Lord, contribute much to the preventing of those sad evils.

You who are weak may, in this treatise, as in a mirror, see your weakness, your mercies, your graces, your duties, your privileges, and your comforts. You who are weak in grace, may here find many questions answered and doubts resolved, that tend to the satisfying, quieting, settling, and establishing of your precious souls in peace, joy, and assurance. You who are weak in grace, may here find a staff to support you, a light to direct you, a sword to defend you, and a cordial to strengthen you, etc. And you who are strong in grace, may here see what is your way, what is your work, and what at last shall be your reward. Here you will find that which tends to the discovery of spirits, the sweetening of spirits, the uniting of spirits, the healing of spirits, and the making up of breaches, etc.

Here you will find "meat for strong men," and "milk for babes." Here you will find who is more motion than notion; more heart than head; more spirit than flesh; more inside than outside, etc.

Here you will find "the unsearchable riches of Christ"—which of all boxes of precious ointment is the most precious—opened; and oh how sweet must he be, who is the sweetest of sweets! In Christ are riches of justification; in Christ are riches of sanctification, riches of consolation, and riches of glorification. And this following treatise may serve as a golden key, to open the door, that you may come where these treasures lie. Christ's riches are like the eternal springs of the earth, which cannot dry up—but are and shall be diffused by his Spirit and gospel, until his whole house be filled with them.

The excellency and usefulness of the riches of Christ, and answers to many weighty queries about his unsearchable riches, is more than hinted at in this tract. In this tract much is spoken concerning the nature, properties, and excellencies of humility, which is both the beautifier and preserver of all other graces.

Here you may see that those who are lowest in their own esteem, are highest in God's esteem. Here you may see that humble souls are not so low and contemptible in the eyes of the world, as they are honorable in the eyes of God. [Humility is that which keeps all graces together. Bernard.]

And if ever there were an age since Christ was on earth, wherein it was needful to preach, press, and print this great doctrine of humility, of self-abasement, of soul-abasement, this is the age wherein we live. Oh the pride, the loftiness of the professors of this age! But because this point is largely spoken to in this tract, I shall satisfy myself with this touch.

There are many other weighty things treated on, which for brevity's sake I shall omit, only give me permission to acquaint you with a few things about this ensuing tract, and then I shall draw to a close.

First, That it is the substance of twenty-two sermons, preached by me about three years ago, on the lecture nights at this place where now I preach.

Secondly, That there are in it several other things of no small concernment to your souls, that I did not then deliver—but have been given in since, from that fountain that fills all in all.

Thirdly, That though I have been much pressed to print these sermons—yet I would never have yielded, had I not been thoroughly convinced and persuaded in my judgment and conscience, that they may, by the blessing of the Lord upon them prove many ways useful and serviceable to all those honest Nathanaels into whose hands they may fall, else they had been buried in the dark, and never come to public light. [A sermon preached serves but one audience; a sermon printed may serve many audiences.]

I have only a few requests to make to you, and then I shall take my leave of you.

And my first request is this, that you would meditate and dwell upon what you read; otherwise your pains and mine will be lost.

It is a law among the Parsees in India, to use premeditation in what they are to do, that if it be bad, to reject it; if good, to act upon it. The application is easy. The more any man is in the contemplation of truth, the more deep and firm impression is made upon his heart by truth.

Christians must be like the clean beasts, which parted the hoof and chewed the cud; they must by heavenly meditation chew truths, or else they will never taste the sweetness that is in divine truths.

Mary "pondered the sayings of the shepherds in her heart," Luke 2:19. Not those who eat most—but those who digest most, are the most healthful. Not those who get most—but those who keep most, are richest. So not those who hear most, or read most—but those who meditate most, are most edified and enriched.

My second request to you is this, that you will make conscience of living out those truths you read. [Your actions, in passing, pass not away; for every good work is a grain of seed for eternal life.]

To read much and practice nothing, is to hunt much and catch nothing.

Suetonius reports of Julius Caesar, "That seeing Alexander's statue, he fetched a deep sigh, because he at that age had done so little."

Ah! what cause have most to sigh, that they have heard so much, and read so much, and yet done so little! Surely it is more honorable to do great things, than to speak or read great things! It is the doer that will be most happy at last, John 13:17. "They are written in the book of life—who do what good they can, though they cannot do as they would." (Bernard.)

I have read of a good man coming from a public lecture, and being asked by one whether the sermon was finished, answered, with a sad sigh, "Ah! it is preached—but not finished."

My third request is this, that you will pray over what you read. Many read much, and pray little, and therefore get little by all they read.

Galen writes of a fish called Uranoscopos, that has but one eye, which looks continually up to heaven. When a Christian has one eye upon his book, the other should be looking up to heaven for a blessing upon what he reads.

When one heard what admirable victories Scanderbeg's sword had wrought, he would needs see it; and when he saw it, says he, This is but an ordinary sword; alas! what can this do? Scanderbeg sent him word, I have sent you my sword—but I have the arm that did all by it.

Alas! what can Christ's sword, Christ's word, do without his arm? Therefore look up to Christ's arm in prayer, that so his sword, his word, may do great things in your souls.

Luther professes "that he profited more by prayer in a short space than by study in a longer;" as John, by weeping, got the sealed book open.

My fourth request to you is this, That if, by the blessing of the Lord upon my weak endeavors, any leaf or line should drop myrrh or mercy, marrow or fatness, upon your spirits, that you will give all the glory to the God of heaven, for to him alone it does belong.

Through grace I know I am a poor worm; I am nothing, I have nothing but what I have received. The crown befits no head but Christ's. Let him who is our all in all have the honor and the glory of all, and I have my end. [Ingratitude, say some, is a monster in nature, a blunder in manners, and a paradox in grace—damming up the course of donations, divine and human.]

Pliny tells of some in the remote parts of India, who have no mouths, and yet live on the smell of herbs and sweet flowers; but I hope better things of you, even such as accompany salvation.

My fifth request to you is this, That you would let me lie near your hearts, when you are in the mount especially.

Oh pray, pray hard for me, that the Spirit of the Lord may be redoubled upon me; that his word may prosper in my mouth; that it may "run, and be glorified;" and that I may be high in my communion with God, and holy and unblamably in my walkings with God; and that it may be still day with my soul; that I may live and die in the joys and comforts of the Holy Spirit; and that when my sun is set, my hour-glass runs out, my work done, my race run—I may rest in the everlasting arms of divine love, etc.

My last and least request to you is this, That you will please cast a mantle of love over the mistakes of the press, and do me that right, and yourselves the courtesy, as, before you read, to correct any material faults that you shall find pointed at in the errata. [In every pomegranate there is at least one rotten kernel to be found, said Crates the philosopher.]

God's easy passing over the many and daily erratas of your lives, cannot but make you so ingenuous as readily to pass over the erratas in this book.

You are choice jewels in my eye; you lie near unto my heart; I am willing to spend and be spent for your sakes. My earnest and humble desire is, that my service and labor of love may be accepted by you, Romans 15:31, and that it may work much for your internal and eternal welfare; and that "an abundant entrance may be administered to you into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," 2 Pet. 1:11, and 1:8; and that you may be filled "with joy unspeakable and full of glory," and with that "peace which passes understanding." This is, and by grace shall be, the prayer of him who desires to approve himself faithful to Christ, his truths, his interests, and his people, and who is your souls' servant in all gospel engagements.

Thomas Brooks.


The verse opened and explained

"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!" Ephesians 3:8

"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints."

"Less than the least of all saints," is a double diminutive, and signifies lesser than the least, if lesser might be. Here you have the greatest apostle descending down to the lowest step of humility. Great Paul is least of saints, last of the apostles, and greatest of sinners. [He who is little in his own account is great in God's esteem.] The choicest buildings have the lowest foundations, the best balsam sinks to the bottom; those ears of corn and boughs of trees which are most filled and best laden—bow lowest. So do those souls who are most laden with the fruits of paradise. "Unto me who am less than the least of all saints."

"Is this grace given."

In the Greek, or "was this grace given." The word that is here rendered grace, is taken in Scripture not only for the favor of God—but also for his gracious gifts; and so you are to understand it in this place. Grace is taken for the gifts of grace; and they are twofold, common or special. Some are common to believers and hypocrites, as knowledge, tongues, a gift of prayer, etc.; some are special and peculiar to the saints, as fear, love, faith, etc. Now Paul had all these, the better to fit him for that high and noble service to which he was called.

"That I should preach."

That is, declare good news or glad tidings. The Greek word answers to the Hebrew word, which signifies good news, glad tidings, and a joyful message.

"That I should preach among the Gentiles."

Sometimes this Greek word is generally used for all men, or for all nations. Sometimes the word is used more especially for the Gentiles—as distinguished from the Jews. So it is used Mat. 6:32, "For after all these things do the Gentiles seek." And so it is used here. Those who are "without God in the world," who stand in arms against God, who are ignorant of those riches of grace which are in Christ; this grace is given to me, that I should preach among the poor heathens, "the unsearchable riches of Christ."

"That I might preach among the Gentiles." What, preach myself? No! but "the unsearchable riches of Christ." [One Christ will be to you instead of all other things, because in him are all good things to be found. Augustine.]

The Greek word signifies, not to be traced out. Here is rhetoric indeed! Here are riches, unsearchable riches, unsearchable riches of Christ. Riches always imply two things: 1, abundance; 2, abundance of such things as are of worth. Now in the Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest riches, the best riches, the choicest riches; in Christ are riches of justification, Titus 2:14; in Christ are riches of sanctification, Philip. 4:12, 13; in Christ are riches of consolation, 2 Cor. 12:9; and in Christ are riches of glorification, 1 Pet. 1:2-3. But of these glorious unsearchable riches of Christ, we shall speak hereafter.

I shall begin at this time with the first words, "Unto me who am less than the least of all saints." There are these two observations which naturally flow from these words.

Observation 1. That the most holy men are always the most humble men.

None so humble on earth, as those who live highest in heaven.

Or if you will, take the observation thus: That those who are the most highly valued and esteemed of by God, are lowest and least in their own esteem.

"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints," etc.

Observation 2. The second observation is, That there are weak saints as well as strong; little saints as well as great. Or thus, All saints are not of an equal growth or stature.