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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 6 - Verse 32
Verses 32-34. For after all these things do the Gentiles seek. That is, those destitute of the true doctrines of religion, unacquainted with proper dependence on Divine Providence, make it their chief anxiety thus to seek food and raiment. But you, who have a knowledge of your Father in heaven, who know that he will provide for your wants, should not be anxious. Seek first his kingdom; seek first to be righteous, and to become interested in his favour, and all necessary things will be added to you. God has control over all things, and he can give you that which you need. He will give you that which he deems best for you,
Take therefore no thought, etc. That is, no anxiety. Commit your way to God. The evil, the trouble, the anxiety of each day as it comes is sufficient, without perplexing the mind with restless cares about another day. It is wholly uncertain whether you live to see that day. If you do, it will bring its own trouble; and it will also bring the proper supply of your wants. God will be the same Father then as to-day, and will make then, as he does now, proper provision for your wants.
The morrow shall take thought. The morrow shall have anxieties and cares of its own, but it shall also bring the proper provision for those cares. Though you shall have wants, yet God will provide for them as they occur. Do not, therefore, increase the cares of this day by borrowing trouble respecting the future. Do your duty faithfully now, and depend on the mercy of God and his Divine help for the troubles which are yet to come.
REMARKS ON CHAPTER VI.
1. Christ has here forcibly taught the necessity of charity, of prayer, and of all religious duties.
2. We see the necessity of sincerity and honesty in our religious duties. They are not done to be seen of men. If they are, they cannot be performed acceptably. God looks on the heart, nor is it possible to deceive him. And of what avail is it to deceive men? How poor and pitiable is the reward of a hypocrite! How contemptible the praise of men when God is displeased! How awful the condition beyond the grave!
3. Christ has here, in a particular manner, urged the duty of prayer. He has given a model for prayer. Nothing can equal this composition in simplicity, beauty, and comprehensiveness. At the same time that it is so simple that it can be understood by a child, it contains the expression of all the wants of man at any age, and in every rank.
The duty of prayer is urged by every consideration. None but God can provide for us; none but he can forgive, and guide, and support us; none but he can bring us into heaven. He is ever ready to hear us. The humble he sends not empty away. Those who ask, receive; and they who seek, find. How natural and proper, then, is prayer! How strange that any can live, and not pour out their desires to God! How strange that any are willing to go to eternity with this sad reflection, "I have gone through this world, spent my probation, wasted my strength, and am dying, and have never prayed!" How awful will be the reflection of the soul through all eternity,"I was offered eternal life, but I never asked for it! I lived from day to day, and from year to year, in God's world; breathed his air, rioted in his beneficence, forgot his goodness, and never once asked him to save my soul!" Who will be to blame if the prayerless soul is lost?
Secret and family prayer should be daily. We daily have the same necessities, are exposed to the same dangers, tread on the borders of the same heaven or hell. How should the voice of praise and prayer go up as incense in the morning, and rise as a rich perfume in the shades of each evening! What more lovely object than one, in the bloom of health and the dew of youth, bending with reverence before the King of heaven, seeking forgiveness, peace, guidance, and life! And what a strange, misguided, and piteous object is a soul that never prays!
4. Forgiveness is essential in prayer. If we come to God harbouring malice, and unwilling to forgive, we have his solemn assurance that we shall not be ourselves forgiven.
5. Avarice is alike foolish, and an insult to God, Mt 6:19-24. It is the parent of many foolish and hurtful lusts. It alienates the affections from God, produces envy of another's prosperity, leads to fraud, deception, and crime to obtain wealth, and degrades the soul. Man is formed for nobler pursuits than the mere desire to be rich. He lives for eternity, where silver will not be needed, and where gold will be of no value. That eternity is near; and though we have wealth like Solomon, and though we be adorned as the lily, yet like Solomon we must soon die, and like the lily our beauty will soon fade. Death will lay us alike low; the rich and the poor will sleep together; and the worm will feed no more sweetly on the unfed and unclothed son of poverty, than on the man clothed in fine linen, and the daughter of beauty and pride. As avarice is, moreover, the parent of discontent, he only that is contented with the allotments of Providence, and is not restless for a change, is happy. After all, this is the true source of enjoyment. Anxiety and care, perplexity and disappointment, find their way more readily to the mansions of the rich than the cottages of the poor. It is the mind, not mansions, and gold, and adorning, that gives ease, and he that is content with his situation will smile upon his stool, while Alexander weeps upon the throne of the world.
6. We see how comparatively valueless is beauty. How little it is regarded by God! He gives it to the lily, and in a day it fades and is gone. He gives it to the wings of the butterfly, and soon it dies and its beauty is forgotten. He gives it to the flowers of the spring, soon to fall; to the leaves of the forest, soon to grow yellow and decay in the autumn. How many flowers, lilies, and roses, does he cause to blossom in solitude, where no man is, where they "waste their sweetness on the desert air!" How many streams ripple in the wilderness, and how many cataracts, age after age, have poured their thunders on the air, unheard and unseen by mortals! So little does God think of beauty. So the human form and "face divine." How soon is that beauty marred; and, like the lily, how soon is its last trace obliterated ! In the cold grave, among the undistinguished multitudes of the dead, who can tell which of all the mouldering host was blessed with a lovely "set of features or complexion.?" Alas! all has faded like the morning flower. How vain, then, to set the affections on so frail a treasure!
7. We see the duty and privilege of depending for our daily wants on the bounties of Providence. Satisfied with the troubles of today, let us not add to those troubles by anxieties about tomorrow. The heathen, and they who know not God, will be anxious about the future; but they who know him, and have caught the spirit of Jesus, may surely trust him for the supply of their wants. The young lions do roar, and seek their meat at the hand of God, Ps 104:21. The fowls of heaven are daily supplied. Shall man only, of all the creatures, vex himself, and be filled with anxious cares about the future? Rather, like the rest of the creation, let us depend on the aid of the universal Parent, and feel that HE who hears the young ravens which cry, will also supply our necessities.
8. Especially is the remark of value in reference to those in early life. Life is a stormy ocean. Over that ocean no being presides but God. He holds the winds in his hands, and can still their howlings, and calm the heaving billows. On that ocean the young have just launched their frail bark. Daily they will need protection; daily they will need supplies; daily be in danger, and exposed to the rolling of the billows, that may engulf them for ever. Ignorant, inexperienced, and in danger, how should they look to God to guide and aid them! Instead of vexing themselves with anxious cares about the future, how should they place humble reliance on God! Safe in his hand, we shall outride the storm, and come to a haven of peace. He will supply our wants if we trust him, as he does those of the songsters of the grove. He will be the guide of our youth, and the strength of our manhood. If we seek him, he will be found of us. If we forsake him, he will cast us off for ever, 1 Ch 28:9.
9. From all this, how evident is the propriety of seeking first the kingdom of God! First in our affections, first in the objects of pursuit, first in the feelings and associations of each morning, be the desire and the aim for heaven. Having this, we have assurance of all we need. GoD, our Father, will then befriend us; and in life and death all will be well.
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