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Therefore take no thought, saying, What | poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, out of the dunghill; that he may set him Wherewithal shall we be clothed ? (for after with princes, even with the princes of his all these things do the Gentiles soek :) for people.” your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have Let it however be observed that there is need of all these things.” We have not time something inseparably connected with this to examine the beauty and the force of this kingdom of God. It is “ the righteousness reasoning. Suffice it to observe, that in the of God." There are some who, instead of words which I have chosen for our present proving their schemes by the Scripture, are almeditation, he finishes his admonition by op- ways bringing the Scripture to their schemes. posing care to care; he would draw us off Having attached a favourite meaning to a from inferior concerns by the attractions and particular word, they give the term the same impressions of a superior interest—an interest signification wherever they meet with it, rewhich demands our principal regard, and gardless of the connexion in which it stands, will more than indemnify us for every sacri- or the purpose for which it was introduced. fice we make in the pursuit of it. “ But We make no scruple to say, that the rightseek ye first the kingdom of God, and his eousness of God in this passage intends real! righteousness; and all these things shall holiness; the renovation of our nature; the be added unto you.” The words lead us sanctification of our lives. And we say not to ask, and enable us to answer three ques- this from our disbelief of another very interest tions.
ing doctrine of the Gospel, and which holds I. WHAT ARE WE TO SEEK ? II. How forth our justification as flowing from the ARE WE TO SEEK ? III. WHY ARE WE TO merits of the Redeemer: and while we know SEEK?
that our obedience is defective, and feel that? I. WHAT ARE WE TO SEEK? “ The king- in many things we all offend, and come short dom of God, and his righteousness.” of the glory of God, we humbly look for the
The children of this world are wiser in acceptance of our persons and of our services their generation than the children of light in the Beloved ; and repose the confidence of If I had to propose an estate, I should easily our weary souls under the shadow of his engage your attention; how much more if 1 cross, “not having our own righteousness, could offer a province !-a kingdom! A which is of the law, but that which is through crown sparkles in the eye of ambition. A the faith of Christ, the righteousness which throne is the pinnacle of human pride. What is of God by faith.” exertions have been made, what blood has But this reliance is always accompanied been shed, to grasp a sceptre that rules a few with true holiness. The same principle that miles of territory, and soon drops from the calms the conscience always purifies the hand that wields it! But here you behold heart. A title to heaven is always attended * the kingdom of God:” a kingdom of which with a meetness for it. And to this our Sahe is the founder, the governor, the owner, viour refers. No righteousness, no kingdom! the giver; a kingdom announced by prophets, The one is essential to the other. And the established by miracles, prepared before the other is not arbitrary: it is founded in the foundation of the world; a kingdom that can- nature of things; in the nature of man; in not be shaken, but remains for ever; a king the nature of heaven. “Except a man be dom, in comparison of which, all the re- born again, he cannot see the kingdom of nowned empires of the globe vanish into God." The enjoyment is impossible. To nothing, and in the possession of which you look therefore for glory without grace, or may mourn over an Alexander as a grovel- heaven without holiness, is treason against ing worm.
Scripture, and rebellion against common Grace and glory are not so much different sense. It is to make God a liar; to abolish states, as different degrees of the same state. all the distinctions which preserve the harHence Christians are even now made par- mony of the world; and to reduce the creatakers of this kingdom: but their present tion to a chaos. “ What fellowship hath participation is imperfect. Here they are righteousness with unrighteousness? And princes; but princes in disguise; the world what communion hath light with darkness? knoweth them not. They are like David, Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not anointed, but not proclaimed; and through inherit the kingdom of God? Be not demuch tribulation are entering the kingdom. ceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor Their royalties are above. There-are their adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of robes, their crowns, their palaces; and they themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor shall reign for ever and ever. Nothing less covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor than this will satisfy the infinite goodness of extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God towards them: though they were once God.” his foes, and by a frown he could have anni- These are the blessings we are to seek. hilated them, he spares them, he pardons But them, he exalts them : " He raiseth up the II. HOW ARE WE TO SEEK THEM? First:
" seek ye first the kingdom of God and his own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure,
Seek them first every day; by securing
It should be the first concern in life. Here the family. Such previous devotion will I have an opportunity to address those of you best fit you for the duties and events of the whose reason is opening, and whose affec- day. Such intercourse with God will best tions are beginning to glow. How en- prepare you for all your dealings with men. couraging is the promise: “I love them that Again. We are to seek them first in atlove me, and they that seek me early shall find tention. They are to be supremely regardme! Remember therefore your Creator in ed, because they are supremely valuable
. the days of your youth:” hereafter you may not Many acquisitions are desirable, and some have time for this work: and how dreadful are useful, but religion is the one thing needwould the consequence of prevention be! ful. It fixes its residence in the soul, and If you die before you finish a journey you strikes its influence through eternity. If it intend to take, a building you intend to rear, be any thing, it is every thing: if it be ima connexion you intend to form, it is com- portant at all, it is all important. It is not paratively of little moment; you will then therefore to be a secondary business, which have done with every thing below the sun is to give place to every other interest; every for ever. But if you die before you have other interest is to give place to this; to this secured the salvation of the soul, it would every other pursuit is to be rendered suborhave been good for you if you had never dinate and subservient. Thus David, in the been born: for if you are not saved, you are Old Testament, and Paul, in the New, speak lost—and lost for ever! · And is there no of godliness as their only concern.
* One danger of this ? Are any of you so young thing,” says the former, “ have I desired of as not to have followed to the grave persons the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may younger than yourselves? There is but a dwell in the house of the Lord all the days step between you and death. “For man of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord
, knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are and to inquire in his temple.” And, says the taken in an evil net, and as the birds that latter, “ This one thing I do, forgetting those are caught in the snare: so are the sons of things which are behind, and reaching forth men snared in an evil time, when it falleth unto those things which are before, I press suddenly upon them."_But godliness is as toward the mark.” necessary for time as for eternity. If I were Are you likeminded with them? To de sure of your living to the age of Methuselah, termine this, let me ask you two questions I should still say, “Seek ye first the king- First. What are your desires ? Every dom of God, and his righteousness." You man has some languid and lazy wishes Bamust enter the world with God, if you would laam wished to "die the death of the rightpass wisely, and safely, and happily through cous,” but was not concerned to live their it.-—And never, my young friends, will you life. Herod wished to see our Saviour work have such a favourable opportunity of know- a miracle, but he would not stir out of doors ing the things that belong to your everlasting for the purpose. Pilate asked, What is truth? peace as you now have. Of the year of life, and stayed not for the answer. If a few this is the spring; of the day, this is the powerless, inoperative wishes would carry morning. How many are now bewailing the persons to heaven, none would ever be turnwaste of this precious season, and vainly en- ed into hell. But if you are in earnest, your deavouring to redeem the time, and repair the desires accord with the strong language of loss!
Revelation; you “hunger and thirst after What applies to youth, falls with redoubled righteousness:" you - wait for the Lord force upon age. Have you, my aged friend, more than they that watch for the morning: been criminal enough to neglect this concern your soul breaketh for the longing it hath till now? Surely you have no time to lose. unto God's judgments at all times.” And Let it be your next concern. It should have upon a review of your anxieties, you will be been your care sixty, seventy years ago. able to say, Every thing now cries with a voice louder
"Give me thy counsel for my guide, than thunder, “Seek ye first the kingdom of
And then receive me to thy bliss ; God, and his righteousness.”
All iny desires and hopes beside, What has been said, respecting time at
Are faint and cold compared with this." large, will apply to every period of it in par- Secondly. What are your exertions? ticular.
For something in this case will necessarily Seek the kingdom of God and his right- be done. This in the Scripture is held forth eousness first every week; by sanctifying by pressing into the kingdom of God, the first day of the week; "calling the sab- taking the kingdom of heaven by violence," bath a delight; the holy of the Lord, ho- " fighting the good fight of faith, " sunning nourable; and honouring him, not doing thine the race that is set before us," " labouring to
enter into his rest." Now explain these ex- | possibility, but probability; we have not only pressions as you please, deduct from them probability, but certainty to actuate us-a far more than the laws of metaphorical lan- certainty derived from the promise of God, guage require; yet, will not the remainder who cannot lie; from the gift of his own be more than enough to condemn thousands Son; from the experience of all his people. who assume the name of Christian? Will Here is no peradventure _" Ask, and it shall it not imply much more than that specula- be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; tive, indolent, formal, time-serving, costless knock, and it shall be opened unto you. religion, which satisfies many of our modern They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. professors; a religion that requires of them He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing no sacrifices, and allows the retention of precious seed, shall doubtless come again every worldly passion and indulgence ? with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
What then are you doing? What is your They that know thy name will put their prevailing and habitual course of action ? trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forAre you applying the Sabbath to the purposes saken them that seek thee.” for which it was consecrated? Do you read Secondly. Besides gaining this kingdom in the Scripture and hear the Gospel with re- and righteousness, all other things shall be verence and attention? Do you take pains to added unto us. This is designed to meet an go to the house of God with constancy, and to objection, by no means unusual
, in the expeworship him when you are there, “in spirit rience of Christians. It arises from their and in truth?" Do you pray without ceasing? natural and civil condition in the world ; from And in every thing give thanks ?—You toil for their businesses ; their families; their chilthe meat that perisheth—do you labour for that dren; their bodies. They cannot be entirely meat which endureth unto everlasting life? dead to those things. If they wish not to You forego ease, you give up your time, you make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the “ rise early and sit up late, and eat the bread lusts thereof;" its wants must be relieved; of carefulness," to please the world, to gain a and the honour of their profession is conname, to increase your hoard of shining dust cerned in their “ providing things honest in are you laying up treasure in heaven? the sight of all men.” They often find it Do you deny yourselves, and take up your harder to trust God in their temporal, than in cross and follow the Saviour, in obeying his their spiritual interests. This thought will, commands, in imbibing his spirit, in copying sometimes at least, enter their minds, though his example? Are you, by patient continu- it be not lodged and entertained there; “ If ance in well-doing, seeking for glory, honour, I always make religion my first concern, may and immortality? Are you steadfast, un- I not be a loser by it? Will it not frequently moveable, always abounding in the work of stand in the way of my secular advantage ?" the Lord ?-But
He who knows our frame, and remembers III. WHY ARE WE THUS TO SEEK THESE that we are dust; he who often meets the BLESSINGS? Here are two motives to ani- fears of his people before they have expressed mate and encourage us: the one implied; the them, He cries" No. Mind my affairs, other expressed. We shall succeed in our and I will manage yours.“ Them that hoprincipal aim, which is to secure the kingdom nour me, I will honour." All these things, of God and his righteousness—this is implied: while you regard them, in the order wherein and in addition to these, all other things shall I place them, shall be added unto you." be given us—this is expressed. “ Seek ye It would be an unwarrantable conclusion first the kingdom of God, and his righteous- to suppose hence, that a Christian can never ness; and all things shall be added unto expect any difficulties in life; but it does you:” as a kind of surplus, over and above authorise us to hope for such a proportion of the contract. What can we desire more. the good things of this world as shall be
First. Though destitute as we naturally needful for us: only, of this, He who dispenare of his kingdom and righteousness, if we ses them is the judge. It is the office of a seek them in the manner here required, we father, before a child comes to years of disshall obtain them. Such an assurance is ne- cretion, to choose for him; and it is the hapcessary to excite attention and diligence. piness of the child to have such a guide. No man will undertake an enterprise that he Hence we are so much disposed to pity an deems useless and impracticable, especially orphan deprived of such a director, and if it be attended with difficulty and expense. thrown upon the wide world. Poor little Hope is the mainspring of motion in all the traveller! What wonder if he mistakes his concerns of the world. The soldier wars, way !-Now this can never befall the children the scholar studies, the merchant trades, the of God : He will not leave them orphans. husbandman ploughs, in hope. It is the This is their privilege, that while incapable same in religion. Here indeed, so infinite is of judging for themselves, they have a Fathe prize, if there was only a probability, or ther in heaven, infinitely wise and good, to a possibility of success, we ought to seek it, choose for them. If they can bear prosperity and to seek it first. But we have not only without injury, they shall have it. "If fulness
will make them forget God, he will reduce thither, to accomplish his wishes, and to
lasting welfare. Retire, and say, O God, I
, the neglect of some of its duties, or the vio- and have given the future preference. lation of some of its proprieties. We have Nevertheless—these other things occupy not time to enlarge here, otherwise we might too much even of your time and attention : show how real religion makes a man punctual, and render it necessary for us to admonish and diligent, and economical; how it makes you to reduce your regard. For this purpose him liberal—and “ he that soweth plentifully, you will do well to remember two things, shall reap plentifully;" how it cuts him off First. This undue solicitude injures your from expensive vices and amusements; how spiritual welfare. These suckers occupy the it raises his character by the exercise of the sap that should enter the boughs. These moral virtues, and gains him the confidence weeds exhaust the nourishment the ground of his fellow-creatures; how it contributes to requires for the plants. These cares of the his health, and to the improvement of his world, and this “ deceitfulness of riches, understanding, and thus helps him both to choke the word,” and it becometh unfruitful. judge and to execute; how it secures him Secondly. It is hurtful even to your temthe favour of Providence and the blessing poral welfare. The surest way to have any of God maketh rich and addeth no sorrow;' temporal blessing is to be satisfied without it
. in all which instances it would appear, that when we must have certain things, God sees it “ has the promise of the life that now is, that our hearts are too much set upon them as well as of that which is to come.” for us to be indulged with safety. On the
What use should we make of this subject? other hand, when we refer ourselves to his I fear the words I have endeavoured to ex- pleasure, he loves to surprise and gratify us. plain, will suit some of you in a way of ex. A remarkable instance of which we have in hortation only. For can you say that you the case of Solomon. “ God said unto him, resemble this portrait and have complied with Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast this admonition? Can I bless God at the not asked for thyself long life; neither hast close of this exercise, that for once I have asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the been addressing an audience who " seek first life of thine enemies; but hast asked for his kingdom and righteousness," and leave thyself understanding to discern judgment; the addition of all other things to him? Ah! behold, I have done according to thy words: these other things these engross you—and lo, I have given thee a wise and an underdestroy. Heaven is hid from your view. standing heart; so that there was none like Earth contains all your esteem. Your hopes thee before thee, neither after thee shall ang and fears, desires and pursuits, are all con- | arise like unto thee. And I have also given fined within the narrow limits of time and thee that which thou hast not asked, both sense! You came into the world you know riches, and honour ; so that there shall not not why, and are going out of it you know be any among the kings like unto thee all not whither. You are dead while you live. thy days.” And what a dreadful contrast You have souls; but you never ask, “ What have we in the history of Eli! . There must I do to be saved ?" You " know not came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto what a day will bring forth;" yet you live him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear as if you were to live here always. You unto the house of thy father, when they were in have been brought up in a Christian country; Egypt in Pharaoh's house? And did I choose but your god is your belly, your glory is in him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my your shame, you mind earthly things. And priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn ini no man ever dropped into heaven by chance ; did I give unto the house of thy
father all nor does God ever force a man into heaven the offerings made by fire of the children of against his will. He always makes it the Israel ? Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice object of his solicitude ; and brings him and at mine offering, which I have command
ed in my habitation; and honourest thy sons | And what is the motto? “We are troubled above me, to make yourselves fat with the on every side, yet not distressed; we are perchiefest of all the offerings of Israel my peo- plexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but ple? Wherefore the Lord God of Israel not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed : saith, I said indeed, that thy house, and the always bearing about in the body the dying house of thy father, should walk before me of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far might be made manifest in our body." from me ; for them that honour me I will În harmony with these remarks is the lanhonour, and they that despise me shall be guage with which Ezekiel was commanded to lightly esteemed." “ But seek ye first the address the Jews : “ Thus saith the Lord kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and God; Although I have cast them far off all these things shall be added unto you.” among the heathen, and although I have
scattered them among the countries, yet will
I be to them as a little sanctuary in the counDISCOURSE LXXIX. tries where they shall come.” Let us con
I. THE CALAMITY. II. THE ALLEVIATION. GOD THE SANCTUARY OF THE I. THE CALAMITY: “I have cast them far AFFLICTED.
off among the heathen, and have scattered Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have
them among the countries.”
Upon this part of our subject I am not gocast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the ing to speak as a historian. Then it would countries, yet will I be to them as a little be necessary for me to show how this dispersanctuary in the countries where they shall sion took place; the different times and decome.-Ezek. xi. 16.
grees in which it was accomplished; the
numbers that were successively carried away; PHILOSOPHERS have frequently remarked, and endeavour to solve many questions which what may be called, the doctrine of compen- have more of curiosity in them than profit. sation : by which they mean, the tendency But I shall speak only as a moralist, concerned there is in nature and providence to keep to improve the fact by rendering it instructhings in a kind of equality ; so that while, tive. The event serves to display, on the one hand, there are defects to counter- First, The agency of God. He therefore, balance advantages, there are, on the other in the words before us, claims the work as hand advantages to counterbalance defects. his own: “ I have cast them off among the Nothing can exceed the weakness and help- heathen; I have scattered them among the lessness of a new-born babe. But provi- countries.” Nor is it an unusual thing for sion is made for the relief of its earliest him to assert his dominion and influence over wants; and the strength of maternal affec- all the sufferings of nations, families, and intion renders every exertion and sacrifice dividuals. “Shall there be evil in a city, its welfare requires, a pleasure. The blind and the Lord hath not done it? I form the are generally superior to other men in the light, and create darkness; I make peace, senses of hearing and feeling. If the poor and create evil. I the Lord do all these are denied the elegances and luxuries of things." riches, they are not corroded with their cares, In the dispersion of the Jews he employed nor endangered by their perils. The labourer instrumentality, and wicked instrumentality: toils; but he is free from the languor and but neither of these detracts from his agency. infirmities of the idle and disengaged: and What does God, without the intervention of “ his sleep is sweet, whether he eats little or any cause between him and the effect? He much."
blesses us by means: he warms us by the In what condition can we be found that sun; he refreshes us by sleep; he sustains us possesses no advantages? These a grateful by food ; and he even requires us to prepare, mind will always look after; and, however for our use, the supplies he gives us. In a simisevere the affliction, endeavour to say, “ It lar way he inflicts evil. And hence an irrelimight have been worse. I have lost much ; gious mind is detained from God by the perbut I am not deprived of all. He has chas- sons or the events that injure him. He thinks tened me sore ; but he has not given me over only of the flood, or the fire; of the heedless unto death. The stroke is painful: but it servant, the uncertain friend, the cruel enewill be profitable. *Tribulation worketh pa- my. Because the hand that holds them is intience; and patience, experience; and expe- visible, he accuses the lance, and the scourge. rience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; But a pious man can say, “ It is the Lord , because the love of God is shed abroad in and will try to say, “ Let him do what seemour hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given eth him good.” « Let him alone,” says Da
What is the emblem of the vid of the insulting Shimei. “Let him alone, Church from the beginning of the world? A and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden bush burning with fire, and not consumed. | him.” Job, said, “ The Lord gave, and the