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to leave the world and its possessions.
"Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be made rich." Be sensible of your spiritual poverty, and receive with cheerfulness the true riches. Say not that you are "rich, and increased with goods, and stand in need of nothing"- -"for you are wretched and miserable and poor." I counsel you to buy of Christ, "gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich." Do not foolishly and presumptuously calculate on many years, or days, here; but remember that you may never see the light of another day: and ask yourselves, each of you, Where would my soul be to-morrow, if it should be required of me to-night?-May the Lord give you the right understanding, and personal application, of these things; and to his name be praise. Amen.
LUKE XII. 22-31.
"And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 23. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. 24. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? 25. And which of you, with taking thought, can add to his stature one cubit? 26. If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? 27. Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to-day in the field, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 29. And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. 30. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 31. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you."
THE attentive reader of Scripture will perceive that not only the substance, but most of the very words, of this passage, are recorded as having been spoken by our Lord on a former occasion, namely, in his sermon on the mount, as we find in the latter part of the 6th chapter of Matthew. Though in Jesus Christ were hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and though he poured out his instructions. in wonderful variety, yet, we repeatedly read of him saying the same things on different occasions. He knew what circumstances required this, and what were the points which it was especially necessary to press on men's attention. "God speaketh once, yea, twice, yet," too often, man perceiveth it not." We require to have "line upon line."
To write the same things to you" (says Paul), "to me, indeed, is not grievous, but for you it is safe." The instructions in these verses came in very appropriately after what our Lord had been saying to the multitude on the subject of covetousness. Led on by what one of the company, or rather crowd, had said to him about dividing an inheritance,
Christ, though he declined to interfere, addressed to the whole multitude a caution against covetousness, and enforced that caution by the parable of the rich fool. In the verses now before us, however, he addresses himself more immediately to the disciples, to those who habitually waited on his ministry, especially the twelve. And whereas what he had said before was more particularly calculated to meet the dangers of that kind of covetousness to which the rich were most exposed, what he now says is more particularly calculated to obviate the anxieties which are more ready to beset the poor, or at least, those who are in lowly and not very prosperous circumstances. Addressed, too, as these words are, to his own disciples, they are characterized by the most affectionate tenderness.
And he said unto his disciples, Therefore," because of the uncertainty and insufficiency of earthly things, "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on." "Take no thought," is too feeble a rendering of the original, which signifies, Be not distressingly anxious, or, Take no perplexing thought.* We can never suppose that our Lord intended to inculcate what may be called thoughtlessness or carelessness. It is true that the affairs of time, of this life, and of the body, are much less important than those of the soul and of eternity; but still, they require a considerable degree of attention, and cannot be neglected without sin, and without injury to the spiritual state. There is, certainly, incumbent a prudent attention to the preservation of our own life, and to the acquisition of those things which are necessary for the body; for, "no man," in the right exercise of reason, "hateth his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it." Diligence in one's calling is also plainly incumbent: "This we commanded you," says Paul," that if any would not work, neither should he eat: for we hear that there are some who walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busy-bodies." It is a man's duty diligently to provide for his family and dependants, as well as for himself; for "he that provideth not for his own, especially for those of his own house, hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." A man ought to manage his affairs with discretion; he should consider well what he can afford, that he may not go beyond his income, and injure others, and involve himself in difficulties—he should see * So in verse 11.
that no bounty of Providence be wasted-he should avoid needless expense, that, if he can, he may have some provision for sickness and old age he should attend to personal decency and comfort, in food and dress, according to his station-and, if he can do so without infringing on the duties of integrity and benevolence, he should try to make some provision for those who may be dependent on him, when he is gone. At the same time, there is great danger of this being carried too far, so that the affairs of this life shall usurp the chief place in the heart. It is plain that this caution of our Lord is transgressed when men have recourse to any unlawful means of preserving or increasing their substance, or procuring even the necessaries of life. It is transgressed, too, when means which are in themselves lawful are prosecuted with too great eagerness, so as to preclude due attention to spiritual things, or hurtfully to distract the mind. It is sinful to be wrapped up in secular concerns at present, and it is sinful to be distrustful of Providence as to the future. Let a man be in the way of duty, and he has no occasion to distress himself with anxious cares as to future supplies. Undue anxiety and distrustful thoughts are unbecoming, even in reference to what is necessary as to food and clothing, and much more in reference to luxurious pampering and show.
Our Lord proceeds to enforce this caution against sinful and anxious care, and to encourage his disciples to trust in Providence, from a variety of considerations. First of all, he pleads the experience of greater favours already received. "The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment." The life is certainly more valuable than the food by which it is supported, and the body than the raiment with which it is clothed. If, then, God has formed the body itself, and maintains it in life, may he not be trusted too for supporting that body in life, as long as he sees it fit? Should not he who has done the greater, be trusted in for the less? See here, then, believers, a principle which, if properly followed out, would prove an antidote to all your anxieties. It is not merely God's having formed your bodies, and given and maintained your natural life, but it is all his past goodness to you that you have to consider, and espe cially his goodness to your souls, his unspeakable love shown towards you through his Son. He has, indeed, as we have frequent occasion to remark, done more for you already than he has ever to do again, in reference either to your
spiritual or temporal wants: and, therefore, you should not distrust him now, either as to the one or as to the other. He who has done the greater favours to you, when you were his enemies, will surely do the less favours when you are his friends. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"- "God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."
The second consideration against anxious thoughts, which our Lord advances, is, God's care over the irrational animals. "Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn ;* and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fouls?" God's care over the lower animals is repeatedly noticed in Scripture. Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.”
"The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God"-"The earth is full of thy riches, so is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great"-"These all wait upon thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather; thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good." They are supported without forethought, and generally without labour. The following extract from the Rabbins, is curious and appropriate: "Hast thou ever seen a beast that had a workshop? yet they are fed without labour, and without anxiety. They were created for the service of man, and man was created that he might serve his Creator. Man also would have been supported without labour and anxiety, had he not corrupted his ways. Hast thou ever seen a lion carrying burdens, a stag gathering summer fruits, a fox selling merchandise, or a wolf selling oil, that they might thus gain their support? and yet they are fed without care or labour. Arguing, therefore, from the less to the greater, if they which were created that they might serve me, are nourished without labour and anxiety, how much more I, who have been created that I
* Οἷς οὐκ ἐστι ταμειον (locus secretior, ærarium), οὐδὲ ἀποθηκη (horreum). Lightfoot thinks that the former word means a storehouse for fruits, and the latter a storehouse for grain.