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might serve my Maker? What therefore is the cause, why I should be obliged to labour in order to get my daily bread? Answer, sin." Thus, though God does not exempt his people from diligence to procure a livelihood, surely the consideration of his care, even for the fowls of heaven, should preserve his people from all distrust as to their own supplies. "He teacheth them more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh them wiser than the fowls of heaven." They are far superior in dignity and destiny, and, therefore, are far more the objects of his care. Look, then, believers, on the birds of the air, proverbial for their cheerfulness, whose species are preserved, though they are early deserted by their dam, and beset with many enemies, and destitute of your wisdom, and of much less value than you; and behold what should assure you of safety and all needful supplies of the bread that perisheth, and of the bread of life. Look on them, and learn to trust in God for this your daily food; thus shall you "dwell on high, your place of defence shall be the munition of rocks: bread shall be given you, and your water shall be sure."
The third consideration which our Lord urges is, the unavailing nature of all such anxiety. "And which of you, with taking thought, can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?" It is quite certain that, however desirous any person might be to become taller, no anxiety after it could make any addition to his height. The word rendered" stature," may also be rendered "age," there being a connexion between the one and the other, in so far that some idea may, in early life at least, be generally formed of one's age from one's stature or height. In this sense of the word, too, it is equally plain that no man by taking thought could add to his age; for, not to insist on the doctrine of there being an appointed time for man on earth, great anxiety after life and anxious thought of every kind must tend to impair a man's health, and, of course, to shorten his life, instead of lengthening it. It has been often observed that the same words are sometimes employed to denote a measure of extension, and a measure of time. "Teach me to know mine end, and the measure of my days," says the Psalmist; "Behold thou hast made my days as an handbreadth." A cubit is here put, proverbially, for any small portion. Men's utmost anxiety cannot make the least addition to their
* Dr A, Clarke on Matt. vi. 26.
stature or age. And so it is in general; prudent management is incumbent, and may likely be useful; but as to anxious and distrustful thoughts, they cannot add even the least to temporal prosperity, but are rather injurious to it. Therefore, why should men distress themselves, as if they could, by such anxiety, gain the greatest objects, when they cannot gain by it the least? Let this argument, then, be considered by you likewise. All your sinful anxiety will be useless, and worse than useless: vex not, then, yourselves in vain; but follow the path of duty, and leave the result, without distrust, to Him who can do for you both the least and the greatest favours.
The fourth consideration which our Lord brings forward as a remedy against anxiety of every kind, and particularly against anxiety with regard to clothing, is drawn from the vegetable kingdom, from the flowers and the grass of the field. "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." The great men, and especially the kings of the East, were often arrayed in very magnificent apparel. Thus, "Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple."* Though we have no particular description of Solomon's dress, yet we read† that when "the kings of the earth sought his presence, they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and raiment;" and that when the queen of Sheba saw, among other sights," the apparel of his ministers, and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her:" we may be sure, therefore, that his dress was very splendid. If it was of white, or chiefly of white, the lily was well selected to represent it. But, beautiful as it was, it is surpassed in beauty by the lily of the field, which has a softness, an elegance, and a richness, which art cannot rival. Man may, indeed, imitate the beauty of God's works, yet they ever leave him far behind. Our Lord thus applies this reference to the lilies, "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?" The word rendered "grass," may be so extensively understood as to include, not merely what we usually call grass, but more generally "herbs." Or, taking +2 Chron. ix. 4, 24.
Esth. viii. 15.
it literally for grass, the structure of grass is very beautiful; and, unlike human workmanship, however fine, the more minutely grass, or any vegetable, is examined, the more exquisite it appears; instead of losing, it gains wonderfully, when viewed through a microscope. But the grass and the flower of the field are also proverbial for being tender, and short-lived, and soon withered. "In the morning," says the Psalmist, "the grass flourisheth and groweth up, in the evening it is cut down and withered." "As the flower of the grass, he shall pass away," says James; "for the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, than it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth." In the East, where fuel is scarce, they are said still to heat their ovens with dry straw, stubble, and withered herbs. We see, then, what are the circumstances on which this argument is founded; and as to its application, that is obvious. Nothing but weakness of faith, with which we frequently read of Jesus charging his disciples, could occasion them distressing anxiety as to how they were to be furnished with clothing.
These two verses, though not spoken chiefly with that view, contain an exposure of the folly of pride in clothes. It is right that men should be attentive to decency, cleanliness, and propriety, in their clothing; but, extraordinary nicety (which, by-the-by, is as likely to prevail where there is great care to avoid changes of fashion, as where they are naturally followed), and also all extravagance, and all excessive and unsuitable ornament, are doubtless wrong. Though Scripture does not prohibit all ornament in dress, it certainly inculcates moderation, and teaches that the chief ornament should be, not that outward adorning, or putting on of apparel, but the hidden man of the heart-the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. And then, suppose a man or woman, gorgeously apparelled; how little is there to be proud of, because of that in which he or she is outshone by the perishing flowers of the field! Nay, did not the necessity of clothing arise from our fall from God? what, then, are our garments, rightly considered, but monuments of our shame, and constant lessons of humility?
But, these two verses are more immediately intended to chide God's people out of their anxieties, and to encourage them to trust in him. Look upon the lily, O believer, in its downy whiteness, and upon the grass, in its robe of green;
and let the sight, so refreshing to the outward eye, also recall to thy remembrance thine own privileges, and refresh thy heart with the assurance that He who paints the lily with its downy whiteness, and casts over the grass its robe of green, will much more clothe thee.
Verse 29: "And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what shall drink" that is, do not make these things the object of eager, and chief pursuit. "Neither be ye of doubtful mind." The Greek word* expresses the situation of meteors in the air-clouds, for example, which are restless, and driven about with every wind. "Any speculations and musings, in which the mind fluctuates, or is suspended in an uneasy hesitation, might well be expressed by such a word."+ My friends, whatever they may pretend to the contrary, and whatever thoughtlessness may prevail in their minds for a time, they who have no confidence in the grace and providence of God, are subject to a most distressing unsteadiness. They are like the flying clouds, or troubled sea, that cannot rest. But a composed and settled spirit, which will stand inquiry, is essential to your happiness. Be entreated, then, to settle yourselves on the foundation laid in Zion, for safety to your souls, and in connexion with this, to depend habitually on God's good providence. In the language of Isaiah, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."
A fifth consideration against such earthly desires and anxious pursuits, is presented to us in the example of the heathen and men of the world, to which Christians ought not to be conformed: "For all these things do the nations of the world seek after." Be unrenewed men what they may, be they heathen idolaters, or nominal Christians; all of them intensely seek after worldly objects, such as these. "They who are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh:"it is only they who are after the Spirit, who are regenerated, that mind the things of the Spirit. All natural men are inquiring, "Who will show us any good?" any temporal good. Here is the argument, Gentiles and all who are strangers to the covenant of promise, and the hopes and consolations of the gospel, are supremely seeking meat, and drink, and clothing-worldly gratification, and knowing no better, their choice is not to be wondered at: but Christians have higher * Μετεωρίζεσθε. + Doddridge.
privileges, views, and hopes; and therefore, such conduct is quite unworthy of them. My hearers, it is the essence of heathenism and of irreligion in every form, to live for this world: and it is the essence of true godliness to live for the other. Say for which of the two you are living.
A sixth consideration against sinful and distressing anxiety about earthly things, even the necessaries of life, is stated by our Lord, in these beautiful words, " And your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things." What an endearing and encouraging view of God! He is the Father of his people-not only their Creator and their Preserver, but their reconciled Father, who loves them as his own adopted children resembling him; and of whom we have this description, that "as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." He is their heavenly Father, and therefore more able, and more ready to help them, than any earthly father. This is the endearing title by which we are encouraged to address him in the beginning of the Lord's Prayer, when we are taught to say, "Our Father who art in heaven." And what should prevent any of you from coming to him in that character? It is true that you have sinned against heaven, and in his sight, and are no more worthy to be called his children: yet he is ready to receive you back into his family, and every barrier to your return is removed out of the way; say, then, each of you; "I will arise and go to my Father."- "Wilt thou not from this time cry, Thou art my Father, thou art the guide of my youth?" You, at least, who have already returned to him, will feel the endearing and powerfully encouraging nature of this relation; "for ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
Mark, too, the idea that your heavenly Father knows that have need of these things-knows what things are necessary for you. He who knows all things, takes a peculiar and gracious cognizance of the affairs of his own people, and is especially concerned to help them in all their troubles, and to supply all their wants. The words addressed to Israel, by Moses, are always applicable, in their spirit, to believers: "The Lord thy God knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing." The mere fact that your heavenly Father knows what you need, is very encouraging; but when you add to his knowledge his love and his