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power, you may perceive the certainty of his giving you all that is needful. As our Lord says elsewhere, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him:" but if you do ask, you have a positive promise that he will help you. When even an earthly father listens to the application and supplies the wants of his son," how much more shall your heavenly Father give good gifts to them that ask him!" In the language of Paul to the Philippians, "My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches and glory, by Christ Jesus."
The passage before us concludes with an exhortation to seek a nobler than an earthly object, and a promise that if we do so, less important things will be granted also: "But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Observe here, in the first place, what we are to understand by "the kingdom of God;" the great object which we are exhorted to seek. The kingdom of God signifies, both the kingdom, or reign, of God in the blessings of the gospel on earth, and the kingdom, or reign, of God, in the perfection of holiness and happiness in heaven. These are inseparably connected; and the phrase is used in its true and proper meaning, when it is used to include both. The possession of the blessings of the kingdom of glory on high, pre-supposes the possession of the blessings of the kingdom of grace on earth. Hence, in the parallel passage (Matt. vi. 33), the words are, "Seek ye" "the kingdom of God and his righteousness." Now, the righteousness of the gospel is imputed, inward, and active. If you would become possessed of the kingdom of God, then you must receive the righteousness of God, the righteousness appointed and accepted by God, even the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the ground of your acceptance with God, as your title to the kingdom, "the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe." You must obtain, also, that inward righteousness which consists in being renewed through the Word and by the Spirit, after the image of him who created you; for " except a man be born again he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." And you must cultivate all the graces, and habits of holiness, which constitute the reality of the reign of God here, and the fitness for his presence hereafter.
Observe, next, what is implied in seeking the kingdom
of God. Seeking the blessings of this kingdom implies that you feel your need of them, that you have a just value of their importance, that you fix your attention and desires upon them, that you diligently use the outward means of attaining them, and that you sincerely, and decidedly, and perseveringly follow after till you actually find them. This may also signify seeking the peace, purity, prosperity, and extension of the gospel.*
Observe, thirdly, what is implied in "rather" seeking the kingdom of God, or, as it is in Matthew, seeking it first. It implies that you seek it first, or rather, in point of importance; judging it to be of much more value than any worldly advantages whatever. You are not prohibited from considering other things as of some importance; but this must be your grand object. You must be able to say, with Paul, "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ: yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,"-" that I may win Christ, and be found in him." In connexion with this, seeking the kingdom of God rather, or first, implies your seeking it more earnestly, and with greater exertion, than any thing else. "Labour not" (that is, comparatively) "for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life." And seeking the kingdom of God first, or rather, implies that you seek it early, and first in point of time. Do not say that you will attend to your salvation afterwards, but that you have other things to settle first. Begin with the most important. Say not, "Go thy way for this time: when I have a convenient season I will call for thee;" for, no time can be so suitable as the present. If you delay here, the opportunity may be lost for ever.
Consider, lastly, the promise by which this exhortation is enforced; if you seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, rather than meat, and drink, and clothing, "All these things shall be added unto you:" you shall obtain the kingdom, you shall have salvation of course; and not only so, but all these necessaries, all desirable temporal things, in so far as they are real blessings, in so far as they are for God's glory and your good, shall be given you over and above, shall be thrown in along with these more valuable gifts. Think of Solomon, who, when God said said to him, “Ask *Ps. cxxii. 9: "Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy good."
what I shall give thee," asked "a wise and understanding heart," and who obtained that, and along with that, what he did not ask-riches, honour, and length of days. Think of the widow of Zarephath, who, of the little remaining meal she had, made a cake for Elijah first, and after that made for herself and her son; and think how her store was therefore blessed. Think how, as appears from Haggai, the Jews were visited with famine and distress, when they neglected the temple work and offerings; and how prosperity smiled on them, when they attended to their religious duties. Think of the words of the Psalmist: "O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."-"The Lord God is a sun and shield; he will give grace and glory; and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly." Think of the words of the apostle: "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." Especially, think of the words already quoted, and how they connect all these blessings with the gift and reception of Jesus Christ: "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?"
Let these brief hints, on this rich verse, suffice. See here, all of you, where lies your true interest, both for time and for eternity. Sinners! if you desire your true good, seek that good with which all other good is connected. Believers! keep fast hold of the blessings of the kingdom of God; for, this is the way to secure, and to enjoy present good. The exclamation of a certain poor man over his very homely fare may seem to reverse the order of this promise, but it was the natural, and beautiful, and grateful result of looking at the same truth from another quarter:"What! all this, and heaven besides!" Be thankful, brethren, for every past blessing; and do not dishonour God by worldliness and sinful anxieties as to the future. "Cast all your care upon him, for, he careth for you."-" Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God: and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus."
LUKE XII. 32-34.
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
THE pastoral life is an employment to which poetry has been indebted for much of its most pleasing imagery, and on which the mind dwells with uncommon serenity and delight. Removed from the busy haunts of men, the shepherd is conceived of, and is, in a good measure, free from many of the wants, cares, envyings, disputes, crimes, and sorrows, by which the life of others is imbittered. With considerable leisure, and in peaceful meditation, he tends his fleecy store, on the verdant hill or plain, or by the banks of the crystal stream. For the perfection of such a life, however, he must enjoy a more luxuriant country, and a finer climate than ours. Now, in such a situation were the Jews placed in the promised land. Their wealth consisted principally in their flocks and herds, many of the people were employed in tending them, and, in those ages of simplicity, even those who were of property, and were looked up to as men of note, did not disdain to engage in this humble employment, as it is now considered. It also, probably, added considerably to the respectability of this occupation, in the eyes of the Israelites, that their justly admired David was called, from holding the crook, to sway the sceptre. These circumstances being so, it is not wonderful that Scripture contains so many allusions to the pastoral life. Hence, the appellation of shepherd is, by a beautiful and easy figure, transferred to rulers and commanders of the people. The Lord said of Cyrus, "He is my shepherd." Hence, too, the appellation of pastors, or shepherds, is given to the ministers of religion. "I will give you pastors," saith the Lord, "according to mine heart, who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." Hence, the same name is
applied to the Lord God. "The Lord is my Shepherd," saith the Psalmist. Hence this designation is repeatedly given to the Redeemer. "I am the good Shepherd," said he. And hence, he designates his own people as his sheep, or his flock. "Fear not, little flock," says he, in the first words of the passage under consideration; "for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Let us, on this verse, consider, first, how Christ's people come to be his flock.
His people, then, are his flock, by the express appointment of God. He did not assume the office of Shepherd of himself; but he held it by the designation of his Father: "I will set up one Shepherd over them," said the Lord by Ezekiel, "and he shall feed them, even my servant David,” that is, the antitype of David, "he shall feed them, and he shall be their Shepherd." In like manner it was positively determined, in the divine counsel, that he should have a flock. It was not left a matter of uncertainty, whether any should put themselves under his guidance; there was no possibility that his undertaking should prove in vain: for, the Eternal made his covenant with the Shepherd, as representing the sheep, and chose them both at the same time, if time it could be called, when, as yet, the world was not, and when the covenant was from everlasting. Hence, Jesus says, "All that the Father giveth me, shall come unto me.”—“I have manifested thy name unto the men whom thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me."
But again, Jesus Christ has got himself a flock by the purchase of his atoning death. A great obstacle lay in the way of his getting a flock. Mankind, without exception, had forsaken God, and incurred a sentence of condemnation and banishment. In vain would it have been for any to have undertaken this office of shepherd of men, if he had not been able and ready to remove guilt, and effect their reconciliation. Thanks be to God that such a shepherd is ours! "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way: and the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all." No sooner had he humbled himself, than he laboured under the severe effects of imputed guilt. They pursued him, almost continually, in sad variety of unparalleled woe. Satan tempted, and man blasphemed. Having made every opposition, during his life, which malice could suggest, they resolved on one grand, combined effort,