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favor of the true God. Their christians consider the character chief concern and pursuit extend- of God, and their relation to him, ed no father than to temporal they are contented and satisfied in blessings. For the children of believing that he considers what God to resemble persons of such they need, and is properly affecta character, would be very dis- ed by their necessities. pleasing to their Father in heaven, and very injurious to themselves. And it is at present an important reason against worldly anxiety in christians, that the people of the world are anxious about the objects of time and sense. To be conformed to the world in this respect, is inconsistent with their character, profession and privileges. If christians would show, that they differ from worldly people, they must not be anxious about worldly things. But if like the world, they are anxious about these things, they dishonor their heavenly Father and act unworthy of their holy profession. It may be observed,
2. As another reason against worldly anxiety in christians, the Savior declares that their heavenly Father knows that they need temporal blessings. He says "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." By his knowing what they need, is meant that he considers and regards their necessities. He constantly sees what they need; and he feels a lively and tender interest in their circumstances. While God is so concerned for his people, they ought not to be troubled and anxious about temporal blessings, but should cast all their cares on him. When
3. As another reason against worldly anxiety, the Savior directs his disciples to consider the providence of God towards inferior creatures. From what God does in feeding the fowls of the air, and in clothing the grass of the field, he shows they have no reason to be distrustful respecting his providing for their temporal necessities. He says, "Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.— Are ye not much better than they?" Again he says, "Why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field; how they grow they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is; and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" After giving such instruction, well might the Savior say, "Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be clothed?"
4. As another reason against worldly anxiety, the Savior intimates, that it can produce no
good effect. He says, "Which are more excellent and important
of you by taking thought, can add one cubit unto his stature ?" To these words, according to Luke, the Savior adds this question"If ye then be not able to do that thing, which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?" Worldly anxiety never removes nor lessens a person's necessities; but it prevents him from enjoying what he has, and unfits him for receiving what he needs. An anxious spirit about worldly concerns and temporal enjoyments, is perfectly unreasonable, as it is totally ineffect ual.
5. An anxious spirit about temporal blessings withdraws the at tention and the affections from spiritual objects. This consideration the Savior offers, in our context, as another reason against worldly anxiety. He says, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt; and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt; and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
of this life, the Savior mentions, in explaining the parable of the sower, as one of the causes, that choke the word, and render the hearers of the gospel unfruitful. While persons are anxious about temporal concerns, they bring leanness into their souls. But spiritual interests and enjoyments
than temporal. For this reason christians should set their hearts upon heavenly objects and not be anxious about earthly things.Again,
6. Anxiety about temporal blessings is inconsistent with the service, which christians owe to God. They are required and are bound to devote themselves to his service, and give him the first and highest place in their affections and exertions. But they always turn their hearts from God, when they become anxious about themselves and the temporal blessings they need. This consideration the Savior also urges against an anxious spirit. He says No man can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." He then adds, "Therefore, I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink ; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on." An anxious and selfish spirit hinders worldly people from becoming religious. It also prevents christians, so far as it prevails, from being faithful and joyful in the service of God.Christians cannot serve God, while they allow themselves to be anxious concerning their own temporal necessities. Besides,
7. Christians should not be anxious about temporal blessings, because the kingdom of God should
engage their first and highest attention. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," is the requirement of the Savior, in connection with the prohibition, that is given in our text. The enlargement and prosperity of the kingdom of God on earth, call for the constant attention and vigorous exertions of his people. To turn from this great and noble object to their temporal necessities is very unwise and sinful. Their very prayers forbid an anxious spirit about temporal objects. For they are taught to pray, saying, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." According to these petitions should always be the feelings of their hearts and the actions of their lives. But such petitions are inconsistent with such a spirit, as leads a person to indulge anxious thoughts about his own temporal necessities. Let christians feel and act, as they ought in respect to the glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom; and they will not be careful and troubled about the vain and transient objects of this world. Once
8. God promises to christians, who are faithful and obedient to him, all the temporal blessings they may need. In our context, the Savior says "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." And God
makes many promises of the temporal blessings, which they may need, to his people in various parts of the holy scriptures. They ought to take his word, as the foundation of their confidence and to cast all their cares upon him. But as a distrustful and anxious spirit rejects and opposes the kind and gracious promises of God, it is highly sinful and offensive. The character, the conduct and the word of God, forbid and condemn an anxious spirit respecting temporal blessings. It is, then, for the wisest and best reasons, that the Savior says in our text"Take no thought, saying, what shall we eat; or what shall we drink; or wherewithal shall we be clothed?"
1. If christians have no reason to be anxious about temporal blessings, then with a right spirit they will be very happy respecting these blessings. With such a spirit, they will be content with such things as they have; and will trust in God for what they may need. Being relieved and contented in respect to the things of this life, they will be prepared to perform the duties and enjoy the blessings of the gospel. And they will find that "godliness with contentment is great gain." With a right spirit a christian can say with the psalmist. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." If christians will only keep them
selves from anxious thoughts and blessings. Such trust in God is worldly cares, they may enjoy far more safe and happy, than con
that godliness, which is profitaable unto all things; having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."
2. Christians may learn their spiritual condition by attending to their conduct respecting temporal blessings. They may determine whether they are advancing, or declining in religion. If they are advancing in religion, they are not careful and troubled about earthly things. They then find better objects than this world can afford, to employ their attention and affections. But as they be come anxious about earthly things they turn from God and decline in respect to the duties and enjoyments of religion. If then christians would understand their spiritual condition, they should enquire and consider how they are affected in respect to the interests and concerns of this life.
3. From what has been said, we may conclude, that there are good reasons why God places many of his people in needy circumstances respecting temporal blessings. Many christians are very needy and destitute in respect to the things of this life. Such a state serves to try their hearts.Such trials are suited to show christians to themselves and afford an high degree of comfort and joy in the evidence of their love and friendship to God. Constant poverty leads christians to trust in divine providence for temporal
fidence in abundance of worldly possessions and enjoyments. Poverty promotes in christians their enjoyment of God in temporal blessings. They more highly enjoy God in what they receive, than what they would do, if they were not made sensible, by their poverty, of his providential care and kindness, and of their dependance upon him for the supply of their wants. The poverty of christians affords an opportunity for God to show his character, and express his love and kindness in providing and bestowing the blessings they need. Needy christians see more of God in the little they receive, than the rich can see in the abundance they possess. The poverty of many christians affords other christians an opportunity to follow the example of their heavenly Father in supplying the wants of their needy brethren. There are, then, wise and good reasons, why many christians should be placed in needy circumstances respecting temporal blessings.
4. If christians are liable to be anxious about temporal blessings, then a contented spirit respecting these blessings, is an eminent attainment in religion. Many persons doubtless suppose, they are contented, because they have never been severely tried; but have commonly been placed in easy and pleasant circumstances. Some persons may be easy in their feelings about temporal blessings from a
careless, and thoughtless, and lost in respect to this life, by neg
slothful temper. But a spirit of christian contentment, which arises from confidence and obedience towards God, never exists in any person, who is not truly pious, and who has not made a pleasing progress in the divine life. The apostle thought it worthy to be mentioned, as an important attainment, that he had learnt to be content. He says, "For I have learnt, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: Every where, and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me." Such a spirit of contentment, as the apostle here describes, never exists in any christians, who have not long been in the school of Christ, and been teachable and obedient schol
5. If christians have no reason to be anxious about temporal blessings, then they, who are not christians, have no reason to neglect religion on account of their temporal concerns. They do constantly neglect religion. And they commonly and chiefly neglect it on account of their anxiety and engagedness in respect to their temporal interests and pursuits. These concerns they suppose af ford urgent and sufficient reasons for disregarding their Creator and the interests of their own souls. But nothing is gained, but much is
lecting religion. By becoming truly religious, a person's condition in respect to temporal blessings is much better, than it can be, while irreligious. They, therefore, who are not religious, have not the least reason for neglecting religion on account of their temporal concerns.
6. Since God is so concerned to supply christians with temporal blessings, they should be careful to use those blessings to his glory. They should see and confess his kind and gracious providence in their temporal enjoyments. The instructions, which God gave to his ancient people respecting their temporal possessions and enjoyments, ought now to be seriously considered and regarded by every person. He said by Moses, "When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. Beware, that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments and his judgments and his statutes, which I command thee this day; lest when thou hast eaten and art full and hast built goodly houses and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up and thou forget the Lord thy God. And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of my own hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt re