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we escape the condemnation of the heretic and the schismatic, by adhering to the communion of the faithful; avoid the philosophical pride of the Gentile, and the pharisaical self-sufficiency of the Jew, by writing after the copies of the apostles; guard against the sin of our first parent, by an imitation of Jesus Christ; and finally inherit the thrones of the fallen angels, by an union with the God of love: to which blessed estate may God of his infinite mercy bring us all, by the means of that knowledge which worketh by love, unto the edification of his church and his own glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord !
THE DUTY OF TAKING NO THOUGHT FOR THE
MATTHEW, vi, 34.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the
morrow shall take thought for the things of itself: sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
WHAT? Take no thought, no thought at all for the morrow? attend only to the day that is passing over us, and make no provision for the future? Are we not to look forward; to suppose a continuation of life, and a want of the means which are necessary to support it? Should we sit still, with our arms folded, and expect that Providence will supply us with those means, without using our own endeavours ? Is not the husbandman, when he has reaped one harvest, to sow his seed for another? Most undoubtedly he is. The Scriptures suppose all men to have some occupation, and to be labouring in it, that the state of the world may be upholden. They tell us, in the Old Testament, that “the hand of the diligent maketh "rich ;” and in the New, that "if any man will not “work, neither should he eat.” In the former, man is sent to learn wisdom of “the ant, which provideth
“her meat in the summer, and gathereth for food " in the harvest,” with a view to the approaching winter; in the latter we read, that “ the parents “should lay up for the children." In a word, no one thing is more severely condemned and exposed, than the folly of the sluggard, who has the presumption to tempt God, by imagining that all the blessings of Heaven will descend on the head of idleness, and that meat will drop into his mouth if he does but condescend to open it. ---How are these very
different directions to be reconciled ?
The truth is, that the Greek word here rendered take no thought, signifies properly, Be not anxious, solicitous, miserable about to-morrow; literally and strictly, be not of a doubtful, divided mind. For all care supposes a person to be wavering, drawn hither and thither by different motives, first one way and then another, not knowing how to fix and determine; since, when this is once firmly and finally done, the trouble ceases, and the man is at ease.
Before that, the mind is distracted, that is, drawn diverse ways at the same time, like the body of a criminal, in some countries, torn in pieces by horses pulling in opposition to each other. They who have felt the torment of such a state of mind know what I mean, and what is so beautifully expressed by the original word in this place of Scripture, which thus kindly commands us not to make ourselves wretched by anxious carings and apprehensions about the future; but, in all cases of difficulty, to perform diligently that part which appears wisest and best for us to perform; then to resign the matter into the hands of God; quietly and
patiently waiting the event before it comes, and humbly acquiescing in it when it does come. In short, so to use our endeavours, as if they were to effect every thing; so to trust in God, as if they were to effect nothing
But let us not be too basty in blaming our worthy translators. They could not have been ignorant, any more than we are, that it was impossible for Christ to give such a precept as at first sight this appears now to be. But they wrote above 150 years ago; and there is good reason for supposing, that the expression to take thought, did at that time generally denote the very thing, which, as has been shown you, the Greek word most certainly means, viz. to take anxious thought, or to be anxiously careful, to be uneasy. In this sense, which is the only true sense,
"take “no thought for the morrow” is excellent advice; and advice which is much needed. All things are full of labour. Walk the streets of a large city, or travel the roads that lead to one, and you will soon be convinced of it. But the continual hurry and bustle, the incessant rolling and agitation without us, are nothing, if compared to those within us. Whatever appearances men may put on, or however they may affect to disguise the matter, the world of minds is a very uneasy and restless world; and could it be fully and fairly disclosed to view, we should behold it like another ocean, in some parts all storm and tempest; in others ever ebbing and flowing; in no part perfectly at rest. He who once, by the word of his power, calmed the winds, and laid the waves,
when all was uproar and confusion among them, has spoken peace likewise to this troubled sea, in the discourse of which my text is the conclusion. Let us go over it together, and weigh well the reasons given by our Saviour, why man should cease to be anxious, and permit God to govern in his own way the world which he himself has made.
As anxiety proceeds from a divided state of mind, our Lord first speaks to that point, and strikes at the root of the disorder: “No man can serve two ma“ sters.”—The commands which they lay upon him will often be contrary to each other. Both cannot be obeyed; and while the man hesitates which to obey, sometimes inclining to one, sometimes to the other, he must needs be unhappy. Would you then enjoy peace and quietness within ? Serve one master, and let that master be God. Do your duty, and trust him for the event. The wise son of Sirach is very
this subject, and appeals to universal experience: “Look at the generations of old, and see; “ did ever any trust in the Lord and was confounded?" But why then are so many confounded? Because so few, so very few, do really trust in God when the hour of trial comes. They have recourse to the enemy for expedients; they follow the directions and maxims of the world; they sell themselves to another master, and provoke God to forsake them. The re. proof of the prophet Elijah comes home to us all, and admits of no reply-"Why halt ye between two “ opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if " Baal, then follow him.” Only be consistent; let profession and practice go together. It is the want