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'doubt his Care and Willingness to provide Neceffaries for them like the murmuring Ifraelites, Can God prepare a Table in the Wilderness, and can he give Bread and Fle to his People? Which diftruftful Thoughts are a great Difhonour unto God, and a vile Reproach both to his Power and Goodness.
3dly, Our Saviour condemns here all unjuft and deceitful Thoughts, fuch as fet Men a coveting and invading another's Subftance, putting them upon over-reaching or going beyond their Brother in any matter, and feeking to enrich themselves upon the Spoils of their Neighbour. All taking of fuch Thoughts for the World is a plain leaving of God, and fubftituting our own Providence in the room of his, and confequently 'tis a ferving of Mammon more than our Maker.
In fhort, there is a Care of Diligence that puts Men upon all regular and honeft Ways of getting a comfortable Livelihood, by depending on God's Bleffing in the Ufe of all good Means, and quietly fubmitting the Success of alt unto God. This is not only lawful, but laudable and neceffary, and is a great part of our Duty, both as we are Men, and as we are Chriftians.
Befide which, there is a Care of Diffidence, that fills Men with unreasonable Fears and Torments about getting thefe earthly things, and leads them to all the evil Methods of Fraud and Injuftice to bring them to pass, diftracting their Minds about the Iffue and Event of Matters, and de ftroying all the Comfort of their Lives in feeking these worldly Comforts. Such a carking Infidelity as this ufurps upon God, by cafting off all Thoughts of his Bleffing and Providence, and is not ferving God but Mammon: whereas we are taught to moderate our Defires and Endeavours for thefe things, and to banish all anxious and doubting Thoughts about them. For to cark too much, is to diftruft God; not to care at all, is to tempt him; by the one we invade God's part, by the other we neglect our own: both which are highly difpleafing and offenfive to him. This is briefly the Senfe of our Saviour's Caution, Take no thought for your Life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, nor for your Body, what ye shall put on: which is, not to be too thoughtful or follicitous about Food and Rayment. And because Men are too apt to fall into this Evil, he uses fundry Arguments to diffuade them from it: As,
(1.) In the next words he asks the Queftion, Is not the Life more than Meat, and the Body than Rayment? which is an Argument a majore ad minus, or a Reafoning from a greater thing to a lefs. If God hath given us Life, which is the greatest of all Gifts, how can we doubt his giving us Meat, which is far lefs? Is it not eafier to fupport Life, than it was to give it? And can it be fuppos'd that he who hath done the latter, will not do the former? Again, Is not the Body more than Rayment? Is not the Body, which is fo curiously and wonderfully made in all its Parts, far more confiderable than a little Rayment to cover it? And can we think that he who hath given us the one, will deny the other? But the better to prevail with us, and to banifh all Diftruft in these Matters, he enlarges himself in the following words, by giving us many Inftances of his Care in this kind: And firft for Food, he fends us to the Fowls of the Air, Behold (faith he) the Fowls of the Air, for they fow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into Barns, and yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. To remove all anxious Thoughts for Meat and Drink, he wills us to look up to the Birds of the Air, and confider how well they are provided for, and how chearfully they live upon the Bounty of Providence, and that too without any labour or pain of their own inftead of filling their Heads with Care, they fill the Air with the Melody of their warbling Notes; and inftead of gathering into Barns, they gather Food from all parts of the Earth, and make every Garden their Granary. They neither fow nor reap, they are at no labour in Tillage or Husbandry, neither putting the Corn into the Ground, nor taking it out, and yet they want for nothing; Your heavenly Father feedeth them. And then he asks the Question, Are ye not better than they? Where, as he before argu'd from the greater to the lefs, fo here he reafons from the lefs to the greater: Is not Man the moft excellent of all Creatures, being made Lord of the whole Creation? Hath not God fubjected all other Creatures under his feet, and defign'd them for his Ufe? And if his Providence extends to these inferior Creatures, we may well think it will not be withheld from us, who are fo far above them: Are not two Sparrows fold for a Farthing (faith our Saviour) and yet not one of them falleth to the Ground without your heavenly Father: Fear ye not then, for ye are of more value than many Sparrows; Mat. 10. 29, 30, &c. To this our Saviour fubjoins another Queftion, Which of you by taking thought can
add one Cubit to his Stature? The Stature of the Body, whether taller or fhorter, is much less than the Welfare of the Body, and the Length or Shortnefs of Life is of lefs confideration than Life it felf: and if, with all our care, we cannot add an Inch to the Dimenfions of the Body, nor a Minute to the Length of our Life, which is the lefs; how can we think we are able to provide for the Welfare of both, which is much greater? Yea, our Saviour tells us, we cannot make one Hair white or black; and is it not much better to depend upon the Providence of God, who can do all things, than upon our own felves, who can do nothing? Then,
(2.) For Rayment, he fends us to the Lillies and Flowers of the Field, faying, Why take ye thought for Rayment? Confider the Lillies of the Field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they fpin, and yet I fay unto you, Solomon in all his Glory was not array'd like one of thefe. The natural Beauty of the Lilly and the Rofe exceed all the artificial Colours and Embroidery of the gaudiest Attire, and nothing of the moft affected Pomp and Bravery of Princes can equal or compare with it. The Grafs of the Field is fometimes clothed in that pleafant Verdure, that at once refreshes and ravishes the Eye of the Beholder; and many Flowers appear in that scarlet, crimson and purple Dress, that far outvies the moft coftly and artificial Finery: infomuch that Solomon, in all his Glory and gorgeous Attire, which was as great as the Wealth and Wisdom of the World could fet him out with, was not array'd like one of these. Which natural Gayety is entirely the Work of God, and bestow'd upon them without any Care or Labour of theirs; for they toil not, neither do they fpin, nor contribute any thing to the Glory and Splendor wherein they appear. The moft exquifite Works of Art are but faint Refemblances and Imitations of thefe of Nature: No Pencil can draw a Palenefs or Redness comparable to thofe of the Lilly and the Rofe; and therefore the Holy Ghoft, to fet forth the Glory and Beauty of the Church, compares it to the Rofe of Sharon, and the Lilly of the Vallies.
Wherefore if God fo clothe the Grafs of the Field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is caft into the Oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little Faith? If he hath made fuch rich and glorious Provifion for thofe fhort-liv'd Flowers, that were defign'd only for our Delight and Diverfion, will he not do much more for his own Children, who are fo
on the much above them? Sure we may well be accounted Meri of little Faith, if we doubt these things. In fhort, both the Fowls of the Air, and the Flowers of the Field, may teach us to banish all distrustful Thoughts of Food and Rayment, and to depend upon God in the Ufe of Means for the Supply of them.
From hence our Saviour takes occafion, in the next words, to renew his former Caution; Therefore take no thought, faying, What shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal hall we be clothed? Adding withal two farther Reafons:
1A, Because 'tis the Guife and Practice of the Heathens to be follicitous in thefe Matters; For after all these things do the Gentiles feek.
2dly, Because our Care about them is needlefs; For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
As for the Gentiles, they, wanting the Knowledg of God, and ferving thofe impotent Deities, that neither know their Wants, nor are able to fupply them, 'tis no ftrange thing, if they cark and toil for themselves, who have no Senfe or Notion of a Providence to take care of them: But for Chriftians, who are better inftructed, and fully fatisfy'd of the Being and Providence of God, who prefides over, and provides for all his Creatures, it must be an unreasonable and unpardonable Diffidence in them, to question his Power, or diftruft his Readiness to help them: efpecially confidering what is here farther added, that our heavenly Father knoweth that we have need of all these things. Where the Relation we bear to him as our heavenly Father, and the Senfe he hath of all our Wants, are fufficient to engage us to caft all our Care upon him, who careth for us. A Father, you know, cannot fee his Children lack Neceffaries, efpecially if he be able to relieve them: Why, our heavenly Father is able not only to fupply all our Neceffities, but to do for us abundantly more than we can either ask or think, and hath declar'd his great Willingness and Readiness to do fo, for if earthly Parents are willing to give good things to their Children, how much more will your Father that is in Heaven give good things to them that ask them? Which is enough to make us follow the Apoftle's Advice, To be careful for nothing, but in all things, by Prayer and Supplication, with Thanks. giving, to make our Requests known unto God: Phil. 4. 6.
But may we not then feek thefe earthly things, but rely wholly upon Divine Providence for the obtaining of
them? Why, that our Saviour anfwers in the next words, Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness, and all thefe things fhall be added unto you. If your principal Care and Labour be employ'd about heavenly Matters, you fhall not want a fufficient Portion of earthly things, they fhall be added as Vantage to a Bargain, or as a Viaticum to carry you on thro this World in the way to a better. David tells us, that tho the Lions may lack and fuffer Hunger, yet they that fear the Lord fhall want no manner of thing that is good; for God will give Grace and Glory, and no good thing will he withhold from him that leads a godly Life: and therefore our Saviour bids his Dif ciples not to labour for the Meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth to eternal Life; that is, our Labour for the one fhould be nothing in comparison to the other.
But may we not lay up fomething for the Cafualties of Times, and provide for the future? That our Saviour anfwers in the laft words of the Chapter; Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow hall take thought for the things of it felf: He that provides for you to-day will do the fame to-morrow, and therefore do not forestal Evils by any anxious Fears and Cares about them; for sufficient to the Day is the Evil thereof.
Thus I have gone thro the Gospel for this Day; from which we may learn many Leffons: I fhall mention only" two. And,
Ift, Since we cannot ferve two Mafters, God and Mammon, let us chufe this Day the Service of God, and refolve with Joshua, that whatever others do, I and my House will ferve the Lord; Jofh. 24. To which we are encourag'd, he being the best of Mafters, that fets his Servants on the beft of Work, and pays them the best of Wages. But becaufe Mammon or the World is apt to put in for a share of our Service, and to entice us from God's Service, under a pretence of providing Neceffaries for our felves here; let us learn,
2dly, To put our Truft in God, and to caft our felves upon his Providence in the way of his own Appointment;" and by thus committing our felves and our Ways unto him, he will bring things to pafs, that tend to our Eafe and Comfort here, and our eternal Happiness hereafter: Which God grant, &c.