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THE DUTY OF TAKING NO THOUGHT FOR THE MORROW.
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 hasty 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.
Would you then enjoy
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. peace and quietness within? let that master be God. Do your duty, and trust him for the event. The wise son of Sirach is very bold upon 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 reproof 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
of this consistency which exposes religion to the scoff of those who hate it, and does it more hurt than all the books that ever were written against it; as the examples of those, who, in despite of temptations, hold them fast by God, and continue steadfast unto the end, do it, perhaps, more good than all the books that ever were written for it. Of this, however, rest assured, that, try as long as you will, and be as cunning as you please, "you cannot serve God and
"Therefore," continues Christ, "I say unto you, "be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or "what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what
ye shall put on." An unreasonable anxiety and solicitude about the things of the world, even food and raiment, the necessaries of life, is plainly deemed by our Lord to be a serving of mammon. He who is so intent even on the means of subsistence, as to lose all the satisfaction of it, has but little faith. He is, in effect, an unbeliever. On the other hand, to rely so much upon providence, as to do nothing at all, is to tempt God. But to labour without placing our trust and confidence in our labour, expecting all from the blessing of God; this is to obey him, to work with his providence, to set the springs of it a going, and to imitate Christ and the saints by a sedate care and an industrious confidence. He whose mind, through the influence of religion upon it, is calm and resigned, will always exert his diligence to the best advantage. Fretfulness and impatience not only do not assist, but they hinder. A person in this state has not the use of his powers and faculties,