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MATTHEW vi. 33. Seck ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; und all
these things shall be added unto you.
ON SEEKING THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
THE good things of a present life are the pursuit of by far the greatest part of mankind, who pay little if any regard at all to a future state of existence. “ Who will shew us any
good ?" is the universal demand, while the only certain means of acquiring and securing happiness are stupidly and shamefully neglected. Though the concurring experience of mankind sufficiently assures us that the possession of what are called the gifts of fortune by no means insure happiness to their possessor, though the word of God, confirmed by the experience of not a few, gives us equal assurance on the other hand, that true, solid, and lasting happiness, both in this and a future state, arises entirely from the favour and love of God, independent of what this world can give or take away ; yet such is the fatal thoughtlessness, and folly of men, that all their views are directed to those things which never can yield satisfaction, while they neglect and overlook the “ one thing needful," which is alone worthy the regard of an immortal soul. That we may not mistake the road, therefore, in our researches after happiness, we must begin at the right end; we must begin with securing our most important, our eternal concerns ; by
seeking the kingdom of God and his righteous“ ness" in the first place, leaving the rest to the goodness and loving kindness of our heavenly Father, and trusting to the gracious assurance our Saviour here gives us, that if we do so, the good things of a present world, so far as shall be for our real advantage, will follow of course, will, as the word literally signifies, be added as an overplus to a bargain. In discoursing from this subject, I propose through the divine assist
First place, to shew what it is to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness; 2dly, to point out the grounds of assurance we have, that if we comply with this precept of our Saviour, a competent portion of the good things of this life shall be made sure to us; and 3dly, to inforce the duty with some motives and arguments.-I am
First, To shew what it is to "seek the kingdom “ of God and his righteousness.”—“The kingdom “ of Gad” is taken in various acceptations in the New Testament; sometimes it stands to sig, nify the gospel dispensation on account of its tendency, namely, to bring men from under the slavery and dominion of sin and Satan, and to raise them to the dignity of free subjects to God; on account of the imperial, the dignified manner of its promulgation to the world, by Jesus Christ himself, who is “ king of kings, and " lord of lords ;" on account of its final end and design, namely, to put mankind in possession of that “kingdom prepared for the children of God, " from the foundation of the world," and which is “eternal in the heavens.” The kingdom of God sometimes signifies the gifts and operations of the Spirit of God upon the souls of men: thus the Apostle to the Romans, “the kingdom of “ God is not meats and drinks, but righteousness, “ and peace, and joy, in the Holy Ghost.” And, last of all, the kingdom of God, in its most usual acceptation, signifies that heavenly, that enduring kingdom, that "incorruptible and uns « defiled inheritance," which the ransomed of the Lord shall be made to possess beyond death and the grave; that kingdom over which “ God and “ the Lamb shall reign for ever and ever;" all the subjects of which shall be crowned with immortal glory and honour, and be themselves “ kings “ and priests unto God even the Father.” In this last sense it must be used here, on account of the manifest opposition in which it stands to the preceding context.
“ Take no thought," says our Lord, “ saying, what shall we eat, or “ what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we “ be clothed ;" that is, be not anxiously concerned in making provision for this frail life, this transitory state of existence, wherein there is nothing certain, nothing real, which is filled with crosses and disappointments, and which you must soon resign, though possessed of all the happiness it is capable of bestowing : but as you are creatures formed for eternity, indued with immortal spirits, whereby you have an interest in future
your chief care be, to provide for that state of being, to secure your place and portion in “ that kingdom which cannot be moved." To “ seek the kingdom of God,” then, implies in the first place, a high esteem of it, for its transcendant worth and excellency.-It is impossible for us, in our present state of imperfection, to
form any just notions of the glory and happiness of the heavenly state ; when we attempt to meditate on this subject, our thoughts are involved as it were in a thick mist; the idea is infinitely too great for mortal comprehension; the word of God indeed comes in to our assistance, and gives us to see it, as it were " through a glass darkly," holding it out to us under such images as are most calculated to engage our attention, under the representation of such things as are in the highest estimation amongst men : it is called “ a
crown, a crown of righteousness, a crown of
glory; an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, “ and that fadeth not away; an habitation of
God, a house made without hands, which iseter, “ nal in the heavens ;" but these representations are so infinitely below the reality, that an inspired prophet, though his language seems to resemble that of angels, and after him an inspired apostle, though actually “rapt up into the third heaven," received into paradise, and admitted to the con verse of the blessed inhabitants there, yet when they would give us a description of it, words fail, and thought is lost; all they are able to say is, that
eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath “ entered into the heart of man, the things which « God hath prepared for them that love him :" we may srettch our imagination, then, to the