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which are superfluous.
Leave the future to God, and be thankful for present comforts.
The exhortation of our Lord Jesus Christ in the text, points out to us a remedy for all the evils of life; and a compliance with it is spoken of as insuring to the children of God every needful temporal blessing. Let us then consider
First, The nature of this exhortation, and
Secondly, The promise annexed to a compliance with it.
May the Holy Spirit apply to our hearts these words of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may receive them with meekness, that they may be ingrafted 39 in our minds, and that we may partake of the salvation which they set before us.
The exhortation consists of two parts, Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. The kingdom of God may be considered here to refer to His heavenly kingdom, or to the eternal salvation of the soul in His everlasting glory. And the righteousness of God to the way in which His children are to walk through this world, in order to their safe arrival at their ultimate destination. In this sense, to seek first the kingdom of God, is to regard heavenly things as those which are of infinitely greater importance to us than any thing which relates to this world; or, according to the exhortation of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, to set our affection on things above, and not on things on the earth.40 The kingdom of God is the abode of the blessed, where they shall reign for ever and ever4l in joy unspeakable and full of glory. We all of us doubtless hope to go to heaven when we die. How grievous will it be to be disappointed of this hope. But is it not to be feared that many of those who call themselves Christians will fall short of obtaining that blessedness? Good were it for such that they had never been born. If we would be admitted into the kingdom of heaven hereafter, we must now seek it first, or before every thing else. We must give diligence to make our calling and election sure ;42 the salvation of our souls must be the object of our primary
39 James i. 21.
solicitude. This must not be put off as a matter of indifference, to be considered at a more convenient season; but must be the object to which our chief attention is to be now directed. We must act under the impression which the solemn questions of our blessed Saviour are calculated to produce, What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?3 This is a subject which the uncertainty of life should fix upon our minds. We know not what a day may bring forth, or how soon we may be called to part with all things here below. And if we have not sought first and above all things the kingdom of God, we cannot be admitted there.
40 Col.iii. 2. 41 Rev. xxii. 8. 42 2 Peter i. 10. 43 Mark viii. 36,37. 44 2 Peter i. 11.
Let us then ask our own consciences, whether this is really our present and chief concern. Is our anxiety directed to things unseen and eternal? Do we seek the kingdom of God? Is it the subject of our earnest inquiry, What will become of us hereafter? Do we not dismiss the solemn consideration, with a feeble wish that we may go to heaven when we die? Do we not merely express a languid hope that this may be our future state ? but are the desires of our souls heavenwards? Is it the subject of our fervent prayers, that when we shall depart hence, an entrance may be ministered unto us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ?* Are we really in earnest in this matter, and not careless and indifferent about it? There are, alas, multitudes who care for none of these things ; whose state of mind is truly most awful. Let us beware of copying their sad example, lest we should fail of obtaining the blessedness of the kingdom of God. Let us diligently seek4s what it is of such vast importance that we should obtain. Let us seek it first, above and before all things, with the utmost earnestness, in the manner
45 Hebrews xi. 6.
that it becomes us to pursue that which alone is of the greatest moment; and then we may be assured of the fulfilment of the gracious declaration : Every one that asketh, receiveth ; and he that seeketh, findeth ; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
But an important direction is given by our blessed Saviour in connexion with the exhortation which we have been considering. He exhorts us to seek His righteousness, the righteousness of God, as the only way to His kingdom. Not only is the ultimate end of our earthly course to be kept in view ; but we are to walk through this world in the way which alone leads to the kingdom of God; and that is, the way of righteousness. None will be at last admitted into the kingdom of God, who have not pursued this path to eternal glory. We are then to seek first the righteousness of God, if we would enter into His everlasting kingdom. What is meant by His righteousness is therefore to be considered. This, in the first place, is that which He has pronounced to be right and just; and which is sometimes spoken of under the idea of being conformed to His image. In this image of God man was originally created. So it is declared, God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him :47 and again, God hath made man upright. He was thus after God created in righteousness,49 after the image of Him that created him.50 But from this state of righteousness how soon did man fall! He disobeyed the command of his Creator, and brought upon himself the punishment denounced against disobedience. He became subject to death in soul and body. He sinned, and forfeited the glory of God. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.51 He lost the righteousness of God, and all the blessings connected with it; and entailed upon his posterity death, and all the evils resulting from the transgression of the holy, just, and good law of God. Ever since it has been declared of his posterity, There is none righteous, no, not one ; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
46 Matthew vii. 8.
47 Genesis i. 27.
It pleased God, however, of His infinite compassion, to make known to our first parents, after their grievous fall, a way of pardon and righteousness, or of reconciliation to Himself and restoration to His favour, by the promise of the Seed of the woman who should bruise the serpent's head ; in and through whom they recovered the blessings which they had forfeited. He was known by them as the end of the law for righteous
usness ; and by faith in the Redeemer to
48 Eccles. vii. 29. 49 Ephes.iv. 24. 50 Coloss. iii. 10. 51 Rom.v. 12.