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FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
ST. 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.
WE have in that part of the Sermon on the Mount which is selected for this Sunday's Gospel, our Lord teaching on the subject of over-carefulness, and the remedy which He gives us for it. The subject is one that touches our own practice, and in many ways calls for our attentive consideration.
For, brethren, what fault is more common than overcarefulness? Look at the faces that we meet—the faces of our fellows whom we pass in the busy street, or on the silent road-what is stamped on most of them ? Is it not an expression of over-anxiousness ?-a troubled worn look as of men weighed down with care ? And so, no doubt, it was in our Lord's day. So, no doubt, did many look, whom He encountered in His walks by the Lake of Galilee, or in the streets of Jerusalem. Men
shewed then, as they do now, by their very faces, that their hearts were overcharged with cares of this world, --that they were so occupied and absorbed about their bodily wants—about meat, drink, and clothing—as to have small space left in their hearts for higher thingsfor thoughts about God, the soul, and the life beyond
The Lord saw this, and all the evil that it producedand He made it the subject of His especial warning.Take no thought, are His words-His 1 say unto youTake no thought for your life what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink : nor yet for your body what ye shall put
Is not the life more than meat and the body than raiment ?
Further on, in this same part of the Gospel, He repeats the charge—Take no thought saying, What shall we eat ? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be clothed? And again, for the third time, at the close of His discourse, He gives the injunction—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.
Now, brethren, this surely is very striking.–Our Lord, Whose every word is full of weight, in one short discourse three times thus solemnly addresses us in the same words—Take no thought !
What, we ask, does this charge mean? Is it one we can obey? Is it possible for us who have our living to get, who have to provide bread for ourselves and our families, to act upon this counsel—to take no thought?
I would answer, indeed it is possible—and we should
be the happier for doing it—the happier for not taking thought, in the sense in which our Lord used the expression.
For, first, observe what the words do not mean.-They do not mean “ be idle "_" be improvident”—“ leave things to chance “ have no care.” That, we are sure, is not the advice which Christ would give us. For it is contrary to other parts of the Bible, opposed to His own example and practice.
All throughout the Scriptures, man is told to labour truly to get his own living. Both in the Old and New Testament we meet with protests against idleness, and exhortations to exertion.—Go to the ant thou sluggard Be not slothful in business.—Thou wicked and slothful servant.-- This we commanded you that if any would not work neither should he eat.
We are sure, then, that in the passage before us, no loophole is afforded to the do-nothing or utterly careless and reckless man. We are sure that take no thought does not mean be altogether thoughtless.
But what shall we say its meaning is? It meansand so ought the words to be translated—be not overanxious “ troubled and careful” over much-keep your spirit calm and tranquil.— That is the advice of our Lord in this part of His Gospel-He is not speaking against diligence or industry, or prudent forethought—but against what certainly sometimes accompanies these, an unrestful over-anxious temper.
And, as I have said, He had need to speak against this—this over-caring, thinking too much about the body and its wants, is the common fault of all men. You may
see it in all classes and degrees,-in the man who has stores of goods laid up, as well as in the man who labours for his daily bread. All of us, brethren, we must confess, transgress against the commandment of our Saviour. In all of us, He sees something of this unquiet, fretting spirit.In all of us He sees, more or less, a disposition to add to our troubles by anticipating fresh ones -an unwillingness to trust the future in God's handsa forgetfulness of His precept, that sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
I called this over-anxiousness a fault-but it deserves a harder name. It surely must be accounted a sin. For from what does it spring? From a backwardness to confide in God-from a want of faith-and whatever is not of faith is sin.
But let us consider, in the next place, the remedy for this over-carefulness--the remedy pointed out by our Lord. It isto observe God's fatherly care for the inferior creatures—yea, for the very herbs and flowers at
Behold the fowls of the air : for they sow not neither do they reap, nor gather into barns : yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them, are ye not much better than they ?
Yes, there is an argument against being over-anxious about our life and the means of supporting it. See how God in His goodness finds food for the countless flock of birds that fly in the open firmament of heaven! They sow not: they reap not: they gather not into barns : they have not the wisdom to provide against the future, and yet God feedeth them—there are means found by Him to save them alive-how much more, then, will He
feed us and save us alive, 0 ye of little faith-we to whom He has given such great gifts of understanding and prudence, we who can reap and sow, and gather into barns against the time of need !
Surely if we think of this we shall be more at rest. God Who has made so much better than the fowls" will not let us want for food any more than He lets them want. Let us but put forth the powers He has given for producing food, let us but work honestly at the work which He has given us to do, and we need be in no anxiety for our life—what is wanting to us, what is good for us to receive, will be supplied. The life is more than meat! O, think what these words imply !-The life which we have from God, with its wonderful faculties and powers—the life which is lighted with reason, and endowed with the hope of immortality-this life God, be sure, will not leave to perish for lack of mere bodily nourishment. He will-nay, it is a fact, He does—with the greater give also the less. And so that we wait on Him in faith, and go patiently about whatever business He has appointed us, we shall have, day by day, our daily bread. Trust in the Lord and be doing good, dwell in the land-dwell, not as an idler, but as a worker-and verily thou shalt be fed !
Again : as it is with food, so it is with clothing.--- Why take ye thought for raiment ? Cousider the lilies of the field how they grow : they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet 1 say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast