Can Change the World Again.
TAKING THOUGHT FOR THE MORROW.
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.Mat., vi., 34.
IN the preceding part of the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior had advanced many new, and, to his hearers, unheard-of principles of actionprinciples directly opposed to all the maxims by which they had been accustomed to supply their necessities, and regulate their deportment before the world. Instead of hating, they were to love their enemies, even the most imbittered. They were to do good, not merely to the righteous and the grateful, but to the "evil and unthankful." To those who asked of them, they were to give; not merely what was asked, but, if possible, even more. To those who would borrow of them they were to lend, "hoping for nothing" in return. In short, they were to live, not to themselves, but for God, and for humanity. To these ends their whole being was to be devoted.
Under such circumstances, questions like these would naturally suggest themselves to the disciples: How can we live in conformity with such principles, and acquire the necessaries of life? How can we make it our supreme object to lay up for ourselves treasures, not on the earth, but in heavenhow can we "seek first the kingdom of God, and its righteousness"how can we conform all our transactions with men to the law of love, regarding rather the rights, and interests, and desires of our neighbor than our own, and obtain food to nourish, and raiment to clothe and adorn our bodies?
These and similar questions the Savior answers, by requiring his disciples to dismiss, at once and forever all anxiety about their future temporal necessities, all solicitude about the bearing of duty upon such subjects. The reasons which he assigns for such requisitions are the following:
l. The concerns of the soul are of vastly greater importance, and such solicitude will jeopardize its Immortal interests. "Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" "Ye can not serve God and Mammon."
2. God "clothes the grass of the field," and "feeds the fowls of heaven," without any anxiety about the future on their part. Why then should redeemed sinners distrust his paternal providence? "Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet our heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" "And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I 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 into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?"
3. Such solicitude is wholly useless. It is a total waste of thought and feeling. It can add not a particle to the strength, beauty, or height of our persons, nor supply a solitary necessity of our nature. "Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit to his stature?"
4. This is the spirit of worldly men, "men who have their portion in this life." The indulgence of such a spirit will separate the soul from God. "After all these things do the Gentles seek."
5. God, their Father in heaven, was fully aware that they needed all such things, not only as creatures, but in the prosecution of the great work to which He had called them. They might, therefore, quietly rest in the peaceful assurance that no real want of theirs would be left unsupplied.
6. God's word was pledged that implicit obedience to His will should be followed, as a certain consequence, with a full supply of all their necessities. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
7. They could always have free access to the throne of grace, where they "could ask, and receive, till their joy was full." "Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom, if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?"
8. Finally, the cares and duties of the present moment are abundantly sufficient to occupy our entire solicitude, without dividing it between the present and the future. "Sufficient unto the clay is the evil thereof "
Such are the reasons upon which the Savior bases the command, "Take no thought for the morrow." The original word here rendered "take thought," designates a doubting, anxious, fearful, and perturbed state of mind in regard to the future. Such also was the meaning of the phrase, "take thought," when our Scriptures were translated. A cotemporary historian says of a certain individual, "His heart was broken, and so for thought [anxious care, or intense mental perturbation] he died."
We are not, of course, prohibited about thinking about, or making provision for the future. But all anxious solicitude about the result of our efforts to secure that end, and about the dispensations of Providence bearing upon it, is prohibited. To give the reader a distinct apprehension of the state of mind forbidden in the text, take a single example--the visit of Christ to the house of Martha--Luke x., 38-42. As soon as Christ entered, she set her heart upon providing a sumptuous entertainment for her divine guest. About the accomplishment of this object she "took thought," and her mind was soon filled with care, doubt, and perplexity. Her thoughts, we may suppose, first turned upon the guest chamber. Every thing there must wear the aspect of perfect neatness and order. Yet, in her disquietude, every thing appreared the reverse of what it ought to be. Such and such things, were in disorder. Such and such articles were soiled. What would the Savior and his disciples think when they should see things thus? Then every thing upon the table must be prepared in the best style, and nothing be wanting to perfect the sumptuousness of the feast. But such and such articles, needful to render the entertainment what it should be, were wanting and could not be obtained. Then, of those that were provided, some were very imperfect in richness and flavor; others might be injured in preparation, and the remainder might not be got in readiness in time. Almost every thing seemed to be going wrong, and all her efforts to do appropriate service to her divine guest appeared likely to prove abortive. Thus "she was cumbered about much serving," and while Mary was peacefully "sitting at the Savior's feet, hearing his words," Martha's feelings (the natural result of her perturbed state of mind) kindled into displeasure against her sister, and even against Christ himself, for permitting her thus to neglect her domestic concerns.
With these feelings Martha came to Christ and said, "Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her, therefore, that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
How many persons are almost constantly in a state similar to that above described, in respect to their property, their business transactions, their reputation, their health, the interests and prospects of their children or families, the arrangements and dispensations of Providence, and every thing which deeply engrosses their feelings.
While on a journey, some years since, I fell in company with a Christian brother, who was going to the same place with myself. Providential occurrences, which we could neither foresee nor prevent, occasioned, at a particular point, a long and (to a worldly mind) painful delay. When we had again got under way, the question whether we should meet another hinderance equally long and painful, depended on our reaching a certain place at a given time. About this that brother "took thought." His mind, during the day, was in continual perturbation. His family were out of health, and he had promised to be at home at a given period. His business, too, required him to return at the earliest possible moment. Will not the boat have left before our arrival? Driver, can you not push us forward with greater rabidity?
My own concerns were probably as pressing as those of that brother. Having, however, done all that I could to secure an arrival at the proper time, I had found grace to resign the whole subject with entire quietness to the will of God; and my mind was floating as peacefully along the current of Providence, as if conscious that all had been arranged in conformity to my will. So sweet and hallowed was the presence of Christ during the day, that I often had to cover my face, and weep for joy of heart.
We arrived some hours before the boat started. I then sat down with the brother, and endeavored to convince him not only of the folly and uselessness of the state of mind above described, but of its great wickedness in the sight of God.
A brother in the ministry had for some time experienced symptoms of declining health. On this subject "took thought." His countenance wore the aspect of deep pensiveness, anxiety, and gloom. The solicitude and agitation of his mind would be rendered agonizing, if even a child should suggest to him that he seemed to be out of health. What a total stranger was that brother to the blessedness of the Apostle, who, though the grace of Christ, "had learned in whatever state he was, therewith to be content." "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
The individual who does not find the gospel an unfailing source of consolation, in every condition in life, can not, with the full assurance of faith and hope, present that gospel as a source of consolation to any person in any condition. Such an individual is totally disqualified for the discharge of the duties of the sacred office.
A mother, as she looked out at her window, saw a little child in the garden having hold of a small but valuable fruit-tree, which it might injure or destroy. The injury, if done, would be consummated before it was practicable for the mother to caution her child. "There," exclaimed the agonized mother, "the child has got hold of that tree! She will very probably ruin it!" The child passed on, however, and left the tree, as the mother might reasonably have supposed, uninjured. Yet the mother suffered more, from simple apprehension, than she ought to have endured from the actual loss of a hundred such trees.
Soon after the mother looked again, and saw the same child returning from the house of a neighbor, while the heavens were blackened with an approaching tempest, which had unexpectedly risen. Now, instead of peacefully commending the child to the divine protection, the apprehensions of the mother took a new direction. Certainly the storm would descend before the child could be got home! Its constitution was so delicate, that, if it should be overtaken by the storm, its health would be impaired and its life endangered! Some time before the descent of the rain the child was safe beneath the paternal roof, and the mother, after suffering incomparably more than she ought to have endured, had the apprehended calamity actually occurred, found that she had been "disquieted in vain." In that disquietude, however, she had been wholly unfitted for prayer for her child, or any other object, or for the discharge of any duty in which the sustaining grace of the gospel would have been manifested.
Reader, have not the facts above stated opened up an important page in your past history? If so, you are now prepared for a consideration of the great truth to be illustrated in this discourse, which is this:--
OBEDIENCE TO GOD IS THE SUPREME BUSINESS OF LIFE--ALL, ABOUT WHICH IT IS LAWFUL FOR US TO "TAKE THOUGHT." IN OBEYING GOD, IT Is OUR DUTY AND PRIVILEGE TO DISMISS WHOLLY ALL ANXIETY ABOUT CONSEQUENCES; ESPECIALLY IN REGARD TO WORLDLY, TEMPORAL OBJECTS.
The reader doubtless recollects the answer given by the shepherd of Salisbury Plain to the question of a traveler, "What sort of weather he thought it would be on the morrow?" "It will be such weather as pleases me," answered the shepherd. Though the answer was delivered in the most mild and civil tone that could be imagined, the gentleman thought the words themselves rather rude and surly, and asked him how that could be. "Because," replied the shepherd, "it will be such weather as pleases God, and whatever pleases Him always pleases me."
The principle that I maintain is, that, it is our duty and privilege to be continually in this resigned, confiding, and peaceful state of mind, under all circumstances, and in reference to all interests and events, especially such as have a bearing upon our worldly condition.
1. Our profession as Christians, together with our acknowledged relations to God, requires this of us, and prohibits, as most unbecoming in us, and most dishonorable to God, every other and opposite state of mind. What relations do we, as Christians, sustain to God, to all his works and attributes, and to all the resources of His infinity? "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!" As children, we recognize ourselves as "heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ." "God is our shield, and our exceeding, great reward." "All things are ours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are ours; and we are Christ's; and Christ is God's." God has pledged His word to us, that "no evil shall befall us, neither shall any plague come nigh our dwelling." We believe that "all things are working together for our good," and that "these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
Now, does it become individuals holding such truths, possessing such interests, and sustaining such relations to the perfections and heart of God, to be "careful and troubled about many things?" Ought not our minds ever to be as free from carefulness, as heaven's atmosphere is from darkness and clouds? How unbecoming in us, how dishonorable to the sacred name by which we are called, is the opposite state of mind?
2. Our minds can not possibly be harassed with doubt, care, and perplexity, but from one cause--the absence of faith in God, and the presence of unbelief in the heart. While our minds are "stayed on God," He has pledged His truth that He "will keep us in perfect peace." "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from henceforth even forever." "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." "When we pass through the waters, He will be with us; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow us. When we walk through the fire, we shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon us." When we believe all this, and rest in it as a reality, we can not "fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof." Nothing but unbelief can make room for fear in our hearts, at any time and under any circumstances. What right have we to "stagger at the promises of God through unbelief?"
3. Another consideration which demonstrates the sinfulness of almost every species of carefulness in respect to worldly prospects, is this: such solicitude very seldom if ever respects the necessities, but what may be called the luxuries of life. Reader, were you ever in circumstances in which you really felt apprehensive that you would perish, or very long or severely suffer from hunger, cold, or nakedness? "You have food and raiment," with no fear of not possessing them while you live. With these, what right have you not to be content? How sinful is that state in which, having these, you are "careful and troubled about many things." Where is your heart, and, consequently, your treasure, when in such a state?
4. But let us suppose a Christian placed in circumstances, where, in obeying some one, the least important, if you please, of all the principles of the gospel, he is necessitated to sacrifice his entire prospects of worldly good. If he obeys, he must, like Paul, "suffer the loss of all things." Three important questions here arise: Shall he, by an adherence to truth and duty, make the sacrifice? If so, with what spirit shall he make it? Shall it be done reluctantly, or with all joyfulness? I answer, he must not only make the sacrifice, but regard it as a privilege that he is permitted thus to suffer for the name of Christ. Reader, you are not a Christian, unless every individual principle and truth of the gospel is held in such estimation by you, that you would readily part with all worldly goods and prospects, in its reception, defense, and practical exemplification.
Let us now conceive a Christian placed in the circumstances supposed. The following considerations will show how, and with what spirit, it becomes him then to act.
(1.) In the providence of God a crisis has come, in which it is necessary that one of his children should make that sacrifice in defense of that truth or principle. The glory of God, and the interest of truth and righteousness, require it at his hands. God and the gospel of His grace will be more highly honored by obedience here than by ten thousand similar acts under ordinary circumstances. Shall a redeemed sinner, a man that calls himself a Christian, fail to meet such a crisis, and to meet it joyfully? Shall he be "careful and troubled" about the sacrifices which obedience shall cost him? God forbid. No, Christian, the pearl of great price, in the exigency in which God has placed you, is now before you. "For joy thereof, go, sell all that you have, and buy it." Remember that whether you are called to make such sacrifices or not, such must be the esteem in which every truth and principle of the gospel is actually held by you, or you can never obtain that pearl.
(2.) An opportunity is now presented to disclose to the world the highest and brightest possible exhibition and evidence of Christian character. If he obeys, the world will see that he serves God from principle, and not from interest. By prompt, decisive, and cheerful obedience at such a time, he may give the world a more distinct and impressive exhibition of what the spirit of true Christianity is, than by a whole life of obedience in ordinary circumstances. What if he should fail at such a crisis? He can never repair the injury he has done to the cause of Christ. He can never make up the good which he would have accomplished, had he stood faithful at that one moment. Christian, where duty manifestly jeopardizes your reputation, your property, your worldly prospects, then is the time, by prompt and peaceful obedience, to show the world what Christianity is.
(3.) The blessedness, direct and indirect, immediate and remote, consequent on obedience, infinitely surpasses all the evils which may or can result from such obedience. In one scale there are a few "light afflictions which are but for a moment." In the other, much greater present blessedness than could result from disobedience, and a "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" hereafter. With what feelings ought a Christian to make sacrifices for truth and righteousness under such circumstances?
(4.) The evils of disobedience infinitely surpass, under all circumstances, the advantages which can result from such disobedience. If, for any worldly considerations whatever, you trample upon the least of God's commandments, you "deny Christ before men," and consequently subject yourself to the denunciation, "him also will I deny before my Father and his holy angels." What evil is so great as this? What temporary advantages can balance such evils?
(5.) Contemplate also the spirit of worldly men. When the King of Persia was pouring his armies upon the plains of Greece, the states, assembled in council, resolved, that to arouse the patriotism of the nation, by a public exhibition of the spirit which, at such a crisis, ought to animate every bosom, one of their most distinguished sovereigns, together with a small but chosen band of followers, must meet the enemy at a given place, and there die. The present exigency was judged to be of such importance as to demand such a sacrifice. The King of Sparta was selected as the victim. At the straits of Thermopylae, with three hundred associates, he met the enemy, and died accordingly. Nor did he and his chosen band do it reluctantly; they did it with all joyfulness. The very night on which they were to die, before they went forth to the sacrifice, they celebrated a joyful feast together, and then met death as a privilege. Now, what was Thermopylae, what was all Greece, when weighed in the balance against a single principle or truth of the gospel? And shall a Christian be less ready to sacrifice all that he has for infinite, than men of the world for finite objects?
"Take a company of grenadiers," said a French general to a subordinate officer, "and repel the approach of the enemy at such a pass. You will lose your life, but you will save the army thereby." "Yes, sir," said the officer, and in the dreadful pass he died accordingly. Such is the spirit with which worldly men, under the influence of worldly principles, labor for a "corruptible crown." With what spirit should a Christian make sacrifices to "gain an incorruptible crown?"
(6.) Consider also the examples of self-sacrifice for truth and duty recorded in the Bible. First of all"Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye, through his poverty, might be rich." "Being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Nor with reluctance did He make the sacrifice. It was "for the joy that was set before Him, that he endured the cross and despised the shame." What he requires of us, is, that we be just as prompt and cheerful in "suffering the loss of all things" for his honor and truth, as He was in making such sacrifices for us. Are we worthy of the name of Christians, unless such is our spirit in reference to every truth and principle of the "glorious gospel of the blessed God?"
Nor were primitive Christians wanting in respect to this spirit. The rejoiced that they were "counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ." Among their highest privileges they enumerated this--"Unto us it is given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for his sake." "And now," says Paul, "behold, I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there; save, that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." Again, "If I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For this cause also do ye joy and rejoice with me." Such was the estimate in which ancient believers held the truths and principles of the gospel. Such was the spirit with which they "suffered the loss of all things" for that gospel. Shall we not in the same spirit offer ourselves in behalf of every truth and principle of the same gospel? Whenever a truth or principle of the gospel is before us, shall we "take thought" about the consequences resulting from a reception of that truth, or from obedience to that principle?
5. Let us now for a few moments contemplate the circumstances in which men are ordinarily placed, and the objects in view of which solicitude is commonly called forth. The farmer, we will suppose, has planted and sown his fields, and used all required instrumentalities to secure a harvest. Let him now simply do the following things, and carefulness about the result of his labors will have no place in his heart.
(l:) Let him repose implicit confidence in the following promises, and render continued obedience to the following precepts. "Trust in the Lord and do good, so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." "He that walketh righteously and speaketh uprightly, shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munition of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure." Who can "take thought about the morrow," in presence of such promises?
(2.) Let him bear continually in mind, that he will have just such a harvest as pleases God. Why should he not be--how can he fail to be satisfied with the dispensations of infinite wisdom and love?
(3.) If he continues obedient and trusts the word of God, he will have just such a harvest as is best for him. "No good thing will be withheld from him." Not one of his real necessities will be left unsupplied. Where is the place for carefulness in the presence of such hallowed truths as these?
(4.) Let him bear in mind, that "taking thought" will not add a single grain to his harvest, nor a blade of grass to his pastures. At the same time, it will forfeit all claim to the divine protection and blessing.
Who does not see that such an individual can not "take thought for the morrow, saying, what shall I eat, or what shall I drink, or wherewithal shall I be clothed," or what shall be the result of my efforts for a harvest, without sin against God? without distrust of the truth and faithfulness of God? The considerations above presented are equally applicable to our condition in all the relations and circumstances of life. If it is sinful for us to be "careful and troubled" in any one relation, the same state of mind is equally sinful in every other.
But, says one, I am under engagements to others. I have contracted debts which I am bound to meet. Not if providential occurrences render it impossible for you to do it. Consider the following questions: Do you do right in contracting those debts? If not, repentance for the past, and not anxiety for the consequences, is demanded. Are you now using lawful instrumentalities to met those engagements? Are you willing and desirous to do all that duty requires of you to accomplish that object? If not, repentance for present sin, and not "thought for the morrow," is required of you. But suppose that those debts were contracted without sin, or that all past sin has been repented of, that you are now doing all that duty requires of you--then you owe it to God, to yourself, and to the world, even to your creditors, to resign the future, with the utmost peacefulness, to Providence. If God shall call you to exemplify the Christian character in a state of poverty or bankruptcy, it will be because precisely such exemplification is needed. You ought to be just as will to glorify God in that relation as in any other. You can not, by "taking thought," pay a solitary debt. You will thereby only injure your own soul, and disgrace the sacred name by which you are called.
But our children, how shall we make provision for them? You have little fear, I presume, that they will not have "food and raiment." This is not the ground of your anxiety. To take thought even about them, is sin. For the promises of God cover all the real necessities, not only of yourselves, but also of your children. What then must be the character of anxiety for any thing beyond these? Even if your children should be left fatherless, you may "leave them with the Lord, and your widows may trust in Him." You are not fearful, that your children will not have, day by day, their daily food. You are solicitous, lest they should not become wealthy and honorable among men. Do you desire this, let me ask, as a means of their salvation? Do not the Scriptures teach us, that individuals, in such circumstances, are least likely to become "heirs of the grace of life." "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of heaven?" "They that will be rich fall into temptation, and a snare, (and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition." Are you careful and troubled, lest your children should not be placed in the midst of such temptations as these?
But my health is poor. What if I should be laid aside entirely? Yes, reader, what if you should? That, then, is the very condition in which God most needs your services. Ought you not to be as willing to glorify Him in sickness as in health? in death as in life? Permit me to ask , two or three questions here. How was this state of your physical system brought about? Was it by a violation of the laws of life and health? If so, repentance for the past, and not solicitude for the future, is called for. Are you now living in strict conformity to the laws of life and health, and consequently to the laws of God, in respect to food, drink, and dress? If you are, and all interests are committed to your God and Savior, remember that you can not have too much sickness. Nor can you die too soon. "Fear not, God is with you." "He will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." "He will help thee, and strengthen thee. He will uphold thee by the right hand of his righteousness." He will place you in circumstances where you can do the most to glorify His name. "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."
1. We are now prepared to contemplate the light in which "taking thought for the morrow," carefulness in all its forms, should be regarded. These are states of mind about which the great mass of Christians take very little account. To indulge them is commonly regarded as indicating mental or physical weakness, rather than sin. Yet there are doubtless few forms of sin more offensive to God, or more disastrous in their influence. How often did Christ rebuke this sin in his disciples. Never until they were emancipated from its influence, were they prepared for the great work to which He had called them. Reader, whenever you find yourself inclined to be "careful and troubled about many things," will you not stop at once, and inquire the cause? Will you not ask yourself, Why do these thoughts and feelings arise in my mind? You will find that they have their origin exclusively in unbelief. You have taken your affections from things above and set them on the earth. You have consequently ceased to rest with implicit confidence in the truth and faithfulness of God. The natural and necessary result is, your mind has become perturbed with doubt, fear, and perplexity about the very objects upon which your heart is set. How aggravated is the sinfulness of such a state of mind, when indulged, as it always is, in the presence of infinite realities, and of the "exceeding great and precious promises" of God, which cover our entire necessities in time and eternity.
2. The appropriate remedy of this state of mind next demands our consideration. If we would be fully emancipated from its influence, we must,
(1.) Admit to ourselves, and confess to God, its aggravated guilt. We must feel and acknowledge, that we have no more right to be "careful and troubled," than we have to perpetrate the crimes of murder and adultery. The great mass of individuals can not be emancipated from this state of mind, for the simple reason that they can not be brought to confess, to themselves and to God, its sinfulness.
(2.) We must "set our affections on things above, and not on things on the earth." When the heart is set upon objects, infinite and eternal, carefulness in respect to things finite and temporary will be excluded.
(3.) In the exercise of simple faith, we must commend our entire interests to God, as unto a faithful creator. When "our mind is thus staid upon Him, He will keep us in perfect peace." Not a wave of trouble shall ever roll across our peaceful breasts. Our hearts shall be strangers to fear, except in respect to one thing, offending the object of infinite and boundless love upon which our affection is fixed.
3. We now perceive the objects about which, when engaged in any employment whatever, especially in enterprises of great importance, it is proper for us to "take thought." It is about the simple and exclusive inquiry, What is right, what is duty, what is the will of God? About this we are ever to be careful, but not troubled. For our "eye being single," to this one object, God has promised Himself to "instruct and teach us in the way we should go, and guide us by his eye." About every thing else, all care is to be dismissed; for God has promised that while our wills are in harmony with His, not a demand of our being, shall be left unsupplied. Reader, are you now ready to "commit the keeping of your soul unto God in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator?"
Finally, we notice the exalted privilege of the Christian. The sacred writer thus expresses it "That we, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies," from every thing which would destroy our peace, or disturb our deep and permanent repose of the soul in God, "might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life." It is his privilege to be "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things." "God is his shield, and his exceeding great reward," and it is his privilege to serve God, at all times and under all circumstances, with perfect "fullness of joy," to be so independent of all finite objects, that no vicissitudes of time or place can do him real injury, or disturb the fixed content of his soul in God, and in the arrangements and dispensations of His providence and grace.
An English officer was in a storm at sea, where every one was momentarily expecting to be swallowed up in the bosom of the deep. While terror and dismay sat upon every countenance around him, he was as calm as a summer evening. "My dear," exclaimed his wife, "how is it possible for you to be thus calm and peaceful amid such a scene as this?" The officer arose, and placing his back against a pillar, so that he could stand with steadiness, drew his sword, and presenting its point to her breast, inquired, "Are you not afraid of that sword?" "No," was the reply; "my husband holds it, and I know he loves me too well to injure me with it." "So," said the officer, "I know in whom, I have believed. 'He holds the winds in His fist, and measures the sea, in the hollow of His hand,' and He hath declared that no evil shall befall those who put their trust in Him." It is your privilege, Christian, at all times and under all circumstances, to be in the same state of mind in reference to all objects and events.
The Bible declares, that "they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint." It is said of the eagle, that, when soaring in his native heaven, as he descries the approaching tempest, he first surveys the scene, and if he is equal to the storm, he sails on to meet, and rides triumphantly through it. If the storm appears too powerful for his strength, he raises his wings, and, mounting above the warring elements, sails in the eternal sunshine of the upper skies. So of those who "wait on the Lord." When their strength is equal to the approaching tempest, God "will keep them in perfect peace," while it beats around them. But if it be too strong for them, He gives the wings of faith and love, on which they rise above the storm, and ride with God upon it. Christian, have you attained to this blessed state? Have your feet been planted upon those everlasting hills, where your sun goes not down, and your moon does not withdraw itself; where the Lord is your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning are ended? To attain this is not only your duty, but your privilege. Till you have thus attained, you are not prepared for the great work to which God has called you.
Dear sinner, you are now "careful and troubled about many things." You are "afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted." In your own experience you fully realize the truth of the fearful declaration, "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." What then will you do, when the storms and tempests of eternity sweep over you?
TAKING THOUGHT FOR THE MORROW By Asa Mahan - The True Believer CHAPTER VII.