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ing, what mall we eat? or what fall we drink? or wherewithal mall we be clothed? and then it follows in direct opposition to this inordinate and folicitous care about worldly things, but seek ye first the king. dom of God and his righteousness; that is, be not lo. folicitous about the conveniencies and neceffiiries of this life, as about the happiness of the other, and the means to it. And this tense of this phrase of the kingdom of God, is to very frequent in the New Teftament, that I fball not need to give particular in. fances of it.
2. What is meant by righteousness : Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness. Righteoufnefs, in the stridest and most proper sense of the word, fignifies the particular virtue of juiiice; and very frequently in the Old Testament it is used for chari. ty to the poor, or almsgiving, Psal. xxxvii. 25. 26. I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not jeen the righteous forsaken, nor his feed begging bread; he is ever merciful, and lendeth; and Psal. cxii. 9. He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poar, his righteoulness endureth for ever. But righteousness in its largeft
: and most extended sense, comprehends all the virtues of a good man; and so it signifies here in the text, and in many other places of scripture.
So that ihe kingdom of God, and his righteousness, comprehends the whole business of religion, our last: end, which is eternal life and happiness in another world; and the way and means to this end ; which is righteousness, or that universal goodness which God requires of us, and whereof be himfelf is a pattern and example to us; for which reason, it is called his righteousness. And in this sense of our last end, and the way and means to it, the kingdom of heaven, and righteousness, are used in another place, even of this sermon of our Saviour's upon the mount, Matth, V: 20. Except your righteoufnefs shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, je Mall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven; where righ. teousness is made the necessary means and condition of eternal life. I proceed in the
Second, place, to explain. what is meant by seeking
first the kingdom of God, and his righteculuess. And this signifies the greatest intention of mind, and earneliness of endeavour about the business of religion, in order to our attaining of eiernal happiness; such a seriousness and earneliness of endeavour as earthlyminded men use about the things of this world. For after all inese things (says, our Saviour immediately after the text) do the Gentiles seck; tá levn i tifrīts, which words fignify an intense care, and vigorous en: deavour ; but seek je first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; that is, be ye who profess yourselves Christians, as intenst upon the business of religion, and the salvation of your souls, as the Heathen, who are in a great measure ignorant of God and another life, are about the things of this life.
And here are two things to be explained :
1. What is here meant by seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and,
2. What by seeking them in the first place.
For the first: A fincere and earnest feeling of the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, does imply in.it these four things :
1. A fixed design and resolution as to the end ; that. we do not only propound to ourselves the eternal happiness and salvation of our fouls, as our chief end, but that we be immoveably fixed upon it, and always have it in our aim and design ; that here we set up our resolution, if it be possible, to be happy for ever; that we have this end always in our eye, and be firinly, resolved to do all that we can towards attaining of. it.
Not that we are obliged always actually to think upon it, but to have it frequently in our minds, and habitually to intend and design it, so as to make it. the scope of all our endeavours and aclions; and ihat. every thing we do be either directly and immediately in order to it, or some way or other subservient to. this design, or however not inconsistent with it ; like the term and end of a man's journey, towards which the traveller is continually tending, and hath it always habitually in his intention, though he doth not always think of it every step that he takes, and tho'
he be not always directly advancing and moving towards it, yet he never knowingly goes out of the way. And though he bait and lodge by the way, and does many other things which do not dircêly set him for. ward, yet they are all subfervient to his journey, or in prosecution of it; or at least no wilful deviations from it. Thus it should be with us while we are so journing in this world ; our fixed aim and design thould be to get to heaven, and thither we should be continually tending in our desires and endeavours.
And if this resolution be deeply rooted and fixed in our mieds, it will govern all our actions, and keep them steady to their main end : whereas, if we be uncertain and unresolved upon our great end, and be divided between the happiness of the next life, and the present enjoyments of this, we thall be fickle and unsteady in all our motions. He that hath two ends, can pursue neither vigorously ; but while he is moving towards the one, he leans and inclines to the other; and like a needle between two loadstones, is always in a doubtful and trembling condition ; inclines to both, but is constant to neither : and this is the meaning of that aphorism of St James, the double. minded man is unstable in all his ways. He that is unresolved as to his main end, hath two minds, and can profecute nothing vigorously; but if our mind be once fixed and resolved, that will determine and govern all our motions, and inspire us with diligence and zeal, and perseverance in the prosecution of our end.
2. Seeking the kingdo::1 of God, and his righteousness, implies incellant care and diligence as to the means ; that we make religion our business, and exercise ourselves in the duties of it, both in public and private, at proper times and seasons, with the same serioufness and application of mind, as men do in their callings and profeffions, for the gaining of wealth and preferment; especially on the Lord's day, which God hath taken to himself, and set apart for the duties of his worship and service. Not that we are excuted from minding religion at ather times, but that
those who are pressed and straitned by the necessary cares of this life, may be sure to mind it then, and may have no colour of excuse for the neglect of it at that time, which God hath allotted for that very purpose, and which it is unlawful to employ about our worldly affairs. God expects that we should serve hiin at other times, that we should live in an habitual sense of him, and (as Solomon expresseth it, Prov. xxiii. 17.) Be in the frar of the Lord all the day long; so as to be careful not to offend or transgress in any thing, and so as to redeem all opportunities for the exercise of piety and devotion ; but this day he peremptorily challengeth to himself, and expects we should employ it in his service, and dedicate it to religion, to the contemplation of God and heavenly things, and the care of our immortal fouls, with tlre fame seriousness and diligence, as we do upon other days, labour for the bread which perisheth; and the less leisure we have upon other days for this purpose, the more entirely should we devote and consecrate this day to the purposes and duties of religion,
Not but that our whole life, and all the actions of it, should be under the government of religion, and directed by the laws and rules of it; and it should be our continual care and endeavour to please God in all things; and we should take as much pains, and be as heartily concerned to be good men, as the men of the world are to grow rich and great in this world ; nay so much more, by how much it is a better and nobler design to improve in grace and virtue, than to prosper and thrive in our temporal estate, and we do not in good earnest seek the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, if this be not our great study and endeavour, to subdue our lusts, and govern our paffions, and in a word, to reform whatever is amiss in the inward frame and temper of our minds, and in our outward conversation. And indeed nothing does require greater diligence, and attention, and care, than for a man to become truly and thoroughly good, to be meek and humble, and patient and contented, and resigned to the will of God in every condition; to. be peaceable and charitable, and placable and ready
to forgive; these are great and difficult things, and whatever we think, not the work of a wish, or the effea of a sudden resolution before the receiving of the holy sacrament, no, nor the fruit of frequent and fervent prayers, without the hearty concurrence of our own care and endeavour, to render our lives such, as we pray God by his grace to affiit and enable us to be.
3. Seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness, does further imply zeal and earneitness in the pursuit of this design: and this is a degree above diligence; for zeal is an ardor and fervency of mind, in the profecution of a thing for which you are greatly concerned, and which we vehemently defire to obtain; it is the hottest and most intense degree of our affection to. wards any thing, of our desire and love, mixed with anger at every thing that stands in our way, and hinders us from obtaining what we seek after; such an beat as ambition does commonly inspire men withal in the pursuit of power and preferment. Such ought to be the temper of our minds, and the edge of our spirits, in secking the kingdom of God, as does usually poffefs men in seeking the kingdoms of this world, and the glory of them. We must remember that it is a kingdom which we seek for, and aspire after ; not like the unstable and tottering kingdoms of this world, but a kingdom which cannot be shaken, as the Apolle calls it,
So that the greatness of the design, and the excellency of what we seek after, will justify and warrant the highest degree of a discreet zeal and fervour in the prosecution of it; and therefore no wonder that the scripture in this matter useth words that import the greatest vehemence and earnestness, bidding us to strive to enter in at the strait gate, to labour, and watch, to rur, and wrestle, and fight, and, in a word, to give all diligence to make our calling and election fure.
Lastly, Seeking the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, does imply patience and perseverance in our endeavours after them, and thai we never cease our pursuit of them, till we have obtained them; and this, VOL.V. K