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perplexity melt away, and the man wonders where they are. From that master-truth the other blessed truths of religion flow in beautiful harmony, and in such suitability to the sinner's wants, that, when the soul is renewed and is panting after holiness and heaven, he wonders where all the doubts and difficulties that once beset him are gone. Or if there are still doubts about many things of which he hears, they occupy their proper place; they are most subordinate, and sink, if not into absolute insignificance, into most secondary importance; they disturb not his faith, they interfere not with his practice; they destroy not his peace; he is still walking with God: and if he have not light enough on this side the grave to come to a certain conclusion on these disputed topics, he is quite content to leave the solution to a world where all will be wisdom as well as peace.
Again, then, I beseech you to fasten this on your minds, that you are called to-day to a duty which is preliminary, to that which admits of no doubt, to that on which all are agreed, to that which you must do at once if you would ever be happy in Christ Jesus. In conclusion, then, I would apply this to each individual conscience: I beseech every one in this church to-day, who has any reason to apprehend that he is not in Christ Jesus safe for eternitythrough the grace of God's Spirit, through the merit and mediation of the Redeemer, through the love and unchanging favour of God-that he would now listen to this exhortation from the divine word made to him. Let him now explicitly, in the presence of God, renounce all known evil habits; let him forego them now; now, let the Searcher of hearts see that the sacrifice is made; now, though it be like the Isaac of his heart, while the place of sacrifice seems yet distant, may the Lord see that he has belief enough in his word, and desire enough in his Saviour, to make that sacrifice, and go steadfastly forward to make every renunciation in the week that follows, in all his actions and his habits, as well as his purpose now, in conformity with the demand of Almighty God. Seek God's salvation; seek it thus: you cannot hope, if you shrink from it, if you will not renounce evil, that the Lord will make you his servant; and it may be, alas! that, after some years of a very useless profession, or after some years of very painful conflict, you shall find yourselves just what you now are-unsanctified, unpardoned, unsaved; with this difference, that all your moral energies have been yet more wasted, that you have yet less power to renounce sin than you have now, and salvation placed at a far greater distance. God grant it
may not be so! May you, my dear children who hear me, know that this is the first step to religion, to renounce every evil habit before God; and then, I had almost said, the work is certain. Helpless, hopeless sinners, cast yourself on the power that is infinitely beyond your wants, and which says to each returning transgressor, "Come now, and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
REV. T. MORTIMER, B.D.
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."-MATTHEW, vi. 33.
If there is one great burden which is more frequently than another found assailing the people of God, under which they are ready to sink, and which seems enough to crush them, it is, being careful and troubled about many things; carrying burdens which their divine Master never intended they should bear; and then, instead of their peace flowing as a river, and their righteousness as the waves of the sea, the opposite to all this would be a more correct description of their state and character.
But our blessed Master came, not merely to shew us the way of salvation through his blood, but to teach his people how, through his grace, to live, as well as how through the same grace to die. My text is a very important one; it contains the words of the Son of God. May he be pleased to assist us by the Holy Spirit, that we may understand and feel them. Let us notice, first, the command and the promise of Christ; secondly, the test and the confidence of the church: it seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and it shall want no manner of thing that is good; He who bought it with his blood will supply all its wants, according to the riches of his fulness in glory by Christ Jesus our Lord.
First, THE COMMAND AND THE PROMISE OF CHRIST. The command is to "seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness." The term "the kingdom of God," implies authority in Him who rules, subjection in those who obey, and the protection of all the subjects of his mediatorial kingdom; and not only protection, but privilege; all the blessings that the Son of God purchased with his own blood, when he hung on the cross; all those blessings which, as the great Intercessor of the church before the throne of Deity, he asks for us. Now this we are to seek.
But why does man need to seek the righteousness of God, if he is the innocent creature which most persons think he is; if it be true that he comes into the world in perfect innocence; if it be true that his heart in its natural state is perfectly pure? Some people tell us that it is the force of bad example; that as to there being any thing like innate depravity, it is a libel upon humanity; and that if it were not the force of bad example, men would be perfectly pure and holy. But what leads to the bad example, to the evil heart? What but a corrupt principle within? What has caused all the sin and misery that are to be found in the world? Our Lord gives us the answer: "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries," and all that long black catalogue which no mere man would ever have given: but our Lord needed not that any should testify to him of man, for he knew what was in man.
If, then, we are to seek the righteousness of God, it is because there is no other righteousness: we must have this or none, It is a two-fold righteousness-imputed and imparted. It is a righteousness imputed through the infinite merit of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, whereby we appear before God clothed in the immaculate robe of the Saviour's spotless righteousness. But it is not only unto all, but upon all, them that believe; it is not merely something which is imputed, but something what is imparted. We arenot permitted to behold God, and to see his excellences, and then told that we are under a curse; that we must worship infinite purity, and ourselves continue impure; that we are to admire the perfections of God, and yet remain at a distance from him. No; Christianity comes down to man in all his misery, and helplessness, and insufficiency, and by offering to him the righteousness of God which is by faith in Christ Jesus. man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins."
Now, it is said, we are to "seek" this: here is the command. God takes care that it shall seek us. What mean the services of the Sabbath? What mean the ordinances of religion, the solemnities of public worship, the declarations of God's holy book? What means all the calls of providence, all the movements of the Holy Spirit upon the heart of man? It is God seeking man. But if man is to be saved he must seek God: "Seek the kingdom of God, and his righteousness:" not merely seek to promote religion, but seek personally to enjoy its experience, and to know something of its personal comforts, a well of water springing up within you unto everlasting life.
And how are you to seek this? Amid the busy haunt of commerce, of business, and merchandize? No; you are to go to his house, to mingle with his people; you are to go to your closet, to your knees; where no eye is upon you; where you can tell to the God who made you by his power, to the Christ who bought you with his blood, and to the Holy Ghost who comforteth and sanctifieth all the elect people of God-where you can tell to the adorable Trinity all you feel and all you wish. It is said, "the kingdom of God is within you." What are sinful thoughts but so many rebels which must be taken into custody, and kept in prison? "Yet," says one of our Christian poets,
"Yet can you of the terms complain?
When we want to learn a language we get a tutor; when we want to attain a science we get an instructor: when we want to go to heaven we must have a guide. Man is fool enough to think he can be his own guide: he thinks, "I have only to read a few chapters, say a few prayers, and turn over a new leaf before I die, and all will be well, or at all events I shall do as well as others." Yes, you will do as well as others: but how do they do? O the thousands that perish every year through neglect of the holy Gospel! O the thousands who imagine they can be their own guides, and neglect the teaching and grace of the Holy Ghost, and perish in their sins!
But we have left out a little monosyllable in the command, which is of mighty weight here. "Seek ye the kingdom of God, and his righteousness"-when? When you have sought every thing else? When you have found the world a waste and a wilderness? When you have tried created goods and been disappointed? When you are about to die, and the world appears to be hung in mourning and in sorrow? No; "seek ye the kingdom of God, and his righteousness," and seek them first. Why first? Because they deserve it: because if you don't seek them first, the danger is, you will not seek them at all: because they are worth the seeking; they are grand, they are great, they are glorious and divine. All heaven has been in labour for man: and shall man throw away the mighty energies of his mind upon the baubles of this poor world? I have often quoted those lines of Young, and may quote them again, perhaps :