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calamities, could not be prohibited by the precept of our Saviour, which we are considering.
3. Nor, lastly, could he design to prohibit us from seeking any lawful advantages or enjoyments.
These are necessary to our welfare and happiness in the present world; and our welfare and happiness, he, whose "tender mercies are over all his works," who "openeth his hand and filleth all things living with good," is infinitely desirous to promote. The worldly advantages also which we possess, increase the means of our usefulness, and enable us to advance the welfare and happiness of others. In every view, therefore, we are not only permitted, but it is our duty to seek all those advantages and enjoyments which are sanctioned by religion and virtue. But we cannot seek them without thinking of to-morrow. So far then as we contemplate, without immoderate solicitude, the lawful advantages and enjoyments which in our future course we may obtain-so far as we diligently employ, in the acquisition of them, all those means which are not contrary to the laws of God or man-we do not violate the precept of our Lord "Take no thought for the morrow."
This precept, then, does not prohibit plans for the improvement of our worldly condition, sedulous care to avoid future evils, and diligent endeavours to obtain lawful advantages and enjoyments.
But it does prohibit
1. An inordinate devotion to any worldly plans.
2. An immoderate apprehension of contingent evils.
3. An excessive solicitude about any future advantages or enjoyments.
1. Indulge not an inordinate devotion to any worldly projects
Give not up to them the whole of your thoughts, your affections, and your time; devote not to them even such a portion of your attention as will interfere with the paramount concerns of your soul, and of that spiritual and eternal world in which you have the deepest interest; let them not even so far occupy your thoughts and feelings as to involve you in perplexity and trouble. No worldly projects, in their most successful issue, can repay a man for that anxiety which often enervates his body, enfeebles his mind, wastes his spirits, and thus disqualifies him for enjoying the worldly advantages which at this immense sacrifice he may have obtained-ah! infinitely far short do they fall of repaying him for that loss which, by his devotion to them, he has incurred-the loss of the favour of his God and the hopes of heaven-the loss of his soul. "For what will it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
2. Indulge not an immoderate apprehension of contingent evils.
Restrain that timid and melancholy fancy which dresses in their most terrific garb the real evils of the world, and calls up ideal ills; repress these exaggerations of imagination; contemplate the calamities which may possibly befall you no longer than is necessary to rouse you to a full sense of the necessity of providing against them, and to enable you to discern the best means of averting or mitigating them. Adopt these means, and then dismiss from your mind all immoderate concern about those contingent evils-they may never come.
To the best of your ability you have prepared against them-leave the issue to him who orders all things for good.
3. Indulge not an excessive solicitude about any future advantages or enjoyments.
View them not in those fascinating, but illusive colours, with which imagination delights to deck joys that are to come. Hold before these worldly pleasures the mirror of truth, and behold them dispensing indeed happiness, but not without alloy. Check, then, an immoderate solicitude for these imperfect joys; dwell not upon them till they inflame your passions-till they become indispensable to your happiness. Then the possibility of failing in the pursuit will work up your soul into the frenzy of solicitude; your thoughts, your feelings, your time will be engrossed by them; your peace, your honour, your virtue, your religion will be the sacrifices, perhaps the unavailing sacrifices, offered to obtain them. Ah! fatally will you violate the precept "Take no thought for the morrow."
In general, then, this precept prohibits an immoderate solicitude about our worldly condition repressing an inordinate devotion to any worldly projects, an immoderate apprehension of contingent evils, an excessive solicitude for the attainment of even lawful advantages and joys.
The precept prohibiting an immoderate solicitude about our future condition in the world, is reasonable-it is essential equally to our virtue and to our peace,
For an immoderate solicitude about our present or future condition in the world, is unnecessary is unwise-is criminal.
1. It is unnecessary.
As it regards each individual, he may be immediately summoned to leave the world, about his condition in which he is so solicitous. Thou art perplexing thyself with projects for thy future advancement and pleasure; thou art indulging anxious fears concerning the evils which the future may disclose; thou art immoderately solicitous lest the emoluments and joys which thy fancy paints in the prospect of to-morrow, should elude thy pursuit ; and yet, to-morrow to thee may never come; all thy projects, thy fears, thy solicitude may ere that be hushed; the silence of this night's slumber may be to thee the silence of death. What an impressive lesson of the folly of an immoderate anxiety concerning the things of time!
Wise is the admonition of our Lord-" The morrow shall take thought for the things of itself." The events of the future are hidden from us; we may therefore be indulging a foolish solicitude concerning things which may never happen. If the future brings its cares and its calamities, it will also bring the prudence, the patience, and the resolution to sustain and to encounter them. In this sense, it will "take thought for the things of itself." Many are the evils which a timid and gloomy imagination beholds in the future, which the future never discloses, or discloses stripped of the principal terrors with which imagination had clothed them. How unnecessary and absurd, then, to disquiet ourselves with the dread of ideal evils, with an immoderate anxiety concerning the future! This can neither ward off the evils which we dread, nor secure the blessings which we desire. It rather incapacitates us for the exercise of that prudent
foresight which only can in any degree influence the events of the future. When we have adopted every mean which prudence suggests for guarding against threatened danger, or for securing a desired blessing, we are to dismiss all anxious feelings; these will neither remove the danger nor procure the blessing. All that is in our power we have done in the dictates of a prudent foresight; the issue must be left with him who holds in his hand the course of human events; and we must "take no thought for the morrow."
This immoderate anxiety is not only unneces・sary
2. It is unwise.
For it destroys our present comforts, and increases our present evils. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Where, indeed, is the individual who has not found this declaration verified in his own experience? who, in the cares, the disappointments, and the satiety which attend the day of prosperity, and in those bereavements and afflictions which to so many embitter the night of adversity, does not find cause for the exclamation -"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof?" The uncertainty, indeed, of our present enjoyments, and the possibility of greater evils being laid upon us than those which we now sustain, should so far occupy our minds as to wean us from an inordinate attachment to the world, to lead us to fix our affections on "the things" which, though "unseen, are eternal," and to make him our friend who only in the time of trouble can hide us in his pavilion." But why should we mar the innocent joys of the present, by an immoderate solicitude