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filthy rags, claim Jesus, and claim Him now, as " the Lord my righteousness.”
Our duty regarding them—“Seek first.” If I would have “ the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” I must seek them, and I must seek by importunate prayer.
“ The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.” Thus Jacob sought, and wrestled, and prevailed. Thus the woman of Canaan sought, and persevered, and her pleadings were successful. And thus all will succeed, who are instant in prayer. These objects are to be sought first as to order. A young man, deeply impressed with the importance of religion, was anxious to profess Christ, and join His church. Before taking this step he consulted his father. His father was opposed to it, and gave him this advice: “You should first get yourself established in a good business, and then determine about religion.” “Father," he replied, “ Christ advises me differently, for He says, ' Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”” My young reader, seek not a settlement in life first, give not thyself to the world first, but seek Christ first and identify thyself with His cause, and with Him God will freely give you all things that are for your good. These objects are to be sought first as to time. In the morning of life, in the season of youth, ere the heart is hardened by sin, or the attention
THE FIRST THINGS.
engrossed with the world, religion ought to be sought, and if sought earnestly, it will be found. The advice of many to the young is, Be first great, and then good, but the only sound advice is, Be first good, and then you will be great.
There is an encouraging promise—“All these things shall be added unto you.” Divine grace and divine righteousness, the greatest and best of blessings, shall be given to us. These give us peace of mind and hope of heaven, but they are not our only blessings. In addition, we shall have all needed temporal enjoyments, such as food, raiment, home, friends. Often we have distressing fears about these things, but the promise of God should satisfy us,
and make us contented with our allotments. He who feeds the fowls of heaven, which neither sow nor reap, He who clothes the lilies of the field with beauty, shall nourish and adorn both soul and body. An excellent minister was thus addressed by a friend : “You have a very large family, Sir; you have as many children as the patriarch Jacob.” “True,” he replied," and I have also Jacob's God to provide for them."
“ Set free from present sorrow,
We cheerfully can say,
Ev'n let th' unknown to-morrow
Bring with it what it may-
But He will bring us through ;
Will clothe His people too,"
HISTORY OF A LIFE.
“ Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return
thither: the Lori gave, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord."-Job, i. 21,
My state at birth—“Naked came I out of my mother's womb." I was fearfully and wonderfully made. I was something like a living miracle, and yet most helpless and dependent. All my possessions at birth consisted of three things. I had life, very feeble, yet the germ of strength. I had sin, which would soon develope itself, and which, unless checked and overcome, would involve me in misery. And I had liability to death. How often does the lamp of life begin to burn, and go out! How often is the eye opened on the light, and then closed for ever! My beginning was “naked,” yet was a beginning for good or for evil.
My state at death—“Naked shall I return thither,” to the dust. Death shall separate me from the world, and all its possessions and enjoyments. “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. “Death shall separate me from friends. However loved and valued, the dearest must part ; but if I am ready for death, if I have part and lot in Christ, I shall meet Christian friends in a better world.
HISTORY OF A LIFE.
Death shall reduce my body to dust, and set free my soul, that it may go up to heaven. Let my resolution and my hope therefore be: “If I live, Christ will be with me, and if I die, I will be with Christ.”
My possessions—“The Lord gave.” The Lord gave to Job a family of seven sons and three daughters, and like those who have children, they were doubtless the joy and the hope of his heart. Alas! of all our earthly possessions, our children are the most uncertain. The Lord gave to Job much wealth. He had seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she-asses, besides land, and houses, and servants, so that Job was the greatest of all the men of the East. Whatever we have we must not forget that “the Lord gave.” “ The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich : He bringeth low, and lifteth up." All our possessions are as uncertain as the continuance of life. How often are they like a cloud that floats for a little in the sky, and then disappears! Reader, “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not ? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” My losses
66 The Lord hath taken away." Losses and trials are divinely appointed. They are the soul's discipline. It is well when they urge us to faith and prayer, and stir us up to look out for a world of sunshine, a world without tears. The losses of Job were very severe. The Sabeans took away his oxen and his asses; the fire from heaven burnt up his sheep and his servants; the Chaldeans stole his camels, and slew his servants with the edge of the sword; and the great wind from the wilderness overturned the house of his eldest son, and buried all his children in the ruins. What a day of trial! What a mountain heap of calamities ! Reader, have thy trials been few or many ? they are designed to bring thee to the dust, that thou mayest trust in the Lord, and the Lord only. He comes into thy family garden, and plucks thy lovely flower, but if thou seest His hand in it, thou wilt see that flower transplanted to a better soil than earth.
My resignation—“Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job was grieved, but in his grief he worshipped the Lord. Job was grieved, but he did not grumble and find fault. Job was grieved, but he knew God would do only what is right, and therefore he thanked and blessed Him for his trials. While the fatalist submits to trials from necessity, the Christian rises above them, inquires wherefore God contends with him, acquiesces in divine arrangements, and blesses the Lord Jesus that He has not forgotten him, but sent him trials to wean him from earth, and to prepare him for heaven,