Luke 12:31
It has been much debated whether God should be represented as the Sovereign or the Father of mankind. It has been but a foolish strife; it has been another case in which both disputants have been right and both wrong. God is the Sovereign of the world, and a great deal more than that; God is the Father of men, and a great deal beside. He is a royal Father, or a fatherly King. The Lord's Prayer might have taught us this: "Our Father... thy kingdom come." God is to us all and much more than all both these human relationships represent, only that one presents him in one aspect and the other in another. Here Christ invites us to think of him as a Sovereign; and we look at -

I. THE KINGDOM OF GOD, of which we may become citizens. "Seek ye [the citizenship of] the kingdom of God." Jesus Christ launched a perfectly new idea when he spoke of this kingdom. In his mind that was nothing less than a universal spiritual empire; a kingdom of peace, righteousness, and joy, wide as the world and lasting as time; a kingdom to be established without forming a regiment, or shaping a sword, or fashioning crown; a kingdom of God, in which all men of every land and tongue should own him as their rightful Sovereign, should cheerfully obey his righteous laws, should dwell together in holiness and in love.

II. THE ALLEGIANCE WHICH IS OUR SACRED DUTY. Christ summons us to citizenship. He says imperatively, "Seek ye the kingdom;" and he bids us seek entrance into it "rather" than pursue any earthly objects, rather than be anxiously concerning ourselves about temporal supplies. He indicates that this is something which has the first claim on our thought and on our endeavor. And so, indeed, it has. For God is that King

(1) without the exercise of whose sovereign power there would be no other kingdom, no subjects, no liberties, no riches, no honors, in fact, no being;

(2) to be disloyal to whom is the lowest depth of ingratitude, is the deliberate abandonment of the most bounden duty, the guilty severance of the most sacred tie. Being what he is to all men, and having done what he has wrought for all men, he rightly demands of us, through Jesus Christ, our fealty, our loyal service. To respond to this summons of the Savior and to become citizens of the kingdom of God, we must offer him something more than the honor of the bended knee, or the tribute of the acclaiming voice, or the service of the dutiful hand; we must bring the homage of the reverent spirit, the affection of the loving heart, the submission of the acquiescent will. And out of this inward and spiritual loyalty will proceed the praises of the tongue and the obedience of the life. Seeking the kingdom means a real returning of soul unto God and a consequent devoting of the rest of our life to his service.

III. CHRIST'S PROMISE OF SUFFICIENCY to all loyal subjects. "All these things shall be added unto you." It is well for the world that there is not attached to the service of Christ any very valuable and attractive treasures which are of this earth. If there were, we should have the Church choked with insincere and worldly minded members, paying as little devotion as they thought necessary for as much enjoyment and prosperity as they could reap. Christ has mercifully saved us from this calamity; but he has not found it needful to leave us without a provision for our need.

1. He has made present happiness an attendant upon virtue, and virtue is an appanage of piety.

2. But he has given us a promise and a pledge in our text. He assures to those who enter his holy kingdom not, indeed, luxury, not a large measure of prosperity and enjoyment on an earthly ground, but sufficiency. They who yield themselves to him and who live in his service may be well assured that they will want "no good thing;" nothing that would really make for their well-being will he withhold. All resources are at his disposal, and he will see that his children are supplied.

(1) Let none be kept out of the kingdom because they dread social or pecuniary evils; God will shield and save them.

(2) Let none who are in the kingdom despond, though circumstances are against them; at the right moment God will appear on their behalf; "goodness and mercy will follow them all the days of their life," and attend them right up to the gates of the heavenly city. - C.







Seek ye the Kingdom of God.
The Lord gives us continually our daily bread, multiplying for this the grain in the field; yet are we contented with it? The reason of our discontentedness is, because we are inclined to make our daily pursuits for a livelihood the main point, and the Kingdom of God a secondary one. Perhaps we go so far even as to separate one from the other, although religion, like the leaven, should penetrate all our works and bring God's blessing upon all we do. This blessing will be given to us if we endeavour to sanctify our solicitude for our daily bread, by performing our employments —

I. IN OBEDIENCE. TO GOD.

1. It is God's will that I work. By this truth we should be induced —

(1)To consider and esteem labour as a sacred duty.

(2)To avoid idleness, which is not only sinful in itself, but also the source of sin and poverty.

2. I work for God's honour. This truth renders labour —

(1)Consoling, though hard.

(2)Meritorious.

II. IN THE SPIRIT OF PENITENCE. I must work, because I am a sinner.

1. This reflection will reconcile you to your work. As the heart is wounded by undeserved punishment, so a generous mind finds satisfaction in a consciousness of justice being done.

2. It ennobles man: imparting to him —

(1)Deep humility.

(2)True wisdom.

III. IN ORDER TO FULFIL, A DUTY TOWARDS OTHERS. Only he that has lost all sense of duty can refuse to work. For —

1. Labour is a duty of justice. God's wrath is challenged by —

(1)Idlers.

(2)Squanderers.

2. Labour is a duty of charity.

(1)You are bound to provide for your family.

(2)And for the poor.

(Bishop Galura.)

Your business — you cannot neglect that. Call to mind the story of the rich English merchant to whom Elizabeth gave some commission of importance, and he demurred to undertake it, saying, "Please your Majesty, if I obey your behest, what will become of these affairs of mine? " And his monarch answered, "Leave those things to me, when you are employed in my service, I will take charge of your business." So will it be with you. Do but surrender yourself to Christ, and He, of His own free will, takes in hand all your affairs.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I was once crossing the Atlantic, and had come within three days' sail of the Irish coast. Fog and darkness shut out the sun by day and the stars at night. We had to trust to dead reckoning — that is, to the log, the compass, the chart, and other nice nautical computations. Standing by the captain, I heard him say on the last of these days, "We ought to see Fastnet Light in twelve minutes! "I took out my watch and waited. We saw the welcome light in just eleven!" There, thought I, is a triumph of nautical skill and calculation, to push on so steadily and surely through the darkness day after day to the point aimed at. We justly confide in one who has proved himself trustworthy in human affairs, but the witness of God is greater. Why ever distrust Him? He has not only fixed the movements of the stars and the tides, but His promises of grace are unchangeable.

(R. S. Storrs, D. D.)

"Few things are looked back on by me with less satisfaction than my own conduct in respect to my children, except in one particular, which appears to have been the grand secret; and that is, that I have always sought for them, as well as for myself, in the first place, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness."

(T. Scott.)

Let us press the seeking God's kingdom first on those who are yet in the springtime of their days. And we will just tell you what we believe would constitute a thorough submission to the precept of our text, and what, therefore, entitles a man to depend on the fulfilment of the promise. We will suppose that, from his youth upwards, an individual has proposed to himself the salvation of his soul as the prime object to engage his solicitudes and occupy his strivings. We may suppose that, so soon as he could discern the evil and the good, so soon as the will had the power of making an election, he decided in favour of the paths of righteousness, and set out on the heavenward course; and, ever afterward, we may regard him as holding on in one uniform course of faith and obedience; so that, whatever the other objects which may demand and obtain some share of his attention, he keeps ever uppermost, as the great end of his being, that attainment of God's favour to which he had devoted himself at the outset of life. Of such an individual it may be asserted, in all the extent of which the expression admits — he has "sought first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." He has sought it first, as having begun with this seeking; he has sought it first, as having never permitted another object to take precedence: and to the doing this is what we would earnestly exhort the younger of our hearers. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness": seek ye first this kingdom — first, before ye seek the wealth of the world, which cannot satisfy you, or the honours of the world, which will only mock you, or the pleasures of the world, which like the Dead Sea fruits, wear a bloom to the eye, but are ashes to the taste — first, before the strength has been impaired, and the spirit has been broken, and the eye has lost its fire, and the hope is sick with disappointment. "First! " Will ye give the bounding pulse, and the soaring thought, and the eager glance, and the rushing purpose, to the slavery of time and created things, and think of bringing the jaded energies, the thin grey hairs, the emaciated limbs, and consecrating them to the service of God? We know that even in old age the kingdom may be sought, the kingdom may be founds; we dare not, therefore, and we thank God that we dare not, regard any individual, be he ever so old, be he ever so hardened, as having outlived the opportunity of being saved. We preach to the man of four-score years; and though, in the expressive language of Solomon — "the daughters of music are brought low, and the grasshopper is a burden, and the silver cord is almost loosed, and the golden bowl broken," we still say to him, "Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation." And yet it is impossible not to feel, that where there has been, for forty, or sixty, or seventy years, a determined resistance to all the proffers of the gospel, the case is growing comparatively hopeless. We may go on with our work; but it is impossible to go on with a very light heart. And never does the minister of Christ seem charged with a commission in which success is so doubtful, as when sent .to the infirm and worn-out sinner, who, having given the strength of life to Satan and the world, has at last only the dregs with which to make an offering to his God. We say, indeed, it is our duty, ay, and it is our privilege, to say, even to the old person who has been hardening for half a century under faithful sermons — It is not too late to " seek"; "seek," therefore; "the Pearl of great price" may even yet be found — even yet, though the last streak of light is fading from the sky, though the film is gathering on the eye, and the cold and rough wind threatens to put out the lamp; we say to him, "Seek!" But now tell me, my brethren, can we do otherwise than feel, that even if he seeks he seeks last. And where is the promise to those who seek last? — last, inasmuch as heaven is not sought until earth is sliding from the grasp? Where is the premise to those that "seek" last "the kingdom of God and his righteousness?" We remember the words which, in the Book of Proverbs, are placed in the mouth of Eternal Wisdom — "I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me." "Those that seek Me early!" Here is an express promise. It is a promise that does not exclude those who seek late, but certainly it does not include them. We have, however, better hopes of the young. We know, indeed, that you feel tempted to delay and put off the giving heed to the solemn things of eternity. And why so? Because you regard religion as a melancholy thing — as circumscribing your pleasures and curtailing your enjoyments; and you feel that it will interfere with many things in which you delight — the gewgawry of fashion, and the revelry of life. There are certain things which you wish to keep a little longer, and which you perceive that true religion will require you to surrender. So you make the calculation — you shall run but little risk in giving a year or two more to the world; you shall have time enough left for the care of the soul. Ah! thus, to speak the unvarnished truth, you are balancing the chances of destruction against another draught of the intoxicating cup; you loiter round the edge of the pit, to pluck flowers which fade in the gathering. And yet all the while the true pleasure is in religion. Yes, that it is — the elevation of soul — the companionship with beings of the invisible world — the filling up with God the immeasured voids of a human spirit — the beatings of a large philanthropy — the sense that, "all things are ours, for we are Christ's, and Christ is God's" — life curtained by lovingkindness — death abolished by the Mediator — eternity studded with the rich and the radiant, — these are ours; we know them, we feel them to be ours. What! then, has religion no pleasures? Nay! "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness." It is seeking peace; it is seeking comfort; it is seeking happiness. Seek ye this "first," assured that — oh! for the testimony that might be given from above I oh I for the testimony that might be given from beneath! — assured that, though thousands have wept bitter, scalding tears because they sought late, none have ever found that they began too soon.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Many years ago, when in my country charge, I returned one afternoon from a funeral, fatigued with the day's work. After a long ride, I had accompanied the mourners to the churchyard. As I neared my stable door, I felt a strange prompting to visit a poor widow who, with her invalid daughter, lived in a lonely cottage in an outlying part of the parish. My natural reluctance to make another visit was overcome by a feeling which I could not resist, and I turned my horse's head towards the cottage. I was thinking only of the poor widow's spiritual needs; but when I reached her little house, I was struck with its look of unwonted bare: hess and poverty. After putting a little money into her hand, I began to inquire into their circumstances, and found that their supplies had been utterly exhausted since the night before. I asked them what they had done. "I just spread it out before the Lord!" Did you not tell your case to any friend?" "Oh no, sir; naebody kens but Himsel' and me! I kent He wadna forget, but I didna ken hoe he wad help me till I saw you come riding ower the brae, and then I said, There's the Lord's answer!" Many a time has the recollection of this incident encouraged me to trust in the loving care of my heavenly Father.

(J. H. Norton.)

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