S. Matt. vi.31.
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness."
INTRODUCTION. -- We read in ancient Roman history that a general named Aemilius Paulus was appointed to the Roman army in a time of war and great apprehension. He found in the army a sad condition of affairs, there were more officers than fighting men, and all these officers wanted to have their advice taken, and the war conducted in accordance with their several opinions. Then Aemilius Paulus said to them, "Hold your tongues, and sharpen your swords, and leave the rest to me."
It seems to me that our Lord's advice in this day's Gospel is of somewhat the same nature. He finds in the army of His Church everyone clamouring after his worldly affairs, wanting this, and objecting to that, all seeking their own, and not the things of Jesus Christ. Then He says, "Hold your tongues, and sharpen your swords, and leave the rest to Me. Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be clothed? Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
SUBJECT. -- In our great solicitude after our temporal welfare, we do not seek first our spiritual welfare, but put that altogether in the background. In fact, we do not trust God, we trust ourselves chiefly. We fear if we do not devote our whole attention to our worldly prosperity, we shall not get on. And so we neither seek the kingdom of God, nor the righteousness of God; we seek only the world and the things that are in the world. If we had more trust in God, it would not be so.
I. The Bible is made up of six classes of books. To the first class belong the historical books. To the second the book of Psalms. To the third class belong the books that deal with Wisdom. To the fourth the Prophets. To the fifth the Gospels, and to the sixth the canonical Epistles.
Now in all these different classes of books we find the same assurance made by God, that if we will but attend to our spiritual concerns, He will see that our temporal affairs do not suffer. In one of the first historical books we have this promise (Levit. xxvi.3, 4, 5), "If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments and do them; then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely." In the book of Psalms David says (xxiv.9), "O fear the Lord, ye that are His saints: for they that fear Him lack nothing," and again (xlv.23), "O cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He will nourish thee." In the books that deal with Wisdom we have (Proverbs x.3) "The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish." In the Prophets (Isai i.19), "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land." In the Gospels (S. Matt. vi.33), "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." In the Epistles (Pet. v.7), "Cast all your care upon Him, for He careth for you."
We are generally perfectly satisfied when we have an agreement drawn out between man and man, -- one promise on one scrap of paper is enough, but here we have at least five, and I could produce you plenty of others, yet, because it is a bond signed by God, you mistrust it, O ye of little faith. You will take a bond signed by a Jew, but not one signed by God.
II. "Your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." Is God not our Father? There is no Father like to Him, no Father loves us as He does. If He loves us, will He not care for us? What good father will neglect his child, and deny it those things that are necessary for it? Ask any little boy whom you see in rags, 'My child, why are you in rags? What will you do to get a new suit? You have nothing of your own.' Certainly, his natural and proper answer should be, 'I will ask my father. He will supply me.' When a child is hungry, whither should it go? To whom should it apply? To its father. Why then do not we trust our Heavenly Father as any little child will trust its father on earth? Yet we know that He is our Father, and is, as S. Paul says, "rich in mercies" Our Lord bids us look at the birds of the air. Who feeds them? Their Creator. Will He not then care for us far more, who are His noblest creatures?
III. A great poetical and satirical writer (Horace) says that this was the popular maxim of his day, "Seek money first, and be good afterwards."  What he had the boldness to say, a great people have the boldness to do. They leave the kingdom of Heaven to be sought, after they have spent their lives in seeking the things of this world. But the things of this world sought without God will not profit.
When Isaac set his sons to bring him venison, that he might bless them and die, Jacob arrived first with the savoury meat; then Isaac lifted up his voice and blessed his son; "God give thee of the dew of Heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine." Afterwards Esau came in with venison. And when he saw that his brother had received the first blessing, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, "Bless me, even me also, O my father." Then Isaac said to him, "Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of Heaven from above." Each had the same, the richness of golden harvests, the abundance of fruit, and the soft dews and rains in their season. But there was a notable difference, adapted to the characters of the two brothers. Esau was a profane man, he disregarded divine things. He was ready to sell his birthright, his privilege to be the forefather of Messiah, for a mess of pottage. He cared not for God, neither was God in all his thoughts. It was otherwise with Jacob, he regarded God, he sought God, he saw God in the visions of the night, he strove with God in prayer. He had set God always before him. And thus these several blessings were apportioned to them. Esau had the fatness of the earth and the dew of Heaven, Jacob also had the fatness of the earth and the dew of Heaven, but Isaac said to Jacob alone "God give thee all these things." To Esau only "Thou shalt get for thyself all these things." God before all to Jacob, and all these things added unto him. All these things to Esau, and God nowhere.
CONCLUSION. -- And now, my brethren, try to trust God more. Do not give up all thought to the concerns of this life, but leave them somewhat on the hands of God, whilst you consider the concerns of your soul. You will not suffer for it. "If ye be willing and obedient, and seek the kingdom of Heaven, He will nourish thee."
 "Quaerenda pecunia primum, virtus post nummos."