But rather seek you the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added to you.
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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.