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Friday, September 07, 2007

Matthew Henry on Worry

The Christian Classics Ethereal Library has posted the entirety of Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, published in the 1700's, hence public domain.

Here's the first part of what he had to say about Matthew 6:25-34:

There is scarcely any one sin against which our Lord Jesus more largely and earnestly warns his disciples, or against which he arms them with more variety of arguments, than the sin of disquieting, distracting, distrustful cares about the things of life, which are a bad sign that both the treasure and the heart are on the earth; and therefore he thus largely insists upon it. Here is,

I. The prohibition laid down. It is the counsel and command of the Lord Jesus, that we take no thought about the things of this world; I say unto you. He says it as our Lawgiver, and the Sovereign of our hearts; he says it as our Comforter, and the Helper of our joy. What is it that he says? It is this, and he that hath ears to hear, let him hear it. Take no thought for your life, nor yet for your body (v. 25). Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? (v. 31) and again (v. 34), Take no thought, me merimnate--Be not in care. As against hypocrisy, so against worldly cares, the caution is thrice repeated, and yet no vain repetition: precept must be upon precept, and line upon line, to the same purport, and all little enough; it is a sin which doth so easily beset us. It intimates how pleasing it is to Christ, and of how much concern it is to ourselves, that we should live without carefulness. It is the repeated command of the Lord Jesus to his disciples, that they should not divide and pull in pieces their own minds with care about the world. There is a thought concerning the things of this life, which is not only lawful, but duty, such as is commended in the virtuous woman. See Prov. xxvii. 23. The word is used concerning Paul's care of the churches, and Timothy's care for the state of souls, 2 Cor. xi. 28; Phil. ii. 20.

But the thought here forbidden is, 1. A disquieting, tormenting thought, which hurries the mind hither and thither, and hangs it in suspense; which disturbs our joy in God, and is a damp upon our hope in him; which breaks the sleep, and hinders our enjoyment of ourselves, of our friends, and of what God has given us. 2. A distrustful, unbelieving thought. God has promised to provide for those that are his all things needful for life as well as godliness, the life that now is, food and a covering: not dainties, but necessaries. He never said, "They shall be feasted," but, "Verily, they shall be fed." Now an inordinate care for time to come, and fear of wanting those supplies, spring from a disbelief of these promises, and of the wisdom and goodness of Divine Providence; and that is the evil of it. As to present sustenance, we may and must use lawful means to get it, else we tempt God; we must be diligent in our callings, and prudent in proportioning our expenses to what we have, and we must pray for daily bread; and if all other means fail, we may and must ask relief of those that are able to give it. He was none of the best of men that said, To beg I am ashamed (Luke xvi. 3); as he was, who (v. 21) desired to be fed with the crumbs; but for the future, we must cast our care upon God, and take no thought, because it looks like a jealousy of God, who knows how to give what we want when we know not how to get it. Let our souls dwell at ease in him! This gracious carelessness is the same with that sleep which God gives to his beloved, in opposition to the worldling's toil, Ps. cxxvii. 2. Observe the cautions here,

(1.) Take no thought for your life. Life is our greatest concern for this world; All that a man has will he give for his life; yet take no thought about it. [1.] Not about the continuance of it; refer it to God to lengthen or shorten it as he pleases; my times are in thy hand, and they are in a good hand. [2.] Not about the comforts of this life; refer it to God to embitter or sweeten it as he pleases. We must not be solicitous, no not about the necessary support of this life, food and raiment; these God has promised, and therefore we may more confidently expect; say not, What shall we eat? It is the language of one at a loss, and almost despairing; whereas, though many good people have the prospect of little, yet there are few but have present support.

(2.) Take no thought for the morrow, for the time to come. Be not solicitous for the future, how you shall live next year, or when you are old, or what you shall leave behind you. As we must not boast of to-morrow, so we must not care for to-morrow, or the events of it.

Some things haven't changed much in 300 or so years.

Thanks for reading!

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