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VARIETIES, FROM FRETFULNESS.
Any one can expose or reprove that feverish and fretful care, which is always foreboding the worst, or embittering life by complaints, and suspicions, and clamour.
It is peculiar to the Saviour, to treat undue care, with equal tenderness and fidelity. He makes the fretful and the foreboding feel, that he knows thoroughly "what is in them," and yet that he feels for them. Whilst he measures and weighs their unbelief so minutely, that we lay our account with hearing Him say, “ They have no faith at all in Providence,” to our surprise, He only says to them, “O, ye of little faith.” Thus, just when He seems about to disown them entirely, for their distrust
of Providence, he lays his hand upon them as gently as upon sinking Peter, asking, “Wherefore didst thou doubt ?"
Did you ever mark the inimitable skill with which the Saviour met the over-anxiety of his first disciples, when they began to dwell too much, and too peevishly, upon the questions, “What shall we eat, and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed ?"
For a moment, He almost identified their carking care ” about life and the means of life, with the clamorous solicitude of the heathen, for temporal things : " after all these things do the Gentiles seek :" but He did not leave them to suspect, from this reproof, that they stood in no nearer relation to God, than the Heathen. No; He immediately added, “Your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” Matt. vi. 32. Thus, in the same breath, He rebuked their wrong spirit, and yet upheld their adoption. “ This is not the manner of man, O Lord God !"
Did you ever observe, that He never calls
upon us to compare our lot with that of those
who are above us, or with that of those who are below us, upon the ladder of Providence ? Except in the single case of persecution or reproach for His own name's-sake, He does not even remind us of the greater trials of some others. “So persecuted they the Prophets. which were before you," is the only instance in which He teaches patience or contentment, by comparisons. This is another remarkable peculiarity in the ministry of the Saviour. He taught Providence from nature, not from society, He made the lilies of the fields, or the birds of the air, his texts, in preference to all the facts which the varieties of life furnished, whether his object was to reprove, or to soothe, the fears of his disciples.
consummate wisdom in this, whether you see it or not.
It would do you good, to “consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air,” when you feel the burden of your cares overwhelming. This may seem very unlikely, at first sight, to you. Like myself, you may be ready to say,--my cares are too heavy to be alleviated by such considerations : it seems almost mockery, or mere sentimentality, to send me to learn of birds or lilies. What could the growth of flowers, or the preservation of birds, teach me? What light could such common things throw upon
my uncommon anxieties?
In this flippant way, and in this wrong spirit, are we inclined to meet the Saviour's advice : for there is no sense in such objections. They are mere sound. Accordingly, we should be condemned out of our own lips, were He to press us with the single question,
--- What benefit do you derive from brooding over your cares ? You think and say, that you could derive neither light nor good from considering the things I commend to your notice. You cannot, however, say that the consideration of them would do you any harm : whereas I know, and you must acknowledge, that the views you take of your cares rather aggravate than alleviate them.
You contrast your lot with those above you ; and that mortifies you: you compare it with those below you; and that discourages you, because you are thus compelled to see how you may sink still lower in the world. Thus when you look up the ladder of life, you are dissatisfied ; and when you look down it, you are ready to despair. Now, to say the least, feelings of this kind would not be produced by considering how the lilies grow, and how the birds are provided for! I readily grant, that such little