Matthew 6:25-27. Therefore I say, Take no thought, &c. Our Lord here proceeds to caution his disciples against worldly cares, these being as inconsistent with the true service of God as worldly desires. But the expression used by our translators, Take no thought, is too strong, and not warranted by the original, μη μεριμνατε , which properly signifies, Be not anxious, or, anxiously careful, as is evident from Luke 10:41; Luke 12:11; Luke 21:34; Philippians 4:6; and almost every other place, where μεριμναω occurs. For we are not to suppose that our Lord here commands us absolutely to take no thought for our life, food, and raiment; because, in other parts of Scripture, diligence in business is inculcated, and men are commanded to labour with their hands, that they may provide for the supply of their own wants, and also those of others, Romans 12:11; Ephesians 4:28; and that, instead of being useless loads on the earth, they may, at all times, have it in their power to discharge the several duties of life with decency, Titus 3:14. What Christ therefore here forbids is, not that thought, foresight, and care which prudent men use in providing sustenance and needful support for themselves, and those dependant upon them; but it is such an anxious care, as arises from want of faith in the being, perfections, and providence of God, and in the declarations and promises of his word, and therefore such an anxious solicitude as engrosses the thoughts and desires of the soul, so as either utterly to exclude or greatly damp and hinder spiritual affections, pursuits, and labours; or which prevents our receiving or our retaining and increasing in the love of God, and the true religion connected therewith. Is not the life more than the meat, needful to support it? And the body than the raiment, necessary to clothe it? and will not he, who has given the greater blessings, give the less also? Behold the fowls of the air Learn a lesson from the birds that now fly round you. For they sow not, neither do they reap, &c. Without foreseeing their own wants, or making provision for them, they are preserved and nourished by the unwearied benignity of the divine providence. Are ye not much better than they? Are ye not beings of a nobler order, and destined for a higher end than they, and therefore more the objects of the divine care? Moreover, which of you, by taking thought Gr. μεριμνων , by being anxiously careful, can add one cubit unto his stature? Can add one moment to the length of your lives; that is, which of you could profit yourselves at all by anxious thoughts and cares, if you should indulge them? It is evident, as several learned writers have observed, that the word ηλικια , here rendered stature, ought to have been translated age, because the caution is against anxious care about the preservation of life, and about food, the means of prolonging it; not to mention that Jesus is speaking here to full-grown men, who probably had no solicitude about their stature. Besides, the measure of a cubit agrees much better to a man’s age than to his stature, the smallest addition to which would have been better expressed by a hair’s breadth, or the like, than by a cubit, which is more than the fourth part of the whole height of most men. This interpretation of the word is confirmed by Luke in the parallel passage, Luke 12:25-26, where he calls the adding of a cubit, that which is least That is the thing in which the interposition of the divine providence least appears, as it really is, if understood of the addition of a single moment to the length of one’s life.
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