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The Introduction to the Text.

These words are brought in by way of prolepsis to anticipate and prevent an objection. The apostle had, in the former verse, laid down many grave and heavenly exhortations: among the rest, “to be careful for nothing.” Not to exclude, 1. A prudential care; for, he that provideth not for his own house, “hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Ti. 5. 8) Nor, 2. a religious care; for we must give all “diligence to make our calling and election sure.” (2 Pe. 1. 10) But, 3. to exclude all anxious care about the issues and events of things; “take no thought for your life, what you shall eat.” (Mat. 6. 25) And in this sense it should be a Christian’s care not to be careful. The word careful in the Greek comes from the primitive, that signifies “to cut the heart in pieces,” a soul-dividing care; take heed of this. We are bid to “commit our way unto the Lord;” (Ps. 37. 5) the Hebrew word is, “roll thy way upon the Lord.” It is our work to cast away care; (1 Pe 5. 7) and it is God’s work to take care.

By our immoderacy we take his work out of his hand. Care, when it is eccentric, either distrustful or distracting, is very dishonourable to God; it takes away his providence, as if he sat in heaven and minded not what became of things here below; like a man that makes a clock, and then leaves it to go for itself. Immoderate care takes the heart off from better things; and usually while we are thinking how we shall do to live, we forget how to die. Care is a spiritual canker that doth waste and dispirit; we may sooner by our care add a furlong to our grief than a cubit to our comfort. God doth threaten it as a curse, “they shall eat their bread with carefulness.” (Ez. 12. 1) Better fast than eat of that bread. “Be careful for nothing.”

Now, lest any one should say, yea, Paul thou preachest that to us which thou hast scarce learned thyself; hast thou learned not to be careful? the apostle seemed tacitly to answer that, in the words of the text; “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content:” a speech worthy to be engraven upon our hearts, and to be written in letters of gold upon the crowns and diadems of princes.

The text doth branch itself into these two general parts. I. The scholar, Paul; “I have learned.” II. The lesson; “in every state to be content.”

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