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"And do you seek you great things for yourself? seek them not." Jeremiah 45:5
Whatever schemes and projects the Lord's people may devise that they may prosper and get on in the world, he rarely allows their plans to thrive. He knows well to what consequences it would lead--that this ivy creeping round the stem would, as it were, suffocate and strangle the tree. The more that worldly goods increase, the more the heart is fixed upon them; and the more the affections are set upon idols, the more is the heart drawn away from the Lord. He will not allow his people to have their portion here below. He, therefore, says to them in his providence, as well as in his word, "Seek them not."
But you will perhaps say, "What are we then to seek?" I will tell you in one word--REALITIES.
What are these great things that you are seeking after in 'religion'? Could you see them in their right light, you would see that they are but shadows. You feel, for instance, your deficiency in gift in public when you are called upon to pray, or in private when you converse with those who possess readier speech, and you want what are commonly called gifts, such as a greater fluency of utterance, more ability to quote Scripture, and a more abundant variety of expressions, so as to make a deeper impression on the hearers--your real desire being that you might stand higher in their estimation.
But what would these gifts, if you had them to the fullest extent, so that men might almost worship you for them, do for you when you shall be called upon to lie upon a death-bed--when eternity is in view, and your soul has to deal with God only? You will desire no gifts then. Grace will be the only thing which can do you any good.