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For who hath despised the day of small things...Zech. iv.10.

IT is not indeed easy to determine always what is

small. Things originally and apparently trivial and un. interesting, often become very great and momentous.

It is so in nature. The oak whose branches cover the side of the mountain, and whose strength defies the storm, grows from an acorn which we should trample under foot. Broad rivers and streams which fertilize the countries through which they roll and become a sea, if retraced, would be found to spring from obscure, if not imperceptible sources.

It is so in science. There was a time when Johnson was learning his letters. Sir Isaac Newton sitting in a garden, saw an apple fall from a tree; and this led him to speculale on the power of gravity: he saw a boy blowing bubbles with soap suds; and this led him to investigate the subject of light and colors. And from such hints was derived much of the grand scheme of philosophy which distinguished this illustrious genius.

It is so in political affairs. As we read history, how often are we forced to exclaim, behold how great a matter a littte fire kindleth. What an inconsiderable incident has sometimes set a whole nation in a blaze. How wonderful the difference between many of the revolu tions of empires in their rise, and in their effects.

It is so in moral concerns. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Our Saviour

teaches us that there may be murder in an angry word, and adultery in a wanton look. Hence the wisest part we can act is to stop beginnings; yea to avoid the very appearance of evil. "Then when lust hath conceived, "it bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is finished, "bringeth forth death."

And what inference would you derive from hence? why this. A philosopher will not despise the day of small things; a statesman will not despise it; a moralist will not-and should a christian? God forbid. "For "who hath despised the day of small things?" Let us then apply this question entirely to the subject of religion. And here it will be necessary first to observe, that the work of grace in the soul, is frequently small in its commencement-I say frequently; for it is not always 50. The various graces of the Holy Ghost seem to have been produced in the Apostle Paul, comparatively very perfect at once; such was his unwavering faith, his lively hope, his inflexible courage, and his unconquerable zeal.

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But in a general way, it is small in its beginning. The soul resembles the field where we see "first the "blade, then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear." God could instantly produce the fruits of the earth in their maturity, but we know from the event that it does not accord with his wisdom. He therefore advances them from very small principles, and by a gradual process, to their perfection. Our Saviour spake a parable which will apply to the grace of God in the heart, as well as the gospel in the world, and which serves both to illustrate and confirm the truth of this representation. The kingdom of heaven, says he, "is «like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took "and sowed in his field: which is indeed the least of "all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds "of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." The christian is a soldier; and the beginning of his career is naturally the day of small things. He is a

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raw and aukward recruit; he cannot march well; nor use easily and gracefully his arms. And then when he has acquired the theory of his exercise, he has the practical part to learn: and it is actual experience only, that can make the warrior.

The christian is a scholar; and when he enters the school, it is of course a day of small things. He begins with his rudiments, with his a, b, c-and though he has many things to learn, he cannot bear them now. Or to speak less figuratively. He has some light, and such as flesh and blood could never reveal: but it is indistinct. He sees men as trees walking. It terminates for the present rather in desires and admiration, than any thing else. It is marvellous light; it leads him to wonder and exclaim-" where have I been? "how was it that 1 did not see these things before? "whence is it that I perceive them now? how can I ac"quire them; how can I ensure them ?" Thus he longs, and prays; and waits for the Lord, more than they that watch for the morning.

He has some hope, but while it excludes despair, it also admits of doubts and fears. He does not question the power of the Saviour, but his will; nor the truth of his promises, but their application to himself. His affections are warm, but his faith is weak. Little stumbling blocks throw him down, as even a wrinkle in the carpet will occasion the fall of a child. He is easily perplexed and distressed. His afflictions embarrass him, and lead him to say, if I am his, why am I thus ? He cannot bear the frown of Providence, and because Gad chastises him, he fears that he is going to condemn. And this, according to Solomon, is another mark of a weak state of religion, " if thou faint in the "day of adversity, thy strength is small."

-But, secondly, weak, unpromising, and even discour aging as all this may appear, it is not to be despised. And for this, three reasons may be assigned.

First, our Saviour does not despise the day of small things. Observe what is said of him in prophecy.

"He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; "as showers that water the earth. He shall feed his "flock like a shepherd"-but in this flock, all are not sheep-there are lambs; and these are weak and tender, and unable to travel fast, or far. Well, "he shall "gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his "bosom"....not on his shoulder, an emblem of strength, but in his bosom, the image of affection-" and shall "gently lead those that are with young. A bruised "reed shall he not break, and the smoaking flax shall " he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto "truth."

Let us look after this lovely character in the gospels. We shall soon find him.-There came "a ruler, and "besought him that he would come down and heal his "son, for he was at the point of death." He thought Christ could cure him-there was his faith: but he could not believe that he was able to do it by his word, or without his bodily presence-there was his weakness. What does our Saviour? He takes him at his desire, and goes away with him.-What were his own disciples after all the education which he had given them? His cross scandalized them, and his resurrection appeared to them like a dream. dream. And even to the hour of his ascension they had some expectations of a temporal kingdom. But they loved him, and had forsaken all to follow him; and he did not cast them off. He bore with their infirmities, solved gradually all their doubts; and "loving his own who were in the "world, he loved them unto the end."

He rose from the dead with the same disposition he had discovered in life. What poor wavering creatures were the two disciples going to Emmaus. They were ready to bury their last hope, and drew melancholy conclusions from circumstances which were really in their favor. He knew their state, and joined them in their sorrowful walk. He enlightened their minds, confirmed their faith, and enlivened their affections; so that " they said one to another, did not our heart

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"burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, "and while he opened to us the scriptures ?"

When he ascended, he carried the same heart with him to heaven; we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Hear what he said long after he had entered his glory, to the church of Philadelphia. "I know thy works: be"hold, I have set before thee an open door, and no ❝man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and "hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name."

O blessed Saviour, thou receivest the weak as well as the strong-thou dost not despise the day of small things. May we be followers of thee, as dear children! Secondly. We should not despise the day of small things, because it is the day of precious things. Real grace is infinitely valuable. It is the work of God;

it is the image of God; it is the glory of God; it is the delight of God: "For the Lord taketh pleasure in "them that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy." The individual who possesses it is raised in the eye of an angel, yea, in the eye of God himself, above heroes, and philosophers, and kings. When the God of heaven and earth surveys our world, "to this man, says he, "will I look, who is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and "who trembleth at my word." This renders the righteous more excellent than his neighbor; this gives the heirs of faith such importance, that the world is not worthy of them. This enlightens; this frees; this sanctifies; this dignifies the soul. In prosperity; in adversity; alone; in company; in life; in deaththis is the one thing needful. And wise and happy is he who even resigns all to make it his own. "Happy "is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that "getteth understanding. For the merchandize of it is "better than the merchandize of silver, and the gain "thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than ❝rubies; and all the things thou canst desire are not "to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honor.


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