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That the gospel ministry is the cause of immense good, the occasion of immense evil, and in both cases, grateful to the Infinite, are facts which our text has suggested, and which I trust our remarks have rendered impressively obvious. How overwhelmingly responsible then the office of a gospel minister! The apostle felt it so, and immediately after the thoughts of the text had passed through his great mind, exclaims, “Who is sufficient for these things ?” What thoughtful minister of Christ does not share Paul's impression? When I think of the disproportion between the magnitude of the commission and the feebleness of the agent, the preciousness of the Heavenly treasure, and the fragility of the earthly vessel, I ask, “Who ?” When I think of the transcendent grandeur of the Christian system, and feel, notwithstanding the professions of some to understand it as the “simple gospel,” it has depths I cannot fathom, and heights I cannot scale ; and that in all my endeavors to understand it, I seem to stand upon the shores of a boundless ocean, whose majestic billows overwhelm me with a sense of my mental feebleness, I ask “ Who?” When I think of the influence I must exert upon the destinies of deathless spirits every time I attempt to preach, that my words and -looks are all immortalized, written indelibly on the memories of my audience, and that my name as a minister must mingle with the groans, or blend with the songs, of eternity; I ask, Who :-“ Who is sufficient for these things ?”
SUBJECT :--The Greatness of Little Things. “ Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth.”—James iii 3.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Fifty-ninth. THERE is a strong tendency in the human mind to look with suspicion and even contempt upon that which is outwardly insignificant. Hence the ancient question, “ Who hath despised the day of small things ?” Past history and present experience, however, continue to prove the utter folly of such a course. Looking only at the secular aspect of the subject the whole record of great scientific discoveries and inventions suffices to show that the apparently trivial may in fact be of vast importance. The falling of an apple led to the discovery of the law of gravitation ; the steam issuing from a kettle was the starting point of the invention of the steam engine; the rising of water in a common bath suggested to Archimedes the method of ascertaining the specific gravity of bodies. Let us, however, glance at the moral bearings of the theme. The greatness of little things may be seen from the following considerations :
I. LITTLE THINGS ARE OFTEN THE MEANS OF EFFECTING GREAT SPIRITUAL CHANGES. Think of the repentance of Peter when he had denied his master thrice :"the Lord turned and looked on him." That seemed a “little thing," but little as it wasma mere look-it produced a grand transformation. “Peter went out and wept bitterly." When that distinguished traveller Mungo Park was journeying over an eastern desert be lost his way. Dismayed at his perilous position, his eye fell upon a tuft of moss. Little as it was it reminded him of the over-ruling providence of God, and encouraged by it, he pursued his way, and soon came within sight of human habitations. Shortly after the French Revolution, a young nobleman was imprisoned for a political offence. Observing in the yard of his gloomy abode a little flower, growing day by day, it led to thought, enquiry, and prayer, and he was transformed from a materialistic sceptic to a devout believer. And thus it is frequently now. A few words "spoken in season," a change of residence, a bodily affliction, a sudden bereavement, are often the instrument of men's conversion.
II. LITTLE THINGS REVEAL HUMAN CHARACTER. God tests man by what is outwardly insignificant. Examples of this crowd upon the recollection of the Biblical student.
Adam was tested by an apple. In the sermon on the mount
" Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, the same is least in the kingdom of heaven.” In the parable of the talents :-"Because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” The widow's mite was small, but because it manifested her love He said, “She hath cast in more than they all."
It is ever so. Would you know what men's moral condition is ? See how they act in reference to little things. In connexion with these they are off their guard, they act unconscious of observation, and display their habitual tendencies. Mark the conduct of the monarch off the throne, the judge off the bench, the minister out of the pulpit, the lecturer off the platform, and the soldier off parade, if you would get an insight into their character.
LITTLE THINGS MENT DAY. Very often in courts of justice trifling occurrences will form a decisive part of the evidence against a prisoner. A few footmarks, a broken sentence uttered in sleep, a single drop of blood, have again and again been the connecting link in a chain of evidence, which has dragged the criminal to the gallows. It will be so in the High Court of heaven. Many people think it a small matter not to visit the sick, clothe the naked, help the stranger, quench the thirst of the dying. But all will be remembered at God's day. “ Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” What little things are words ! How many idle words will men speak in a day, or an hour ? What said Christ? “For every idle word thou shalt give account. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”.
IV. LITTLE THINGS SOMETIMES LEAD TO GREAT NATIONAL REFORMS AND
The introduction of the gospel into Britain was occasioned by a few slave-boys attracting the
attention and rousing the compassion of a monk. The protestant reformation may, under God, be traced to the hour when Luther discovered an old bible in the Erfurt Monastery. The evangelization of India owes not a little to the persevering toils of a Sunday-school teacher, who labored for the conversion of an outcast boy.
Let us then, beware of looking with doubt or contempt on little things. By God's blessing they may become great in their issues both for this and the other world. Continue to labor. Do not underrate the worth of your work, because your talent is small and your influence limited. Remember that the great Being who brings the oak from the tiny acorn, and the handful of corn from the single grain, has said :“Be not weary in well-doing, for in due season ye shall reap if ye faint not.”
THOMAS R. STEVENSON.
SUBJECT :-Human Life.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me." Psalm cxxxviii. 7.
Analysis of Homily the four Hundred and Sixtieth.
Tais utterance of the pious Psalmist suggests three ideas concerning our existence on this earth :
I. THE UNIVERSAL LAW OF HUMAN LIFE. What is it? It is expressed in one word, walking. Life is a "walk," a journey. It is constant action, and constant action onward. Life is never stationary ; it is always on the move;—it is motion. Walking implies these two things :-First: Constant change of position. Every step puts us in a fresh point of space, and surrounds us with something new in scenery. The hedges, the fields, the trees, through which the traveller passed yesterday in his journey, he has left behind in the distance, to-day. It is so with life. The circumstances through which we passed yester
day are gone for ever, and those that surround us now will be in the past to-morrow. Walking implies :—Secondly : Constant approximation to destiny. Every step brings the traveller nearer to his destination. Our life is tending to a grand terminus. That terminus is the grave for the body, and retribution for the soul. Never were we so near this terminus as now. The walk of life is :-(1) A constant walk. There is no pause; asleep and awake we are still going. There is no sitting down a moment to admire the scenery through which we are passing. The wheels of life know no pause. The walk of life is :-(2) A rapid walk. Job compares the movement to the swiftest thing of his day. “The weaver's shuttle,” “the post,” “ the swift ships,” &c. The walk of life is :-(3) An irretraceable walk. We cannot go back one step. Such is life. We shall return no more to our houses, &c. Another idea suggested by the text in relation to our existence on earth is :
II. THE SADDENING PROBABILITIES OF HUMAN LIFE. Life is not only a walk, but a walk often “in the midst of trouble.” It is not a walk on the green sward, under the cloudless azure, with a soft refreshing breeze breathing on our frames. Since the introduction of sin into our world, it has never been a walk of unmingled pleasure. All here meet with trials on the way ; but some more than others. Some have to walk through “the midst of trouble ;” they are always in it, as the three Hebrew youths were in the furnace. There are always the stinging reptiles, and the prowling beasts, and the rough winds, and the scorching rays. The troubles are of various kinds. Physical—bodily pains and diseases ; moral—the conflict of passions, the remorse of conscience, and the dread of death; social-disappointments in business, the treachery of false friends, the corruption of the world, and the bereavement of death. Notwithstanding the beautiful earth beneath our feet, and the bright heavens that encircle us, and the gaiety of humanity in some of its aspects, the walk of man through this world is through