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Faithfulness in Little Things.
• THE opportunities for displaying great deeds of good ness are rare, and when they do present themselves, there are many powerful stimulants to kindle magnanimity and perseverence. But the little occasions to stand firm in the cause of truth come upon us inadvertently; and almost every moment they render it necessary for us, without ceasing, to maintain a warfare against pride, slothfulness, and a domineering, lordly disposition ; against precipitancy, impatience, &c.; opposing our corrupt wills every where, and in all things. If we will be faithful herein, our fallen nature will have no spare time to draw breath, but must die to all its propensities.
Supporting a life of godliness, is like unto successful management and economy in outward and domestic affairs. If attention is not paid to minute matters, frugally to save, and avoid unnecessary expenses, there is a greater probability, step by step, of a declension in point of property, than by large undertakings which na
turally excite caution. He who learns, by Divine assistance, to make a right application in small matters of a spiritual nature, will not fail to accumulate much treasure, as well as he who is attentive in temporal concerns. Great things are only great, because many small materials are brought and combined together-he who is care ful to lose nothing, will generally increase his wealth. It is well for us to consider that it is not so much what we do, as the motives of love in which our actions originate, and surrendering our own wills; this it is alone which renders our good works acceptable, in the Divine sight. People judge of our actions according to outward observation, but with God, those things are nothing, which in the eyes of men shine with great lustre, for he requires a sincere intention, a will ready to bend to his will, on all occasions, and an upright entire forsaking ourselves.
Our faith is tried more powerfully in common occurrences, and less exposed to a mixture of pride, than in uncommon and remarkable concerns. We also find that we are many times more attached to certain little things, than to matters of moment-for instance, some would find it much easier to give generous alms, than to deny themselves a favourite diversion. Man is very liable to become beguiled by little things, because he looks on them as matters of indifference, and imagines himself free from any powerful attachment to them; but when God commands him to forsake them, he finds by painful experience, how inordinate and unwarrantable his attachment to, and practice of them was; besides, through our inattention to small duties, we frequently give offence and stumble our families, and those about us; for people cannot believe that we fear God with uprightness, when our conduct in small concerns is immoderate and careless; for how can an observer reconcile the idea of our being strong and scrupulous observers of important duties that require the greatest sacrifices, when matters of small account have an undue ascendency over us; but the greatest danger herein is, that the soul through
careless indifference in lesser things, becomes gradually accustomed, to unfaithfulness, grieves the Holy Spirit, and by degrees learns to account it a matter of small consequence to go counter to the will of God; on the contrary, true love esteems nothing indifferent; every thing capable of pleasing or displeasing God, appearing great ; not that true love drives the soul into a slavish fearful scrupulousness, but it allows of no particular set bounds to faithfulness; it moves the mind in simplicity to pass by those things that God doth not require, but does not hesitate a moment about those things he does require, be they great or small; so that our obedience in small matters does not originate from a forcible terror on the mind; it all arises in and by a continual current and power of love, free from those slavish fears and consultations, accompanying restless, anxious, and distressed souls. Man is drawn into the way of his duty through love to God: for even in the time of greatest trial, when the Spirit of truth unceasingly urges the submissive soul, step by step in the observance of small duties, and seems about to divest it of all freedom, behold, it finds itself on a wide plain, and enjoys the depth of peace and freedom in him. -Oh! how happy is that soul.
Finally, it is particularly necessary for those who are naturally of an inadvertent and unwatchful disposition to be mindful. Man, by paying little regard to small duties, becomes accustomed to make no account of them; he does not enough consider the lead and tendency thereof; -he does not enough view the almost imperceptible ascendency and assimilation of these things, in and with his fallen propensities-he forgets the compunction and remorse which these things have heretofore occasioned :he had rather indulge an imaginary idea of his establishment, and depend on his own judgment, (which has, however, ofttimes deceived him) ihan to settle down into a constant, diligent, attentive watchfulness.
We are apt to say it is a little thing, it is nothing, yea, it is nothing ! --but it is a nothing on which thy all depends-suck