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JOHN, vi. 12.
WHEN THEY WERE FILLED, HE SAID UNTO HIS DISCIPLES, GATHER UP THE FRAGMENTS THAT REMAIN, THAT NOTHING BE LOST.
UR Lord, having fed thousands with five loaves and two small fishes, directed his disciples to gather up the fragments, that nothing be loft. He who thus multiplied the loaves and fishes, could have no anxious thoughts for himself, and the friends who had forsaken all to follow him. He had taught them, “ Fear not, little flock. Take no thought for the morf row: But seek ye first the kingdom of God;- and “ all these things shall be added unto you”-meaning things needful for the body. There is, at the same time, a care for the present life, without which the profeffors of religion are not warranted to conclude that they seek first the kingdom of heaven ; yea, must be pronounced worse than infidels. Nothing is given to be refused, abused, or wasted; but to be enjoyed with temperance, and applied to useful purposes, that our divine Benefactor may be glorified. The greatest plenty is no excuse for excess, nor for a neglect to gather up the fragments.
When it is considered who gave the injunction on frugality in the words read, and to whom he gave it, a discourse on this subject will not be thought improper. It well claims the particular attention of those who are entering on life.
Some illustrations of the fubject are first proposed.
Secondly, We will attend to various reasons which enforce it.
First, Some illustrations of the subject will be offered.
The injunction to gather up the fragments was not meant to recommend parsimony. Avarice is no part of frugality. The gospel severely condemns an eagernefs to hold all that comes within our grasp, and to accumulate more. No liberality may compare with his, who went about doing good. The following are recorded as the words of our Lord, which it behoves his disciples to remember : It is more blessed to give than to receive. His ordering them to gather up the fragments, was, no doubt, with this view, that what remained might be distributed in charity, and also supply their future necessities.
Some, pretending to sublime Christianity, affect an en. tire neglect of terrestrial concerns. Is he then the best Christian, who is the worft citizen? who is indif. ferent to his civil duties, and to the duties of the nearest relations? Jesus Christ inculcated and exemplified every
relative and social virtue. He came eating and drinking as other men, and freely conversed with all ranks and characters for their good. Early intent on the work given him to do, he yet regarded his earthly connections, was subject in his childhood and youth to his parents, and is supposed to have wrought at the occupation of Joseph, his reputed father. Though he wrought a miracle to feed the multitudes, in a special emergency, he took care to prevent a misconstruction of it,
giving no encouragement to a neglect of the ordinary means of obtaining the supplies of life. When these means are denied, man has no other resource than to cast himself immediately on the providence of God, which feedeth the fowls of the air, though they neither fow, nor rcap, nor gather into barns ; and clotheth the lilies, that neither toil nor spin. But when the means of preserving life, and supplying its wants, are afforded,
it is tempting God, to expect that he will preserve us and supply our daily necessities, without our own care. Christians should reflect, that their families, kindred and friends, their neighbours, the poor, their fellow christians, their country and mankind have demands
them. While they practically disclaim all these relations--while they neglect, or are remiss in, the business of their stations, let them not imagine that they are fervent in spirit ferving the Lord. They do not walk as God hath distributed to them, and called them. They flight our Lord's injunction, to take care that nothing of the bounties of heaven be loft.The words of Christ, Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, do not forbid his disciples to provide against misfortune, sickness, or old age. They forbid only such care for earthly things as implies that they are preferred to heavenly. Man has to fulfil his part, in obedience to the will of God, by vigilance and industry in the use of means for the support and comfort of life, acquiefcing in the disposal of divine providence. Mismanagement, when owing to incapacity, calls for pity; but when owing to carelessness, men fuffer the merited confequences of their own folly and negligence. “Go to the ant, thou fluggard ; confid“ er her ways, and be wise ; having no guide, over“ feer, or ruler, she provideth her meat in the summer, « and gathereth her food in the harvest.”
Inattention to the order of nature and providence is juftly followed with embarrassment, indigence and misery.
Further, the words contain a leffon of moderation in the use of the bounties of heaven. Excess and negligence are alike opposed to frugality. A disciple of Jesus keeps under his body, and is temperate in all things. His moderation is known in the provision of his table, in furniture, apparel and diversions. It ill comports with his profession, to be allured with external fplendour and worldly greatness. “Whosoever will « be chief among you, let him be your servant : Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, “ but to minister. Learn of me; for I am meek and
lowly in heart.” The steward, whose profusion, floth and pride lavished his lord's goods, when called to account, proceeded further to injure his lord, by a scandalous compromise with the debtors. Assured of an immediate ejectment for his unfaithfulness and profligacy, and determined still to persist in floth and diffipation, he had recourse to means adapted to his end. “ I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved “ what to do, that when I am put out of the steward
ship, they may receive me into their houses. So he “ called every one of his lord's debtors unto him," and cancelled a large part of their acknowledged debt. Such are the tendency, embarrassments and shifts of sloth and dissipation. Every sentiment of justice, gratitude and honour are violated without shame or scruple. Thus bankrupts embezzle the goods of their creditors, and live in profusion upon what they have fraudulently withheld from the just owners.
SECONDLY, We will attend to the reasons which enforce the subject of frugality.
First, it is dictated by gratitude to God. This requires that we receive and enjoy his gifts as he hath directed. To what end are the supplies and comforts of life given, but that we might cheerfully serve him in the abundance of all things? A competency is ordinarily procured by industry and circumspection, and accompanied with the most enjoyment.
If, under the head of food convenient, we extend our defires to supplies for a life of ease, for vanity, for riot and excess, these are neither convenient nor safe. Af. fluence is apt to excite confidence in outward poffeffions. He whose “ground brought forth plentcously, “ said to his soul, Take thine ease, thou haft goods “ laid up for many years."
many years.” Instead of being thankful in proportion as God was bountiful, he indulged to fecurity. The man in the parable, who was clothed in