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whole. The face of nature, when exhibiting its most beautiful scenery, is unbounded and infinitely diversified; yet spires of grass, plants, and leaves of trees are the component parts. We sometimes behold the heavens overspread with clouds; but their substance is mists, or vapours of the air. Rivers, rills, and even springs may be considered as the fountains of the mighty deep; for the whole ocean is formed by drops of water Storms of snow and hail, and the falling showers give demonstration to our senses, that all things in nature are made up of little things. The subject might be pursued in this manner, to great extent; but calculated to please, rather than to benefit mankind, as their own experience would not be brought immediately to the test. This discourse should be of such a nature as to make the hearers feel themselves deeply interested, and should serve as a glass into which they may look, and discern their true characters whether good or bad. And for this purpose let us bear in mind, that a few acts, although they be laudable, conspicuous, and brilliant, are not sufficient to establish an upright and excellent character; neither are a few misdeeds, although known to the world, sufficient_to destroy an established Christian character. For example, a life prostituted to vicious courses, cannot be denominated a virtuous one, merely from a few acts of humanity, generosity, or patriotism. On the other hand, some of the worthies, recorded in scripture, who fell into temptation and grievous sins, did not destroy their religious character, although they brought a stain on their good profession. Suppose a person of sober habits fall into the sin of intoxication but once or twice during his life; this will not fix on him the character of a drunkard. Neither will he, on the other hand, who is addicted to lying, if he occasion. ally speak the truth, be denominated a person of veracity. Greatly to extol any person, because a few things are eminently in his favour, and to pro
nounce such an one upright on the account of these, when other circumstances are not correspondent, discovers weakness of mind, and a want of a knowledge of the world, and of the word of God. Neither should we be hasty to condemn any one as possessing a bad character, because some faults appear; but should learn his varied deportment, especially bis daily walk, would we form an opinion concerning his true worth.
Ist. Little things make up the character of a man, as it respects the common conduct and affairs of life. Some persons with great activity, occasionally exert themselves and effect much in the course of a day; but this does not entitle them to the character of industry, although they be applauded, for performing unparalleled labours, or eflecting wondrous exploits. But, if a person be daily and perseveringly engaged in some useful occupation; although he be able to accomplish but little, he is justly called an industri
Sometimes acts of enterprise make a man wealthy; and at once, secure a fortune. rally to accumulate property little by little, is the manner by which we are to obtain the character of faithful stewards in the good things of this life, and to have economy and frugality witress our daily conduct. Again: little things will render a man a prodigal and spendthrift
. Prodigality, which like a food, desolates the best of farms, and buries in sad ruins large estates, is frequently made up of little things, perhaps not larger than hall gills. Negligence and wastefulness in matters of small moment, will soon arise to a great and sad amount. Very few, at • one hazardous blow, lavish an estate; but thousands squander away their substance insensibly and their little excesses, like a moth, consuine all they possess. It is a common proverb, Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves. So the wasting of cents, is the consumption of thousands of dollars. Thus the present prospects of a man,
whether goodly or sad, depend generally on little things, which serve to form his character.
2d. Little things make up the character of mankind as honest or dishonest. For illustration let a few examples be taken. Suppose a merchant set an unreasonable price on some articles, with which the buyer is not acquainted. He is a cheat; for his store is opened with an implicit promise of dealing fairly and honourably. He might as well, by slight of hand, take money from a person's pocket without his knowledge. Let him so adjust bis weights, that he will fraudulently save but half a penny weight on each pound he weighs, he is a dishonest man. He needs not be chargeable with open injustice, or cheating by the gross, in order to establish his true character; for he makes this up by little things. But this same person would defraud others of large sums, could he over-reach them and not be detected. And if he be not dishonest in concerns of large amount, the true reason is, not that he is not a dishonest character, but because he believes such a course of dishonest dealing, would not in the end, so well answer his unlawful gain. This is the true import of the expression, He that is unjust in the least, is vnjust also in much. Take by contrast, one who is conscientiously honest in all the smaller concerns and pursuits of life, and the same principle will lead him to uprightness when matters of much importance are presented before him. For it is equally true, he that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much. Let a silversmith knowingly defraud those of whom he buys or to whom he sells, of only one cent on a dollar, or an ounce of old silver, he stamps his own character with dishonesty. But let him fear dishonest gain in trivial concerns; and he will not dare attempt it in those which are weighty, Suppose that a farmer, in every half bushel of grain or other things, that he buys or sells, wrongs another of only one gill
. This may be called a trifling dishonesty; but as little as it is, the words of the text announce it to be the true standard of his character. Not only are false weights, false measures, and a false balance, an abomination to the Lord; but also trifling and designed errours, when we have those which are true. Suppose a minister of the gospel preach the truth clearly and forcibly, with wisdom and faithfulness; but that be lead not a life of piety, nor seeks to follow the directions which he gives to others. He is not only inconsistent, but doubly dishonest. A striking discourse, or a splendid appearance on the Sabbath, will not avail as a substitute for the smaller or more private duties of the week. Let these few examples serve as glasses for persons of every trade, pursuit
, and profession, into which they may look, and discern their true character. The application is easy; and that we examine and judge ourselves by little things, is of vast importance. We need not be deceived, nor seek for great things, in order to tell what manner of spirit we possess; for little things are the criterion, which decide the character of a man.
3d. Little things may make up the character of a defamer or slanderer. The tongue is a little member and it needs not utter great words, nor very bitter sayings, in order to do much injury. Persons may be free from open railing slander, and by discourses of surmises and curious inquiries, most effectually defame their neighbours. There are some who profess a tenderness for the character of others, and who, by their insinuations, aim to cast a reproach upon their good name. They would not be seen railing against them on publick occasions; but in the presence of a few, they are ever ready to express their doubts and fears concerning them. They give caution not to have their remarks spread, under pretence that they would not wish to injure them; but in reality, that they may sheath a dagger in their hearts. In many instances, the secret whispers and slanders of
an envious tongue, are more pernicious than open and rank defamation. They are like a poisonous and deadly serpent, which is more to be dreaded, when concealed under the grass, than in an open field. Persons of uprightness and integrity, stand secure from open and virulent attacks; but what can secure from secret aspersions, uttered with the spirit of satan, and clothed with the appearance of an angel? Who does not know that hints, surmises, and doubtful inquiries, though little things, are most fatal weapons ? Let whisperers and backbiters, talebearers and busy bodies, yea and all of us, remember that flagrant expressions are not necessary and essential to slander; but that little things, may most effectually make up the character of a defamer. 4th. A moral and amiable character is made
of little things; which consists simply in rendering to all, their dues. It is but a little thing that some be acknowledged as superiours, and honoured according to the dignity of their station, and the excellence of their character. The same courteous and friendly treatment, which we may reasonably expect from our equals, is an easy rule to regulate our conduct towards them; and we need not call it too small a thing, or esteem it beneath us, to pay proper attention to those whom we consider our inferiours. The
parental character is made up of a train of little things, of varied and repeated acts, which are the natural result of parental affection. It is certainly a great work to train up a child in the way he should go; and it is equally true, that little things, in due season, are sufficient to effect this. The duty of a child towards his parents, does not consist in great, but in little things. All the social duties may be comprised in seasonable attention and suitable conversation, and demand not brilliant talents nor extraordinary exertions. The character of the charitable man, is not formed from bestowing large sums; but from his rea