Zechariah 4:10
For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven eyes of the LORD, which scan the whole earth, will rejoice when they see the plumb line in Zerubbabel's hand."
A Little Woman and a Big WarZechariah 4:10
Christian Appreciation of Little ThingsCharles H. Parkhurst, D. D.Zechariah 4:10
Day of Small Things -- a Talk with ChildrenDavid Davies.Zechariah 4:10
Duty in Relation to the LittleHomilistZechariah 4:10
Encouragement for the DepressedCharles Haddon Spurgeon Zechariah 4:10
Folly of Despising Small ThingsJ. G. Pilkington, M. A.Zechariah 4:10
God's Blessing on the Day of Small ThingsE. J. B.Zechariah 4:10
Great Results from Small BeginningsJ. Summefield, A. M.Zechariah 4:10
Great Results from Small BeginningsZechariah 4:10
No Influence is SmallG. H. Wetherbe.Zechariah 4:10
Nothing Should be DespisedJohn Robertson.Zechariah 4:10
Small BeginningsJohn Angel James.Zechariah 4:10
Small ThingsJ. H. Evans.Zechariah 4:10
Small ThingsH. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.Zechariah 4:10
Small, But EnoughZechariah 4:10
The Day of Small ThingsW. H. Hutchings, M. A.Zechariah 4:10
The Day of Small ThingsHenry Melvill, B. D.Zechariah 4:10
The Day of Small ThingsJohn C. Miller.Zechariah 4:10
The Day of Small ThingsJohn Foster.Zechariah 4:10
The Day of Small ThingsJ. Bowen Jones, B. A.Zechariah 4:10
The Day of Small Things not to be DespisedE. Payson, D. D.Zechariah 4:10
The Regard of God for Small Beginnings, Physical and SpiritualEdward White.Zechariah 4:10
The Resolution of a MomentJ. C. Geikie.Zechariah 4:10
The Significance of Apparent TriflesG. Brooks.Zechariah 4:10
Weak Grace EncouragedWilliam Jay.Zechariah 4:10
Man as a Student of the Divine Revelation and a Doer of Divine WorkD. Thomas Zechariah 4:1-10
Man as a Student of the Divine Revelation and a Doer of Divine WorkHomilistZechariah 4:1-14
The Candelabrum and Olive TreesW. L. Alexander, D. D.Zechariah 4:1-14
The CandlestickF. B. Meyer, B. A.Zechariah 4:1-14
The Golden CandlestickOutlines by a London MinisterZechariah 4:1-14
The Vision of the CandlestickGeorge Hutcheson.Zechariah 4:1-14
Encouragement to Christian WorkersW. Forsyth Zechariah 4:7-10

I. THOUGH THE WORK BE DERIDED, IT IS GOD'S WORK. Therefore we are sure it is right and good. We can throw ourselves into it with all our heart. Patience. What is of God cannot fail.

II. THOUGH THE DIFFICULTIES BE GREAT, THEY ABE CAPABLE OF BEING OVERCOME, Difficulties are a test. They show what spirit we are of. They separate the chaff from the wheat. Remember "Formality" and "Hypocrisy" in the 'Pilgrim's Progress.' Difficulties are a challenge. They put us on our mettle. Courage mounteth with occasion. Once we can say, "It is our duty," nothing should daunt us (Acts 5:29; Acts 20:24). In A.D. Napoleon wanted to cross the Alps with his army into Italy. He asked Marescot, chief of the engineers, "Is it possible?" He replied, "Yes, but with difficulty." "Let us, then, set out," was the order of the great captain (1 Corinthians 9:25). Difficulties are our education. It is not ease but effort that makes men. "Our antagonist is our helper," said Burke. "He who has battled, were it only with poverty and hard toil, will be found stronger and more expert than be who could stay at home from the battle, concealed among the provision waggons, or even resting uuwatchfully, abiding by the stuff" (Carlyle). So it is in all spheres of activity. "To overcome, we must conquer as we go." Difficulties lead us to a deeper and truer appreciation of our dependence upon God (Romans 5:3-5; Romans 8:31, 37).

III. THOUGH THE PROGRESS BE SMALL, ULTIMATE SUCCESS IS CERTAIN. God's Word is sure. He is truth, and cannot lie. He is love, and cannot betray. He is almighty, and cannot be defeated. The laying of the foundationstone, in his Name, implies the completion of the structure; and, by faith, we already hear the shoutings and the jubilant cries as the work is finished. "Grace, grace unto it!" - F.

Who hath despised the day of small things?
This has ever been a watchword among Christians; small beginnings are not to be despised. Apply —

I. TO THE INSTITUTIONS OF RELIGION. Four reasons why we should not despise the day of small things.

1. Because often the mightiest effects are produced from them, as in the world of nature; in the world of literature; in the world of politics. So in grace. What is it and what will it he? Yet what was its origin?

2. Because God's vower can make the feeblest mighty for the accomplishment of His work.

3. We never know what God intends to do by our understanding. Prescience is not ours. Not having it, we cannot see what God will do.

4. In matters of religion, what is comparatively little is abstractedly great. Then if you want to do much for God, do not generalise so much. Do not be discouraged by seeing how many are unsaved, look at the one saved.

II. TO PERSONAL AND PRIVATE RELIGION. Religion is often small in its commencement — sometimes rapid, sudden conviction, but ordinarily more slow. This day of small things may be despised by scorn; by opposition; by neglect. First impressions are sacred; treat them as such. The day of small things is not despised by those who best know its value; the Father of Mercies; the Son; Angels; or Satan. It is the pledge of greater days that are coming. Apply to ministers; parents; Sabbath school teachers; the lately awakened.

(J. Summefield, A. M.)

Despondency paralyses exertion, but hope stimulates and supports it. Despondency is never so likely to be felt as at the commencement of an undertaking, when there are few to support it and many to oppose it; when the beginning is so small as to excite the apprehensions of its friends and the derision of its enemies. The Jews who returned from the Babylonish captivity felt this when they applied themselves to the rebuilding of the temple. "Small beginnings are not to be despised," Consider this sentiment —

I. IN APPLICATION TO PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS. The age in which we live is happily and honourably distinguished by a spirit of religious zeal So many are the associations throughout our country, for humane and pious purposes of every form, that charity, where it has but a solitary offering, is almost bewildered in its choice. Those only who have known by experience what it is to originate a new institution, especially if it be out of the ordinary routine of Christian effort, can form an adequate idea of the labour, patience, and heroism which are requisite to carry it to maturity, amidst the doubts of the sceptical, the mistakes of the ignorant, the misrepresentations of the slanderous, and the cold and selfish calculations of the lukewarm. But still, small beginnings are not to be despised.

1. The most wonderful effects have resulted from causes apparently very small. Illustrate from the natural, intellectual, and political world, and in the world of grace. Trace the cause of Protestantism to its commencement. Contemplate the progress of Methodism. Or note the beginnings of great missionary societies, or the Bible Society.

2. We should not despise the day of small things, because the power of God can still render the feeblest instruments productive of the greatest results. The feeblest preacher may be the honoured instrument of conversion, when the most eloquent has preached in vain.

3. However discouraging appearances may be, we never know what God really intends us to do, or to do by us. We can never look to the result of our actions in their influence upon others. No man who devotes himself to the cause of religious benevolence can say what use God intends to make of him, but it is often far greater than he is aware. Illustrate by Robert Raikes, or Wesley.

4. In religion, what may seem little by comparison, is, when viewed positively and absolutely, immensely great. We may offend against the injunction of the text by inattention. We do not advocate an indiscriminate precipitate zeal. Or by scorn. If the object of a scheme be good, if the means appear adapted to the end, let it not be contemned because it is at present in the infancy of its age, and of its strength. All that is sublime in Christianity was once confined to a little circle of poor men and women. Neglect is another way of sinning against the letter and spirit of the text. Especially let those who are the principal agents in schemes of benevolence beware of despising the day of small things. Let them not too soon sink into a state of depression. If they have fears, they should conceal them, and exhibit only their hopes.


1. Religion is often small in its commencement. This is not always the case. Sometimes a transformation of character takes place, as complete as it is rapid. But the usual process of this great change is much more slow. The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed. There are many ways in which the small beginning of personal religion may be despised. It may be ridiculed as the fanaticism of a weak mind, or the enthusiasm of a heated imagination, or the whim of a capricious taste. Ridicule is not unfrequently coupled with direct opposition, Men who find laughter avails nothing are very likely to exchange it for wrath. Neglect, however, is that which comes more immediately within the spirit of this part of the subject. The first appearances of religion in the soul do not always receive from others the prompt, affectionate, and skilful attention which they demand and deserve. First impressions, unless carefully watched, like the young buds of fruit trees in the spring, will soon fall off from the mind and come to nothing.

2. Reasons why the day of small things ought not to be despised. It is not despised by those who best know its importance. It is not neglected or contemned by the Eternal Father Angels do not despise it. The beginnings of religion lead on to great and glorious attainments. Our subject has its special admonition to ministers, and to parents, and to Sunday-school teachers, and to Christians generally.

(John Angel James.)

I. SOMETHING ABOUT GOD. These words show us that humility is, if I may say so, a portion of the Divine character. He does not despise "the day of small things." It is impossible to find lowliness in the Divine nature in its essence, because there is nothing upon which to base it. The life of God is a necessary life. There is room for this virtue in the Divine actions, though not in the Divine essence. Note the absence of ostentation in all God's works of nature or of grace. Note the condescension of Divine providence. Not only in its prime, m its perfection, in its maturity, in its grand completeness, does God take delight in the soul, but in the nascent form of undeveloped life, the very foundation of the spiritual structure. He does not despise first beginnings; it is even true that in the "day of small things" God especially acts.

II. SOMETHING ABOUT SMALL THINGS. We despise little things, and think them beneath us. Our thoughts and measurements are so different from God's thoughts and measurements. And this results from pride, which makes us think so many things beneath us, not worthy of care and of finish. It arises also from a certain ignorance of the value of little things. The text implies that they are important.

1. Because our life is made u of little things.

2. In their effect upon our spiritual life, because they require so much effort.


1. It teaches us hope. God does not despise, because He sees in His eternal mind the results.

2. We learn patience from it.

3. It must fill us with emulation. This will make us persevere and long to make progress.

(W. H. Hutchings, M. A.)

It was but a small and feeble remnant that returned from the captivity in Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Their spirits broken by slavery, their cohesion imperfect, their resources limited, their well wishers few; the adversaries arrogant and numerous, the difficulties manifold and dispiriting. It was as if a fraction of a swarm of bees were striving to rebuild their hive under the ceaseless attacks of a cloud of malignant wasps or hornets. Their souls were exceedingly filled with contempt by the scorn of Sanballat, who cried aloud, "What do these feeble Jews? Will they revive the stones of the temple out of the heaps of burned rubbish? If a fox shall go up even he shall break down their stone wall." Now this contempt of Sanballat well represents the scorn with which the great world regards all religious beginnings both in individual lives and in society. The notion which prevails so wisely as to the hopes of Christians might be expressed thus: "These aspirations of yours after union with the Infinite and Everlasting Cause, after an indestructible life in God, are too absurd. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and consider their magnificence, look upon the illimitable vastness of that celestial machinery, the number of those worlds on worlds, which shine through the eternal darkness; and then look down on yourselves, and at mankind, a cloud of ephemeral insects passing away. Who can believe that such 'minims of nature' have any permanent relation with the universe, much less with its Maker? Face the inevitable, and do not shrink from the nothingness which is your doom." The one all-sufficing answer to these degrading counsels is to be found in the words of the prophet of the restoration. "Who hath despised the clay of small things?" The law of the Divine action is evolution from small beginnings, the development of all organic growths from germs, and the gradual transformation of lower into higher forms of being. Suppose the seeds of all the flora of the world in all its latitudes could be offered to our view in one panoramic vision. Who could suppose, apart from experience, that out of such a collection of black or grey or yellow dots, or tiny cones, or coloured berries, could spring the cloud-piercing forests of the tropics, or of the American Andes, and all the radiant glories of the flowers, shrubs, and trees of the temperate zones? Who could believe that such a marvellous universe of lovely form and lovelier colour lay hid under the appearance of such insignificant beginnings? Extend the thought to the world of birds, to the development of their airy figures and varied plumages, and places of abode, and modes of living, all springing from invisible vital germs concealed in eggs throughout all their uncountable millions of millions; and finally enlarge the conception by taking in the whole animal world similarly developed. Who after such a review could rationally despise the day of small things? It is a world unceasingly renewed from invisible points of life — points of life developed under a Divine pervading power into the universe of wonders that we see around us. The visible and material is a type of the unseen. "First the seed, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. So is the kingdom of God." And this leads us directly to the Divine lessons inculcated by the prophet in the name of the living God: "Who hath despised the day of small things?" — the lessons learned from God Himself and His own loving procedure

(1)Of respect for all early growths in the days of their feebleness;

(2)Of toleration for all the defects of their early stages; and

(3)Of patience with undeveloped natures.

1. The old Latin proverb teaches us that "great reverence is due to the young." Oftentimes there is very little of this shown to them. Many of the most unpleasant qualities of children are frequently the direct result of the infamous treatment which they receive from their elders. Try to be a sun to your planets, not raining down on them only the cold light of instruction and reproof, but the warmer rays of a beneficent friendship. Wise words cannot take the place of loving deeds. Flowers must have sunshine. Souls must have tenderness. If you "despise the day of small things" here, you despise the foundations of the future structures of the temple of the Lord.

2. In the same manner respect the beginnings of early religion. Many adult Christians appear to have no faith in the reality and value of early piety. Let us never despise the day of small things, but understanding our Lord's regard for elementary faith and love, never be detected in breaking, as unworthy of reliance, the bruised reed of childhood, or quenching the tiny spark on its smoking flax.

3. In the same manner we have to learn, if ourselves established Christians, to understand and sympathise with the imperfect development of character in the earlier stages of adhesion to the Son of God. It would be delightful if all Christians were suddenly struck into perfection, as a disc of gold is struck with some heroic image on one side, and with St. George's victory over the dragon on the other. But it is not so. The plant of righteousness is a growth. The temple slowly rises. The formation of the Divine likeness is both a creative and an imitative process. Children are childish in both worlds. But who hath despised the immature stages of development? It is as if you enter a sculptor's studio. You see here an almost shapeless lump of clay; there a mass beginning to put on the human form; there a bust beginning to speak with the lines of nobleness or beauty; there a piece of marble undergoing the first rougher process of assimilation; there an artist at work with hammer and chisel, striking frequent blows with passionate ardour, as said Michael Angelo, as if he would "set free the imprisoned angel"; there the master hand at work on his final touches, which are to breathe soul into the stone, and beauty and life into the dead material, and to impress on it, perhaps, a likeness which shall transmit to future ages the countenance which overawed or delighted contemporary generations. Even so in the Church you see souls in all stages of progress under the Supreme Artist's touch. Learn, then, to tolerate the defects of incipient development. We know not what we shall be, and we see not what others will be. Simon, the passionate fisherman of Bethsaida, became the steadfast and devoted Rock, or Petra, on which Christ has built His Church. The Son of thunder became the Apostle of love. The ferocious and murderous Saul became the gentle and all-embracing father of the Gentile Churches. God only knows what He will bring out of any thing. Man can bring light out of the blackest coal, and the colours of the rainbow in the aniline dyes are extracted from gas tar. And so God can convert carbon into the diamond, and souls swarming with many devils, into the "sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty." How hopeful as well as tolerant should such a retrospect make us in relation to the unfinished individualities around us. We must see the "end of the Lord" before we judge of tits work. There is but one Eye that sees the end from the beginning, and that is the eye of the Eternal. That which is last to our thought is first to Him. The evolutionary prospect is ever before Him, and in looking at each creature He sees what that creature shall become in all the stages of its future eternity. We know not what we shall be; but we know that to despise small things now is to contradict the processes of Divine thought, and to flout the methods of Divine procedure. Each soul is the subject of a work which will never end, under the hand of the Omnipotent Designer. And that which will satisfy us, when we awake in His likeness, and will satisfy Him when He rests with delight, and sees His work to be "very good," in the endless Sabbath, will also satiate the desires of His under-workmen. Oh, what will be the heaven of such a man as St. Paul! It is this vision, in its different degrees of glory, which the Omniscient Mind sees beforehand for all God's servants in the eternal future; and it is because He sees it, that He warns us never to "despise the day of small things"; because each soul is what God sees it to be, not only now, but in its future development.

(Edward White.)

1. God's great mind, so infinitely above our level, does not perceive all the distinctions we are wont to make between what we denominate great and small. To a person greatly elevated, all below — people and buildings — appears equally small, even so Jehovah is too high to perceive the various grades of greatness and littleness into which we are accustomed to divide the affairs of life.

2. It has ever been God's plan to work from apparently small beginnings; had He chosen He could have commanded great things at once into existence, but He has said, "A little one shall become a thousand," etc. (Isaiah 60:22). The great Saviour came into the world as a weak babe: His great kingdom commenced with twelve men, most of whom were unlearned. Mark the insignificant beginnings of modern missions, of Sunday Schools, or of our Christian Endeavour Movement! Truly, "God chose the foolish things of the world that He might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world that He might put to shame the things that are strong," etc. (1 Corinthians 1:27).

3. These who despise the day of small things will never accomplish great works. It is dangerous and disastrous to make light of the small beginnings of evil, sin, or bad habits. The modern scientific theory of germs may be used as an apt illustration, showing how the neglect of even infinitesimal atoms is the cause of so much fatal disease.

4. The tenderness of God comes out in His regard for the small and weak. "A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory" (Matthew 12:20). Our Lord often referred to the small beginnings of His kingdom, comparing them to "seeds," "a grain of mustard seed," "a little leaven" (Matthew 11.). The day of small things is the day of precious things, but we are not to be satisfied until it becomes the day of great things.

5. Small things marked the beginning of the work in the hand of Zerubbabel, so small was the foundation in the eyes of those who had seen the glory of the former temple, that "they wept with a loud voice" (Ezra 3:12) at the comparison; but God assured them that, in the latter end, its glory should be greater, inasmuch as the Messiah Himself would stand within its walls, and His Gospel be proclaimed therein (Acts 5:42).

6. There is great comfort here, for all depressed builders of the spiritual temple. The work progresses so slowly, that we are often discouraged. But let the work of grace be ever so small in Its beginnings, the plummet is in good hands. The great Master Builder will surely accomplish that which He begins. Jesus Christ lathe finisher as well as the author of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

7. "God's blessing on it" is the secret of all success. Work, great or small, without this is utter failure. "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord" (Zechariah 4:6).

(E. J. B.)

Value of little things may be seen in —

I. GOD'S PROVIDENTIAL DEALINGS WITH HIS CHURCH. Give illustrations from both Old Testament and New, from the Reformation, and from modern missionary societies.


1. In the training of children.

2. In the formation of habits; both good and bad. Conclusion —(1) God is with the Church still. Then there is hope in our small beginnings.(2) .Patiently work, biding God's time.(3) Find encouragement in temptation in this, that "He will not break the bruised reed," and if faith be weak, remember that a child may as really (though not as firmly) hold a staff as a strong man.

(J. G. Pilkington, M. A.)

No doubt many of the Jews had looked with a sort of contempt on the apparently insignificant beginning which had been made towards restoring the religion of their fathers, and had discouraged one another by insinuating that what commenced with so much feebleness was never likely to reach a successful termination. They might have known better. Just because there seemed to be but little proportion between the agency and the end, they decided at once that success was hardly to be looked for, and that it was useless to persevere in an endeavour so palpably hopeless. These Jews have been imitated by men of every age. Much of the evil that exists in the world may be traced to the despising "the day of small things."

I. THE REASONS WHICH LIE AGAINST SUCH DESPISING. God is wont to work through instruments or means, which in human calculation are disproportioned to the ends which He designs to accomplish. He does not always take what appears to us a mighty agency, when a mighty result is to be achieved. There is in us all a tendency to ascribe to second causes what ought to be ascribed directly to the First. It is by the day of small things that God ordinarily interposes those great revolutions and deliverances which alter the whole state, whether of nations or of individuals. God ordinarily commences with what appears inconsiderable.

II. CERTAIN CASES IN WHICH THE "DAY OF SMALL THINGS" IS DESPISED, WITH THE CONSEQUENCES THAT ARE THENCE LIKELY TO ENSUE. We are likely to make light of small things. Take the case of the slave of bad habits. Few plunge immediately into evil. Most men begin by deviating from the right in some one small particular. And it is thin small beginning which it is perilous to despise. Observe the ordinary course followed by God in His spiritual operations on unconverted men. They are not for the most part to be distinguished from the operations of their own minds. There is a small beginning of influence which it is perilous to despise.

(Henry Melvill, B. D.)

1. WHAT ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND BY THE "DAY OF SMALL THINGS"? It is the course of God that the beginning shall be small to lead to great effects. We see this in creation, in providence, and in grace. In many a young and tender heart there has been just a thought, then a misgiving, then a desire, then a prayer. And that was just the day of small things: it was the first dawning of a bright day. When God begins the work, He carries it on in His own way, therefore perseverance is the great mark of effectual calling. Think of those who, though not young in years, are the weak in faith. They are always wavering between hopes and fears. Wherever we look we may see a "day of small things."

II. WHO HATH DESPISED IT? God does not. Jesus will not despise them. Take care lest you should be found despising it. Apply to ministers, parents, teachers. The gradual work in souls is little discernible, but, when duly reflected on, it is as clearly to be traced out as any other.

(J. H. Evans.)


1. The seed.

2. The mountain rivulet.

3. The spark.

4. The child.


1. Scriptural, as Joseph, Moses, David, Esther.

2. General, as Cromwell, Napoleon.


1. Introduction of the Gospel.

2. Reformation.

3. The religious denominations.

4. Benevolent and religious institutions.

(G. Brooks.)

It is a "day of small things" with you as regards your —

I. CONVICTION OF SIN. How easy it is to know ourselves to be sinners, how hard to feel ourselves to be such. We distress ourselves because it seems to us as if we could not repent. But beware of imagining that a certain number of tears, a certain standard of repentance is to qualify you for the blessings of Christ's salvation. Try yourself thus, "How do I feel with regard to sin? Have I any desire to be rid of it in its power, as well as in its consequences? Do I feel any real degree of hatred towards it? Do I desire to hate it?" If you can answer in the affirmative, this is a sure proof that God's Spirit has not forsaken you. The Spirit's office is to convince of sin.

II. FAITH. Your cry is, "Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief." You have no doubts as to the power of Christ's work; but you can scarcely believe there is salvation for you. Many are in darkness and disquietude through lack of faith. It may be a "day of small things" as regards your faith in God's providence.

III. CHRISTIAN GRACES AND THE PRACTICAL INFLUENCE OF RELIGION ON THE LIFE. This again is a source of deep humiliation and much disquietude to you. Be not discouraged. The work of grace is gradual; you cannot sow the seed and have blossom and fruit in a day.

IV. SPIRITUAL PEACE AND JOY. It cannot be presumption to claim what God bestows, what Christ has purchased.

V. RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE. You find many difficulties in the Bible. As yet you seem to understand only "first principles of the doctrine of Christ." How then are you to go on to perfection? The Spirit, to teach and enlighten, as well as to sanctify and comfort you, is covenanted to you. You shall grow in knowledge as in grace.

(John C. Miller.)

In this message God reproved those who had regarded the new temple with contempt, and those also who thought that they were unable to finish it. He informed them that the work was His, that it was to be effected not by human might nor power, but by His Spirit. Zerubbabel should finish it, and those who had despised the feeble commencement of the work should witness its completion.

I. IN ALL GOD'S WORKS THERE IS USUALLY A "DAY OF SMALL THINGS." There is a season in which His work makes but a very small and unpromising appearance. Illustrate from the beginnings of the Christian Church, and from the work of grace in the hearts of individuals.

II. MANY PERSONS DESPISE "THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS." God's enemies did so in Zechariah's time. The friends of God do. They think too little of it; they undervalue it, and they are by no means sufficiently thankful for it, and therefore may be said, comparatively speaking, to despise it. Illustrate, times of religious revival generally begin with persons of no social standing, and so revivals are often despised. Even Christians too lightly esteem the work of God in their own hearts.


1. Such conduct tends to prevent its becoming a day of great things.

2. Because the inhabitants of heaven, whose judgment is according to truth, do not despise it.

3. Because our Saviour does not despise it. "The smoking flax He will not quench."

4. Our Heavenly Father does not despise it.

5. Because it is the commencement of a day of great things. Apply —(1) By asking every individual present, is it with you, in a religious sense, even so much as a "day of small things"? Beware how you deny or underestimate what God has done for you.(2) There is an opposite error. Instead of despising the day, some professors make too much of it, and are too satisfied with it. They conclude too hastily that the work of grace is begun in their hearts, and flatter themselves that it will go on, without their attention.

(E. Payson, D. D.)

It is not easy to determine what is small. Things, at first apparently trivial and uninteresting, often become very great and momentous. It is so in nature, in science, in political affairs, in moral concerns. What inference should we derive hence? A philosopher will not despise the day of small things; a statesman will not; a moralist will not — and should a Christian? Apply the question entirely to the subject of religion.

1. The work of grace in the soul is frequently small in its commencement. The Christian is a soldier, and the beginning of his career is naturally the day of small things. The Christian is a scholar; and when he enters the school, it is, of course, a "day of small things;" he begins with the rudiments.

2. Three reasons why the day of small things is not to be despised.(1) Our Saviour does not despise it. He received and blessed the weak.(2) Because such a day is precious. Real grace is infinitely valuable. It is the work of God; the image of God; the glory of God; the delight of God. A little grace is too precious to be despised.(3) Because it will be a day of great things. The child will become a man, contemn not his infancy. Divine grace shall assuredly increase. What is sown in weakness shall be raised in power. Conclude with a question — Is it even a day of small things with you? With an admonition. Do not overlook or undervalue imperfect religion, whether in yourselves or others. If you are upright in heart you will be in most danger of despising it in yourselves. You are in some danger with regard to others. You may think too little of a real work of grace. You may suppose God has done nothing, where He has been doing much. With a caution. Let not the subject cause remissness in duty. Those who have "tasted that the Lord is gracious," will cry "evermore give us this bread." More is attainable. More is desirable. There are two reasons why you should seek growth in grace; one is taken from usefulness, and the other from comfort.

(William Jay.)

Contempt for small beginnings is one of the most ordinary displays of the human disposition, in all departments of affairs, but especially in things connected with sacred interests. Divers of the great powers and influential systems, good or evil, that have had a mighty effect, have in their apparently insignificant origin been despised. Individuals appointed to be of the greatest importance in the world have often experienced contempt in the beginning of their career. This is true of David, and it is in a sense true of the Son of Man. The vain world has always been peculiarly disposed to an unhesitating contempt of the small beginnings of Divine operations, to attribute meanness to what had a relation to infinite greatness. The Christian cause itself, in its early stage, was an object of extreme scorn; every ignominious epithet was connected with the name of a Christian. So fared the great Reformation. We comment on the tendency in men to indulge contempt for good things, in the littleness and weakness of their beginnings and early operations. The case with our world is, that man, having lost his original goodness, was to be under an economy of discipline, for his correction and practical restoration; but that the operation for this was not to be sudden, but by various processes, commencing in an apparent littleness of agency, power, and scope, so as to appear, in human judgment, incompetent to a great purpose. Why has the Sovereign Wisdom appointed it so? It is a higher discipline for the servants of God, as agents in a good cause, as it brings their principle of obedience under a more plain, unequivocal proof. It tends to keep them under a direct, pressing conviction that all the power is of God. They will also have a stronger sense of the value of the good that is so hardly and so slowly accomplished. Can we expose the error and injustice of this disposition to despise small beginnings? It comes from not duly apprehending the preciousness of what is good, in any, even the smallest portion of it. Any essential good, in the highest sense, is a thing of inexpressible value: especially so in an evil world, where it is scattered among baser elements. Again, in the indulgence of this disposition, it is left out of sight, how much, in many cases, was requisite to be previously done, to bring the small beginning into existence at all: it did not start into existence of itself. Though small, it may have been the result of a large combination. Another thing is that we are apt to set far too high a price on our own efforts and services. Far enough from small, truly, have been our labours, expenditures, sacrifices, self-denials, inconveniences, pleadings, perhaps prayers. Our self-importance cannot endure that so much of our agency, ours, should be consumed for so small a result. A tenth part of the pains should have done as much. It is not an equivalent; and it is a hard doom to work on such terms. Again, we overmeasure our brief span of mortal existence. We want all that is done for the world to be done in our time. We want to contract the Almighty's plan to our own limits of time, and to precipitate the movement, that we may clearly see the end of it. In all this there is the impiety of not duly recognising the supremacy of God. The grand essential of religion — faith — is wanting; faith in the unerring wisdom of the Divine scheme and determinations: faith in the goodness of God. With such faith let us look on the "day of small things," and remonstrate against the tendency to despise it; whether it be in good men, from impatience, and a very censurable self-importance; or in worldly men, from irreligion. Look into the natural world, as having an analogy emblematical of a higher order of things. In nature we see many instances of present actual littleness containing a powerful principle of enlargement: such as the seed of a plant, the germ of a flower, the acorn of the oak. In fire there is a mysterious principle of tremendous power. Does the parent despise the day of small things in his infant? Turn to the kingdom of God on earth, the promotion of which is the cause of God. There the small things are to be estimated according to what they are to become. But what things, as yet comparatively small, come under this description? We answer all things, judiciously and in good faith, attempted to promote the best cause, that is, to diminish the awful sum of human depravity and misery. Efforts to diminish ignorance. The topic includes the progress of genuine Christianity. Looking abroad, we can but think it a "day of small things" for Christianity. But what is it, that, on this account, shall be despised? Is it Christianity itself, or is it God who sent it? We may be confident that when God makes or causes a beginning of a good work, it is intended for progress and expansion. Now to remonstrate and warn against "despising." To a decidedly irreligious contemner, we might say, "Beware what you do; for if the thing be of God you are daring Him by your contempt." There is also admonition to those who are too apt to fall into something like what the text describes, — not from hostility to religion and general improvement, but from want of faith, — from indolence, cowardice, or mere worldly calculation, — reckoning on things without reckoning on God. To undervalue is in a certain sense to "despise." Shall there not be an admonition to examine whether pride, or sluggishness, or covetousness have not something to do with it? In some cases, it partly proceeds from the less blamable cause of a gloomy, apprehensive, disconsolate constitution of mind, — looking on the dark side, — dismayed by difficulties, — prone to fear the most and hope the least, dwelling on remembered and recorded failures more than on successes. But there may be the interference of pride. A man shall have such a notion of himself, and of a good cause, as to deem it unbefitting his dignity to connect or concern himself with it. It is not of an order, or in a state, to reflect any honour on a man of his high sentiments, refined habits, or consideration in society. With some men a good work or design is of "small" account, when it has not the quality for rousing the sluggish temperament, nothing to excite gaze and wonder. Covetousness is one of the most decided practical "despisings." Most truly does a man treat the good things as contemptibly small, when he deems them not worth his money, that is, money which he could afford. We would rather refer to such as were not positively enemies, whose "despising," in a mitigated sense of the word, was from little faith, self-sparing, false prudence, worldly calculation. They have lived to see that the good cause can do without them, and that there were more generous, liberal, magnanimous spirits to be found in the community. Well, at all events, the good cause of God, of Christ, of human improvement, is certain, is destined to advance and triumph. It may at last be seen that the whole course of the world, from the beginning to the end, was "a day of small things," as compared with the sequel — only as a brief introduction to an immense and endless economy.

(John Foster.)

Zerubbabel was taught of the Lord to hold in due esteem even the imperfect commencement already made, and to regard with a degree of assurance and satisfaction the feeble results his hands had already wrought. This is but one of the uncounted instances, both in Scripture and in nature, of the affectionate interest with which God regards "little things." It is not quite easy and natural for us to think of God as putting all the skill of His thought and interest of His heart in the small matters of His providence and His workmanship. In all our attempts to figure and localise Him, we resort instantly and spontaneously to words that represent immensity of height, and breadth, and circuit. It is not the drop, but the ocean — not the pebble, but the mountain that seems to us redolent of Divine suggestion, and freighted with Divine presence. This tendency prompts us to see God in the flashing of the lightning, and to hear Him in the pealing of the thunder, but makes us deaf to Him in the pattering of the rain, the sighing of the wind, and the twittering of the sparrow. Happy is the man and the prophet that has the ear to detect the Divineness that lodges in the little quiet voices of God's works and providences. It is only when we pass into the New Testament that we get the best assurances of God's distributed regard, and of His detailed interest and affection. It is the genius of the Gospel to try and convince men of God's fatherly concern for us. But fatherly concern always particularises and individualises: and so in the Gospel there is not much about the sky, but a great deal about the ground: not much about masses of men, but about individual men. God feeds the bird, paints the lily, clothes the grass. "Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Christ's history, from the Baptism to the Ascension, is mostly made up of little words, little deeds, little prayers, little sympathies, adding themselves together in unwearied succession. One reason why we have no more continuous and solid comfort in our Christian life is, that we are looking and feeling after great joys, and neglecting and failing to economise the multitude of little blessings that are within reach, and that, if husbanded and cultivated, would go, in most cases, to compose a life quite substantially delightful and quite solidly comfortable. It is not well to pray for great joys. There is something disturbing and unsettling in them. It is a great deal better to pray that we may have our hearts let into an appreciation of our everyday joys, and into an appreciation of the goodness of God in that these everyday joys come to a very quiet but very steady expression. We want a Christian genius for infusing sublimity into trifles. Some one has said, "It is better that joy should be spread over all the day, in the form of strength, than that it should be concentrated into ecstasies, full of danger, and followed by reactions." Our lives would be more fruitful if we let our hearts feel the incessant droppings of heavenly mercy. The constant dropping of God's little goodnesses seems designed, not so much for their own sakes, but, like the constant dropping of the rain, that they may be to us a kind of heavenly fertility, soaking in at the soul's pores, and sinking down around the roots of our manly Christian purposes, nourishing those purposes, becoming absorbed into them, and so quickening them, building them up, and pushing them on to fructification. What capacity even the most commonplace living has for affording us discipline. A good angel really hides in every provocation and petty exasperation. The little tests that are given to our temper, our faith, our affection, our consecration, are more efficacious than the larger and more imposing ones. They take us when we are off our guard. There is something in great occasions that nerves us to powers of endurance not properly our own. We ought to show great respect for little opportunities of service and patent continuance in small well-doings.

(Charles H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

I. IT IS SELDOM WISE TO DESPISE "THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS." This is shown by history and observation. Look at nature. Into the hand of an infant may be put an acorn which shall be the parent of many forests. The Wye and the Severn may be turned whithersoever you please at their source, and a child may step over them. At their outset they are indebted to the very smallest possible rill, and even to the tears of rushes. Look at men. Rembrandt painted in a smithy; Pascal traced his Euclid with chalk; Wilkie drew his first rough sketch on the white-washed wails of his father's rooms with a burnt stick; and it was with a burnt stick on his father's barn door that one of Wales's most celebrated preachers learned to write. Luther was but the son of a miner, Carey a shoemaker, and Morrison a last maker! And who can help going back to the humble company of the Galilean fisherman who afterwards turned the world upside down. Sydney Smith made sport of the Baptist Missionary Society, because the first collection on its behalf was only £13, 2s. 6d.; and to come to a recent Lancashire political movement, who can forget the Anti-corn law league's "day of small things" and subsequent grand success?


1. There is a heartlessness in it. It is during "the day of small things" that men need sympathy and help. Johnson in composing his dictionary, and many others in all fields of labour. "To him that hath shall be given." At one point in a man's history, a kind word, a sympathising look, and a cordial grasp of the hand will be felt to be of more service than any amount of money at a subsequent stage in his career.

2. There is a cowardice in it. The cowardice of sneering at honest, well-meant efforts on a small scale.

3. There is an injustice in it. The injustice of withholding encouragement and praise from men who so act as to deserve success, whether they succeed or not. Blessed is the man who still believes that "wisdom is better than folly, though it fail to bring him bread during the reign of fools." The right — the Christian thing should take precedence of all calculations as to the scale of operations. The right must be weighed in its own scales — tested by its own standard.The extreme importance of not "despising the day of small things" in regard to —

1. The formation of bad and irreligious habits.

2. The formation of religious habits, and the cherishing of religious impressions and convictions.

3. The present attainments and spiritual stature of professing and real Christians.

4. The final prevalence of Christianity throughout the world.


We are all inclined to underestimate the importance of little things whenever we see them. We should not despise them —

1. Because small things are often too powerful to be despised. Our enemies are microbes, not lions. The discoveries of science are chiefly in the direction of showing the terror of small things.

2. Because of the exceeding beauty of small things. Illustrate by the revelations of the microscope. Their beauty teaches us that God has taken care to make, not only big things, but even the smallest things exquisitely beautiful. He is such a perfect worker that He would not do anything imperfectly. And with us, careful attention to little things will help to form a noble character for life. If you become negligent and slovenly in school you will, by and by, be slovenly in life. There is no knowing what little things may become as time unfolds. You little children, learn of Jesus Christ and His love, and you may turn out a great reformer, or such an one as Luther, Knox, Wesley, Spurgeon, or Florence Nightingale. Then never treat small opportunities with indifference, but consider that every great thing has come from a little beginning, and that a great life, as a rule, consists of many little things well done.

(David Davies.)

(to children): — You, my children, are living in the day of small things, the day of little sorrows and little joys and little sins and little thoughts and words, but do not despise the day of small things. The greatest results, both of good and evil, come from small beginnings. There is an old fable that the trees of the forest once held a meeting, to complain of the injuries which the woodman's axe had done them. All the trees determined that none of them would give any wood to make a handle for their enemy the axe. The axe went travelling up and down the forest, begging the oak and the elm, the cedar and the ash, to give him wood enough for a handle, but they all refused. At last the axe begged for just enough wood, only a little bit, to enable him to cut down the brambles, which were choking the roots of the trees. Well, they agreed to this, and gave him a little wood, but no sooner had the axe got a handle than the cedar and the oak, the ash and the elm, and all the trees were cut down. So is it with sins and bad habits. They begin with a very small beginning; the tempter whispers, "Is it not a little one?" and then, if you yield to them, they cut you down and destroy you. Remember that one single worm can kill a whole tree. Never think sin is a trifle; it may seem small to you, but it is none the less dangerous. A scorpion is a very small reptile, but it can sting a lion to death. There are plenty of ruined men and women, who began as children by being too idle to get up betimes in the morning, and to do their work. If you want to get rid of the weeds in your garden, pull them up when they are young; don't give them time to grow strong and run to seed. If you want to grow up to be good men and women, try to get the better of bad habits whilst you are young. One of the labours of Hercules was to kill the hydra, a horrible monster with one hundred heads. As fast as one head was cut off two more grew in its place unless the wound was stopped with fire. We have all got some kind of a monster like the hydra to fight with. Perhaps your monster is bad temper, or laziness, or untruthfulness. You must fight against your monster, and cut off its head. And you must get the wound burnt with fire, that the heads may not grow again. I mean, that you must pray to God to help you, and to send the fire of the Holy Spirit to your assistance. Little sins seem like trifles to us. Well, a grain of sand seems a very little thing too, yet millions of grains of sand form a desert, and bury the traveller beneath them. When we do wrong for the sake of pleasing ourselves we think it a small matter, and look forward to having our own way. But we find in time that what we get lay our sin crushes us at last. In the early days of Rome the governor of the citadel, the strongest part of the town, had a daughter called Tarpeia. When the Sabines, a neighbouring tribe, came to attack Rome, Tarpeia promised to open the gates to the enemies of her people. As a reward she asked for what the Sabines carried on their left hands, meaning their golden bracelets. When the treacherous woman had let them in the king of the Sabines not only threw his bracelet upon Tarpeia, but also his heavy shield, which was carried on the left hand. His followers did the same, and Tarpeia was crushed beneath the shields and bracelets. So it is with sin. "The wages of sin is death." Again little words seem trifles, but they are very important. Such words as "I shan't," "I won't," "I don't care," have made many a parent's heart sad, and spoilt many a promising life.

(H. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.)

In Sir Henry M. Stanley's account of his African experiences he tells of his first encounter with a pigmy tribe that used poisoned arrows. With contemptuous smiles the young men drew out the tiny darts, flung, them away, and continued answering the savages with rifle shots. When the day a fight was over the wounds, which were mere punctures, were syringed with warm water and bandaged, but soon the poison began to be felt, and all who were wounded either died after terrible suffering, or had their constitutions wrecked or were incapacitated for a long time. So the smallest sin does its work in the heart and life, sooner or later. Small, but growing: — When the father of William the Conqueror was departing to the Holy Land he called together the peers of Normandy, and required them to swear allegiance to his young son, who was a mere infant. When the barons smiled at the feeble babe the king promptly replied to their smile: "He may be little now, but he will grow." And he did grow. That same baby hand ere long ruled the nation with a rod of iron. The same may be said of evil in its tiniest form: "It is little, but it will grow." Once let the smallest sin gain the upper hand, and it will destroy the whole life.

The great tendency in many Christians of circumscribed lives is to believe that their influence is small. Tell them that they have a large influence over the people among whom they live, and they will at once dispute it and perhaps blush at the thought of their having any perceptible degree of influence. And this is true of many Christians of acknowledged piety, ability, and clean records. And it is because of this feeling that not a few of these good people do not put forth that effort to reach and help others which they easily might. They are afflicted with a modesty which underrates the real measure of their power and possible ministry. Better realise, Christian brother, that, however weak and narrow your ability may seem to you to be, your influence is never small, but always large. You cannot make it otherwise if you would. An eminent preacher says: "Do not fear that your influence be small; no influence is small: but even if it were, the aggregate of small influences is far more irresistible than the most vigorous and heroic of isolated efforts." Did you ever think of the influence which the odour of a little bed of flowers has? Everything around that bed is influenced by it; everyone coming near it is consciously affected by it. Do not excuse yourself from duty of any sort on the plea of having no influence.

(G. H. Wetherbe.)

When Mrs. Stowe, who wrote "Uncle Tom's Cabin," visited the white House, President Lincoln bent over her, saying: "And this is the little woman who made this big war?" The freeing of the serfs in Russia was the result of thoughts aroused by the reading of the novelist's story, so the Czar told Turgenef.

At Toulon, Napoleon, looking out of the batteries, drew back a step to let some one take his place. The next moment the new-arrived was killed. That step brought the French Empire, and made possible the bloody role of its victories and defeats. The rout at Waterloo turned on a shower of rain hindering Grouchy's advance. The resolution of a moment with some men has been the turningpoint of infinite issues to a world.

(J. C. Geikie.)

A little babe is born in a poor miner's home at Eiselben, Saxony, November 1483. Few notice his birth, but in 1519 Martin Luther shakes the foundation of the papal throne, and saves Europe from gross ignorance and superstition. August 25th, 1759, William Wilberforce was born at Hull who imagined that this small babe would one day become the saviour of the slaves, and that on August 15th, 1838, 800,000 African bondsmen would rend the air with cries of "Freedom's come"?

Down at Greenock there, on an ordinary working man's hob, there is a kettle boiling. Kettles have boiled in Scotland millions of times before. Listen to the lid. "Rat-a-tat!" Listen! Don't judge it! The ears of a genius are suddenly fixed on the sound of the lid that is raised by the bubbling of the boiling water. What have you there? You have the birth of the giant steam forces that are abroad on the world today. Don't be hasty either about men or method — about workers or work; you never know what it is to grow to, if God be in it. Over in an American State there is a kite flying as the thundercloud is coming across the sky, and there is a man holding the string like a silly schoolboy. "Oh, what an undignified thing," you say. And he has a key in his hand. He is tapping away at the bottom there, when suddenly a spark is seen. What are you going to say about it? A small thing, yet perhaps one of the mightiest events that ever took place in this world. It is the birth of electricity — the birth of the electric forces that bind the Antipodes to our shores. Ah, be careful! When God is in it you do not know what is to come out of it. But these men, though chosen by God, have got no extra intellect. They have no extra learning, and would have been passed by even for a Socialistic propaganda. It was not likely that these men should carry the banner of the Cross as they did. "Only a little chit of a boy," the elder said at a Scottish communion; "only one chit of a boy joined us this communion"; and he thought the minister was wasting his time, night after night, with that little chit of a boy. But in that Scottish parish there was never such a communion, never such a joining of the Church; for that little boy was Robert Moffat, Africa's missionary. Never despise anything, for you never know to what it will grow.

(John Robertson.)

This very sweet and evangelical minor prophet bore his burden of prophecy after the return from the Babylonish Captivity. The second temple, erected in his time, was of no esteem in the sight of the people, few and poor as they were, whose fathers had boasted to them of the glory of the first temple. But the prophet cheers them as his fellow prophet Haggai did, who said, "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former!" In this despised temple the people would know that the Lord of hosts had sent His servant to them. Man is never so apt to err as in coming to hasty conclusion with regard to God's dealing with him.


1. We live in a small world. Many worlds that surround us in space greatly exceed ours in size. We stand, as it were, upon an atom of God's material creation.

2. Our bodies are small portions of this world. Over these alone we have immediate control, and that in a very partial degree.

3. Our faculties are few. We have but five senses of the body and five of the mind. These are at our command in a limited and imperfect manner.

4. Our knowledge of matter is small. Nature is ever sparing in her revelations.

5. Our knowledge of the Divine Mind is small.

II. THIS DAY SHOULD NOT BE DESPISED. Why should it? It is ours. No one despises his own. Despise —

1. Not small opportunities of obtaining religious knowledge. This is the chief knowledge. Its smallest morsels are more precious than pearl dust. Religious knowledge is useful for two lives — a guide for both worlds.

2. Not small opportunities of doing good for Christ. We have not all abundance of wealth to enrich God's sanctuary. Few have ten talents to occupy until He comes.

3. Not small sins in their earliest stage. However small, they are deviations from the right path; the lines containing a small angle, if produced far, become far asunder. As large rivers spring from small sources, so small sins soon grow to be large. Sinning is strengthened by habit, and increases in its onward course.

4. Not small chastisements for sin.

5. Not small religious impressions. You may never get stronger ones to start with. By being timely cherished they will grow in strength. Why we should not. Because our present day is but the infancy of our being. Our brief time will give birth to an eternity; a dwarf will be the parent of a giant. We shall have to give an account of how we spend it. Why should we differ from others with regard to the day of small things? God despises not small things; if He did, He would not have created so many of them. Nor does the Church; it receives the weakest in the faith, and performs the smallest duties. Nor does the Evil One, with his malicious craftiness.

(J. Bowen Jones, B. A.)

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