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effect of His continual influence, moving a man to that which is beyond his own power, and endowing him with strength beyond his own mere nature. But if a man has only few gifts humility must take to itself another shape, as pride also may run in another direction. A man whose gifts are few can hardly boast of them, but he may be discontented. He may think that he has only one talent, and that he has been hardly dealt with in comparison with others who have more. Pride in such a case assumes the form of discontent, and humility becomes contentment. Whatever good a man has is a gift. Whatever, therefore, he has not is a gift withheld. But by whom is that gift withheld ? Is it not by a good God, Who loves all and does always that thing which is best. Be not, therefore, proudly boastful upon the one
be not discontented upon the other. But be humble. It God gives thee great gifts,-makes thee, as it were, an eye in the body, or an ear,—take it with thankfulness and with humility. Use thy gift and use it well, as God's gift, for His body's sake, and for His own glory. Does God give thee but few gifts ? Art thou but a foot ? Hast thou a low, dishonourable place ? Be content. Be satisfied. Be thankful. It is as well with thee as if thou hadst been set higher. Do thy work well. It is the work which God has given thee, and He will honour thee and give thee as great reward as if thy work had seemed higher, and thou hadst held a more honourable place.
2. Be diligent also. Every man has some gift, and a gift is not meant to be folded in a napkin and hidden under lock and key. It is for use. Use it. Whether a man’s gifts are one or many, they are to be used, and useil diligently, for the sake of Him from whom
they come. They are not simply beautiful things to be looked at; they are strong substantial tools, which God puts into a workman's hands that he may go and work. And there is this encouragement to diligence; diligence has a direct tendency to increase a man's gifts. The gifts of the Spirit are like money well employed in business, which not only comes back, but comes back multiplied. “He that hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance.” His powers grow in the using, as a man's muscular powers are increased in the putting forth of his strength. The more a man does the more God enables him to do. The more he exerts himself the greater does his strength become. His work grows in his hands and his hands keep equal to his work.
And thus there is no saying how great the talents of a man may become who at first has only one talent, or very few. The « little one ” may “ become a thousand.” Some of the men who have done most for the world's good have been men of few talents, but those few directed by singleness of aim and a determined purpose. Water dropping for ever on a stone will wear it away in time by nothing else but drops; and so a fixed purpose, even of the weakest man, keeping to its aim, following it unswervingly, turning not to the right hand or to the left, will gain its end at last, and increase its own fixity and strength in the gaining. Only a few of us have many gifts ; but we have all at least one, and there is no knowing what we may not do with any one. My brethren, I speak to each one among you, and I say, What are your gifts? Do you know what they are ? If you know not, does that prove that you use not? If you know, do you use them well ? Are you diligent ? diligent
in doing such good as you can? What good are you doing? Over and above the care of yourselves, what are you doing for God and your brethren ? Be diligent. Use your talent. A day of account is coming. Every man has some gifts. Some have many. Be earnest therefore. Be zealous. Do what you can with such a gift as you may have.
3. We must be dependent. Our gifts are from the Holy Spirit. They are our own indeed. We are not mere tools in His hand; we are living tools, having a will of our own. But we are nothing without the Holy Spirit, Who gives to every man according to His will, and who also gives grace, grace preventing, grace accompanying, grace following, that His gifts may be used well. We must therefore lean on Him continually, looking upon Him as the source from which all comes, and the strength which can alone uphold our weakness.
We must depend upon Him always. As in relation to ourselves we must be humble, so in relation to Him we must be dependent. We must put our strength forth as if all depended on ourselves, and yet we must feel that all depends really not on ourselves but upon Him. We must believe that He is at all times in us, so entirely a part of ourselves that we cannot always distinguish His motions within us from the motions of our own hearts, and we must go to Him for succour, and comfort, and counsel, and guidance, knowing that without Him we are nothing. And the only way in which we can cherish the spirit of dependence is by continual prayer, and devout attendance on the Lord Supper, and by frequent meditation on those things which are fitted to humble and depress us, and by earnest, persevering work.
Prayer is the going forth of the whole heart and being into trust and rest on Him to whom prayer is offered. It is itself an act of dependence, and it forms a habit by the nature of its own act. The thought, too, of our own failings, sins, weaknesses, trials, teaching us, as it must, what poor creatures we are, and yet how much we can be made to do by God's good grace, is at once a lowering to us and an exaltation. It lowers us and casts us down from all self-reliance. It exalts us and lifts us into dependence on the outstretched arm of Him Who never fails those who trust in Him. We must lean and depend upon the Holy Spirit.
4. Lastly, we are taught love to the brethren. The gifts of each individual are for the good of the whole body. God has so ordered and constituted His Church that every single person is essential to every other person. He has so knit the whole society together that just as the members of the body need each other—for what would the head be without the eye, or the arm without the hand, or the feet without the legs,—50 we are all the suppliers of each other's necessities. Without love we are but disjointed members, lying loose and unconnected the one with the other. Love is to the Church what the joints and ligatures are to the body; it couples and binds all together, and compacts the whole into one living and organic mass. Love is that which, coming down from Christ, makes the whole body to be “fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth," and “ according to the effectual working in the measure of every part maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
Let us, then, love one another. The Spirit is love and makes men loving. The purpose of all the gifts which the Spirit divides as He will is to bind men together in love and unity. Let us try to love each other, and the Spirit will pour out upon us more and more of those gifts which He divides to every man for the accomplishment of the blessed ends of love.