When they were filled, he said to his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.…
I. FRAGMENTS OF TRUTH. Precious fragments! with which we need not. quarrel because fragmentary, for we are taught by degrees, we are fed as able to bear it. No one could reasonably complain of crumbs that they were not bread, because not each of them a whole loaf. The smallest portions of God's word are, notwithstanding their smallness, His word, and to be valued as such — not one to be lost. Precious fragments! concerning which we need not murmur, because we have the fatigue of gathering. "If any will not work neither shall he eat,"
II. FRAGMENTS OF TIME. Now there are two reasons which should more especially incite us to endeavour to redeem time.
1. We have need to treasure up its very minutes, for they are the fragments of a gift which God bestows.
2. For every hour of it He will call upon us to render an account, that He may "receive His own with usury."
3. And there is another reason which ought to influence us, but which is often overlooked, and that is, that in course of time we become the result of the time we live. Time leaves its mark upon us; not merely those outward marks of change and scars of decay, but those still more indelible features and lineaments of character which are constantly stamping us for eternity, and which give force to the assertion that "time has a quality, as it has a quantity." Time improved moulds and shapes the mind after the fashion of these improvements.
III. Again (as connected with the thought of time, its fragments, its waste, and its use), there is also the consideration that there are certain MEANS OF GRACE, which we may regard in the light of fragments, and which have to be carefully gathered. "Gather up the fragments that remain," value and employ the holy seasons which may yet be granted you, and for which you will have to render an account. It is the same with regard to private prayer. What use have we made of the means of grace? I remember to have read a book entitled "A Dying Man's Regrets," and he was a very good and holy man, singularly devoted to the service of his God, and yet what did he say? These are his words, "Ah! if I were to return to life, I would, with the help of God, and in distrust of myself, give much more time to prayer than I have hitherto done. I would reckon much more upon the effect of that than on my own labour, which, however much it is our duty never to neglect, yet has no strength except so far as it is animated by prayer. I would especially strive to obtain in my prayers that fervour of the Holy Spirit which is not learnt in a day, but is the fruit of a long, and often a painful apprenticeship. Oh my friends" (he added, raising himself with energy on his sick bed) "lay hold of the opportunity and redeem it, cultivate new habits of prayer. Bring into prayer, with a spirit of fervour, a spirit also of order and of method that will increase its power, as it increases the power of all human things, and co-operated with the Divine agency itself."
IV. Lastly, there are the ACTS OF DUTY that. we are to perform, and these also often present themselves to us in very small fragments. The lives of most of us are made up of such fragments. It is not a great thing that is required of us. It is "the trivial round, the common task," that is,.for the most part, "the calling in which we are to abide," and "therein to abide with God." We are often apt to despise common things because they are so common, forgetting that we might lift them to a much higher dignity, if we but infused into them a nobler principle, doing them as in God's sight, by God's help, and to God's glory.
(J. M. Nisbet.)
Parallel VersesKJV: When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.