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THE FRAGMENTS THAT REMAIN.
PREACHED ON THE FOURTH BUNDAY IN LENT, MARCH 31, ON BOARD
H.M.S. OSBORNE, IN THE PORT OF JAFFA, BEFORE LANDING IN PALESTINE.
John vi. 12.
Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
NHESE words, from the Gospel of this day, meant,
in their first sense, that the disciples were to be careful of the opportunities given them. A miracle had been wrought for their support; but this was no reason why they should expect a succession of miracles. They were to exercise the common duty of forethought, economy and prudence, and 'gather up the fragments that remain, that ' nothing be lost.' Miracles are not wrought without a purpose. God works by the laws of nature; we must do so likewise. Carefulness, order, discipline — this is the obvious doctrine contained in Christ's command. But the words admit of
many other applications.
I. They apply to all marked opportunities. Every dispensation of Providence is a kind of miracle
wrought for our benefit. We must make the very most of it. It may be the position in life which is given to us. Every position, great or small, may be made almost as great or as little as we desire to make it, according as we make the most of it or the least of it. To do the necessary duties of any station, that is easy enough; but to gather up all its outlying opportunities; to be ready to lend a helping hand here, to give a kind word there and a wise counsel there; 'to fill,' as we say, 'our place in life,' instead of leaving it half empty; to be entirely in our work for the time being, this is what makes all the difference between a great man and a commonplace man - a useful man and a useless man -- a good servant and an indifferent servant- a statesman or teacher, or ruler, who will be long remembered, or one who will be forgotten as soon as he is dead. Or we may have a signal visitation of joy or of sorrow. It is possible to drive such a blessing or such a calamity out of our thoughts, and cut off all its consequences. But it is possible, also, and it is far better, to'gather up all the fragments' that it has left, to see what it has taught us which we knew not before, of our strength, of our weakness; of God, of our own soul. Or it may be that we have known a noble character, a good example. It has gone from us; it is absent from us; we see it no more. Shall we blot out its remembrance ? Shall we think that 'out of sight is ' out of mind ?' or shall we not rather'gather up all
the fragments that remain '— all the sayings, all the doings, all the memories, of such a character, that they may still cheer and sustain, and guide and warn