Matthew 10:29
The connection of this illustration should be noticed. Our Lord bids the first missionaries stand even on the house-tops, and freely speak out his message; but he, in effect, adds, "In doing this you will meet with dangers not a few. You will meet with enemies, some of whom will not stop short - if only their power will reach so far - of bloody issues. But fear not. You are watched and protected at every step, and come life, come death, you are safe." Van Lennep tells us that the edge of the house-top is the favourite station for the sparrows. "There they sit, or hop about and chirp, sharpen their little bills, or carry on their little quarrels; and when the coast is clear in the yard below, down they fly in a body to pick up any crumbs or scraps of food they may chance to find." Sparrows are sold at the smallest price fetched by any game. It was also the smallest living creature offered in sacrifice under the Mosaic dispensation. It was the gift for the poor leper.

I. GOD'S TENDER MERCY IS OVER ALL HIS WORKS. "His way is to look at the lowliest creatures and things as carefully, as paternally, as to the noblest and highest. To him there is nothing great, nothing little. He has a record of all the birds that fly. Sparrows on the earth are as numerous as stars in heaven, 'and not one of them is forgotten before God.' They build their nests in his sight; they hatch their young, and send forth their families every year; and God knows each one - whither it flies and where it rests; and not one of them falleth to the ground by shot of fowler, or spring of cat, or cold of winter, nay, one of them shall not hop down on the ground (so some understand the meaning of the term) without your Father" (Dr. A. Raleigh).

II. GOD'S TENDER MERCY IS OVER ALL HIS CHILDREN. It is an argument from the less to the greater which is suggested. We see it and feel its force at once when we apply the argument in our common home relations. If the house-mother tends so carefully the canary bird in the cage, how much more will she tend carefully and lovingly the child in the cradle! If we are of more value than many sparrows, we may have the fullest confidence that God's dealings with us fit to our value. - R.T.







And one of them shall not fall to the ground.
I. To ILLUSTRATE AND CONFIRM THE DOCTRINE WHICH THESE WORDS EXHIBIT THAT THERE IS A PARTICULAR PROVIDENCE. The Bible reveals this doctrine — "His kingdom ruleth over all."

1. The providence of God extends to a meaner order of things — to raiment, birds, lilies; thus it is concerned with events great and small.

2. The providence of God is more extensive and minute than the care of any one part of the creation over another. The most tender mother never counted the hairs of her child, but God's providence extends to this.

3. The notion which the Scriptures give us of God. He is said to be Governor, but how can He be unless He attend to all the concerns of those over whom He rules. Where is His wisdom if events take place to meet which He is not provided; or His power, if circumstances transpire over which He has no control.

4. If we reject providence, one great part of Scripture must be resigned, that which we call prophecy.

II. To POINT OUT THE PURPOSES OF UTILITY — EXPERIMENTAL AND PRACTICAL — TO WHICH THIS DOCTRINE IS TO BE APPLIED.

1. It is calculated to cheer the ministers of Christ under the various difficulties to their success to which they are exposed.

2. It is calculated to console the true Church of God in all parts of the earth.

3. It may serve to sustain the heart of every individual disciple of Christ.

4. It tends to calm the mind while watching the various dispensations of Providence as it respects nations or individuals.

(J. Clayton.)

In viewing the attributes of God and His relations to us, there are two questions to be considered.

1. Has God the gracious will, the benevolent inclination, to observe and direct the works of creation? and has He sufficient power to discern all His creatures, and to regulate everything respecting them according to His will?

2. What is thus taught us from the consideration of God is confirmed by an attention to our feelings; a persuasion of the superintending providence of God is incorporated with our very nature.

3. An attention to the history of the world shows us that the providence of God is universal. God has used the smallest things to produce the greatest consequences.

4. In the holy volume(1 Samuel 2:6; 1 Chronicles 29:11, 12; Job 5:9; Psalm 75:6, 7).(1) It is of unspeakable importance to keep the remembrance of God's providence fresh upon the mind; the forgetfulness of it is often mentioned in Scripture as an occasion of sin.(2) This subject excites deep melancholy when we reflect how many oppose the providence of God, and sin against it.(3) This subject is full of consolation to the pious.

(H. Kollock, D. D.)

I. "Though common in human eyes, God cares for me," chirps the sparrow; "then, man, fear not."

II. "Though ignorant, God cares for me," chirps the sparrow; "then, man, fear not." III. "Though feeble and mortal, God cares for me," chirps the sparrow; "then, man, fear not."

(G. T. Coster.)

At the present day the markets of Jerusalem and Jaffa are attended by many fowlers, who offer for sale long strings of little birds of various species, chiefly sparrows, wagtails, and larks. These are also frequently sold, ready plucked, trussed in rows of about a dozen on slender wooden skewers.

(H. B. Tristram, LL. D.)

The continued and universal exercise of wisdom and goodness cannot be inconsistent with majesty. The sun, the brightest natural emblem of its Creator, loses none of its excellence, because it not only enlightens powerful emperors, but also permits insects to sport in its beams.

(H. Kollock, D. D.)

When George Washington had been graciously preserved amidst the terrible carnage which attended Braddock's defeat, he was not ashamed to leave on record this evidence of his faith: — "By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me." His friend, Dr. James Craik, who was with him in the battle, was often afterward heard to say: — "I expected every moment to see him fall. Nothing but the superintending care of Providence could have saved him from the fate of all around him." Let unbelievers in the special providence of God listen also to the language of the matter-of-fact Dr. Franklin, whom no one will suspect of giving the least countenance to vain theories and "old wives' fables." The Convention was in session at Philadelphia to frame our Federal Constitution. Weeks and weeks had passed, but strife and confusion so far prevailed that no perceptible good was done. A proposition was then made for daily prayers, and Franklin rose in his place and said: "In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the Divine protection. Our prayers were heard and graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favour. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we forgotten this powerful FRIEND? or do we no longer need His assistance? I have lived a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men.

(J. Norton.)

I remember once entering a room where a little blind girl sat on her father's knee, with one of his arms clasping her. Without saying a word, or making a sign, I stepped quietly up, unclasped his arm, and lifted the child away. As I took her out of the room, her father said, "Louie, are you not afraid? You don't know who has you." She answered at once, "No, I don't know who has me, and I'm not afraid, for I know that you know."

(J. Culross, D. D.)Said Martin Luther, as his eye caught sight of a little bird among the leaves of a tree, one evening, "This little fellow has chosen his shelter for the night, and is quietly rocking himself to sleep, without a care for tomorrow's lodgings, calmly holding by his little twig, and leaving God to think for him."

The value of a sparrow is just about as little as anything that could come under appraisement. Two of them are sold. for a farthing (less than a penny of our money). Two for a farthing, says one evangelist; five for two farthings, says another. "A charming discrepancy," says some one — and, indeed, when we think of it, the discrepancy takes us into the very market-place, and we see the humble trading going on. "How much? .... Two for a farthing; but if you take two farthings' worth, you shall have one thrown into the bargain; you shall have five.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

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