In pursuing his calling, Christ will not quench the smoking flax, or wick, but will blow it up till it flames. In a smoking flax there is but a little light, and that little light is weak, since it’s unable to flame, and what is there is mixed with smoke. The observations from this are that in God’s children, especially in their first conversion, there is but a little measure of grace, and that little grace is mixed with much corruption which, like smoke, is offensive; but that Christ will not quench this smoking flax.
Grace is Little at First
There are several ages in Christians – some are babes, some young men. Faith may be as “a grain of mustard seed” (Matt 17:20). There is nothing so little as grace at first, and nothing more glorious afterward. Things of greatest perfection are longest in coming to their growth. Man, the most perfect creature, comes to perfection by little and little; worthless things, such as mushrooms and the like – like Jonah’s gourd, soon spring up, and soon vanish. A new creature is the most excellent creature in all the world, and therefore it grows up by degrees. We see in nature that a mighty oak rises from an acorn.
It is with a Christian as it was with Christ, who sprang out of the dead stock of Jesse, out of David’s family (Isa. 53:2), when it was at the lowest, but he grew up higher than the heavens. It is not with the trees of righteousness as it was with the trees off paradise, which were created all perfect at the first. The seeds of all the creatures in the present goodly frame of the world were hid in the chaos, in that confused mass at the first, out of which God commanded all creatures to arise. In the small seeds of plants lie hidden both bulk and branches, bud and fruit. In a few principles lie hidden all comfortable conclusions of holy truth. All these glorious frameworks of zeal and holiness in the saints had their beginning from a few sparks.
Let us not therefore be discouraged at the small beginnings of grace, but look on ourselves as selected to be “holy and without blame” (Eph. 1:4). Let us look on our imperfect beginning only to enforce further striving to perfection, and to keep us in a low opinion of ourselves. On the other hand, in case of discouragement, we must consider ourselves as Christ does, who looks on us as those he intends to fit for himself. Christ values us by what we shall be, and by what we are selected unto. We call a little plant a tree, because it is growing up to be so. “Who has despised the day of small things?” (Zech. 4:10). Christ would not have us despise little things.
The glorious angels disdain not attendance on little ones – little in their own eyes, and little in the eyes of the world. Grace, though little in quantity, yet is much in vigor and worth. It is Christ that raises the worth of little and mean places and persons. Bethlehem was the least (Mic. 5:2; Matt. 2:6), and yet not the least. It was the least in itself, and not the least in respect that Christ was born there. The second temple (Hag. 2:9) came short of the outward magnificence of the former; yet it was more glorious than the first because Christ came into it. The Lord of the temple came into his own temple. The pupil of the eye is very little, yet sees a great part of the heaven at once. A pearl, though little, yet is of much esteem. Nothing in the world is of so good use as the least grain of grace.