The Day's Duty
Ezra 3:4
They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom…

That every day is enough for its own evil was a word of Jesus Christ. And there is another word that may be grafted on this. It is, that every day is enough for its own duty. It is suited to withdraw the thoughts from a vague futurity and collect them upon a space that can easily be surveyed, judged of, commanded. A day is one of the small circles of time. We can lay out its work though we cannot predict its fortunes. We can remember how it has been spent, whatever may have come to pass in it. It is capable of holding as much duty as our minds can well compass. He who fills each of them well as they pass and are recorded, is wanting in nothing. We hear it often said that life is but a day. It is said to express the shortness of our stay upon the earth. It is said, for the most part, sorrowfully. Let us reverse it and say, with more striking truth, that each day is a life. Every day is a life fresh with reinstated power, setting out on its allotted labour and limited path. Its morning resembles a whole youth. Its eventide its sobering into age. It is rounded at either end by a sleep, unconsciousness at the outset and oblivion at the close. We are born again every time that the sun rises, and lights up the world for man to do his part in it. A day is a complete whole then; a finished piece. It had its tasks and toils, and they have been more or less faithfully gone through with. Or if they have been neglected quite it is too late to fulfil them now, for the opportunity has passed away. You may say, however, that it is by no means so entire, so much a thing by itself, as has now been represented. A day falls in among the accounts of time not as one of its separated fragments, but as strongly connected with portions of it that went before and are to follow. It is bound to the past which it continues. It is full of unfinished performances and projects that have nothing to do with the going down of the sun or the hour for the night's rest. All this is true of it. But is it not true also of life itself? A day is a life. It has all the elements in it of an entire being. It may be fair or foul. It may find us sick or well. But the soul is there that must create its own atmosphere, and that is often the healthiest when the pulses beat languidly and the flesh is in pain. The faculties are there that are to be exercised, and the affections that are to be kept in play. There an inward action is going on with all its responsibility. Again, a day is a life. We do not consider how much is contained within its rapid round. In describing its importance moralists and divines are apt to dwell principally on the uncertainty whether it may not be our last. And yet it would grow into great consequence in our eyes if we supposed that it was absolutely the whole. Reflect for an instant upon these two assertions. The narrow space that intervenes between your rising and your lying down does in the first place present the total sum, the full result of all your preceding experience. It is just what time and you have made it. Whatever you have observed, felt, done, there goes to the making up of what you are. The habits that you have been contracting, there reveal their strength. The dispositions that you cherish, there spread their thicknesses of deepening colour. A long action of forgotten days has been busy in forming to what it is the single day that has been rolling over you. You are prepared, then, to make a right estimate of the moral length of a day when you see it reaching back to infancy, and gathering upon itself the influences of a thousand facts of your history and emotions of your hearts, and reflecting a universe of truth and glory. And then consider further that it not only deserves so much from what is gone, but it extends itself forward also. It contains the germ of what is to be unfolded into far distant consequences. While it shows what the man has gradually become, it indicates with a warning finger what it is likely that he will be. Whatever one day is permitted to do with him, will probably continue to be done; if for good, going up to better: if for bad, going down to worse. The principles it exemplifies, the temper it displays, the bent of mind that traverses it, are not confined to its compass, and do not pass off with its date. Read that little leaf which is turned over so soon, and you may perceive that it is the book of your fate. We are thus brought to the practical application of the sentiment to which your attention has been directed. If a day is a life, let its work be done as its hours are passing. Let it have something of completeness in it. Men err in "despising those little ones." They love to send their thoughts over years and ages. They defer their good intentions to further periods. But these little ones are the chief of all if we will look at them as they are, and if we will make them what they should be. Think of what you have gained or lost in the account that all must render in at the last day. Remember how you have comported yourself towards those who love you and towards those who love you not. Remember what the currents of your inclination have been. Reflect whether the will has gone right, and the heart has been a true one, whatever else may have proved adverse or unjust.

(N. L. Frothingham.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required;

WEB: They kept the feast of tents, as it is written, and [offered] the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the ordinance, as the duty of every day required;

A Day
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