While it is said, To day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
I. TO-DAY: HOW RELATED TO YESTERDAY AND TO-MORROW. We are putting yesterday to its noblest use when we are using its experience to make the life of to-day better. We are preparing for the morrow in the truest way when we are striving with all our might to be faithful to the opportunity of to-day.
II. TO-DAY: ITS IMPORTANCE. To-day is the critical moment of life. Our vital concern is with to-day. Life in to-day is an impressive feature of Biblical teaching. The emphasis of both Testaments is on to-day. "We must work while it is day." To look back is, in the judgment of the Master of our life, to unfit ourselves for the work of the kingdom of God. To be loyal to the Christian idea and order of life, we must be ready to break with the old for the sake of the new. There is little need, then, to dwell on the past. It is not behind us. In a very real sense it goes with us. The new continues, it does not efface the old. There is no "dead past"; the past is living in the present. Our present character is the Divine judgment upon our past conduct. But to-day is not only a history of the past, it is also a prophecy of the future. It is by watching to-day we can tell what will be on the morrow. Foresight is truly insight. There is no violent break between yesterday and to-day. Whatever is to come out of to-day exists in to-day. The future is not a revolution but an evolution. To-day is the child and heir of yesterday; to-morrow will be the child and heir of to-day.
III. THE BLESSING AND OPPORTUNITY OF A DAY. It comes to us laden with blessing and promise, full of history and full of prophecy. It has taken many thousands of years to prepare it for us. In the very fuel that feeds its fires is the vegetation of primeval years. Every day that dawns has countless relations with things far and wide. Ancient Egypt and Israel, Greece and Rome, Scandinavia and primitive Germany, priests and philosophers, prophets and poets, discoverers and inventors, innumerable thinkers and workers, known and unknown, have helped to prepare the materials out of which to-day's opportunity has been made. We inherit the good, material and moral, wrought out through the experiences of many men and many races of men through many centuries. In the life of to-day are the results of the labour and struggle of all the yesterdays. No day is poor and commonplace. To the prepared soul every day is full of marvel and joy. Every day has its comedies and tragedies. Genius does not invent, it discovers and interprets. To find examples of heroism we need not turn to classic pages, nor search the annals of martyrdom. Heroism is as unfailing a reality as the daily dawn. Around and in each day are all the great marvels of creation, all the moral forces and splendours of life, and all the sacred realities to which the deeply moved soul has witnessed in every age. It is a familiar saying that life is but a day. It is said to express the awful and pathetic brevity of our existence upon this earth. But when we say each day is a life, we are giving expression to a truth of deeper importance and of greater practical value and use. There is nothing small. In the smallest things are the elements of the greatest. One day of life has in it the quality of the whole. In its acts and relations we see God making history, and man making his own future — making the character which creates condition and decides destiny. Are we making the most and the best of the opportunities of to-day? One of our older poets has represented the days as coming to us with their faces veiled; but when they have passed beyond our reach and call, the draped figures become radiant, and the gifts we slighted are seen to be right royal treasures. Let us make the most and the best of each day's opportunity for pure and noble enjoyment. The lesson of joy is as Divine a lesson to learn as that of obedience and sacrifice. Let us make the most and the best of each day's opportunity for thought and meditation. The inner life constantly needs deepening. The mind closed against new truth is already dying. Let us make the most and the best of the opportunity for moral and spiritual growth and beneficent service which is afforded by the daily task. It is in the sphere of every-day duties most men must win the discipline which our earthly life is meant to yield, most form the character which is the crown of life, and prepare themselves for wider usefulness. It is only by living up to the ideal and duty of making each day perfect in itself we can make life a spiritual triumph. There are only "twelve hours in a day," yet how much can be done in and with a day. If we throw away a day no miracle will bring it back to us. There is no to-morrow for the work that ought to be done to-day. The cry, "Too late," is not false. The mercy of God is infinite every way, but an opportunity lost is lost for ever. Other doors may open, but that door is for ever shut. The exhortation, "Prepare to meet thy God," is, indeed, an exhortation to prepare for life, not death. Every day we meet God; every day we need to be prepared to meet Him. We prepare for what we suppose to be great days. But every day may be a great day, a Divine day. To-day all good and great things are possible. Let us by our faith and faithfulness, by our obedience to all best visions and impulses, turn it into a day of salvation, a day of God, one of the days of the Son of Man, one of the days of heaven upon earth.
Parallel VersesKJV: While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.