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When, shrivelling like a parchment scroll,
Oh! on that day—that awful day,
The Sunday called Septuagesima,
OR THE THIRD BEFORE LENT.
O LORD, we beseech Thee favourably to hear the prayers of Thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by Thy goodness, for the glory of Thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
“ Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize ?"-1 Cor. ix. 24.
THE kingdom of heaven is no easy matter for attain
ment: it is a prize which must be run and struggled for. Though the final victory may not be precluded by occasional naps, its perfection may suffer much thereby. Though they may not deprive us of our crown, they will surely impair its brightness. These things being So, we may learn, not only how incumbent it is upon us to make the most of the future, but how much our eternal prospects have suffered from the omissions of the past. The wisdom of most good Christians is apparent in this respect, in maintaining the practice of a diary, or record of their daily lives. Such a provision may be expected to have the same effect upon the economy of our time, as keeping a ledger upon the expenses of
a an establishment. The most competent managers are not willing to overtax their memories in affairs of infinitely less consequence.
“Friend, I do thee no wrong : didst thou not agree with me for a penny ?”—Matt. xx. 13. WHATEVER may be the scope of this parable
(its connection with the preceding context is obscure), we may gather this lesson from it—the obligation of a contented disposition, and the unreasonableness of discontent. This evil temper will be found, in many instances, to proceed from an undue estimation of ourselves, our services, or our characters. The labourers thought they had done more than their fellow labourers, and that therefore they deserved more. Comparison of our service with that of our fellows, instead
of with the law of God, is a fertile source of mistakes respecting its perfection. If these men had reflected upon the abstract question-how much work had been done by them in the time covenanted, which was no job-work, but the disposal of their time; how much, after making all allowance for necessary stoppages and rest; how much of idleness, trifling conversation, and carelessness, took place—they might have come to a truer conclusion, and judged, that if the master had no legal right to fine them for shortcomings, he was at least not bound to pay more than he bargained for.
But no; they took another course-reflecting how far their work exceeded the performances of others, rather than how far it answered or fell short of the measure of honest industry. Therefore they arrived at a very flattering conclusion in favour of themselves, which, after all, it were better for their comfort they had not formed; for it only made them dissatisfied with themselves, and added nothing to their wages. Discontent is its own tormentor. O my soul, do thou learn to compare thy shortcomings with the Word of God, rather than thy doings with the misdoings of thy brother, and thou wilt soon learn to wonder how mercifully thou hast been treated; to see how far thy blessing exceed thy crosses, and to glorify the Father of lights, “who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.”
The God of Glory walks His round,
Ye, whose young cheeks with health are bright,
And ye, whose scanty locks of grey
latest travail near; How swiftly fades your closing day! And stand ye yet so idle here?
O Thou in heaven and earth adored,