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who instructs the husbandman to discretion, and teaches the ploughman to plough and sow, and observe the most suitable methods of cultivating the various fruits of the earth. “ This also cometh from the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working,” Isa. xxviii. 23—29. Let not, then, the young woman who is desirous of mental improvement, hesitate to make it a part of her daily prayer, that suitable means of instruction may be afforded her, and that she may be enabled to discern and improve every opportunity placed within her reach, and to retain and recollect the knowledge attained.
Such a practice will naturally connect itself with a conscientious desire, that knowledge, of whatever kind, may be applied to the intelligent, faithful, honourable, and acceptable discharge of daily duties. A Christian servant will not dishonour God by praying for his assistance, in fitting her for the humblest duties of her situation, in order “ that she may thereby adorn the doctrine of God her Saviour in all things.” “If a Christian," said Mr. Newton," is but a shoe-black, he ought to be the best in the parish.” It is interesting to know, that there are, at the present day, physicians who never write a prescription without first lifting up their heart to God for direction and success. And surely, both the greatest and smallest transactions of human life, come within the wide compass of the injunction, “ In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
8. It is essential to mental improvement, indeed to improvement of every kind, to be regular and economical in the disposal of time. A moment is too precious a thing to be wasted. He who gives all things else liberally, gives to all the world but one moment at a time, and of that he requires a strict account, and recalls it before he deals out another. Alas! how many precious moments are wasted in desultory trifling, in indecision as to what shall next be set about, or commencing what it is impossible to complete, or neglecting what is emphatically the work of the day, and which, perhaps, must be done now or never : this is often the case for want of a plan.
“Without a plan my moments run to waste ;
The memory's loaded, and the judgment weeps." The candidate for improvement must lay a plan for the suitable allotment of every day and every hour. In doing this, she will probably be so impressed with the disparity between the various duties pressing upon her, and the period allotted for their fulfilment, as will effectually cure her of uttering the vain and foolish expressions:-" There is plenty of time”-“I need not hurry"-"Another time will do just as well.” She will perceive that industry, good management, and early rising are necessary to enable her to discharge “ the work of every day, in its day, according as the duty of every day requires ;" and that if each succeeding day be burdened with the arrears of its predecessors, life itself will close before its needful work is accomplished. In forming such a plan, due
regard must be had to the relative importance of the several pursuits. A suitable time will be allotted to each, and no one be permitted to intrench on the claims of another. By having regular hours for the different employments of the day, that abominable waste will be avoided, which arises from uncertainty what to set about next, and time will be secured for every object of real importance. In this general distribution of time, provision should be made for unavoidable interruptions and delays, and for the profitable filling up of odd minutes, by having a useful book always at hand. For such a purpose, a sententious work is to be preferred; one, for instance, of maxims or anecdotes, in which a short portion may be read, and the book laid aside without breaking in upon the sense : such are the Select Remains of Mason, Cecil, Newton, etc. The well-known maxim, “ Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves," is equally applicable to time. Take care of the minutes, and the days and the years will be secured to a valuable end. How much valuable knowledge, of which we feel and lament the deficiency, might have been obtained, had we devoted our idle minutes to its acquirement.
The following anecdote is worth attention. A professional gentleman of rare attainments, and one who added to the laborious duties of his calling a great variety of learning, and many elegant accomplishments, was asked by a young lady, how he found time for all that he did. He replied, 66 There is one rule which I have found of great use, and therefore I recommend it to you ;
that is—Always do small things in small portions of time, and reserve a whole day of leisure for some long and important affair. Never use an uninterrupted morning for what might be done in a few odd minutes. You have sometimes wondered at my having time to correspond with so many absent friends ; but all my letters of friendship are written in odd minutes, whilst I am waiting for people who are not so punctual to their appointments as myself." There is a beautiful little elementary book on botany, which was prepared by an invalid lady, during the minutes that she had to wait her turn for the attention of a medical practitioner.
On the subject of early rising, Dr. Doddridge makes the following striking and valuable remarks:-" I will here record the observation, which I have found of great use to myself, and to which I may say, that the production of this work," (his Paraphrase on the New Testament,) "and most of my other writings, is owing; namely, that the difference between rising at five and seven o'clock in the morning, for the space of forty years, supposing a man to go to bed at the same hour at night, is nearly equivalent to the addition of ten years to a man's life.” Well did this holy and laborious man verify his family motto, “Live while you live.” How many people spend such moments in absolute idleness and vacuity!
9. Much improvement will attend the habit of having a fixed subject for thought, while the hands are engaged in some employment that does not require much mental application. From long use, we can sew or knit, or make pastry, or perform many merely mechanical operations, without actually thinking about them ; during such performances the mind, however, will be active. The question is, shall its activities be expended on idle vagaries, or shall they be employed in calling up the recollection of past instructions, or pursuing some new train of profitable inquiry and investigation? Those who have never tried it, can scarcely conceive the extent to which real intellectual improvement may be carried on, by a steady adherence to the latter method.
10. It will be found highly conducive to improvement to make notes of our own observations, and of the instructive remarks of others which we meet with either in conversation or books. For this purpose the young should have always at hand a memorandum book, in which to make the entry as it occurs, and another as a common-place book, into which at short intervals to insert the articles under their respective heads. It is astonishing what a treasure may be thus accumulated in the course of a few years; but for want of such a practice, many interesting facts, many judicious remarks—the fruit perhaps of matured wisdom and long Christian experience, which might have afforded continual matter for reference, and hints for the guidance of conduct in future life-have been entirely lost to the inattentive spectator, or the forgetful hearer. Such habits had evidently been adopted and recommended by those eminent saints, who could say, “ I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” “ I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay-tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo,