To make a good use of time, each minute must be well spent. It is well said, by a celebrated author, that many persons lose two or three hours every day for the want of employing odd minutes. A certain regularity is absolutely necessary, to make a proper use of time.
In the distribution of your time, let the first hour of the day be devoted to the service of God. Accustom yourselves to the practice of religious duties, as a natural expression of gratitude to Him for all his bounty and benevolence. Consider it as the service of the God of your fathers; of Him to whom your parents devoted you; of Him whom, in former ages, your ancestors honored, and by whom they are now rewarded and blessed in heaven.
Time to you is every thing, if well improved. “Time,” said Dr. Franklin, “is money.” An Italian Philosopher said that “time was his estate.” In employing your time, consider it your privilege to spend your leisure hours in deepening the mind, and preparing yourselves for future action.
The human mind was made for action. In virtuous action consists its highest enjoyment. Reading is good employment, and very useful, if well understood. Some books are injurious to the mind, as well as useful. Books have a silent, but powerful influence in the formation of character. Says a distinguished clergyman, “let me see the private books of an individual, and I will tell you his character.” Says another, “let me write the private books of a nation, and I care not who makes the laws.”
The poems of Homer inspired Alexander with an insatiable thirst for fame and military glory, and they were the foundation of the superstructure that covered the world. The memoirs of this conqueror stamped a like character upon Cæsar these, and similar ones, made Napoleon a second Alexander.
Whatever you pretend to learn, be sure and have ambition enough to desire to excel in; for mediocrity is a proof of weakness; and perfection may always be purchased by application. “Knowledge,” says an elegant writer, “is a comfortable and necessary shelter for us in an advanced age;” but if you do not plant it while young it will afford you no shade when you become old.
To instruct others is beneficial to the mind. It deepens the knowledge which it already possesses, and quickens it to acquire more. It is beneficial to the moral habits. It teaches self-control. It moves to set a good example. It improves the affections. For we love those whom we make wiser and better, and their gratitude is a sweet reward.
Time is more valuable than money. If you hinder a scholar from studying, you commit a robbery against him; for robbers of time, are more guilty, than robbers of money. The young are not apt to value the importance of time. They forget that time is money! If time was more improved, there would be more happiness, and less discontentment, than there is at this present date.
Perhaps many consider that their station in life is too high, to admit of having employment. I think some will say that none are in too high station, be their knowledge ever so deep, to make a proper use of time.
When the unfortunate Greeks stood in need of assistance, ladies of the greatest wealth, plied their needles industriously that the unfortunate people might be clothed. Their servants also came offering a part of their wages. They sat down by their side, working for the same charity; while the young ones said to each other, “Greece hungered, and we gave her food; she was naked, and we clothed her.”
May we not rest in our beds until we have made up our minds to ask God for assistance, in making a proper use of time. It will be for our edification, and for memorable thoughts, in our declining years of life.
In the youth of a state, arms do flourish; in the middle age of a state, learning; and then both of them together for a time; in the declining age of a state, mechanical arts and merchandize.
Quotidiana is an online anthology of "classical" essays, from antiquity to the early twentieth century. All essays and images are in the public domain. Commentaries are copyrighted, but may be used with proper attribution. Special thanks to the BYU College of Humanities and English Department for funding, and to Joey Franklin and Lara Burton, for tireless research assisting.