The Baldwin Library
PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
"His neck was broken, and there lny the young Sabbath-
breaker, dead!' "--lge 16.
THE SAFE COMPASS,
HOW IT POINTS.
REV. RICHARD NEWTON, D.D.,
"THE KING'S HIGHWAY," "THE GIANTS, AND HOW TO FIGHT THEM,"
L RILLS FROM THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE," ETO.
JAMES NISBET AND CO., 21 BERNERS STREET.
WHAT a curious thing a compass is? How
strangely the little needle trembles on the
point of the piece of wire which supports it i
How wonderful it is to see that needle always
pointing to the north? Who can explain
how it is that it always does so? God made
it to be always pointing in one direction, and
it does just what He wants it to do. This is
all we know about it. If you ask a learned
man what it is which makes the needle of the
compass always point to the north, he will
tell you it is magnetism. But if you ask
him what magnetism is, or how it produces
this effect upon the needle, he cannot tell
Nobody can explain this. But the compass
is not the less useful because none can explain
the way in which the needle acts. The com-
pass is one of the most useful things we have.
The sailor never could find his way over the
sea without it. And those who have to travel
over great deserts, or through countries in
which there are no roads, always need a com-
pass, to show them the direction in which
they should go.
And, in going through this world, we are
just in this position. The world is like a.
great desert; or like a country, not indeed
without any roads, but full of roads leading
in the wrong direction. There is only
one direction for us to go in, if we wish
to pass safely through the world, and reach
at last that blessed home which God has pre-
pared for His loving children. And if we
desire always to know the direction in which
to go, in order to reach that home, we must
have a compass to take with us in our journey
through. the world. God has given us the
BIBLE to be this Safe Compass. It is always
pointing towards heaven. And as it points
in the right direction, it is always saying to
us, This is the way, walk ye in it."
Unless we take this compass, and follow its
pointing, we cannot get to heaven. The
design of this little book is to aid those who
are setting out on the great journey of life to
make a right use of the compass God has
given us. The earnest prayer of the writer is,
that all his young friends who read these
pages may follow the pointing of this Safe
Compass, and reach at last that blessed world,
to which it will surely lead them.
REASONS FOR RESISTING THE ENTICEMENTS OF SINNERS, 1
If sinners entice thee, consent thou not."-
Paov. i. 10.
RELIGION AND RUBIES COMPARED, 27
"She is more precious than rubies."-PRov. iii. 15.
LESSONS FROM THE ANT, 57
Go to the ant consider her ways, and be
wise."-Paov. vi. 6.
THE REWARD OF SOWING RIGHTEOUSNESS, 87
To him that soweth righteousness shall be a
sure reward."--Pov. xi. 18.
THE HARD WAY, 119
"The way of transgressors is hard."-
PRov. xiii. 15.
THE SUNDAY-SCHOOL GARDEN, 149
"I am come into my garden."-CANTICLES v. 1.
THE WAYS OF DOING GOOD, 179
"Jesus .. went about doing good."-
ACTS x. 38.
THE BLESSEDNESS OF GIVING, 203
"Jesus said, It is more blessed to give than
to receive."-ACTS xx. 35.
GATHERING THE FRAGMENTS: TIME AND KNOWLEDGE, 227
"Gather up the fragments that nothing be
lost."-JoHN vi. 12.
GATHERING THE FRAGMENTS: MONEY AND USEFUL-
"Gather up the fragments that nothing be
lost."-JoHN vi. 12.
:j If sin s entice thee ns thou e notil." n i.
" If sinners entice thee, consent thou not."-Pnov. i. 10
* If sinners entice thee, consent thou not."-Pnov. i. 10.
IF I should ask you, Who are meant by sin-
ners ? you would, perhaps, give me a good many
answers, and of different kinds. One would
say, sinners are persons that curse and swear.
Another would say, thieves and robbers are
meant by sinners. Another would say, murderers
are sinners. Another would say, sinners means
those who get drunk and break the Sabbath.
And so on. All these answers would be correct,
for it is true that all the different persons named
are sinners. But none of these would be the
proper answer, or the best answer to give to the
question-who are meant by sinners ? When
God speaks about sinners in the Bible, He
does not mean only those persons who swear, or
steal, or commit murder, or do such dreadful
things, but He means all persons who are not true
Christians. All men and women, all boys and
girls whose hearts have not been changed, and
4 THE SAFE COMPASS.
who do not love the Saviour, are sinners in God's
sight. Whenever we read about "sinners" in the
Bible, these are the persons intended. This is
the meaning of the word "sinners" in our text.
Do you know who wrote the book of Proverbs I
Solomon. He was the great king of Israel, the
wisest man, excepting our blessed Saviour, who
ever lived. Now let us see what Solomon speaks
of sinners as doing in our text. He says, "If
sinners entice thee." What does it mean to entice
a person ? It means to persuade, or coax him to
commit sin, or to do something wrong. If you
are trying to get a person to do right, we nevei
call it enticing him. It is only when people are
trying to make others do wrong, that we use the
The meaning of the text then is,-if persons
who are not Christians, who don't love Jesus,-
try to persuade you to do wrong, don't mind
them. For instance-suppose you are on your
way to Sunday-school some bright, beautiful
Sunday morning. At the corner of the street
you meet some young friends. One of them says
to you, "Good morning, John, where are you
going ?" You answer, "I am going to Sunday-
school Where are you going He says-
RESISTING TEMPTATION. 5
"Oh, we're going out to spend the day at
Fairmount Park. We've got our dinner in that
basket. You'd better come along, John, we're
going to have lots of fun." Now what would
your friend be doing ? He would be a sinner
enticing you to break the fourth commandment.
Suppose you are spending your summer vaca-
tion. One fine afternoon you go out to play in
the woods. Adjoining the woods is an apple
orchard. Before you go, your mother says to
you, "Well, Johnny, I hope you'll have a nice
time in the woods. But, remember, you are not
to go into the orchard, on any account, or to take
any of the fruit there. Do you hear V"
But it's a warm afternoon. After a while
some of the boys start for the orchard, and begin
eating the apples. But you remember what your
mother said, and go on with your play.
Presently, one of the boys calls out to you:
Halloo, John, don't you want some apples ?"
"No," you answer, very promptly: "Mother
told me not to take any; and I don't intend to."
"We're not going to climb up the trees," he
says, "but only to take some of these lying on
the ground. It won't do any harm to take these.
6 THE SAFE COMPASS.
They are so ripe and juicy Just come over and
What would that boy be doing ? He would
be a sinner enticing you to break the fifth com-
mandment, by disobeying your mother. And so,
whenever anybody tries to persuade you to com-
mit sin; to lie, or swear, or break the Sabbath,
or disobey your parents, or to do anything, no
matter what, which the Bible says you must not
do, that person is a sinner trying to entice you.
And here, in the text, God tells you what to do,
in all such cases. He says, "If sinners entice
thee, consent thou not." Don't yield to their
enticements. Don't let them persuade you to
join them in sin. This is the great lesson we
should learn from our text.
I pray God to write this text on every heart
here this afternoon. Oh, how many sorrows and
troubles it will save you from, if you will only
remember this text, and mind it, when "sinners
I wish now to speak of three reasons why we
should not consent, when sinners entice us.
The first reason is, because, when zwe begin to
sin, it's hard to stop.
There was a boy whose name was Frank. He
RESISTING TEMPTATION. 7
was in the orchard on the side of a hill. His
father was in the yard, adjoining the orchard, at
the foot of the hill. He called to him, "Frank,
"Yes, sir," said Frank, and started to run at
full speed down the hill. He ran ever so far past
his father, towards the house.
Frank, come here, I say; didn't you hear me
call ?" asked his father.
"Yes, sir," said Frank.
"Well, then, what made you run past me ?"
Oh !" said Frank, "I got going and couldn't
This is just the way in which people run into
sin: Sinners entice them," and they consent.
"They get going and can't stop."
"I went a short time ago," said a gentleman to
a friend, "to the jail, to see a young man who
had once been a Sunday-school scholar. The
keeper took a large bunch of keys, and led us
through the long, gloomy halls, unlocking one
door after another, until at length he opened the
door of the room in which sat the young man
we had come to see. The walls of the room were
of coarse stone, the floor of thick plank, and
before the windows were strong iron bars.
8 THE SAFE COMPASS.
Without. all was beautiful: the green fields,
the sweet flowers, and the singing birds were as
lovely as ever, but this young man could enjoy
none of them; no, never could he look on them
again, for he was condemned to death. He had
killed a man, and now he himself was to die.
Think o it, only twenty years old, and yet a
I sat down beside him and talked with him,
"Oh!" said he, as the tears rolled down his
cheeks, to think that I should come to this I
didn't mean to do it, but I was drunk; then I
got angry, and before I knew what I was about,
I killed him. Oh, if I had only minded my
mother, and listened to my Sunday-school
teacher, 1 never should have come to this; I
never should have been here "
This young man "got going and couldn't
stop." When "sinners enticed him" to break
the Sabbath, to disobey his mother, to drink and
gamble, he ought not to have consented. It
would have been easy for him to take his stand
then; but, when he once began to sin, like a
stone thrown down the side of a mountain, he
found it hard to stop.
As the gentleman left him, he said: "Will
RESISTING TEMPTATION. 9
you pray for me, sir 7 And, oh tell boys
everywhere to mind their mothers, and keep
away from bad companions."
Think of this young man whenever you read
or hear the words of the text : "If sinners entice
thee, consent thou not."
The Arabs have a fable about The Miller and
the Camel, which illustrates, very well, the im-
portance of minding this text. The fable says,
that one day in winter, the miller was sleeping in
his house, when he was awakened by a noise.
On looking up he saw a camel who had thrust
his nose through the window of the room.
It's very cold out here," said the camel;
please let me just put my nose into your room
to get a little warmed." "Very well," said the
miller. After a while the camel asked leave to
put his neck in ; and then he begged to have his
forefeet in the room; and so he kept on, by
little and little, until at last he crowded in his
Then he began to walk about the room, and
knock things over, and do just as he pleased.
The miller soon found him so rude and trouble-
some that the room was not large enough for
them both. He began to complain to the camel
10 THE SAFE COMPASS.
of the trouble he was giving him, and told him
to go out. "If you don't like the room, you can
leave it, whenever you choose," said the camel,
" as for myself, I am very comfortable, and in-
tend to stay where I am."
This is just the way it is with sin. It comes
knocking at our hearts, and begs for entrance a
little way. As the old proverb says, "If you
give it an inch, it will take an elL" It goes on
increasing its power, step by step, until it be-
comes master in the soul. It would have been
easy enough for the miller to have kept the camel
out when he only had his nose in the window;
but after he got his whole body into the room, it
was hard work to get him out. So when sin, or
sinners entice us, we should not consent. We
should guard against the first beginning of it.
Don't let its nose get in at the window, and then
its body will never get into the room. The Bible
tells us to flee from the appearance of evil. Let
us resolve to do this; and above all, let us pray
for the help of the Holy Spirit, that by His
grace we may be able to keep our hearts with
all diligence," and guard against the entrance of
anything that may, as one of our Collects says,
"assault or hurt the souL" "If sinners entice
RESISTING TEMPTATION. 11
thee, consent thou not." The first reason why
we should not consent, is, that when we begin to
sin it's hard to stop.
But the second reason, why we ought not to
consent to sin, is, because it is DANGEROUS.
Here is a long train of cars on a railway.
They are crowded with passengers, and are flying
pleasantly along at full speed. Now they come
to where the track goes along near a high bank.
Here some wicked person has placed a heavy log
of wood across the track. The train comes
thundering on. The engineer does not see the
log. Presently the engine comes up against it
with a tremendous crash. It is thrown off the
track. It drags the train after it. One after an-
other the cars roll down the bank. Many of
them are broken to pieces. A dreadful scene of
confusion follows. Ten or fifteen of the pas-
sengers are killed, and great numbers of them
wounded. All this loss and misery is produced
by the log that was laid across that track. Was
it not a very dangerous thing to place that log
there ? Yes ; for it threw that train of cars off
the track and occasioned all that mischief.
Now, sin is dangerous in just the same way.
God's commandments are the path of duty He
12 THE SAFE COMPASS.
has prepared for us to walk in-the track on
which He would have us run. But sin, like the
log against which the engine ran, throws us off
the track of duty, and causes great harm. Look
at Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. They
were like the first two, in a long train of cars.
When Satan enticed them to sin, he laid a log on
their track. When they consented to sin, they
ran against that log. This threw them off the
track, and every car in the long, long train that
came after them. All the war, and misery, and
suffering, and death, which has filled the world
since then, have been the effect of throwing that
train off the track. Jesus has been occupied
nearly 6000 years in trying to get that train on
the track again. It is not on yet, but he is sure
to get it on at last. This shews us what a dan-
gerous thing it is to consent to sin.
Not long ago some workmen were engaged in
building a large brick tower, which was to be
carried up very high. The master builder was
very particular in charging the masons to lay
every brick with the greatest care, especially in
the first courses, or rows, which had to bear the
weight of all the rest of the building. However,
one of the workmen did not mind what had been
RESISTING TEMPTATION. 13
told him. In laying a corner he very carelessly left
one of the bricks a little crooked, out of the line;
or, as the masons call it, "not plumb." Well, you
may say, "It was only one single brick in a great
pile of them. What difference does it make if
that was not exactly straight You will see
directly. The work went on. Nobody noticed
that there was one brick wrong. But as each
new course of bricks was kept in a line with those
already laid, the tower was not put up exactly
straight, and the higher they built it the more in-
secure it became. One day, when the tower had
been carried up about fifty feet, a tremendous
crash was heard. The building had fallen to the
ground, burying the workmen in the ruins. All
the previous work was lost, the materials were
wasted; and worse than this,-valuable lives were
sacrificed,-and all because one brick had been laid
wrong at the start. The workman who carelessly
laid that brick wrong, little thought what a danger-
ous thing he was doing, and what terrible harm
would result from his neglect. My dear young
friends, you are now building up your character.
In the habits you now form you are laying the
foundation of that character. One bad habit,
one brick laid wrong now, may ruin your charac-
14 THE SAFE COMPASS.
ter by and by. Remember what you are doing,
and see that every brick is kept straight. If
sinners entice thee, consent thou not," because it
But this part of our subject is so important,
that I must give you another illustration of the
danger of consenting to sin before we leave it.
There was a minister once, who had a bright,
beautiful boy, named James. He was his only
child. It was on a clear, calm, lovely Sabbath
morning in June, that the event took place of
which I am about to tell you. The cherries were
ripe, and the green leaves which were around
them made them appear very nice and tempting.
James's father was about to leave home to go to
church. Knowing that his son sometimes acted
very improperly when he was away, he was afraid
that he might be tempted to disobey his father
and break the Sabbath in order to get the cherries.
So, before he started, he called James to him,
and said, My son, do you know what day this
"Yes, sir; it's the Sabbath day."
Can you wait until to-morrow for the cherries,
which are ripe V"
Yes, sir," answered James.
RESISTING TEMPTATION. 15
"Now remember, my dear boy, that this is
God's day. Don't go near that tree. Don't for-
get your father's command."
"No, sir," said he.
After his father had disappeared over the hill,
and his nurse was engaged in another part of the
house, he took his stand at the open window, and
stood gazing at the bright, beautiful fruit, as they
hung upon the tree, so ripe and juicy. Perhaps
you are ready to say, that "there were no sinners
there to tempt James." Yes, there was. Satan
was there, that old father of sin and sinners. He
is the greatest of all enticers. He came up to
James, unseen, and whispered in his ear, "Don't
they look ripe? Wouldn't it be nice to have a
few? What's to hinder? The nurse is away.
Nobody will see you. Your father will never
know it. Why not go and get a few?" Thus
Satan enticed James. A nd James consented. After
he had filled his eye and his heart with the cher-
ries, he resolved to fill his hands and his mouth.
He stole quietly out of the house, and climbed up
the tree. He had eaten as many as he wanted
then, and was plucking some to put in his pocket,
when the door of the house opened suddenly.
This frightened him. He missed his hold, and
16 THE SAFE COMPASS.
fell some twelve feet to the ground. The servant
ran to pick him up, and carry him into the house.
But his neck was broken, and there lay the young
Sabbath-breaker, dead / He had died in the very
act of breaking two of God's commandments at
once; the fourth and the fifth.
At noon his father returned. He found his
little boy dead. How must he have felt ? Ah !
if we had been there, we would have seen him
wringing his hands in sorrow, while he took up
David's lamentation over Absalom, and said : "My
son! my son would God that I had died fo-
thee O James, my son my son !"
If sinners entice thee, consent thou not."
Don't do it, because it is dangerous.
The third reason why we should not consent to
sin, is, because it is DISGRAA CEFUL.
Sin is disgraceful in two days :-It is disgrace-
ful in the looks it gives us, and in the company
into which it brings us. The looks it gives us;
why, you ask, What has sin to do with our looks ?
I tell you, it has a great deal to do with our
I suppose you have all seen a gutta-percha
face ? And I dare say you have amused yourself
in pinching it one way, and pulling it another,
RESISTING TEMPTATION. 17
and seeing what different expressions it will put
on. But when you stop pulling or pinching it,
it returns to the same face that it was before.
Now, your faces are softer than gutta-percha,
and they are full of little strings called muscles.
These muscles, or strings, are pulled one way, or
pulled another, just according to your feelings.
Sometimes you feel grieved or sad, and the little
muscles pull your face into a very doleful expres-
sion. The moment anybody looks at you they
know something is troubling you, and you feel
sorrowful. But if you see a funny picture, or if
something happens to make you feel merry and
glad, the little muscles pull your face into smiles
and dimples, and you look just ready to burst out
into a broad laugh.
But when we commit sin, wicked feelings are
at work pulling these strings. Anger pulls one
set of strings, and then you know what a dis-
agreeable look the face puts on in a moment!
Pride pulls another set of these strings, and so
does vanity, or envy, or deceit, or discontent;
and each of these brings its own peculiar look or
expression over the face. And the worst thing
about it is, that if these strings are pulled too
often, the face will not return to what it was
18 THE SAFE COMPASS.
before, but the strings will become stiff, like
wires, and the face will keep wearing the ugly
look it put on all the time. By giving way to
sin, or indulging their bad feelings, some people
get their faces worked up to such a dreadful look,
that when you meet one of them in the street,
the moment you see him you can tell what his
A face that was very lovely when it was that
of a child, if it has the passion of anger often
pulling at it, will get, at last, to wear, all the
time, a sullen, cross, dissatisfied look. Or, if a
man has learned to love money better than any-
thing else, and to hoard it up for its own sake,
this will pull a set of strings that will fix a close,
mean, grasping look upon his face, so that as you
pass him, you will be ready to say, "There goes
a miser." Or, if one learns to lie and steal, his
face will shew it by and by; it will be impossible
for him to put on an honest, truthful look.
You know, my dear children, the Bible tells us
that sin is a reproach, or a disgrace, and if we
consent to it, or give way to it, it will pull those
strings in our faces that will make our very looks
to be disgraceful. Don't let anger, or pride, or
passion, get hold of the strings, or they will make
RESISTING TEMPTATION. 19
you appear so ugly that no one will love to look
at you. But let love, and gentleness, and good
will, and truth, and honesty, have hold of the
strings, and they will make your face beautiful
Did you ever hear the story of the Two Por-
traits? It comes in so nicely to illustrate this
part of our subject, that I must tell it here.
An Italian painter, once, wanted to get a paint-
ing that would do to represent the head and face
of an angel. One day, as he was passing through
the streets, he saw a little child whose face was
the brightest, the sweetest, and the most beauti-
ful he had ever seen. He said to himself, That
is just what I want." He asked permission to
paint a likeness of the head and face of that child.
It was granted. He finished it, and hung it up
in his study. Everybody admired it. The sweet
gentle look of that face seemed like an angel's
look. He often gazed upon it when he was dis-
turbed, or troubled, and it seemed to soothe him
and do him good. He used to say that he would
like to paint another head, to be the very opposite
of this; as unlike it, in every respect, as possible.
Then he would have the two portraits to hang
side by side-the one as the head of an angel;
20 THE SAFE COMPASS.
the other as the head of a fiend-the one to re-
present heaven, the other to represent hell. But
many years passed away before he found any one
who looked horrible enough to be the subject
for the second picture. At length, in a distant
land, he was once visiting a prison. There he
saw a man whose appearance was the most dread-
ful he had ever seen. His face had the fierce,
haggard look of a fiend, with glaring eyes, and
cheeks deeply marked with lust and crime. The
moment he saw the man he said to himself,
"This will do for my second portrait." He
painted a picture of this loathsome face to hang
beside that beautiful angel head, which had been
in his study so long. And when they hung there
side by side, oh, how great the contrast between
them was! The one looked, for all the world,
like the face of an angel, and the other like the
face of a fiend. But when the painter came to
inquire into the history of the prisoner, you may
judge what his surprise was, when he found this
hideous looking man was the very same person,
whose face, when a child, he had taken, from
which to paint his portrait of an angel. And now
that face was so changed, that he painted his
portrait of a fiend from it. And what had made
RESISTING TEMPTATION. 21
this surprising change ? One little word of three
letters-sin. I said that sin was disgraceful in
the looks it gives us. Here you see how true
this is !
But sin is disgraceful also in the company to
which it brings us. When Jesus was on earth He
said, "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant
of sin." Now, so far as we know, Satan was the
first sinner. He is the author, or father of sin.
And if we are the servants of sin, we must be the
servants of Satan also. But can there be any
greater disgrace than this ? You know that in
some cities, when men have committed great
crimes for which they are condemned to the
penitentiary, they are obliged to wear a parti-
cular kind of prison dress. Then they are
chained together in gangs of three or four, and
compelled to sweep the streets, and do other such
like work for the city authorities. Now, suppose
you had a young friend about eighteen or nineteen
years old. We may call him Charles Jackson.
He has had a good education. His parents are
well off, and very respectable. His father is an
eminent physician in the city. But Charles was
a bad boy. He gave his parents a great deal of
trouble, and several years ago he ran away from
22 THE SAFE COMPASS.
home. And suppose that one day you are walk-
ing through the streets of one of those cities
where the prisoners, in chains, are made to act as
scavengers. As you go along, you pass one of
those chain-gangs of prisoners. You look up in
passing, and there, to your surprise and sorrow,
you see, chained in between criminals, your old
friend, Charles Jackson 0, how shocked you
are You say to yourself, what a disgrace to be
found in such company Sin brought that dis-
grace upon Charles.
Now, do you know that Satan and the wicked
spirits with him are God's chain-gang prisoners.
The Bible tells us that they are "reserved," or
kept, "in everlasting chains under darkness,"
(Jude 6.) Or, as it calls them in another place,
"in chains of darkness." They are God's pri-
soners in chains. And all who consent to sin are
bound in the same gang with them. And if we
remain in the company of Satan here, in this life,
we must share the wages which he will receive at
last, and be shut up in company with him for
ever. There is one passage in the Bible which
speaks about this, and it is enough to make one's
blood run cold just to read it or hear it. It is
the 25th chapter of Matthew and 41st verse.
RESISTING TEMPTATION. 23
Here Jesus is describing the solemn scenes of the
judgment day. He is seated on His glorious
throne. The holy angels are about Him. All
nations are gathered before Him. On His right
hand stand the righteous, i.e., all who have loved
and served Him. He smiles on them and says,
" Come, ye blessed children of my Father, receive
the kingdom prepared for you from the founda-
tion of the world." On His left hand stand the
wicked, i.e., all who have consented to sin and
served Satan. He turns to them with an awful
frown, and says, "Depart, ye cursed, into ever-
lasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels !"
Dreadful, dreadful words If the fire was pre-
pared for the devil and his angels, the place was
prepared for them too. Only think of being
shut up in the company of all wicked angels and
men for ever! What a disgrace! The third
reason why we should not consent to sin is, that
it is disgraceful.
Here, then, we have three good reasons why
we should not consent to sin. Thefirst is, because
when we begin it is hard to stop; the second is,
because it is dangerous; and the third, because it
In conclusion, my dear children, there are two
24 THE SAFE COMPASS.
things we ought all of us to do. We ought to get
rid of the sins we have committed. This is one
thing. We are all sinners. Every one of us has
committed sin. The great thing is to get rid of
it. Now, there is only One Person in all the
universe who can take away sin. This is Jesus.
He came, the Bible tells us, "to put away sin by
the sacrifice of himself." He was nailed to the
cross, and shed His precious blood for this pur-
pose. Hence the Bible tells us that "the blood
of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin." If we are
truly sorry for our sins, and pray God for His
sake to pardon our sins, they will be all forgiven.
He will blot them out of His book of remem-
brance, and they will never be mentioned any
more. This is one thing we ought to do. Get
rid of the sins we have committed.
And then there is another thing we ought to do;
and that is, to try and keep from sinning any more.
Said a boy to his sister one day, I want the
spirit to look sin right in the face when it comes
to me, and say, Begone."
Yes, brother," said his sister, "and one thing
more you want: you want God's spectacles to
see sin and know it when it comes, for it doesn't
always shew its colours."
RESISTING TEMPTATION. 25
I suppose by God's spectacles" this good girl
meant the Bible. This helps us to see things as
God sees them, just as though we were looking
at them through His spectacles. There is nothing
like the Bible to shew us what sin is. And then,
while it shews us what is sin, it shews us how to
deal with it. "If sinners entice thee, consent
thou not." Take your stand at once. Don't
trifle with it. The moment it appears resist it.
In front of my house there are two young
shade trees ; or rather one in front of my house
and the other in front of my next door neigh-
bour's house. Last spring they both came out in
leaf beautifully. They looked very green and
flourishing. After a while the worms appeared,
-those long, black, ugly-looking creatures that
play such havoc with our shade trees every spring.
Well, one day, when I was going out of the
house, I stopped a moment to look at the tree,
and found the worms had fairly got possession of
it, and were likely, in a few days, to eat up all
the leaves. I shook my head and said, Ah !
my gentlemen, this 'll never do." So I went in
and got a chair to stand upon, and taking a cane in
my hand, I went to work and knocked off and killed
every worm that was on the tree. That saved
26 THE SAFE COMPASS.
the tree. It has been growing nicely all the
summer. But my neighbour let the worms alone
on his tree. The consequence was, that they ate
up every particle of leaf that was on it. Then
the tree died, and every time I look at its bare,
black, dismal-looking, dead branches, it teaches
me a lesson. It seems to tell me the importance
of resisting sin as soon as it appears. What the
worms were to that tree, sins are to your sou.
Oh, pray God to give you grace to see your sins
as soon as they appear, and to try to get rid of
them at once.
"If sinners entice thee, consent thou not."
he i anmore precious than rubes."- 1.
SShe is more precious than rubies."-Pnov. iii. 15.
"She is more precious than rubics."-Piov.iii. 15.
SOLOMON is speaking of religion here. He calls
it wisdom. Wisdom is always represented as a
female. The first word in the text, the pronoun
she, means religion. Suppose, now, that we put
this word in place of the pronoun she, and then
the verse will read in this way, Religion is more
precious than rubies."
A ruby is a beautiful gem. It is a precious
stone, of a bright rose or blood-red colour. If
you look at a ruby, when the sunlight is on it,
you will see it shining and sparkling in the most
beautiful manner. Among precious stones the
ruby is reckoned the most valuable, next to the
diamond. And because it is considered so valu-
able, religion is here compared to it. Solomon
was a good judge, both of rubies and of religion.
He was the richest man on the earth at the time
in which he lived. He had gold and silver almost
30 THE SAFE COMPASS.
without any end. He had all kinds of jewels and
precious stones. Among these, no doubt, he had
a great many rubies. He know how much they
were worth, and what they were good for. And
then Solomon was a pious man. He knew very
well how much religion was worth. He knew
what it was good for. So that we know he un-
derstood what he was speaking about when he
wrote the words of which we are now thinking.
But Solomon was not speaking for himself, when
he used these words. A greater than Solomon
is here." It is God who is here speaking through
him. Solomon was one of those "holy men of
old" whom the Holy Ghost employed to write
the Bible. What those men said was not their
own words, but God's. They spake as they were
moved by the Holy Ghost." It is God, then,
who is here speaking of religion, and says, "She
is more precious than rubies." God knows how
much rubies are worth, for He made them all.
And God knows how much religion is worth, for
He is the Author of it. Now, here, you see, we
have two things to examine or compare together
-religion and rubies. This is the subject of our
sermon this afternoon. When you go home from
church to-day, if anybody asks you what was the
RELIGION AND RUBIES COMPARED. 1
sermon about, you can say it was about religion
and rubies compared.
She is more precious than rubies."
Now, the question we have to answer is, in
what way is religion more precious than rubies ?
I wish to speak of five ways in which this is so.
And in the first place, religion is more precious
than rubies, in the wAY OF INSTRUCTION.
A ruby is a very beautiful thing to look at.
It glitters and sparkles in such a way that you
can't help admiring it. But what can a ruby
teach you ? What instruction can it give you?
Suppose that you have one of the largest and
most valuable rubies that the world contains;
but, at the same time, that you have no Bible.
Suppose, also, that you have never seen or heard
of a Bible. You have never had a single lesson
from it. You are entirely ignorant of all the great
things which the Bible teaches. Now, how much
could you learn about those things from your
ruby ? You look upon this beautiful world
around you,-the fields, the woods, the moun-
tains, the hills, the plains, the valleys, the rivers,
and springs that run among the hills,-the sun
as it shines by day, and the moon and the stars
as they shine by night,-and you want to know
32 THE SAFE COMPASS.
who made them all. And can your ruby tell
you? Oh, no! But here religion comes with
her Bible. Can she tell you ? Yes, indeed. She
opens the first chapter of this wonderful book and
reads, In the beginning God created the heavens
and the earth." You look at yourself. What a
wonderful creature you are How strangely your
body is made, with its eyes, and ears, and hands,
and feet, and heart, and lungs. And then the
soul that dwells in this moving house; the soul
that thinks, and feels, and loves, and hates,-who
made it and put it in this curious body I The
ruby cannot tell you anything about it. But re-
ligion can tell you. She opens her wondrous book
again and reads: "The Lord God formed man
out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into
his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a
You have a dear little brother, whom you love
very much. He is taken sick. The doctor comes
to see him-but can't cure him. He dies. You
see him put into the coffin. The lid is screwed
down upon him. Then comes the funeral. You
go to the grave-yard. The coffin is lowered into
the grave. You lean over and look down. How
cold and damp it seems! Now the men shovel
RELIGION AND RUBIES COMPARED. 33
in the earth, and your little brother is hidden
from your sight. You want to know what has be-
come of him. And can your ruby tell you No.
But here is religion with her Bible. She opens it
and reads, "the dust," i.e., the body, "shall re-
turn to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall
return unto God who gave it," (Eccles. xii. 7).
But you have seen the flowers in the garden all
wither and die when winter came; yet on the re-
turn of spring, they start up and grow again.
You have seen the little worm weave a sort of
coffin around itself. In this it has lain all winter,
as if dead. But in spring that little coffin opens,
and instead of the crawling worm, out comes a
beautiful butterfly. Now, as you stand by your
little brother's grave, you want to know whether
he will live again like the flowers, or whether his
coffin will open and he will come out again as
much changed as the worm was when turned into
the butterfly. Oh, how anxious you are to know
this? Well, ask your beautiful ruby. Can it
give you any answer ? Not a word. But here is
religion with her Bible. Ask her. She opens
the Bible and reads, "Thy brother shall rise
again," (John xi. 23.) The hour is coming in
which all chat are in the graves shall hear the
34 THE SAFE COMPASS.
voice of the Son of man and shall come forth,"
(John v. 28.)
You have heard that God made you, and the
world, and all things. You know that He is
very powerful, and can do whatever He desires.
But you wish to know what sort of a God He is.
Is He kind, and loving, and gentle ? or is He
angry, and fierce, and cruel These are ques-
tions which your ruby can't answer. But ask
religion about them. She opens her Bible and
reads, "God is love," (1 John iv. 8.) "The
Lord is good unto all, and his tender mercies
are over all his works," (Ps. cxlv. 9.) And now
suppose that you are going to die yourself.
You feel that you are a sinner, and are afraid to
die. You want to know how your sins can be
pardoned, so that you may go to heaven when
you die. Can your ruby tell you ? No. But
you ask religion. She opens her Bible and reads,
"The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth
from all sin," ( 1 John i. 7.) Believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,"
(Acts xvi. 31.)
A little girl, named Mary, had been going to
Sunday-school for some time. She was only
about seven or eight years old. But she had
RELIGION AND RUBIES COMPARED. 35
learned enough to know that she was a sinner,
and that Jesus was the only Saviour. She loved
him, and prayed to Him every day. Mary's
parents never went to church, and never read the
Bible. They were careless, wicked people, who
never thought about God or heaven. One night
Mary's father was taken suddenly ill. His illness
was very alarming. The poor man saw death
staring him in the face. He felt that he was a
sinner, and not prepared to die. He asked his
wife to pray for him. She said she didn't know
how to pray. Oh, what shall I do he ex-
claimed, how can I die with all my sins upon
Mary has learned a great deal about the
Bible, at Sunday-school," said his wife; "sup-
pose I call her. Perhaps she can tell you some-
thing that will comfort you."
Call her at once," said he.
Mary was called, out of her sleep, to the bed-
side of her dying father. Mary, my child,"
said the poor man, "I'm going to die; but I
feel that I'm a great sinner. Can you tell me
how a sinner like me can be saved 1"
"Oh, yes, father," said Mary, "Jesus Christ
came into the world to save sinners "
86 THE SAFE COMPASS.
"But how does He save sinners ? and will He
save such a great sinner as I am ?"
"Jesus says, in the Bible," replied Mary,
" 'Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest.' God so loved
the world that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life.' 'Him that
cometh unto me I will in nowise cast out.'"
"Does the Bible say all that, Mary ?" asked
the dying man, with great earnestness.
"Yes," said Mary; "those are the very words
I learned in Sunday-school."
Then he asked Mary to kneel down and pray
for him. So she kneeled down and prayed that
God would have mercy on her dear father; that
He would pardon his sins, and save his soul, for
In the morning, when Mary woke up, her
father was dead. But he died believing the
words that Mary had told him from the Bible,
and he found peace in believing them. But, sup-
pose that Mary had taken a handful of rubies to
her dying father, instead of the instructions she
gave him from the Bible, would they have done
him any good 1 None at all. Well, then, you
RELIGION AND RUBIES COMPARED. 37
see that religion is more precious than rubies in
the way of instruction.
SlThe second way in which it is more precious, is
in the WAY OF HELP.
I mean by this, that religion will do a great
deal more to help us under the troubles that we
have to meet with in life, than rubies can do. I
don't think I can illustrate this part of our sub-
ject better than by telling you about a poor boy,
so that you can see what religion did to help him
under his difficulties.
A minister of the gospel, after an absence of
several years, returned to spend a Sabbath at a
town in England, where he had formerly been
settled. After the services were over, a widow
woman knocked at the door of the vestry-room,
and desired to see him. "Don't you remember
me, sir?" she asked.
"No, I do not," said he.
"Don't you remember my John ? He used to
be in Sunday-school."
"I can't say that I do," answered the minister.
0 sir," said the old woman, "my John is
the "best John in the world ; and I thought I
would like to tell you about him."
The minister said he would be glad to hear
38 THE SAFE COMPASS.
what she had to say; and then she told her story
as follows :-
After you left us, sir, my husband died, and
we became very poor, indeed we were almost
starving. One day, John said to me, 'Mother,
dear, we can't starve, and there is no work to be
got; let me go to sea for a time, and try to earn
some money for you.' I was very unwilling to
part from him; but times were bad, and as he
seemed so anxious about it, I gave him a parting
kiss and prayer, and with his Bible in his pocket,
and a bundle in his hand, he set off to the nearest
seaport town, to try and get a situation on board
a ship. He went from vessel to vessel, among the
docks, for several days, but could not get a situa-
tion. At last, when he was almost discouraged, he
saw the captain of a ship passing by, Don't you
want a boy, sir i' said John. Why, that's the very
thing I'm looking for,' said the captain. 'Do then,
sir, take me.' 'Well, where is your character?' 'No-
body knows me here, sir,' said John. 'But in my
own parish I could get a character in a minute.' I
can't take you without a character.' The captain
was turning away, when John thought of his Bible,
and opening it in an instant, he said, How will
that do. sir 9' The captain read the following:-
RELIGION AND RUBIES COMPARED. 39
FOR HIS GOOD BEHAVIOUR IN SUNDAY-SCHOOL.
'That 'll do, my boy,' said the captain, 'come
along.' Accordingly, John was shipped in a mer--
chant vessel bound for St Petersburg. During
the voyage a dreadful storm arose. The wind
blew a hurricane, and every one expected the
vessel to be lost. The sailors had done all they
could, and were waiting to see the end. Then
John took out his Bible, and in a loud, solemn
voice, read out the 51st Psalm. While he was
doing this, one after another, the sailors first, and
then the officers, gathered round him. When he
had done reading, he kneeled down and prayed
very earnestly that God would make the storm
to cease, and spare their lives. God heard that
prayer, and soon after the storm began to abate.
The captain acknowledged that John's prayers had
saved the ship, and promised him a holiday when
they got to St Petersburg.
"He kept his word, and while the ship was
lying there, he gave John the promised holiday.
Boylike, John went to the palace of the emperor
to see all the great people go to court. As he
40 THE SAFE COMPASS.
stood in wonder, gazing on carriage after carriage
passing by, something dropped at his feet. It
was a bracelet, sparkling with jewels, which had
dropped from a lady's hand. John picked it up,
and called aloud for the coachman to stop, but in
vain; the crowd and the noise prevented John
from being noticed, and he returned to the ship
with the bracelet. You're a lucky fellow,' said
the captain ; 'why, these are diamonds.' 'Yes,
sir ; but they are not mine.' How did you get
them?' 'I picked them up, and called to the
driver to stop ; but he drove on, and didn't hear
me.' Then you did all you could under the cir-
cumstances, and they are clearly yours.' 'No,
captain; they are not mine,' said John. 'You
foolish fellow,' said the captain, 'let me have the
diamonds, and when we get back to London, I'll
sell them for you, and they'll fetch lots of money.
' That may be, sir; but they are not mine, and
suppose, captain, we should have another storm
as we go home, what then?' 'Ay, ay, Jack,'
said the captain, 'I didn't think of that Well,
we must try and find the owner.' This was done.
The lady gave Jack a sum of money as a reward
for his honesty. This money, at the advice of
the captain, was laid out in skins and hides
RELIGION AND RUBIES COMPARED. 41
When these were sold on their return, John left
the ship, after his first voyage, with 80 in his
pocket. He came straight home to his native
village. He found me in the workhouse. He
took me out and rented a nice little cottage for
me, and there he has supported me ever since. He
is the captain of a ship now; but he never forgets
his old mother. I tell you, sir," said she, ending
as she began, "my John's the best John in the
The minister thought she had good reason to
think so. But just see how religion helped this
boy, under his troubles, in a way in which the
best ruby in the world never could have done. It
was religion which taught John to love and honour
his mother, and do all he could to help and com-
fort her. It was religion which gave him that
Bible with the recommendation in it, and this
secured him a situation. It was religion which
taught him to read that Bible for comfort in the
storm, and to pray to God for help, when the
officers and men could no longer help themselves.
It was religion that saved that ship, and all on
board, from destruction. It was religion that
kept John from acting dishonestly about the
bracelet he had found. That was the turning
42 THE SAFE COMPASS.
point of hihisistory. If he had done wrong then,
he probably never would have succeeded as he
afterwards did. It was religion which built up
for John the good character he possessed, and
secured him his success in life. But what
could rubies have done, in the place of reli-
gion, on any of these occasions? And so you
see, clearly enough, that religion is better, i.e.,
"more precious than rubies" in the way of
But religion is more precious than rubies in the
WAY OF COMFORT.
It is surprising to find in how many different
ways people are afflicted and troubled in this
world. But whatever the trouble is to which
those who love Jesus, and are truly religious, are
exposed, they find that their religion gives them
such comfort as no gold or silver, or jewels could
ever give them.
There was a good man once, who was very rich.
He had so much money, and so many good things,
that one of his Christian friends asked him, one
day, if he was not afraid of forgetting God, and
thinking too much of his money. His answer
was, "No ; for I enjoy God in all things." After
a while, he lost all his property, and was reduced
RELIGION AND RUBIES COMPARED. 4 3
almost to beggary. His old friend was afraid
this would be too much for him, and asked
him if his great losses did not make him feel
very unhappy ? But with a cheerful smile, he
answered, No ; for now I enjoy all things in
God." Ah if rich people would learn to enjoy
God in all things, their riches would never do
them any harm. And if the poor would learn
to enjoy all things in God, they would always
be happy even in their poverty. Religion can
give people comfort under trials when no rubies,
or jewels of any kind, could afford them any
Some time ago there was a Brahmin, in India,
who was very rich. He owned many houses and
extensive lands. He had a beautiful wife, and
numerous children. From conversation with a
missionary, and from reading the New Testament,
he was led to become a Christian. But when he
was baptized, according to the custom of that
country, all his friends and relations forsook him.
He was disowned by them all. Not one of them
would speak to him, or have anything to do with
him. All his property, too, was taken from him.
He was left without a halfpenny, and was obliged
to work for his own living. One day, a British
44 THE SAFE COMPASS.
officer, who was a Christian himself, and knew
what this man had suffered by becoming a Chris-
tian, asked him how he bore his sorrows, and if he
was supported under them. "Ah!" said he, "I
am often asked that. But nobody asks me how
I bear my joys. The Lord Jesus sought me out,
and found me, a poor, stray sheep, in the jungle.
He brought me to His fold, and fills me with joy
unspeakable and full of glory." What could rubies
do to make a man happy under such circumstances?
But religion gave this man such comfort that, like
Paul of old, when he had endured the loss of all
things" earthly, he considered it "a gain, that he
might win Christ."
There was a poor woman in England, whose
name was Harriet Stoneman. She was afflicted
for thirty-nine years with a most distressing dis-
ease. Her sufferings at times were dreadful. It
was just as if her bones were being ground to
pieces, or burnt up in her body. At first she was
the most miserable and unhappy creature that you
can imagine. But after a while she became a
Christian, and learned to love Jesus. Then she
was a new creature indeed. Her religion did not
cure her disease or take away her pains; but, oh,
it gave her wonderful support and comfort under
RIILIGION AND EUBIES COMPARED. 45
them. Great as her sufferings were, she never
murmured or complained, but always seemed
cheerful and happy. She always had some plea-
sant word to speak of Jesus, and the joy she
found in Him. Three shillings a-week was all
she had for her support. Yet, out of this small
sum, for twenty-eight years, she regularly laid by
a penny a-week for the missionary cause. And
notwithstanding her sufferings, she used to be
constantly writing letters and sending tracts to
people, to try and do them good. Now, suppose
this woman had had a house full of rubies and
gems given to her, what could they have done to
comfort her ? Nothing at all. But in her greatest
distress she found real comfort in her religion.
Let us take one more illustration of this part of
our subject. Several years ago a large steamer,
called the Austria, caught fire at sea, in going
to America from Europe. She had a great
number of passengers on board. Every effort was
made to put out the fire, but in vain. They
couldn't get at the engine to stop it, and the
progress of the vessel through the water only
fanned the flames, and made the fire burn the
faster. The only prospect before the passengers
was a choice between two ways of dying. They
46 THE SAFE COMPASS.
must either jump overboard and be drowned, or
remain on the vessel and be burned. What a
dreadful choice Of course there was great con-
fusion and distress on board that burning ship.
Some were so terrified that they could neither
move nor speak. Some cried; some screamed;
some ran wildly about, wringing their hands, not
knowing what they did. What could rubies or
jewels do to comfort persons in such trying cir-
cumstances. Nothing whatever. Why, gold and
silver and precious things lay scattered on the
deck, and nobody would stoop to pick them up.
But, in the midst of this scene of terror, over in
one corner of the deck, as far away as possible
from the fire, a little company of Christians were
gathered together. They had then no thought of
being saved, though two or three of them were
saved, who afterwards told. what I am now de-
scribing. In an hour or two they expected to be
in eternity. And what are they doing? They are
calm and cheerful. They have a Bible among
them. A few verses are read. Then one of them
prays. Then they talk about Jesus and that glo-
rious heaven where they expect soon to meet.
Then they read and pray again. They found
comfort in their religion then, when nothing
RELIGION AND RUBIES COMPARED. 47
else in all the world could have given them
Religion is "more precious than rubies" in the
way of comfort.
But, fourthly, religion is "more precious than
rubies" in the WAY OF ORNAMENT.
Rubies are chiefly used for ornament. We see
them in breastpins, on rings, on bracelets, and
head-dresses, and such like articles.
Rubies only adorn our bodies, but religion
adorns our souls. We cannot eat rubies, or drink
them. We cannot put them into our hearts, our
eyes, our cheeks, our lips. They belong to the
outside of us. But it is different with religion.
This belongs particularly to the heart. It has its
seat or dwelling-place in the heart; and from the
heart it makes itself felt over the whole person.
You know how much more beautiful a landscape
appears if you look at it when the sun is shining,
from what it is at night, or on a dark and cloudy
day. But religion is the sunshine of the soul. It
makes everything about it look bright and beau-
tiful. We sometimes hear of people using differ-
ent things to improve their complexion and make
them look pretty. The things used for this pur-
pose are called cosmetics. The meaning of cos-
48 THE SAFE COMPASS.
metic is, to make beautiful. But true religion is
the best cosmetic in the world. It improves the
looks of people more than anything else can. I
have known people, whose faces were naturally
really ugly, but who were yet made so beautiful
by religion, that you could not look at them with-
out admiring them. You know when Moses came
down from talking with God on the Mount, his
face was so bright and shining that it fairly dazzled
people's eyes, like looking at the sun, and he had
to put a veil over it before his friends could talk
with him. It was his religion which did that.
And so you remember the first martyr, St Stephen,
while preaching to the Jews, said, Behold, I see
the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing
at the right hand of God. And all that sat in the
council, looking at him, saw his face as it had been
the face of an angel." It was the religion of
Stephen which made his face look so beautiful.
Religion has a wonderful power in adorning people,
or improving their appearance. It gives them
"a meek and quiet spirit;" and this the Bible
calls an "ornament which is in the sight of God
of great price." Religion makes the eye look
brighter, and the complexion clearer, and the
smile sweeter, and the voice softer, and every-
RELIGION AND RUBIES COMPARED. 49
thing about our person better-looking than it
otherwise would be. You may remember when
ever a national holiday is held, that in the
evening sometimes many of the finest houses
in a city are illuminated. The blinds are up,
and the gas or candles are burning, and the
parlours are lighted up, so that as you go by
you can see the beautiful paintings and statuary
that are in them. What a wonderful change
that illumination makes in the appearance of those
houses! But religion is the illumination of the
soul. It lights it up in such a way as to shew us
beauties that we never should have seen without
it. And yet it only just begins to do this in the
present life. We never shall know till we get to
heaven what ornaments religion will put upon us,
or how beautiful it will make us appear.
You remember reading about the transfigura-
tion of Jesus on the Mount. The disciples who
were with Him saw His face shining with a
brightness more dazzling than that of the sun.
His garments became whiter than snow, and
glittered and sparkled most gloriously. I sup-
pose that was the most glorious sight ever seen in
this world. And one of the reasons why Jesus
was transfigured in that way was to give us. as
50 THE SAFE COMPASS.
it were, a peep into heaven,-to let us have just
a glance at his glory. Jesus appeared on the
Mount of Transfiguration, just as He appears now
in heaven. And He appeared in this manner in
order to shew us a pattern of the beauty and
glory which He intends to put on all His people.
If we love Jesus He will make us look, at last,
and look for ever, just as He looked Himself when
He was transfigured. The Bible tell us, that
" He will change our vile bodies and make them
like his own glorious body." It tells us, too,
that when He shall appear" again in the glory
of His heavenly kingdom we shall be like him."
What a sight it will be, when all who have loved
and served Jesus, shall be shining forth in beauty
and glory just as He shone on the Mount of
Transfiguration The finest rubies in the world
will only be like dark spots upon the sun com-
pared to them. When you see an ugly-looking
worm crawling on the earth, you can hardly think
that some day it will put on beautiful wings, and
go flying about in the sunbeams, all glittering with
glory. But it will. And just such a change
awaits the Christian.
A poor, but very pious and Christian woman
once called to see two rich young ladies. They
RELIGION AND RUBIES COMPARED. 51
were elegantly dressed, but they were Christians
too, and, without regard to her poverty and
mean appearance, they received her with great
kindness, and, inviting her into a splendid dining-
room, sat down to converse with her upon religi-
ous subjects. While they were thus engaged, a
brother of the young ladies happened to enter.
He was a gay, thoughtless, proud, young man.
He looked greatly astonished to see his sisters
engaged in conversation with such a poor, shabby-
looking woman. One of them rose up directly
and said, Brother, don't be surprised; this is a
king's daughter, only she has not yet got her fine
In the way of ornament, religion is more pre-
cious than rubies.
I will speak of one more point, and this is, that
religion is more precious than rubies" in the
WAY OF RICHES.
Rubies are very valuable. I saw a small one
in a jeweller's shop the other day, which they
told. me was worth about 32. Sometimes a
ruby has been found that was worth several
hundreds of pounds. But, suppose that all the
rubies in the world could be gathered together in
one great, glittering pile. What a dazzling sight
52 THE SAFE COMPASS.
they would present I cannot venture to guess
how much they would be worth. But this I
know very well, that, whatever amount of money
they might be valued at, though it were multi-
plied ten thousand times, it would still be true
that religion would be more precious than rubies.
In the way of riches, it would be worth more
than all those rubies put together. We con-
sider a man rich if he is worth one hundred
thousand pounds. But do you know how rich
religion makes a man? Did you ever try to
calculate how much a Christian is worth Per-
haps you would like to reckon it up. You can
work it out by addition and multiplication. Let
me tell you how to begin. The Bible tells us
that Christians are "joint-heirs with Christ,"
(Rom. viii. 17.) Now, you know that the heir of
a man is the person who is to possess his pro-
perty. Joint-heirs" are those who share, or
possess property together. When we are told
that Christians are "joint-heirs with Christ," it
means that Jesus will share with His people all
that belongs to Him. And how much is Jesus
worth ? He said, himself, "All things that the
Father hath are mine." Well, then, if you want
to work out the sum that I was just speaking of,
RELIGION AND UBIES COMPARED. 53
you must add up the value of all the gold, and
the silver, and the gems, and the jewels, and the
iron, and brass, and the houses, and the land in
the world. And when you have written down
the sum of all these, you must multiply it by the
number of all the other worlds that God has
made. That will tell you how much Jesus is
worth, and when you find that out you will find
how rich religion makes a Christian.
"See!" said a rich landowner to a poor
peasant, as he pointed out to him the beautiful
things around; "those broad fields are mine.
Those magnificent parks, those beautiful forests,
those snug, smiling farms, and, in short, all you
see, on every side, belong to me."
The poor peasant was a Christian. He had
not much of worldly goods, but he felt that he
was rich in faith, and an heir of God's glorious
kingdom. He looked thoughtfully at the great
landholder for a moment, and then with the hope
and joy of a Christian kindling in his eye, he
pointed towards heaven, saying,
"And is that yours, also i"
The lord of all those possessions was silent.
He felt in a moment that he, with all his property,
was poor, for he had nothing to take with him
54 THE SAFE COMPASS.
beyond the grave; while the humble peasant was
really rich, for he was the owner of an inherit-
ance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth
not away." In the way of riches religion is
"more precious than rubies."
Now, we have compared religion and rubies
together in five different ways, and have seen
that in each of them, she is more precious than
rubies." In the way of instruction this is true;
and so it is in the way of help-in the way of
comfort-in the way of ornament, and in the way
And if this is so, then how earnestly we should
seek this great blessing. Religion is the princi-
pal thing. It is "the one thing needful," of
which Jesus spoke when He was on earth. This
was what He meant when He said: "Seek first
the kingdom of God and his righteousness."
"Religion is the chief concern
Of mortals here below;
May we its great importance learn,
Its sovereign virtue know.
"Religion should our thoughts engage
Amidst our youthful bloom;
'Twill fit us for declining age
Or for an early tomb.
RELIGION AND RUBIES COMPARED. 55
" Oh, may our hearts, by grace renewed,
Be our Redeemer's throne ;
And be our stubborn will subdued,
His government to own.
"Let deep repentance, faith, and love,
Be joined with godly fear,
And all our conversation provo
Our hearts to be &si-lere."
esns fm ilt at.
"Go to the ant,-consider her ways, and be wise."-
PRov. vi. 6.
"Go to theant; consider her ways, and be wnae."--
PRov. vi. 6.
WHAT a very little thing an ant is Some of
them are so small that we can hardly see them.
The largest of them are not longer than the end
of your little finger. We might crush hundreds
of them at a time by a single stamp of our foot.
Many persons despise them. Very few think of
them as they ought. But here, Solomon, who
was the wisest man who ever lived, sets up a little
ant before us as our teacher. He says: "Go
to the ant; consider her ways, and be wise."
Suppose you should come to your class in
Sunday-school, some Sunday morning, and find
your teacher's chair empty. You would perhaps
say to yourself, Well, we're not going to have
any teacher to-day." And suppose that while you
were waiting, you should see a little tiny ant
climb up into the chair. There you see it creep-
ing up and up, and presently it gets on to the
60 TIE SAFE COMPASS.
seat of the chair. You watch it narrowly to see
what it is going to do. Pretty soon it takes its
place right in the middle of the chair. There it
lifts itself up on its hind legs in a kind of sitting
posture. It puts on a grave, wise, knowing look.
It makes a graceful bow of its little head, and
begins to speak. How funny it would be! You
look and listen very attentively. It says : My
dear young friends, will you allow me to take
your kind teacher's place to-day ? I am a little
mite of a creature, I know, but please don't de-
spise me on that account. I don't know how to
read, and I can't pretend to explain the wonder-
ful things in the Bible, that your teacher is accus-
tomed to talk to you about. Bat I should like
to tell you about myself, and the tribe of people
that I belong to. We ants are a curious set of
creatures. And yet I think you will be interested
in some of our habits and customs, and perhaps
you may learn some useful lessons from hearing
about our ways of living."
Now, if anything of this kind could take place,
and your tiny little teacher could speak to you,
she would have a great many interesting things to
tell. She could tell you about the houses they
Live in, some of which are forty stories high, twenty
LESSONS FROM THE ANT. 61
stories being dug out, one beneath another, under
the earth, and twenty stories being built up over
them, above ground. She could tell you about the
different kinds of trades they follow, how some
are miners, and dig down into the ground;
some are masons and build very curious houses,
with long walls, supported by pillars and covered
over with arched ceilings. She could tell you
how some are carpenters, who build houses out of
wood, having many chambers which communi-
cate with each other by entries and galleries;
how some are nurses, and spend their whole
time taking care of the young ones ;-some are
labourers, and are made, like the negro slaves,
to work for their masters; while some are sol-
diers, whose only business it is to mount guard.
and stand ready to defend their friends and fel-
low-citizens, in case of any attack being made
upon them. These, and a great many other
curious things, she could speak about. I am
sure you would remember the lessons of your
little teacher, on that day, as long as you live.
But, of course, nothing like this will ever take
place. We have only been supposing that it
might-though we know very well that it can't.
We knnw that ants can't speak, at least they
62 THE SAFE COMPASS.
can't speak English; and so can't make them-
selves understood to us, though there is no doubt
that they have some way of speaking, or of
making themselves understood, to one another.
But though they are not able to come and teach
us, yet we can go to them and learn. And this is
just what Solomon tells us to do in the text. He
says : Go to the ant; consider her ways, and be
wise." This is what we are now going to do.
We are going to the ant to consider her ways,"
that is, to inquire how she lives and labours, and
to find out what useful lessons we can learn from
I wish to speak of five lessons we may learn
from the ant.
The first of these is a lesson of INDUSTRY.
We speak of the little busy bee as teaching
us a lesson of industry,-and so it does ; but the
ant is a better example of industry even than the
bee. Suppose we go and look at one of these ant
settlements. We may call it a village, or town
of ants. It is under ground, of course. But sup-
pose we could just lift off the covering, and look
at what is going on; what a busy scene we
should behold This little town has more in-
habitants than Liverpool or Glasgow. Now
LESSONS FROM THE ANT. 63
let us go into the nursery department first. Here
we look into a little room. The floor is covered
all over with little white things, about the size of
a grain of rice or wheat. These are called larve.
They are the baby ants. Now, they don't look
like ants at all, but rather like little grubs or
worms. But they are the young ants, or ants in
their baby-state. There are thousands upon
thousands of them. And there is an amazing
amount of work to be done for them. Those
ants that you see there, going about among these
babies, are the nurses. They have a pretty busy
time of it, and need to be very industrious. Only
see what they have to do. The babies must be
kept clean. Hence you will see some of the
nurses going about among the little ones and
wiping off every bit of dirt they see upon them.
They have no towels or napkins to do this with,
but they do it very nicely with their hands, or
what are called their antenna, or feelers. Then
these babies have to be fed, two or three times a
day, and to do this for so many of them is no
small job. And then the babies require to be
often moved about from one part of the house to
the other. They must be kept in just a certain
degree of warmth, or else they will die. The
64 THE SAFE COMPASS.
ants have no thermometers to tell how warm it
is, for God has taught them to find this out with-
out a thermometer. They can't regulate the
heat in their nurseries as we can. When ours are
too cool, we only have to stir up the fire and put
a little more coal on. If it is too warm, we shut
up the register from the furnace, or open the
room door, and the trouble is soon remedied. But
when it is too cold in the ants' nursery, they have
to carry their babies to another part where it is
warmer. Every morning, after the sun is up,
they have to carry all their babies, one by one, to
the upper rooms where the sunbeams make it
warm. And then, before the sun sets, they carry
them all down again to the lower rooms, where
they are protected from the cold night air. And
this they continue to do, day after day, as long as
they live, without ever getting tired. What ex-
amples of industry these ants are !
And now let us go out of the nursery, and
look at the working ants, or labourers. Here
we may learn the same lesson of industry. These
labouring ants have to provide food for their large
household. All the day long they may be found
toiling patiently, endeavouring to carry provisions
to their homes. There is no better school in the
LESSONS FROM THE ANT. 65
world, in which to learn the lesson of industry,
than in a settlement of ants. There are no idlers
about their establishments. Every one has some-
thing to do. You will see one loaded with a grain
of wheat, another with a dead fly,-another with
a bit of sugar, and another, perhaps, with a little
piece of wood, which is wanted at home for some
purpose or other. If an ant finds the body of
some dead insect, such as a bee, for instance, which
is too large for him to carry by himself, he will
hurry back to the settlement, and get two or three
of his friends to come and help him. Then they
will take hold of it together, and never leave it
till they get it home. If they find it too large to
be carried into their door, they will break it up,
and carry it in, piece by piece. A gentleman
saw an ant dragging along a piece of wood, so
large that he could barely get on with it, on level
ground. By and by he came to a steep little hill
in his way home. He tried to get up the hill,
but the little log rolled him down again. He
tried it four or five times, with no better success.
Presently two other ants came along. The little
fellow ran up to them, as if to tell them of his
trouble. Then they turned back and helped. him
up the hill. As soon as they got on level ground
66 THE SAFE COMPASS.
again, the two helpers went about their business
and left their friend to get on by himself.
They never leave home without having some
special business to attend to, and never go back
again without carrying something with them, or
having news to tell of something useful which has
been discovered, and which requires the help of
others. And, when one of them comes to tell
that he has found a piece of sugar, or bread, or
any kind of fruit, even though it is in the high-
est story of a large house, they immediately form
themselves in a line and march after their leader,
till they reach the prize he has told them of, and
then they work on, without stopping, till it is all
stowed away in their homes. They work from
morning till night, and when it is moonlight, at
least, they often work all through the night.
What an example to lazy, idling people, whe-
ther young or old, the ants are, in this respect!
Let us never despise these worthy little creatures.
But when we feel tempted to indolence in our
studies, or our work, lot us think of the text,-
"Go to the ant; consider her ways, and be
Our first lesson from the ant is a lesson of in-
LESSONS FROM THE ANT. 67
Our second lesson from the ant is a lesson of
The ant is quite as remarkable for its persever-
ance as for its industry. They never seem to get
discouraged by the difficulties that meet them in
what they are doing. If an unlucky horse or cow
happens to tread upon their town, and crush a
dozen or more of their houses, they stop whatever
else they are doing, and go to work to repair the
damage done. If the same thing occurs again the
next day, or every day for a week, still they are
ready, in a moment, to clear away the ruins, and
make the best of what they can't help.
A gentleman was once watching an ant hill that
had been broken up. He saw one of the nurses
which had one of her hind legs taken off in the
crash; yet she went to work at once, to help to
remove their young to a place of safety, and this
poor wounded creature actually succeeded, herself,
in carrying away ten of the baby ants to their new
settlement, before the repairs were completed.
What wonderful perseverance that was !
Sometimes the ants have taught this lesson in
a way that has led to very important results, when
they little thought how much 'good they were
doing. There was once a celebrated king and
68 THE SAFE COMPASS.
conqueror, known as Timour the Tartar. On one
occasion he was defeated in battle, and, in fleeing
from his enemies, he sought shelter in an old
ruined building. Here he was obliged to spend
many hours, being afraid to venture out lest he
should be see and taken, or killed. Separated
from his friends, alone, helpless, and not knowing
what would happen to him next, he naturally felt
very sad and discouraged. As he lay stretched
out, to rest himself, upon the floor of the ruined
building, thinking about what he should do, he
noticed a little ant carrying something about as
big as itself. He watched it as it made its way
across the floor. Presently it came to the wall,
and tried to get up with its load. But the bur-
den was too heavy for it, and down they both
tumbled together. Not discouraged, however, it
tried7 again, and tumbled again. Again it tried,
and again it tumbled. Still the persevering little
creature wouldn't give it up. Timour became
very much interested in watching the ant. Sixty-
nine times she tried to get up the wall; and sixty-
nine times she tumbled down. But she tried the
seventieth time and succeeded. She carried her
burden at last to the top of the wall.
Timour said afterwards to his friends, "That
LESSONS FROM THE ANT. 69
sight gave me courage, and I never forgot it."
He went to the ant; considered her ways and was
wise. He learned a lesson of perseverance. This
is one of the most important lessons we have to
learn. All the good men, and all the great men
in the world have learned this lesson. And if we
want to be good and great we must learn it. We
can't begin too soon. The very youngest of you,
my dear children, even these little infant children,
should learn and practise this lesson every day.
Never say, I can't." By God's help and by try-
ing you can do almost anything.
I never quoted Latin in a children's sermon
before, but I'm going to do it now. There is an
old proverb, of just three words, which comes in
so nicely here that I must quote it. The proverb
is, "Perseverantia vincit omnia." The meaning
is, Perseverance conquers all things. This is worth
remembering. I suppose the ants don't under-
stand Latin; but it is very clear that they under-
stand all about this proverb, and they practise it
A lady once was going by a ropewalk. At one
end of the building she saw a little boy, about
nine years old, turning a large wheel. He had
to turn that wheel five hours every day- He only
70 THE SAFE COMPASS.
received about ninepence a day for his work. But
he had a poor sick mother at home, and he was
glad to be able to do anything to help her.
My little fellow," said the lady to him; don't
you ever get tired of turning this great wheel?"
"Yes, ma'am, sometimes," said he.
"And what do you do then ?" asked the lady.
"I take the other hand."
That was right. It was a noble reply. That
little fellow understood about the Latin proverb.
He was practising upon it. I have no doubt that
boy will make his mark in the world. It is a
great thing to know how to take the other hand.
Oh, don't give up, and begin to fret and cry as
soon as you feel tired; but just take the other
hand. "Perseverance conquers all things." The
second lesson we learn from the ants is a lesson
But we go to the ant again for our third lesson,
and this is a LESSON OF UNION.
I mean by this, that we may learn from them
the benefits of being united, and of working to-
gether. Take a single ant, and what an insignifi-
cant little creature it is. You can blow it away
with a breath. You can crush it with your little
finger. If thb ants should break up their union
LESSONS FROM THE ANT. 71
with one another, and try to live by themselves,
or in little companies of half-a-dozen, or a dozen
together, very soon they would all perish. It is
being united together that makes them strong,
and enables them to build their houses, and store
them with provisions, and take care of their young,
and protect themselves from danger. The ants
know this very well, and therefore they all go in
strongly for union. We hear a great deal now-a-
days about secession. Some of our friends in the
Southern part of America, want to break up
the Union of the United States, the glorious old
Union which Washington and the heroes of the
Revolution made. They think they could get
on better by themselves. Ah! if those mis-
taken people would only Go to the ant, and con-
sider her ways," they would soon become wiser
than this. What a valuable lesson they might
learn from the ants on this subject 1
It is by their union with one another that the
ants are often enabled to preserve themselves
from being entirely destroyed. In some parts of
South America the rivers overflow their banks,
and flood the country around at certain seasons of
the year. In those places the ants build their
houses from three to six feet high above ground.
72 THE SAFE COMPASS.
They do this, like the builders of the tower of
Babel, to protect themselves from being swept
away by the floods. But even this does not
always succeed. Sometimes the very tops of their
highest houses will be overflowed. Then the ants
have nothing but their strong union feeling to
preserve themselves from destruction. They do
it in this way. A number of the very strongest
among them will go and take firm hold of some
tree, or shrub, with their fore claws or feet. Then
some others will take hold of their hind feet, and
others again of theirs, till thousands upon thou-
sands of them are bound together, forming a great
living chain of ants, and thus they float upon
the surface of the water, anchored safely to the
tree, by the strong grasp of their friends, till the
floods have rolled away, and they can go back
to their homes. Here we see how the ants are
saved from destruction by their love of union.
And this union of the ants not only saves them
from destruction, it also enables them to do great
good, which they never could do if they were not
thus united. In some parts of South America the
ants act as the scavengers, or sweepers, or cleaners
of the country. They make their appearance, in
immense numbers, every two or three years, and
LESSONS FROM THE ANT. 73
their object seems to be to cleanse or purify the
country. The people are glad to see them come,
and throw open their houses for them to come in.
The ants march in troops, like huge armies. They
go through every room, find their way into every
nook and corner, every hole and crack, and de-
stroy all the rats and mice, and scorpions, and
cockroaches, and other vermin, and then quietly
go back to the forests where they came from.
An English gentleman was living in this part
of the country once, who didn't understand the
nature of these visits. He had not "been to the
ants to consider their ways." He was not wise in
regard to them. He was walking in his garden
one morning, when he heard his servant calling
out, "The ants are coming the ants are coming !"
" Well," says he, "let 'em come." He didn't know
what this meant. But on entering his house he
found a solid column of ants,' about ten inches
wide, pouring, like a stream of dark water, into
his dwelling. He seized a broom and tried to
sweep them away, but in vain. He got some
molasses and tried to stop their progress by pour-
ing this out before them. But they passed on,
making a bridge over the molasses, out of the
bodies of their companions, and still they pressed
74 THE SAFE COMPASS.
on. Then he got a kettle of boiling water, and
poured it on them. But though he broke their
ranks for a few moments, and destroyed vast
multitudes of them; still, for every one killed,
there seemed to come a thousand more. Presently
their broken ranks were formed again, and on they
went. The Englishman was fairly beaten. He
was obliged to surrender and leave his house in
possession of these invaders. Soon after, he had
to go off on some business till the latter part of
On speaking to one of the natives about what
had occurred, the native told him that they con-
sidered these ants one of their greatest blessings.
The Englishman shook his head, and said-
Well, it seems to me you must be very badly
off in this country for blessings, if you have to
reckon these things among them."
But when he came home in the evening he
changed his mind. The house he occupied had
been overrun with all sorts of vermin. On enter-
ing it there was not an ant to be seen. The only
trace of there having been there was found in the
scattered bones of rats and mice ; the hard shells
of beetles and roaches, their legs and wings, and
the husks of eggs,-all of which had been devoured.
LESSONS FROM THE ANT. 75
The ants were all gone, and the house was left
perfectly free from vermin. This was a blessing
indeed. Those little creatures had come as mis-
sionaais of purity and cleanliness; and they had
fulfilled their mission well. But if they had not
been united together, what could they have done?
And so it is with us. Whether in the nation-
in the Church-in the Sunday-school-or in the
family, it is a great blessing to be united. We
can keep off a great many evils from ourselves,
and do good to others, in many ways, if we are
united, which we never can do when separated.
Let us learn from the ant a lesson of union : and
let us do all we can to promote union:-union in
our country ; union in our Church; union in our
school; union in our families. There is strength
in union; there is safety in union; there is bless-
ing in union.
But we "go to the ant" again, and the fourth
lesson we learn from her is a LESSON OF KINDNESS.
Although they have so much to do, and work
so hard, they seem to be a very happy set of
little creatures. Sometimes they have a little
holiday, or recess time, together, and then they
may be seen having nice fun with each other.
Their favourite amusement at such times, is in
76 THE SAFE COMPASS.
wrestling and racing matches; and those who
have spent much time in watching them, say it
is very amusing to notice their different tricks and
pranks. A gentleman says he observed one spe-
cies of ants, who at such times are very fond
of carrying one another on their backs, very
much after the manner that boys call pig-a-back.
The ant to be carried will throw his front legs
round the neck of the one that carries him, and
cling to the other part of the body with his hind
legs, and so hold on while he gets his ride, after
the style of the celebrated John Gilpin, of whom
the poet Cowper wrote so humorously. When
they get through their rides they let each other
down very gently. Boys and girls might learn a
lesson in gentleness from seeing the ants at play.
There seems to be nothing like selfishness
among ants. If one of their number has a
heavier burden to carry than he can get along
with, another will come and help him. They
act faithfully up to that good Bible rule which
tells us to bear one another's burdens." If one
of them is in trouble or distress, it excites the
sympathy of the others, and they do all they
can to help and comfort him. A gentleman who
was watching some ants, one day, took a pair of
LESSONS FROM THE ANT. 7'
scissors and cut off one of the antennae, or feelers,
of a little fellow. It seemed to give him a good
deal of distress and pain. Presently, some of his
companions came up to him, and evidently pity-
ing his distress, seemed to be trying to comfort
him, and they actually anointed the wounded limb
with some transparent fluid from their mouths.
Sometimes, when one of their labourers is acci-
dentally wounded at his work, he is taken to one
of their rooms, which is used as a kind of hos-
pital, where he is taken care of till he gets well
again; but if they find he can't be cured, and
isn't likely to be useful any more, they take no
more care of him, but throw his body out among
the rubbish of their settlement.
When the young ones are being fed, the nurses
always attend to the smallest of them first; and
the older ones never touch the food, but keep
quiet and still, until their smaller brothers have
been fed and are satisfied. Here they set a very
good example, and one worthy of being followed
by the young in all our families.
If one of their companions is threatened with
an attack, the others will all join together for his
They are all the time trying to promote each
78 THE SAFE COMPASS.
other's welfare. Those who go abroad bring food
home for those who are building their houses, or
taking care of their young; and if one of them, in
going about, happens to find a lot of nice provi-
sions, he scampers back as fast as he can to tell
his friends at home about it, and to shew them
the way to it.
A lady once had a pot of honey, which she
found infested by ants. She tried various ways
to keep them from getting at it, but all in vain.
At last she fastened a cord round the vessel which
held it, and let it hang down from a hook in the
ceiling. Now it happened that there was just one
single ant left upon that vessel. The lady thought
she had swept them all off before she hung it up.
But this little fellow had escaped her notice.
When he found himself alone with that ocean of
sweetness, he ate as much as he wanted. Then he
mounted the rope. He climbed up it to the ceil-
ing. He crossed the ceiling;-he marched down
the wall, and made straight for home. As
soon as he arrived he told his friends he had
found the honey, and was ready to shew them
the way. Directly, a great company of them were
ready to follow him. They formed in a line of
march. He headed the line and led them down
LESSONS FROM THE ANT. 79
that cord into the "happy valley" at the foot of
it. At once they attacked the honey. Each one
took a load and started for home. Pretty soon
there were two lines of ants to be seen along
that cord: one was going up, full-the other was
coming down, empty. They never stopped till
they had left that vessel perfectly clean of honey;
and when the good lady came to take down her
honey-behold, it wasn't there.
Of course, ants never heard the eighth com-
mandment. They know nothing about stealing.
It is perfectly right for them to lay their hands
on everything they find that suits them. And
these things that I have mentioned shew that they
are real noble little fellows. They are polite and
kind, full of tenderness and sympathy. They are
always ready to help and comfort one another.
They have no selfishness, but are ready, at once,
to share all the good things they get with others.
These are excellent qualities. And if we imitate
the ants in these things, we shall be kind to the
poor and needy. And when we have learned to
love Jesus, and find how happy it makes us to
serve Him, we shall desire to send the gospel to
those who are without it. Like the little New
Zealand girl in England, who, when she became
80 THE SAFE COMPASS.
a Christian, wanted to go back to her own coun-
try and tell her friends about Jesus, we shall be
ready to say-" Do you think we can keep the
good news to ourselves We learn from the
ants a lesson of kindness.
We "go to the ant" once more, and the ffth
and last lesson we learn from her is a LESSON OF
The word prudence is made up of two Latin
words, the meaning of which is looking a-head, or
seeing before. You know what a telescope is.
It is an instrument to help us to see things that
are far off in regard to distance. The word tele-
scope means seeing at a distance, or seeing through
a distance. Now, if we could have a similar in-
strument to enable us to see things that are far off
in regard to time, that would be a great invention.
We might call it a chronoscope. That would mean
an instrument for looking through time. Then,
at the beginning of the year, we could just take
a peep through our chronoscope, and tell, in a
minute, all that was going to happen during the
year. We should know when it was going to
rain, and when the weather would be fine. We
should know who was going to be sick, and who
to be well-who was going to live, and who t'
LESSONS FROMI THE ANT. 81
die. But that would be knowing more than
would be good for us. God might have given
us such an instrument if He had thought best.
But it wasn't best, and so He has not given it to
us. To take the place of it, however, He has
given us what we call prudence. This means the
power to think about the future, and make pre-
paration for it. And this prudence the ants have
in a remarkable degree. I don't mean to say that
the ants think and reason as we do. But still
they act as though they did. God teaches them
what to do without thinking, just as He does the
birds, and the bees, and the beavers. And this
power in animals, which enables them to know
how to work and get their living, we call in-
stinct. Nobody knows what instinct is, only it
is that which enables animals to do, without
thinking or learning, what we do by learning and
Solomon says, in the verses just after our text,
that the ant, "having no guide, overseer, or
ruler, yet provideth her meat in the summer, and
gathereth her food in the harvest." It used to
be thought that the ants lived all through the
winter on the food which they laid up in the
summer. Bnt in our climate, when the cold
82 THE SAFE COMPASS.
weather comes, the ants remain in a torpid con-
dition as if asleep, and don't need anything to
eat. But it was different in a warm country like
that in which Solomon lived. There the winters
are not so cold as to put the ants to sleep, or
make them torpid. But then they have long
rainy seasons, too, in which ants can't go out to
gather food. During those seasons they live on
the food which they have laid up during summer-
time and harvest. And thus it is they teach us a
lesson of prudence.
There is a fable told of The Ant and the Grass-
hopper. A poor grasshopper, who had outlived
the summer, and was ready to perish with cold
and hunger, happened to come near to a settle-
ment of ants, who were living happily in their
well-stored home. He humbly begged them to
spare him a morsel of food from their plentiful
stores. One of the ants asked him what he had
been doing all summer, and how it happened that
he had not laid up a stock of food as they had
done. "Alas gentlemen," said the poor, starv-
ing grasshopper, I passed the time merrily and
pleasantly, in drinking, singing, and dancing, and
never once thought of winter."
If that be the case," said the ant, "all I have
LESSONS FROM THE ANT. 83
to say is, that they who drink, sing, and dance in
summer, must starve in winter."
We should follow the example of the ants while
we are young, by preparing for the future of the
present life. It is our summer, our harvest-time,
while we are young. This is the time for us to
get ready for what is before us when we become
men and women. We should be diligent in
learning all we can, and storing our minds with
useful knowledge. This will help to make us
useful and happy when we grow up. But if, like
the grasshopper in summer, we are idle and care-
less, and think of nothing but fun and frolic, we
shall be ignorant and good for nothing when we
grow up. Oh, then, my dear children, learn well
from the ant this lesson of prudence. Form good
habits now. Be industrious. Be persevering.
Learn all you can now, and then, when you go
out into the world, you will be ready to do your
duty well. You will be loved and honoured by
all who know you.
But we should follow the example of the ants
also in preparing for the life to come. That life
will never end. This life is the harvest-time
which God has given us, in which to make pre-
paration for that life. I spoke a little while ago
84 THE SAFE COMPASS.
about a chronoscope, an instrument for looking
into the future with, and finding out what we
should do to make us ready for it. We have
such an instrument. The Bible is our Chrono-
scope for eternity. We can look through this
and see just what we want to make us happy
after death. It shews us that we must have our
sins pardoned, and our hearts changed-we must
love and serve Jesus. Then all that we do for
Him will be like food prepared, or money laid up
for us in heaven. Eternity is like a long winter.
Those who do not love and serve Jesus are going
on to meet it without any preparation.
There was once a rich nobleman who kept a
fool. This was a person whose office it was to do
and say funny things, so as to make those about
him laugh and be merry. The nobleman gave
the fool a staff, as a sign of his office, telling him
to keep it till he found some one who was a greater
fool than himself. Not many years after, the
nobleman was taken sick, and was going to die.
The fool went to see him.
I must shortly leave you," said the noble-
"And whither art thou going 7"
Into the other world," said his lordship.
LESSONS FROM THE ANT. 85
"And when will you return again? within a
"Within a year 1"
"When, then 7"
"Never ?" said the fool, and what prepara-
tion and provision hast thou made for so long a
journey, and for being happy there 2"
None at all," said the nobleman.
Here, then, take my staff," said the fool, "foi
with all my nonsense I am not guilty of such
folly as this."
To be going into eternity without preparation
is the greatest of all folly.
We have learned five lessons from the ant.
These are-a lesson of industry ; a lesson of per-
severance; a lesson of union; a lesson of kind-
ness; and a lesson of prudence. Now let us all
pray God to give us grace to go and practise these
There is a beautiful collect in the Prayer Book,
the collect for the First Sunday after the Epiphany,
in which we are taught to pray-" That we may
both perceive and know what things we ought to
86 THE SAFE COMPASS.
do, and also may have grace and power faithfully
to fulfil the same." Let this be our prayer, and
then we shall be able with good effect to "go to
the ant-to consider her ways and be wise !"
Up gaind of Saidy giremass.
STo him that soweth righteousness, shall be a sure
reward."-Paov. xi. 18.