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shut the door, pray to Him who hears. For many days these words, with a sweet meaning, were ringing in my head:
"I have a quiet nook of peace,
A spot untroubled by the storms."
Old Andrew's Proverbs.
NO. III.-EARLY SEEKERS.
AM glad to see you, boys," said Old Andrew, one morning to us as we gathered round his stall; "very glad to see you, for my proverb to-day is particularly meant for you. There it is
" THOSE THAT SEEK ME EARLY SHALL FIND ME.'1
"It is wisdom, Divine wisdom, that speaks these words. Solomon had a high opinion of wisdom. He says, 'Wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared to it.' The ruby, you know, is one of the costliest of precious stones. It stands next in value to the diamond, and I have read of the price of a whole city being offered for a large one, and offered in vain. But not only is wisdom better than rubies, but it is better than everything else that can be desired. There are a great many desirable things in the world; things which people would like to get. Some who are poor would like to get wealth, and some who are sick would like to get health. You boys would like a great many things. I daresay you could give me a very long list; and the list would be longer still if you were to add to it all the things wished for by all the people in the world. But no matter how long the list, or how precious the things might be, we are told that wisdom is better than
1 Prov. viii. 17.
them all; so much better that they are not once to be compared with it.
"Some of these things which you are wishing most for, you will perhaps never be able to get. Many wish for wealth, and labour all their lives for it in vain. And some, who would give anything for health, travel thousands of miles away to distant countries in order to regain it, and yet do not succeed. It is not so, however, with wisdom. If you wish for that, you can get it. Only think, boys; you can get something which is far better than rubies, and far better than everything else that you can desire. You can get it for the seeking. And more than that, you young people have by far the best chance of finding it. Your chance is so good that if you seek it you are sure to find it. But you must seek it at the right place, and in the right way, and at the right time.
"You must seek it at the right place. You cannot find a thing except where it is. If you were to seek for a ruby down on our seashore, you could not find one, however much you sought. But if it were a shell you wished to find, you would have no difficulty in getting that. Where, then, is this true wisdom, which is better than rubies, to be found? You must go to God for it. There is a text which tells us, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.' That does not mean that we are to go to God in prayer only once, and He will give us sufficient store of wisdom to last us all our days. We are to go every day, If any of you have a
and to go with every difficulty. difficulty and do not know what to do, take it to God in prayer, and He will help you. Go to God's Word also, and consult it, for God's answer to our prayers is often to be found there.
I said we must seek in the right way: and in this case the right way to seek is earnestly and sincerely. If you are not sincere, and do not mean what you say, when you ask Him to give you true wisdom, you will not find it, because
God knows what is in people's hearts, and it is only heartprayer that He answers. And if you are not in earnest in your seeking, you will not find. God says, 'Ye shall find me when ye seek for me with all your heart.'
"You must also seek at the right time; and this proverb tells us that the right time is early. Some things can only be got early. When the manna fell in the wilderness, the Israelites had to go to gather it early in the morning. If they waited till the sun was up, it melted away. On May-day morning those who wish to wash their faces with May dew, must seek the dew early. If they wait till nine or ten o'clock, it will all be dried up. If f you are to make sure of getting true wisdom, you must seek it early in life. If you do, you are sure to find it. "But if you put off, you may never find it at all, because you may die before you begin to seek it. Or perhaps your heart may grow very hard, and you may become quite careless about it. But even if you were to find it in after-lifein manhood or old age-you would be a loser by not having sought and found it in youth. If you were to put £100 into the Bank just now, and leave it there, it would, with its interest, amount to a far larger sum in fifty years' time, than if you were to wait for forty years before you put it in. It is so with wisdom. Get it now, and you will be far richer in wisdom at last than if you put off seeking it for many years. Perhaps some of you boys would like to be skilful musicians. You would like to be able to play well on the violin or the organ, If so, you must begin to learn at once. No one, I am told, who does not begin to learn music in early life, can ever become a skilful performer. It is the same with wisdom.
"I like to think of my life as a building that is being slowly erected by me, and to which I am adding stone by stone every hour. I will tell you a story about this. Once upon a time there was a King who wished to build a great city, and he summoned all the masons in his kingdom to do it for him. They came to his palace, and were told that each man was to build a house all by himself, and without any
assistance from others. Plenty of time was to be allowed to each, and no one would have too difficult a task allotted to him for while the men who were very strong and very clever would have each to build a large house, those who were not strong or clever would be required to build only a small one. All the plans were in the hands of the King's architect, and could be inspected every day. The men were told they must begin to build at once. So they all did, for in fact they found they could not help building in some way, for the King's carriers delivered to every one as many stones every day as he was able to build, and he had to lay down the stones on his ground somewhere. Now some of the builders went every day to inspect the plans and consult the architect. Their work went on without mistake from day to day. The foundations were well laid, and soon the walls began to rise strong and stately. Others, who were very clever-and some who were not clever, but were careless-said, 'It is no use troubling about this matter now; it will be time enough by-and-by.' These people put down the stones anyhow. They intended to arrange them properly afterwards. There were others who thought themselves clever enough to form a plan for themselves without the help of the architect. They began to build with considerable care, but they did not succeed very well. The stones did not quite fit their plan. Sometimes they would get a corner-stone when they were not building a corner, and arch-stones when they were not building an arch, and a pillar when they had no use for it. But having to build in the stones as they got them, they had to do the best they could with their materials.
Indeed the King's Upon this, some of
"By-and-by it began to be rumoured about that the allotted time was now getting short. architect had been heard to say so. those who had put down their stones without any plan, began to think it time to begin to build upon a plan, and to use up all the materials that lay in a great heap beside them. But when they did begin, they found they could do nothing
with the old stones, because new materials were given to them as fast as they could use them.
"At last, one day the King's herald proclaimed that at sunset all work must cease. To-morrow the buildings would be judged.
"Next day the King went through the city. Great part of it consisted of mere heaps. The builders had never rightly began. They had simply put the stones down in any chance way as they got them. Many buildings were insecure. They had been built without a right foundation. Many were cramped, and small and incommodious, for the builders had begun very late. In some, the plan had been so often altered that nobody could tell what to make of them. A great many were far from being finished-some with no roof on them, and others with only a wall or two built.
"Then the King wrung his hands and wept at the sight. 'O fools! fools!' said he, 'to build thus; for these heaps and roofless buildings must be your home for ever!' Then they knew their folly, and began to mourn over it, but it was too late.
"After this the King looked at those dwellings which had been built from the first according to his plan. They were large and fine; all different, yet all beautiful. And the King said, 'O wise and blessed builders! here shall be your home for ever!'
"Then a strange thing happened. The foolish builders and their work were in a moment removed to a far-off desert place; and the city of the great King, freed thus from the mountains of rubbish that had encumbered it, appeared in all its beauty.
Boys, I think you know what that parable-story means. All are builders. You are builders in this great city. If you are wise, you will not throw down the materials of your life anyhow, but will begin to build upon a plan. And you will begin at once; and the plan you will follow will be God's plan. That plan is given in His own book, the Bible.
"If you put off, you may never begin at all. If you