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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 insecureThey 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 begin late, perhaps it may be too late, and the work never be finished. If you follow your own plan, your work will be insecure and worthless.
"Oh, my dear lads! if you are to be wise, seek wisdom early. You will lose much if you seek it late; perhaps lose all. And remember that true wisdom is not merely to know what is right, but to do it. If you ask God's direction, He will give to you His Holy Spirit to be your guide and helper in the building up of all your life.
"Jl is anlv foaittmg, anir taking."
He bells are ringing in Heaven to-night, mother," said a happy child, as she laid her fair little head upon her pillow. "They are ringing the bells about me!" It was a calm Sabbath evening in early summer. The Vicarage garden was flooded with light from the sunset skies; over the front porch the birds were singing their evensong among the trailing wreaths of the banksia rose, and the fragrant white clematis. The Vicarage children had spent a happy day. All excepting the two youngest had been to church in the morning with their mother. The pew they sat in was close to the reading-desk, and they did so love to win an approving smile from dear papa as he stood there. The walk to and from church in full view of the lovely hills was one of the pleasures of the day, and in the afternoon there were pleasant wanderings in the garden and the home field, until mother called them in, one by one, for teaching and prayer. Three of the children went to an afternoon Sunday class, for which they had to prepare diligently every Saturday evening. A subject was given, and the Bibles had to be searched, from Genesis to Revelations, to see what was written on that subject in the Bible. These three children generally came home with papa from their Sunday class, and generally found mamma and the rest of the family singing hymns when they returned.
On the evening of which I write, Nursey had gone to church, and so mother went from room to room, tucking up the dear little ones in their cosy cots, kissing their rosy lips, and loving them with all her heart! They rather liked it to be mother's "turn" to be at home, did these little children, and they kept her pretty busy all the time.
But mother noticed a wistful look on little Christian's face when she bid her good-night. "Do come and talk with me, mother;" the little girl whispered, "do come and talk with me!"
So when the little ones had fallen asleep, mother came to her little girl's room, and told her again, as she had told her before, the sweet story of the Saviour's love, for that was the story that Christian most longed to hear. Christian was eleven years old and had been longing for many months to know that her sins were forgiven, and that she was indeed a child of God. It was God's Holy Spirit which was making Christian long to be a child of God, and awakening in her a hungering and thirsting after righteousness. God wanted to save her from her sins, and little Christian wanted to be saved. God was seeking her, and she was seeking her God. Of course, then, you will say, Christian soon found the way to be saved. Yes, that is just what happened on this quiet summer's evening. While mother repeated to Christian the sweet invitations from the Word of God, the little girl felt much comforted, and while mother prayed with her, and thanked God that the Lord Jesus had finished our salvation on the cross, and had finished dear little Christian's salvation, and that she had now only to take His salvation and live as His own happy and redeemed child, a sweet peace flowed into Christian's troubled heart, and she felt quite sure that she was forgiven, and quite sure that the Lord Jesus was her Saviour. A hush of peace and gladness came over her, and she remained upon her knees just resting on the promises of God.
Then she threw her arms round mother's neck, and said, "I see it all now; I never saw it before. 'It is finished' means that Jesus has saved me. It is only wanting and taking."
A gleam of Heaven's own brightness had begun to shine in Christian's heart. No wonder that mother and child rejoiced together that happy evening!
"The bells are ringing in Heaven to-night, mother," Christian exclaimed as she laid her head upon her pillow. "I am sure there is joy among the angels!"
While they talked thus about God and Heaven, the two eldest boys returned from church, and came upstairs to find mother, and they gave fond kisses to their sister, and rejoiced with her in her new-found joy.
"How splendid it is, mother!" said Cyprian, the eldest boy. "This makes three of us who are happy!"
Cyprian was twelve years old, and Herbert nine, and both had found salvation in Christ, and were seeking to please Him in their lives. Herbert was a merry, thoughtless boy, who seemed to care only for play, at one time—the ringleader in fun and mischief. This thoughtlessness made his mother very anxious about him, and she tried to win him to think about God and heavenly things by various means. She arranged that he should have a little bed-room all to himself, and placed good books on a shelf within his reach, and she would often sit by his side when he went to bed, and tell him about holy men of God, and their faith and courage. And Herbert began to love his Bible, and prayer, and he became so docile and thoughtful and obedient that his mother felt sure that God was answering her prayers, and drawing her little boy's heart to Himself. And so it was. Herbert was seeking God, because God was speaking to his heart, and he found Him. His mother had placed (among other books) a tiny volume of one of the earliest publications of the Religious Tract Society. It was a collection of little tracts, and not at all to be compared with the beautiful papers which delight and instruct us in the Society's publications now. Still, the little volume became very precious to little Herbert, for one story in it was the means of leading him to find peace in Christ. How happy his mother was when she found that her bright boy had given his young heart to God! All the good things in that happy family seemed to happen on Sunday. It was during a Sunday afternoon talk that Herbert told his mother that he had been very unhappy indeed, but that he found Jesus as his Saviour and was quite happy now. They were sitting by the fire, one wintry afternoon, Herbert's head was resting on mother's lap, no one else was in the room, and so he could freely tell all about the happy change which had come to him. He ran to fetch the little old-fashioned book which had helped him to find Christ, and said he would like to keep it on his shelf, near him, always.
What do you think they did when the happy talk was over? Mother's eyes were full of tears of joy, and now she said, " Herbert, we will sing!"
"Then," said Herbert, "I must call Cyprian, for he will like to sing with us."
So they sang praises to God with very full hearts, for Cyprian also was a happy Christian boy. If you are not too tired, you shall hear how Cyprian lost the burden of his sins. I think he had always loved the Lord, as his sister had, and had always tried to please Him; but the time had come when he longed to be sure that his own name was written in the Lamb's book of life, and that Christ's blood had availed for him. His mother had asked some friends to pray that all her children might become wholly the Lord's, and they were at this time praying for this great blessing. And Cyprian longed, with a very great longing, to lose his burden of sin, and to be taught of God. He desired this so much that he asked his mother to pray with him for this, and they read together God's sweet promises, and then asked Him to do as He had said. And his father also came and prayed with him, after evening service, for this, too, happened on Sunday evening.