The two opportunities that you boys and girls ought to take “by the forelock,” as we say, are, first: in getting all the schooling you can while you have the chance. You will never have such a good opportunity again, and if you let it slip you may never, never catch up. And second: in making as fine a start as you can in your Christian life by learning all you can about the Bible and by getting Christ’s example into your hearts.
In a sermon which Dean Stanley, an English minister, preached to children in Westminster Abbey, he told the following story: “There was a little girl living with her grandfather. She was a good child, but he was not a very good man; and one day, when she came back from school, he had put in writing over her bed, ‘God is nowhere,’ for he did not believe in the good God, and he tried to make the little girl believe the same as he.
“What did the little girl do? She had no eyes to see, no ears to hear what her grandfather tried to teach her. She was very small. She could only read words of one syllable at a time; she rose above the bad meaning which he had tried to put into her mind, because her little mind could not do otherwise, and she read the words not ‘God is nowhere,’ but ‘God is now here.’”
And she was right. She was wiser than her gray-haired grandfather. For God is now here. He is everywhere. And whenever even the smallest child speaks to Him in the simplest prayer He hears the child’s voice. God is now here. That is a good motto for us to take with us to school, to keep us honest; to play, to keep us sweet; to our homes, to keep us unselfish.
No doubt you have all heard of David Livingstone, the great missionary to Africa. I wish to tell you a story of his faith in Christ.
He was trying to cross one of the rivers of Africa one day with his little company of men, when the savages in that locality tried to prevent him. They gathered in large numbers with their spears and poisoned arrows and war-clubs, and blocked his way to the river. Livingstone and his little company were no match for these hostile warriors, and it looked as if he and his men would be killed.
Then he thought of a scheme of waiting till nightfall and of crossing over under cover of the darkness. But later that seemed to him a cowardly thing to do, and he tells us how the verse in the Bible came back to him in which Jesus says: “All power is given unto Me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations ... and lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
The great missionary said of this verse: “It is the word of a Gentleman of the most sacred and strictest honour, and there is an end on’t. I feel quite calm now, thank God.”
Next morning he crossed the river without any difficulty, although the bank was lined with savages armed to the teeth.