The Compass

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
There are few who have not seen a mariner's compass with its needle pointing to the North. The invention of this little instrument effected a mighty change in the art of navigation. Previous to its discovery, the boldest and most experienced mariners could only venture out of port during the summer months, and even then they had to keep as near as possible to the shore. Now, on the contrary, they can make their way, with most marvelous precision, from hemisphere to hemisphere, all by the aid of the compass and its little tremulous needle.
The reader who does not know the history of this most important instrument-the time of its discovery-the name of its discoverer, together with its various properties and powers, can easily lay his hand on some volume containing all needed information. Our object in referring to it is simply to use it as an illustration, and for this purpose all we require to notice is one remarkable fact with respect to the needle-a fact set forth in the following lines,
" The ship may be tossed by the waves and the winds,
But the magnet still points to the North."
This simple fact teaches the Christian a sweet and holy lesson. It reminds him that it becomes him, however tossed on the billows of life's ocean, or beaten by the angry tempest, to set his affection on things above. The needle of his heart's affections, however tremulous, should ever point to the North-ever tend upward toward that place where Jesus sitteth at the right hand of God. Let him think of this, whenever his eye rests on a mariner's compass. Let that most interesting and valuable instrument ever exhibit to his view this inscription, " Set your affection on things above"
It is instructive, too, and admonitory, to think of the difficulty felt in adjusting the compass on board of iron ships. This is entirely owing to the powerful influence which the iron exerts upon the needle of the compass. Where iron is not employed, the needle is governed by one thing, namely, its divinely appointed law or principle. But where the instrument is surrounded on all sides by disturbing influences, the difficulty in adjusting it is very great.
How like is this to the needle of the heart's affections! How many are the disturbing and distracting influences all around! How difficult the work of proper adjustment! Difficult, did I say? Impossible-wholly impossible for us. The Holy Ghost alone can accomplish it. He perfectly understands the action and influence of surrounding circumstances. And, as the regulator of the compass on board an iron ship, seeks to effect an adjustment by placing magnets in such a manner as to counteract the influence of the iron, and leave the needle free to act on its proper, native law; so does the Divine Regulator seek to surround our poor fickle, susceptible hearts, by the powerful attractions of Christ, that they may be kept free from every deranging force and allowed to point, with unswerving decision, ever and only upward.
Oh! may our compass be ever adjusted by the skilful hand of God the Holy Ghost, that so we may pursue our steady course across the trackless ocean, with the head of the vessel kept ever bearing toward the haven of eternal rest, where we shall very soon drop our anchor, and enter upon the enjoyment of the ineffable charms of our heavenly home.
" Secure within the veil,
Christ is our anchor strong;
While power supreme and love divine
Still guide us safe along.
And should the surges rise,
Should sore temptations come,
Blest is the sorrow, kind the storm,
That brings us nearer home.''