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things plain to you, if you ask your heavenly Father for His teaching. Remember, dear boys and girls, “ It is only wanting and taking !”
I Side-pocket. GOOD minister, a man of some note in his day, and who had been the pastor of a large church for a great many years, had gained the respect of
everybody who knew him for his judgment and wisdom.
One day a friend of his was talking with him about the annoyances and vexations which occur to every man as he passes through life, and about the best way to deal with them; and in the course of their talk the minister said :
“I have a side-pocket, into which I put a great many things which nobody knows anything about.”
A very useful pocket that. Have you got such a pocket? If not, by all means get one without delay. Let it be a good deep one, with a safe lid and a strong button; and keep it in constant use. You will be sure to need it.
Do you ask what for? I will tell you.
You are like nobody else if things don't occur to you every now and then which are not very pleasant.
Words are said to you which are unkind and rude, and at first you may be disposed to reply to them angrily. You would do far better if you put them into the side-pocket.
Somebody has slighted or disappointed you. You expected from him help, which he has not given you ; or respect, which you may be quite right in thinking he ought to have paid you. Let all you feel about such things as these go right down into the side-pocket.
And when you have put them there, let them remain. Don't bring them out to anybody. Don't talk about them. Don't bring them out even when you are by yourself.
Vexatious things cease to vex us when we do not talk about them; and still more when we try to forget them. Then, too, if we never talk about them or resent them, we shall stir up no strife.
There are some other things for which you may find your side-pocket very useful.
Your friend trusts you with a secret, expecting, of course, that you will keep it. Your receiving it is in itself a sort of implied promise to keep it, whether you actually say so or not. He will be grieved if you betray it; and perhaps by its betrayal you may do him and others too much mischief. Put it into the side-pocket, and shut the lid over it, and button it up safely, and let it stop there till he gives you leave to bring it out.
Or, again, you may hear some tale of scandal, which you may be quite certain is true, and you are very much inclined to tell it to somebody else. It may be, as it were, on the very tip of your tongue, ready to come out to the first person you meet. But is it your duty to tell it? Will your telling it do any good ? If not, put that too into the side-pocket. The man may have repented bitterly, or he may yet do so; and your telling it might prove a hindrance to his getting back to a better life. Then, too, if he professed religion, it might be an injury to religion itself.
There are some other things for which such a side-pocket would be useful; but these you will easily find out for yourself.
Yet there is one thing at least which ought not to go there—your love to Christ, if you do really love Him. Avow that openly whenever you are called upon to do so, and let nobody be in doubt as to whether or not you are His servant. Say boldly before the world, “ I am not ashamed of Christ.” “Let your light so shine before men that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Old Peter's Advice.
round him as he wove his willow baskets, “habit,
they say, is second nature ; and so it is. When you have once formed a habit, you can continue to go on doing
the same thing over and over, often without thinking of it, like me here with my basket-making, or old auntie there with her knitting. We have got so used by habit to our work, that we could do it almost as well by night as by day, and we seldom need to think of it at all ; whereas when I began to learn basket-making, I had to think and look at every twist and turn I gave the willows. Yes, boys, habit is a wonderful thing; and a very powerful thing, I can tell you. Yet it is an easy thing to form a habit. The forming of a habit seems to me to be much like the spinning of a rope. At first there is only but a mere thread, which a child could break, stretched from end to end of the ropewalk; but after a while, when thread after thread has been added, you find a mighty cable there strong enough to hold a great ship at anchor. Forming a habit is just like the freezing of a pond. You have seen the commencement of the frost in winter; the crust of ice upon the water at first was so thin that it broke when you merely touched it, but before long the ice was strong enough to bear up crowds of people on its surface. It is a grand thing, boys, to form good habits in youth, because by that means it becomes easy and natural in after-life to do what is right. But it is a very terrible thing to form bad habits in youth, for then it becomes an easy and natural thing to do evil; and one of the worst things about evil habits is, that it is almost impossible to leave them off. They often become so strong that nothing but the grace of God can break them; and when that is the case, it often happens that they never are broken, because they come between the soul and that grace. But even when the bonds of an evil habit have been broken, it is still a troublesome thing, for there is still constant watchfulness needed to guard against it. Therefore, boys, be sure to form good and useful habits when you are young; they will make the path of life far easier for you, and will help to keep you out of many a temptation. It is very easy for a youth to form a habit of idleness or inattention, or a habit of carelessness with respect to the truth, or a habit of pilfering little things that do not belong to him. But these habits soon become strong, and then they obtain the mastery, and such youths grow up to be idle, good-for-nothing men, and liars and thieves. If you know of any evil habit in your life, break it off at once, and begin to form good habits. An old Scotch laird's advice to his son was, “Plant trees; aye, keep on planting trees; they'll grow when you are sleeping. It is very much the same with good habits; when once begun they go on, and become strong almost unconsciously. And it is the same with bad habits, my boys; they are ill weeds that grow apace. That is all I have to say to you just now, except this : you are constantly hearing from your parents, and teachers, and ministers what you ought to do; make a habit of doing it. And, boys, there are two good habits I hope you will never forget-the habit of reading your Bible, and offering daily prayer to God. Good-bye, boys; good-bye.”
The Pirate's Cave, and what took place in it.
TEPHEN GRELLET records a very remarkable case of
conversion which occurred in the early part of his career. It was that of A. E. Kothen, a Swede,
with whom he became acquainted as an earnest Christian at Marseilles, during his first visit to Europe.
Kothen was going from Stockholm to Abo, in Finland, and had taken his passage in a small Finnish vessel. He had not gone far on his voyage, however, when he discovered to his dismay that the vessel belonged to a gang of pirates. His dread was increased when they were in the midst of the Gulf of Bothnia by a conversation he overheard. The men conversed in the Finnish language, supposing he did not understand it; but he understood enough to know that he was in great danger of his life, for they were plotting to rob him, and some even suggested that he should be thrown overboard.