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that foolish, to try to conceal themselves from God?
Child. Certainly; for God knows and sees all things.
Mother. God called them, and questioned them concerning their sin. They then began to excuse themselves. Adam said: The woman gave me the fruit. Eve said: The serpent deceived me. But God knew that they were also partners in the sin, and should not have suffered themselves to be deceived. He therefore acquainted each with his punishment. God said to the man: Thou shalt eat thy bread with great trouble in the sweat of thy brow; at last thou shalt die, and thy body shall become earth, from which it was taken. To Eve he said: Thy will shall be subject to thy husband. He then turned them out of paradise, to cultivate the ground in sorrow and care, till they should die. But that they might not despair in their misery, God first comforted them. For he promised them, that a man should be born of a woman, who would bruise the head of the serpent; that is, he would take away the power of the bad spirit that had tempted them, and again place men in a perfectly happy state.
Child. Oh, who is this man?
Mother. You have already often heard of him, my child, that is your Lord Jesus; and as soon as you can understand, you will hear more. Only remember this now: God created man, so that he was holy, innocent, and immortal. The evil that is in us does not proceed from God. God has forbidden sin, he has punished it.
John, viii. 44. The devil is a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth.
Rom. v. 12. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so death passed upon all men, because all have sinned.
Mother. Was not man created to die, at first?
Child. No: you told me yesterday that God created man immortal. But yet I think it would be well if we were not to die.
Mother. You err, my child. Which would you like best, to be always sickly, or to live quite healthy and joyfully?
Child. To live healthy and joyfully.
Mother. As long as we are on earth, we are sick. Our soul is inclined to sin, and in danger of falling into every kind of error. Our body generally suffers before it is arrived at its full growth. Then in old age it becomes so weak, miserable, and sickly, as to be a burden to most persons. Should you not wish to receive a fine, healthy, and immortal body, instead of a wretched sickly one?
Mother. Would you not wish to go out of a dark and uncomfortable chamber, into a fine large house?
Child. Oh, yes.
Mother. Would it not be pleasant to you, to put off an old torn coat, and to put on a new one?
Child. Yes, it would.
Mother. Then you wish to die, my child. For all this takes place with pious men at their death. They go out of this earth as out of a prison, into the splendid palace of heaven. They put off the weakly body, like an old coat, and are clothed by God with great glory, in better regions. Is it, therefore, not well when we die happy?
Child. Yes, if it be thus.
Mother, Yes, it is thus, my child. Do you know what this earth, and our life upon it is?
Child. What is it? .
Mother. To tell it in a few words: it is a School.
Child. How, a school?
Mother. Children learn at school, and often with great trouble; they are often punished for their faults; at the same time they are in danger of being vexed and misled by bad schoolfellows: meanwhile they grow up, and are fit for some better and more important occupations. Is it not so?
Mother. Just so it is with pious men on earth. They here begin to know God and his will; they are punished by God for their many faults; they are in danger of being offended and misled by bad men: in the mean time they become wiser and more fit to be placed in heaven, there to perform much better things.
Child. What do they perform in heaven?
Mother. God has only revealed so much of this to us, as is necessary for us to know; and you cannot understand all this yet.
Child. Oh! tell me something of it.
Mother. Do you recollect what a happy state Adam and Eve were in, when God first created them?
Child. Yes. You told me that their soul was endued with wisdom and holiness; their body was immortal; they had all that was necessary for their happiness.
Mother. Very well, my dear child. And in this happy state they would continually have increased in the knowledge of God; they would have enjoyed his benefits with a glad heart, have praised him, and glorified him with a holy life. This is the state of happy men in heaven. They know God; they live in pure innocence; they are in the pleasant company of good angels; they praise God; they love God; they are glad in his fellowship; sin no more; die no more; and enjoy inexpressible happiness, and without end.
Child. Oh! if I could but go to heaven too.
Mother. Live so, that you may hope to go there; for only those who love God from their hearts, and are good, have the hope of attaining this joy.
Child. When do we go to heaven?
Mother. You know what man consists of?
Child. Yes; of body and soul.