« PreviousContinue »
INSTANCES OF GOOD QUALITIES AND GOOD
ACTIONS. MR. FRANKLIN kept his ears and his eyes wide open with respect to the young people, and heard and saw much that was said and done by them respecting their project of learning to act, when they supposed themselves unnoticed. He had noticed, too, their kindness in carrying a bason of soup to an old man and his wife who had seated themselves against the church wall. It was quite clear that they were in earnest, and that little or no respite would be allowed him in rendering them all the aid in his power.
Edward and Thomas were very sanguine in their expectations, not at all doubtful of their being able to make great progress under their papa's instruction; and Mary pictured to herself how surprised mamma would be on her return, to find that they knew how to act a useful part in many situations in which they might be placed. They were all grouped together the next evening, under the laburnum tree on the lawn, a full quarter of an hour before they were joined by their papa. At last he made his appearance, took his seat, and then proceeded to business.
Mr. F. Before I point out to you, how you may learn to act in a variety of cases, with advantage to others, and satisfaction to yourselves, I will narrate, as I promised to do, a few instances, some from Holy Scriptures, and some from other sources, of duty, friendship, kindness, humanity, prudence, promptitude, usefulness, and gratitude, by way of example. It is very necessary that your standard should be high; you may never reach it, yet still you may approach it. The higher you aim with your bow and arrow, Edward, the higher you shoot.
Edward. Yes, that is true.
perform is our duty to God; and this consists in believing in him, in fearing, loving, obeying, and praising him; but this duty is chiefly set forth by our obedience to him, and our actions of love to one another; for believing in God, and fearing, loving, and praising him, are rather acts of the mind than visible actions. It is true, that we can fall on our knees in prayer and praise, read his holy word, and go to his house to attend the means of grace; but, as I said, our duty to God is visibly set forth, chiefly by obedience to him, and our actions of love and good-will one to another, in agreement with the words of the Redeemer, “If ye love me, keep my commandments," John xiv. 15; and again, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye
love one another,” John xiii. 34. Our acts to each other, if in obedience to the will of the Lord, will be considered as done to him: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” Matt. xxv. 40.
We cannot do too much for Him, who has done so much for us. We ought not to give him less than our hearts, who has given his own Son to die for us, that we might live for ever ; but bear in mind, that, in helping you to learn to act, my object will be, for the most part, to enable you to act a kind and useful part towards your fellow-creatures, in
doing which you will be doing your duty towards God.
The example of our Lord Jesus Christ, I hope you will all study, as you read the Gospels; he“ went about doing good.” May we all learn of Him who was “meek and lowly in heart.”
A fine instance of duty, and obedience towards God is set forth in Genesis xxii., wherein Abraham did not hesitate, at God's command, to offer up his son Isaac in sacrifice. “And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar
upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. Now, if Abraham, at the command of God, were ready to slay his son; how ready should we be to make every sacrifice, slaying every darling sin that is opposed to the duty we owe to our heavenly Father.
E. How few would be able to act as Abraham did !
Mr. F. A beautiful example of affection is recorded in Holy Scripture, wherein Ruth, who had lost her husband, clings with undying love to her husband's mother, Naomi. Listen to her language; “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest I will go ; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I
be buried; the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me,” Ruth i. 16, 17.
Mary. Poor dear woman! How she must have loved her mother-in-law !
Mr. F. There is no instance of friendship which has been more generally admired than that of Damon and Pythias. Damon, condemned to death, had liberty to go and settle his affairs, provided he left an hostage for his return. His friend Pythias willingly offered himself to die, if Damon did not return. The latter, however, loved Pythias too well not to appear on the day of execution. Here, then, was the strongest proof of friendship that could be given, for each was willing to die for his friend. Dionysius, called the tyrant,