Prepared for the Massachusetts S.S. Society, and revised by the Committee of Publication.
MASS. SABBATH SCHOOL SOCIETY, Depository, No. 13 Cornhill.
I suppose all my young readers have learned the fifth commandment, and have often been told that children should honor their parents by cheerful and prompt obedience to all their commands. This is one way in which parents should be honored continually.
But there is another way by which you may not only show that you feel respect for your father and mother yourself, but you may force others to feel the same respect for them.
That you may understand what I mean, I will tell you a story of a little boy who, for once, at least in his life, honored his mother. This was not by any command, however, for she was not with him at the time, and I do not suppose that she ever heard of the circumstance which I am about to tell you.
One morning, a teacher entered her school of about sixty children, accompanied by another young lady,—her friend. The children did not cluster around as thickly as usual. Some quietly took their seats; and others, disliking the restraint of a stranger's presence, ran into the play-ground. But nine o'clock soon came; and the teacher, having conducted her friend to a seat where she might observe what passed around her, rang a small bell, and the seats were soon filled with rosy cheeks and smiling countenances. The morning hymn was sung, and then all knelt to implore the blessing of him who loved little children when he was in the world, and who loves them no less now he is in heaven. They rose from their knees; and soon the teacher was busied with classes, and the children who could study, with their books.
Miss H. (the stranger) soon became interested in watching the movement of six or eight little boys, of four years old, who occupied a low bench near her. The smallest of these was a little black-eyed boy, who moved about on the seat as much as any one, and made rather more than his share of noise. He had a little book of pictures, which he was eagerly displaying to the little ones around him; and several times had his earnest explanations been interrupted by the voice of the teacher, saying, "Willy, my dear, you must look at the pictures without talking;" when a rude boy stepped up and snatched it from his hand.
Now, what would you have done, if you had been in Willy's place just then? Would you have struck your naughty little playmate, or called him bad names? or should you have tried to snatch the book back again? Willy knew a better way. He looked troubled, indeed, at first. He asked for the book in a very coaxing tone; but when he found that the selfish Henry would not give it up, he quietly turned away to find amusement in something else.
A little girl, who sat near, now handed Willy a large yellow-covered book, full of beautiful painted pictures. His eyes now sparkled more brightly than ever, as he began to turn over the leaves. Soon Henry spied the pretty book; and not at all ashamed of his unkindness, he moved towards Willy, and began to look over his shoulder. Would you not have pushed him away, or at least have turned round so as to conceal the book? But Willy held it towards him and pointed to the bright pictures as pleasantly as if Henry had never been unkind to him.
When school had closed, and the children had left the room, Miss H. said to the teacher, "Who is that little boy you called Willy?" "His name is William D——," said the teacher; "but why do you wish to know?" "Because I know he has a good mother," was the reply.
Now, how did this stranger, who never spoke to the little boy in her life, know that he had a good mother? Was it not by his kind and forgiving conduct to Henry? Yes; she knew that some good mother had taught little Willy not to return evil for evil, but to do good to those that used him spitefully. It was true, Willy's mother loved the meek and forgiving Saviour, and tried to teach her little boy to love him and be like him. And was she not honored, when the conduct of her son told every one that he had a good mother?
Dear children, can you not thus honor your parents? But instead of this, some children take the opportunity, when they are away from their parents, to disobey all their wishes and instructions, and thus lead those who see them to suppose that they have not been taught to do right. O, how dreadful, that the conduct of a child should cause a stranger to say, "I know he has a bad mother!"