Nest in the Honeysuckles,
AND OTHER STORIES.
WRITTEN FOR THE AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION.
Philadelphia: AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION, No. 316 CHESTNUT STREET. NEW YORK: No. 147 NASSAU ST. BOSTON: No. 9 CORNHILL....CINCINNATI: 41 WEST FOURTH ST. LOUISVILLE: No. 103 FOURTH ST.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by the AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
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No books are published by the AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION without the sanction of the Committee of Publication, consisting of fourteen members, from the following denominations of Christians, viz. Baptist, Methodist, Congregational, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Reformed Dutch. Not more than three of the members can be of the same denomination, and no book can be published to which any member of the Committee shall object.
THE NEST IN THE HONEYSUCKLES. 7
"MAY I POP SOME CORN?" 33
"WHICH WOULD YOU RATHER I SHOULD DO?" 36
THE BIRDS AND THE SNOW-STORM. 40
THE FIRST STRAWBERRY. 43
"I PRAYED ALL DAY FOR HELP." 44
"EVER SO MANY BEAUTIFUL THINGS." 47
LILY AND HER DUCKLINGS. 51
PRAYING FOR RAIN. 56
THE GRAPE CLUSTERS. 62
"IT ALMOST MAKES ME CRY." 65
THE BOY WHO STEALS. 68
LOOK AT THE BIRDS. 73
THE LOST CHILD. 78
THE UNPLEASANT NEIGHBOUR. 83
THE BOY WHO KEPT HIS PURPOSE. 87
MARY'S STORY. 91
THE SUNNY FACE AND THE SHADY FACE; OR, JUNE AND NOVEMBER. 93
"IT ISN'T FAIR—I PEEPED." 96
THE CHRYSALIS. 99
CHRISTMAS AT THE COTTAGE. 102
I WILL CONQUER MYSELF. 106
SELFISH ELLA. 110
"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN." 114
HATTIE AND HERBERT. 117
THE TWO WILLS. 119
"BLESS GOD FOR THIS DOLL." 122
BESSIE HARTWELL. 126
"MARY'S GREAT TREASURE." 131
"SUSAN WILL BE HAPPIER IF I GO WITH HER." 133
THE NEWS-BOYS' BANK. 135
IDA'S DRESS. 144
WHAT MADE WILLIE HAPPY. 148
DO YOU INTEND TO BE A GENTLEMAN? (A QUESTION FOR BOYS.) 150
GENEROUS NELLY; OR, THE WILLING MIND. 153
LOVEST THOU ME? 155
MY LITTLE BAG. 158
DO YOU LIKE YOUR SEAT? 160
THE LITTLE BEGGAR. 164
LITTLE CHARLEY. 170
DARLING WILLIE. 173
WIDOW CAHOON AND HER GRANDSON. 178
NEST IN THE HONEYSUCKLES.
"Do come here, mother," said Eddie, carefully tip-toeing from the window, and beckoning with his hand. "Here is something I want to show you. Come carefully, or I am afraid you will frighten it."
Mrs. Dudley laid aside her book, and stepped cautiously forward, Eddie leading the way back to the window. "What is it?" she inquired.
"It is a bird with straw in its mouth, and I do believe it is going to build a nest."
Mrs. Dudley stood by her little boy a few minutes, looking from the window. Presently a robin alighted on the walnut tree, directly before them, with a bunch of dry grass in its mouth. It rested a few seconds, and then flew in among the branches of a honeysuckle which twined around the pillars, and crept over the top of the porch. A fine, warm place it was for a nest, sheltered from the north winds, and from the driving rains, and from the hot rays of the noon-day sun.
Eddie and his mother watched the bird for some time. It would bring straws, and arrange them in its nest, as only a bird can; and then it would away again, and come back, perhaps, with its bill covered and filled with mud, which it used for mortar in fastening the materials in their places. Then it would get in the nest, and, moving its feet and wings, would make it just the right shape to hold the pretty eggs she would lay in it, and the little robins she would love so well, and feed so carefully.
The robin was industrious, and worked hard to get the house finished in season. I think she must have been very tired when night came, and she flew away to her perch to rest till morning. I do not see how she could balance herself so nicely on one foot, as she slept with her head turned back, and half-hidden beneath her wing.
Eddie often watched the robin during the day. He was careful not to frighten it. "I wonder how the robin could find so nice a place. I should not have thought it would have known about it,"—he said to his mother, as he saw the bird fly in, almost out of sight, among the clustering branches.
Mrs. Dudley told Eddie God taught the birds where to build their nests, and that he took care of them, and provided food for them.
Is it not wonderful that God, who has built the world in which we live, and all the bright worlds we can see in the sky, should attend to the wants of the robins and sparrows, and other birds which he has made? We should forget them, if we had much of importance to attend to, or we should be weary of providing for their wants; but our heavenly Father never forgets, and never grows weary. He hears the ravens when they cry, and not even a sparrow falls to the ground without his knowledge. "Are ye not much better than they?" our Saviour said to his disciples, when endeavouring to teach them to trust in the love and parental care of God, and not to be anxious in regard to their temporal welfare.
If God so cares for the birds, whose lives are short, and who have no souls to live in another world, will he not much more care for those who are made in his image, and for whom the Saviour died?
No good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly, who try to obey his commandments, and look to Christ for salvation from sin. I hope, my dear children, when you see the birds, you will remember God's love to them and to you.
I have given you all I know of the history of one day of the robin's life, but Eddie will observe it while it lives in its house in the honeysuckle, and will tell me all he sees of its domestic arrangements. I hope to tell you with what kind of a carpet it covers the floor, and what it hangs on the walls, and how it brings up its little children, if it should be so happy as to have any to gladden its quiet home, and cheer it with their chattering tongues. I am sure it will have pretty flowers and green leaves for pictures to look at, painted by One whose skill no artist can rival; and it will need no Cologne for perfume for the breath of the honeysuckle is more delicious than any odour which the art of man could prepare.
GOING TO HOUSEKEEPING.
I promised to tell you more about the nest in the honeysuckles. Eddie has observed it with great attention, and has kept me well informed in regard to it. I have stepped out upon the porch with him, and, kneeling down, and looking over the side, I have had a peep myself at this wonderfully contrived home of the robins. It is partly supported by a cornice, which runs around the porch, and gives it a firmer foundation than the small branches of the honeysuckle could do.
But I must not forget to tell you about the finishing of the nest. The second day, the robin was at work before six o'clock in the morning; so you see birds are early risers, and like to have their work done in good season. They know how pleasant it is to see the rosy dawn, and welcome it with their sweetest strains of music. I wonder how many of my little friends see the sun rise, these bright mornings! If they would awake with the birds, they must, as wisely as the birds, go to their places of rest before the shades of evening shroud the world in darkness. If they sit up late, they will lose the morning songs, which fill the woods with sounds of gladness, and which resound from every tree and shrub about the houses of those who love these pleasant visitors, and refuse to allow them to be frightened from their premises.
The robin rose early, as I have told you, and resumed her labours for a short time. Through the day she came occasionally to see how the house was drying, but did not seem to be at all busy. She had accomplished so much by her previous industry, that there was no necessity for much exertion, and she felt quite at liberty to enjoy herself, taking short excursions in the country, and returning sometimes alone, and sometimes in company with her mate. He, once in a while, visited the nest; but was so well satisfied with the domestic arrangements of his wife, and had so much confidence in her ability and skill, that he manifested no disposition to interfere with any of her plans, but cheerfully acquiesced in them, and cheered and encouraged her by singing her one of his sweetest songs, telling her how dearly he loved her, how highly he esteemed her, and how truly happy he was that he had so pleasant and agreeable, and at the same time so housewifely, a companion. She appeared quite as well pleased to be appreciated as any wife or housekeeper of my acquaintance, and it made her labour a labour of love. We all like to be appreciated.
I see the robin is a plain, common-sense bird in her notions, and wants nothing for mere display. Every thing which could add to the real comfort of her family she has provided, and has no desire for any thing further. Many house-keepers might learn a valuable lesson from her prudent, comfortable arrangements.
When the dwelling was completed, and suitably dry for occupancy, the robin deposited there four bluish-green eggs. I assure you they are beautiful, and are great treasures to her. In about twelve days from the time Eddie first saw her carrying straws into the honeysuckles, she became very domestic, never leaving home but for a few minutes at a time. Her four eggs now occupy all her attention and her great business seems to be to keep them warm with the heat of her own body. She does not complain of being confined at home, but is entirely satisfied to attend to the duties which devolve upon her. She is not uneasy that she cannot sing like her husband, or, like him, attend to the interests of Robindom; but quietly and discreetly she labours in her appropriate sphere, and feels no wish to leave it for a less secluded and less happy life. Her heart is satisfied with the happiness of her home, and she feels no uneasiness—no ungratified longings for something to occupy her, aside from the duties she so cheerfully performs.
Madam Robin was entirely satisfied with the success of her labours, and she had reason to be. No bird could have done better. This consciousness of having done well did not make her proud; it only gave her such self-respect as every one feels who is conscious that an allotted task has been faithfully performed; and the praise of her husband was no injury to her, as she was not silly enough to think of herself more highly than she ought to think.
As the house was for a summer residence, she selected fine straw-matting, instead of woollen carpets for it. She put it down with great care, perfectly smooth and even. The wall was covered with the same cool material, delicately woven. Wasn't it nice?
The location selected by our friend, the robin, seems to be highly appreciated by many of the feathered race. Although the robin was the first settler, others have already decided that it affords great advantages in the way of shelter from the fierce winds, from the burning rays of a summer sun, and from the too-curious eyes of hawks and other birds of prey.
An abundance of fresh, soft water can be obtained not far from Honeysuckleville, and this is always a recommendation in favour of any place, either for men or birds. Fruit also abounds. There will be bright red currants for the little folks; strawberries, too, more than they can eat, and raspberries in any quantity they may wish. I must not forget the cherries, of which birds are so fond, and which they can have at any time when they are ripe, for merely the trouble of picking.
It is not surprising, with all these advantages in its favour, that Honeysuckleville should find more than one family happy to settle within its borders. For some time, two song-sparrows have made it frequent visits; and have finally decided, after a careful survey, that no more desirable spot can be found for a summer residence. They have accordingly commenced building, not more than two feet from the mansion of the robins. Their house is much smaller—a cottage—but quite large enough for them. It nestles so lovingly in the shadow of the vines, that I am sure domestic comfort must be found there. Discord and contention could not abide in so peaceful a retreat.
The song-sparrows will be pleasant neighbours. They are exceedingly fond of vocal music, and their clear melodious voices fill the new settlement with harmony. In that terrible snow-storm which occurred in the middle of April, I often saw a sparrow alight on a bough of a tree near the house, and send up to heaven such a strain of full, gushing melody, as melted my heart with pity and admiration. It reminded me of a child of God in the midst of trials and afflictions, yet rejoicing in faith, and trusting continually in the care of a Father in heaven. Was the cold little sparrow singing itself away, as it was once believed the swan sung its own death-song? Or may the new neighbour of the robin be the very one whose voice rang out so clear and loud, above the howlings of the storm? I trust no rude blast nor chilling frost will mar the pleasure of our feathered friends, but that they may prosper in their plans, and never forget seeking a home in the vine which winds so gracefully around the porch of Mrs. Dudley's cottage.
The song sparrow is not the only neighbour of the robin. A pair of cat-birds have a nest in a lilac near the honeysuckle, and one of them sings hour after hour on the walnut-tree opposite to the window and often comes near enough to the house to look through the open casement. These birds have lived for several summers in that same lilac, and annually make all the repairs necessary to render their dwelling habitable. They have raised several broods of birdlings, much to their own enjoyment, and of Mrs. Dudley's bird-loving family.
HOME DUTIES AND HOME PLEASURES.
Our robin has been a keeper-at-home ever since those four bluish-green eggs demanded her attention. She has occasionally left, for a few minutes at a time, to procure food and drink, or to take a little exercise; but she has never forgotten her quiet abode, and the duties which there require her almost constant presence. She loves the green fields, the leafy trees, and the clear blue sky, and delights to hop about with her mate over the fresh grass and the clean gravel-walks; but better than all she loves those pretty eggs, which lie so cozily in the bottom of her straw-built nest.
Before she commenced house-keeping, she was very fond of travelling, and many a mile has she wandered, over hill and valley, in company with her friends. She assisted at concerts, and was universally admired; but she had the good sense to give up these enjoyments without a murmur, when higher claims called for her undivided care. Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well; and the robin will doubtless be repaid for the unwearied patience with which she performs her unostentatious duties. Some people are inclined to think domestic labour dishonourable, and the cares of house-keeping a burden; but our feathered friend is wiser than they. She does with her might what she finds to do, and she does it heartily. Every act of duty, faithfully and cheerfully performed, is acceptable to God; and his children do his will when they endeavour to attend to their various occupations in such a way as he can approve. If all house-keepers felt that, in attending to the different departments of their work as they should be attended to, they were honouring Him who has made this care necessary for the comfort of families, it would be a blessing to themselves, and to who all who dwell under the same roof with them. We cannot consider any thing which we do to please our heavenly Father of small importance, and no favour can be degrading which he requires of us.
We may all learn a lesson from the robin who lives in the honeysuckles, and we shall see how she was rewarded for her devotion to the employment which Providence assigned her. The wisest of men, in describing the character of an excellent woman, says: "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her." "She will do him good, and not evil, all the days of her life." Our feathered friend's husband is absent much of his time (as most gentlemen are obliged to be) from his well-ordered home; but he always thinks of it with pleasure, and hastens to it whenever he can find time to do so. Sometimes he only stops a moment, but it is a precious moment to them both, for their hearts and interests are one. They are cheered, in their separation, by the pleasant memories of these brief interviews, and by bright anticipations of future enjoyment.
I have observed, Mr. Robin thinks it of importance to look nice at home, as well as when he is abroad. I have seen him alight on the walnut-tree, and carefully arrange his toilet, before going into the presence of his wife. She must feel complimented by this delicate attention, indicating so high a regard for her, and such anxiety to preserve her esteem. I should not wonder if she was a little proud of her handsome husband. However this may be, I am sure it is her greatest happiness to deserve his respect and love, and honourably to perform all the duties which devolve upon her in her married life.
Madam Robin was sitting one day in her vine-shaded home, looking out through the slender branches of the honeysuckle, which were gently swayed by a refreshing breeze, when she heard a slight tap. She listened eagerly. Another tap—presently another. How her heart fluttered! It proceeded from one of those highly-prized eggs, and she knew it was the timid knock of a birdling, who was in that little chamber, and was waiting to have the door opened. Of how small consequence all her self-denial and her seclusion from general society seemed, when that thrilling tap sounded on her ear! She continued to listen, and within those four tiny chambers she heard the same rapping repeated; and more than that, the sweet word, Mother, might seem faintly to greet her ear. How she longed for her mate to return, that he might enjoy, with her, this new happiness! When husband and wife love each other, as they should, all pleasure must be shared, or it will still be imperfect. She waited, almost impatiently for his coming; and when he alighted on the honeysuckle, she looked so full of grateful joy, that he knew that something more than usual must have occurred. He affectionately kissed her bill, and then, in a low tremulous voice, she told him the glad news. He was quite as much pleased as she, although he did not appear so excited. Had employment in the open air given a firmness to his nerves, which her sedentary occupations had not done for her? Yet beneath that calm exterior, his sparkling eye plainly revealed the full tide of emotion within.
It was pleasant music to their ears to hear those four new voices in their secluded home; and though they knew it would increase their labour to provide food for those gaping mouths, what cared they for their own comfort, if they could nurture their precious charge, and rear them to be an honour and a blessing?
When the doors of their chambers were quite open, out came the baby-birds, with a few downy feathers covering them!
"How very little they are!" said Eddie, with one breath; and, "How big their mouths are!" with the next. To be sure, they do look very small, and their mouths are very large for such diminutive bodies, and they open them so wide that it almost seems as if one of them could jump down another's throat.
The robin now often comes home, and brings food to his family. It is gratifying to see how attentive he is to his dear children and their mother; and I hope I may be able, some day, to tell you that they repay his attachment, by growing up fine, obedient birds. It will not be long before their education will be commenced, and I will tell you whether they are taught at home, or are sent away to school, and what progress they make in acquiring their accomplishments.
HOME LIFE AND HOME EDUCATION.
The birdlings still live in the honeysuckles.
"How they do grow!" Eddie exclaims, when he looks at them. "I shouldn't think they could ever have lived in those little eggs."
They are now almost half as large as the old birds. They are well covered with feathers, and their mottled breasts are very pretty.
"They don't have to dress as we do," said Eddie. "Their clothes grow." And he thinks it would be a great convenience if his clothes grew too, for then they would always be large enough for him, and his mother would not have so much sewing to do.
Sometimes these little birds lie in the bottom of the nest, quietly sleeping, while their father and mother are both away, getting them food. At other times they feel wide awake. Then they stretch their wings, stand upon their feet, and peep over the side of the nest. From the parlour-window, the children can look up directly at their secluded home, and can see them amusing themselves and practising their lessons. The honeysuckle grows almost as fast as the birds, and the tender, overhanging branches make a roof which keeps off all the rain.
The old birds are mindful of their children, but do not consider it necessary to be with them all the time. So other parents endeavour to implant good principles in the hearts of their children, and then leave them to their self-control; ever keeping a watchful eye on the influences which surround them, and using their proper authority, when it becomes necessary, to restrain from evil, and guide in the way of virtue. The child that has never learned to depend upon himself, or to control his own passions, and to do right because it is right, will hardly be able to sustain himself when the presence of his parents is withdrawn.
The robins know very well that children grow weary of long lectures; so they give them here a little and there a little instruction, as occasion demands.
They are decided in their family government, but not severe. Their children are taught to obey promptly and cheerfully, but they have no slavish fear of their parents. Their presence is not regarded as a restraint; for, at all suitable times, they have freely permitted their little ones to laugh and frolic to their hearts' content. They willingly listen to all the plans of the birdlings, and lend an attentive ear to the story of their joys and their sorrows. Their sympathy is never withheld; their griefs are never considered as of no consequence because they are brief and soon forgotten.
The parent birds do not leave their young alone but a little while at a time. They often fly home to see them, and sometimes perch on the walnut-tree, and talk with them. Their musical chirpings are pleasant to hear. We don't understand the bird-language; but we judge, by the soft tones, that it is something kind and agreeable they are saying. Perhaps they are talking about their plans for the future, when they all know how to use their wings, and can fly about together.
Very often, during the day, the robins bring worms to fill the gaping mouths. It is surprising how much they eat. No wonder they have grown plump and large, for they eat and sleep as much as they please. We expect soon to see them flying about from tree to tree, and hopping along the ground. We hope that great cat, which steps about so softly, will never find them. She is welcome to all the rats and mice she can put her paws on, but we never like to see her climb a tree, for we fear she will destroy some of our cheerful friends, who build near the house in full confidence that they shall not be disturbed.
The young robins are not lonely in their rural home. The plainly-dressed sparrows and the brilliant yellow-birds look in upon them, and, now and then, their cousin, the oriole, comes, clad in the richest golden plumage, and sings them a song. If he had dipped his feathers in the gorgeous sunset he could not be more beautiful. The delicate little humming-birds sip nectar from the deep horns of the honeysuckle; and the red-winged starling, in his glossy black coat, and his dashing scarlet epaulette, occasionally comes from his home in the meadow, to make them a call. He does not like Honeysuckleville quite as well as his dwelling in the grass, just above the water. If he was not so confirmed in his habits, I think he would be strongly tempted to become a neighbour of the robins. A few weeks ago, when his favourite resort was five or six feet under water, he and his friends seemed to be in great uncertainty what course to pursue. They had several mass meetings on the quince-bushes, in full sight of Honeysuckleville, and a great many speeches were made. It sounded to me like incessant chattering, and as if all were talking at the same time. I could not understand a word they said, and I cannot tell you the result of their deliberations. Whatever it may have been, when the water subsided, they returned to their old haunts by the river-side.
These I have mentioned are not the only visitors whose society our friends enjoy. The swallows gracefully skim through the air, and greet them with their merry voices. The wren often favours them with one of his sweetest melodies, and the blue-bird flies around the corner to sing a song on the walnut-tree. He has a curious little nest of his own, hidden away under the eaves. The cat-birds, of course, are always near, as they live in the lilacs. The oriole has suspended his nest, like a basket, from a limb of the great pear-tree; and when the robins know how to fly, they can return some of his visits.
The old robins, now and then, play peep with the young birds. They fly almost up to the nest, and poise themselves for an instant on the wing, just long enough to say, "Bo-peep!" and then away! almost before they can be seen. Pretty soon they return again, generally bringing some nice morsel with them. They often first alight on a small branch of the vine, below the nest, and then hop up to it.
What a chirping the birdlings keep up with their mother! They like to talk as well as Eddie Dudley and some other children, whom I have heard pleasantly called little chatter-boxes. Children have much to learn, and must ask many questions. The world is new and strange to them, and is a constant source of surprise and wonder. I do not suppose people ever learn faster than before they are six years old, or ever learn more in the same length of time. They are constantly observing, and in this way the stock of their ideas is continually increasing. I once heard a gentleman say he did not like to go through the world with his head in a bag. He wished to see what was taking place around him, and it was this seeing, and thinking upon what he saw, that, among other things, made him a distinguished man.
The young birds are now seeing and thinking, as well as birds can. Their time for action has not come. Like dear children in their happy homes, they are preparing for the responsibilities of life; and, if they honour and obey their parents, as far as birds are expected to do, and as all children should, I doubt not they will faithfully perform the duties which will hereafter devolve upon them.
From observations I have made, I conclude the robins neither send their children to school nor employ a governess for them. They have so made their arrangements that either one or the other has time to attend to their education. Sometimes the father, and at other times the mother, assumes the labour of teaching, and their dearly-loved pupils are quite as attentive to their instructions as any children I have ever seen.
It was on a bright, warm, breezy morning in early June, that our friends at Honeysuckleville decided that the home education of their children had been attended with such success as to encourage the hope that they would "come out" creditably to themselves, and their parents. Arrangements were accordingly made, and I assure you there was much talking and no little excitement and bustle upon the occasion. It was proposed to spend some weeks in travelling, that the young people might enjoy themselves, and acquire much useful information, which could be obtained no other way.
The weather was delightful. A few light, fleecy clouds were floating in the blue sky, continually changing from one form of beauty to another. The sun shone forth in his splendour, cheering the tender grass and the up-springing seeds, and drawing them nearer and nearer to his bosom. They stretched toward him their feeble blades and diminutive leaves, as if they would gladly be clasped in his arms; but their growing roots were striking deeper and deeper into mother earth, and binding them closer and closer to her.
The gentle, cooling zephyrs were playing among the leaves, and winning sweet music from the tiny voices, which responded in glee to their salutations. Often they lifted the soft hair from the brows of the children, and frolicked amid their curls, and fanned their sun-burnt cheeks. It was a morning which all nature enjoyed. There could not have been a finer day to start upon a journey. As birds do not need a change of dress, there was no trunk to pack, and no travelling-bag to be laden with comforts. All the preparation necessary was the usual attention to the toilet, and the instruction and advice which the exigency required.
The hearts of the young adventurers fluttered with excitement. There was a mingling of curiosity to visit the great world of which they had heard such glowing descriptions, and of fears to trust themselves to the power of their wings to bear them from their pleasant, happy home, and keep them out of harm's way. They had seen Pussy, as she walked about in her white and black robe, and though she seemed so gentle, they had been warned against her as one of their most deadly enemies. They knew she was often prowling about, with stealthy tread, to prey upon the unwary. They feared that, instead of flying to the walnut-tree, as was the plan, they should fall upon the grass, where she could pounce upon them and destroy them, notwithstanding the screams and agonizing entreaties of their parents. Puss is a full believer in the doctrine that "might makes right;" and she is as unmoved by the cries and appeals of her victims as if they had no hearts to suffer, and were made merely for her own use.
Many words of encouragement were addressed to them by their parents. They told them how they themselves had suffered from similar fears; how difficult it was for them to trust implicitly in the wisdom of their own father and mother; and how they stood, tremulous and fearful, on the top of the nest, wishing they had sufficient resolution to obey, and yet fearing to venture; but how easy and pleasant they found it to spread their wings in the air, and be borne up by it, when they fully determined to make the attempt.
Our little birdlings still hesitated, just as I have seen children hesitate and quiver with terror when for the first time they go into the water to learn to swim. They know their father tells them the truth, for he has never deceived them. He has bound a life-preserver beneath their arms, and has promised to remain near, to catch them, if they begin to sink; yet they are afraid, and draw back. They lack faith. When at last they timidly push from the shore, and find themselves buoyed up on the water, their delight is almost unbounded, and they are as unwilling to leave as they were reluctant to enter it.
The old robins stood on one of the branches of the walnut-tree, and endeavoured to persuade their timid brood to come to them. They were not stern and severe, for they had not forgotten their own youth, and they sympathized deeply with these children; but the father found he must be decided, so he told them, (as it seemed,) authoritatively, that they must hesitate no longer. He would count one—two—three; and when he said three, they must spread their wings and do as well as they could. The mother smiled lovingly upon them, and they determined to obey, whatever effort it might cost. "One—two—three," counted the robin, in his full, musical tones. The birdlings fluttered their wings, and strained every nerve to alight by the side of their parents. With what joy they felt their feet clinging round the branch! How elated they were with their success! They chirped continually, and merry and brisk was the conversation. "What is this?" one asked, and "What is that?" said another, till it seemed as if the old birds would be weary of their questions; but they never lost their patience; they thought the little folks remarkably intelligent.
When they were rested, away flew the birds to the elm, and called to their young. Grown courageous by success, they quickly followed, and, through the whole day, they were flying about from tree to tree, enjoying themselves highly.
At sunset, I saw them on the locust-tree, near the cottage, inhaling its delicious perfume, with their faces toward the west, wondering, perhaps, what occasioned all that glorious beauty, as the sun escaped from their view.
Presently they flew to a great cherry-tree, and, from the chirping and calling, we concluded they spent the night in its shelter. How strange it must have been to them, this first night of their perching! The sky was clear, the stars twinkled, and the half-moon shed her silvery light on the earth, and gleamed through the cherry-leaves, as it had done through the honeysuckles; but it was not home, that cherry-tree, and they sighed as they thought of their birthplace. They sat close to their mother's side, and felt that, after all, where she was, was the best place for them. They curled up one foot into the soft down, and turned back their heads till their bills were beneath their wings. The lids slowly closed over their eyes, and they slept quietly and sweetly, till wakened in the morning by the warbling of songsters who welcomed the rosy dawn.
A new sense of responsibility filled their hearts. They were no longer mere children, their every want supplied by others; but they were youth, and must begin to provide for themselves, and depend upon their own energies. We frequently hear the young robins among the trees, but we seldom see them. We really miss them, and think of them as pleasant visitors who have been spending a few days with us.
We hope that Honeysuckleville will not be forsaken; but that every year the birds will return, and rear their young beneath its fragrant shade, making hearts of the little Dudleys glad, and teaching them to love.
"All things, both great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, Hath made and loveth all."
"MAY I POP SOME CORN?"
"May I pop some corn?" asked Eddie.
"Yes," answered his mother; and laying down her work, she went to the closet and got for him several small ears—some red and some white—the kernels of which where not half so large as those of common corn.
Eddie took a white bowl and sat down on the carpet by his mother with the tiny ears in his apron. He worked away for some time, shelling first one ear and then another, till every little kernel was in the bowl, and nothing but cobs left. These he thought would help to build a "log-house," so he put them in his play-box, with those he had treasured before, and took his bowl to the kitchen.
Kate, the cook, was a coloured woman, and she loved children. When he said to her, "Mother told me I might pop some corn," she cheerfully placed the iron pan on the stove, and when it was hot enough, told him he might put in the corn. Pretty soon it went Pop! pop! pop! till the pan was filled with snow-white kernels. Eddie always wondered how they could turn inside out and suddenly grow so large. He did not understand that it was because of the expansion or swelling of the air within the hard case, which then burst open to find more room.
Eddie was very busy for some time in the kitchen attending to his corn. When it was all done, he separated that which was popped from that which was only parched, and put it in different dishes. He gave his dog Philo some of the brown kernels, and he seemed to like them as well as Eddie himself. Eddie enjoyed hearing him crack them with his sharp teeth, and would stroke his great head, and say kindly, "Poor Philo! you are a good Philo;" and the dog would wag his tail as much as to say, "Dear Eddie! you are a good Eddie."
After giving Philo his share, and Kate hers, Eddie carried up a large dishful to his mother and the children. He did not wish to eat it all himself for he was a generous boy and always liked to have others partake of his pleasures, whatever they might be. He reserved some of the nicest of it in a tumbler, which he placed on his mother's work-table. Mrs. Dudley took a little, saying to him,
"If you miss your corn, Eddie, you will know what has become of it."
He looked up from his play quite soberly, and said slowly, "Mother, if you wish to eat more you may, but I am not going to."
"Why not, my child?"
"I am going to save it for father."
Mrs. Dudley was pleased to see Eddie willing to deny himself to give to others, so she said to him, "That is right." When his father came home from his business, Eddie placed the tumbler beside his plate on the tea-table. After the blessing was asked, Mr. Dudley, looking at the children, inquired, "Where did this come from?" "I popped it," answered Eddie. And his father thanked him with a kind and loving smile.
Eddie was much happier than if he had eaten all the corn himself, for he had made others happy by his generosity. "It is more blessed to give than to receive," the Bible tells us; and Eddie had been learning this truth in the great pleasure he felt in dividing his popped corn with others. I hope you who read this story know how to sympathize with him. If you do not, will you try the experiment, and see if you are not far happier to share your corn, or your candy, or whatever else you may have, with your brothers and sisters, and those around you, than you are to devour it yourself? I have seen little chickens seize their favourite morsel and run away and hide where they could eat it all alone; but I should be sorry to think that any child would do so.
"WHICH WOULD YOU RATHER I SHOULD DO?"
"Which would you rather I should do?" asked Eddie of his mother, his large blue eyes filling with tears.
"I should rather you would stay with me," was the answer.
"Then I will, mother!" and the tears remained where they were, and did not chase each other down his plump cheeks. A trembling smile played around his mouth; for he had conquered himself, and had readily yielded to his mother's wishes. There had been a struggle, severe, but short, in his mind, and when he said, "Then I will, mother," he meant he could be happy to stay at home, and would not ask again for permission to go with the other children. Mrs. Dudley could not resist the impulse to clasp him to her heart, and tell him he was a good boy; and this made him still happier. He saw he had pleased her, and her approving smile was worth more to him than any enjoyment could be without it.
Eddie, you know, is a little boy, five years old. He has brothers and sisters older than himself, and they have fine sport in sliding and skating. Their teacher takes them every day to enjoy it, and they come home in high spirits, swinging their skates by their sides, and talking loud and fast about it.
Eddie has watched them many days from the nursery window, and has longed to be with them; but his careful mother has feared he would get hurt among so many skaters, or perhaps be lost in one of those "air-holes" which are often found in the most solid ice; so when Eddie asked her if he might go to the river, she hesitated, for she did not like to deny him. "Which would you rather I would do?" then inquired the dear boy; and when his mother told him, he did not tease her, but resumed his place at the window.
Mrs. Dudley resolved to go herself with her little son to the river, when the children went again. She did not tell him so, however; but the next day, when the merry skaters were in the midst of their enjoyment, she put on her hood, and her warm blanket-shawl, and thick gloves, and calling Eddie to her, wrapped him in his wadded coat and woollen tippet, and placing on his head his "liberty-cap,"—knit of red and black worsted, with a tassel dangling from the point—and pulling it well down over his ears, and covering his fat hands with warm mittens, they started out on the white snow. The snow was frozen sufficiently to bear them, and they had a pleasant walk above the hidden grass and stones.
Eddie was in great glee. His mother enjoyed it almost as much as he did, for it was an exhilarating sight. Some of the boys were sliding, some skating, and others pushing sleds before them, on which a mother or sister were sitting. It reminded one of the pictures we often see of skating in Holland; and, to make the resemblance more perfect, a Dutchman was there with his pipe, defiling the pure, fresh air with its foul odour.
Mrs. Dudley was invited to take a ride, and, leaving Eddie in the care of another, she was soon seated on one of the sleds, and speeding away before a rapid skater. She found it far more swift and agreeable than riding in the usual way. Eddie, too, had a ride, and his little heart was brimfull of happiness. He walked about on the ice quite carefully and fearlessly.
The river, on which these children were, rises and falls with the tide. Eddie saw other boys sliding off towards an icy meadow bordering on it, and he thought he would go too. The ice formed an inclined plane; his feet slipped on its smooth surface, and down he went; he jumped up, but the blood from his nose, flowing over his face and coat, and staining the snow, frightened him, and he uttered a loud cry. The skaters were with him before his mother, though she was but a few steps away, for she could not move as quickly as they. It was pleasant to see their sympathy, and hear their kind inquiries. His mother soon comforted him; for he had not been cut by the ice as they feared. The blood from his nose testified to a pretty hard bump. He soon forgot the pain, and was as happy as ever. He will long remember his first sled ride on the river.
Why do you think, dear children, I have told you this story about a child whom you have never seen? I wanted to ask you, or rather have you ask yourselves, if you are willing, as Eddie was, to do as your mother thinks best? Much as he wanted to go on the river, he felt satisfied to do as his mother wished. I hope, when you know what your mother prefers, you will make up your minds to give up your own plans, and be happy in doing so.
I am not one of those who imagine children have no trials. I know their lives are not all bright and sunny. I have not forgotten being a child myself. Many a hard battle has to be fought with wrong feelings and wrong wishes; but never fear; resolve to conquer yourselves, and subdue every thing that is sinful. Every victory will make you stronger, and render it easier for you to do right. Will you try?
"If at first you don't succeed, Try, try again."
THE BIRDS AND THE SNOW-STORM.
The weather is warm and sunny. The snow of winter has disappeared. The grass is green, and growing finely. The early spring-flowers have opened their blossoms, and we all think summer is so near, that the cold weather must be over. The birds have thought so, too; for they are flying from tree to tree, singing most beautiful melodies, and peeping about, here and there, making arrangements for summer, and selecting places where to build their pretty nests.
But the wind blows chill again. The sky is clouded, and people begin to say, "I think we shall have another snow-storm." It is not long before the feathery flakes begin to descend. The earth is so warm that they scarce touch it before they are melted and absorbed. The snow continues to fall, the earth grows colder and colder, and soon it cannot melt the snow, but is itself chilled, and accepts it as a mantle. For three days the storm rages. The ground is as white as in mid-winter.
What is to become of the birds? They can find neither food nor shelter. It is painful to see them flying distractedly through the storm, not knowing where to go; but too cold and too hungry to remain in the trees, and too fearful to seek comfort in the many warm houses, that would have opened their windows, if they would have entered under their protecting roof.
Mrs. Dudley's children are all watching them from the windows, and throwing out hominy and bread-crumbs for them to eat. How cold the little sparrows look, as they pick up their food! Children's hearts are generally tender, and always so unless they have been hardened by the practice of cruelty, and Mrs. Dudley's were full of sympathy for the little sufferers. "Oh! mother!" said Eddie, the youngest, "if the birds knew how we loved them, they would come into the house;" but the birds did not know, and they stayed out in the snow, and many of them perished.
The children were sadly grieved, when, after the storm, they found many of their feathered friends dead. How much they regretted they could not have saved their lives! If the birds had only known, as Eddie said, how much the children loved them, they would have flown into the house, and been warmed and fed.
There are many dear children who do not know how much Jesus loves them; how much he wishes them to enter the "ark of safety," and escape the dangers there are in the world. There are many who have not even heard of him; and many of those who have, do not know he is their best friend.
Do you know how much he loves you, and have you sought his protection amid all the dangers that surround you? If you have not found refuge in that "high tower," of which David speaks in the Psalms, you are no safer than were the birds flying through the cold snow, and you surely will be lost if you do not fly to that kind Saviour, who has prepared a way of escape for you.
THE FIRST STRAWBERRY.
How bright and red it looked, half-concealed as it was by the green leaves! It was the first strawberry of the season. Mary gathered it with delight, and ran with it to her mother.
"Here is something for you, mother," she said, holding up the rosy treasure.
"Thank you, my dear!" said Mrs. Dudley, smiling upon her daughter. She ate it with a double relish. She was very fond of the fruit, and she was gratified by this expression of the thoughtful, unselfish love of her dear child.
How much more Mary enjoyed that look of love, and that approving smile, than she would have enjoyed eating that luscious strawberry herself!
Every day, Mary, Willie, and Eddie search for the fruit as it ripens, and almost every evening their father and mother find a saucer of berries, with sugar and cream, beside their plates at the tea-table.
How pleasant it is to see children think so much of their parents! I hope they will continue obedient and attentive, for there is no more beautiful sight than an affectionate, united family.
God will bless those who honour their parents.
"I PRAYED ALL DAY FOR HELP."
It was a beautiful evening early in June. The air was cool and pleasant. The trees and shrubs were covered with luxuriant foliage, and the roses were in their opening beauty. The frogs were croaking in the pond, and the birds singing on the trees. The sun had just sunk beneath the horizon. The clouds which lingered around his pathway received his parting rays, and were most gorgeously decorated with the richest of his colouring.
Willie walked about the lawn, his face lighted up with a smile, and his dark gray eye bright with happiness. His heart was attuned to harmony with all nature around him, and he would frequently look up to his mother, who sat by the open window, enjoying the delightful evening. Presently Willie came, and stood by her side.
"How happy I am this evening!" he said to her. She put her arm around him, and drew him towards her.
"What makes you so happy?" she inquired.
"Because I have been trying to control my temper, I suppose"—was his answer.
"You have not been angry to-day, have you?"
"Did you pray about it, Willie?"
"Yes, mother. I prayed all day for help."
"How did you pray?"
"I said, Forgive my sins, and give me a new heart."
"God heard your prayers, and he has helped you to control your temper. God always hears prayer, and helps those who ask his aid. I hope you will never forget to pray for what you need," said his mother. Willie smiled, and kissed her, and went out of doors again to enjoy the evening—
"So cool, so calm, so bright."
Willie is generally a good boy, but he has a quick temper. When three or four years old, he would sometimes get very angry. I have even known him to throw things at children with whom he was playing, if they did any thing to offend him. He did so one day when his mother was from home. She was much grieved when she heard it, and talked seriously with him. It made a deep impression on his mind. He speaks of it now with great solemnity, and asks his mother if she remembers it. He feels that he committed a great sin. He knows it is wrong to let his temper govern his reason, and he is struggling to control himself. I think he will succeed.
I knew his grandfather when I was a little girl, and I remember hearing him say that he was naturally quick-tempered; but, although I lived in the same house with him, and saw him under a great variety of circumstances, I never heard him speak a hasty word. I hope Willie will obtain as perfect control over himself, and, if he lives to manhood, that his friends will be able to say of him what I can say of his grandfather.
Willie was, at one time, playing with some children, and found he was growing angry. He immediately left them, and sat down on the stairs alone. Pretty soon they followed him. He did not feel entirely good-natured, so he again left them, and went into the library. He shut the door and prayed to his Father in heaven for strength to conquer himself. He remained there alone till he felt he had obtained the victory.
Willie is not the only little boy who has a quick temper, and I tell this story about him for the sake of the dear children who sometimes get angry. I hope, like Willie, they will learn to go to God for help, and then, like his, their countenances will be radiant with gladness; and they, too, can say, "How happy I am!"
"An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression."
"He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."
"He that hath no rule over his own spirit, is like a city that is broken down, and without walls."
"EVER SO MANY BEAUTIFUL THINGS."
"There are ever so many beautiful things up in the sky, mother!" said little Eddie, as he sat in his mother's lap, leaning his head upon her encircling arm.
The clouds had gathered about the horizon, and assumed many beautiful and fantastic shapes. Some of them were gorgeously coloured with the rays of the departing sun, and were shaded from the most delicate rose to the darkest, richest crimson. As the sun receded farther and farther behind the green hills, they grew darker and darker, and the imaginative boy had seen fancied ships with their sails spread; steam-vessels with clouds of smoke rolling from their chimneys; mountains piled upon mountains; trees, birds, and many other wondrous things which filled his infant mind with admiration.
Soon the stars twinkled forth, and they awoke a new interest. At first they appeared one by one, as if timidly venturing to look down upon our beautiful planet, and when fully assured that the king of day had disappeared, they came forth faster and more numerously, till the whole heavens were bespangled with their glittering brightness. Then their companion, the moon, came slowly up, shining with a soft and mellow light, a new beauty in the "blue wilderness of interminable air."
Eddie had long gazed silently before he uttered the exclamation, "There are ever so many beautiful things up in the sky!" and I suppose he had many thoughts which it would have been pleasant for his mother to know. He did not often sit up so late that he could see the stars.
Eddie is not the only one who has been charmed with the glowing sunset, the gray twilight, or the starry firmament. David loved to look upon the works of God. In one of his psalms, he says, "When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that thou visitest him!" It was astonishing to David, that God, who was so infinitely superior to man, and who had given such proofs of his power and greatness in the creation of the heavens, should condescend to notice him, to provide for his minutest wants, and to protect him from danger. I suppose this psalm was written in the night, when the sweet singer of Israel had been looking at just such a sky as drew from Eddie his exclamation of admiration.
I often think, as I look abroad, how wonderful it is that God has made every thing so beautiful. We need never be weary in studying his works. The more we learn of them, the more we realize his greatness and perfection. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork."
When you look at the clear blue sky, do you remember who has spread it out, and who has created the innumerable worlds which we see, when darkness covers our earth? "There are," indeed, "ever so many beautiful things up in the sky," and it was a Father's hand that placed them there. They are for us to enjoy, and many a lesson of love and confidence have they taught God's children. Dear little Eddie! I hope he will always love nature, and early learn to "look through nature up to nature's God."
I shall never forget a drive with my father, when I was a child so small that I sat on a little footstool in the carriage, between him and my mother. We were returning from a visit to Aunt Harriet, at whose house we had been spending the day. It was a fine evening. The air was balmy and pleasant. I remember how the frogs sung in the low ground, and how we listened to their quaint music. We had not ridden far before the moon rose, and the stars, one by one, appeared. My father had a true love for nature, and for whatever was beautiful or grand. We drove on without speaking for a time, each enjoying the evening. My father broke the silence by repeating that beautiful hymn of Addison's, commencing with these lines—
"The spacious firmament on high, With all the blue ethereal sky, And spangled heavens, a shining frame, Their great Original proclaim."
I was awed by the reverence of his manner, and I felt myself in the presence of my Maker,—a mere speck amid his vast creations. An ineffaceable impression was made on my mind, young as I was. My father died many years ago, while I was still a child, but the lesson of that hour has not been forgotten.
LILY AND HER DUCKLINGS.
The white duck, Lily, made a nest on the ground, in a small enclosure, from which some tame rabbits had been removed. She gathered the scattered straw into one corner, and made a much neater nest than the other ducks did, who laid their eggs under the wood-pile among the small chips.
She laid several large, smooth, white eggs, and when she had as many as she could conveniently take care of, she began to sit on them to keep them warm, till the little ducks should be ready to peck their way out. She plucked the soft white down from her breast, to line the nest, and to make it of a more even temperature for the eggs; and, whenever she left to procure food, or to take a short swim on the pond, she carefully covered them.
The duck cannot spread her wings as wide as the hen, so she has to be much more particular about her nest. She makes it deeper and warmer than Biddy. It is wonderful with what skill all animals rear their young. It shows the great goodness and kindness of God, that he should thus fit the creatures he has made for the duties they must perform. His care is continual, not only over us, but over them all. He hears the young ravens when they cry, and the ducks and the chickens are not forgotten by him. To the duck he has not given the brooding wings of the hen-mother; but he has given her a coat of down, from which she can make a warm bed for her cherished eggs.
It was a very pretty sight to see Lily on her nest, almost covered by the straw, her head turned back, and her broad yellow bill partially hidden beneath her wing. The down lay scattered about like snow-flakes. She looked patient and hopeful, as she opened her eyes to see who had intruded on her solitude.
When a sitting-duck goes in search of food, she acts so queerly that you would surely laugh to see her, if you are not accustomed to her odd ways. She bends her head back, and draws it close to her body, and waddles about in the greatest haste, quacking all the time.
Lily waited four weeks before the ducklings appeared. Some of the brood were of a straw-colour, and some were marked with spots of black. They were all pretty. When I first saw them, they were partly hidden beneath their mother. Their glossy bills and bright eyes were visible, but they were afraid to venture from their shelter. They were provided with water and food in the old rabbit-house, because, if they followed their mother to the pond, the musk-rats would probably devour some of them.
While the little ones remained with their mother, they were safe, but when they became discontented, and wandered from home, they were sometimes lost. The rats were their principal enemies, and those from which they had most to fear. They were constantly lurking about to catch the ducklings, and sometimes the defenseless little ones ran directly into their deep holes, from which there was no possibility of escape. Quite a number of Lily's family came to an untimely end in this way.
When I saw them roving about in the high grass, seeking in vain to find their way to their mother's presence, and hearing their calls for help, and her answering cry of distress, I could but think of the dear children who forget their mother's counsel, and leave her protection before they are old enough to take care of themselves.
The ducklings, I observed, did not know who were their friends; for, one day, when the prettiest of the brood had found a way out of the rabbit-house, I thought I would catch it, and give it back to its mother. It was much alarmed, and Lily was in equal trouble. It ran away from me, thinking, perhaps that I was a greater enemy than the rats, against which it had probably been warned. Just as I was going to put my hand on it, it hid itself in a rat-hole, from which there was no escape. I could not rescue it, neither could its mother. The next morning, when I went to look at the ducks, and give them their breakfast, there lay the poor duckling, close by the fatal hole. The rat had brought it out, and partly devoured it.
Children often think they know what is best for them quite as well, if not better, than their parents, and when told not to do this or that, they are not satisfied to obey quietly, but ask, "Why not?" I think children may often be told why they are bidden to do this, or forbidden to do that; but they should obey their parents promptly, whether they know their reasons or not.
Sometimes there are reasons which children cannot understand, sometimes there are reasons which it would not be wise to tell them, and sometimes it is not convenient to give the why and the wherefore. Children are commanded to obey their parents,—not the reasons their parents may give them. The young ducks could not understand why their mother did not wish them to go out of that enclosure. They could not comprehend the dangers which surrounded them. They saw the birds flying about in the air, and heard the hum of the bees as they were going abroad for honey, or returning loaded to the hive, and they could not understand why they might not wander about too. The red clover looked very beautiful, and the white clover was so fragrant, they longed to ramble in it. They thought their mother unnecessarily strict, because she wished to keep them with her, instead of permitting them to see all the pretty things of which they could now and then catch a glimpse, as they peeped through the cracks of the rabbit-house.
Children sometimes feel unpleasantly because they are not permitted to play in the street. Ah! they are as ignorant of danger as the poor ducklings and they are too young to understand the peril to which they are exposed. Even if their mother should explain it to them, they could realize but little about it. It is by far the better way for children to feel that their mother knows best, and to be satisfied that her reasons are good and sufficient even if they do not know what they are.
I once heard a distinguished clergyman say he had always observed that those persons who had learned to obey their parents promptly, most readily yielded to the claims of God, and became converted, while those who had always liked their own way had generally a long, severe struggle, before they were willing to give up their sins, and oftentimes could not make up their minds to do so, and, though deeply convicted, remained impenitent.
It is a fearful thought that, if you form a habit of disobedience to your parents, it may cost you the salvation of your soul.
PRAYING FOR RAIN.
It was the first of July. There had been no rain for several weeks. Every one feared there would be a drought. The farmer looked anxiously upon his fields of corn, whose deep green leaves had not yet begun to turn yellow, and upon the potatoes, whose blossoms were still unwithered. They could not long remain thus beautiful and thriving, if the refreshing rain was withheld. The ground was so dry that, in hoeing the garden, no moisture could be observed.
Mrs. Dudley talked with her children about the need of rain, and the propriety of praying to our heavenly Father to water the earth, that it might "bring forth and bud," and "give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater." She told them how Elijah prayed for rain, after there had been none in the land of Canaan for three years and six months, and how God heard his prayer, "and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit."
This great drought was a judgment upon the people of Israel for their sin in departing from God, and worshipping idols. There had been, in consequence of this want of rain, a "sore famine." We read in the book of Kings of one poor woman, who had only a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse. When Elijah met her, and asked her for water, and a morsel of bread, she told him this was all she had, and that she was gathering two sticks, that she might bake it for herself and her son, that they might eat and die! She know not where to find any more food for herself or her child, and expected to "pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field," and to die with hunger.
Elijah bid her not to fear, but go and do what she had said. He asked her to make him a little cake first, and bring it to him, and afterwards make one for herself and son. "For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, the barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth."
It would not have been strange, if this widow of Zarephath had been unwilling to divide her handful of meal with Elijah, or if she had doubted the promise which was made to her, but she did not. She baked the little cake for the stranger, and afterwards one for herself and her boy, and there was plenty of meal and of oil left for another repast. "She, and he, and her house, did eat of it many days." The barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, till the Lord sent rain upon the earth, and her wants could be supplied in the usual way. She did not lose the reward promised to those who give a cup of cold water to the friends of God.
God does not willingly afflict the creatures he has made. He is a gracious God, merciful, and of great kindness, and has compassion even on the beasts of the field. When Jonah complained that he spared Nineveh, because its inhabitants humbled themselves before him, and turned from their evil way, after having sent him to prophesy to them that in forty days it should be overthrown, he said to Jonah, "Should I not spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six-score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left; and also much cattle?"
In this long drought in the land of Canaan, the cattle must have suffered greatly, and many of them probably perished. Indeed, we read that Ahab, the king of Israel, and Obadiah, the governor of his house, searched the land for the fountains and brooks, to find grass to save, the horses and mules alive, that they might not be all lost.
God is a Father, and, like a tender, loving father, he removes his chastisements so soon as they have produced the effect designed. He was "grieved for the misery of Israel." He told Elijah he would send rain. The prophet went to Ahab, who, when he saw him, asked, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" Elijah answered, it was Ahab, and his father's house, who troubled Israel, because they had forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and worshipped Baalim.
Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel, and earnestly prayed for rain. God had promised that he would send it, and Elijah no doubt pleaded this promise, as he interceded with him. He directed his servant to go where he could look towards the sea. He went and looked, and said, "There is nothing." Elijah was not discouraged. He knew God would remember his promise, and he sent him seven times more. The seventh time the servant returned, and said, "Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand." It grew rapidly larger and larger, till the sky was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.
James, in his Epistle, says, "The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much," and he mentions this instance of prevailing prayer in Elijah, as an encouragement to all Christians to ask for needed blessings. "Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are," he tells us, and if he prevailed with God, so may others. God is the "same yesterday, to-day, and forever." He does not change. He is always a hearer of prayer.
Mrs. Dudley also told her children that God hears the cry of all who are in distress. She referred to one of the psalms of David, where he describes a storm at sea, and the great terror of the sailors. "Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivers them out of their distresses."
God does not forget any creature he has made. He provides the springs and the streams to give drink to the beasts of the field, and to the birds which sing among the branches. He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man. He feeds the fowls, and clothes the flowers with beauty. He has taught us to ask for our daily bread, and as this must depend upon fruitful seasons it is proper we should ask for rain, whenever it is needed.
The children were quite interested in what their mother had told them. They knew that she earnestly desired rain, and that she often asked God to send it, before vegetation perished for want of it. They watched the sky with great anxiety, and when it became cloudy, and continued so from day to day, they thought surely a storm was near. After several days, there was a slight shower, but not enough to refresh the plants. Mary was greatly disappointed "I thought," (she said to her mother,) "it was going to rain in answer to your prayer."
"I thank God for that little rain," said Eddy, as he talked about it. Mrs. Dudley told him that was right, but they ought to pray for more, it was so much needed.
The next Sunday Mrs. Dudley was not well, and could not attend church. When her children returned she asked Mary if they prayed for rain. "No, mother!" she answered; "but I did."
The sky continued cloudy for some time, and then the rain gently fell for a day and a night, and all nature was refreshed and cheered.
Soon afterwards I left Mrs. Dudley's family. When I had been absent about a fortnight, I received a letter from Mary. She told me about the bantams, and the flowers, and many other things in which I was interested. She wrote that it had "rained on Sunday, and all day Monday. I cannot help thinking," she continued, "how good God is to send us rain when we most need it, and what cause we have for thanksgiving."
I hope Mrs. Dudley's children will never forget that God is the giver of every good gift, and that he likes to have people ask him for what they need. Children should think of God as their best friend, and should go to him in prayer, feeling as sure he can and does hear them, as they are that their mother does. In a season of drought they should ask him for rain, and when he sends it to make vegetation grow, they should thank him for that evidence of his loving-kindness.
Very beautiful were the grape-clusters as they hung on the graceful vine, and very tempting to the hand that was near enough to pluck them.
Two little boys came on an errand to the lady who lived in the house which the grape-vine shaded. It was reviving to come out of the city's heat and dust, and enter that pleasant parlour, screened from the fiercer rays of the summer's sun by its green curtain of leaves. The hot pavement and the glaring walls of the city seemed far distant, for the charm of the country was spread over that retired room. All city sights were shut out, and peace and quiet reigned within.
The lady was sitting at her desk, writing, when the boys entered. She spoke to them kindly, for they were objects of her kind care, although they did not live with her. They handed her a note which required an answer. She gave them permission to play in the yard, while she should write it. They were very happy, for it was an unusual pleasure for them. They examined the flowers which grew in the narrow bed by the high, close fence, and then they began to look wistfully at the rich bunches of grapes, which were within their reach. The lady had not told them that they might gather any, and they felt that they ought not to do so. But the tempter was near, and they listened to his suggestions.
Looking towards the house to see if they were observed, they cautiously went up to the vine, and each gathered a bunch of grapes. They ate them secretly, that they might avoid detection; but although they knew it not, there was an eye in the house that saw them, and there was another eye from which their act was not hid—the eye of the all-seeing God.
When the note was written, the boys were recalled to the parlour, and pleasantly dismissed. I think they must have felt somewhat ashamed, that they had abused the confidence reposed in them, and had been guilty of stealing from their kind friend.
After they left, the lady was informed what they had done. When she visited "the home," where they lived, she mentioned the fact to their teacher, although she did not allude to it to them.
The teacher took occasion to talk with her scholars about being honest and trustworthy, and asked them what they should think of children who, when sent on errands and permitted to go into the yard to enjoy themselves, should stealthily take the fruit which grew there. They, of course, condemned such conduct. She gave them the instruction they needed, and endeavoured to impress its importance upon their minds.
Soon after the close of the school, the two boys who had taken the grapes went to her and told her what they had done. She talked with them kindly. They seemed truly penitent. She asked them if they would like to go to the lady and acknowledge their fault. They said they should, and immediately they put on their straw hats, and their clean sacks, and went cheerfully to make all the reparation in their power for the fault they had committed. Confession is always pleasant to the truly penitent.
Again they stood in that shaded parlour. They were affectionately welcomed as before. They confessed freely and fully, what they had done on their previous visit, and asked forgiveness, which was readily granted. Just as they were leaving, they turned and inquired, "Can you ever trust us again?" The lady assured them that she could, and they went away happy and strengthened in their good purposes.
From that time there has been a marked change in the children. Their characters have much improved and they have been, in all respects, more conscientious and trustworthy. One of the boys has, I think, found a Christian home, and the other is waiting for one.
"IT ALMOST MAKES ME CRY."
"It almost makes me cry to think of the heathen," said Willie Dudley, as he was standing by his mother's work-table, with his elbow leaning upon it, and his head resting upon his hand. "I don't wonder missionaries go to them." His face was thoughtful and sad, and the tears stood in his eyes.
He had just been looking at two hideous idols, which had been brought from Africa, and his mother had been telling him that the heathen thought they were gods, and prayed to them.
Little Eddie wondered that any people could think these stone images were God. His large, blue eyes looked larger and rounder than ever, they were so filled with amazement at what he heard. He could only say, "Oh, mother! oh, mother!" in tones which indicated surprise, pity, and horror.
Mrs. Dudley told her children that the heathen had not been taught, as we have, that God is a spirit, and that they had never learned the commandment, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."
"I don't wonder that the missionaries go to them," was the sentiment on the mind of Willie, as he thought of the ignorance and degradation of the heathen. He loved, himself, to hear about God, and our blessed Saviour, and he knew that God required a pure and spiritual worship. He knew God was the Creator of the world, and that his power and glory could not well be represented or conceived by man. He had often heard of the heathen, and had read about their idols, but to see and handle a stone head which had been actually an object of religious worship, made it seem much more real to him than ever before, that there are many people who have never learned to worship the true God.
Willie has always had a great reverence for his heavenly Father. Several years ago, he was reading a description of one of the idols of the Hindoos. The picture was disgustingly repulsive. He went to Mrs. Dudley with his book, saying, "Mother, I don't like to call g-o-d God here; I want to call it d-o-g, for I don't think it is right to call such a thing by that great name."
Perhaps Willie will some day be a missionary, and preach the glad tidings of salvation to those who are now sitting in darkness, and in the shadow of death. But if he is not a missionary himself, I trust he will never forget to do what he can for those who, far from their homes and their friends, are fulfilling Christ's last command, to "go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
All Christians cannot be missionaries, but they can all do something to spread a knowledge of true religion throughout the world. They can contribute of their property to this noble purpose. Our heavenly Father accepts the smallest gift, offered in love. We, surely, who live in comfortable homes, and are surrounded by so much that is pleasant, should never forget those who, in foreign lands, are preaching the "unsearchable riches of Christ."
If our Saviour were now upon the earth, I suppose dear children, you think it would be a great pleasure to minister to his wants, and provide him with food or clothing, or any thing he might need. It is delightful to know that what we do for those who love him, he accepts as done to himself. In his Holy Word he says, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
THE BOY WHO STEALS.
Mrs. Dudley was sitting at her dining-table. The dessert was before her. There were fine, red water-melons, rich and juicy, with glossy black seeds peeping out from their hiding-places, and musk-melons, fragrant and luscious, which grew in her own garden. They had been gathered early in the morning, by George and Willie, and placed in the cellar, that they might be cool and refreshing. The boys had assisted in planting them in the spring, and with their little hoes they had worked about them during the summer, and subdued the weeds. They had watched their growth, and every day they examined the vines to find those that were ripe. They carefully gathered them, and sometimes there were so many that their wheelbarrow was quite full. Then they had the pleasure of carrying some to their neighbours. Mrs. Dudley did not consider good ripe fruit injurious, but much more healthy, in summer, than meat, puddings, and pastries, so that melons formed quite an important part of the family dinner. The children enjoyed them particularly, because they had raised them, in part, by their own industry.
George asked to be excused from the table. Not long after he left, Mrs. Dudley heard a cry, as if some child was in trouble. She looked around. Mary, and Willie, and Eddie were there. The sounds of distress could not come from George, for he never cried in that way. Mr. and Mrs. Dudley immediately arose and went out upon the lawn. The children followed. They looked here and there, and soon saw a boy near the house. He had a small bundle in his hand, and a little tin pail. I should think he was ten or eleven years old. He was crying, and calling to a boy who stood at the gate. Mr. Dudley inquired of him,
"What is the matter?"
"John won't let me go home."
"How does he prevent you? What does he do to you?" asked Mrs. Dudley.
"He won't let me alone."
"Does he try to make you fight?" she again inquired,—for she had frequently seen that large boys often love to tease and torment smaller ones, and she thought perhaps this little fellow was abused by a tyrannical companion. She thought of going to speak to the boy at the gate, but Mr. Dudley made further inquiries, and the child's answers were not very satisfactory.
Mary Dudley now came near her mother, and, speaking in a low voice, said to her, "That is the boy who steals."
While they were talking with him a larger boy came up, and said his teacher had sent him and the boy at the gate to take Jimmy back to school.
"Why, what has he done?" asked one of the group which surrounded him.
"He has been stealing the children's dinners. He stole yesterday, and he has been stealing to-day."
This was a sad account to hear. Jimmy begged to be permitted to go home, but Mr. Dudley told him he had better return to the school. He then very reluctantly walked down to the gate with the largest boy, and I suppose was led back to his teacher.
Mrs. Dudley had never heard of this child before, but Mr. Dudley said he had known him as a very bad boy. She asked Mary how she happened to know any thing about him. Mary told her that he attended Sunday-school, and that, a few Sundays before, one of the children could not find his cap. A thorough search was made for it, but it could not be found. The superintendent thought some one must have taken it. He suspected Jimmy, because his reputation was so bad, and followed him on his way home. Jimmy had it on his head, and his own cap was hidden under his sack!
The superintendent of the school talked with Jimmy, who said he would never steal again; but, alas! he soon forgot his good resolution. Although he carried a dinner for himself in his tin pail, he took whatever he liked from the baskets of his companions.
Mrs. Dudley has seen this boy several times since she heard him crying on the lawn. She says it always makes her feel sad to meet him, for she cannot avoid thinking,—"that is the boy who steals." She has learned that he has no father or mother, but lives with his grandparents. I fear he "will bring down their gray hairs with sorrow to the grave." He has allowed himself to steal small things, and as he grows older he will probably take articles of more value. He may become a housebreaker or a murderer.
It is dangerous to indulge in the least sin. It hardens the heart, and stifles the whisper of that still, small voice, which so often tells children, when they are tempted to do wrong, "That is not right; you should not do that."
In some Catechism the question is asked, "What is my duty to my neighbour?" and a part of the answer is, "To keep my hands from picking and stealing." I suppose "picking" must mean, secretly taking little pieces of cake, or sugar, or any thing of the kind, of small value. I presume Jimmy was in the habit of "picking," at his grandmother's before he ventured to steal at school.
I could tell you several very sad stories of people who have stolen when they were children, and who have grown more and more wicked, as they have advanced in years, till they became a curse to society and themselves. "The way of transgressors is hard." These people have no true enjoyment. There is always a fearful looking forward to the future.
It is not pleasant to me to write about bad children, and I should not do it if it were not to warn the dear children I so much love against the formation of wrong and sinful habits.
How much better it would be for Jimmy if he had learned to "touch not, taste not, handle not," that which does not belong to him!
LOOK AT THE BIRDS!
October, with its golden and crimson hues, its "gentle wind," and its "fair sunny noon," has passed away. November has come. The sun shines brightly, and the sky is almost clear of clouds; but the chill wind blows roughly, and the leaves are rudely torn from the trees where they have gladdened us through the spring and the summer by their refreshing shade, their modest beauty, and their sweet music, as they sung to the gentle breeze which played amid the branches. They lie now, most of them, beneath the trees, wrinkled and faded, or scattered here and there, far from their fellows, wherever the cold blast has wafted them.
The birds have been taught by their unfailing instinct that summer has departed, and winter is near. They no more warble their rich melodies, or flit in and out of the bowery recesses of the honeysuckles or peep with knowing look under the eaves, or into the arbour. Other purposes prompt to other acts, and they are taking their farewell of the pleasant summer haunts, where they have built their nests and reared their young.
This morning, soon after sunrise, Willie was standing on the lawn, contemplating the beauties of nature, and thinking, I suppose, of the changes of the seasons, when all at once I heard him shout, "Look at the birds! Look at the birds!" We threw open the window, and there were thousands and thousands of them almost over our heads. Their wings made a noise like the rushing of a steam-engine as it cleaves the air in its speed. They were calling to each other with a short, quick sound. It seemed as if they were giving and receiving orders. We watched them till they disappeared over the tree-tops.
"There are more! There are more!" shouted Mary. We again looked towards the rising sun, and up over the eastern hills came another immense flock, calling to each other as the first, and they too disappeared behind the western hills.
"There is another flock!" and so indeed there was. Up from the meadows and over the hills they came, swaying up and down in their flight, and so near that we could see each bird distinctly. Almost simultaneously they alighted on Clover Hill to rest for a moment. I can never forget their motion so full of grace and beauty, waving and undulating like the gentle swell of the ocean. Soon, another company followed in the same direction, and when they were over Clover Hill, up flew the others, and away they went with them beyond our sight. Flock after flock appeared, each taking the same general direction, and some of them so large that they stretched from the hills which bounded our view on one side, as far as our eye could see on the other. They looked, as Willie said, like bees swarming, only they were much larger. Occasionally a few stragglers could be seen, hurrying on to join their party, which was in advance of them. Perhaps they had delayed to take a last farewell of their pleasant summer homes, or, may be, they were dilatory in their habits, and did not make their morning toilet in season. I hope they will be more prompt in future, for it is a bad habit to be late, and occasions, often, much vexation and inconvenience.
I never before saw so many birds together, although I have frequently been startled by the peculiar sound made by large numbers flying in company, and have looked at them with wonder and admiration.
The migration of birds is one of the most remarkable phenomena in natural history. "The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times, and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming," and so do all birds of passage. Their Creator has endowed them with a wonderful instinct, which, in some way, unknown to us, teaches them to guard against the severity of the season by seeking a warmer climate, and when "winter is past," and "the flowers appear on the earth," and "the vines, with the tender grape, give a good smell," then "the time of the singing of birds is come," and their voice is heard in our land. Some of them return, not only to the same country, but to the same place, where they have previously built their nests, and, year after year, raise their broods in the same friendly tree.
It is said that, to enable birds to fly with ease, and to continue long on the wing, they must fly against the wind. I observed, this morning, that there was a brisk wind from the west, while the birds were flying a little south of west. Perhaps they had been waiting several days for a favourable wind, and that may have been the reason of the great number of flocks we saw.
"Behold the fowls of the air," said our Saviour, in his sermon on the mount; "for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" At another time, when he was talking with his disciples about the persecutions they should endure for his sake, he said to them, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not, therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows."
Not one of that immense number of birds, which we saw flying to a warmer country, can perish without God's knowledge. He sees every one of them. During the summer, he has fed them on the meadows near the sea-shore, and now that winter is approaching, he has taught them to seek other localities, where their appropriate food can be found.
Whenever God's children are tempted to yield to despondency, and to fear that they shall suffer from want, let them remember that they are of more value than many sparrows, and that if they trust their heavenly Father, their bread shall be given them, and their water shall be sure. He who feeds the birds will feed them. May he
"Fill" our souls "with trust unshaken In that Being who has taken Care for every living thing, In Summer, Winter, Fall and Spring."
THE LOST CHILD.
It was a Sabbath morning in November, clear, bright and frosty. Mrs. Dudley's family were preparing for church. They heard Carlo bark violently, and knew a stranger must be near. Carlo is a faithful watch-dog, but his habit of barking at visitors is so disagreeable, that he is usually kept chained in the day-time. On Sunday, as no company is expected, he is permitted to go at large. When Mr. Dudley heard Carlo, he immediately threw open the window, and spoke to him. He saw a gentleman, who was evidently much alarmed. None of the family knew him. The stranger soon made known the occasion of his call, by inquiring,
"Have you seen any thing of a stray child?"
"No, we have not; whose child is lost?"
"How old is the child?"
"About six years old. His mother sent him from home, yesterday, about two o'clock, and she has heard nothing from him since. He had a small tin pail with him to get some yeast."
It is sad to hear that a child is lost, and all the family sympathized with the anxious parents. "How badly you would feel if I was lost!" said Eddie, and he looked sober and grieved, as he thought of the little boy about his own age, who had wandered from home, no one knew where. There was much fear that he had fallen into the river, as he had been seen on the dock.
At ten o'clock the family started for church. They met people who were searching for the child, and who asked them, as the gentleman had done at the house, "Have you seen any thing of a stray child?"
Notice was given in the churches that a boy was lost, and many a mother's heart beat quicker as she thought of her own dear little ones, and imagined one of them sleeping, perhaps, through that cold November night on the ground, or (fearful thought!) buried deep in the chill water.
After church, you could hear one and another inquiring anxiously, "Has the child been found?" But no favourable answer was received. In the afternoon, however, many hearts were gladdened by learning that he was safe. He had gone to the village, and got his pennyworth of yeast, and then, instead of returning immediately, he stopped to play with some boys. He had gone with them to a part of the village with which he was not acquainted and when he wished to go home, he did not know what direction to take. He chose a road leading him from home, and wandered at least five miles. Just before dark an old gentleman and his grandson were walking on the road, and they observed this little boy crying.
"What do you suppose he is crying about?" said the child to his grandfather.
"I don't know. Perhaps he has been sent to the grocery, and does not like to go."
They watched him and found he did not stop, but passed on with his tin pail, crying grievously. They waited for him to come up to them, and asked him,
"What are you crying about?"
"I want to go home!"
"Where is your home?"
The boy could not tell.
"What is your name?"
"William Hudson." He did not say, as he should have done, William Hudson McPherson.
The old gentleman kindly took him by the hand, and led him to his own home. William's tears were soon dried, and he became quite contented. It was too late to attempt to find his parents that night, as he could not tell where they lived, and the name of Hudson was not familiar to the good people who had given him shelter.
When Sabbath morning came, William was questioned again and again, till at length some clue was obtained of his father's place of residence. The horse was harnessed, and William, with lame and blistered feet, was placed in the wagon. About noon he safely reached home, and was clasped once more to his mother's heart. The father had not returned from his search, and he afterwards said, it had seemed to him that he never could go home without his child, on account of the terrible and almost frantic distress of the mother. As he approached his house, borne down with grief, he saw a wagon at the door. His heart leaped with joy, for he thought the lost one was found. He opened the door hopefully, and there, indeed, was William gathered once more with his brothers and sisters around the great cooking-stove, tears of joy flowing down the grateful mother's cheeks.
All this great grief which William's father and mother endured—all the anxiety felt throughout the town—and all the sufferings of the boy himself, were occasioned by William's stopping to play, when he ought to have gone directly home!
Children often think they are quite as capable of judging for themselves, as their parents are for them. Sooner or later this opinion will lead them into trouble. William thought it was safe to stop and see the boys play marbles, but he found, to his sorrow, that it would have been far better to have resisted temptation and denied himself the short pleasure he enjoyed.
Every human heart is grieved when a child like William strays from home. We do not wonder that his mother should be fearfully anxious in regard to his fate. But, oh! how much more bitter tears a loving mother sheds, when her dear ones stray from the path of virtue, and become disobedient and wicked! I hope none of the children who read about William will go astray from the right path, but will ever choose that which is pure and lovely and of good report, and which, through the grace of God in Christ Jesus, will safely lead them home to heaven.
THE UNPLEASANT NEIGHBOUR.
Eddie's father has a disagreeable neighbour. In one way or another he is a constant source of annoyance. Sometimes his pigs will creep through the fence, and root up the smooth green lawn. His part of the fence he will not keep in repair, and the hungry cows, in search of food, will break into the garden, and make sad havoc among the cabbages and other vegetables. His fine bay horse, whom he knows will jump over any ordinary fence, is permitted to run in a pasture, where he can eke out his scanty meal by a hearty lunch among Mr. Dudley's corn. All these aggressions, and many more, have been borne with the greatest patience.
Mr. Dudley has often been advised to resort to the law as a means of defence, yet he has been reluctant to do so. The children have sometimes felt very indignant when they have been obliged to chase the pigs or the cows out of the yard or field, but their parents have endeavoured to teach them Christian forbearance.
At one time Eddie had been thinking about Mr. Morrison,—for by that name I shall call the unpleasant neighbour,—and he said very seriously to his mother,
"Mother, can Mr. Morrison go to heaven if he dies."
She hesitated a moment how to answer him, for, she had taught him that it is wicked to lie and to swear, and that if a person loves God he will not be in the habit of committing such sins; so she told him, that unless Mr. Morrison repented he could not go to heaven.
At another time Eddie and his mother were talking about God's love for the beings he has made. She told him that God loves every one.
"Does he love Mr. Morrison?" he inquired.
"Yes, God loves Mr. Morrison. He is grieved and offended by his wickedness, but he loves him. You know I love you, when you have done wrong, although I am sorry that you have been naughty. I do not cease to love you. The Bible tells us that while we were sinners, God so loved us as to send his Son to die for us. He loves all, and wishes all to repent and believe in Christ, and be happy. He has provided a way for all who believe to be saved, and it is only because people love sin more than they love holiness, that they are lost."