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"The truth, the truth, and all the truth,” said John." It is the best thing you can do now."
When Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild came in, they thought their children would have run to meet them; but they were so conscious of their naughtiness, that they all crept behind John, and Emily hid her face.
"Emily, Lucy, Henry!" said Mrs. Fairchild, you keep back: what is the matter?"
"Oh! Mamma, Mamma! Papa, Papa!" said Lucy, coming forward and falling on her knees 'before them; 66 we have been very wicked children to-day; we are not fit to come near you."
"What have you done, Lucy?" said Mrs. Fairchild. Tell the whole truth, and pray to God to forgive you, for his dear Son's sake. These are › the only things which children can do, when they have been naughty, to make their peace with God and their parents.
Then Lucy told her papa and mamma every thing which she and her brother and sister had done: she did not hide any thing from them. You may be sure that Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild were very much shocked. When they heard all that Lucy had to tell them, and saw Emily's face, they looked very grave indeed.
"I am glad that you have told the truth, my children," said Mr. Fairchild: "but the sins that you have committed are very dreadful ones. have disobeyed your parents; and, in consequence of your disobedience, Emily might have lost her life, if God had not been very merciful to you. And now go all of you to your beds; and there think upon your sins, and entreat your Heavenly Father to pardou you, for that blessed Saviour's sake who bore your sins upon the cross."
The children did as their papa bade them, and went silently up to their beds, where they cried
sadly, thinking upon their wickedness. The next morning they all three came into their mamma's room, and begged her to kiss them and forgive them.
"Oh! Mamma, Mamma!" said Lucy, have been very wicked: but we have prayed to God, and we hope that he has forgiven us, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake. Therefore we hope that you will pardon us."
"I have committed many sins myself," said Mrs. Fairchild, "and hope to be forgiven, through my dear Saviour: therefore I cannot refuse to pardon you, my children. But indeed you made me and your papa very unhappy last night."
Then the children looked at their mamma's eyes, and they were full of tears; and they felt more and more sorry to think how greatly they had grieved their kind mother: and when their mamma kissed them, and put her arms round their necks, they cried more than ever.
Oh, Mamma !" said Lucy, "I cannot think how I could behave so ill as I did yesterday; for I had resolved in my own mind to be very goodindeed I had. And when I did wrong, I knew it was wrong all the time, and hated myself for doing it; and still I did it."
And do you wonder, my dear child," said Mrs. Fairchild, "what it was that made you behave so ill? It was sin, my dear; the sin of your heart; the sin which is ever present with us, and which, when we would do well, is always preventing us. People talk often of their sinful hearts; but very few people know how very wicked their hearts are. There is something within us that is always pressing us forward to sin; and that so strongly, that we have not power to stand against it. The fear of pain or shame in this world, or even of everlasting fire in the world to come, is not enough to frighten us
from sin; and for this reason, that it is our nature to sin. Therefore, my child, our natures must be made regenerate by the power of God the Spirit, before we can in any wise cease from sin. When we wish to do well, we must not say we will be good but we should go into some private place, if possible; and there, falling upon our knees, we should confess to God our weakness and sinfulness, and ask, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the help of the Holy Spirit, to enable us to do well.”
Then said Lucy, "If we ask for the Spirit of God, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, will it be given to us, Mamma?"
Yes, my dear child," answered Mrs. Fairchild: "for the Lord Jesus Christ C says, If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.' (John xiv. 14.) But this does not mean that God will at once give us power to overcome our wicked nature. No, my dear: this will not be. Our wicked hearts will contrive to torment us till we die. Then, if in this world we have loved the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be entirely set free from sin, and that for ever and ever."
"Oh, Mamma!" said Lucy, "how very happy we shall be, when we have no more sin in our hearts! for the sin of my heart often makes me very unhappy when I have nothing else to vex me. Sometimes, when you give me leave to play, Mamma, and I have every thing to make me enjoy my playmy brother's and sister's company, Emily's pretty doll, and all my playthings-yet I cannot be happy, but feel cross and ill-natured."
Mrs. Fairchild. "This, my child, I have no doubt, is very true: and hence it follows, that, if you were to be placed in heaven itself with your sinful heart, you would not be happy there: and this shews that our hearts must be changed before we can go to heaven."
Then Mrs. Fairchild knelt down with her children, and prayed that they might be delivered from the power of sin; and this prayer, with the change of a few words only, I will put down here, for the use of any little child who may hereafter feel and be sorry for the sinfulness of their hearts.
A Prayer for a New Heart.
O Almighty Father! how apt I am to boast, and to say, "I have been good to-day, and I was good yesterday; I have done this thing well, and that thing well; and, I am a good child!" when it would be more proper for me to cry out, "O Lord, have mercy upon me, a miserable sinner! O Lord, I humbly confess that I am altogether evil: there is no good in me: I can do nothing well; I cannot even think one good thought without the help of thy Holy Spirit, O Lord!" The fear of my father and mother, and of being punished, often keeps me from breaking out into open sins; but, if my parents and teachers were to be taken from me, and I was no longer under fear of punishment, then, O Lord, I should break out into open and shameless wickedness; and be no better in appearance (as I am no better in heart) than the poor little boys and girls in the street, who are left entirely to themselves.
O Almighty Father! let me not, be puffed up with pride, or think well of myself, because I am kept from very great sins by the care of my friends; for my heart is altogether filthy and evil, and if I were to be left to myself I certainly should come to open shame.
O dear Father! O beloved Saviour! O Holy and Glorious Spirit! thou blessed Three in One! have mercy on a poor, weak, and wicked child! Leave
me not to myself; leave me not to my own wicked heart: but be thou my Teacher and my Ruler. O Lord Jehovah! give me a new heart, that I may obey thy commandments, and walk in thy fear all the days of my life.
O grant this, the prayer of a wicked child, for the sake of Him who bled and died upon the cross; for Him, even the blessed Lord Jesus: to whom with God the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all Amen. glory and honour for ever and ever. "Our Father," &c.
FAR from the world, O Lord, I flee;
The calm retreat, the silent shade,
There, if the Spirit touch the soul
Oh! with what peace, and joy, and love
There, like the nightingale, she pours
Her solitary lays;
Nor asks witness of her song,
Nor thirsts for human praise.
Author and Guardian of my life!
What thanks I owe thee, and what love!
A boundless, endless store
Shall echo through the realms above
Till time shall be no more.