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Lectures to children : familiarly illustrating important truth online

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out. She filled with water ; and she went down
under the dark, blue waters of the ocean, with
all the goods and all the people on board. Every
one perished. Oh, how many wives, and mothers,
and children, mourned over husbands, and sons, and
fathers, for whose return they were waiting, and
who never returned ! And all, all this, probably,
because that little stick of timber, with the worm
in it, was put in, when the ship was built ! How
much property, and how many lives, may be de-
stroyed by a little Avorm ! And how much evil
may a man do, when he does a small wrong, as
that man did who put the wormy timber in the
ship !

Suppose a little boy were walking out in the
fields on some fair day of autumn. As he bounds
along, he sees something on the ground, which
looks round and smooth, like a little egg. Ho
picks it up. It is an acorn. He carries it a little
while, and then throws it away. It is a small af-

Lect. 9.] LITTLE THINGS. 151

The oak. The result.

fair, and useless. He forgets it entirely. The
poor little acorn lies forgotten. The ox ct)mes
along, and treads it in the ground without ever
knowing it. It lies and sleeps there in the ox-
track during the cold winter. In the spring, it
swells. The little sprout peeps out ; a root grows
down, and two little leaves open on the top of
the ground. It lives and grows. During a hun-
dred years it grows, while men live and die, and
while many a storm beats upon it. It is now a
giant oak. It is made into a mighty ship, and
laden with goods ; she sails round the world, and
does her errands at many hundreds of places.
She bears the flag of her nation on her mast,
and her nation is honored for her sake. What
great things may spring from small ones ! Who
would have thought that such a little thing could
contain the mighty oak in it ? Besides this, that
one tree bears acorns enough, every year, to raise a
thousand more oaks ; and these, every year, bear

152 LITTLE THINGS. [Lect. 9.

Light-house removed.

enough to rear ten thousand more. Thus a whole
forest may be shut up in the little bud of a single
acorn. What great things may be found in little
things !

I wish to have you see this so clearly, that you
cannot forget it, because it will be of great use to
you, all the way through life, if remembered.

In a dark night, there was once a ship coming
into one of our harbors. She had been to India
on a long voyage, and had been gone a year or
two. She had a very costly cargo, or load, on
board. The captain and all in her were hoping
and expecting soon to see their friends, and their
homes. The sailors had brought out their best
clothes, and were clean and neat. As they came
bounding along over the foaming waters, and drew
near to the land, the captain told a man to go up
to the top of the mast, and '^ look out for the light-
house." The light-house is a high, round kind of
a tower, built out on the points of the land, with

Lect. 9.] LITTLE THINGS. 153

A little mistake.

great lamps lighted every night in its top, so that
vessels may see it before they get too near the
land. This light-house stood at the entrance of
the harbor. Pretty soon, the man cried out,
"Light ahead!" Then they all rejoiced, and
knew they were near the harbor.

Now, while they had been gone, this light-
house had been removed to another place. But
the captain knew nothing about that. So they
kept sailing in what, they supposed, was the old
way. In a short time, the man at the mast-head
cries out, "Breakers ahead ! " that is, rocks just
before us, and the ship is just on them. The
captain just cast his eye out on the dark waters,
and saw the white foam of the rocks. In a mo-
ment, he cries out, " Starboard the helm." Now,
see how much may hang on one little word.
The man at the helm mistook the word, and
thought the captain said, " Larboard the helm."
So he turned it the wrong way. It was done in

li>4 LITTLE THINGS. [Lect. 9.

Ship and lives lost. Result.

a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. But it
was turned the wrong way ; and the ship struck
on the rocks the next moment, and was dashed
in a thousand pieces. The cargo was lost, and
every soul on board, except one or two, were
drowLied. All this hung upon one little Avord,
one little mistake. If that word had been under-
stood right, she would not have been lost. One
single mistake, small as it seemed to be, brought
about all this ruin and death. Do you not see
how plain it is, that great results may turn upon
very small things ? One moment of time turned
the scale, and property and lives all go dowai into
the deep. There the goods are destroyed, and
there the human beings sleep till the great
morning of the resurrection-day.

In the new country, that is, in those new
states where the great forests are not cut down,
and where only a few people live, the fire some-
times, when it is dry in the autumn, gets into

Lect. 9.] LITTLE THINGS. 155

Great fires in the forest. Little boy playing with fire.

the woods. It bums the dry leaves, the dry
limbs and twigs, and dry trees, and even the
green trees. Sometimes it gets so hot, that no-
body can go near it. It leaps from tree to tree,
burning and crackling, and rushing on like a
fierce army in battle. A thousand war-horses
could not make more noise ; and, in the night,
it throws up its flames, and is seen a great way
off. Sometimes it goes almost a hundred miles
before it can be stopped. Now, see what this
has to do with my Lecture.

A little boy was playing one day just at the
edge of the woods. His mother was gone ; and
though he knew it was wrong, yet he went into
the house, and brought out some fire. He felt
that it was wrong, but thought that nobody
would ever know it. He played with the fire
awhile, and it did no hurt. At length, the wind
blew a spark into the woods, and the dry leaves
caught — they blazed — the whole woods were on

156 LITTLE THINGS. [Lect. 9.

The spark caught.

fire. On the fire went, kindled into a great
flame, raging and burning all before it. For
whole dajSj and even weeks, it roared and raged
without hurting any body. • But one day, when
the wind blew hard, it burned on faster and
more awfully. And, as it swept through the
forest, it passed by a small, new house, which a
poor man had just built, almost in the middle
of the forest, on some land which he had just
bought. The man was gone away. When at a
great distance, he saw the fire, and hastened
home as fast as possible. But, oh, what a sight !
The woods were all burned black. Not a leaf
was left. They looked like a funeral. His little
house and barn were burned up, and, what was
worse, his faithful wife and little child — all were
burned up. On the spot where he left them hap-
py in the morning, nothing was left but a pile of
smoking ashes.

All this, all this, because that little boy dis-

Lect. d.] little things. 157

The mother of Mohammed. The consequence.

obeyed his mother, and played with fire ! All
this from one little spark of fire ! How much,
how very much, may hang on little things !

Let me give you one example more. Almost
twelve hundred years ago, in a distant country,
there was a mother with an infant in her arms.
She was not a Christian mother. Now, it would
seem as if that little infant was of no conse-
quence. Ten thousand such might die, and the
world would hardly know it. It would seem,
too, as if it was of no' great consequence whether
or not that child be instructed about God and
Jesus Christ, and be taught to serve God. He
was not so taught. What was the result ? He
grew up, became a man, made a new religion,
which is called Mohammedanism. He taught
people to believe the most foolish and wicked
lies, and to practise the most wicked things.
He made them believe that he was a prophet of
God, and that God would be pleased to have

158 LITTLE THINGS. [Lect. 9.

How it is with these children.

them kill every body on earth who will not be-
lieve Mohammedanism. They are a most bloody,
cruel, wicked people. Millions of such have
lived, and are now living. And what is worse
than all, God says that he will cast them all
away into hell forever and ever. Read the 19th
chapter of Revelation, and see what an awful
doom is before them.

Now^ all this seemed to turn upon the point,
whether that little infant should be taught to be
a Christian or not. Had he belonged to a Sab-
bath School, and been taught as you are taught,
I do believe he would never have told such wick-
ed lies, and led away millions of men after him,
who will perish forever. Wicked man ! he
lived only to do mischief, and began a great evil,
which has not yet been checked. How thank-
ful ought you to be, who have Christian mothers
to watch over you, to pray for you, and to teach
you from the Bible ! Else you might not only

Lect. 9.] LITTLE THINGS. 159

What the subject teaches. The tongue.

live in vain, but be lost, and be the means of
leading others to eternal ruin. How much good
or evil may hang on a single child !

Let me, now, my dear children, tell you what
this subject ought to teach you. Let me show
you what the great truth, that great results may
hang on little things, should teach you.

1 . Be careful what you say.

The tongue is a little member; but it does
immense evil. Let a child drop one wicked
word, and another may catch it, and remember it,
and follow the example, and become a wicked
child and a wicked man. Let a child tell one lie,
and he may thus begin a course of lying which
will ruin him for this life and the next. Says a
good man, speaking of his dear child, then in the
grave, " When he was about three years old, an
aged female, at whose house he was staying for a
day, informed me that William had told a false-
hood. I was thunder-struck, and almost distract-

160 LITTLE THINGS. [Lect. 9

The child did not tell a lie.

ed ; for the information seemed to blast my most
cherished hopes. This might, I thought, be the
commencement of a series of evils forever ruinous
to our peace. I am not sure that my agony, on
hearing of his death, was much more intense than
that w^hich I then endured, from an apprehension
of his guilt. Instantly, but without betraying my
emotions, I asked him what he had said. He
answered, at once, in so artless a manner, as to
convince me that my boy was yet innocent. I
pursued the inquiry, and, in a few moments, found,
to my inexpressible joy, that he was perfectly
correct in all he had stated." You see how
a good father abhors a single lie. God abhors
it much more. And one lie will lead to others;
one wicked word to others ; one foolish word to
others. Remember that God hears every word,
and will call you to an account for every word, at
the great day of judgment.

Lect. 9.] littlb; things. 161

Company. Every day.

2. Be careful ivhat company you keep.

You may think of God, and think you will
serve him; but one half hour spent in wicked
company w411 drive all that is good far from you.
You may hear a wicked word which you never
heard before. Where did these children ever hear
wicked words .^ Did their parents teach them
these words ? No. But you learned every
one of them in bad company. Where did you
learn wdcked thoughts? Surely, no where but
in bad company. One wicked boy may spoil
many more. He may spoil their manners, spoil
their language, spoil their innocent feelings, spoil
their obedience to God and to their parents. See
to it, that you are not thus spoiled. When you
hear one word from any body, which you feel that
your parents would not say, be sure that is bad
company. Flee from it at once.

3. Be careful to fear God and live for him
every day,


162 LITTLE THINGS. [Lect.9.

The little stream.

Every child can easily form habits of sin.
They are formed very easily indeed. One day
spent w^ithout thinking of God, or praying to him,
will prepare for another. One Sabbath broken,
will fit you to break another. One day spent in sin,
will only fit your heart for sin to dwell in. Would
you dig away the dam which keeps in the great
mill-pond ? You need only dig a little place, and
let out a little stream, and the whole will rush
through after it. There may be multitudes lost
forever, whose ruin might be traced back to their
conduct on a single day.

4. Be careful ivhat you do.

Do you see a thing which you want, but which
is not yours ? Do not covet it ; for you may thus
begin those covetous feelings which will keep you
out of heaven. Had Judas not coveted the first
thing which he did covet, he would never have
been so wicked as to sell the blessed Redeemer.
Does your eye see something which you want,

Lect. 9.] LITTLE THINGS. 163

The last thing taught by this subject.

and does your little hand want to stretch itself
out, and take it ? Oh, do it not, do it not ! This
is stealing. And this may lead you on till you are
a thief, till you are shut up in the dungeon, and
shut up in hell. Remember that you ought not
to do any thing, upon which you cannot go and
ask the blessing of God in prayer. The eye of
the great God is ever upon you ; and your eternity
may hang upon the conduct of an hour. Remem-
ber this, and be afraid to sin. Amen.



Gather up the fragments that remain^ that nothing he lost. —
John 6. 12.

Contents. — The goldsmith's shop. The mountains weighed. The stars
named. The little gleaners. Christ feeding the multitude. Wrong to
waste things. Wrong to waste money. The deep river. Brimstone
matches. The expensive drink. Hamilton's duel. Life wasted. The
sailor's dream. The ring. The ring lost. Burning mountains. The ring'
recovered. The dream supposed to be true and real. Limbs lost. The
Bible wasted. The mind ruined. Six things seen. The soul — the soul.

I SUPPOSE most of these children have been
into the shop of a goldsmith. A goldsmith is a man
who works in gold, and makes beads, and rings,
and other things, out of gold. If jou have ever
been in such a shop, did you see the man work at
the gold ? What fine and beautiful tools he has !
what little saws, and files, and drills to bore with !
And then he is verj careful not to waste any
gold. When he files it, or bores it, he is very
careful to have a fine, soft brush, with which to

Lect. 10.] FRAGMENTS SAVED. 165

The mountains weighed.

sweep up every grain of gold, even the smallest
and finest dust. He is very careful not to lose
any fragments.

Did you ever read the 40th chapter of Isaiah ?
How wonderfully is the great God described
there ! When he spread out the mighty heavens
over our heads, " he measured " them, so as not
to have them too large or too small. When he
made the great waters, he " measured " them, so
as not to have a drop too much or too little.
When he made the hills and the lofty mountains,
he " weighed the mountains in a scale, and the
hills in a balance," so as to have not a grain of
sand, or a single atom, too much or too little ; not
because God has not water enough, and ground
enough, but because he would teach us to waste
nothing. Every fragment must be saved and used.

Go out, on some bright, star-light evening, and
look up. What a multitude of stars! How
thick they are ! If many of them should go out

166 FRAGMENTS SAVED. [Lect. 10

The stars named.

forever, v^^e should not know it. And if new
stars were to be added to them, we should not
know it. They may seem useless to us. We
cannot count them. But God knows every one,
and has not made one too many nor one too few.
David says, '' He telleth the number of the stars ;
he calleth them all by their names." What a
family ! All have names, and all

" Forever singing, as they shine,
• The hand that made us is divine ! ' "

Have these children never been out in the time
of harvest, and seen the men reap the wheat and
rye ? They cut down the waving grain with the
greatest care, and then bind it in bundles, and
then carefully carry it home on the cart. They
try not to lose any, because every kernel will
make a little flour. But after all their care, they
do lose some. Some heads of wheat do drop out,
and some kernels will shell out. God knew this

Lect. 10.] FRAGMENTS SAVED. 167

The little gleaners. Christ feeding the multitude.

would be so. But he would have nothmg lost ;
and so he has made " the little gleaners," such as
the little bird and the squirrel, to follow the har-
vest, and pick up the fragments, that nothing
be lost.

So Jesus Christ teaches us. He preached
out in the open fields, for he had no meeting-
house ; and, if he had, it would not have held half
who wanted to hear him preach. A great many
thousands followed him ; and when he had taught
them for a great while, and found that, under the
hot sun, they were weary and hungry, he had
them sit down on the grass in companies. I
suppose this Vv^as so that neighbors and friends
might sit together, and, also, so that they might
be counted. He blessed the bread, which was
only five loaves, and the fishes, which were only
two little ones ; and they all ate enough. One
loaf of bread was enough for a thousand people,
after Christ had blessed it. After they had done


Wrong to waste things.

eating, he told the disciples to gather up the
fragments, that nothing be lost. So they gather-
ed up the pieces and the crumbs, and had each
of them a basket full. Now, Christ could have
made bread enough to feed the world. He does
make enough for every mouth every year. And
he could make it at any time. But he would
have nothing lost. The twelve baskets of frag-
ments would do for the poor, and do for the
disciples at another time.

You see what I am teaching you in this
Lecture. It is, that it is ivrong to waste any

Give me your thoughts, and follow what I say,
and see if it be not so. Shall I have your close
attention ? Yes. I see, by the looks of every
little boy and every little girl, that I shall.

Suppose you know of a narrow river, where
the waters are dark, and almost black. They
are deep, too— so deep that no one, with the

Lect. 10.] FRAGMENTS SAVED. 169

Wrong- to waste money. The deep river.

longest pole, can reach the bottom. The stream
runs swift, too ; so that, if you drop any thing
into that river, it sinks, and can never be found
again. Now, suppose, just on the bank of this
river, a little way back, there is a little cottage.
It is very small. And in it is a poor widow and
five or six little children. The woman is sick
and poor, and can neither work nor buy food for
her hungry children. She is in great distress.
Suppose a man lives not far off, who has money,
a great deal of money. He hardly knows what
to do with it. So, every night, he comes just
before that cottage, where the poor children are
crying for food, and there drops a dollar into that
river. It sinks, and is lost forever. To-morrow
night he will do so again, and so every night,
while that wretched family are starving. Now,
does he not do wrong ? Has he a right thus to
drop his money into the river, and let poor
children suffer ? No, no ; he has no right to do

170 FRAGMENTS SAVED. [Lect. 10

The brimstone matches.

it. But suppose, instead of throwing it in the
river, he spends it for something which he does
not want, and which will do him no good. Is
this right .^ No. It is wasted, even then. Sup-
pose he spends it for something fine and showy,
but which is really of no use. Is that right?
No. It is still wasted. You see, then, that it is
wrong to waste money, when people are starving.
A Bible can be printed and bound, and sent to
a poor family, or to a poor child who has none,
for fifty cents. Some gentlemen w^ent out, one
day, to ask such as choose to give, for money, in
order to send the Bible to the heathen, who have
none. They went to one house and another, and
at last w^ent up to a house to go in, where they
were not acquainted. As they stopped on the
door-steps, they overheard the gentleman of the
house talking to a girl in the kitchen for wasting
a new match every time she wanted to light a
candle. This, they thought, was real stinginess.

Lect. 10.] FRAGMENTS SAVED. 171

The expensive drink.

" Let us go," says one ; " we shall get nothing
here. A man who scolds about a match will
never give any thing."

" We can but try," said the other.

They went in, and told their errand. The
gentleman took out his purse, and gave them
more than any one had done, enough to send a
hundred Bibles to the heathen. They were as-
tonished at his giving so much. They told him
how they had overheard him talking about the
match, and did not expect any thing from him.

"• Oh, this is the very reason," said the gentle-
man, "why I can give so much to send the Bible.
I allow nothing to be wasted, and thus, by saving
all, I have money with which to do good."

But people love to spend their money for
handsome and fine things, rather than use it to
send the Bible to those who have not any Bible.
I know they do. But do they do right ? Sup-
pose there is a kind of drink that you love very

172 FRAGMENTS SAVED. [Lect. 10.

Hamilton's duel.

much. It tastes so good, jou could drink a
whole tumbler full ; — but this drink, though it
does not hurt jou now, will, in the end, shorten
jour life one minute for every drop you taste ;
one minute for every drop ; one hour for every
tea-spoon full ; one year for every tumbler full.
Would it be right for you to drink this awful
drink, though you do love it ? No. No. You
know it would not be right. You have no right
to waste your own life., You may not throw
away a year, nor a fragment. All must be gath-
ered up. Nor have you a right to waste money
because you love the useless things which it will
buy, any more than to waste life by such a mis-
erable drink.

There was once a man by the name of Ham-
ilton. He was a great man, a friend of Wash-
ington, a friend to his country, and a man who
was greatly respected and beloved. But in an
evil hour he engaged to fight a duel. It was with


Life wasted. The sailor's dream.

a man who never missed his aim, and» therefore,
Hamilton felt certain that he should be killed.
He told no one. But the evening before, he
w^ent to the flovrer shop, and bought a beautiful
bunch of flowers for his wife, and for each of his
children. These he carried home, an< '^ ve them
the evening before the duel. Thej r

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Online LibraryJohn ToddLectures to children : familiarly illustrating important truth → online text (page 7 of 9)