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Lectures to children : familiarly illustrating important truth online

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tains (a part of the Alps), which appeared at
some distance behind the city of Venice. I saw
the hills as distinct as if awake, and that they
were all in flames. I perceived, too late, my
folly ; and my tempter, with an air of insult, in-
formed me, that all the mercy God had in reserve
for me was comprised in that ring, which I had
wilfully thrown away. I understood that I must
go with him to the burning mountains, and that
all the flames I saw were kindled on my account.
I trembled, and was in great agony ; so that it
was surprising I did not then awake ; but my
dream continued, and when I thought myself "
the point of a constrained departure, and



176 FRAGMENTS SAVED. [Lect. 10

The ring recovered.

self-condemned, without plea or hope, suddenly
either a third person, or the same who brought m,e
the ring at first (I am not certain which), came
to me, and demanded the cause of my grief. I
told him the plain case, confessing that I had ru-
ined myself wilfully, and deserved no pity. He
blamed my rashness, and asked if I should be
wiser, supposing I had my ring again ? I could
hardly answer to this, for I thought it was gone
beyond recall. I believe, indeed, I had no time
to answer, before I saw this unexpected friend go
down under the water, just in the spot where I
had dropped it, and soon returned, bringing the
ring with him I The moment he came on board,
the flames in the mountains ceased, and my se-
ducer left me. Then was ' the prey taken from
the hand of the mighty, and the lawful captive
delivered.' My fears were at an end, and, with
joy and gratitude, I approached my kind deliverer
^^'ficeive the ring again ; but he refused to re-
and spoke to this effect : < If you should



Lect. 10.] FRAGMENTS SAVED. 177

Suppose the dream true and real.

be intrusted with this ring again, jou would very
soon bring yourself into the same distress. You
are not able to keep it, but I will preserve it for
you, and whenever it is needful, will produce it in
your behalf.' Upon this I awoke in a state of
mind not to be described."

This was a dream ; but had it been real, and
had the ring been a real ring, and able to make
him happy as long as he kept it, I ask you, if he
would not have done wrong, and have been very
wicked, in throwing it away into the sea ? I
know you will say. Yes. Had all of these dear
children a ring put on their first finger, which
could make them happy as long as they kept it,
would they not be foolish, and wicked, to throw
it away ? Suppose you had such a ring, and, as
you went home, you should meet with a wicked
child, who should try to persuade you to throw it
away, — would you not do wrong to listen to him a
single moment ?
12



178 FRAGMENTS SAVED. [Lect. 10.

Limbs lost. The Bible wasted.

Suppose that you are very fond of a certain
kind of food. It does not hurt you now, but
some time hence it will hurt you. It will cause
you to lose a finger, and then an arm, and then a
foot. Would it be right for you to eat it, though
you were fond of it ? You all say, No, it would
not be right. Our hands, and our arms, and our
feet, are too valuable to be wasted in this manner.

If each of you had a beautiful new Bible given
jou, and it was the only one you could ever have
in this world, would it not be wrong to throw it
away.^ Would it not be wrong to tear out its
leaves and burn them ? Would it not be wrong
to take a pen and blot out whole verses, so that
you could not read them ? Yes, I am sure you
will all say, yes, it would be wrong. And why ?
Because the Bible is too valuable to be wasted.

Suppose you know of a fine little boy, who
behaves well, and learns well, and who has a
bright eye, and a bright mind looking out of that
eye. He is the hope of his parents. He maj



Lect. 10.] FRAGMENTS SAVED. 179

The mind ruined. Six things seen.

make a minister of the gospel, or a very useful
man, if he lives. And suppose that two or three
of these children should get together and lay a
plan to scare that little boy on some dark night.
They do it. They scare the poor child so much
that he loses his reason, and will be crazy all the
rest of his life ! I ask you, would not this be very
wicked, very wrong ? I know you will say. Yes, yes.
And why ? Because the mind is too valuable to
be thus wasted and destroyed in sport. Very true.
Now, if you have heard what I have been say-
ing, you see,

1. That it is wrong to WB.ste property, because
it is too valuable. Christ would not allow the
crumbs to be wasted. Property will feed and
clothe the poor, and send the Bible to those who
have none.

2. That it is wrong to waste our lives, — be-
cause life is too valuable to be thrown away.

3. That it is wrong to waste our happiness,-—
it is too precious.



180 FRAGMENTS SAVED. [Lect. 10

The SOUL — the soul.

4. That it is wrong to waste our limbs, such
as hands and feet.

6. That it would oe wrong to waste and throw
away the Bible, or any part of it.

6. That it would be very wrong to destroy the
mind, even of a child, because the mind is too
valuable to be wasted.

And now, dear children, what shall I say to
you of the soul — the soul — which will never
die ? If it be wrong to waste other things, is it
not much more so to throw away your thoughts,
your feelings, and, at last, your soul itself .f^ Oh,
you may be careful of property, and of life, and
happiness, and limbs, and the Bible, and the mind ;
but if you neglect the soul, and do not see to
that, you are miserable forever. All other things
are nothing, of no value, when laid by the side of
the soul. I beg you, then, as you gather up the
fragments about the soul, not to forget and neg-
lect the soul itself. That must live forever.
Amen.



181



LECTURE XI.

THE SABBATH TO BE KEPT HOLY.
Remember the Sabbath day^ to keep it holy. — Ex. 20. 8.

Contents. — Picture-books. Parables of Christ. A new parable. The
offer. The wreck of the ship. The Life-Boat, Life-boat in use. The
parable explained. The foolish excuses. Who would be a thief? The
poor beggar. The house broken open. Little thieves. What makes peo-
ple poor. A strong reason. Story by the Author. Duty put off. The
school not together. The foolish superstition. What makes a man stupid ?
The corpse. Mill going on the Sabbath. Little boy crushed by the whee?.
Sad thoughts. Scene remembered. Instruction. Poetry. Conclusion

Children, your little books are full of pictures.
One has in it the picture of a horse ; another a
house, trees, rivers, birds, and hills. Suppose I
wanted to make a little boy understand about a
lion, how he looks, how he acts, and the like.
What would be the best way.^ The best way
would be to lead him out, and let him see a lion.
But if I could not do it, the next best way would
be to show him the picture of a lion. This picture



182 THE SABBATH. [Lect. 11.

Parables of Clirist. A new parable.

would give him a better idea of it than any thing
I could tell him about a lion.

Just so Jesus Christ used to preach. He used
to teach in parables, which are a kind of picture-
preaching. In this way, he used to make things
plain and very interesting to those who heard him.
Now, I am going to give you a parable. Try and
see if you can understand it, and remember it.

There was once a good man who was very rich.
I cannot stop to tell you all the good things which
he did, but will mention only one. He built a large
and beautiliil ship all at his own expense. He
fitted up the ship with a Pilot who knew the coast,
and a helm by which to steer her, and a compass
to point out the way they were sailing. She had
every thing ready. He then called his friends to-
gether, and said, '' See, here is a beautiful ship,
filled with costly goods, and all fitted and ready to
sail. Every thing is ready. You may have her, and
have every thing on board. You may go and trade



Lect. 11.] THE SABBATH. 183

The offer. The wreck of the ship.

where you please, on one condition. Not one of
jou may carry or drink a drop of ardent spirit.
This is the only condition I make ; and I make
this, because, otherwise, you will get the ship on
the rocks, and will all be lost," The men take
the ship on this condition, and set sail for a distant
country. They had been out on the water but a
little while, before one of them brought forward
some ardent spirit, which he said he had taken for
sickness, and to make him feel better, though he
had no wish to disobey him who gave them the ship.
So he drank ; and, one by one, they all drank, till
they knew not how to manage the ship. They
were intoxicated by the drink. Then came on the
dark night. The cold, wet winds blew, and the
whole ocean foamed and rolled up its great waves
most fearfully. The ship was carried onward and
onward, till she struck upon a great flat rock.
Here she turned on one side, and lay, every mo-
ment creaking, as if going to pieces. The pec-



184 THE SABBATH. [Lect. II.

The Jife-boat.

pie on board were too much intoxicated to do any
thing. The morning comes, and it is cold, and the
spray of the water, upon the poor ship, freezes in
a moment, and the people are chilled, and cold,
and hardly able to hold themselves where they are.
They have got over their intoxication just enough
to know where they are. The shore is near, but
no one can get to it. The high Vvaves roll and
dash, and a boat cannot go from the shore to the
ship. It would be turned over and sunk in a mo-
ment. The people all gather down on the shore,
and see the ship, and the freezing people on board,
but cannot help them.

But, look ! who is that man who hastens down
to the water's side ? It is the good man who
fitted up the ship, and gave her to these people.
He se^es they have disobeyed him, and ruined the
ship, but he feels deeply for them. What is he
going to do ? See there ! He has built a little
boat of costly materials, and made it to hold air,



Lect. II.] THE SABBATH. 185

Life-boat in use.

and filled it with his own breath. That little boat
cannot be sunk. It will Uve and swim any where.
It is called the Life-Boat, because it can go out
on the stormy water, and save the lives of perish-
ing men who are shipwrecked. It is now launch-
ed out on the waters ! But who is in it ? It is
the only son of that good man ! See ! it bounds
and drives from wave to wave like a feather —
straight to the ship ! The poor people on board
gaze upon it. They are perishing ! There, now,
one has dropped over in . the waves, and is lost !
No, — the life-boat has picked him up ! One and
another gets in, and the little boat shoots off over
the stormy water for the shore. Again and again
it comes, and will hasten backwards and forwards
all day, till dark, so that all may have the oppor-
tunity of getting on shore, if they please. But
some are ashamed to see the face of that good
man on shore, and so they hesitate, and do not get
into the life-boat. They had rather perish where
they are.



186 THE SABBATH. [Lect. 11.

The parable explained.

Now, tell me, is not that a very kind and good
man ? You all say. Yes. And is not that life-
boat an admirable contrivance ? You all say, Yes.
And are not those w^ho will not get into it very
foolish ? Yes.

Well, then, you have my parable. Do you
understand it ? The world is the ship, and God
is the good man who built it, and gave it to us.
We have become intoxicated with sin, are ruined,
and lost. The Sabbath is the life-boat, which
comes regularly from the shores of eternity, and
offers to carry us near to God, and to safety.

But I want to talk a little longer about this
shipwreck, and this life-boat ; and I do it so
that you need not forget it. He who neglects
or refuses to keep the Sabbath holy, refuses to
leave the wreck of the ship, and chooses to
brave the storms and the ruin which will one day
consume the whole world to ashes. Is this wise ?
Is this safe ? Is this being grateful to God ?
Suppose some one on the wreck of the ship



Lect. 11.] THE SABBATH. l8t

The foolish excuses.

should laugh at the little life-boat, and say, "It
can never carry any one to the shore." Would it
be wise to mind him ? Suppose some should say,
"We are too busy, and we wish to drink a little
more of that intoxicating drink, before we go."
Would that be wise, and should others do like
them ? Suppose others, again, should say, " We
intend to go in the boat before night, but as we
are ashamed to see the face of the good man
whom we have disobeyed, we will not go now,
but will wait awhile." Is this wise ? Is this
safe ?

Just so people do, who neglect to keep the
Sabbath holy. They hear others speak lightly
of religion, and so they let this life-boat come
and go, once every week, and do not improve it.
Or they are busy, and want to drink in more sin,
and so they say, " Not noAV." Or they are
ashamed to go and confess to God, and so they
say they are going to improve the Sabbath, and



188 THE SABBATH. . [Lect. 11.

Who would be a thief? The poor beggar.

serve God at some time, before the night of
death comes; but are not yet ready. Is this
wise ? Will you be like them ? I trust not.

Who would be a thief? I suppose there is
not a child present who does not think it very
mean, and low, and wicked, to steal. You would
despise the little boy who would put your ball or
your top into his pocket, and thus steal it ; and
the little girl who would put a doll or a pin-cushion
in her bag, and carry it home, would be despised
as mean and wicked. But suppose a poor man,
who w^as without any home, should come to
your house, almost without clothing, and very
hungry. You all at once pity him. You give
him food to eat, and your mother looks him up
some clothing. And as he goes away, warm
and comfortable, your father says to him, " Here,
poor man, here are six dollars. I have but
seven in the world, and give you six of them,
and will keep only the seventh for myself and



Lect. 11. j THE SABBATH. 189

The house broken open.

family." Would not this be very kind and gen-
erous in your father? I know you all think it
would. But suppose that poor man went away,
not thankful in the least, and, in the night, came
back, and broke into your house, and stole that
seventh and last dollar which your father has.
What would he deserve ? Why, he would al-
most deserve the gallows. He would be an
ungrateful monster, and a vile thief. But sup-
pose, also, that, in breaking into the house, to get
the dollar, he had to kill several members of the
family. What now do you say ? Is any punish-
ment too severe ? But take care, or you pass
sentence upon yourself.

We are the poor man, and God has but seven
days in the week. He gives us six of these, in
which to '' labor and do all our work," and keeps
only the seventh for himself. And the man, or
the woman, or the child, who breaks the Sab-
bath, steals from God. Yes, he robs God. And,



190 THE SABBATH. [Lect. 11

Little thieves. What makes people poor.

in doing it, he sets a wicked example, which kills
the souls of others. Is not this stealing ? Will
you remember, then, that when you break the
Sabbath, you steal from God ? Are there no
little thieves present, who have often thus stolen
from God ? Now, will God bless you and pros-
per you in doing so ?

You see why the families who break the Sab-
oath, and who do not go to meeting, are generally
so poor and so miserable. It is because they
steal from God every seventh day of their lives;
and God will not, and does not bless them in it.
Merchants who keep their counting-rooms open
on the Sabbath, generally fail in business, and
lose all the property they have. A gentleman
took notice, in New York, for twenty-five years,
that every merchant who thus broke the Sabbath,
failed, without a single exception. And a great
lawyer in this country, who helped to try very
many for murder, says, that they all began their
wickedness by breaking the Sabbath.



Lect. 11.] THE SABBATH. 191

Strong reason. Story by the author.

I have a strong reason why I feel very anxious
to have these children remember the Sabbath day,
and keep it holy. Aad I will now give you this
strong reason.

Many years ago, while I was in college, I
opened a Sabbath School in a distant, neglected
neighborhood, yet within the limits of the town.
At first, the project was greatly ridiculed, and
many opposed. But ridicule and opposition soon
give way to a good cause, and in a short time 1
had seventy scholars. The room in which we
met was an unfinished chamber of a poor, lame
woman — the only place that was offered. The
floor was not nailed down, and neither ceiling nor
plaster had ever been seen in the chamber. The
chimney passed up in the centre, and the bare
rafters were over our heads. Yet never did I see
brighter or happier faces than among the little
groups with which I regularly met. They lived
so far from meeting, that few could attend ; or,



192 THE SABBATH. [Lect. U.

Duly put off.

rather, their parents felt too indifferent to carry
them ; so that their Sabbath School embraced all
that was Sabbath to them. It is now many years
since, and I suppose they have all grown up, or
have been removed into eternity ere this time ; but
I can never forget this, my first Sabbath School,
nor the happy countenances which composed it.

One hot Sabbath, I had walked out to meet my
Sabbath School, and, at the close of the lessons, I
felt weary and unwell. The children were ex-
pecting me to give them a history of the holy
Sabbath, from its first appointment, and to tell
them why God appointed it, and what are our
duties in regard to it ; for so I had promised them,
and had in fact prepared myself to do it. But,
being weary and unwell, I told them that, for
these reasons, I would defer it till the next Sab-
bath. While thus putting it off, I noticed a bright
little boy, sitting near me, who. seemed to look
disappointed. He had expected to hear about



Lect. 11.] THE SABBATH. 193



The school not together.



the holy Sabbath. Oh, had I remembered how
Christ taught the poor woman of Samaria, though
he was weary and faint, should J not have done
differently ?

The next Sabbath came, and my school were
again coming together. On arriving at the house,
instead of finding them all quiet in their seats, as
usual, I found them grouped around the door,
some sobbing, others looking frightened— all si-
lent. On inquiry, they told me that ''little

Lewis had just been killed by the mill ! "

This was all they knew about it. At the head of
my little flock, I hastened to the house where the
little boy lived. At the door I was met by the
father of the child, wringing his hands, his face
red and swollen, his eyes sunken and glaring, and
his breath loaded with the fumes of ardent spirits.

" Oh," cried the man, «'I might have known
it I might have known it all ! "



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Online LibraryJohn ToddLectures to children : familiarly illustrating important truth → online text (page 8 of 9)