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devotional exercises at meeting. I
mean in the prayers and the singing. Do not be looking about the house, and letting your thoughts wander. That is a great sin against God. Listen to the words of the hymn and of the prayer, and endeavor to feel in your own hearts, the desires they express ; then God will consider the prayer as coming from you, and you may expect his blessing.
“ There is only one thing more I wish to speak to you about, and that is, rest. You will observe that the duties which I have been describing are all, if they are properly performed, hard work, and though a moderate quantity of hard work is very pleasant, yet you cannot be employed all day in such severe, intellectual effort. You must have some rest. Besides, the sabbath is given partly for the very purpose of being a day of rest from the fatigue of weekly labors, and therefore we ought not to load it with heavier burdens of its own. When you are resting, however, you ought to be still. Your conversation should not be loud and noisy. If you sit upon the steps of the door, or take a walk in the yard or garden, you should be quiet and orderly, remembering the sacredness of the day, and feeling at all times, the presence of God.”
The mother shortened her remarks on these last points, for she found it was growing late, and she wished the children to rise early in the morning. She said she would give them more minute directions in regard to the particular hours in the morning, and then bade them good night. As she followed them up stairs to their rooms, they told her to be sure and not forget to wake them early in the morning.
Such is the story of this lady's interview with her children Saturday night. I am sorry to say that I cannot now tell my readers how far the children complied the next day with their mother's advice. I may, perhaps, do this at some future time. In the meantime I shall close this chapter by giving an account of the manner in which a certain bad boy whom I once knew, used to conduct upon the Sabbath. His name was Dick.
In the first place he always seemed to be unusually sleepy in the morning. He never wanted to get up when he was waked. He would say he was going to get up presently, but almost always he would go to sleep again, and give his mother or his sisters the trouble of coming up the second time to wake him. Dick did not go to Sabbath school, and so he used to think there was no need of getting up upon Sabbath mornings until it was late. " Why can't I lay a little longer,” he would say, “I havn't got any thing to do.” Sometimes he did not come down stairs until the family had all done breakfast, and then the table would have to stand waiting for him. After sleeping so late, he would feel too stupid to read or to study, and so he would saunter about, or sit down to play with the cat or to yawn and do nothing until it was time for meeting. This was a very miserable as well a very wicked way of spending Sabbath morning, and it always seemed strange to me, that Dick never found it out.
I heard a gentleman say once, that he wished he had a pew somewhere else in the meeting-house, for the children in the pew beside him were so restless and inattentive, that he could not listen to the minister. Now Dick was one of the boys who sat in this pew. He almost always carried something to play with, and with that he would be busy at sermon time. Perhaps, he would have a rose ; and this he
pass from one to another in the pew to smell of, and then he would go to picking it to pieces, and snapping the leaves. At another time, he would have a lead pencil, and scribble upon the hymn-books, or draw ridiculous pictures to make the other children laugh. He was either whispering or laughing, or moving about continually. He got no good by going to meeting himself, and he prevented other people from getting any. This was breaking the sabbath just as much as if he had been out in the street or the yard, playing ball, or driving hoop. Boys and girls find it rather tedious sometimes to sit still so long as they are obliged to, but it doesn't help the matter for them, to laugh and play or make any disturbance. They ought to sit still themselves, and do nothing to make their brothers and sisters laugh or play
Dick's mother used to give him and his sister Emily a few verses in the Bible, or a short hymn or prayer to learn every Sunday. When her mother gave Emily the book that she was to study from, she would take it and sit down very quietly to study until she had learned the whole lesson. She read it over to herself, instead of jabbering so loud as to disturb other people. Instead of coming every minute or two, with her book, and teasing her mother to hear her then, she would wait until she was quite sure she could say it perfectly. Her mother never sent Emily out of the room, to study her lesson, for she knew that she would be still, and she liked to have such a quiet, diligent little girl sitting beside her. Emily always tried to understand what she was studying. She read the whole over carefully first, and thought of the meaning, before she commltted the words to memory.
But Dick had a very different way of studying his lessons. He hated to study, and when he was called to come and sit down to study it he never came quick and pleasantly; but he lagged slowly along and dragged his cricket after him so as to make a great deal of noise. One Sabbath his father was sitting by the fire, reading a very interesting book. His mother was reading too, and Emily was sitting by her side studying her lesson. Dick was walking about the room, without any book or any thing to do. Once in a while, he went to the window and looked out upon the ground that was covered with snow; and he felt sorry that it was Sunday, so that he could not go out and make up some snow-balls. Presently the cat came into the room, and he ran to catch her. He went chasing her about from under the chairs and table, and made such a noise that he disturbed his father and mother very much. His father was obliged to put down his book and attend to him. “ Come here,” his father said, “I want to give you a lesson to learn, and you must come and sit down by me and study it.” Dick scowled and felt very unwilling to come ; but he was afraid to disobey, so he came slowly along with his cricket and his Testament. Dick's father felt very sorry that his little boy did not love to study any better, and that he did not come quick and pleasantly when he was called. He took the Testament and gave him five verses to learn from the second chapter of Matthew. It was the story of the infant Jesus, that every boy and girl should learn, who is old enough to read. But Dick did not care any thing about learning it, he had rather saunter and waste his tiine. “ Why, father, must I learn five verses?" he said when he took the book ; “why, I can't learn so
In this way,
many ; need I learn more than four pro he made his father a great deal of trouble, besides interrupting him from his reading. Children seem to think sometimes, that they do their parents and their Sabbath school teachers a great favor when they learn their lessons to say to them. They don't consid
is for their own good that they are required to study, and not because it will do their teachers or parents any good. What good would it do Dick's father to have him learn the five verses ? He wanted his little boy to study the Bible for his ewn good.
When the boy took the book, instead of reading over the five verses and trying to understand what he learnt, he began to say over the words, “ Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem,-now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem,” just as a parrot would say them. Once in a while, he would stop studying and take out a piece of twine or his jack-knife, and begin to play with it, and then his father or his mother would have to stop to speak to him. For a minute, he would go on studying again ; but presently, he would be playing again or reaching behind his mother's chair to touch his sister Emily and make her look at something. And then his parents would be interrupted again. Before he had half learnt his lesson, he asked his father to hear him say it. His father took the book and he began to stammer out the words>" Now when Jesus was born-now when Jesus was born-in Bethlehem,-in Bethlehem-behold"
hav'nt learnt it yet,” his father said ; you must study it more.”_" Well, now, I can say it-just hear me once more," said he.-
Now, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, behold-behold.
- Oh ! you