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advantage of his children. "Learning to Feel" appeared also to be well calculated to act in concert with the former; and thus arose the desire in his mind to embody the advantages of useful thoughts and good feelings, in virtuous actions. The ardent way in which the young people had fallen in with his plan, and the wish manifested by them to learn to act, gave him great satisfaction.
"Let me now enter," said Mr. Franklin, so soon as he found himself surrounded by his children, "on the subject of Acts of Duty and Obedience. Obedience is, indeed, as I have already set forth, one of the most important acts of duty; for our duty to God and man is the performance of what we owe, and are bound to do. If we look at the Ten Commandments, we shall find that the keeping of them consists principally in obedience; and many of them especially dwell on what we are not to do. We are commanded not to have other than one God, not to worship graven images, not to take God's name in vain, not to murder, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to bear false witness, and not to covet; and the only commandments which require us rather to do than to leave undone, are the fourth and fifth, which enjoin us to keep holy the sabbath, and to honour our parents."
Edward. I never thought of this before; but it is so.
Mr. Franklin. My reason for making this
remark is, that you may see how large a part of your duty to God consists in your obeying him, in refraining from what is evil. One of the most important actions, then, that we can perform-for, in this instance, I will call it an action-is that of uttering a decided No, in the season of temptation. You may remember that, in Holy Scripture, when Naaman, the great Syrian captain, came to Elisha, that his leprosy might be cured, he expected to be required to do some "great thing." To wash in Jordan seven times and be clean, appeared too small a thing; but, for all that, it removed his leprosy. When you are required to say, No! it may appear a little thing to you; but refuse not to do it on that account.
As you are now engaged in learning to act, forget not what I have said, that one of the very best and most important actions you can do, is to say with your heart and tongue, in a determined manner, in the hour of temptation, No. If you only learn to act in this one instance in a dutiful, obedient, and God-fearing spirit, your learning to act will be a blessing to you all your days.
E. We cannot well forget this, it lies in so small a compass. We can all remember to say No!
Mr. F. May God, of his mercy, enable you to say it, trusting in his almighty aid, and not in your own strength, so that you may keep his commandments and live to his glory.
What must you do, Peter, if a boy older than yourself comes up to you, and speaks kindly
to you, and asks you to go and play with him on the sabbath day, instead of going to the
house of God?
Peter. I must say, No! very loud.
Mr. F. Very good; and this will be acting in the very best manner: you will thereby do your duty to God by obeying him. You will be keeping holy the sabbath day, and you will also be honouring your father and mother. And how must you act, Thomas, if any one asks you to do something that your parents have told you not to do, telling you that no one will know any thing about it, and that he will give you half-a-crown?
Thomas. Why, cry out, No! as loud as I can.
Mr. F. If all my dear children are enabled to act thus, they will be kept from many sins and sorrows which otherwise may afflict them. I told you how dutifully and obediently Abraham acted; may you ever trust your heavenly Father as he trusted him. May Abraham's faith be your faith, and Abraham's God be your God.
T. We should soon learn to act, if it were all as easy as this.
Mr. F. It may be easy enough to say No! when there is no temptation before you; but it may become very hard to say it in a season of trial. But now comes another part of our subject, which is the very opposite to that which I have just described. If it be one act of duty and obedience to say No, it is another to say Yes.
Mary. That would appear so odd; and yet I do think it is the best way of learning to act, after all.
Mr. F. We shall have actions enough of different kinds to speak about, by-and-by; but we are now speaking of those of duty and obedience; and the more you reflect on the matter, the more you will be convinced of the importance of learning to say No, when a temptation is offered; and Yes, when a duty is enjoined.
P. Yes and No! Nothing could be easier to recollect.
Mr. F. Will any one offer up his own son
at God's command, who has long expected that son to be made the father of a great nation? Yes! says Abraham. Will any one venture to pray to God, when he is threatened, if he does so, he shall be cast into a den of lions? Yes! says Daniel. Dare any one refuse to dishonour God by bowing down to an idol, when he runs the risk of being thrown into a burning fiery furnace? Yes! yes! yes! cry out Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. All these servants of the Lord had learned to act dutifully and obediently. They could say No! in every temptation; and Yes! in every requirement of duty. What must you say, Peter, when you are asked by the thoughtless boys, "Will any one be silly enough to obey his parents, when he will be laughed at for his want of spirit?"
P. I must say Yes! as loud as I said No! before.
Mr. F. What must you say, Thomas, when you are asked, "Will you be foolish enough to keep God's commandments, and to do your duty to all around you, when by so doing you will be mocked and despised for your pains, and ill-used by all who are around you?
T. I must say, Yes! yes! yes!
Mr. F. In doing so, you will be performing a noble act of duty and obedience. Think over what I have said, and pray to God, in the Saviour's name, to enable you to keep your resolution. Be earnest in praying for