« PreviousContinue »
A small cannon had been loaded with gunpowder, and when he imagined all the boys were asleep, he arose softly, crept to his box, and having procured a light, applied the match to the cannon. The explosion at such a time produced terror and alarm among the other boys, who were instantly out of bed, shrieking and crying in the most affecting manner, in which George Wildman, the author of the mischief, joined with apparent sincerity. The whole house was in confusion; tutors and servants were all in agitation. Nothing could be ascertained that could lead to a discovery, for the miscreant had thrown some of his clothes on the cannon, and the smell of powder was all that remained.
The propensity of some children to mischief is truly deplorable; they are only happy when they are pursuing evil, imagining that their schemes will never be detected. Oh! if they remembered that the all-seeing eye of God is perpetually upon them, and that sooner or later their deeds will be exposed, they would tremble at their destructive ways!
The next morning an examination of the scholars took place. Each boy was strictly and closely interrogated, and commanded to answer the questions, "Are you the author? Do you know any thing of the affair?" There was a general denial except in one instance-all protested their innocence.
It was a resolution formed by the boys, that no one should divulge any thing he knew of the bad practices of the rest, upon pain of a severe castigation. Wildman was ever forward to have this law carried into effect, and being possessed of great muscular strength, united to a savage disposition, he became the " Magor Missabib" of the school. No one ventured to attack him, nor even to reprove him. Hugh Stirling was the junior boy, and it came at length to him to answer the questions. To the first he answered firmly; at the second he paused. "Come, Sir," said the master, sternly, "answer immediately." Wildman fixed his eyes upon him with a lowering brow, and all was suspense. "It is a law among the scholars, Sir," said Stirling, "that nothing is to be divulged; and I beg, Sir, that you will not insist upon my replying." "There is no law-maker in this house," said the tutor, "but myself. I demand a full disclosure, and without any threatening, I enforce my demand by your well known adherence to truth." "Consider, Sir," said Stirling,
"what I may expect from my fellow scholars." "I will guarantee you," answered Mr. Melton; "leave that to me. Speak boldlyspeak the truth." Wildman looked at Stirling again. "Sir," said he, addressing himself to the master, "I have been taught to speak the truth. I never yet told a wilful falsehood, nor do I know why I should entertain a fear; for truth will always conquer. Obedience to you is my duty. You are now in the place of my parent, and although I am pained while I discharge my duty, so far as the individual is concerned, yet I cannot tell a lie. The aggressor is Master Wildman. I saw him get out of bed, and heard him open his box; in an instant the explosion took place, and he leaped into bed immediately." "Then my suspicions are right," said Mr. Melton; "Master Wildman, I shall make an example of you, and you may now retire with my assistant and await my further orders. And now, young gentlemen, I hope you will hereafter avoid every practice which involves danger to yourselves and the family; for I shall peremptorily insist upon it, that no gunpowder be kept in this house by any one of you, and I hope you will see the folly of keeping secret that which is palpably wrong; such a concealment is grossly wicked, injurious, and replete with the most serious consequences. Master Stirling, I commend you for your honesty; truth will support you, and you need not fear that you will ever suffer by your avowal of it. With regard to Master Wildman, I shall at once expel him from the school, at least for some months; nor will I receive him again, unless I discover marks of sincere repentance."
The greatest astonishment prevailed as Mr. Melton uttered the last sentence, and young Stirling was ever after treated by his school-fellows with regard and affection.
In his future conduct he preserved the same uniformity; and as a man of business, a professor of religion, and a partaker of the holy communion, he was esteemed for his veracity and candour. Nothing could induce him to prevaricate in his intercourse with men, or to act the hypocrite in his approaches to God. He would not talk of doctrines whose power he had not felt, but he walked before God with meekness, rendering to all their due; respecting the servants of God as His messengers to men, and regarding religion as the one thing needful to promote love to God, obedi
ence to His laws, peace on earth, and prosperity amongst men. Let my young readers copy the example of Hugh Stirling, ever remembering the maxim of Aristotle—" We gain nothing by lying but the disadvantage of not being credited when we speak the truth."
A MORNING PRAYER,
(WRITTEN BY DR. DODDRIDGE)
This excellent Formula of Devotion has been carefully transcribed from a manuscript, in short-hand, by the late eminent Dr. Doddridge, preserved, amongst other remains of that distinguished writer, in the Library of Wymondley College. It is endorsed, "A Morning Prayer, for Mr. Orton," from which it seems probable that it was composed at Mr. Orton's request, for the use of his family.
J. D. MORELL.
ETERNAL and ever blessed God! thou art so great and so glorious, that the brightest angel is not able to behold thee, but owns himself to be as nothing in thy presence; and yet thou art so condescending and gracious, that thou allowest men, and even children to speak to thee, with a holy endearing freedom, as to their Father in heaven. Give me, O Lord, the affections of a grateful and dutiful child, while I am addressing myself to thee, and shed abroad thy good Spirit upon my heart, that I may call thee Father aright.
I confess, with sorrow and shame, that I have been a disobedient child-I have neglected thee-I have forgotten theeI have broken thy commandments in an inexcusable and provoking manner-and had I offended my dear earthly parents as I have offended thee, I might fear to appear before them, and should have little reason to expect forgiveness. O Lord, I have deserved thine anger for ever, and if thou shouldest this moment take away my breath, and send me down to hell, thou wouldest be just in doing it; but thou hast said, thou art the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; and thou hast given thine own dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, to die upon the cross for us, and to be sacrificed, as the Lamb of God, to take away
the sins of the world. He died for us, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. O Lord, I believe in Him, that he was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification; and I desire to receive him into my heart with cordial obedient love, and would give myself up to him as one of his faithful humble followers, that I may be saved from the condemnation and the power of sin, and be brought to glory by him.
Give me, O Lord, thine Holy Spirit, which I humbly ask as the best of thy gifts. May he create in me a new heart, that I may know, by experience, what that regeneration is, without which I can never enter into the kingdom of heaven. May this blessed Spirit produce in my soul true and lively faith in Christ, by which I may receive him as my Prophet to teach me, as my Priest to atone and intercede for me, and as my King to govern, protect, and save me. Shed abroad thy love, O Lord, upon my heart, more and more every day, so that every duty may be easy and delightful. Make me daily more like Christ, that he may delight in me more, and I may be fit to dwell with him for ever. Make me, by thy grace, devout and humble, meek and patient, temperate and charitable, prudent and watchful over my actions, my thoughts, my words, and my passions. Teach me to conquer myself, and to overcome the temptations of a vain ensnaring world. Engage me to set my affections on heaven, and to make it the whole business of my life to please thee, and secure thy favour at all times, trusting in thee as an almighty guardian, and cheerfully submitting to thy disposal and government, as to that of a wise and kind father. Thus may I be secured amidst all the dangers of life, and supported under all its sorrows, (for sorrows I must expect to meet in my passage through it) and when I come to die, as I quickly must, and when all my supports here fail me, do thou, Lord, comfort me with thy everlasting consolations, and receive me to eternal glory.
And I humbly beseech thee, O Lord, that thou wouldest be pleased to bless all the world; send them thy gospel, which is the best of all blessings, and let all Christian nations have that gospel in its power and purity. Bless our own sinful
land, our governors and our ministers, and all ranks and orders of men; and especially keep the rich and the great from those many temptations which render it so difficult for them to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and pity the poor and the afflicted, and give me a heart tender to feel their distresses, and a hand ready to supply them, according to my abilities and opportunities. Bless, I beseech thee, O God, in a peculiar manner, my dear and honoured parents, support them under all their trials, and do them good by every dispensation of thy providence; and be gracious to my brethren and my sisters, and all my other relations and friends.
Accept, O Lord, my humble and affectionate praises, for all thy great and manifold mercies. I thank thee, gracious God, that thou hast blest me with the knowledge of thine holy word, and of the way of salvation by Jesus Christ, for whom my soul would bless thee every day, and every hour. I praise thee for the invaluable privilege of a virtuous and religious education, and earnestly pray that it may not be bestowed on me in vain. I thank thee for food and raiment, for health and friends, for the preservation of the last night, for the comfort of this morning, and above all, for any disposition which thou puttest into my heart, to love and serve thee, for all thy benefits. And now, O Lord, I humbly desire, this day, to give myself up entirely to thee, and to renew my resolutions for thy service this day. May I live as knowing that thou seest me, as remembering that I must quickly die, and that for the actions, and words, and thoughts of this day, thou wilt bring me into judgment at the great day of accounts. Younger than I have been suddenly called out into eternity, and I may follow them this very day; but, O Lord, grant of thine infinite mercy, that living and dying, I may be found believing in Christ, and obeying his word, and whether I live or die, may I be the Lord's-I humbly ask it in the name and for the sake of Jesus thy dear Son, and in dependance on his intercession, I continue further to call upon thee, as, Our Father, &c.-AMEN.