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harm? You remember his father sent him into the fields to see how his brothers and their flocks were getting along; and when “they saw him afar off, they conspired against him to slay him.” They said one to another, “ Come now, therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit; and we will say some evil beast hath devoured him.”
Here you see the guilty purpose, when the mind, in opposition to duty and conscience, decides to do wrong.
The third step—the outward act—is the last step. Did Joseph's brothers carry out their wicked project?On his arrival, they seized the poor unoffending boy, and threw him down into a deep pit, and left him there, to die of hunger and grief. Shortly after, some travelling traders coming along that way, they concluded to pull him up from the pit and sell him into slavery. This they did; and then killing a kid, they dipped the poor boy's coat in the blood, and carried it home to his father, as a proof that he had been eaten by wild beasts. This is the guilty act,
. and it is guilty actions only which the laws of men punish. Human laws are designed to protect society, and they punish according to the injury done. God's laws go a great way behind the act; they would stop wrong in the beginning. God looks at the heart as the real seat of right and wrong, and he would have everything clean and pure there. Therefore it is sinful feelings by which he judges people. He says, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.” The root of all evil is in the feeling.
So you see the danger of harbouring sinful thoughts. They may ruin all your prospects for this world; and if not quite as bad as that, they always
damage a person in some way. But the solemn consideration is, God judges you by them. Arthur said, “ If he did right, it was nobody's business how he felt.” It is true we look at the conduct of people, and are thankful for all good behaviour ; but it is Arthur's, it is every boy's, and every man's and woman's most important, most serious business, to look after the state of the heart; for while “man looketh on the outward appearance, the Lord looketh on the heart."
Yes, boys, have your hearts right, clean, pure ; there is the real seat of principles. And how can you have them thus, but by seeking God's Spirit to come and dwell in them ? “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
"I NEVER thought that Frank Pitt would turn out a coward,” said James Howard to his brother John.
John had been at the same school with Frank and James, and had but recently left, so that he knew Frank very well.
"I certainly never expected it myself,” said Jolin. "Did not Frank a few weeks ago jump into the deepest part of the river to save a poor boy who had fallen in, and would have been drowned but for his aid ? And was it not Frank who stood and faced Farmer Chase's fierce bull, when the rest of the boys all scampered away without daring to look behind them ? I certainly never thought he would be a coward.”
“But be is," said James ; "all the boys say so." “ And how has he shown it?" asked his brother,
Why, this evening,” replied James, “ we were all playing at football, and Frank, running after the ball in great haste, knocked over Charles Scott, and, left him sprawling in the dirt, without stopping to ask if he was hurt.”
“I do not see,” said John, “that this was cowardly, though it may bave been unkind.”
Stop,” said James; “you have not heard half yet. Some of the boys, who saw poor Charles tumble, came up and told him that he ought to fight Frank. He had not thought much about the fall before, and did not seem to wish to fight, but they asked him whether he was afraid. Charles, you know, is a brave little fellow, and would not have it said that he was afraid. So he went up to Frank and offered to fight him. But Frank said that he would not fight; and wlien some of the boys asked him if he was afraid of Charles, he only turned to Charles and asked his pardon for having pushed him down. The boys all think it very cowardly, particularly as Charles is not so, strong as Frank, and Frank ought not to be afraid of him.”
“Stay,” said his brother; “I am not quite so sure, that the boys judge rightly what is brave and what is cowardly. What did you say was the reason that. Charles Scott was so ready to fight ?”
“ Because he could not bear to be called a coward.” “Would his being called a coward make him one?".
"I do not know, but no boy of spirit likes to have such a name as that.”
“ Then Charles was afraid of being called a coward,
and, therefore, was ready to fight. It was fear, then, not courage, that made him so hasty!" ,
!” “I do not know,” said James; “but, at any rate, it must have been cowardly in Frank to be afraid of a boy less than himself.”
“Yes," said John, "if he was afraid. But let us see; do you think Frank liked being thought a coward ?"
“No," said James; “I saw him colour very much when he was asked if he was afraid. But he did not say anything."
“ Have you ever heard that it is wrong to fight and quarrel ?" “Yes," said James; "our master has often told us
” ; so, and has read to us from the Bible, Resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. But we boys cannot be so good; and I hope it is not very wrong to show a little spirit.”
“If we disobey God's commandments,” said John, we sin; and it is not safe to talk about our not being very wrong. At any rate, those who avoid fighting avoid doing what is wrong."
Well,” said James, "perhaps Frank was right after all, and I will tell the boys to-morrow what you lave said. But I cannot help thinking he was not very courageous."
I am not sure of that,” said his brother. “You say that he is stronger than Charles. He could not then, have run much risk of being beaten.”
“No," said James; "the boys all thought that Charles would have no chance with him.”
“And he was pretty sure of being laughed at and
of being called a coward if he did not fight. It seems to me, then, that he had much more reason to fear being ridiculed than to fear being hurt. And 1 call a boy really brave who does not fear to do right when his companions laugh at him for it.”
“But,” said his brother, "why did he not say that he was not afraid ?”
Perhaps,” replied John, “he thought that would only seem like boasting, and make Charles more angry. Besides, he felt he had been partly wrong at the first, and he had the honesty to own it. Boys are very often mistaken in what they call courage. They think the boy most courageous who is most ready to fight; while this really arises either from passion or from fear of ridicule; and only shows that he either has forgotten or has not courage to do what is right. It is true courage, to own a fault and ask pardon for it. And when a boy does this to one weaker than himself, while his school-fellows are persuading him to fight, and laughing at him for not doing so; and when he submits to such insult lest he should seem to boast or give further offence—I call that boy not only courageous but generous."
A BARKING sound the shepherd hears,
A cry as of a dog or fox ;
Among the scattered rocks;