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Good Words 1860

(for the young.)

My young readers, whether would you rather play or work? I think I can guess your answer. "Play —play—play!" is it not? Well, I don't blame you for liking your play; but what say you about work, as well as play? Do you like it also? "No," says Tom, "I don't like these lessons about grammar,"—"Nor I," says Jack, "this arithmetic,"—"Nor I," says Jane, "this practising on the piano to learn music, or this stitch, stitch, stitching, to learn to sew,"—" Nor I," says Mary, "this French lesson, and these long pages of history." But you would all like to play, would you not? and to laugh, romp, sing, swing, and amuse yourselves all day long?—no lessons to learn, no one to find fault, or to trouble you—but just to enjoy yourselves in being idle, and doing whatever you pleased! Now I know your parents and masters have no objection that you should have your nice and happy games, because they love you; but for the very same reason they will make you work, whether you like it or not. They know that, if you were allowed to grow up idle and ignorant, you would be both useless and miserable. But would it not be better, my young friends, if you liked your work, and did it with a good will? And why? Just because it is right; for it is given you by God, your Master and your Father, who also gives you all your play and enjoyment. Now, it is a delightful sight to see you enjoy your play heartily, and also to see you do your work heartily; but, oh! it is an ugly sight to see a boy or girl idle and lazy, hating their duty—to see them dragged to their lessons, as if it was a punishment—to see them sulky or sleepy over them, as if they said, "Although it is all for our own good, and although it pleases our parents and masters on earth, and our Father and Master in heaven, when we do our duty carefully and cheerfully, yet we hate it, and won't do it, if we can help it." I say again that a lazy boy or girl is a sad spectacle, and no one can love or respect them, for they are selfish, disobedient, and useless.

Come and learn a lesson from this picture! See how that man bends his neck to his work, and how, with strong arms and steady eye, he guides his plough along the furrow! See these noble horses how they press forward, and put their whole strength to the plough, so that it moves on without a halt, and turns up the earth like brown waves. Look, too, at these wild sea-gulls that have left the white waves of that ocean which is breaking on the shore, and have fled far to gather their day's food from the dark waves of this furrowed field. See the black rooks that have come from their trees to join their white friends from the ocean, and are getting such a dinner as they have not tasted during the whole winter. How busy they all are ! There is no idleness or laziness here ! And what would become of us if every one was to become idle and sulky, and yawn, and get cross, and say, "Oh, I don't like work! I won't do it. I want fun, and nothing but fun!" Well, let us see how you would get on if everybody took this into their head.

You want shoes. "Oh," says every shoemaker, "we don't like working; and we won't make shoes. These children may go barefooted." You want clothes. "Oh," says every tailor, "we don't like work; and we won't cut clothes or stitch them. These children may go naked." You want a house. "Oh," says every mason, "we don't like work; and we won't build a house. These children may lie in the fields.'' You want bread. "I won't work," says the baker. "Then give us the flour!" you cry. "I won't work, and grind it," says the miller. "Then give us the wheat!" "I won't work, and thrash it," says the farmer. "Then give us the sheaves!" "We won't work, and cut them down," say the reapers. "Oh, then, do get another field, and sow some wheat for us, or we shall die of starvation!" cry the children. But neither the ploughman nor horses will work! They all wish to be idle, and to amuse themselves! What, now, is to become of us if every one resolves to be idle? Oh, children, I daresay you smile when you think how all the world would suffer and die if all became lazy, like some boys and girls I have seen, who say, "We don't like work; and we won't do it!" Dear young readers, it is God's will that we should work! See how He works Himself! He has made everything you see on earth and in the sky, and it is He who takes care of all. See, too, how He has made everything to be useful, and nothing to be idle, and to live for itself alone. The sun is giving its heat and light to the world, and the clouds carry water and pour it in showers over the earth, and the earth brings forth its food for man and beast. "The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour." (Eccles. i. 5-8.) Every beast, and bird, and insect, too, is busy all the day, and some at night, in providing food for themselves or their young, or in making houses or nests for themselves. Hear only in spring how the birds sing and work ! This is what God says to the lazy: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, pro-videth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man." (Prov. vi. 6-11.) And all the good people about whom you read in the Bible were busy and active in their work. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob travelled far, and worked hard as shepherds. Joseph was one of the busiest men in Egypt. Moses worked till he was one hundred and twenty years old. The Apostle Paul travelled and preached for thirty years, and supported himself and others by the labour of his hands, and it was he who said that, "if any man did not work, neither let him eat." But why need I mention any other example, when we have the life of God's own Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ! He worked with His own hands as a carpenter at Nazareth. When He began to preach, He went about doing good—night and day labouring for others; often wearied, but never slothful. It was He who said, "I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is called to day." And ere He left the world He said, "I have finished the work Thou hast given me to do." Dear children, we must learn to have the same spirit, if we wish to be friends of Christ, and children of God. Remember, too, that we must give an account at the great day of judgment of the way in which we live now. Boys and girls can know their duties just as well as other people, and they can please God as well as the patriarchs and apostles, by doing what is right, as they did. If you are thus conscientious, when young, over a few small things, like learning lessons, or doing whatever work is your duty, your Master in heaven will be able to say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.' But the same Master will, in anger, say to a lazy and unconscientious boy or girl, "O thou wicked and slothful servant!" Pray to God, then, to bless you every day, to do your work honestly, cheerfully, and well, and then you will enjoy your play the more; for you will be happy in your own heart, and pleased with yourselves, because you have tried to please God.

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