“For this reason, I remarked,” continued Mrs. S., “that children insensibly contract this habit from their parents; and the defect extends to physical as well as moral errors. Not long since, I had an interesting conversation with Mr. R., a well-known philanthropist and physiologist, who is devoting his life to the alleviation of some of the ills of human existence. He told me that, a short time before, he delivered a lecture to parents on the physical training of their children, and pointed out the great mistakes which are often made. On retiring, said he, I overheard many remarks, but not one spoke as if I had addressed him. Every one could point to some one else who might well profit by the lecture; but not one would believe that I meant to say to each individual present, as Nathan said unto David, ‘Thou art the man.’”
“I am sure,” observed Clara, “I never felt the full force of this saying of our Savior before, although I have read it a hundred times. I shall read the whole chapter again, carefully, to-night.”
“And so will I,” added Mary.
“Do so, my children,” said Mrs. S., “and read in the same careful spirit the whole Sermon on the Mount, and all our Savior’s teachings. Many people, old and young, read the New Testament because they are told to, without thinking that there is an active, living principle in it, a thought to be treasured up and carried out in our daily lives, in almost every word the Master uttered. Those who do read it in the true spirit, find new pleasure and new instruction every time they peruse it.
“And finally, to come back to our subject, when you hear your schoolmates making uncharitable remarks about others, use all your influence, especially by your own example, to make them correct the habit. And when you hear a sermon in church, or an address in the school, where any faults are exposed, ask yourselves if the rebuke applies to you; and if it does, set about correcting the fault immediately. Do this always. ‘Cast the beam out of thine own eye,’ correct your own errors, then will you see clearly to ’cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye.’”
Mary returned home that evening well pleased with the two conversations she had taken part in; and better still, she and Clara profited by them. I am happy to add, that their schoolmates are gradually correcting many evil habits by the good example of these two girls; and thus Mary and Clara have the double satisfaction of improving their own conduct, and of being instrumental in improving that of others.
If you were to be boys always, and didn’t need to know anything more than just enough to enable you to enjoy your sports from day to day, it would not be so necessary, perhaps, as it now is, to attend strictly to your every-day studies; though the influences of the Sunday school would be necessary, even then. Boys cannot enjoy their sports together, unless they are truthful, just, and kind; and it is in the Sunday school that these graces are most successfully acquired. But boys will become men; and all the knowledge they can acquire in boyhood will become serviceable in manhood. Therefore, boys should be diligent.