1. You have never disobeyed your parents, or your teachers, or any who have been placed in authority over you, without being uncomfortable and unhappy! Obedience, in a child, is one of the most necessary qualities; for it protects him from all the evils of his want of experience, and gives him the benefit of the experience of others.
2. One fine summer’s day, I went to spend an afternoon at a house in the country, where some young people were enjoying a holiday.
3. They were running cheerfully up and down a meadow, covered over with yellow crocuses, and other flowers; and I looked on them with delight, while they gamboled and made posies, as they felt disposed.
“Here sister with sister
roamed over the mead,
And brother plucked flow’rets with brother;
And playmates with playmates ran on with such speed
That the one tumbled over the other.”
4. Now, they all had been told to keep away from the ditch at the bottom of the field; but, notwithstanding this injunction, one little urchin, of the name of Jarvis, seeing a flower in the hedge on the opposite bank, which he wished to gather, crept nearer and nearer to the ditch.
5. The closer he got to the flower, the more beautiful it appeared to be, and the stronger the temptation became to pluck it.
6. Now, what right had he to put himself in the way of temptation? The field, as I said before, was covered over with flowers; and that in the hedge was no better than the rest, only it was a forbidden flower, and when anything is forbidden it becomes, on that very account, a greater temptation to a disobedient heart.
7. Jarvis had gathered a whole handful of flowers before he saw the one growing in the hedge; but he threw all these away, so much was his mind set on getting the one which he wanted.
8. Unluckily for him, in getting down the bank, his foot slipped, and down he rolled into a bed of stinging nettles, at the bottom of the ditch, which fortunately happened to have in it but little water.
9. Jarvis screamed out with might and main, as he lay on his back; for, whichever way he turned, his cheeks and his fingers brushed against the nettles.
10. His cries soon brought his companions around him; but, as they were all young, they knew not how to render him assistance, on account of the stinging nettles, and the depth of the ditch.
11. I ran to the spot, and pulled up Master Jarvis in a pretty pickle, his jacket and trowsers plastered with mud, and his hands and face covered with blotches.
12. Here was the fruit of disobedience! And as it was with Jarvis, so will it be with every one who acts disobediently.
13. Whenever you feel a temptation to disobey God; to disobey his holy word; to disobey the admonitions of your own conscience; to disobey your parents, your teachers, or any in authority over you,—be sure that a punishment awaits you, if you do not resist it.