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“I did not take it, indeed, papa,” said Lucy. " And I did not take it,” said Emily.
“I did not ; indeed I did not,” said Henry: but Henry looked
red when he spoke. " Well,” said Mr. Fairchild, “I must call in John, and ask him if he can tell who took the apple. But before John is called in, I tell you once more, my dear children, that if any of you took the apple, and will confess ït, even now I will freely forgive you.”
Henry now wished to tell his papa the truth ; but he was ashamed to own his wickedness; and he hoped that it never would be found out that he was the thief.
When John came in, Mr. Fairchild said, “ John, there is one of the apples taken from the young apple-tree opposite the parlour window."
“Sir,” said John, “I did not take it; “but I think I can guess
it went." Then John looked very hard at Henry, and Henry trembled and shook all over.
“I saw Master Henry, this morning, run behind the stable with a large apple in his hand ; and he stayed there till he had eaten it, and then he came out.”
Henry,” said Mr. Fairchild, “is this true? Are you a thief-and a liar too ?” And Mr. Fairchild's voice was very terrible when he spoke.
Then Henry fell down upon his knees before his papa, and confessed his wickedness.
“ Go from my sight, bad boy !” said Mr. Fairchild : “if you had told the truth at first, I should have forgiven you ; but now I will not forgive you." Then Mr. Fairchild ordered John to take Henry, and lock him up in a little room at the top of the house, where he could not speak to any person. Poor Henry cried sadly; and Lucy and Emily cried too; but Mr. Fairchild would not excuse Henry. “ It is better,' he said “that he should be punished in this world, whilst he is a little boy, than grow up to be a liar
and a thief, and go to hell when he dies : for it is written, ‘Every liar shall have his portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone;' and in another place, “Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, nor lie one to another.'
So poor Henry was locked up by himself in a little room at the very top of the house. He sat down on a small box, and cried sadly. He hoped that his mamma and papa would have sent him some breakfast; but they did not. At twelve o'clock he looked out of the window, and saw his mamma and sisters walking in the meadow, at a little distance ; and he saw his papa come, and fetch them in to dinner, as he supposed ; and then he hoped that he should have some dinner sent him: but no dinner came. Some time after, he saw Betty go down into the meadow to milk the cow : then he knew that it was five o'clock, and that it would soon be night: then he began to cry again.
“Oh! I am afraid," he said, “that papa will make me stay here all night ! and I shall be alone, for God will not take care of me because of my wickedness.”
Soon afterwards, Henry saw the sun go down behind the hills; and he heard the rooks, as they were going to rest in their nests at the top of some tall trees near the house. Soon afterwards it became dusk, and then quite dark. “O dear, dear,” said Henry, when he found himself sitting alone in the dark : “what a wicked boy I have been to-day! I stole an apple, and told two or three lies about it! I have made my papa and mamma unhappy, and my poor sisters too! How could I do such things ? And now I must spend all this night in this dismal place ; and God will not take care of me, because I am wicked ! If the Lord Jesus Christ loved me, I should not mind being in the dark, and alone ; but he does not love me, and he will not take care of me! Oh! if I should die, and go to hell, then I should be in everlasting
darkness ; I should never see light again, and I should be parted for ever and ever from my dear Saviour who died for me!" Then Henry cried very sadly indeed. After which he knelt down, and prayed that God would forgive him, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ : and this he did several times, till he found himself getting more happy in his mind.
When he got up from his prayers the last time, he heard the step of some one coming up stairs : he thought it was his
and his little heart was very glad indeed. Henry was right : it was indeed his mamma come to see her
little boy. He soon heard her unlock the door, and in a moment he ran into her arms. “Is Henry sorry for his wickedness ?” said Mrs. Fairchild, as she sat down, and took him upon her lap.
you sorry, my dear child, for your very great wickedness ?”
“Oh! mamma, mamma! indeed I am," said Henry, sobbing and crying: I am very sorry, pray forgive me. I have asked God to forgive me, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake; and I think that he has heard my prayer, for I feel happier than I did.”
“But have you thought, Henry, of the very great wickedness which you have committed ?”
“Yes, mamma, I have been thinking of it a great deal ; I know that what I did this morning was a very
· Why do you say this morning," said Mrs. Fairchild : “the sin that you committed was the work of several days.”
How, mamma ?" said Henry : “I was not two minutes stealing the apple, and papa found it out before breakfast."
“ Still, my dear,” said Mrs. Fairchild, “this sin was the work of many days.” Henry hearkened to his mamma, and she went on speaking : “Do you remember those little chickens which came out of the eggs in the hen's nest last Monday morning ?”
-“ Yes, mamma,” said Henry.
“ Do you think,” said Mrs. Fairchild, “ that they were made the moment before they came out ?” “No, mamma,” said Henry : papa
said that they were growing in the egg-shell a long time before they came out alive."
Mrs. Fairchild. “In the same manner the great sin you committed this morning was growing in your evil heart some days before it came out.”
How, mamma ?” said Henry. “I do not understand.”
Mrs. F. “All wicked things which we commit are first formed in our hearts; and sometimes our sins are very long before they come to their full growth. The great sin you committed this morning began to be formed in your heart three days ago. remember, that that very day in which your papa forbade you to touch the apples, you stood in the parlour window, and looked at them; and you admired their beautiful appearance ? This was the beginning of your sin. Your sister Lucy told you at the time not to look at them: and she did well; for by looking at forbidden things we are led to desire them; and when we desire them very much, we proceed to take them. In this manner, the sin which you committed this morning began to be formed in your heart, my child, three days ago : and from that time it grew and gained strength till this morning, when it broke forth, as the chickens broke forth out of the eggs, alive, strong, and fully formed.”
Henry did not interrupt his mamma, and she went on speaking :
“ As all sin, my dear child, is thus formed in our hearts, sometimes long, long before it breaks out, it becomes us, therefore, carefully to watch our thoughts; and whenever we find a bad thought, we ought to call upon the Lord Jesus Christ to cleanse our hearts from it. Your papa forbade you to touch these apples :
therefore, my dear child, you ought not to have allowed yourself to think of them for one moment. When you first thought about them, you did not suppose that this thought would end in so very great a sin as you have now been guilty of.”
“Oh! mamma,” said Henry, “I will try to remember what you have said to me all my
life ; and whenever I find an evil thought in my heart, I will pray to God, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, to
heart from it." Mrs. Fairchild kissed little Henry then, and said, “God bless you, my child, and give you a holy heart, which may never think or design any evil.” Mrs. Fairchild then led Henry down into the parlour, where Mr. Fairchild and Lucy and Emily were waiting for them to go to tea. Mr. Fairchild kissed his little boy, and Lucy and Emily smiled to see him.
“ Henry,” said Mr. Fairchild, “you have had a sad day of it; but I did not punish you, my child, because I do not love you, but because I wished to save your soul from hell. Then Mr. Fairchild cut a large piece of bread and butter for Henry, which he was very glad of, for he was very hungry,
After tea, Mr. Fairchild knelt down with his family and prayed. I shall put down Mr. Fairchild's prayer in this place, as it may perhaps be useful to you at any time when you may be troubled with evil thoughts and desires.
A Prayer against Evil Thoughts.
O Lord God Almighty, hear the prayer of poor sinful creatures. Our hearts, O Lord, are such by nature, that sin of itself springs up and grows into life and strength in them: we first begin with an evil thought, which becomes stronger and stronger, until at length it breaks out into open and grievous