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and their heads began to ache, so that they were forced to sit down for a time under a tree, on the side of the lane, and there they were when John came to find them; for John, who was in the stable when they ran out of the garden, was much frightened when he returned to the house, and could not find them there.
“Ah, you naughty children,” said he, when he found them, “ you have almost frightened me out of my life: Where have you been ?"
“We have been in the lane," said Lucy, blushing.
This was not all the truth: but one fault always leads to another.
So John brought them home, and locked them up in their play-room, while he got their dinner ready.
When the children found themselves shut up in their play-room, and could not get out, they sat themselves down, and began to think how naughty they had been. They were silent for a few minutes; at last Lucy spoke:
“Oh, Henry! oh, Emily? how naughty we have been ! And yet I thought I would be so good when papa and mamma went out, so very good! What shall we say when papa and mamma come home?"
Then all the children began to cry. At length Henry said,
" I'll tell you what we will do, Lucy; we will be good all the evening; we will not do one naughty thing."
“So we will, Henry," said Emily. “When John lets us out, how good we will be; and then we can tell the truth, that we were naughty in the morning, but we were good all the evening.”
John made some nice apple-dumplings for the children; and when they were ready, and he had put some butter and sugar upon them (for John was a goodnatured man), he fetched the children down; and after they had eaten as much apple-dumpling as they thought proper, he told them they might play in the barn, bidding them not to stir out of it till supper-time.
Henry and Lucy and Emily were delighted with this permission; and, as Lucy ran along to the barn with her brother and sister, she said, “Now let us be very good. We are not to do any thing naughty all this evening."
" We will be very good indeed,” answered Emily. “ Better than we ever were in all our lives,” added
So they all went into the barn ; and when John fastened them in, he said to himself, “Sure they will be safe now, till I have looked to the pigs and milked the cow; for there is nothing in the barn but straw and hay, they cannot hurt themselves with that, sure." But John was mistaken. As soon as he was gone, Henry spied a swing, which Mr. Fairchild had made in the barn for the children, but which he never allowed them to use when he was not with them, because swings are very dangerous things, unless there are very careful persons to use them. The seat of the swing was tied up to the side of the barn, above the children's reach, as Mr. Fairchild thought.
“Oh! Lucy,' said Henry, “there is the swing. There can be no harm in our swinging a little. If papa were here, I am sure he would let us swing. If you and Emily will help to lift me up, I will untie it and let it down; and then we will swing so nicely !”.
So Emily and Lucy lifted Henry up; and he untied the swing, and let it down in its right place : but as he was getting down, his coat caught upon a bit of wood on the side of the barn, and was much torn. However, the children did not trouble themselves very much about this accident: they got one by one into the swing, and amused themselves for some time without any mischance. First Emily got into the swing ; then Henry ; then Lucy; and then Emily would get in again. “Now, Lucy,” she said, "swing me high, and I will shut my eyes: you can't think how pleasant it is to swing with one's eyes shut. Swing me higher ! swing me higher !"
So she went on calling to Lucy, and Lucy trying to swing her higher and higher ; till at last the swing turned, and down came Emily on the floor! There happened, providentially, to be some straw on the floor, or she would have been killed. As it was, however, she was sadly hurt: she lay for some minutes without speaking, and her mouth and nose poured out blood.
Henry and Lucy thought she was dead; and, oh! how frightened they were ! They screamed so violently, that John came running to see what was the matter: and poor man! he was sadly frightened when he saw Emily lying on the floor covered with blood. He lifted her up, and brought her into the house ; he saw she was not dead, but he did not know how much she might be hurt. When he had washed her face from the
blood, and given her a little water to drink, she recovered a little; but her nose, and one eye, and her lip, were terribly swelled, and two of her teeth were out. It was well they were her first teeth, and that she had others to come, or else she would have been without her front teeth all her life.
When Emily was a little recovered, John placed her in a little chair by the kitchen fire; and he took his blue pocket-handkerchief, and tied Lucy and Henry to the kitchen-table, saying, “ You unlucky rogues ! you have given ine trouble enough to-day-that you have. I will not let you go out of my sight again, till master and mistress come home. Thank God, you have not killed your sister! Who would have thought of your loosing the swing ?"
In this manner Henry and Lucy and Emily remained till it was nearly dark; and then they heard the sound of the horses' feet coming up to the kitchen-door, for Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild were come. John hastened to untie the children, who trembled from head to foot.
“Oh! John, John! what shall we do? What shall we say ?" said Lucy.
“ The truth, the truth, and all the truth,” said John; “ it is the best thing you can do now.”
When Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild came in, they thought their children would have run to meet them; but they were so conscious of their naughtiness, that they all crept behind John, and Emily hid her face.
"Emily, Lucy, Henry!" said Mrs. Fairchild, “you keep back; what is the matter?"
"Oh! mamma, manima! papa, papa!” said Lucy, coming forward and falling on her knees before them : “ we have been very wicked children to-day; we are not fit to come near you."
“What have you done, Lucy?" said Mrs. Fairchild. “ Tell the whole truth, and pray to God to forgive you for his dear Son's sake. These are the only things which children can do, when they have been naughty, to make their peace with God and their parents.”
Then Lucy told her papa and mamma every thing which she and her brother and sister had done : she did not hide any thing from them. You may be sure that Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild were very much shocked. When they heard all that Lucy had to tell them, and saw Emily's face, they looked very grave indeed.
“I am glad that you have told the truth, my children;" said Mr. Fairchild: “but the sins that you have com• mitted are very dreadful ones. You have disobeyed your parents; and, in consequence of your disobedience, Emily might have lost her life, if God had not been very merciful to you. And now go all of you to your beds; and there think upon your sins, and entreat your Heavenly Father to pardon you, for that blessed Saviour's sake who bore your sins upon the cross."
The children did as their father bade them, and went silently up to their beds, where they cried sadly, thinking upon their wickedness. The next morning they all three came into their mamma's room, and begged her to kiss them and forgive them.
“Oh! mamma, mamma!” said Lucy,“ we have been very wicked: but we have prayed to God, and we hope that he has forgiven us, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake. Therefore we hope that you will pardon us."
“I have committed many sins myself,” said Mrs. Fairchild," and hope to be forgiven, through my dear Saviour : therefore, I cannot refuse to pardon you, my children. But, indeed, you made me and your papa very unhappy last night.”
Then the children looked at their mamma's eyes, and they were full of tears; and they felt more and more sorry to think how greatly they had grieved their kind mother: and when she kissed them, and put her arms round their necks, they cried more than ever.
“Oh, mamma!” said Lucy, “I cannot think how I could behave so ill as I did yesterday: for I had resolved in my own mind to be very good-indeed I had. And when I did wrong, I knew it was wrong all the time, and hated myself for doing it; and still I did it.”
“And do you wonder, my dear child,” said Mrs. Fairchild, “what it was that made you behave so ill ? It was sin, my dear; the sin of your heart; the sin which is ever present with us, and which, when we would do well, is always preventing us. People talk often of their sinful hearts ; but there are very few people know how wicked their hearts are. There is something within us that is always pressing us forward to sin; and that 80 strongly, that we have not power to stand against it. The fear of pain or shame in this world, or even of everlasting fire in the world to come, is not enough to frighten us from sin ; and for this reason, that it is our nature to sin. Therefore, my child, our natures must be made regenerate by the power of God the Spirit, before we can in ânywise cease from sin. When we wish to do well, we must not say we will be good: but we should go into some private place, if possible, and there, falling upon our knees, we should confess to God our weakness and sinfulness, and ask, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the help of the Holy Spirit to enable us to do well.”
" Then,” said Lucy, “ if we ask for the Spirit of God, in the naine of the Lord Jesus Christ, will it be given to us, mamma?"
- Yes, my dear child,” answered Mrs. Fairchild : " for the Lord Jesus Christ says, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. John xiv. 14. But this does not mean that God will at once give us power to overcome our wicked nature. No, my dear, this will not be. Our wicked hearts will contrive to torment us till we die. Then, if in this world we have loved the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be entirely set free from sin, and that for ever and ever.”
“ Oh, mamma!” said Lucy, “how very happy we shall be when we have no more sin in our hearts! for the sin of my heart often makes me very unhappy when I have nothing else to vex me. Sometimes, when you give me leave to play, mamma, and I have every thing to make me enjoy my play-my brother and sister's company, Emily's pretty doll, and all my playthings —yet I cannot be happy, but feel cross and ill-natured.”
Mrs. Fairchild. This, my child, I have no doubt is very true: and hence it follows, that, if you were to be placed in heaven itself with your sinful heart, you would not be happy there : and this shows that our hearts must be changed before we can go to heaven.
Then Mrs. Fairchild knelt down with her children, and prayed that they might be delivered from the power of sin; and this prayer, with the change of a few words only, I will put down here, for the use of any little children who may hereafter feel and be sorry for the sinfulness of their hearts.
A Prayer for a New Heart. . 0 Almighty Father! how apt am I to boast, and to