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kept.“ John,” said Mr. Brown, “ you will get good wages and good living, but I fear you will not be kept out of temptation, as you have been in my service. You will hear and see a great many things that you know to be wrong, but I hope the grace of God will keep you from sin.” John thanked his master, and went home for a few days, before going to his new place. He talked a great deal about all he had heard of Mr. Wise's place, (where he was going), and his father listened.
At last Abraham said, “ John, you are going to fall." " To fall, father, why do you think so ?" " Because," said his father, “ you think you stand.”
All the rest of the day, and the next day, the words were in John's ears, “ Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall *.”
Now it was most true that John had himself thought that the temptations he was going to brave were of little consequence, as he was quite sure he could withstand them. Poor boy! he little knew how difficult that is; and, as he relied upon his own strength to stand, it was quite certain that, if he continued in that notion, he would fall. But his father's words, with God's blessing, had the good effect of opening his eyes, and he saw that he had been very wrong in reckoning upon his own strength, instead of praying for God's grace to strengthen him. His prayer had been something like this: “ God, I thank thee that I can stand:” now he changed it to,“ God help me, or I fall." · In the afternoon of the third day John said to his father, that he thought he had better give up the place; that he feared it would lead him astray.
Abr. What! give it up and be idle ?
Abr. John, you mistake; idleness is the greatest temptation of any.
* 1 Cor. x. 12.
John. But, father, you said yourself, you thought I should fall.
Abr. Because I saw you were too confident.
John had not been long in his new place before he found that it would not be quite so easy to him as the last. There were five men-servants kept; butler, two footmen, coachman, and groom: the family was not very large, and therefore it is not to be supposed that the work was too hard for him ; but he would rather have worked hard from sunrise to sunset than hear the talk he heard now. All the men were swearers. Though they could speak very properly before their master, no sooner did they get together than every other word was an oath. John had never heard any thing like it before, because his father took care not to take God's holy name in vain; and, in Mr. Brown's place there was no man but himself, and he had no acquaintances. It therefore seemed to him most dreadful to hear his Maker insulted in this way, and he said to himself, " the worst is, I shall get used to it," for John knew well enough that the next thing to getting used to a sin was—committing it.
But this was not all he had to put up with; the servants saw him look so grave and distressed when they were talking, that they laughed at him, and swore the oftener, on purpose to vex him. They plagued him in every way they could, till he had no peace with with them; and at last they determined to see if they could not make him drunk.
The first evening that their master was out, they brought their best beer, and began to drink. John refused to join them, but they were resolved that he should make one with them. They laughed at him, till he was just ready to take up the jug and drink it down; then they abused him till his anger rose, and he was ready to throw the jug at their heads. His patience could bear no more: what was he to do? give way to his rage, or give in at once? it seemed doubtful for a moment, and then (for there is always a way to escape if people look for it) he remembered that the window was open behind him, jumped out, before any one could stop him, and ran for his life. He ran till the hooting from the servants' hall could not be heard; he ran till the house was a mile behind him; he ran till his legs refused to run any farther, and the breath was out of his body.
At last, then, he was forced to stop; and, as none were pursuing, he sat down on a bank to recover himself. It was a fine moonlight night; he saw a horse come trotting up the road ;--and who should be on it but his master ?
Not a little surprised, Mr. Wise stopped short: " Why, John, what do you do here?” said he. John rose up, he could scarcely speak; but, in as few words as possible, he told what had happened. Mr. Wise was not used to have servants who spoke truth, and he did not know whether to believe John or not; but he told him to make haste home, and he set off himself at full speed. John followed as fast as he could, and his heart nearly failed him at the thought of facing his fellow-servants; however, he said to himself, “ I have done no wrong in this matter, why should I be afraid of any body? 'tis only for the guilty to be cowards.”
His journey home was not quite so quickly performed as his journey out; and when he opened the hall-door, there he saw his master standing in the midst of the servants. Mr. Wise thought he would see if John's story was true; he, therefore, had hooked up his horse in the yard, and surprised the men by walking into the hall. It was very plain that John had told no lie; the window was still open, the best strong beer in the jugs, and some bottles of wine on the table. It will not be doubted that, besides this, he found most of his servants tipsy; for in fact, as soon as John ran away, the butler brought out the wine, and they lost
no time in drinking it. John just arrived as his master was dismissing the butler from his service. “ Honesty is the best policy,” said John to himself: “ if people would but fear God, they would thrive better.” Then, turning round, Mr. Wise observed him, praised his conduct before all the servants, gave him a sovereign, and said that the first man who plagued him in any way should leave the house.
What were now John's feelings? If he had not acted as he did, he would have gone to bed drunk, and got up next morning with a pain in his head, and sorrow at his heart. He would have gained the anger of God, and scorn of his fellow-servants. Instead of this, never did a lighter head or lighter heart lie down in bed. But he knew that, though the reward of his good conduct had, in this instance, come quickly, it was not always to be expected, though it was sure to come sooner or later. .
John's father used often to say to him, " every temptation you resist is like putting money into the saving-bank-you will never lose the interest.”
From this time, John was much respected by the servants, and would have been happy enough with them, had it not been that he might as well have lived with a set of heathens, for no thought of religion seemed ever to come into any of their heads. The new butler was sober and steady, but he not only permitted the swearing to go on, but very often swore himself; John was a great favourite of his, because he was so attentive and quick at his work, and at last he took courage and told the butler how it distressed him to hear such profane talking. The butler said, that, to be sure it was very wrong, but it could not be helped; they had got into a habit of it. John asked him if he would agree to a rule that every one should pay a forfeit each time they swore. He said he thought it would be a good thing; accordingly, John bought a piece of pasteboard, and wrote, in a good large hand, upon it, that “ for every profane word two-pence was to be paid." The men all agreed to this very willingly, and it was hung up in the servants’-hall: the coachman, however, was out, and knew nothing about it till he came home late at night, and when he saw the rule hung up, he was very angry, and declared he would never agree to it, (for he was the greatest swearer of any of them.) But the butler told him he must agree, for it was a very good plan: and, whilst they were arguing about it, they both swore, and the others cried out that they must both pay directly. The butler very good humouredly put down his two-pence directly, and the coachman was made to do the same, who was so angry that he swore again, and had fourpence to pay, at which they all laughed heartily. Every day there were forfeits paid, and the coachman paid more than any one, but did not grumble any more about it.
John was quite delighted at the success that his plan promised: in a month's time, scarcely an oath was to be heard; and at the end of six months the box was opened to take out the forfeits, which amounted to a good sum. It was agreed by them all to give it to the stable-boy, for his mother, who was very sick. The coachman, who payed so much at first, had not put in a penny the last fortnight: he came up to John, shook him by the hand, and said to him, “ I thank you, lad, for you have done more for me than ever I did for myself; it was worth double the money to get rid of that bad custom of mine.” After this the rule continued to be kept up, but very little money was found in the box at the end of the year.
After a little time the upper footman went away, and John had his place, with better wages. He longed to tell his father how he was getting on, and was allowed to go and visit him for a week, when the family were out.
S. W. (To be continued.)