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words with scrupulous care.
Remember the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, 'Is unto you, Swear not at all ; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool. -But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.'"
You need not think that Alfred was tired with hearing his father's good counsel; for indeed he was not. He knew that it was intended for his benefit; and he was thankful to his father for putting him once more in mind of what had often been told him. He resolved to treasure his father's words in his heart, and to obey them too. And it is almost certain that he then secretly prayed to God that he might have strength given him to walk in the ways of true piety and peace.
Do you ask why this is so very
likely? It is because Alfred really loved pray
at all times; and this was a very fit time for secret prayer. And we shall see, also, that he was preserved from the very sin against which his father cautioned him, although his firmness exposed him to scorn : and surely he would on some occasions, at least, have given way if he had not sought and obtained help from God for the time of need.
Alfred soon became happy at school; the more so in finding that he could read his Bible, and kneel by his bedside, without any interruption from his schoolfellows. Some of them made a practice of doing it too; and though it is to be feared, from the hurried manner in which they went through this duty, and the foolish talking which immediately followed, that they thought but little of prayer, except as a form ; yet, Alfred—with whom it was
not a mere form—could enjoy his own thoughts, and resign himself calmly to sleep at night, or rise to the fresh duties of the day, with the happy consciousness that he had committed himself to the keeping of the great God his Saviour.
There was one boy in the school with whom Alfred soon formed a sort of boyish friendship. His
Herbert. There were many things in the circumstances of these two boys that were alike. Both of them were sons of pious parents ; they had been brought up to the same kind of habits at their homos; they had learned the same hymns in their childhood; they were both fond of singing, and each was pleased to find that the other could sing the same tunes to the same hymns; the books they had brought with them to school were just such as each knew his own parent would approve; and, in short,
they were well pleased with each other. They also slept in the same room, and when they sometimes lay awake for a short time, they talked together about their homes, and the ways of home, or sometimes about the different histories they had read in the Bible.
And yet, for all these points of resemblance, there was one particular in which they very much differed.
Herbert was irresolute. He, like Alfred, had formed many good plans as to what he would do, and what he would not do, when he was at school; but these plans were not laid in dependence on any strength but his own: no wonder, therefore, that he was often led astray. Besides this, Herbert was fond of being noticed and admired by his companions, so that he was often induced to go further in acts of daring adventure than he knew to be quite right.
Just in proportion, too, to his love of admiration, was his sensitiveness when any slight was shown him. A smile of derision, or a word of reproach, or even the fancy that he was thought of little account, often made him more unhappy than when he had really done wrong.
Among the schoolfellows of Herbert and Alfred were two or three boys who were not unfrequently guilty of using profane language, and of taking the name of God in vain. This awful practice they carefully concealed from their master; but when they were by themselves they gave way to it, and appeared to take delight in it. They foolisbly thought that it was manly to cast off the fear of God, and defy him by their guilty language. They rolled their iniquity, as a sweet morsel, under their tongues. Unhappily, they found others of their companions who began to