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the entire confidence of his master and his friends, and grew up to be a good
But he never forgot his sin, and he never ceased to be sorry for it. It cost him many, many an unhappy hour, until he had reason to hope that God had forgiven him, for the sake of his dear Son.
This little history will not have been written in vain, if it teaches the young reader only one of the following important lessons.
1. That envy is a very great sin in the sight of a holy God; and that it leads to other sins. The Bible tells us, that where there is envying there is also confusion and every evil work, James iii. 16. It was envy that made Joseph's brethren hate him, and sell him as a slave. And it was envy which made little Robert blot
his friend's writing-piece, so that he might not obtain the prize which he deserved. Oh, let us strive against envy; and if ever we feel this evil passion at work in our hearts, let us earnestly pray that God would pardon us, and deliver us from evil. And let us always pray that God will be pleased, for Christ's sake, to give us his Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts, and we shall not be desirous of vain-glory, nor provoke and envy one another.
2. Let us learn from the history of little Robert, that deceit, even when it is successful, does not make the deceiver happy: and it is just the same with every
kind of sin ; for “there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” Robert obtained the object for which he sinned: but all the writing desks in the world would not have paid for the agony which he suf
ered in his mind on account of his sin. Think of his restless nights; his unhappy days; his self-reproaches whenever be looked at the writing prize, or the paper which had obtained it; his reluctance to meet his injured friend ; and his fears that the truth would be found out at last ;and then ask yourself, young reader, what fruit there was in those things of which he was afterwards ashamed ? Ah, never think that the ways of sin are pleasant ways. Sin may give a little gratification at first: but afterwards, it “ biteth like a ser. pent, and stingeth like an adder."
3. Let us remember that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked," Jer. xvii. 9. If Robert had, but a little while before, been told that he would have done so wicked a thing, he
ould have said, “ It is impossible : I can never be so wicked.” Should not this
teach us to pray that our hearts may
be changed? David prayed thus. He said, • Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me," Ps. li. 10.
4. The best way, when we have done anything wrong, is, freely to confess it. I have told you one text of Scripture which teaches this; and Robert found this text to be true, and that he was much happier after he had confessed his fault than he had been before. And when we have sinned against God, in any way whatever, the only right plan is to go and confess our sins to him, and ask for his
This is what the Bible says—“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," 1 John i. 9. Oh, what a mercy it is that God can be just, and yet forgive our sins! Do you know how this
can be ? It is because Jesus, the Son of God, died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God; so that God might be just, and yet the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus, 1 Peter iii. 18; Rom. iii. 26.
5. When you have injured another, try to repair the fault. See the case of Zaccheus ; act accordingly, and thus show your repentance to be sincere.
6. Try to imitate little James in his kindness to a person who had injured him. He acted as the Bible teaches us to act. The Bible teaches us to “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us," Eph. iv. 32. And the gracious Saviour has taught us thus to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us."