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ACTS OF GRATITUDE CONTINUED.
"THIS is the last time we shall meet together to learn to act before mamma comes home," said Mary to her brother, as they assembled to be ready for their father.
"Ay! How surprised she will be," said Edward, "to know what we have been about."
"And as much pleased as surprised," replied Mary. "And then our two cousins! I tell you what I have been thinking, that while they are with us, we might teach them all that our father has taught us; and what with that, and what they will hear him say, they may go away from us much wiser than they came."
"Yes, that will be capital," said Edward, "for it will be acting kindly; and, as we are learning to act, it will be just the thing. We shall help them on, and make ourselves more perfect at the same time. I think that yours is a very good thought, Mary."
"And so do I, too," said Thomas; "but it would be a good thing if I knew better how to act myself than I do." The entrance of Mr. Franklin put an end to this conversation, and acts of gratitude became once more the subject that occupied them.
"I told you, children," said Mr. Franklin,
"that you should be quick to spy out opportunities of thanking God by your actions, for the unnumbered and unmerited mercies you enjoy. I love to see a family seated in their own parlour, or beneath the spreading branches
"From all, that dwell below the skies,
Through every land, by every tongue.
Eternal are thy mercies Lord,
Thy praise shall sound from shore to shore,
You must bear in mind," continued Mr. Franklin, "that an act of gratitude has nothing
in it constrained or forced: it is a natural, free, warm-hearted avowal of a favour received; but many errors are committed about resignation to the Divine will, and gratitude for the Divine favour."
M. Please to explain the errors, papa; for I do not know what you mean.
Mr. Franklin. I will try to make myself understood. There are many abundantly provided with comforts and luxuries, who think that they are resigned to God's will, merely because they do not repine and complain; when the truth is, they have nothing to complain of. We can all be resigned to God's will, so long as it is his will to bless us with prosperity, but true resignation repines not in adversity. Eli and Job give us examples of this in their heavy afflictions. "It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good," 1 Sam. iii. 18. "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord," Job i. 21.
M. Yes, that is very clear; resignation is to be shown in adversity, and gratitude in prosperity.
Mr. F. Exactly so; but now for the error that many make respecting gratitude. That is not gratitude that merely thanks God by the word of the lip for his favours, without proving by actions that it is sincere; where is the gratitude of a rich man, who thanks God for his riches, and yet never relieves the
poor with what God has given him? It is nothing but mockery.
M. Very true, father. I see now very clearly.
E. And so do I. We must show our gratitude not by words only, but by deeds, if we have the ability.
Mr. F. And now, then, my dear children, as you seem to comprehend my meaning, let me show you how you should perform acts of gratitude to your heavenly Father, and to those around you, who have rendered you benefits.
M. That is just what I want to know.
Mr. F. If God has blessed you with parents, show your gratitude by being especially kind to such as are orphans, or fatherless. If he has blessed you with health, show your gratitude by attention to the sick and afflicted. And if he has blessed you with a knowledge of himself, of his holy word, and of his Son Jesus Christ, show your gratitude by making known this knowledge to those who are ignorant, according to your power.
E. That is an excellent plan, and one that may be easily remembered.
Mr. F. In like manner, if any above you are courteous and kind to you, show your gratitude by being courteous and kind to those beneath you. If any one forgives you for an injury done to him, show your gratitude by forgiving those who injure you; and if
one draw you away from temptation, and lead you in the paths of virtue, show your gratitude by doing the very same to others, whenever you have the opportunity. You will thus, at the same time, show your gratitude in the very best way, and fulfil the Divine injunction, "As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise," Luke vi. 31.
E. I see that we may all perform acts of gratitude.
Mr. F. When Peter said, at one of our meetings, that Robert Morton was his friend, for he gave him a ride on his pony; and when Thomas said that William Lamb was his friend, for he taught him to spin his peg-top overhand, and made him a boat, and climbed up a tree to set his kite tail at liberty, which was tangled in the boughs, both Peter and Thomas felt grateful for benefits received. And the same feeling that led them to call Robert Morton and William Lamb friends, would lead them to show their gratitude by acting kindly to these friends. In this respect, acts of gratitude are more easily performed than acts of duty; for the latter are sometimes very unpleasant to us, while the former we always do with pleasure.
P. I would do any kindness that I could for Robert Morton any day.
T. And so would I for William Lamb; for he has been very kind to me.