“Did he do right to love one of his children more than he did others?”

“No; he did not.”

“Was his father a good man?”

“Yes. Some good men do wrong.”

“If good men do wrong, how do you know them from bad men?”

“They don’t do so many wicked things, nor so bad things, as bad men do.”

“Can’t good men stop doing bad things?”

“Yes; with God’s help.”

“Don’t God always help them?”


“Why don’t He?”

“Perhaps they don’t deserve it.”

“Can’t men be good without His help?”

“No; and what is worse, they won’t be.”

“Why won’t they?”

“Because they are so wicked.”

“How can they be good then?” meaning that he could not see how a good man could be a wicked man at the same time.

In this dialogue appears the inquisitiveness of James, as well as his discrimination and thoughtfulness. Often his mother was unable to answer his boyish questions about the Bible. Their depth and point confounded her. It was here, especially, that she had unmistakable proof of his remarkable talents. It was around the old family Bible that the chief interest of the Sabbath clustered in her rude home. It was to her family what a Constitution is to the State, and what character is to the individual. Largely it made up for the absence of books, teachers, money, and conveniences. It would be quite impossible to say how much unalloyed happiness it contributed to the family. Certainly its wise teachings were so indelibly impressed upon James’s heart, that its contents were more familiar to him at forty years of age than they are to most Christian men, so that its figures, symbols, and laconic sentences adorned his public addresses, to the admiration of listeners.

It is probable that James and his brother and sisters received more real valuable lessons, to assist in the formation of good habits, and to establish noble purposes, in their western cabin, than the children of many Christian families do from the constant ministrations of public worship. The absence of religious advantages was a good reason for the best improvement of the few enjoyed. The mother, too, felt additional obligations to guide, instruct, and mould the hearts of her offspring, because there was so little outside of her cabin to aid her. For these reasons, perhaps, James enjoyed better advantages to become distinguished than he would have had in the more populous and wealthy parts of the country.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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