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had given each of you a hatfull of gold. Oh, what evils would be avoided, if in our actions we exercised judgment, always looking before and behind! You have noticed, I dare say, when a flock of sheep has passed along the road, that when one sheep goes astray through a gate, or down a lane, or through a gap in the hedge, the remainder are sure to follow, Now, this is too much the case with people in general: one bad example leads many astray, prudence is neglected, and folly is imitated. If they would only profit by the past, and duly weigh the consequences of their actions in future, it would prevent them from bearing many a load of sin and sorrow. There are a great number of human actions that bring about evil, which proceed from no bad intention, but only from the want of prudence. What should you think of a man, who with his hatchet would lop off the branch of a tree on which he sat, six or eight yards from the ground?
Thomas. Poor silly fellow! Why he would break his bones.
Mr. F. Or set off a journey on horseback, without taking enough money with him to pay the turnpikes?
Peter. They would never let him go through.
Mr. F. Or setting sail on the wide ocean in a ship which had no rudder, without a chart, or compass, to guide him over the mighty waters?
Edward. He would be shipwrecked, as sure as he was born.
Mr. F. Or standing in a dangerous place on the sea shore, when the tide was coming roaring in, without so much as looking about for a boat in case the flood should come upon him ?
M. There would be no hope for him; he must be swallowed up by the waves.
Such a man could have no prudence at all, papa.
Mr. F. And do you think that he has more prudence, who cuts off all hope of eternal life, by denying the Saviour?
M. No! no !
Mr. F. Or who partakes all day, and every day, of God's mercies, without paying any acknowledgment for them in prayer and praise?
T. No, indeed he has not.
Mr. F. Or who passes through the wide world, full as it is of temptations and dangers, without taking the word of God for his guide, and the promises of God for his consolation
M. No, he has no prudence at all.
Mr. F. Or who lives through youth, manhood, and age, liable to death every moment, without making the least preparation for death and eternity?
E. This man would be ten times more simple than the other.
Mr. F. It has been said, with truth, that we can see a black spot on the forehead of
another, though we cannot discern one on our own brows; and, in like manner, we may discern the want of prudence in those around us, without being aware that we are ourselves deficient in it. What must we do, Thomas, when we wish to act prudently?
T. We must think of the past and the future. We must look backwards and forwards.
Mr. F. You are right. If we could always see the advantage of acting prudently, and the disadvantage of acting imprudently, it would be to us a great service. One person dashes through the dirt,andscrambles through the briers; while another picks his road. The latter is prudent and wise.
For who, through dark and miry ways.
O'er briery brakes will go;
Where fragrant flowerets grow? P. There is hardly any prudence at all in little boys.
Mr. F. One man lives an intemperate life, sits up late at night, spends his money carelessly, and dies in a workhouse. Another is prudent and temperate, goes to bed early, puts money in the savings' bank, and becomes rich. What a difference between the one and the other! Not only should we be prudent ourselves, but endeavour to make all others prudent too. It would be acting very imprudently if we did not do so, and I will tell you why.
M. Do, papa; do.
Mr. F. Though a man be prudent himself, if he have an imprudent wife, she may run him into debt; if he have an imprudent son, he may be brought to shame; if he have an imprudent neighbour, he may have his reputation slandered; and if he have an imprudent servant, in a fit of folly his house may be set
E. Nothing can be clearer than that: we ought all of us to be doubly prudent now.
Mr. F. If I have disposed you to act prudently, our time has not been misspent. Remember,
ACTS OF PRUDENCE CONTINUED.
“Does any one remember what prudence is?” said Mr. Franklin, as he took his seat among his children. When, directly, Edward and his sister Mary, Thomas and little Peter, all cried out together, “I do, papa; I do!” Mary then said, that prudence was “sound sense looking before and behind.”
“That being the case,” said Mr. Franklin “I will tell you of an affair in which a rogue by no means acted prudently. It is related that a short time ago, either in France or Italy, I really forget which, a man of great coolness and courage was met by a stout fellow, who pulled out a poniard and demanded his purse. “ Capital !" the other exclaimed, “I was just about to make the same demand on you; but come, as I find I have fallen in with one of ourselves, I'll give you a share of a prime job I have in hand. Come along!” Deceived by this confidence, the real rogue joined the counterfeit, and they stole along together till they were met by a patrol, into whose hands the thief was delivered by his associate.'
E. And was the rogue, then, really taken ?