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mon says—“A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet (PROVERBS xxix. 5.)_“As a wolf is like a dog, so is a flatterer like a friend." There is a just love of praise--a discreet and modest desire to emulate our fellows-a desire to excel in our trade or calling ; but we must remember at the same time that the things which the world usually admire and praise the most, are not the things in their own natures the most valuable; they relate to the present life and terminate with it. Avoid flattery, for it has been said—“He who paints me before, blackens me behind." I heard of the following conundrum the other day—What is that which makes everybody sick but the person who swallows it?
Answer–Flattery! Another proverb from Solomon—"A flattering mouth worketh ruin" (PROVERBS xxvi. 28). And one from old England—“He who knows himself best, esteems himself least. Of all flatterers, self-love is the greatest." When Benjamin Franklin was a boy, a neighbour, by flattery, induced him to turn the handle of his father's grindstone, while he (the neighbour) sharpened a new axe. He was called a nice little curly-headed boy during the operation of grinding the axe, but the moment the man's turn was served, he called Ben a young rascal, and bade him make haste to school. “Whenever a stranger came to me in after-life with very sweet words, I always fancied he had an axe to grind,” says Franklin. We have an admirable example in history of the rebuke given to flatterers by Canute, so ably rendered by Dr. Aikin, for the benefit of school boys. Again I say -beware of flattery, for few can stand against it; and we know that Christian virtues are of a silent, modest, and retiring nature, approved by God and good angels, but too often overlooked by the busy world.
I proceed now to notice the second part suggested by this fable, namely--obtaining goods by false pretences. And here let me say, that a fox is not the only animal that obtains goods in this way; for the daily press informs us of the tricks of Londoners who have obtained jewels and money in this way; who live, as it were, upon the blood and vitals of their fellow-citizens, because they are too idle and too proud to obtain a living by honest industry: it demeans them, they think; so they set their wits to work to outwit their fellows; and they succeed for a time, but in the end they are sure to be the losers, for we shall see
in the next fable that “Honesty is the best policy.” A young man was indicted the other day for obtaining by means of false pretences two sovereigns, the monies of a contractor, with intent to cheat and defraud. He pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to twelve months' hard labour. I read the other day of a man who obtained a piano from a music warehouse, upon hire, for a private evening concert; but, instead of amusing his friends with its tones, he amused himself by placing it at “My Uncle's,” to raise the wind !
In the third place, the idea of Trap presents itself to the mind. Now, we all know that there are legitimate trappers, who endure hardships, and sometimes wants, in the vast plains of America, to procure the furs of the various animals that frequent those regions, in order that the ladies of Europe may envelope themselves in them. But the Traps that I wish to warn you against, are those that are set by designing men and women to lure the young both sexes into the vortex of dissipation, viz.:—Singing hallsdancing saloons--supper rooms.
Beware of them, my young friends: spend your evenings so well that the ainusements of those hours of leisure may bear the reflections of the coming day. Perhaps you may have seen written up in some public place—Pro bono publico;"
“ Alarming sacrifice!" “ Make haste or you will be too late !” “Fifty per cent. under prime cost!” “Goods given away!" "Clearing out!" &c. &c. Now this is another kind of Trap; and I would say to you, in the words of the old proverbs—“At a cheap pennyworth pause awhile.” “When the fox preaches take care of the lambs.” “ Look before you leap.” “Look twice before you determine once.” Some people have a sort of mania for bargains, and will purchase whether they want the things or not, just because they are dirt cheap, as they say. I would warn you never to buy because an article is low priced, or from the mere whim of the passing moment. Consider well before you part with your money whether you really need it or not. There is another kind of trapper against whom I would warn you—the tramping vendors of small wares--who are seldom or never seen twice in the same town or village, because their articles are merely made to sell, not for use; they are the men of whom Jeremiah speaks (chap. v., 26) _"They lay wait and set a trap, they catch men." When
such persons come in your way, you should remember the proverb which says—“I'll trust him no further than I can throw him.”. Now, I will just give you a little anecdoté by way of illustration. One of these travelling designers of Trap went, some time ago, to a village in Herts with his box of tinsel goods, and calling at the house of an elderly woman, who was reading by the aid of an old pair of silver mounted spectacles, which were a relic of the past, set hiş trap, and caught his prey in the following manner: Buy a pair of spectacles, mum ?” “No-I-think-not-today.” “Got a good pair here, mum--sell them cheapreal pebbles, mum! Quite a bargain-never have such a chance again !” “Well—then, if I should want to buyhow much might you want for them?” “Only 10s. 6d., inum--wonderful cheap!” “No-I-can't buy them.”"Well, look here, mum-I see you have an old pair on the table--now, s'pose you give me thein and the pair you have gn, and 4s. to boot, and you shall have these pebbles !!" “No; that is too much." “Well, say 2s., then.” "No." "Well, look here, then, mum-give me the two pairs of specks, and leave the 2s. till I come round again: will that
The bait took; the two pairs were given for the .so called pebbles, and the 2s, were left till he called again. But he forgot to call again ; and when the tale was told me by the poor dupe herself, several years had rolled by, and still he never called for his 2s.! And why did he never call ? Answer-They were only a cominon pair, with common glass in them, worth about Is. 6d., or 2s. at the most. “Trap !" I said to myself—“ Trap!!"' I might dwell on this subject much longer, and dilate upon the Trap which those crafty Jews laid for our blessed Saviour, with the tribute money, and instance another kind of Trapper; but time warns me to proceed to No. 2 of the diagrams before you—“THE WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING.” A wolf clothing himself in the skin of a sheep, and getting in among the flock, by this means took the opportunity to devour many of them. At last the shepherd discovered him, and cunningly fastening a rope about his neck, tied him up to a tree. Some other shepherds happening to pass that way, and observing what he was about, drew near, and expressed their surprise at it. “What!” says one of them, “ do you like hanging sheep, brother ?" No," replies the
other; “ but I like hanging a wolf whenever I catch him, though in the habit and garb of a sheep.” Then he showed them their mistake, and they applauded the execution.We learn by this fable that we are not to be led away by the mere dress or outside of any person ; that no regard is to be had to the mere habit of a man, for we may be-aye, and we often are—mistaken in our notions of good and evil
, and are too often guided by externals: whereas we ought to consider undisguised worth and intrinsic virtue as essentials of character. The old proverb says-“It's not the gay coat that makes the gentleman;" but truth obliges us to say, that people generally are too apt to look upon externals as a test of respectability. The wolf in the fable was acting the hypocrite. Now, we know that hypocrisy is cured with difficulty ; but the best means to cure it is a steadfast belief in the pure and all-seeing God, who sees sin wherever it is, and will bring it into judgment; and this leads us seriously to consider what Solomon says (PROV. xi. 9)—"An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour; buť through knowledge shall the just be delivered.” Out of a vast number of good old proverbs that force themselves upon the memory, the following seem to me to be particularly applicable to the present subject :-“Truth hath always a fast foundation.” “Show me a liar and I will show you a thief.” “Virtue ne'er grows old.” “Truth will aye stand without a prop," but “A lie has no legs to stand upon.” What a string of pearls these old proverbs always appear
and what sterling truth do they contain !
Now let us prove one or two; for you all know that a lie acted is as bad as a lie spoken. The old wolf in the fable, although he had four legs, could not stand upon one, for he was caught in his own device, and treated as he deserved to be; and so it is with some men in the long run, they are deep in their way, but not too deep to be found out, and they are looked upon as all bad people should be— with coldness and neglect.
The following little incident occurred in my native town of Cambridge some years ago, which will illustrate the last proverb that I mentioned :-An old gentleman, as he was passing down Trumlington-street one day, picked up ls. near the Bull Hotel, and was about to put it into his pocket when a man, who was lounging near the inn, called out
“That's my shilling. “Oh, is it,” said the old gent. “Yes, it is,” replied the fellow, “and you give to me." “Stop sir, if you please pray had your shilling a hole in it ?” * “Yes, it had,” said the rogue. “Ah, well then,” said the old gent,“ this has not got a hole in it, so it cannot be your shilling.” This caused a laugh at the fellow's expense, and proves that “a biter may sometimes be bitten.” Again: a farmer one day had a horse stolen, which he found exhibited some time after at a horse fair, held at a market town some 14 miles off. He went up to the man who had it for sale, and stated that it was the horse which he had had stolen some short time before. “No such thing,” said the horse-dealer, “ I've had that Os these two years, so it can't be yourn."
“ Had it two years, have you ?" said the farmer, and at the same time he went up to the horse and placed both his hands over the horse's eyes ; “Well then," said he, “if you have had this horse for two years you must know something about it; now then, tell me which eye is he blind with ?” “The left," said the horse-stealer. "No," said the farmer, “ this horse is not blind with the left eye.” “No, no," said the rogue, “I meant the right." “Ah, well, but this horse is not blind with the right eye neither, so it appears you know nothing about it, and it cannot be your horse.” Whereupon the fellow was taken up and punished, as he was found out to be a horse-stealer as well as a horse-dealer.
An old man once said to his grandson—"Honesty is the best policy,' Jem, my boy, for I've tried both.” Another old proverb says—« Ill-gotten goods seldom prosper."
.“ Of all studies, study your present condition."
[To be continued.]