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Jane Marcet

Address to Mothers

A S Willy was an intelligent child, his Mother thought that he could now begin to understand, what was the most important of all things for him to learn—the existence of the Deity. She therefore took the opportunity of telling him one day, when he asked her who it was that made the little leaves and flowers, and folded them up so curiously in the buds; that the whole world, and every thing which belonged to it, was created by an all-powerful Being, whose name was God. She pronounced this word with reverence, and said that it should never be spoken without awe. She told him that every thing he saw, and every thing that he enjoyed, and that made him happy, he owed to God; for it was he who made all things; his Papa and Mamma, his little Sister, and all his friends and relations: the food which he ate, the water he drank, the flowers and fruit he gathered, all were made by this great and good Being. Willy's attention was very strongly excited, and there was no end to the questions he asked; but as the questions of children on so important a subject, however simple and natural, often appear absurd, I shall not record them. Besides, I think it right that every Mother should be left to her own discretion, both as to the occasion, the manner, and the age, in which to give her child this instruction. I shall, therefore, only mention, that when Willy enquired how he could thank God for all he had done for him, his Mamma taught him a very short and simple prayer, which he repeated every day, kneeling down and putting his little hands together. Willy expressed a great desire to do what would please God. His Mother told him that God was perfectly good, and loved those who were good; therefore he must try to be good. "Then," added she, "God does good to every one, and to every thing; so you must try to do good."

"But I am too little to do good."

"You cannot do much good," replied she; "but you can do some little good. You must be kind and good tempered with your playfellows, and think of pleasing them and making them happy as well as yourself. When you are good tempered and obedient, you do good to somebody," said his Mamma smiling.

"Who, Mamma?"

"To me, my dear," said she, taking him up in her arms, and kissing him, "because it makes me happy; and whenever you are naughty you do harm, and God will love you less; but if, when you have been naughty, you are sorry for it, really sorry, so that you try not to do so another time, God is kind and merciful, and will forgive you, and love you again."

From this time Willy made greater efforts to be good and kind to every one, and to command himself when he felt that he was going to fall into a passion, and to check himself when he was fretful or peevish; for he knew that, besides its displeasing his Papa and Mamma, it would displease God, who was so good to him. Willy not only became a better child, but a happier one; for whenever he saw any thing beautiful, or wonderful, or curious, he remembered that God had made it, and his little heart beat with gratitude and admiration—for he had felt those sentiments long before he knew either what they meant, or how to express them.