A Kind Word
Within each soul the God above
Plants the rich jewel,--human love
The fairest gem that faces youth
Is love’s companion,--fearless truth.
William and Henry were clerks in a large wholesale establishment. They met one morning on their way to the store and proceeded together. After talking a while on various subjects, the following dialogue took place:--
“By the way, William,” said Henry, “I understand you were last evening at---.” Naming a fashionable billiard saloon.
“A mistake, Henry. I was never in a billiard saloon.”
“Well, I thought it very strange when I heard it.”
“Why?” said Henry in astonishment. “Why, because you are a religious young man and a church member.”
“Do you ever visit such places, Henry?”
“Oh, yes; but that is quite a different matter. I don’t profess to be a Christian, you know.”
“You would think it wrong for me to be there?
“Of course I should.”
“And right for you?’
“Well, yes; there’s no harm in my being there.”
“Why, because—because I do not profess to be bound by the same obligations that you are.”
“And who has released you from those same obligations and imposed them upon me?
“Oh, well, now, there’s no use in talking, William; you know that Christians do not and ought not to engage in what they consider pernicious amusements.”
“I certainly do know that they ought not; but I wish to know why it is wrong for them and right for others.”
“You know the fact that it is so.”
“No, I do not know that it is; and I wish to call your attention to the truth that the obligation to refrain from evil rests upon every rational human being in a Christian land, for God has commanded all men to love and obey Him; also, to the fact that the difference between the Christian and the sinner is that one acknowledges the obligation, while the other denies it; and that the denial does not release the obligation. God has not invited you to love Him if you prefer to do so; but he had absolutely commanded you and me to absolutely love and obey Him. I have the right, if you have, engage in any kind of amusement, and to follow my inclinations in all thing; and it is your duty, equally with mine, to honor our Master’s law by shunning every wicked way. Think of this, friend Henry, I entreat you, and acknowledge the responsibility which you cannot remove; and from which, after accepting, you will not desire to be released.”
They had arrived at the store, and each went to his own department. These young men had entered the employment of A. B. & sons at the same time, about two years before the above conversation occurred. William had gained the confidence of his employers, and had risen in position. The senior partner intended retiring from business, and was looking about for a Christian young man of ability and energy to propose as a partner for his sons; and had lately been thinking of William as a suitable person. He had observed him closely, and thought he saw in him the habits and qualifications necessary to make a successful business man.
He had also been watching Henry’s course. He had heard of him at places where a young man who aspires to positions of truth and honor will never be seen, and was about proposing his discharge to the other members of the firm. He knew that a clerk whose style of living requires more money than his salary gives him will be very likely, almost sure, to resort to dishonest practices to make up the deficiency. Instances of this kind are every day occurring in our cities; and as long as we meet, as we may every morning and evening in the Broadway stages, dainty looking young men, dressed in finer fresher broadcloth than their employers wear, with heavy gold chains, fine chronometers, and diamond pins and rings, we may expect to hear of a great many more.
That morning’s conversation made a deep impression on Henry’s mind. The subject had never been presented to him in that light before. He had imagined, as young persons are apt to suppose, that no moral responsibility rested upon him till he assumed it publicly by uniting with the church. Henry did not mean to die a sinner. OH, no; he fully intended, after he had enjoyed what he considered the pleasures of youth, to settle down into Christian manhood. After this talk with William he could not get rid of the idea of accountability to his God. His wicked amusements and extravagant habits appeared to him as they never had done before, and he began to see their inevitable tendency. The result was an entire change in his aims and conduct. This was so marked that it soon became known to all of his associates, and, of course to his employers.
He remained in that house; gradually rising to the highest clerkship, and finally becoming the junior partner of the firm of which William had for some time been a member. His happiness and prosperity he always attributed to the word kindly spoken at the right time by his fellow clerk. He has been successful not only as a merchant, but as a Christian, exerting a powerful influence for good upon all about him, but particularly upon the young men employed in his house.
“Live for something!
Nature doth reciprocate
Her kindness. Should the animated
This great law invalidate?
Rather show thy grateful praises
To Thy God who reigns above
In acts that sorrow’s soul releases—
‘Words of kindness,’ ‘deeds of love.’”