With A Will,








     It was a summer afternoon; the wheelbarrow stood before Mrs. Robin’s door; the street was empty of all traffic, for the heat was intense.  I sauntered languidly along on the shady side opposite the widow’s house, and noticed her boy bringing out some linen in baskets to put on the wheelbarrow.  I was surprised at the size of the baskets he was lugging along the passage and lifting on to the wheelbarrow, and passed to look at him.  He pulled, and dragged, and then resting a moment began again, and in the silence of the street, I heard him saying something to himself.  I half crossed the road.  He was too busy to notice me, and then, in a pause of his toil, I heard him gasp out, “With a will, Joe.”  He was encouraging himself to a further effort with these words.  At last, bringing the large basket to the curbstone, he ran in and got a piece of smooth wood as a lever; resting one end of the basket on the wheelbarrow he heaved up the other end, and saying a little louder than before, “With a will, Joe.” The basket was mounted on to the wheelbarrow.

       As he rested, and looked proudly at his successful effort, he saw me, and his round, red face, covered with perspiration, became scarlet for a moment, as I said, “That’s a brave boy.”  The mother’s voice sounded in the passage,  “I’m coming, Joe,” and out she came as the child, pointing to the basket, said “I’ve managed it, mother.”  It was a pretty sight, the looks of the widow and her willing boy.  Though no further word was spoken, the sense of satisfaction on each face was very plain, and I have no doubt in each heart there was a throb of pleasure that words have no language for.

     I went on my way, but the saying, “With a will, Joe,” went with me.  How much there was in that simple phrase, “With a will!”  How different is our work according as we do it with or against our will.  This little fellow might have cried or murmured, or left his mother to do the work, and been dissatisfied with himself, and a source of discontent to his mother, but he had spurred himself on to toil and duty, with his words, powerful in their simplicity—“With a will, Joe.”

                 Often since have I recalled the scene and the saying.  When some young lady complains to me, “I have no time to give to doing good.  I’ve visits to make, and shopping to do, and embroidery to finish, how can I help the poor when I’m so pressed for time?”  I am apt to say mentally, “How different it would be with her, if she had ever said to herself, ‘With a will.’”

         Yes, with a will we can do almost anything that ought to be done; and without a will we can do nothing as it should be done.  To all of us, whatever our station, there come difficulties and trials.  If we yield to them we are beaten down and conquered.  But if we, ourselves conquer the temptation to do wrong, calling the strength of God to aid us in our struggle with the enemy, we shall grow stronger and more valiant with every battle, and less liable to again fall into temptation.  Our wisdom and our duty are to rouse ourselves,--to speak to our own hearts as the child did in his simple words, “With a will, Joe.”  When there is any wrong thing that we want to do, our will then is strong enough.  The Evil One comes with his temptations, and helps us to our ruin, with his strength.

        The times when we flag are when we want to do right.  “When I would do good, evil is present with me,” was the testimony of the apostle of the Gentiles, and it is the experience of all, unless they go to Him who can make our wills obedient to His will.  Our prayer should be, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit {will} within me.”




Whatsoever you find to do

Do it, boys, with all your might

Never be a little true

Or a little in the right.


Trifles even

Lead to heaven.

Trifles make the life of man

So in all things

Great or small things

Be as thorough as you can.