Vicarious Punishment by Unknown
This is the term applied to such punishment as that which Christ bore
when he suffered on the cross, the just for the unjust. You do not quite
know what it means, do you? I think I hear you say, "Oh, we do not want
to know what such long words mean."
But stop a moment, I have a story to tell.
It was a warm summer afternoon; a lazy breeze stole through the windows
of a little district schoolhouse, lifting the curtains, and rustling the
leaves of the copy-books that lay open on all the desks.
Thirty or forty scholars of all ages were bending over their writing,
quiet and busy; the voice of the master, as he passed about among the
writers, was the only sound.
Perhaps you might not have thought it possible, but I assure you, that
this hot little schoolroom has its heroes and heroines as certainly as
many another place which might have seemed far more pretending.
The bell rang for the writing to be laid by; and now came the last
exercise of the day, the spelling, in which nearly all the school
joined. At the head of the class was a delicate little girl, whose
bright eyes and attentive air showed that she prized her place, and
meant to keep it.
Presently a word which had passed all the lower end of the class, came
to Eunice. The word was privilege. "P-r-i-v, priv—i, privi—l-e-g-e,
lege, privilege," spelt Eunice. But the teacher, vexed with the mistakes
of the other end of the class, misunderstood and passed it. The little
girl looked amazed, the bright color came into her cheeks, and she
listened eagerly to the next person, who spelt it again as she had done.
"Right," said the teacher; "take your place."
"I spelt it so," whispered Eunice partly to herself; the tears springing
to her eyes as she passed down. But too timid to speak to the master,
she remained in her place, determining soon to get up again. But her
trials were not yet over.
Many expedients had been tried in the school to keep out that arch-enemy
of all teachers—whispering. At length the following plan was adopted:—
The first whisperer was stood upon the floor in front of the teacher's
desk. Here he acted as a monitor; as soon as he detected another
whispering, he took his seat, and the next offender kept a sharp lookout
to find some one to take his place; for, at the close of school, the
scholar who had the whisperer's place was punished very severely.
This plan appeared to operate very well; every one dreaded to be found
last on the floor; but, though it secured an orderly school, many of the
parents and scholars doubted its justice.
The boy who was on the floor when Eunice lost her place, was an unruly,
surly fellow, who had often before smarted for his faults; and as school
drew near its close, he began to tremble. The instant Eunice's whispered
complaint reached his ear, his face brightened up; he was safe now. And
when the class was dismissed, he said, "Eunice whispered, sir."
Eunice rose, and in a trembling voice related what she had said; but the
teacher saw no excuse in it, and she was called to take the place of the
ungenerous boy who had told of her.
The books were put away, and the waiting school looked on in sorrow as
Eunice left her seat to take the dreaded punishment. She was one of the
best scholars; bright, faithful, sweet-tempered, and a general favorite.
Every one felt that it was unjust; and many angry glances were cast at
the boy who was mean enough to get a little girl whipped. Overcome with
shame and fear, she stood by the side of the desk crying bitterly, while
the teacher was preparing to inflict the punishment.
At this moment a tall boy stepped out of his seat, and going to the
"Are you going to whip Eunice, sir?"
"Yes; I never break my rules!" the teacher answered.
"We will not see her whipped!" said the boy in an excited voice; "there
is not a boy here but that one, who would see her whipped! Whip me,
sir, and keep your rule, if you must, but don't touch this little girl!"
The master paused; the school looked on tearfully.
"Do you mean to say you will take her punishment?" asked the teacher.
"I do sir," was the bold reply.
The sobbing little girl was sent to her seat, and without flinching, her
friend stood and received the punishment that was to have fallen upon
her. The school was dismissed, and the boys paid him in admiration and
praise for all he had suffered.
This was vicarious punishment,—one suffering from his own free will the
punishment that was to have been borne by another.
You see, do you not, that this is just what He did who bore our sins in
His own body upon the tree—the Saviour of men? What He suffered we
cannot know in this life; but God laid on Him the iniquity of us all;
and this He willingly bore to save us from death. With His stripes we
are healed. How great the gratitude each of us owes such a Friend.
"Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all."