The Unpleasant Neighbour

by the American Sunday-School Union

Eddie's father has a disagreeable neighbour. In one way or another he is a constant source of annoyance. Sometimes his pigs will creep through the fence, and root up the smooth green lawn. His part of the fence he will not keep in repair, and the hungry cows, in search of food, will break into the garden, and make sad havoc among the cabbages and other vegetables. His fine bay horse, whom he knows will jump over any ordinary fence, is permitted to run in a pasture, where he can eke out his scanty meal by a hearty lunch among Mr. Dudley's corn. All these aggressions, and many more, have been borne with the greatest patience.

Mr. Dudley has often been advised to resort to the law as a means of defence, yet he has been reluctant to do so. The children have sometimes felt very indignant when they have been obliged to chase the pigs or the cows out of the yard or field, but their parents have endeavoured to teach them Christian forbearance.

At one time Eddie had been thinking about Mr. Morrison,—for by that name I shall call the unpleasant neighbour,—and he said very seriously to his mother,

"Mother, can Mr. Morrison go to heaven if he dies."

She hesitated a moment how to answer him, for, she had taught him that it is wicked to lie and to swear, and that if a person loves God he will not be in the habit of committing such sins; so she told him, that unless Mr. Morrison repented he could not go to heaven.

At another time Eddie and his mother were talking about God's love for the beings he has made. She told him that God loves every one.

"Does he love Mr. Morrison?" he inquired.

"Yes, God loves Mr. Morrison. He is grieved and offended by his wickedness, but he loves him. You know I love you, when you have done wrong, although I am sorry that you have been naughty. I do not cease to love you. The Bible tells us that while we were sinners, God so loved us as to send his Son to die for us. He loves all, and wishes all to repent and believe in Christ, and be happy. He has provided a way for all who believe to be saved, and it is only because people love sin more than they love holiness, that they are lost."

Nothing can give us a higher idea of God's love, than the thought that he loves every one—even his enemies. "God is love." What a blessed, glorious thought! How it encourages us to trust him at all times!

God does not willingly afflict, nor grieve, nor punish any one. All that he does, he does from the truest love.

The knowledge that God loves us should lead us to love him. We are naturally disposed to love those who love us, and always do, unless there is something repulsive about them. There can be nothing repulsive about God, for he is love, and we who love him, love him because he first loved us.

One night, after little Eddie had repeated the Lord's Prayer and his usual evening petitions, he raised his head, and said to his mother,

"Shan't I pray for Mr. Morrison, now?"

"Yes, dear, if you wish to," she answered.

He bowed his head again, and uttered a simple prayer for the man who was the occasion of so much trouble and perplexity to his father's family. He prayed that God would forgive his sins for Jesus' sake, and make him a good man. It was very pleasant to hear Eddie pray thus, and to witness his kind and forgiving spirit.

Mr. and Mrs. Dudley have often regretted that the children should have their early memories saddened by such a neighbour, but perhaps their heavenly Father wishes to teach them a lesson of forbearance and love for those who injure them, which they could not so well learn in any other way.

Our Saviour, when dying on the cross, taught us practically the duty of forgiveness. He prayed even for those who put him to death. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Do you not suppose he was pleased to hear Eddie ask his Father in heaven to forgive Mr. Morrison and make him a good man?