The Sunny Face, and the Shady Face

by the American Sunday-School Union


"How happy I am to-night! I love you so much I want to be with you all the time," said Willie to his mother, as he followed her from the dining-room to the nursery, one stormy evening.

What made Willie so happy? It was not because the day had been pleasant, and he had been permitted to enjoy himself out of doors, for a chilling snow had been falling, and Willie had been obliged to remain in the house. It was not because he was well, for many hours of the day he had been lying on the bed too ill to sit up all the time. It was not because he had received a handsome present, for none had been given him.

There had been nothing unusual to make him so happy, excepting a thought hidden in the secret recesses of his heart. Shall I tell you what that thought was, that made his face so bright and sunny, that made his eyes sparkle, and wreathed his lips with smiles? I will tell you in his own words, and I hope you will treasure it in your heart. If you do, your face, too, will be cheerful and smiling, and your friends will love to look upon you.

When Willie told his mother how happy he was, she put her arm around him, and drew him lovingly to her side. "What makes you so happy?" she inquired.

"I suppose it is because I have been trying to be good," he answered.

"That always makes people happy," his mother replied.

Willie is generally a good boy, but he sometimes does wrong, and wrong-doing always makes him sad. It was a great pleasure to him that he had tried to be good, and had been enabled to overcome temptation.

All children are sometimes tempted to do wrong, and it often requires a severe struggle to decide to do right. But every child who overcomes evil feels a conscious happiness and self-respect in so doing. I hope you will "try to be good." If you do, and look to Christ for strength, he will aid you, and through his grace you will be able to become conqueror over the sins that "so easily beset you."

Henry Maxwell lives in the same town with Willie, and is of the same age. These boys often play together. I regret to be obliged to say that Henry is not so good a child as Willie. He does not so promptly obey his mother, and of course he cannot be so happy. Sometimes he pouts out his lips, when his mother wishes him to do something which he does not exactly like.

I one day heard his mother talking to him about his teeth. She wished him to brush them again, as he had not done it thoroughly the first time. It was astonishing to see how that fair, round face was disfigured by that ugly pout, and it was sad to hear his dissatisfied "I don't want to." When his mother insisted on obedience, Henry reluctantly complied with her wishes, closing the door behind him with great violence.

His face was not sunny and bright like Willie's, when he had tried to be good, but was dark and shady, like a clouded sky. It was not pleasant to look upon, and it made the heart of his mother heavy and sad to see it. I hope Henry will learn to be cheerful and prompt in his obedience to his mother, for, if he should not, the expression of his face will grow more and more disagreeable, till, when he is a man, it will look more like a chilly day in November, than a sweet, gladsome day in June.

I do not wish you should tell me, but I should like to have you ask yourself, when you have read about these two boys, which of them you are most like. Is your face sunny, or shady?