My Dear Children,  

Will you look at a picture from the memory-book of an old friend of mine?  It will show you the temptation and fall of the little daughter of a humble home.  But if we could peep at the memory books of the great and honoured of this world, we should find that all are marred by the very same sins which we see in this little child.  True, many might deny that they have been guilty of lying and theft, not perceiving that deceit and covetousness are the roots of which lying and theft are the fruit.  In Romans 3, 9, 18, God has given us a photograph of our natural hearts.  Let us believe what He tells us about ourselves, and humbly take the sinner’s place before Him, for if Romans 3 shows us the disease, “there is no difference all have sinned,” it also shows us the remedy: “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”  Believing on Him, not only do we receive forgiveness and a new heart, but power - if we ask Him for it - to resist temptation.  In that he hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2, 18.)

My people,” wrote my friend, “were very poor.  We had no father, my eldest brother took his place as far as he could, and was always kind and gentle to us all.  One evening mother sent me to get a three-halfpenny bloater for my brother’s tea.  On the way up the street I met a girl friend.  She had gone on an errand for her mother and had been allowed to spend the farthing change on cocoanut candy.  How I wished for some!  I had to pass the sweet shop, and there right in the window front was the lovely candy!  When I got to the fish-shop there were a lot of bloaters some at one pence, some one and a quarter pence, and some one and a half pence.  Then the tempter said to me, ‘Why not buy a one and a quarter pence bloater and get a farthing’s worth of candy?  No one will know.’”

 My friend yielded to temptation.  She bought the candy, ate it nearly all, but put a little piece in her pinafore pocket.  Then she took the fish to her mother.  The latter looked at it doubtfully, asking “How much was this?”  The lie came at once: “Three halfpence, mother.”  The mother noticed the child’s red face.  Are you sure?" she said.  Frightened tears came, and the child’s hand sought her pocket handkerchief, and accidentally brought out the piece of candy.  The mother noticed it.  Where did you get this from?” she questioned, “and how much did you give for the bloater?  Tell me the truth, dear, or I shall take you back to the shop, for this bloater is not worth more than a penny.”

 Then the child confessed, but still the mother could not believe her, for she was sure the fish was only worth a penny.  Taking her little daughter with her to the shop, she asked what price had been paid.  To this day,” says my friend, “I can hear the man answer, ‘A penny, madam.’ I said, ‘Oh, please, sir, don't you remember you gave me a farthing change?’ ‘That's right,’ he said, ‘it was a three-farthing bloater, and I gave you the farthing change.’ I tried to tell him I had given him three halfpence and he had given me back a farthing, but he only, said I was a wicked girl and deserved a good thrashing, and oh dear I got it!  My mother took me home and beat me, and sent me to bed without my tea.  Later, I heard my brother come in, and after a short time (which seemed very long to me) he came upstairs.  I don’t think I shall ever forget the look of sadness on his fine face. I told him between my sobs how sorry I was, but he said I must tell God all about it and ask Him to forgive me that I had grieved God more than anyone else - and he stayed with me and helped me to pray and ask forgiveness.  I remember how he cried with me, for he loved me very much.  And he gave me a little card with the words, ‘Thou, God, seest me.’ Then he took me down to mother she kissed me, but still felt troubled, for according to the man’s story the fish had cost three farthings and I had stolen three farthings, when I had only confessed to stealing one.  So my brother took me back to the shop, but the man still insisted that his story was correct.  Then, quite suddenly, I remembered that he was not the man who had served me at all!  It was the master of the shop who had taken my money, and as we stood there he came out from his little room at the rear of the shop.  My brother asked him, and he said ‘Oh yes, I remember quite well she gave me three halfpence, and I gave her a farthing change.  Never mind, Missie! I hope you will let the trouble be a lesson to you?’ And oh, I thank and praise God I have never forgotten it.”

 In early manhood the elder brother passed away but the good seed sown in the little sister’s heart bore fruit, and, when tempted, she has thought of the card he gave her with its words of warning and encouragement:‑ “Thou, God, seest me.”Walk with God, for He seeth you,” wrote Samuel Rutherford, nearly 300 years ago, to the youth Ninian Mure. “Ye heard the truth of God from me, my dear heart, follow it and forsake it not.  Without faith in Christ and repentance ye cannot see God.  Beware of lying, swearing, uncleanness, and the rest of the works of the flesh, because, for these things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience, Grace be with you.”

 Your affectionate friend,

                             HELEN RAMSAY.