Little Annie's First Thoughts About God

by Nellie Grahame [Mrs. A. K. Dunning]

Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication



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Do you see that house on the hill? That is where the little girl lives I am going to tell you about. See how pretty that vine looks, clambering over the porch, and how gracefully those clusters of red and white roses hang around that bow window. Hear that little brook gently murmuring to the green fields as it passes along.

Do you know what a brook seems to me to be always saying? It

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seems ever repeating, "God is good;" because I know that God bade it spring up at its source, and go forth on its mission of love.

Everything about the place where Annie lives is pleasant. Even the cows, feeding so quietly, and the chickens, that strut so proudly over the gravel walks, seem remarkable contented with their quarters.

Annie Melville is a merry, laughing child, and tries to make everybody happy around her. She has large, dark eyes, and curling hair, a fair complexion and dimpled cheeks; but she has something far better than these. She has a gentle, loving nature that is all the time telling her to be obedient and pleasant.

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If she happens to forget to try to be good for a little while, and does some naughty thing, she is so sorry and so anxious to be forgiven that her friends are very willing to overlook her fault.

The very chickens seem to know and love her. I have seen her many a time seated on the green grass, with her apron filled with corn, calling them to come and eat. The chickens run towards her, at the first sound of her voice, and while they are eating, she laughs aloud and pats them gently with her plump, little hands. They are never afraid of Annie.

This is a good sign, I think. When I see dumb creatures very much afraid whenever a child comes

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near them, I am tempted to suppose she has an unamiable temper.

Annie has one sister older than herself. Her name is Carrie. Annie is only four years old and Carrie is thirteen, but they love each other dearly. They can never bear to be separated, even for a short time; and they always share everything, even the pretty bed-room, where they sleep together. They never tease or vex each other, but try in every possible way to give each other pleasure.

I wonder more children do not find out the beauty of this family affection. I never see older children tormenting their younger brothers and sisters, and the little ones answering back by cries of rage, while

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their pretty faces are made ugly by angry passions, without feeling very sad. Not only because I know they would have much nicer times, if they would live peacefully and pleasantly together, but because I know that the atmosphere of heaven is love, and that they never can be fit to enter heaven if they indulge in such sinful tempers.

It is a dreadful thing to see children living so, that they are every day growing more unfit for heaven.

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One evening Annie and her mother were sitting together in their pleasant parlour. Mr. Melville had gone out to attend to some important business, and Carrie was studying her lesson in her own room, so that there was no one in the parlour, but the mother and her daughter.

Annie had been running about and playing till she felt rather tired. She then drew her little rocking-chair close to her mother's side, seated herself in it, and began to

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rock gently backwards and forwards.

Her mother did not notice her. She seemed to be thinking about something. Perhaps she was thinking about Annie, and hoping she would learn to love her Saviour and always be a good child. Mothers do think about their children a great deal, and love them very much too, I am certain of that.

Children ought to try to be dutiful and obedient, so as to show their gratitude to their parents for all this care and kindness.

Some sober thoughts seemed to have found their way to little Annie's mind, for she sat quiet a great while for her. At last she took hold of her mother's dress and

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pulled it gently to attract her attention.

Mrs. Melville smiled and took her little daughter upon her lap.

"God made me, mother?" whispered the child.

"Who has been talking to you about that, my darling?" said her mother, in some surprise.

"Oh, sister Carrie told me so. I wish I knew something more about God," said Annie.

Then Mrs. Melville thought, "It is time my little girl did know about God," so she said,

"Well, Annie, I will tell you a little about God, if you would like me to do so. He is very great and good."

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"As good as father?" asked Annie.

"A great deal better than any man could ever be. He made you and me and everybody. He made all the beautiful things around us, the whole earth, and the blue sky, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars."

"I shouldn't think he could," said Annie.

"That is because you can only imagine what a man could do," said Mrs. Melville. "God is not like man. He is so wise and powerful, he can do anything. Nothing is impossible with God."

"Where is he?" asked the little girl.

"God is everywhere, darling."

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"Is he in this room?"

"Yes, he is in this room with us now, and hears everything we are saying."

"I do not think he is," said Annie, shaking her head very positively.

"Why not, dear?"

"Because I have looked all around the room, and I cannot see him at all."

"The reason you cannot see God, my dear, is because he is a spirit. But it is none the less true, that God is with you, and can see you every day and every hour."

"Can he see me in the dark night?" said Annie.

"Yes, at all times. I can tell you a little story about a child who

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forgot that God could see her, and how it brought her into trouble."

"Oh, please do, mother, I love to have you tell me stories."

"Well, once there was a little girl, named Ellen; she was thought to be a good child, but she had very deceitful ways. She liked to have her friends love her and call her good, and so she always tried to behave well when people were looking at her; but, when she thought no one saw her, she would sometimes do very naughty things indeed. She forgot that God's eye was upon her all the time."

"Ellen had a grandmother, who lived in the country. This grandmother had a beautiful house with a smooth, green lawn in front, and

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a flower garden at the side of it. In the lawn there were many fine fruit trees, and a pretty round pond where the little ducks sailed about from morning till night.

"This grandmother did not live many miles from the city, and Ellen often visited her. The happy child would sometimes stay there a great many days at a time.

"Ellen's grandmother loved her dearly. She liked to have her stay with her, and tried to please her in every possible way. She gave her a little garden to take care of herself, and she allowed her to pick as many of the flowers as she wanted. She gave her the charge of the ducks and the chickens, and Ellen loved to feed them dearly. She

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liked to see them come running towards her, tumbling over one another in their haste to snatch at the grains of corn which she was scattering around her."

"I like that too," said Annie.

"That was not all, either. Her grandmother had a little pony carriage, in which she took Ellen out to ride. She often used to drive about in this carriage, and invite a great many of Ellen's little friends to visit her. Then she would allow her to gather any quantity of apricots and peaches and plums to treat them with."

"Oh, how nice!" said Annie. "I don't wonder that she loved to stay with such a kind grandmother."

"One day as Ellen was preparing

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for school, she was delighted to hear her mother say,

"'Hurry home from school to-day, Ellen, for I am going into the country this afternoon, and I intend to take you with me.'

"'Oh, mother, are you going to grandmother's?' cried Ellen.

"'Yes, dear, and the boat leaves at five o'clock; so you must hasten home, or I shall not have time to dress you properly before dinner.'

"'Oh, mother, how glad I am!' said Ellen, clapping her hands, and skipping up and down the room.

"Her mother smiled to see her so happy, and said affectionately,

"'I am going to take you, dear child, as a reward for good conduct.

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I have been very much pleased with you lately.'

"Ellen blushed deeply at this, for she knew she had been naughty and disobedient a great many times, only her mother had not found it out.

"If she had been a good, candid child, she would have said at once,

"'My dear mother, I do not deserve your praise, for I have disobeyed you in many ways.'

"But she was a sly, deceitful girl, so she only pretended to be in a great hurry and ran quickly out of the room."

"Oh, mother, how naughty she was!" said Annie.

"God saw all her naughty actions, my darling," said Mrs. Melville,

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"and so he ordered it that she could not carry out her wickedness. He uncovered her sin, and revealed to her mother her real character.

"When Ellen came home from school in the afternoon, she found her mother waiting to help her to dress. She had brought out a neat travelling dress and a clean collar, and all the while she was putting them on, the little girl talked about her expected pleasure, and all the nice things her grandmother would give her.

"'Will father go with us?' she suddenly asked.

"'No, he cannot leave home just at this time. Aunt Ellen will stay and take care of him in our absence.'

"Ellen felt rather disappointed

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to hear this, for she was very fond of her father, so she was more quiet till her mother had finished dressing her.

"Now we will go [d]own stairs and eat our dinner, said her mother.

"After the dinner was over, Ellen happened to go to the closet, where she spied some very nice plum cake carefully put away in a stone pot.

"'May I have some of this cake, mother?' she asked. 'Here are some pieces cut.'

"No my dear, that cake is too rich for you to eat. Run up stairs and get your bonnet on, it is almost time to start for the boat.'

"Ellen went, but she longed, in

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her heart for the cake, it did look tempting.

"After her bonnet was on, he mother said, 'Now, dear, you may go down and wait in the parlour till I am ready. I will be down in a moment.'

"Ellen tripped off, singing a merry song, but, as she passed the dining room door, she happened to glance in and saw that her mother had forgotten to remove the key from the closet.

"This naughty child immediately thought,

"What a fortunate chance this is! I can just slip in and get a piece of that cake. I know that mother will never miss it.'

"She looked all around her to see if

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any one was observing her. She saw no one. She could not see God, because he is a spirit, but he was watching her all the time, and was going to allow her sin to bring its own punishment. If this little girl had only realized that the eye of a pure and holy God was upon her, I do not think she would have dared to act as she did.

"She stole cautiously to the closet, opened the door and put her hand into the jar. Alas! there were two stone jars upon the shelf, and in her hurry she made a sad mistake. She plunged her arm up to the elbow into some preserved quinces, and drew it out all dripping with the juice of the sweetmeats. Her pretty glove and neat dress were both com-

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pletely ruined and many drops had fallen on the new carpet of the dining room.

"As she stood, transfixed with confusion and grief, she heard her mother descending the stairs. In another moment she heard her calling her name.

"Too much frightened and ashamed to speak, she could only burst into a fit of crying.

"Her sobs guided her mother to the spot.

"'Ellen, my child!'

"The voice was so sad and stern that Ellen dared not look up.

"There was no need of any explanation. Her meanness and guilt were apparent at a single glance.

"'Can my child be so dishon-

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orable! I would never have believed this possible. Go to your room, Ellen. I cannot take you with me to-day."

"'O mother, please forgive me,' sobbed Ellen.

"I willingly forgive you, my dear child. I pity you from my heart, but I cannot allow you to accompany me to-day. I should feel no pleasure in the society of such a dishonorable child. Even if I were disposed to take you, there is now no time for you to change your dress. I have not a moment to spare.'

"Her mother led her to her room and then left her. Oh, how ashamed Ellen felt when her kind aunt came to assist her in taking off her

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things! and when her dear father came home at night how she dreaded to hear him ask why she had not gone with her mother!

"Instead of the pleasure she had anticipated, she passed the whole afternoon in sadness and tears. All this trouble and unhappiness was brought about, because this little girl did not remember that God sees and knows all things. If she had realized this, and tried to please him, as she did her earthly friends, she would not have been led into the sin which occasioned her so much shame and disappointment."

Little Annie looked very serious after her mother had finished. She was thinking how many times she had been naughty when she thought

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no one saw her. It made her feel very unhappy to think that God must have known about it all the time.

"Mother," she said at last, "does God love naughty children?"

Her mother guessed what she was thinking.

"No, Annie," she said, "but if children are very sorry, and ask God to forgive them, he will do so; and if they try hard to be better and ask God to help them, he will make them good."

"But how can they ask him? They cannot speak to God, can they, mother?"

"Yes, darling; though God is so great and wise and good, he will hear even a little child like you.

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Whenever you kneel down and say your prayers, you are talking to God."

"I should like to say my prayers now," said Annie.

"Well, dear, I think it is about time you went to bed; so you may say your prayers now."

Annie jumped quickly down from her mother's lap. She then kneeled down and clasping her hands as she had been taught to do, she said

"Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child.
Pity my simplicity;
Suffer me to come to thee.

"Fain would I to thee be brought;
Gracious God, forbid it not.
In the kingdom of thy grace,
Give a little child a place."

All the time Annie was saying

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these verses, she tried to remember that she was talking to God. She really did hope he would hear her, and make her his own little child.

This is the way to pray from the heart. It is very wrong for children to say prayers with the lips, when they are thinking of plays and toys and other things. If you want to have your prayers heard and answered, dear children, you must be in earnest.

When Annie had finished her simple prayer, her mother rang for the nurse to come and put her to bed.

The little girl then kissed her mother good night, and ran up stairs, singing in a sweet, clear voice

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"I want to be like Jesus,
So lowly and so meek;
For no one marked an angry word,
That ever heard him speak.

"I want to be like Jesus,
So frequently in prayer,
Alone upon the mountain top,
He met his Father there.

"I want to be like Jesus:
I never, never find
That he, though persecuted, was
To any one unkind.

"I want to be like Jesus;
Engaged in doing good;
So that of me it may be said,
She hath done what she could.'

"Alas, I'm not like Jesus,
As any one may see:
O gentle Saviour, send thy grace
And make me like to thee."

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Copyright 2019 by Deidre Johnson . Please do not reproduce without permission