Willie and the Bears

    I said to my little family, one morning, a few weeks before the Chicago fire, "I am coming home this afternoon to give you a ride." My little boy clapped his hands. "O papa, will you take me to see the bears in Lincoln park?" "Yes." You know boys are very fond of seeing bears. I had not been gone long when my little boy said, Mamma, I wish you would get me ready." "O," she said, "it will be a long time before your papa comes." "But I want to get ready, mamma." At last he was ready to have the ride, face washed, and clothes all nice and clean. "Now, you must take good care and not get yourself dirty again," said mamma. O, of course he was going to take care; he wasn't going to get dirty. So off he ran to watch for me. However, it was a long time yet until the afternoon, and after a little he began to play. When I got home, I found him outside, with his face all covered with dirt. "I can't take you to the park that way, Willie." "Why, papa, you said you would take me." "Ah, but I can't; you're all over mud. I couldn't be seen with such a dirty little boy." "Why, I's clean, papa; mamma washed me." "Well, you've got dirty since." But he began to cry, and I could not convince him that he was dirty. "I's clean; mamma washed me!" he cried. Do you think I argued with him? No. I just took him up in my arms, and carried him into the house, and showed him his face in the looking-glass. He had not a word to say. He could not take my word for it; but one look at the glass was enough; he saw it for himself. He didn't say he wasn't dirty after that!

    Now, the looking-glass showed him that his face was dirty, but I did not take the looking-glass to wash it; of course not. Yet that is just what thousands of people do. The law is the looking-glass to see ourselves in, to show us how vile and worthless we are in the sight of God; but they take the law and try to wash themselves with it.