I was a little troubled at first whether to call it dangerous or safety line; for on one side of the line is safety and on the other side is danger. So it is a matter of some importance as to which side of the line we are on. When we used to play marbles we had what we called a “dead” line; if we fell beyond that line we were all right, but if we fell behind the line we were dead for that game. Now society has a moral line that people are expected to live up to if they wish to be respected; and all the good deeds and good qualities of life are on one side of the line and all the bad deeds and bad qualities are on the other side. So that we can easily see which is the respectable side of the line and also which is the safe side. And yet it is not always easy to keep on the safe side as some may think; surrounded as we are with the evils and temptations of life. It requires a great deal of moral courage to keep to the right. And yet the love of God, the hope of happiness, and the desire to be respected all require that we do so. Now there comes a period in almost every life when we are more subject to temptation than we are at other times. There is a transition period when we pass from youth to manhood. When one has the size and assumes the importance of grown up people and yet lack the experience that is necessary to succeed in life. I might illustrate by a little comparison. One bright spring morning two pretty pigeons with their bright plumage of gold and silvery hue alighted in our yard. They were shy at first, but as we did not molest them they soon became tame (they had come to stay), and began to gather sticks and feathers and to carry them t a corner under the eaves of the house where they laid eggs and set and hatched two young pigeons. They were squabby looking things and they remained in the nest in perfect safety under the care and protection of the parent birds. But there came a time when the old birds thought them old enough to be set out. So they undertook to learn them to fly. Then is when the danger came; for with their first effort to fly they found themselves almost helpless upon the ground and it was all we could do to keep the old cat from getting them. I learned a lesson from all this and thought how often children are exposed to danger when first entering into society. The evil one is ever watching for such opportunities and many a one owes his ruin to some fatal time when he had not the wisdom and prudence to resist the first temptation. There are many things that people are expected to practice if they wish to be respected and useful. And people cannot be very useful unless they are respected. One of the first things children should learn is to be obedient to parents. They should also be truthful and honest so people may believe everything they say. But if they practice evil habits a tree is soon known by its fruits. Intemperance is another evil that is blighting so many youths of our land that I would love to give timely warning to avoid that. No youth ever begins to drink expecting to be a drunkard. And yet it is a habit that steals on its victim so stealthily that he sometimes finds that he has formed an evil habit even against his own will. Hence the importance of resisting the first temptation. The youth who never drinks can never be a drunkard. It would be impossible to mention all the good fruits one is expected to practice or all the evil ones we are expected to avoid. We have the Scriptures and also a conscience that will guide us aright if we will heed their timely warning. Let us be careful how we pass the danger line, it is sometimes very hard to get back.
And yet I would not say anything to discourage those who have already erred, for many have repented and reformed and lead happy and useful lives. I would hold out the banner of hope to all. It is so sweet and safe to live with God’s blessing resting upon us that children should early learn to love, serve, and honor God who has done so much for us.
C. W. R. (C. W. Ridgway)