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. |Oh, 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.| |Oh,| she said, |it will be a long time before 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. Oh, 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'se 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'se 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.