THE LESSON—That sin gains its victims through the most alluring deception.
This illustration should prove valuable in presenting to the minds of boys of all ages the truth of the seductiveness of sin, as the treatment of the subject brings in a discussion of a sport with which all are more or less familiar.
"At the beginning of our talk today, I am going to place on the drawing paper the picture of a fish. [Draw Fig. 80, complete.] It looks like a very large fish, but, as a matter of fact, it is a very greatly enlarged picture of a very little fish. In reality, it is a minnow only about three inches long, the kind which the bigger fish like for dessert, and which, therefore, are usually pretty careful where they go.
"Now, I want to see, by having you hold up your hands, just how many of you boys like to go fishing? One, two, three—why, nearly all of you. Some, I suppose are fond of still-fishing—that is to fish from the bank or from an anchored boat, and not move around very much. And some like to troll, I suppose—that is to use an artificial bait and let the line drag in the water quite a distance back of the row boat as you propel it through the water. And others, perhaps, like to cast—that is, to throw the bait away out into the water and then bring it in again by winding up the line on the reel. And some, I suppose, like to use other methods of catching fish. But I am going to speak only of the artificial bait which is used by those who troll and cast.
"Nearly always, the fisherman buys his artificial bait from a store which sells all sorts of artificial minnows and other false bait which have been made by experts. And who are these experts? They are men who have spent years trying to find out the best way to fool the fish into believing they see their prospective dinner, when in reality they are going to their death. One kind of bait is the artificial minnow. The manufacturer makes a wooden minnow, shaped like the real minnow, whose picture I have drawn; then he paints it in the colors of the live minnow, and sometimes he puts on some bright metal which whirls in the water and attracts the attention of the fish. If the deception were to stop there, very little harm would be done, but to all this the manufacturer adds a lot of ugly hooks, sometimes as many as fifteen. [It is well to draw the lines suggested as the talk proceeds, and finish by drawing the hooks at this point, completing Fig. 81.] When this attractive artificial minnow is made to glide through the water, the fish, seeing nothing of the hooks or else knowing nothing of their harmfulness, opens his mouth wide and tries to swallow the bait. Immediately, the ugly hooks catch him, and unless he can tear loose he is doomed. He is deceived. He finds out his mistake when it is too late.
"Sometimes, the fisherman uses a spoon hook or other bait in which the hooks are hidden beneath some bright-colored feathers or other material which looks tempting to the fish. The intended victim dashes after the alluring bait, seeing nothing but the glitter of the bright metal or the brilliancy of the colors. He loses his life as a result.
"It seems strange—doesn't it—that fish can be fooled in this way? And yet, I am not sure but that people are just as foolish themselves, very often. Ask the drunkard how he happened to reach the low depths to which he has fallen, and he will tell you that when he, as a young man, took his first glass, it was in a brilliantly-lighted place where, it seemed, the air was filled with good fellowship, and he thought he was happy. At that very moment, he was pursuing the glittering, attractive bait which later proved to be his utter ruination. He had not seen the hidden hooks. Ask the thief, confined in his lonely cell, how he happened to become an outcast, and he may tell you that it started in school when he thought it a very happy thing to cheat in his examinations and thus acquire the habit of being dishonest. He did not see the hidden hooks which the evil one had placed there to deceive and catch him.
"Jesus wants all the boys and girls to be watchful of the snares of life and to live so truly that they will easily escape the temptations which abound everywhere. 'Take heed,' he said, 'Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things.'"