“Do you see, child, the exquisite beauty that Nature holds even in the handful of little flowers and animals we have here? For Nature is the minister of the God we believe in and worship. The greatest wonder of Nature that might astonish you was made by the Creator through a simple act of His supreme will. That fiery globe above our heads, which has burned for thousands of years without ever consuming itself, which maintains its flame with who-knows-what fuel, which not only gladdens but gives life to man, to beast, to plant, and to stone; that Sun, my child, that lamp of day, that eye of heaven, that soul of Nature, which has illuminated so many peoples with its beneficent brilliance, gaining worship for itself as a deity, is—so that you understand what I am saying— nothing more than a plaything of His supreme Omnipotence. Consider now how powerful, wise, and loving your great God is, for the Sun that astonishes you, this sky that gladdens you, these little birds that entertain you, these flowers that delight you, this man who teaches you, and everything that surrounds you in Nature, came from His divine hands without the least effort, all perfect and destined for your service. And you, are you too small a thing to recognize this? And if you do recognize it, could you be so low as not to give thanks to God for all these favors He has done you without your deserving them? I couldn’t think such a thing of you.
Perhaps you will find it striking, my children, that having been given such a bad nature by my physical and moral education, through no one’s ill will but rather my mother’s excessive love, and having been further corrupted by the perverse example of the children at my first school, I could have been transformed in an instant from bad to average (for I have never been good) under the direction of my true teacher; but don’t be so surprised, for a good education, guided by a superior talent and vigilant wisdom, and above all by a good example, is so powerful that it forms a standard by which children will almost always direct their actions.
This is a fable as far as crabs go, but as for men, it is an obvious truth; for, as Seneca says, “the road that leads to virtue by the way of rules is long and difficult; but the one that goes by the way of examples is brief and efficient.”