DOWN in our cellar is a large box of apples. A week ago we picked them over and took out all the rotten ones. What was our surprise yesterday to find half of those we had supposed sound were rotten also. A little examination of some that were only specked with rot disclosed the secret. The disease, which spoiled the apple began at the core. The apple was nearly destroyed before anything on the outside showed the evil at work. They were rotten-hearted. 

Every boy and girl who lives where there is an orchard knows all about these rotten-hearted apples. How nice and fair they look on the outside, and we put them away to use when we would like to set our best fruit before some favored friend, or to keep till late in the spring. How it mortifies us when our friend cuts his knife through one of them, remarking, "What a fine looking apple!" and finds only an uneatable portion. 

Rotten-hearted apples are disagreeable things, but there is a rotten-heartedness that is very much worse in every respect. Some of these same boys and girls who are ready to cry out against rotten-hearted apples, are cherishing thoughts and cultivating habits which will just as surely ruin their future lives as the little concealed speck is destroying their apples. 

The boy who told a lie yesterday to save himself from punishment has a rotten place in his heart, that if not cured before it grows larger, will by-and-by increase till all his character is tainted; and the girl who deceives her mother, is really rotten-hearted. A great many boys and girls who are pleasant and gracious to meet, have some little sin, which is hiding away in their hearts. Some day it will come out where people will see it, and then they will be as surprised as we were when we saw our spoiled apples. 

The only way for us to keep sound hearts and characters is to be careful of the first little sin. 

When the apples begin to rot at the core, nothing can cure them; but when we find little sins that we are cherishing, we can break away from them and ask Christ to cure them, and he can make us pure-hearted.