Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Confession of little faults.

Happiness.

"Well, I disobeyed you, and went upon the ice, where you told us not to go. I have been unhappy ever since, and I resolved to-day that I would come and tell you, and ask you to forgive me."

He

I need not detail the conversation that would follow. But there is not a child among the hundreds and perhaps thousands who will read this chapter, who does not fully understand, that by such a confession the boy will relieve himself of his burden, restore peace to his mind, and go away from his father with a light and happy heart. He will no more dread to meet him, and to hear the sound of his voice. can now be happy with his sister again, and look upon the beautiful stream winding in the valley, without feeling his heart sink within him under a sense of guilt,-while all the time, perhaps, his brother, who would not come and acknowledge his sin, has his heart still darkened, and hist countenance made sad by the gloomy recollection of unforgiven sin. Yes, confession of sin has an almost magic power in restoring peace of mind.

Providence seems to have implanted this principle in the human heart, for the express purpose of having us act upon it. He has so formed us, that when we have done wrong, we cannot feel at peace again until we have acknowledged our wrong to the person against whom it was done. And this acknowledgment of it removes the uneasiness as effectually as fire removes cold, or as water extinguishes fire. It operates in all cases, small as well as great, and is infallible in its power. And yet how slowly do young persons and even old persons learn to use it. The remedies for almost every external evil are soon discovered, and are at once applied; but the remedy for that uneasiness of mind which results from having neglected some duty or committed some sin, and which consists in simple confession of it to the person injured,-how slowly is it learned, and how reluctantly practised.

I once knew a boy who was intrusted with a letter to be carried to a distant place. On his way, or just after his ar

The torn letter.

Peace of mind.

The anonymous letter.

He was in consterna-
He did not dare to

rival, in attempting to take the letter out of his pocket suddenly, he tore it completely in two. tion. What to do he did not know. carry the letter in its mangled condition, and he did not dare to destroy it. He did accordingly the most foolish thing he could do;-he kept it for many days, doubting and waiting, and feeling anxious and unhappy, whenever it came in his sight. At last he thought that this was folly, and he took his letter, carried it to the person to whom it was addressed, saying,

"Here is a letter which I was intrusted with for you, and in taking it out of my pocket, I very carelessly tore it in two. I am sorry for it, but I have no excuse."

The receiver of the letter said it was no matter, and the boy went home suddenly, and entirely elieved.

My reader will say, "Why, this was a very simple way of getting over the difficulty. Why did not he think of it before?"

I know it was a simple way. The whole story is so simple, that it is hardly dignified enough to introduce here; but it is true, and it exactly illustrates the idea I am endeavoring to enforce, viz., that in little things, as well as in great things, the confession of sin restores peace of mind.

I will now mention one other case which illustrates the same general truth, but which is in one respect very different from all the preceding.

A merchant was one morning sitting in his counting room, preparing for the business of the day, when his boy entered with several letters from the Post Office. Among them was one in a strange hand-writing and with the words, Money inclosed," written upon the outside. As the merchant was not at that time expecting any money, his attention was first attracted to this letter. He opened it and read somewhat as follows:

[ocr errors]

-, January 4, 1831. "SIR,-Some time ago I defrauded you of some money. You did not know it then, and I suppose you never would

The anonymous letter.

Reparation compared with confession.

have known it, unless I had informed you. But I have had no peace of mind since it was done, and send you back the money in this letter. Hoping that God will forgive this and all my other sins, I am, yours,

66

I remarked that this case was totally different from all the others in one respect. Reader, do you notice the difference? It consists in this, viz. that here not only was the sin confessed, but reparation was made. The man not only acknowledged the fraud, but he paid back the money. And if any of my readers are but little acquainted with human nature, they may perhaps imagine that it was the reparation, and not the confession, which restored peace of mind. But I think I can show very clearly, that making reparation is not effectual. Suppose this man, instead of writing the above letter, had just come into the store and asked to buy some article or other, and in paying for it, had managed dexterously to put into the hands of the clerk a larger sum than was due, so as to repay, without the merchant's knowledge, the whole amount of which he had defrauded him. Do you think this would have restored his peace of mind? No, not even if he had thus secretly paid back double what he had unjustly taken. It was the confession; the acknowledgment of having done wrong, which really quieted his troubled conscience, and gave him peace.

It is not probable that this confession was sufficient to make him perfectly happy again,-because it was incomplete. The reparation was perfect, but the acknowledgment was not. The reader will observe that the letter has no name signed to it, and the merchant could not by any means discover who was the writer of it. Now if the man had honestly told the whole-if he had written his name and place of residence, and described fully all the circumstances of the original fraud, he would have been much more fully relieved. All confession which is intended to bring back peace of mind when it is gone, should be open and thorough. There are, indeed, many cases where, from pe

Confession of great crimes.

Effects of confession.

Punishment.

culiar circumstances, it is not the duty of the individual to give his name. This, however, does not affect the general principle, that the more full and free the confession is, the more perfect will be the restoration of peace.

So strongly is this principle fixed by the Creator in the human heart, that men who have committed crimes to which the laws of the land annex the most severe public punishments, after enduring some time in secrecy the remorse which crime almost always brings, have at last openly come forward, and surrendered themselves to the magistrate,and acknowledged their guilt,—and have felt their hearts relieved and lightened by receiving an ignominious public punishment, in exchange for the inward tortures of remorse. Even a murderer has been known to come forward to relieve the horrors of his soul, by confession,-though he knew that this confession would chain him in a dark stone cell, and after a short, but gloomy interval, extend him in a coffin.

My reader, you can try the power of confession, and enjoy the relief and happiness it will bring, without paying such a fearful price as this;-but these cases lead me to remark upon one other subject connected with confessionI mean punishment. Sometimes, as I before remarked, when a person confesses some wrong, he brings himself under the necessity of repairing the injury done, and at other times of submitting to punishment. Parents often forgive their children when they have done wrong, if they will only confess it; and though this ought sometimes to be done, there is yet great danger that children, in such cases, will soon acquire a habit of doing wrong, and then coming to confess it with a careless air, as if it was not of much consequence, or rather as if confessing the sin destroyed it, and left them perfectly innocent.

I should think, on this account, that the father whose sons had disobeyed him on the ice, would be much at a loss to know what to do, after one of his boys had so frankly acknowledged it. I can suppose him saying to his son,

[ocr errors]

Story of the boys on the ice continued.

'Well, my son, I am glad you have told me freely all about this. You did very wrong, and I am very much at a loss to know what I ought to do. I will consider it, and speak to you by and by about it. In the mean time you may be assured that I forgive you from my heart, and if I should conclude to do any thing farther, it will not be because I am now displeased, but because I wish to save you effectually from the sad consequence of doing wrong in future."

When the father is left to muse by himself upon the subject, we may imagine him to be thinking as follows.

“Well, I should not have thought that my boys would have broken their promise and disobeyed me. I wonder if my eldest disobeyed also. The youngest only spoke of himself shall I ask him?-No. Each shall stand on independent ground. If the other sinned too, he too may come voluntarily and obtain peace by confession, or he must continue to bear the tortures of self-reproach. And now if I take no further notice of the transgression, which is already acknowledged, I am afraid that my son will the next time yield more easily to temptation, thinking that he has only to acknowledge it, to be forgiven. Shall I forbid their skating any more this winter?-or for a month?-or shall I require them, every time they return, to give me an exact account where they have been?—I wish I could forgive and forget it entirely, but I am afraid I ought not.”

Thus he would be perplexed; and if he was a wise parent, and under the influence of moral principle, and not of mere parental feeling, he would probably do something more than merely pass it by. The boy would find that confession to such a father is not merely nominal,—that it brings with it inconvenience, or deprivation of enjoyment, or perhaps positive punishment. Still he would rejoice in the opportunity to acknowledge his sins; for the loss of a little pleasure, or the suffering of punishment, he would feel to be a very small price to pay for returning peace of mind, and he would fly to confession, as a refuge from selfreproach, whenever he had done wrong.

« AnteriorContinuar »