Imágenes de páginas


pleasure. If this is dore, those under your care will soon value confession as a privilege, and will often seek in it a refuge from inward suffering.

Yes, an opportunity to acknowledge wrong of any kind is a great privilege; and if any of my readers are satisfied that what I have been advancing on this subject is true, I hope they will prove by experiment the correctness of these principles. Almost every person has at all times some little sources of uneasiness upon his mind. They are not very well defined in their nature and cause, but still they exist, and they very much disturb the happiness. Now, if you look within long enough to seize hold of and examine these feelings of secret uneasiness, you will find that, in almost every case, they are connected with something wrong which you have done. That anxious brow of yours then is clouded with remorse; we call it by soft names, as care, solicitude, perplexity, but it is generally a slight remorse, so weak as not to force its true character upon your notice, but yet strong enough to destroy peace of mind. A great deal of what is called depression of spirits arises from this source. There are duties which you do not faithfully discharge, or inclinations which you habitually indulge when you know they ought to be denied. Conscience keeps up, therefore, a continual murmur, but she murmurs so gently that you do not recognize her voice, and yet it destroys your rest. You feel restless and unhappy, and wonder what can be the cause.

Let no one now say, or even suppose, that I think that all the depression of spirits which exists in human hearts is nothing but a secret sense of guilt. I know that there is real solicitude about the future, unconnected with remorse for the past; and there is often a sinking of the spirits in disease, which moral remedies will not touch. These cases are, however, comparatively few. A far greater proportion of the restlessness and of the corroding cares of human hearts

is produced, or at least very much aggravated, by being con. nected with guilt.

I suppose some of my readers are going over these pages only for amusement. They will be interested, perhaps, in the illustrations, and if of mature or cultivated minds, in the point to which I am endeavoring to make them tend. I hope, however, that there are some who are reading really and honestly for the sake of moral improvement. To those I would say, Do you never feel unquiet in spirit, restless, or sad? Do you never experience a secret uneasiness of heart, of which you do not know the exact cause, but which destroys, or at least disturbs your peace? If you do, take this course. Instead of flying from those feelings when they come into your heart, advance boldly to meet them. Grasp and examine them. Find their cause. You will find, in nine cases out of ten, that their cause is something wrong in your own conduct or character. Young persons will genei ally find something wrong towards their parents. Now go and confess these faults. Do not endeavor to palliate or excuse them, but endeavor, on the contrary, to see their worst side; and if you confess them freely and fully, trusting in the merits of Christ for forgiveness from God, and resolving to sin no more, peace will return.

After I had written thus far, I read these pages to a gentleman who visited me, and he remarked, that before I closed the chapter I ought to caution my readers against acquiring the habit of doing wrong and then coming carelessly to confess it without any real sorrow, as though the acknowledgment atoned for the sin, and wiped all the guilt away.

"I was once," said he, "visiting in a family, and while we were sitting at the fire, a little boy came in and did some wanton, wilful mischief.

[ocr errors]

'Why, my child,' said the mother, 'see what you have done. That was very wrong; but you are sorry for it, I suppose. Are you not?”

'Yes, ma,' said the boy carelessly, running away at the same time to play.

66 6

Yes,' said the mother, 'he is sorry. He does wrong sometimes, but then he is always sorry for it, and acknowledges it. You are sorry now; are you not, my son?'

"Yes, ma,' said the boy, as he ran capering about the room, striking the furniture and his little sister with his whip."

My friend thought there was some danger that this sort of confession might be made. And it is undoubtedly often Confession must come from

made. But it does no good.

the heart, or it will not relieve or improve the heart.

This anecdote shows the necessity of some punishment in all governments. If a father forgives the disobedience of his children simply upon their confessing it—I mean, if he makes this his settled and regular course— -his children will often disobey, expecting to make peace by confession as a matter of course; and the confession will thus not only become a useless form, but will become the very lure which tempts them to sin.

A teacher once made a rule, that if any irregularity occurred in any of the classes, the assistant who heard the class was to send the person in fault to him. At first the pupils felt this very much. One and another would come with tears in their eyes to acknowledge some fault, although it was perhaps only a very slight one. The teacher inflicted no punishment, but asked them to be careful in future, and sent them away kindly. Soon, however, they began to feel less penitent when they had done wrong. They came more and more as a matter of form, until at last they would come and state their fault as carelessly as if they were merely giving their teacher a piece of indifferent information. No; confession must never be understood as making any atonement for sin. Whenever you acknowledge that you have done wrong, do it with sincere penitence, looking to Christ for

[blocks in formation]

pardon-ready to make all the reparation in your power, if it is a case which admits of reparation—to submit to the just punishment, if any is inflicted—and always resolving most firmly, that by the aid of divine grace, you will sin

no more.

Let all my readers, then, whether old or young, look at once around them, and seek diligently for every thing wrong which they have done towards their fellows, and try the experiment of acknowledging the wrong in every case, that they may see how much such a course will bring peace and happiness to their hearts. When, however, I say that every thing wrong ought to be acknowledged, I do not mean that it is, in every case, necessary to make a formal confession in language. Acknowledgments may be made by actions as distinctly and as cordially as by words. An example will best illustrate this.

A journeyman in a carpenter's shop borrowed a plane of his comrade, and in giving it back to him, it was accidentally dropped and dulled. The lender maintained that the borrower ought to sharpen it, while the borrower said that it was not his fault, and an angry controversy arose between them. It would have taken but a few minutes to have sharpened the instrument, but after having once contended about it, each was determined not to yield. The plane was laid down in its damaged state, each declaring that he would not sharpen it.

The borrower however did not feel easy, and as he lay down that night to rest, the thought of his foolish contention made him unhappy. He reflected too, that since his friend had been willing to lend him his instrument, he ought to have borne himself all the risk of its return. He regretted that he had refused to do what now, on cool reflection, he saw was clearly his duty.

On the following morning, therefore, he went half an hour earlier than usual to the shop, and while alone there, with

the help of grindstone and hone, he put the unfortunate plane in the best possible order, laid it in its proper place, and when his companion came in, said to him pleasantly,

"I wish you would try your plane, and see how it cuts this morning."

Now was not this a most full and complete acknowledgment of having been wrong? And yet there is not a syllaAny way by which you can


ble of confession in language. openly manifest your conviction that you have done wrong, and your determination to do so no more, is sufficient. mode best for the purpose will vary with circumstances : sometimes by words, sometimes by writing, and sometimes by action. The only thing that is essential is, that the heart should feel what in these various ways it attempts to


I doubt not now, but that many of my readers who have taken up this book with a desire to find religious instruction in it, have been for some time wishing to have me come to the subject of the confession of sin to God. His Spirit has convinced you of sin, of righteousness, and of a judgment to come. You feel that you are a sinner against God; that the greatest of all your transgressions have been against him, and that your heart and life are full of guilt, so that you deserve to be eternally banished from his favor. You feel the keenest sorrow at the thought of the ineffable goodness and excellence of Him against whom you have sinned, and you cannot rest till you receive his gracious forgiveness.

It matters little by what means your mind has been led to this point. Perhaps it was a sense of the unhappiness which guilt brings upon the heart, as in the case above supposed, that first put you upon thinking of the evil nature of sin, so that now you turn from it with abhorrence, and desire above all things to be free from it. Perhaps it was a terror of the wrath to come that first aroused you. Or it may be, that in the fulness of your joy at receiving some great and

« AnteriorContinuar »