Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

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 bye 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 further, it will not be because I am now displeased, but because I wish to save you effectually from the penalty of doing wrong in future.”

66

When the father is left alone, 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 boy 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 seek 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 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 of where they have been?-I wish I could forgive and forget it entirely; but I am afraid I ought not.'

ور

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 to 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 temporary loss of a little pleasure, or the suffering of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

punishment, would be a very small price to pay for returning peace of mind; and he would fly to confession, as a refuge from self-reproach, whenever he had done wrong.

Let the parents or the teachers who may read this statement take this view of the nature of confession; and practise upon it, in their intercourse with their children and their pupils. Let them meet them kindly, when they come forward to acknowledge their faults; sympathize with them in the struggle which you know they must make at such a time; and consider how strong the temptation was which led them to sin. And in every thing of the nature of punishment which you inflict, be sure the prevention of future guilt is your sole motive, and not the gratification of your own present feeling of displeasure. If this is done, 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 causes 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 very many cases, 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 often 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, and which you know ought to be denied. Conscience keeps up, therefore, a continual murmur; but she murmurs so gently, that you perhaps do not recognise 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 conceive all the depression of spirits which exists in human hearts to be nothing but a secret sense of conscious 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 are produced, or at least very much exaggerated, by being connected 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 endeavouring to make them tend. I am afraid, however, that there are few who are reading really and honestly for the sake of moral improvement. To those few, however, I would now 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. Discover their cause. You will find, in nine instances out of ten, that their cause is something wrong in your own conduct and character. Young persons will generally find something wrong towards their parents. Now go, and confess these faults.

Do not endeavour to palliate or excuse them; but endeavour, on the other hand, to see their worst side: and if you confess them to God and man freely and fully, and resolve, under Divine grace, to sin no more, peace will return, at least so far as these causes have banished it from your heart.

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."

66

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?”

[ocr errors]

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

66

"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 made. Of course it does no good. Confession must come from the heart, or it will not relieve the heart. This anecdote shews the necessity of some punishment in all governments. If a father passes over the disobe

[ocr errors]

dience of his children in every instance, simply upon their confessing it-I mean, if he makes this his settled and regular course-his children will probably soon disobey, expecting to make peace by confession as a matter of course; and the confession will thus become, not only a useless form, but 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 offender to him. At first, the pupils felt this very much. A scholar would come with tears in her eyes to acknowledge her fault, although it was perhaps only a very slight one. The teacher inflicted no punishment; but merely 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, and with a spirit which would lead you 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 to resolve most firmly that 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

« AnteriorContinuar »