Imágenes de páginas

much improved form. The works have all been carefully revised by the author for this edition, and they are embellished with numerous illustrative engravings, which it is hoped may aid in making them attractive for every class of readers.

New York, March, 1851.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

I WISH, in this first chapter, to point out to the reader something in the nature and effects of confession which every one has perhaps, at some time, experienced, but which few sufficiently consider-I mean its power to bring peace and happiness back to the heart, when the conscience has been wounded by sin. But to make myself clearly understood, I must suppose a case.

Story of the boys' disobedience on the ice.

Two boys, on a pleasant winter evening, ask their father to permit them to go out upon the river to skate. The father hesitates, because, though within certain limits he knows that there is no danger, yet he is aware that above a certain turn of the stream the current is rapid and the ice consequently thin. At last, however, he says, " You may go, but you must on no account go above the bend."

The boys accept the condition, and are soon among their twenty companions, shooting swiftly over the smooth black ice, sometimes gliding in graceful curves before the bright fire, which they have built in the middle of the stream, and sometimes sailing away into the dim distance, in search of new and unexplored regions.

Presently a plan is formed by the other boys for going in a cheerful company far up the stream to explore its shores, and then return again in half an hour to their fire. Our two boys sigh to think of their father's prohibition to them. They faintly and hesitatingly hint that the ice may not be strong enough, but their caution has no effect upon their comrades,—and the whole party set forth, and soon are flying with full speed toward the limit prescribed. Our boys think they may safely accompany the others till they reach the boundary which they are forbidden to pass ;—but while they do so, they become animated and intoxicated with the motion and the scene. They feel a little foreboding as they approach the line, but as it is not definitely marked, they do not abruptly stop. They fall a little in the rear, and see whirling through the bend of the river the whole crowd of their companions-and, after a moment's hesitation, they follow on. The spot once past, their indecision vanishes ;they press forward to the foremost rank,-forget their father, their promise, their danger. God protects them howThey spend the half-hour in delight,-return down the river to their fire, and at the close of the evening they



Their unhappiness.

take off their skates, step upon the firm ground, and walk toward their home.

The enjoyment is now over, and the punishment is to come. What punishment? I do not mean that their father will punish them. He knows nothing of their sin. He trusts his boys, and, confiding in their promise, he will not ask them whether they have kept it. They have returned safely, and the forbidden ice over which they have passed never can speak to tell of their disobedience. Nor do I mean the punishment which God will inflict in another world upon undutiful children. I mean another quicker punishment, and which almost always comes after transgression. And I wish my young readers would think of this more than they do. I mean the loss of peace of mind.

As the boys approach their father's dwelling, unless their consciences have become seared by oft repeated transgressions, their hearts are filled with uneasiness and foreboding care. They walk slowly and silently. As they enter the house they shrink from their father's eye. He looks pleased and happy at their safe return. But they turn away from him as soon as they can, and prefer going to another room, or in some other way avoiding his presence. Their sister perhaps, in the gayety and kindness of her heart, begins to talk with them about their evening's enjoyment: but they wish to turn the conversation. In a word, their peace of mind is gone,—and they shrink from every eye, and wish to go as soon as possible to bed, that they may be unseen and forgotten.

If they have been taught to fear God, they are not happy here. They dare not-strange infatuation,-repeat their evening prayer;-as if they supposed they could escape God's notice by neglecting to call upon him. At last, however, they sink to sleep.

The next morning they awake with the customary cheer

Guilt a burden.

Means of relief.

fulness of childhood-until, as they look forth from their window, they see the clear ice-bound stream, which tempted them to sin, winding its way among the trees. They say nothing, but each feels guilty and sad. They meet their father and mother with clouded hearts, and every object at all connected with their transgression, awakens the remorse which destroys their happiness. They carry thus about with them a weary and a heavy burden.

I suppose that in such cases as this, most boys would continue to bear this burden, until at last they should become insensible to it, that is, until conscience is seared. But though by habit in sin the stings of remorse may be blunted, yet real peace never returns. By repeating transgression a great many times, we all come at last to feel a general and settled uneasiness of heart, which is a constant burden. Ask such an individual if he is unhappy. He tells you that he is not. He means, however, that he is not particularly unhappy just at that time. His burden is so uniform and constant that he comes to consider it at last as a necessary part of his existence. He has lost all recollection of what pure peace and happiness is. A man who has lived long by a water-fall, at last becomes so habituated to the noise, that silence seems a strange luxury to him. So multitudes, who have had an unquiet conscience for many years, without a single interval of repose, when they at last come and confess their sins, and find peace and happiness, are surprised and delighted with the new and strange sensation.

This peace can not come by habit in sin. A seared conscience is not a relieved one. But what is the way by which peace of mind is to be restored in such a case as the above? It is a very simple way. Happy would it be for mankind if it were more generally understood and practiced.

Suppose one of these boys should say to himself, some day as he is walking alone, "I am not happy, and I have not

« AnteriorContinuar »