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The boy's confession.

His conversation with his father.

been happy since I disobeyed my father on the ice. I was very foolish to do that, for I have suffered more in consequence of it than ten times as much pleasure would be worth. I am resolved to go and confess the whole to my father, and ask him to forgive me, and then I shall be happy again."

Having resolved upon this, he seeks the very first opportu nity to relieve his mind. He is walking, we will imagine, by the side of his father, and for several minutes he hesitates -not knowing how to begin. He makes the effort however

at last, and says in a sorrowful tone,

Father, I have done something very wrong." "What is it, my son ?"

He hesitates and trembles,—and after a moment's pause, says, “I am very sorry that I did it.”


My son," says the father, "I have observed, for a day or two, that you have not been happy, and you are evidently unhappy now. I know that you must have done something wrong. But you may But you may do just as you please about telling me what it is. If you freely confess it, and submit to the punishment, whatever it may be, you will be happy again; if not, you will continue to suffer. Now you may do just as you please."

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Well, father, I will tell you all. Do you remember that you gave us leave to go upon the river and skate the other evening?"

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Well, I disobeyed you, and went upon the ice, where you forbade us 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."

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 under

Confession of little faults.


The torn letter.

stand, 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. He 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 his 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 can not 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 practiced.

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 arrival, in attempting to take the letter out of his pocket suddenly, he tore it completely in two. He was in consternation. What to do he did not know. He did not dare to carry the letter in its mangled condition, and deliver it to

Peace of mind.

The torn letter.

The anonymous letter.

the person to whom it was addressed, 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 perceived that this was folly; so he took the 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 of no consequence, and the boy went home suddenly and entirely relieved.

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

It was indeed a simple way. The whole story is so simple, that it is hardly dignified enough to be introduced; but it is true, and it exactly illustrates the idea that I am endeavoring to enforce, namely, 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 handwriting 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:

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, January 4, 1831. SIR,-Some time ago I defrauded you of a certain sum of money. You did not know it then, and I suppose you

The anonymous letter.

Reparation compared with confession.

never would 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,

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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 that this man, instead of writing the above letter, had just come into the store of the merchant, 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 that 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

Confession of great crimes.

Effects of confession.


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 peculiar circumstances, it is not the duty of an individual who has done wrong to make a full confession of it to any of his fellow-men. This, however, does not affect the general principle, that the more full and free the confession is when one is made, 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 for 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, bring him to an ignominious and violent end.

My reader, you can test the power of confession, and enjoy the relief and happiness which it will bring, without paying so fearful a price as this;-but these cases lead me to remark upon one other subject connected with confession -I mean punishment. Sometimes, as I before remarked, when a person confesses a 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

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