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Story of the dulled tool

Sincere confession.

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 toward their fellows, and try the experiment of acknowledging the wrong in every case, that they may see how much effect such a course will have, in bringing peace and happiness to their hearts again. 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 that the plane fell, and thus 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 of the disputants 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 at ease, and as he lay down that night to rest, the thought of his foolish contention

Story continued.

Confession to God.

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 only 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, he 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 in the wrong? And yet there is not a syllable of confession in language. Cases will often thus occur, in which a confession may thus be made by something done. Any way by which you can openly manifest your conviction that you have done wrong, and your determination to do so no more, is sufficient. The mode best for the purpose will vary with circumstances. Sometimes it will be 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 express.

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. You feel that the greatest of all your transgressions have been committed against him; and that you can have no true peace of mind until he has forgiven you. I have no doubt that this is the state of mind of very many of those who will read this chapter. But confession of sin is the same in its nature and tendency when made to God as when made to your fellowWhen you have finished this chapter then, shut the

man.

Confession to God.

Anxiety unnecessary.

Common mistakes.

book, and go alone before your Maker, and acknowledge all your sins. Acknowledge them frankly and fully, and endeavor to see and feel the worst, not by merely calling your offences by harsh names, but by calmly looking at the aggravating circumstances. While you do this, do not spend your

strength in trying to feel strong emotion. You can not feel emotion by merely trying to feel it. There is no necessity of prolonged terror,-no need of agony of body or of mind, -no need of gloom of countenance. Just go and sincerely acknowledge your sins to God, and ask him to forgive you through Jesus Christ, and he will.

But perhaps some of you will say, "I am surprised to see the sentiment advanced, that there is no need of strong agitation of mind before we can be forgiven for sin. I am sure that there is often very strong feeling of this kind. There is terror and agony of mind, and afterward the individual becomes a sincere Christian."

It is true, there is sometimes strong and continued agitation in the mind of the sinner that repents, but it is only because those who suffer it are unwilling to yield to God, and confess their sins to him. As soon as this unwillingness is gone, and they come to their God and Savior with all their hearts, the mental suffering vanishes. I said that if you were willing now to confess your sins to God with sincere penitence, you may at once be happy. Of course, if you are unwilling,—if you see that you are sinning against him, and will not come and make peace, you then have indeed cause to tremble.

There is a great mistake prevalent on this subject, especially among the young, though the subject is often clearly enough explained, both from the press and the pulpit. God's command is, repent at once, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall have peace. I have, in this chapter, used the word confess, instead of repent, for sincere

Common mistakes.

Immediate repentance.

confession is only a manifestation of penitence. Now I do not find that the Bible requires any thing previous to repentance. It does not say that we must be miserable first, either for a week or a day or an hour. I never heard any minister urge upon his hearers, the duty of suffering anguish of mind, and all the horrors of remorse, a single moment, in order to prepare the soul for Christ. It is doubtless true, that persons do often thus suffer, and are perhaps led by it in the end to fly to the refuge. But they ought to have fled to the refuge without this suffering, in the beginning. The truth is, that God commands "men everywhere to repent." It is a notorious fact, that they will not comply. When the duty of humbly confessing their sins to God is clearly brought before them, there is often so great a desire to continue in sin, that a very painful struggle continues for some time. Now this struggle is all our own fault,—it is something that we add, altogether;-God does not require it. His command is, Come to me at once. Ministers in the pulpit do not urge this continued struggle, while sin is cherished in the heart; so far from desiring it are they, that they urge their hearers to come at once to the Savior and be happy; and when any of their hearers are suffering in consequence of their indecision, the pastor, so far from wishing them to continue in this state as a part of their duty, urges them with all his power to terminate it at once, by giving up their hearts to God and to happiness. And yet so reluctant are men to give up their hearts to God, and so exceedingly common is this guilty struggle, that by the young it is often considered as a painful part of duty. They think they can not become Christians without it. Some strive to awaken it and continue it, and are sad because they can not succeed. Others, who are serving their Maker, and endeavoring to grow in grace and to prepare for heaven, feel but little confidence in his sympathy or affection for

Salvation by Christ.

them, because just before they concluded to yield to God, sin did not make such violent and desperate efforts in their hearts, as in some others, to retain its hold.

No, my reader, there is no necessity of any prolonged struggle, or suffering. If this chapter has led you to be willing to confess your sins, you may confess them now, and from this moment be calm, and peaceful, and happy.

My readers will recollect that I mentioned in the early part of this chapter two points connected with confession, namely, reparation and punishment. In confessing sins to God, we have no reparation to him to make, and no punishment to suffer. We have a Savior, and we fly to him. He makes reparation, and he has already suffered for us. We must come trusting to him. I hope very many of my readers will see that both duty and happiness urge them to take the simple course I have endeavored to describe and illustrate, and that they will now take it, and follow me through the remaining chapters of this book with hearts bent on loving and serving God.

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