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that country; and of which many considerate writers now complain. And perhaps it is of importance to caution those, who, misled either by the vagueness of many of the reports from America, or by the tendencies of their own religious system, are rushing into excesses of this kind, what some writers have affirmed, with regard to the whole moral movement in that country, appears to be perfectly true of particular bodies concerned in it. And the more sober spectators of this spiritual change maintain, that no obstacle to real reform has been more formidable than extravangancies of this class. On the one hand, the whole cause is prejudiced in the public mind by the follies of a few. And, on the other, the subjects of these movements are deluded into a conception, that excitement and devotion are convertible terms; that extravagance and zeal are the same thing; that presumption is faith; that the real evidence of conversion is some sensible bodily manifestation, or some mysterious impression upon the imagination; that the infraction of order, propriety, and almost of decency, is a work good and acceptable in the sight of the Most High God. It would not be difficult to find cases in this country, in which the most unwarrantable efforts have been made to work upon the nervous system of young and weak persons; and so to force on a system of fallings, faintings, and outcries, of the precise character too much encouraged in the early history of Methodism; but condemned, in the latter part of his life, by its distinguished founder, and, as we hope, discouraged at this moment by its most sagacious and influential ministers and followers.
But whilst we could thus wish to escape from the evils of movements such as these, we as fondly desire and pray to be permitted to partake of that moral resuscitation by which so large a portion of her people appear to be escaping from the cold and deadly reign of Socinianism, into the higher and holier regions of Scriptural faith and practice; by which they are enabled to cast off the slough of indifference and secularity and drunkenness, to wash in the blood of the Atonement, and clothe themselves in the purity of the Gospel. Perhaps it may be the case, that the nations of the Old World need to have a little new blood infused into their veins: and if so, we shall feel
it a privilege to derive our supply from those who have drunk at our own streams, and mused in our own groves; who have been fed at our bosom, and have learned the lessons of eternal truth at the lips of our own forefathers.
It will, of course, not be thought, that, in venturing to present a general commendation of this striking and original work to the public, I wish to make myself responsible, either for every opinion expressed in it, or for the phraseology in which that opinion is conveyed. I must also clear myself of all responsibility as to the errors of the press, as the task of correcting it by my revised copy has been entrusted to another.
J. W. C.
HARROW, Jan. 18, 1833.
Introduction.-Nature of Confession.-Case supposed.--Story of the Boys' Disobedience on the Ice-Consequences-their Unhappiness.-Guilt a Burden-Means of Relief. The Boy's Confession-his Conversation with his Father.-Confession of little Faults.-The Torn Letter.-The Anonymous Letter.-Reparation com. pared with Confession.-Confession of great Crimes.-Punishment.-Story of Boys on the Ice continued - To Parents and Teachers.- Confession a Privilege. -Depression of Spirits-its Remedy.- Careless Confession.- Anecdote.-Punishment.-An Experiment.-Story of the Dulled Tool-Story continued.-Confession to God.-Anxiety unnecessary.-Common Mistakes.-Immediate Repentance.-Salvation by Christ.
I WISH, in this first chapter, to point out to my 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 to the heart. But to make myself clearly understood, I must suppose a case.
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 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 set forth, and soon are flying with full speed towards the limit prescribed. Our boys think they may safely accompany them 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 rankforget their father-their promise their danger. God protects them however. They spend the half hour in delight-return down the river to their fire-and, at the close of the evening, they take off their skates, and step upon the firm ground and walk towards 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 it. 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 transgression, their hearts are filled with uneasiness and foreboding They will walk 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 gaiety and happiness of her heart, tries 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 cheerfulness 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, most boys would continue to bear this burden, until at last they became insensible