To cure the ills from which our modern world suffers, and bring in the dawn of a better day, we need a more intense and yet widely diffused spirit of charity. Loving-kindness alone brings the healing remedy to man's disordered soul.
We know that "conscience doth make cowards of us all." The cry of the publican in the parable is the cry from many a life heavily weighted with its load of evil, and deeply conscious of the need for deliverance. The path out of darkness into light often begins in great humiliation, sometimes approaching despair. The visible and material, the instinctive and the sensuous, have a strong fascinating power over many lives during long periods. The struggle to get and to have, seems to be the real and only end of life, whilst the higher longing to be made alive to nobler ends remains in abeyance. Many of the darkest pages in the life-history of men and women have been written in consequence of personal wrongs done either thoughtlessly or willfully; offences have come, and the miseries to those by whom they have come, have followed in due course, as experience proves. But when once the real hunger and thirst for righteousness is felt, the first movement towards the light brings a horror of the evil past and a strong desire to unburden the soul by pouring out the details of past misdoings into a sympathetic ear.
Under such circumstances "Confession is good for the soul;" not the mere rite of formal "Confession," but the pure heartfelt acknowledgment of our errors one to another. It must be clear to all who have outgrown the childhood of moral and spiritual life that all mere mechanical methods of Confession of sin can do very little towards providing for the deepest needs of those burdened souls who desire to be entirely emancipated from the thralldom of evil, and to live in harmony with those they have wronged in the past, and from whom they have therefore become estranged. The world is full of men and women who need to be brought out of the darkness and misery of selfishness and hatred into the light and joy of love and forgiveness, and when such men and women are told that inspired Wisdom instructs them to "confess their faults one to another," they are often bewildered, and find some difficulty in understanding how to obey this injunction so as to obtain the peace and strength their better nature longs for. This peace and strength would surely come, if those who were thus conscience-stricken could come face to face with those they had wronged and confess to the injured ones personally, and as far as possible make restitution and reparation. Forgiveness and reconciliation would almost invariably follow such a course, and both the offender and the offended would be filled with a new influx of brotherly love; and even if in some few cases the person to whom the wrong had been done, stood out against perfect reconciliation, the tender conscience which led the offender to confess would also keep him from again doing wrong to any other neighbor.
Such a simple method of confession would be very effective, and, like every other principle of life by which right is substituted for wrong, and whereby we "cease to do evil, and learn to do well," such manly "confession," with all possible restitution and genuine reconciliation would, by universal adoption, mean nothing short of the regeneration of society. How many lawsuits would such a method of confession prevent! How many estranged members of the same family would be brought together and enabled to is live in unity! How many tragedies would be prevented! How many lives now saddened by separation would be made glad! How far-reaching in its consequences would be a real "confession" by the offenders to the offended!
As we emerge from the animal and childish stages of growth, and give Truth its full power over our common life, the formal must give place to the righteous, and imperfect human actions must be superseded by obedience to the higher laws of life which we find embodied in the "sermon on the mount."
One of our writers for the press has recently said, with profound truth and wisdom, that "the most business-like thing if ever said upon this earth was, 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you;'" and few things would definitely and practically help on the Kingdom of God, within and without, like a general acceptance of the truth that confession of sin must be made to those against whom we have sinned.
By such a simple method of confession men would more fully enter into the blessedness of the meek, the peacemakers, and the pure in heart. The Divine life in the soul has yet mighty victories to win over our selfishness and pride and vain strivings; and these victories can only be won as men and women, one by one, seek and find that simplicity and harmony of life whereby they "attain to the knowledge of the right and the wrong, and learn to shun the latter and follow the former until the love of good becomes the very soul-essence of the man. This is the one great problem of life." For "evil is never good, and never does good," and one great step out of evil into good will be taken by those who can humble themselves and become as little children, and by the confession of their sins to those toward whom they have wrongly acted.