Instruction I
The first instruction teaches us to confess, simply and sincerely, and to search out the very depths of our hearts.

Dear children, I counsel, admonish and beseech you, that ye learn to confess all your sins, simply and sincerely unto God, and that ye learn to acknowledge that ye are verily and indeed guilty before Him, and that ye ponder over your sins in deep sorrow. Do not set yourselves to make a long outward confession; for that is of little use, and takes up the valuable time of the Confessors, causing them much trouble and vexation. Children, much talking does not do away with sin; and, as I have often said before, Confessors have no power over sin. Commune with your own hearts, and there confess your sins; for external, without internal confession, is of little avail in those things which are not sins unto death; and it is a sign that he who thus confesses neglects that which is within. For, where truth is to be found within, events may even be so far forgotten, that it often becomes impossible to say anything very definite about them; and we shall be best helped by leaving all to God. I am now referring to daily sins; from sins unto death may God preserve us!

Now, children, it is very necessary that we should thus practice self-examination; for man has many a little nook within, which covers up the ground of the heart, and is so overgrown, that it hides the truth from the man himself; so that, though he knows many other things, he does not really know himself. These sins surely resemble thirty or forty skins or hides, like those of an ox, which cover up the ground, lying one upon another, and so thick and hard that ye can neither confess them nor rid yourselves of them as ye imagine. What are these skins? They are all those things that thou hast in thyself, that thou thinkest of, and that thou usest, but of which God is neither the true beginning nor the end. They are all idols, images of things, such as self-will, self-pleasing, and the enjoyment of things pertaining to the senses. Man clings to these, as Rachel did to her idols when she sat upon them. Presumption, heedlessness, want of resignation in divine things, all these sins help to form the skins. They should not be all confessed outwardly, but man should examine his own heart about them, and acknowledge them humbly before God, meekly falling down in self-abasement at His Feet. If man will only thus fully acknowledge that he is guilty, all will be well with him; that is, if he seeks diligently to turn away from them, as far as he is able, with help of Almighty God.

sermon xxxvi at the dedication
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