Matthew 3:6
Confessing their sins. "There are two cases which lead men in communities to the confession of particular sins in the presence of their fellows, before God and before man. Any moral exaltation which places them so that they see evil from a plane higher than that on which they live ordinarily, and where its relations, its tendencies, its nature, and character are clearly revealed, constantly tends to produce confession. There is also a confession which results from social magnetism. Communities are sometimes possessed, for short periods, with a paroxysm of contrition." There are many, however, who are quite willing to confess their sinfulness who will not confess their sins. It may be asked - Why should confession be demanded? What moral value lies in it? God knows all things: why, then, does he want us to say to him what he knows? Yet we observe that man demands open acknowledgment of fault, that is, confession, as the sign of sincerity of repentance, on the part of those who grieve him. Repentance as mere sentiment is of no value. If it is more than sentiment, it will gain two forms of expression.

1. Acknowledgment of the sin.

2. Putting away of the sin henceforth.

It is not evangelical repentance we feel if we shrink from doing either of these two things. The moral value of repentance that finds expression in confession is exhibited in a very striking way by St. Paul. "What carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge!" (2 Corinthians 7:11). The special point which may be opened and illustrated is, that confession assures of personal thought and feeling. It is the expression of the aroused, awakened man, whose indifference is gone, who sees himself, and is oppressed with the sight. If a man really confesses, he must have got a real self-hold.

I. A RELIGION OF MERE ASSOCIATION IS WORTHLESS. Yet that is all the religion so many have. It has no confession in it, save the unintelligent, parrot-like repetition of a formula.

II. A RELIGION OF PERSONAL CONVICTIONS ALONE IS WORTHY. One of its earliest signs is confession: because as soon as a man comes to think, he is dissatisfied with himself, and finds that he wants to say so. Saying so is the way toward gaining relief. - R.T.

Baptized of Him.
1. An initiatory rite.

2. A leading ordinance.

3. A confirmatory rite.

4. An instrument of regeneration.

5. A representative ordinance.

6. A sealing ordinance.

(T. Watson, M. A.)

Confessing their sins.
1. Confession of sin should not be made to every one we meet; it should be discriminating.

2. It should be honest.

3. The moment a man attempts to be honest with himself in respect to his moral character, and to make confession before God, everything that is in Him rises up against him: —

1. Reason. Reason suborned by his feeling: refuses to investigate. It returns false reports.

2. Pride. How on the proud man do the evidences of sin beat as hailstones on a slate roof, and never penetrate. The mouth of pride has the lockjaw, when it is a question of confessing wrong.

3. "Vanity. Vanity teaches men to regard more the opinions of men than of God.

4. Conscience. When ready to confess, conscience says, "Stop, insincere hypocrite."

5. Prudence. "Let well alone." Let the past alone.

6. Yet is there anything nobler than confession of wrong done? It is a way of pleasantness and peace.

7. Do not be afraid to confess your sin to Jesus. It is easy for sorrow to confess to love.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Men's faults lie like reptiles — like toads, like lizards, like serpents; and what if there is over them the evening sky, lit with glory, and all aglow? All the gorgeousness of the departing day, shining down on a reptile, leaves it a reptile still. Men think, "I am generous; I am full of fine feelings; I am endowed with superior taste; " but what of that? Down in the very thicket; down where men do not love often to go — there their faults lie nestling.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Ah! the bank is breaking away. A craw-fish has pierced it. The stream is working, and working and working. The engineer is sent up to see if all is safe. He sees that a stream is running through the bank, big as his finger. He looks at it, and waits to see if the stream enlarges. Soon it is as big as his two fingers. He waits a little longer, and it is as big as his hand. It is wearing on either side the opening, and the waters are beginning to find it out, and slowly they swirl on the inside towards this point. It will not be many hours before the bank will be so torn that it will give way, and the flood will pour through the crevasse. But the engineer goes back and says, "Well, there was a little rill there. But it was a very beautiful place: I never saw a prettier bank than that. The trees that grow in the neighbourhood are superb; and the shrubbery there is very fragrant and charming; and the moisture which finds its way through the bank seems to nourish all vegetation near it." "Well, but the break! How about that?" "It was something of a break; but, as I was saying, it is a beautiful spot. And right there is a fine plantation; and the man that owns it —" "But how about the crevasse? Yes, there was a little crevasse; but, as I was saying, all things conspire to make it a lovely scene." What kind of a report is that, of an engineer sent out to investigate, when it is question of impending ruin? What kind of a report is that, when the elements are at work which will soon launch desolation on the neighbourhood? Send the engineer Reason into a man's soul, and ask it to report concerning the habit of drinking in the man. It comes back and says, "Oh! well, he takes a little for the oft infirmities of his stomach; but he is a good fellow, he is a strong man, and his heart is in the right place." "But what about his habit? .... He takes a little now and then; but, as I was saying, he is a generous fellow. If you had heard of his kindnesses to that family when they were in distress —" "But what about his habit?"

(H. W. Beecher.)

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