Sunday, July 14, 2013

Brother Lawrence's confession of sin

Found a little gem regarding Brother Lawrence's method for confessing his sins.  It’s in Wesley’s Christian Library, v. 23, from CONVERSATION 2: Sept. 28, 1666.--
“That when he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault, saying to God, 'I shall never do otherwise, if thou leave me to myself; it is thou must hinder my falling, and mend what is amiss.' That after this, he soon found. himself in peace.”

“That he was very sensible of his faults, but he was not discouraged by them; that he confessed them to GOD, and when he had so done, he peaceably resumed his usual practice of love and adoration.”
I looked for a similar quick move from contrition to consolation in Wesley’s other publications.  The closest example I found is a Charles poem on Luke 13:3--
“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”—[Luke] 13:3.
1 O what a life is mine!
Backward I cast mine eye,
And trembling own the truth divine,
“I must repent, or die!”
But him, who tells me so,
Highly extolled I see
The godly sorrow to bestow,
The godly love on me.
2 Saviour, and Prince, appear
To break this stubborn heart,
And then to bid my guilty fear
And unbelief depart;
While at thy feet I grieve,
From all my sins release,
The sense of thy salvation give,
The kingdom of thy peace.

I find Brother Lawrence’s confession delightful.  He is mindful of his sins, however he is not preoccupied with his helplessness.  He is preoccupied with love for God and trust in God’s power and grace.  

John did discuss the feeling of helplessness in Sermon 14, "The Repentance of Believers," but given that this sermon is not about the sense of peace that follows godly sorrow, it is no surprise that the sermon does not contain a lengthy discussion of assurance of forgiveness.  

Better to keep the two (guilt and assurance) in mind for the reader, I think.  This way a balance is maintained, and the reader avoids emphasizing one and ignoring the other.  Lawrence and Charles did a better job of maintaining this balance in comparison to John.

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