Holy Spirit ?will convict the world in respect of sin.? On the difference between conviction of sins and conviction of sin, see Hare, Mission of the Comforter. Dr. A. J. Gordon, just before his death, desired to be left alone. He was then overheard confessing his sins in such seemingly extravagant terms as to excite fear that he was in delirium. Martensen, Dogmatics, 389 ? Luther during his early experience ?often wrote to Staupitz ?Oh, my sins, my sins!? Yet in the confessional he could name no sins in particular which he had to confess so that it was clearly a sense of the general depravity of his nature which filled his soul with deep sorrow and pain.? Luther?s conscience would not accept the comfort that he wished to be without sin and therefore had no real sin. When he thought himself too great a sinner to be saved, Staupitz replied: ?Would you have the semblance of a sinner and the semblance of a Savior??
After twenty years of religious experience, Jonathan Edwards wrote (Works 1:22, 23; also 3:16-18): ?Often, since I have lived in this town I have had very affecting views of my own sinfulness and vileness to such a degree as to hold me in a kind of loud weeping sometimes for a considerable time. I have been often obliged to shut myself up. I have had a vastly greater sense of my own wickedness and the badness of my heart than ever I had before my conversion. It has often appeared to me that if God should mark iniquity against me, I should appear the very worst of all mankind, of all that have been since the beginning of the world to this time and that I should have by far the lowest place in hell. When others who have come to talk with me about their soul?s concerns have expressed the sense they have had of their own wickedness by saying that it seemed to them they were as bad as the devil himself. I thought their expressions seemed exceeding faint and feeble to represent my wickedness.?
Edwards continues: ?My wickedness, as I am in myself, has long appeared to me perfectly ineffable and swallowing up all thought and imagination ? like an infinite deluge, or mountains over my head. I know not how to express better what my sins appear to me to be than by heaping infinite on infinite and multiplying infinite by infinite. Very often for these many years, these expressions are in my mind and in my mouth: ?Infinite upon infinite ? infinite upon infinite!? When I look into my heart and take a view of my wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell. It appears to me that, were it not for free grace exalted and raised up to the infinite height of all the fullness and glory of the great Jehovah and the arm of his power and grace stretched forth in all the majesty of his power and in all the glory of his sovereignty, I should appear sunk down in my sins below hell itself, far beyond the sight of everything but the eye of sovereign grace that can pierce even down to
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