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Word Count: 673
The title Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner takes its reference from a theological belief particularly the central reformation doctrine of justification by faith It concerns a strangely tormented character Robert Wringhim who believes he is one of the elect but eventually murders his brother and finally takes his own life To say that this novel has a multiplicity of interpretations is a literary commonplace For the purposes of this paper I wish to suggest that it may be read as a warning not against intolerance but against excessive rationalism The novel is written in three parts The Editors narrative is written by a member of the Edinburgh Enlightenment literati and suggests to be the objective rational account of Robert Wringhim and the strange events of his life The Sinners Confessions are Robert Wringhims own subjective irrational account of these same events Robert being an elect and justified person believes that he cannot lose his Christian identity by any action however wicked Strictly speaking therefore the novel is not so much about justification as its theological but heretical double - antinomianism And finally there is a short final account by the Editor of the discovery of the Sinners grave together with his Confessions During the Sinners narrative it becomes apparent that Wringhim fears the devil may have an interest in his soul and may at times possess him Actions that seem inexplicable in the Editors narrative when told from the Sinners point of view may be understood either as madness or occult possession Wringhim has a friend he calls Gil-martin who has close similarities to the devil as he is described in the Bible and in the Scottish folk tradition in which Hogg was steeped It is apparent that Wringhim is a deeply troubled individual and describes in himself what the reader may recognize as the symptoms of schizophrenia Gil-martin the name he gives to the voice he hears which tells him to
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