Monday, June 08, 2009

19Dec1866, Thoughts on Confession

HICKLETON, [FN: Lord Halifax's house.] December 19th, 1866.
Dr. Pusey is waging a war in The Times upon Private Confession and Absolution, which he advocates most strongly, tho' not condemning those who differ from him. It seems to me wrong to oppose private confession if it is quite voluntary ; but it is all but inconceivable to me. Many things it would be entirely impossible to put into spoken words, and so one would be false ; then under or over-statement of others would be inevitable ; as to motives, one would get into hopeless perplexity ; and then there is forgetfulness. My strong feeling (and I know it is not pride) is "0 keep the softening veil in mercy drawn, Thou Who canst love us, though Thou read us true" ; and no special confession to man, that I can imagine, could be to me what the silent appeal of one's soul is, lying with tears at His feet Who sees all, and pities all. "0 Lord, Thou knowest." Then comes the message of the priest, as if straight from Heaven—more consoling and reuniting, to my mind, than if the preceding confession had been a set one to him.

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