from “Sin (3)” by George Herbert

. . .

Blessings beforehand, ties of gratefulness

The sound of glory ringing in our ears:

Without, our shame; within, our consciences;

Angels and grace, eternal hopes and fears.

Yet all these fences and their whole array

One cunning bosom-sin blows quite away.

For Christmas this past year my dear Papa gave me a book of poetry by the 17th century English poet, George Herbert.  Mr. Herbert has a way of expressing spiritual truths and realities that is witty, moving, biblical, mystical, and practical.  The poem quoted above discusses all the ways by which we are girded against sin, concluding that despite all these devices- from the moral teaching of our parents to the hope of eternal glory with God- we are defenseless against the sins that dwell deep within us.

The image of all those defenses being blown away resonates with me as I consider my own struggles with sin.  Those sins that spring from within are the hardest to conquer, it seems, because they have some inner source of nourishment.  All we can do is beg God’s grace to get us through, to forgive even our unwillingness to break from our sin because its promise of pleasure is so great.

Perhaps there is a defense that could help better than the others: sanctification.  I have heard that in some mysterious way we can become at least a little divine, a little more like Christ.  Maybe then the inner nourishment of bosom-sins would wither.  I want this to happen.  But I think it might involve something called “discipline” . . .

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