Religion in James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner and J.G. Lockhart’s Adam Blair

Religion in James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner and J.G. Lockhart’s Adam Blair

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Religion in James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner and J.G. Lockhart’s Adam Blair


“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2). Given the highly charged religious environment of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Scotland, the above passage must have been discussed many times in Christian circles then. Some of the Reformed faithful, perhaps, took the first part too seriously, to the expense of any normal sense of morality, while others might have forgotten their freedom from condemnation and fallen into despair. Either way, both views pervert the orthodox Calvinistic view of guilt laid out in the teachings of the doctrine’s namesake and the standard confessions of the church at the time.

While they may not make very good theology, these dogmas at least provided material for two nineteenth-century character studies, James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner and J.G. Lockhart’s Adam Blair. Written when much (but not all) of post-Enlightenment Scotland had taken an anti-clerical, anti-religious stance, these novels explore the faith of the previous generation and how fundamentalist Presbyterianism may have gone horribly wrong. The protagonists of each book react in completely opposite ways to their sinful acts; Lockhart’s eponymous character has a nearly legalistic view of his own sin, while Hogg’s Robert Wringhim follows a more antinomian path. Oddly enough, it is the former who ends up redeemed and the other damned, but their respective journeys toward those ends follow much of the same path.

Robert Wringhim, Hogg’s cen...


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... Studies Review Vol. 5 (2004): 9-26.

Hogg, James. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969.

Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Ed. J.I. Packer et. al. London: HarperCollins Religious, 2002.

Lockhart, J.G. Some Passages in the Life of Mr. Adam Blair, Minister of the Gospel at Cross-Meikle. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1963.

Mack, Douglas S. “‘The Rage of Fanaticism in the Former Days’: James Hogg’s Confession of a Justified Sinner and the Controversy over Old Mortality.” Nineteenth Century Scottish Fiction: Critical Essays. Ed. Ian Campbell. Manchester: Carcanet New Press Limited, 1979. 37-50.

Richardson, Thomas C. “Character and Craft in Lockhart’s Adam Blair.” Nineteenth Century Scottish Fiction: Critical Essays. Ed. Ian Campbell. Manchester: Carcanet New Press Limited, 1979. 51-67.

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