October 09, 2021

Jane Austen on Romans 2

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.

Romans 2: 1 - 5

Most people are aware of Jane Austen through her writings such as Pride & Prejudice. For me personally I have never read her works or known much about her, which made it all the more surprising when I stumbled upon a prayer that she wrote based on Romans 2:5:

Look with mercy on the sins we have this day committed and in mercy make us feel them deeply, that our repentance may be sincere and our resolution steadfast of endeavoring against the commission of such in future. Teach us to understand the sinfulness of our own hearts, and bring to our knowledge ever fault of temper and every evil habit in which we have indulged to the discomfort of our fellow creatures, and the danger of our own souls.

May we know, and on each return of night, consider how the past day has been spent by us, what have been our prevailing thoughts, words, and actions during it, and how far we can acquit ourselves of evil. Have we thought irreverently of you, have we disobeyed your commandments, have we neglected any known duty or willingly given pain to any human being? Incline us to ask our hearts these questions, oh God, and save us from deceiving ourselves by pride or vanity. Give us a thankful sense of the blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our lot, that we may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference.

Now we are not saying that we should necessarily look to Jane Austen as a theologically sound individual but we think there are 2 important points we can take from here (in light of Romans):

  1. The inward examination & repentance of the sins that we commit on a daily basis, and how it injures both others around us and our own souls as believers.
  2. The recognition of God's grace in molding our hearts to recognize our sins & the blessings that God has given in our lives.

Both are important aspects of our daily sanctification but it is easy to lose sight of in the busyness of our day-to-day lives.