Too much time mourning for sin? (David Clarkson)

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
No pardoned sinner can ever think he bestows too much time in mourning for sin.

David Clarkson, ‘Of Repentance’ in The Practical Works of David Clarkson, B.D., Fellow and Tutor of Clare Hall, Cambridge, ed. Thomas Smith (3 vols, Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1864-65), 1: 57.


Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for sharing. It’s something I don’t really hear Christians today speak of.

I’ve thought in the past about distinctions between a godly mourning for sin and “beating yourself up” or “throwing a pity party”. The latter two seem to be wrong.. My question would be how do we help distinguish these, promote genuine mourning and shun the counterfeit.


Puritan Board Doctor
Seems to me that, if you spend an inordinate amount of time mourning over your sins, it would be easy to forget that those sins are actually forgiven. Yes, be diligent in confessing sin. Yes, be diligent in avoiding occasions for sin and actually sinning. But, there needs to be room in the Christian life for rejoicing over the forgiveness of sins and luxuriating in the grace of God. Too many Christians seem to be overbalanced on the negative side.

Even Jonathan Edwards complained that David Brainerd was too morbid and negative in his attitude to the Christian life.


Puritan Board Freshman
Perhaps part of distinguishing them would be by the effects they have. So if contemplating sin leaves someone wallowing in despair and afraid to appeal to the Lord for mercy, there is something wrong with that contemplation. Whereas a 'true sense of sin' would send us to Christ to save us from it. Then deep sorrow for sin would be fully consistent (even simultaneous) with deep joy in our pardoning Saviour and deep thankfulness for our pardoned status.