Psssst! Want to read a really weird book? Try Mr. James Hogg’s Scottish concoction, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Yeah, that title, that alone drew me in. What the heck..?
Turns out it was far more of a wild ride than I had anticipated. An early gothic novel with a vengence! It is the bizarre, supernatural story of a sociopath motivated by religion! Yes, he’s a Calvinist, and understanding that most are irrevocably damned from birth, he decides to do a little earthly clean up on his own. After all, the lost, the preterite, the un-elect, are not worthy of life and the justified can do no wrong – their destiny is sealed from all eternity.
I rejoiced in the commission, finding it more congenial to my nature to be cutting sinners off with the sword than to be haranguing them from the pulpit, striving to produce an effect which God, by his act of absolute predestination, had for ever rendered impracticable. I could not disbelieve the doctrine which the best of men had taught me, and towards which he made the whole of the Scriptures to bear, and yet it made the economy of the Christian world appear to me as an absolute contradiction. How much more wise would it be, thought I, to begin and cut sinners off with the sword! For till that is effected, the saints can never inherit the earth in peace. Should I be honoured as an instrument to begin this great work of purification, I should rejoice in it. But, then, where had I the means, or under what direction was I to begin? There was one thing clear, I was now the Lord’s and it behoved me to bestir myself in His service. Oh that I had an host at my command, then would I be as a devouring fire among the workers of iniquity!
The book does drag a bit near the end, but the Scottish local color, customs and dialect, add to its interest. The entire text is available online.