Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History
Historians are divided on the purpose and motivation behind the Confession of Patrick. Patrick does not tells us why he wrote it, but he says that he had “long had it in mind to write but [had] in fact hesitated for I was afraid to expose myself to the criticism of men’s tongues, because I have not studied like others” (Confession, sec. 9). The feeling of inadequacy followed him everywhere. He considered himself unlearned and therefore unworthy to be of value to the church. Thankfully for us, Patrick’s fear of exposing his ignorance was overcome by his desire “to make known God’s gift” (Confession, sec. 14).
Patrick continues, “I am in the first place countrified, an exile, yes, unlearned.” But he saw this as an advantage for he understood and took comfort in the fact that “rusticity too was created by the Most High” (Confession, sec. 11). He realized that there were lessons in his humble rustic life for saints in every generation.
Be encouraged, Christian,—poor, ineloquent, and without letters—don’t worry if you “have not studied like others” and don’t be afraid to expose your ignorance of the learning of men. If you have learned Christ and you serve in the love of Christ, He alone is your confidence. You can say boldly with Patrick, “So then, be amazed, you great and small that fear God, and you clerical intellectuals, listen and take stock. Who raised me up, a fool, from the midst of those who seem to be wise and learned in the law and powerful in speaking and all else, and inspired me in preference to others, execrated [detested] as I am by this world, to prove fit to help (if only I could!), faithfully, with fear and reverence and without complaint, the people to which the love of Christ brought and gave me for the rest of my life, if I am worthy; in short, to serve them sincerely and with humility?” (Confession, sec. 13).
If God has called you and equipped you to serve Him, then you have in that a holy boldness and by faith a secret confidence: you should fear the face of no man.
“That man, whose modesty presents him mean in his own eyes and lowly to others, is commonly secretly rich in virtue. Give me rather a low fullness than an empty advancement.”—Joseph Hall