Thursday, August 30, 2007
Colquhoun on Repentance
Just finished a book on repentance from John Colquhoun (1748-1827), one of the Scottish "marrow men." The copy I have is one I picked up last November at the Evangelical Forum from Sherman Isbell's book table and is titled "True Repentance" (Old Paths Gospel Press, n. d.). The original title is "A View of Evangelical Repentance from the Sacred Records," and is best known as "Evangelical Repentance."
One of the book's main points is that true repentance only comes after justifying faith in Christ. The seeds of repentance are implanted in regeneration and are actualized after justification:
From these arguments it is evident that, in order of nature, justification in the sight of God, or forgiveness of sin in justification, precedes the first exercise of true repentance. But seeing the principle of evangelical repentance is implanted in the soul before justification, none is justified in the sight of God, but he who, in this sense, is already a true penitent. It is only the habit and the exercise of true repentance that follow the act of justification (p. 132).
The point: Saving faith does not depend on the exercise of repentance, but even our repentance, if genuine and not (as Colqhoun calls it) "legal," is given us by God. A right doctrine of repentance is built on the foundation of a right understanding of justification by faith.
Colqhoun goes on to stress that true repentance is an ongoing component of the Christian life: "Every man who is justified is entitled to sanctification, of which the habit and exercise of true repentance are essential parts" (p. 133).
"O renew, and frequently renew, not only the acting of humble confidence in your adorable Redeemer for all his salvation, but also for the exercise of evangelical repentance. Godly sorrow is sweet, is delicious sorrow. It is often attended by a delightful sense of redeeming love and of justifying grace. Whilst, with tears of sorrow and gratitude, you praise a forgiving God and a bleeding Saviour, you realize this paradox: 'sorrowful yet always rejoicing.' Your melting seasons of penitential sorrow will usually pave the way for your strongest and sweetest consolations (p. 137)."