True Repentance

by John Yoder on May 19, 2017

Last Sunday night, in our study of the reconciliation between Jacob and Esau from Genesis 33:1-17, we took note of the patriarch’s repentance and I mentioned John Colquhoun’s book, True Repentance.  Some of my material was gleaned from the chapter titled, “The fruits and evidences of true repentance” and I thought you might benefit from more of it.  Here is how it begins:

When John the Baptist saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Bring forth fruits meet for repentance.” (Mt. 3:8)  What he styles fruits the apostle Paul calls works, meet for repentance. (Acts 26:20)  The fruits of true repentance, then, are in general the good works which every evangelical penitent endeavorers, through grace, diligently to perform; the spiritual and acceptable works, or ‘fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.’  They are styled fruits, and fruits of repentance, for they spring from the incorruptible seed of evangelical repentance in the heart, implanted there at regeneration.  Such works, are ‘fruits meet for repentance.’  They are suitable to it, and they evince the genuineness of it.  As a tree is known by its fruit, so repentance is known by good works.  These are effects of it, and therefore are proofs or evidences to men of the sincerity of it…The chief of these I shall now consider briefly, under the following particulars:” 

1. Carefulness or vigilance is one of the fruits of it. ‘Behold,’ said the apostle to the Corinthians, ‘this self-same thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you!” (2 Cor. 7:11)…The true penitent is careful to keep himself from his iniquity, and to ‘walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing.’

2. Another of the fruits of true repentance is the penitent’s clearing of himself.  Our apostle, in the passage already cited, adds, ‘yea, what clearing of yourselves!’…Every sincere penitent, by relying only on the surety-righteousness of Jesus Christ for his title to the justification of life, clears himself in the sight of God from all the guilt of his own sins; and by refusing to countenance sinful principles and practices around him, he clears himself from being partaker of other men’s sins.

3. Holy indignation against sin is a fruit and evidence of evangelical repentance.  The apostle in the fore-cited passage adds, ‘Yea, what indignation!’…The heart of every true penitent is filled with indignation against his iniquities, as striking immediately against the honor of his God and Savior…He is angry and sins not, when he is angry at nothing but sin, and angry with himself only because he has sinned.

4. Another consequence and evidence of true repentance, according to the apostle, is fear, a filial and reverential fear of God, which causes the soul to stand in awe of God, and holds it back from that which would offend and dishonor Him…a fear of sinning against Him, and of grieving His Spirit and His ministers.

5. Vehement or ardent desire, is one of the fruits of evangelical repentance.  When the believers in Corinth sorrowed to repentance, it produced in them, as the Apostle says, ‘vehement desire.’  It excited in them fervent desire after a thorough reformation…It raised in them an ardent desire to give the apostle full satisfaction, and to honor God for the future by a holy and exemplary conduct.

6. The apostle informs us, in the passage already cited, that godly sorrow produces zeal.  Under the influences of the Holy Spirit, it inflamed the hearts of the saints in Corinth with ardent zeal for the manifested glory of God in Christ; for restoring the discipline, peace, and order of the church; for the doctrines of grace, and the ordinances of the gospel; and for defending the character of the apostle agains the slanders of the false teachers.

7. Another of the fruits of true repentance is revenge on sin.  Our apostle in the fore-cited passage says the the godly sorrow of the Corinthians wrought revenge in them.  It disposed them to take a sort of holy vengeance upon themselves…and it made them determined to inflict deserved punishment on the scandalous delinquent by casting him out of the church.

8. The penitent’s making ample restitution of what he borrowed or fraudulently took from others is a fruit and evidence of true repentance…He who has injured his neighbor, and refuses, though he has ability, to make restitution, is an unrighteous man…All appearances of repentance without this are hypocritical…they who can restore that which they owe their neighbor, but will not, surely do not turn from that sin, for they deliberately continue to enjoy the fruit of it.

9. Another of the fruits and evidences of evangelical repentance is the reparation of injuries in cases in which proper restitution cannot be made; such as injuries done to persons in their reputation, in their influences and usefulness, in their families or connections, in their peace of mind, in their contentment and in many other instances…The evangelical penitent, though he cannot undo what he’s has done yet will study to counteract the evil arising from the injury…Multitudes alas! flatter themselves that they have sincerely repented of their sins, who yet will on no account condescend to make the smallest reparation for the injuries they have done.

10. Once more, diligence in the spiritual performance of all our duties is one of the fruits of true repentance.  To be diligent is to be bent on activity, constant in application, and persevering in endeavor…When he remembers, with sorrow and self-abasement, how diligent he was in the service of sin and Satan, how he did evil with both hands earnestly, he is powerfully urged to serve now with holy diligence his God and Savior.

Reader, have you in any degree brought forth these fruits of evangelical repentance?…

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