347 (357)

 

Chapter 29

 

What Interest Repentance hath in our Justification

 

††††††††† In reference to the clearing of this question, about the interest of repentance in justification, it will not be necessary to speak much of repentance itself, the premitting of a few things will be sufficient unto our purpose.

††††††††† The Hebrew word, which is rendered repent, is of a general signification, for it signifies to return, whether from a place, or from the distemper of our minds, or from our former courses; and so denotes a motion or change of the body from one place to another; or of the mind from any purpose, or of the whole way and walk, and in special, it sometimes signifies a change of the whole man to the better, both as to his mind, resolution, and deportment, and thus denotes a man turning unto God: And accordingly we read in the New Testament of the Prodigal coming or returning to himself, or to his right mind and wits; and we hear of repentance towards God. In the New Testament there are two Greek words, the one metame/lomai importing such a change, as is attended with after care; the other metanoei~n signifying such a change, as denotes after-wit or after thought. Some do so difference these two, as that they say that the last signifies to sorrow for what is done so as to amend it, called by the Latins resipiscere, and therefore is properly meant of a good and saving repentance, wherein the penitent returns to his right wits, so as to reform and amend what hath been amiss; and the other denotes properly care, anxiety and solicitude after something done, called by the Latins poenitere, and this may be used in an evil sense, as denoting properly no change of mind or carriage to the better, but simply such a trouble and anxiety for what is done, as makes them wish, it were not done, whether the thing done was good or evil. But in the New Testament we find not this difference constantly observed; for metame/lomai is taken both in a good sense, for a good repentance, and saving, Matthew 21: 32, 29, and for a common repentance that is not saving, Matthew 27: 3, where mention is made of Judas repenting metanoe/w indeed and meta/noia that comes there from, imports a good and saving repentance, except in Hebrews 12: 17.

††††††††† What this word denotes, when used of God, either affirmatively, or negatively, we need not here enquire. It is more for our purpose to consider that repentance may be taken in a three fold sense. 1. For a common work of legal sorrow through conviction of hazard, because of sin, whereby the man may rue, be grieved, and be sorrowful for what he hath done, and wish he had not done it, as Judas repented of his wickedness. This may be, and yet not be attended with pardon of sins: And, as to such, in whom the Lord purposes to carry on the work of condition, and humiliation until

 

 

348 (358)

 

it comes to real conversion, and union with Christ, though it may be called a conditio sine qua non of justification and pardon, in such, in that usually, if not always, the Lord premits something of this, as to some sensible measure, or other, unto his more gracious workings; yet this common repentance hath no proper interest in justification, and cannot be called a condition thereof, far less a cause, seeing that in itself it hath no certain connection with justification, and though it be an antecedent in the justified, yet it may be, and often is, where no justification follows, being in many nothing but the sorrow of the world, that works death, II Corinthians 7: 10.

††††††††† But, 2, there is a repentance that is only peculiar unto such, as are already justified and pardoned, following upon and flowing from the sense and intimation of pardon expressed by self-abhorring, self-loathing, melting of heart, and tenderness, and the like. So in Ezekiel 16: 63, That thou mayest remember and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee, &c. So Ezekiel 36: 25 Ė 28 compared with verse 31. See also Jeremiah 31: 19, 20. Neither can this be called, or accounted a condition of justification, and remission, but also the sense and intimation thereof; and therefore cannot go before it.

††††††††† But 3, the greatest difficulty is anent that work of repentance, which is a saving work of the Spirit going along with faith, arising from the sense of sin committed, and the apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, causing spiritual and kindly grief, sorrow and indignation at themselves and their sinful ways; with an hatred for sin and a fixed purpose to forsake it, and to turn to the Lord, and this is frequently mentioned in the Scriptures. Now this repentance may be considered two ways, first as it is in these, in whom the Lord is working a work of conversion, and whom he is translating out of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son, and secondly as it is in such, as are already brought into a justified state, after new sins committed. As to this last, we will have a fit occasion to enquire afterward, how or what way it is required in reference to remission and pardon of after-sins. The first falls now under consideration, because we are speaking of justification, which holds forth a change of state, as was formerly explained.

††††††††† That we may therefore proceed the more distinctly in this inquisition, we must first take notice of the several senses of the word, or of the terms equipollent in Scripture; and see what is properly denoted thereby.

††††††††† 1. Sometimes it denotes most grief, sorrow, or that which is called contrition, or that part of repentance, as Luke 10: 33, where it is explained by sitting in sackcloth and ashes. Jeremiah 8: 6, no man repented him of his wickedness, saying what have I done. Thus it may also be taken in II Corinthians 11: 21, that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication, and lasciviousness which they have committed. Here, I say, it may be looked upon as mostly denoting this part of repentance; though not as excluding the other parts.

 

 

349 (359)

 

††††††††† 2. Sometimes it denotes mostly a change of former courses and ways; whether of error, as II Timothy 2: 25, If God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; or of conversion, called repentance from dead works, Hebrews 6: 1. So II Chronicles 7: 17, it is called a turning from their evil ways and from sins, Ezekiel 18: 21. It was said to Simon Magus, Acts 8: 22, repent of this thy wickedness. See Revelation 2: 21, 22.

††††††††† 3. Sometimes it denotes the whole work of conversion and turning unto God, Acts 26: 20, that they should repent and turn to God, where the latter expression is but exegetic of the former. So also Acts 3: 19. Repent ye therefore and be converted: where both expressions denote one and the same thing, the last being explicative of the former. Ezekiel 18: 30, Repent and turn yourselves. And this is imported by many synonymous expressions in the Old Testament, as Seeking the Lord, Deuteronomy 4: 29, Turning to the Lord, verse 30, Returning to the Lord, Hosea 5: 4, Seeking the face of God, II Chronicles 7: 14, and the like. See also Revelation 3: 19.

††††††††† 4. It is sometimes expressly distinguished from Godly sorrow, and mentioned as a consequent, or fruit and effect of it. II Corinthians 7: 9, 10 Öye sorrowed to repentance Ö for Godly sorrow worketh repentance.

††††††††† 5. It sometimes expressly distinguishes from faith, as in Acts 20: 21 Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ; Hebrews 6: 1, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God. So in Jeremiah 31: 19, after I was turned (that is, wrought up to faith) I repented.

††††††††† 6. Sometimes it signifies nothing else, upon the matter but a receiving of the Gospel and a believing in Christ, not only Mark 1: 15 Örepent ye and believe the Gospel; where the latter is explicative of the former, but also in many other places, where John the Baptistís ministry is spoken of, the sum whereof is said to have been Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand, Matthew 3: 2, and his baptism was called the Baptism of Repentance, Mark 1: 4, or unto repentance, Matthew 3: 11. See also Luke 3: 3, Acts 13: 24. Now, that this preaching of repentance, and baptism of or unto repentance, which is said to have been Johnís ministry, and work, was the preaching of faith in the Messiah, Paul tells us expressly, Acts 19: 4. Then Paul said, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him, which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. So that, by this commentary of Paulís, we understand both what was the scope of his baptism of repentance, and also what was the meaning of his calling on his hearers to repent, to wit, to embrace Christ, who came after him, and to believe in him. And by this commentary, we may understand the purport of Christís preaching Matthew 4: 17, from that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent; for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. And this is called, Mark 1: 14, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. As also of the preaching of the Apostles and seventy disciples, when they were sent to say, the Kingdom of God was come, or is nigh unto you, Luke 10: 9, Matthew 10: 7, which is called the Gospel, Luke 9: 6, and repentance, Mark 6: 12. They went out and preached that men should repent. By this also we may understand the meaning of these and the like passages, Matthew 9: 13 I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

 

 

350 (360)

 

So Mark 2: 17, Luke 5: 32, as likewise of that passage Luke 15: 7, 10 Öjoy in heaven, over one person, that repenteth: for this is Christ saving the man that was lost, Matthew 18: 11, Luke 15: 4 and 19: 10. See also Matthew 11: 20, Acts 2: 38; 11: 18 and 26: 18 and 20 compared together.

††††††††† 7. Sometimes it denotes a recovery from some measure of defection, into which persons are backslidden, as Revelation 2: 5, Remember therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent.

†††††††† 8. Sometimes it is distinguished from works of obedience, that follow upon it and flow from it; as Matthew 3: 8, bring forth fruits meet for repentance, that is, fruits suiting or answerable unto a Christian state, or a state of believing in Christ, which before we saw was denoted by Johnís Baptism. So Luke 3: 8 and Acts 26: 10.

††††††††† 9. Sometimes it includes all, that is required in order to salvation, upon manís part, as II Peter 3: 9 not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. So that repentance includes all, that is requisite to escape perishing. So Luke 13: 3, 5 except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish. So also Acts 5: 31, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins; where, as remission of sins may comprehend all the spiritual favors and privileges, which Christ bestows, so repentance may include all the graces and blessings, which he bestows, in order to the actual participating of these privileges. Thus we may understand it, Acts 17: 30, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent, that is, by the preached Gospel, wherever it comes, commands all men to relinquish their courses of vanity and to embrace the Gospel of salvation, and to walk accordingly. So Luke 24: 47. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations: which is the short sum of the Apostlesí commission, to wit, to exhort to all Christian duties, imported by repentance; and hold forth all Gospel privileges, as an encouragement thereunto, included in remission of sins.

†††††††† Having premitted these things;in order to the clearing of the question, we would know further:

††††††††† 1. That the question is not, whether the doctrine of Papists about repentance in order to justification, ought to be owned in whole, or in part. For none now appear in the direct owning of their assertions, who commonly are utterly ignorant of true justification, as different from sanctification, as may sufficiently appear by the very naming of their positions for: (i) They look upon repentance as having force and efficacy to expel sin, as light hath to expel darkness, taking remission to be a destroying of the very being of sin, and expelling of corruption by contrary gracious qualities, and inherent holiness, of which they make repentance a part. (ii) They make repentance concur, as a material cause disposing the soul for receiving a gracious quality, for the expelling of sin. (iii) They make repentance to obtain pardon by way of merit, and (iv) by way of satisfaction. Not to mention (v) their Sacrament of Penance. All which the reader will find not only rejected, but also shortly and solidly confuted by worthy and judicious

 

 

351 (361)

 

Mr. Durham in his Commentary on the Revelation in that digression on repentance, page 251.

††††††††† 2. Nor is the question, whether the Lord calls for repentance as a duty, at the hands of such as either are to be justified, or are already justified. For both these we willingly grant, as being divine truths, richly confirmed in the Scriptures, whatever Antinomians say to the contrary.

††††††††† 3. Nor is the question, whether repentance be a condition of the Covenant or not. For if by a condition of the Covenant, we understand everything, that is a duty, required of the Covenanters, it is readily granted, as was said, that repentance is a duty required of such as are really in covenant with God; but if by a condition of the Covenant be meant a duty required in order to the closing of the Covenant, or entering into Covenant, upon the performing of which the Covenant is immediately closed and entered into, this is denied; and abundantly confuted by Mr. Durham, in the forecited digression.

††††††††† 4. But the question is, if repentance hath the same place, office, use and consideration in justification, that faith hath; so that it may be every way as well, and as fully called the condition of justification, as faith is; and so that it is called for in order to justification, upon the same account, and under the same formality, that faith is called for. Socinians and Arminians (as we heard above) join repentance and faith, in the same order and place, and ascribe the same office, use and power unto both, in order to justification. And Mr. Baxter tells us, Confess. page 37. n. 19. that repentance is made by God, in the Gospel, a proper condition of our first general pardon of sin, as well as faith is. And he lays down a ground for this interest of repentance (which I suppose, will reach to the including of other works also) in the foregoing n. 18. saying a quatenus ad omne valet consequential. If faithís formal interest in pardon be, as it is the condition of the act of pardon, then whatsoever is such a condition, must have the same kind of formal interest, as faith. By the first general pardon of sin here, he means justification; for with him remission of sins and justification is all one thing. And yet afterward, page 96, concl. 29, he has words, which would seem to give some peculiar interest unto faith; and so contradict what is here said, for he says, If any say, that seeing faith hath a peculiar aptitude to this office, therefore it must have a peculiar interest. I answer, so it hath. For 1. It doth alone, without (merits, or) any positive Gospel works of obedience (as such at least) procure (as far as belongs to its office) our first full justification. 2. The love of Christ received, gratitude, &c. are but as modifications of faith, which is called the receiving itself. Though some of them be distinct physical acts, yet all the rest, morally considered, are but as it were, the modification of faith: I mean of that act, which is the acceptance of Christ, and life freely given, &c. Now, I suppose, he will grant (as he doth above, as we may see) that repentance hath not that peculiar aptitude, to this office, that faith hath; and consequently cannot have that peculiar interest, as he confesses: I suppose also, that he will put repentance in the same rank with Gospel works of obedience; and consequently it must no more share of that special interest, that belongs to faith, in this office,

 

 

352 (362)

 

than they: I suppose likewise, that he will grant repentance to be but a modification of faith, as well as love and gratitude: and then I would know, how repentance can be said to be as proper a condition of justification as faith is? Surely, if it be as proper, it must have as peculiar an interest, for this peculiarity of interest cannot respect its aptitude merely, but its designed and appointed state, in that office; otherwise the objection, which he moved, and answered, should have this sense, seeing faith hath a peculiar aptitude to this office; therefore it must have a peculiar aptitude to this office, which were nonsense.

††††††††† Now that repentance hath not the same interest in justification, that faith hath, we judge evident from these grounds.

††††††††† 1. The Scripture tells us, that we are justified by faith, and that several times, and not only says it, but proves it, as we saw above: but it nowhere says, that we are justified by repentance. And reason would require, that such as say, that repentance hath the same interest in justification, that faith hath, should tell us, where it is said, we are justified by repentance: there must be a vast difference, as to their interest in justification; unless they can give us some Scripture expressions concerning the interest of repentance, equivalent to this, we are justified by repentance. If it be said that this is equipollent when it is said, Repent that your sins may be blotted out: and that repentance and remission of sins are joined together, and the like, I answer, leaving the particular examination of these and the like passages alleged until afterward, I shall only say this at present. (1.) Justification and Remission of sins are not every way the same. Though Mr. Baxter hath several times said it; yet in his Catholic Theolog. of Godís Covenant c. sect xiii. n. 208. he says our first constitutive justification is in its own nature a right to impunity (and this, as he oft elsewhere tells us, is remission) and to life or glory. Now what is beside a right to impunity, also a right to life and glory, is more than remission of sins: and therefore the consequence from remission to justification cannot stand. (2.) In like manner, because it is said, Luke 6: 37, forgive and it shall be forgiven you, it may be inferred, that forgiving of our neighbor some fault, that he hath done to us, is the condition of our constitutive justification, and hath as great an interest in our justification, as faith itself, and by it we have as really right to impunity, and right to life and glory, as by faith. It is true, Mr. Allen will not think this very absurd, who reasons from this same passage, not far otherwise, in his Discourse of the Two Covenants, page 52. Yet I suppose, others will: and I doubt, if Mr. Baxter shall make this one and the same thing with faith, as he labors in his Catholic Theol. to make faith and repentance one.

††††††††† It will be said, when we are said to be justified by faith, it is all one, as if we were said to be justified by repentance: for Mr. Baxter clears, Of Godís Govern. sect xii, how faith and repentance are all one thing. I answer: (1) if the Spirit of the Lord had but once said, in his word, that we were justified by repentance, we might then be allowed, to think of such explications, as might make either both one thing, or show, how both have the

 

 

353 (363)

 

same interest in justification: but when the Scriptures never once say, that we are justified by repentance, for us to devise such explications, as to make the Scriptures speak what they never speak, is not fair, nor is it to edification, because it has no tendency to explain the matter, as expressed in the Scriptures; and is so far from clearing up the truth, that it darkens all; for hereby we are taught to understand faith, wherever we hear of repentance, and repentance, where mention is made of faith; so that we may ascribe all to repentance, that is spoken of faith in Hebrews 11, and say that repentance is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, &c. (2.) Though it is true, the word repentance (as we have seen) is sometimes taken so largely, as to include faith; yet that will not allow us, to say, we are justified by repentance, as we are justified by faith: It is best for us to follow Scripture language: The Scripture expressly denies, that we are justified by works; and yet repentance is sometimes taken in such a large sense, as to include all acts of obedience; This way then, would allow us to say, we are justified by all works of obedience, (even as to constitutive justification) as we are by faith: Yet Mr. Baxter in his Confess. p. 89, 90, puts a difference betwixt faith and evangelic obedience as to this constitutive justification, making the one, like consent to marriage relation, or taking one to be my Captain; and the other like conjugal fidelity and obedience, or obeying the Captain, and fighting under him, and tell us that he no more comprises all obedience in faith, than conjugal obedience in the marriage consent. (3.) That repentance is not the same with faith in the matter of justification; (in reference to which, we now speak of both) will appear from our following reasons: So that whatever pains be taken to make them one, on other accounts, will be to no purpose, as to our present business.

††††††††† 2. If repentance has the same interest in justification, that faith has, then works shall have the same interest with faith; but this is diametrically opposite to all the Apostleís dispute, Romans 3 and 4 and Galatians 2 and 3. The reason of the consequence is, because repentance includes works, and is a special work and act of obedience itself. Mr. Baxter tells us Confess. p. 94. that Paulís scope is both to take down Mosesí Law (especially its necessity and conceited sufficiency) and the dignity of legal works (and consequently of any works) and that therefore by works Paul means to exclude only merits, or works which are conceited meritorious, or which for the worth of the deed done, should procure pardon and acceptance with God, without a Mediatorís blood; and so Paul himself described the works, that he speaks against, Romans 4: 4, that they are such as make the reward to be not of Grace, but of debt. Answer: This is but the same we heard before from John Goodwine, and the same answer may suffice. If the scope of Paul had been only to take down Mosesí law; why did he speak so much of the Gentiles, and show how they were all under sin, and therefore must be justified by faith, and not by the Law, or by works? This had no manifest tendency to that scope. (2.) Why brought he in the instance of Abraham, who was before the Law of Moses? Abraham not being justified by works, could not prove the insufficiency of the Law of Moses thereunto. (3.) To think,

 

 

354 (364)

 

that the Jews did conceit, that they would obtain pardon and acceptance with God, only by their laborious performance of ceremonies and costly sacrifices, excluding all acts of moral obedience, is apparently groundless; contrary to Romans 9: 30 Ė 32 and 10: 3 Ė 4, and would say, that Paul took not a right medium to destroy that conceit, for his nearest and surest course had been to have shown the nullity of that Law, now under the Gospel; hereby all occasion of further debate being perfectly removed. (4.) Paul is so far, in Romans 4:4, from describing the works that he speaks of, to be such only as make the reward of debt, that he proves that justification cannot be by works, by this medium, because then the reward should be reckoned, not of grace, but of debt, and so tells us, that all work makes the reward of debt: This is a manifest perversion of the Apostleís argument: for he does not say, now to him, that so worketh, as to conceit his works meritorious, the reward is not reckoned of grace, but of debt; but now to him that workethÖ: far less can this be the meaning or construction of the words, now to him, that maketh the reward to be not of grace, but of debt: for what sense is here? And further the meaning of the following words must accordingly be this; but to him that so worketh, as not to make the reward of debt but of grace, his working is counted for righteousness. While as the Apostle says a plainly different thing. But to him, that worketh not, but believeth on him, that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Surely, working without this conceit of merit, is not believing on him, that justifieth the ungodly, neither are these works counted for righteousness; for holy Abraham wrought without that conceit, and yet he was not justified by works, verses 2, 3. Nor did David mean, that manís blessedness did consist in the imputation of such works ; nor did he describe that blessedness, when he said, blessed are they, whose iniquities are forgiven, &c. Consider I Corinthians 4: 4, Ephesians 2: 9, Philippians 3: 9, Titus 3: 5.

††††††††† 3. Repentance hath no instrumental on Christ and his righteousness, in order to our being justified. But faith hath this, as was shown in the foregoing chapter. Therefore repentance hath not the same interest in justification that faith hath. It is requisite and necessary, in order to our justification, that we be clothed with a righteousness, even the Surety-Righteousness of Christ: and only faith can lay hold on this and put it on, and not repentance. Repentance doth not act so upon anything without a man, to bring it home that it may become the manís righteousness. It has other work, and acts upon another object, upon sin within the man. It is true Mr. Baxter in his Catholic Theol. of Godís Government sect xi. will have faith rather to be called a receiving cause than an instrumental cause, and a medium or dispositive cause of the effect, justification as received, but not as given. And then sect xii, he calls repentance a dispositio materiae recipientis teo, and a part of the condition of the Covenant. But we think it needless here to distinguish with him betwixt receiving justification and being justified. We do not call faith an instrument of Godís act justifying, as was said above. If faith and repentance be dispositive causes of the effect and causa dispositiva be part of the causa materialis, as he also says, I suppose, they are not mere causa sine quibus non; as he said elsewhere. But to our business, we have cleared

 

 

355 (365)

 

before, how faith acts in the matter of justification, how it receives an imputed righteousness and lays hold on this Surety-Righteousness of Christ and applies it, to the end, the accused impeached man may have wherewithal he may stand before the Tribunal of God, and be accepted of as righteous, in his Cautioner, and through his Cautionerís righteousness imputed to him, and now received by faith: and though Mr. Baxter accountsfaithís accepting of Christ, and life offered on that condition, only its aptitude to the office, and that the formal reason of its office as to our justification, is its being the performed condition of the covenant, as he there speaks; yet that will not invalidate our argument: for (1.) Faithís aptitude (as he calls it) or rather its work and acting in justification, is not merely an accepting of Christ, and life offered on that condition; but it is the accepting, laying hold on, leaning to, and applying the Surety Righteousness of Christ, presupposing the acceptance of Christ himself. (2.) Though it may be said, that the nearest formal reason of faithís office, is the Lordís appointment; yet this being too, too philosophical here contributes nothing to the clearing up of the matter, in order to practice, so neither was philosophical accuracy the ground whereupon they went, who said, that faithís interest in justification was as an instrument, but rather their end was to clear the matter in order to practice; so as poor souls might not fall into mistakes; and this I judge to be the best theological accuracy, howbeit he should account many such speeches nothing but unintelligible phrases, and such doctrine to contain such senselessness and consequents, as the opening up of would offend, as he there speaks. (3.) It is certain, that repentance doth not so act on Christ, and his Surety Righteousness, in order to justification, as faith does. Repentance, as such, is no acceptance of a free gift, far less of a gift of righteousness, and of an atonement there through; Repentance acts not thus on Christ: Yea the reason he gives, Confess. p. 39, why repentance was made a condition of pardon, doth sufficiently show that it cannot have that interest that faith hath. His reason is this, because without it (repentance) God and the Redeemer cannot have their end in pardoning us; Nor can the Redeemer do all his work, for which we do accept him: for his work is, upon the pardoning of us, to bring us back in heart and life to God; from whom we were fallen and strayed. This was Christís work. Therefore the conditions, which Christ makes, are as if he should say, ĎIf you will be saved by me, and are willing that I shall bring you back to God, I will both bring you into his favor by pardon, and into a capacity of personal pleasing and enjoying of him.í Now, our repentance is our consent to return to God, and the change of our minds, by turning from former sin, that was our idol, and being willing by Christ to be restored to obedience. By this, I say, it is clear, that repentance hath a more direct aspect upon, and reference to the consequences of pardon and justification itself; we grant its necessity to all the ends mentioned, and its necessary presence in such as are justified; and that it contrary, or positive impenitency, cannot consist with faith, in such as are to be justified: Yet that will not give ground to infer that it hath the same interest, influence and consideration, in justification, that faith hath.

 

 

356 (366)

 

††††††††† Mr. Baxter, in his Confess. p. 39, 40, seems to grant this whole argument, when he expresses himself thus. This I say, that man may see, I do not level faith with repentance, much less (as they charge me) with actual external works of obedience, which in this first remission and justification, I take not to be so much, as expedient. What he adds concerning the ratio formalis, why faith or repentance have such an interest in our pardon, to wit, because God hath made them the conditions of the promise, cannot hinder our conclusion, until first it be proved, that God hath made repentance such a condition, we are speaking here of the difference that is betwixt the two, as to their nature and aptitude, which he confessed to be very great, and also as to their place and use because of the great difference, that is betwixt them, as to nature and aptitude.

††††††††† 4. If the interest of faith be not, as it is a work, or inward grace, inherent in the soul, but as such a going out of the soul from itself, and all its own inherent good, and from all external privileges, or what may be called inherent personal good, unto an offered Mediator, that it may embrace him, and lay hold on, and lean to his fide jussorie righteousness; then repentance cannot share in this interest with it. But the former is true. Therefore &c. The connection may be cleared from what is already said: we are not speaking of that here which Mr. Baxter will have to be the nearest formal reason, nor of that only, which he will have to be its nature and aptitude: but of its use and proper actings in this office, in reference to the end, justification; which are such, as cannot agree to repentance, as is manifest. He himself tells us in his Confess. p. 89, 90, that he takes repentance to be to our faith in Christ, as the breaking off from other suitors and lovers, and turning the mind to this one, is to marriage. Whereby we see, that though repentance be necessarily required, in one that is a believer, and that faith cannot be without repentance; yet repentance hath no place in the office of justification, it hath no plain, formal and immediate interest in the receiving of justification; as that turning of the mind from other suitors to that one hath no formal interest or place, in closing the marriage covenant, though it be a very necessary prerequisite unto right closing and consenting the marriage covenant. This gives ground for another argument.

††††††††† 5. As upon the account that a woman hath changed her mind from other suitors, to one, it cannot be said or inferred, that therefore the marriage relation is made up with that one suitor; which is done only by a formal, full and explicit consent: so upon the account that one is a penitent, it cannot be formally inferred, that this person is in Covenant with Christ, and is justified. Because as Mr. Baxter hath told us, repentance is unto faith, but as the woman changing her mind from other suitors to one, is to the consenting unto the marriage proposal. And if upon a person being a penitent it cannot be formally inferred, that he is in Covenant with God and a justified person, then repentance hath not that interest in justification, that faith hath, for upon a man believing, it can formally and immediately be inferred, that he is in covenant, and is justified. I say formally, because consequentially it will follow that a penitent man (meaning one that is

 

 

357 (367)

 

truly penitent) is justified, upon this account, that wherever there is true repentance, there is also true faith: but as the change of the womanís mind is not formally the making up of a marriage covenant; so neither is repentance that, which formally constitutes a man as a Covenanter with Christ, and a justified person. Only faith does this; as the womanís consent makes up the marriage relation.

††††††††† 6. If repentance hath the same interest in justification with faith, then as our adversaries say, that faith is imputed to us, as our Gospel righteousness; so must they say, that our repentance is imputed to us for righteousness. But, beside the reasons, whereby we proved above, that faith was not imputed to us as our Gospel righteousness, which will also serve here, mutatis mutandis, we may add this, that there is nothing in Scripture giving the least countenance hereunto, even as to words or expressions.

††††††††† 7. If repentance has such an interest in justification, as faith has, then this must either be true of repentance as begun, or as perfected. (I mean as to parts.) But it can be true of neither; not of begun repentance, for without question, there are some beginnings of repentance before faith; (taking repentance largely, as it is here taken,) as the womanís change of her mind from other suitors, is before her closing a marriage covenant with this man and then it would follow, that a man were justified before faith; which I suppose will not be said. Not of a completed repentance, for that follows faith; for thus it follows godly sorrow, II Corinthians 7: 10, and is expressed by that carefulness, clearing of ourselves, indignation, fear, vehement desire, zeal, and revenge, mentioned in II Corinthians 7: 11, all of which must follow faith; And repenting Ephraim, Jeremiah 31: 19, said, after I was turned, I repented; and after I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, &c. This being instructed, and being turned includes faith; and the rest, that followed upon it, are expressions of repentance: and hence it would follow, if only completed repentance be that repentance that hath the interest in justification that faith hath, a man cannot be said to be justified upon his believing, no not until repentance be brought to this perfection; and then faith cannot be the consenting act, whereupon the bargain is closed.

††††††††† 8. Repentance can bring nothing in, that can stay, or prove a support unto an awakened soul, pursued with the sense of wrath for the breach of the law; nor can it present anything unto God, as a ground, whereupon to be delivered from guilt and wrath, as faith can do and doth, by laying hold on Christ and his righteousness, an only sufficient ground, whereupon the poor soul can have hope, and with confidence can expect absolution: Therefore it cannot have the same interest in justification. The antecedent is clear and undeniable, and the consequence is also manifest; because this interest in the matter of justification must be estimated according to the ground of hope that is yielded thereby unto the poor vexed and tossed soul, and the ground of confidence that is had thereby of acceptance by God.

††††††††† 9. To say, that repentance hath the same interest in justification, that

 

 

358 (368)

 

faith hath, will prove, I judge, dangerous doctrine to many poor wakened sinners; and prove a mean to keep them off the Rock of Ages, and at least, a mean to hinder or retard their motion Christ-ward, in order to peace and reconciliation with God: that the most of their work oft times is to keep them from resting on something within themselves, in order to peace, and particularly from relying and resting upon some sort of grief, sorrow or repentance, which they conceive to be in themselves and to bring them unto a cleanly resting upon Christ and his righteousness, forsaking all other things: And when now they hear, that repentance hath the same interest in justification that faith hath, how will they be fortified in their resolutions, so that all the labor and pains of ministers, or other Christians may prove much fruitless, unless the Lord come in a wonderful manner, and many others may perish in their presumptuous thoughts, founded on their inward sorrow and repentance, as they supposed, because they would never go out of themselves to lean to Christ and his righteousness. It is true, these o0f the contrary mind, press not repentance alone, but faith and repentance together. Yet by their way, I find not the right Gospel exercise of faith pressed, that is, faith bringing in an imputed righteousness, or laying hold on Christ for righteousness, and refuging the soul in him, and resting upon that, as the only and absolutely surest ground of confident appearing before God, and of expecting pardon and peace; but only such or such an act of faith pressed, as being now under the New Covenant in the same place, that perfect obedience had in the Old, whereby, as the Old Covenant is but renewed, so the wakened or alarmed sinner is but taught to look after and lean to something within himself, as his immediate righteousness, upon which he must be justified.

††††††††† 10. If the Surety Righteousness of Christ imputed by God, and received by faith, be only that righteousness, upon the account of which, the poor sinner is to be accepted of God as righteous, and to be absolved from the curse of the Law; as we have above proved it to be; then repentance cannot have the same interest in justification, that faith hath; because it neither doth, nor can so lay hold upon this Cautionary righteousness, as faith doth. Or we might frame the argument thus. If repentance has the same interest in justification that faith has, then Christís cautionary righteousness shall not be the only righteousness, with which, the soul that is to be justified, must be clothed; because repentance cannot put on Christ and his righteousness, as faith doth. But this last cannot be said, for reasons given already.

††††††††† 11. If repentance hath the same interest in justification, that faith hath, then even by Gospel justification, there should be ground left to man, to boast, and to glory before men; and the reward should not be of grace, but of debt; contrary to Romans 3 and 4. The consequence is clear, because repentance acts not on a righteousness without us; and can be considered no other way, than as an act of obedience in man, and so as a work: and faith by this way goes under the same consideration; and is not considered, as bringing in the Surety Righteousness of Christ, and laying hold on it

 

 

359 (369)

 

alone; (as it is by our way) for both are looked upon as dispositive causes, and as parts therefore of the material cause, and as proper potestative conditions, just as perfect obedience was under the Old Covenant. And whatever difference be acknowledged to be betwixt them, as to their essence and aptitude, whereby faith is said to be an acceptance of the gift formally, repentance not so, in its averting act (as Mr. Baxter is speaking Cath. Theol. ubi supra sect xii, n. 201) whatever it may be as to other acts, yet they are both made formal potestative conditions, as is said, and so solely considered, as works done by us: and all such, as was evidenced above, make the reward of debt, and give ground of boasting; because, being our formal works, they are made the immediate and formal, legal ground of our justification, being made our immediate, formal and perfect Gospel Righteousness; as was seen above.

††††††††† 12. Add to these: That if repentance has the same interest in justification, that faith hath, God cannot be believed on as the justifier of the ungodly, contrary to Romans 4: 5. For faith and repentance are hereby made the manís personal righteousness, and Mr. Baxter tells us, Confess. p. 46, n. 38, there is no such thing in rerum natura, as a true righteousness, which doth not foi maliter make the person so far righteous. Now a righteous man cannot be an ungodly man; that were a contradiction. It is not enough here to say, that the man is ungodly before he be justified; for in the act of justifying, or while he is a justifying, he is considered, not as ungodly, but as righteous, yea antecedent to his being justified, he is considered as a righteous man, and is therefore justified because righteous in himself, having performed the conditions, whereby he becomes personally righteous. Therefore while he is justified, God doth not justify an ungodly man. But it will be said, that this will as well follow upon our way. I answer: Not at all, because though we place faith in priority of nature, before justification, yet we make not faith a personal righteousness; so that while the believer is justified, a man guilty in himself and void of all righteousness in himself, is justified; so that God justifies an ungodly man. But it will be said that by our way, the believer is considered as clothed with Christís righteousness; and upon that account, cannot be called nor accounted an ungodly man. I answer: He is still, notwithstanding an ungodly man in himself, having nothing, wherewith to satisfy justice, or to procure peace to himself, but what he hath imputed to him, from a Cautioner: And thus God is justifier of the ungodly, in himself, that by his faith proclaims himself such, and one that is not in case to pay one farthing of his own debt.

††††††††† Other arguments may be brought from our foregoing debate against the imputation of faith, in a proper sense, and Faith justifying as a work. I shall now proceed to examine what is alleged for the interest of repentance.

††††††††† Objection 1. Mr. Baxter, in his Confess. pg. 37, n. 19, cites some passages of Scripture, whereby he thinks to prove that repentance is made by God, in the Gospel, a proper condition of our first general pardon of sin, as well as faith is. The first whereof is Luke 13: 35. But this I judge is miscited, there being nothing there, that looketh here away possibly it should be

 

 

360 (370)

 

Luke 13: 3, 5, and of this place we will have occasion to speak afterward. The next he cites is Acts 3: 19, Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. Answer: But (1.) repent here cannot mean that act of repentance whereof we are here speaking, to wit, of that particular and special grace, which is distinct from faith, and that because of the exegetical term added, and be converted. So that repentance here can denote nothing else, but a turning from all their sinful opinions and ways, and an embracing of the Gospel way of Salvation, that thereby they may be saved for ever. And (2.) neither is the Apostle speaking here of constitutive justification, or of our first general pardon; but of a blotting out of sins a long time hereafter, to wit, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, at his second coming, as the following verses show. So that (3.) as by this blotting out of sins, all the favors and great reward of free grace, which the righteous Judge will give in that day, are signified, or comprehended, under it, which he mentioned especially, that it might suit the charge of the grievous guilt of killing the Prince of Life, which he was laying home upon them; so under the other two terms, of repenting and being converted, the whole of the duties required in the Gospel, are to be understood. If it be said that repent and be converted is as much as repent and believe, and so the particular grace of repentance is here understood, I answer: (1.) Then it will follow, that neither are conditions of pardon here: but both are required in order to pardon, at the great day, when Christ shall come again; for the blotting out of sins, here mentioned, is said to be at that time, as the following words clear. (2.) This will say only (though it were the true meaning thereof, as it is not) that repentance is required of those, that would expect of Christ pardon at his second coming, as well as faith; which we deny not. This repentance should not be complete Gospel repentance, because it is anterior to conversion, or to faith, while as the best part of true repentance follows, as we cleared above.

††††††††† Objection 2. He cites next Acts 2: 38 Repent and be baptized everyone of you, for the remission of sins. Answer: (1.) This would plead for repentance alone, without faith. (2.) It would plead for as great an interest for baptism, as for repentance: neither of which can be owned as true. Therefore the true meaning of the place is, turn from your former way of seeking salvation, by your own corrupt imaginations and superstitions, which led you, out of blind zeal, to crucify the Lord Christ; and embrace the Gospel of Salvation, now preached to you through the Lord, whom ye crucified, that ye may receive remission of sins, through faith in him; and be baptized, that you may have the outward sign of your profession of having remission of sins through him, and a seal of remission, granted to you, through him. And this may be cleared from the promise subjoined, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is nowhere promised unto repentance; but unto the faith of the Gospel, and the receiving of Christ therein, and was accordingly bestowed, Acts 8: 12, 15, 17; 9: 17; 13: 52; 15: 7, 8, 19; 1: 2, 6. And what Peter exhorted them unto, they did, verse 41. And

 

 

361 (371)

 

what was it that they did? They gladly received his word, that is, willingly and cheerfully, they embraced the Gospel, and so were added to the Church.

††††††††† Objection 3. He cites Acts 26: 20, that they should repent and return to God, and do works, meet for repentance. Answer: But no mention is made here of justification, or of remission of sins; And who denies, but people are to repent, and return to God, and do works meet for repentance? This is not the thing here questioned. If he means verse 18 where it is said, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them, that are sanctified by faith, that is in me, I answer: There is no word of repentance here, but express mention of faith. It is true, turning from darkness to light &c. will include repentance: Yet it is by faith, that both forgiveness of sins, and the inheritance, and sanctification is had; for by faith that is in me, mat refer to all these three: And though this should be denied, yet all that could be hence inferred, would amount but to this, that repentance is necessarily called for in these, who receive forgiveness, and the inheritance, or would receive them. But all this is nothing to our present question.

††††††††† Objection4. He cites in the margin Luke 24: 47. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name. And Luke 15: 7, I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner, that repenteth. Answer: This last place makes no mention of pardon, or of justification, and only says, that repentance will include faith, and doth import the whole conversion of a sinner unto God, whereof faith in Christ is the first and chief step. As to the other place, we told before, that by repentance here is understood all that duty, which is called for in the Gospel, this being a short sum of the whole preaching of the Gospel, and that therefore by remission of sins all the blessings and favors, that sinners need and are promised in the Gospel, must be understood. So that this makes nothing against us: Yea if these two expressions were strictly to be taken, it would give ground to infer that repentance alone were the condition of remission. But what saith all this to the purpose now in hand? Do any of these expressions give the least color to infer, that repentance strictly taken hath the same use and interest in justification that faith hath?

††††††††† Objection 5. Others possibly may urge Acts 8: 22. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. Answer: (1.) If this place prove anything that way, it will say as much for the interest of prayer in justification, equal to the interest of faith; as for the interest of repentance. (2.) Yea and plead for these only with exclusion of faith, or at least for the sufficiency of repentance and prayer without faith, which is not here expressly mentioned. (3.) But repent here is taken in a comprehensive sense, as including faith, it ground and cause, and whereof it is the expressive evidence, and sensible effect; so that the presence of repentance in such, as would be pardoned, may hence be well inferred: which is granted necessarily, upon several accounts, but the present question is,

 

 

362 (372)

 

whether it hath the same place, office and influence in justification and pardon, that faith hath?

††††††††† Objection 6. It may be, some will further object from Luke 13: 3, 5, -except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. And this likely was the passage which Mr. Baxter cited in the first place, the printer putting verse 35 for 3, 5, through a mistake. But I answer: This place only proves what is not denied, that repentance is necessarily required of such as would be saved. And if hence it be inferred, that therefore not only its presence, but its interest is the same with that of faith, in justification, then the interest of good works and of all commanded duties may be hence inferred to be the same with faithís, in justification, because these are as necessary, in order to salvation, as is repentance.

††††††††† Objection 7. Proverbs 28: 13. He that covers his sin shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall find mercy. Answer: (1.) If forsaking of sin be here strictly taken for repentance, and if this place be urged pertinently to the point now in hand, confession of sin will be made to have the same influence, and will be made more necessary, than faith itself, which is not here expressly named. (2.) Finding mercy is not strictly to be understood of justification, or of mere pardon, but is to be taken more largely for felicity here and hereafter, as being opposed to a not prospering: And so hence can only be inferred the necessity of the presence of confessing and forsaking of sin, in such as would find grace and mercy in the eyes of the Lord, and would prosper in all their ways.

††††††††† Objection 8. Christ is sent to preach good tidings to the meek, the broken hearted, the mourners, and to such as are under the spirit of heaviness, Isaiah 61: 1, 2, 3. Answer: This place indeed proves, that Christ was anointed to preach good tidings unto the meek, to bind up the broken hearted, to comfort all that mourn, to appoint and to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; but here, as the repentance imported is something more than ordinary, as the expressions intimate, so the good, that Christ is here said to be sent to do unto them, is something more than ordinary, to wit, comfort and joy in a high measure, which is more than mere pardon, or justification; some pardoned and justified may stand in need hereof, being indeed mourners in ashes, and under a spirit of heaviness, notwithstanding of their being in a justified state. So that this place comes not home to the point now in question.

††††††††† Objection 9. Is not this to favor the Antinomians, who say, that repentance is needless, and is a mere legal duty, neither to be urged, nor practiced under the Gospel. Answer: Though we say that repentance hath not the same place, office, and interest in and about justification and remission of sins, that faith hath; yet we give no countenance unto the Antinomian error, because we affirm repentance to be necessary, in all such as are justified, and the real beginnings of Gospel repentance to be also necessary, unto such as are to be justified, I say the beginnings, because I conceive the principal parts or workings of saving and Gospel repentance follow faith, and upon

 

 

363 (373)

 

faith in Christ is the union betwixt Christ and the believer made, and the man brought into a justified state. Seeing then, we press and urge the exercise of repentance as a constant duty, and require it in all such, as would enjoy peace and comfort here, and be saved hereafter, we yield nothing unto the Antinomians. And against them we urge the same Scriptures, that have now been alleged, and others also, as irrefragable proofs of the necessity of this grace, though to other ends, than to be justified thereby, in such manner, as we are said to be justified by faith.

††††††††† Objection 10. Do not our Divines ordinarily sat and prove, that faith and repentance are conditions of the Covenant of Grace? I answer: True, but their meaning is not, that repentance is the same way a condition of justification, that faith is; but that term, Condition of the Covenant they take largely, to wit, to signify and import the duties required of such, as are within the Covenant of Grace; and not strictly, for conditions of entering into covenant; These two are carefully to be distinguished: many things may be called the conditions of marriage, that is, duties of married persons to each other, that cannot be called Conditions of making up the marriage relation, as is manifest; and so it is here. Many duties are required of believers, which neither are, nor can be called conditions of justification, or of entering into Covenant with God.

††††††††† Objection 11. But do not many both in sermons and in writings, even when speaking of pardon and of justification, join repentance with faith? Answer: It may be so; but their meaning is not, I conceive, to give an equal share of interest, power, and office in and about justification, unto repentance, with that, which they acknowledge faith to have, but either their purpose is, hereby to show the inseparable connection, that is betwixt faith and repentance, or to show, that they speak of that faith, which is attended with this necessary grace of repentance, and doth effectually work the same; or both rather: So that their true meaning is, to give the due privilege and interest unto that faith, which can prove itself to be real and true justifying faith, by effectuating repentance, never to be repented of; and thus they withal satisfy an objection, or question, that might be made, if they had mentioned faith alone; for it might be enquired, How shall we know whether our faith be of the right kind or not? Now their joining of repentance with faith, doth shortly answer this question; repentance being a concomitant, and a fruit of true faith, and more sensibly felt, and obvious to their perception, might be to them a vivid and perceptible expression of true and justifying faith.

††††††††† Objection 12. But seeing faith by some is called, that which doth morally qualify the subject to be a fit patient to be justified: why may not repentance have an equal share in this moral qualification with faith? I answer: If we should make faith to have no other interest in justification, than repentance hath, or may be yielded to have, we may easily grant, that repentance hath the same and equal interest with faith: but it is denied, that faith hath no other interest, but as that, which doth morally qualify &c. Dryness in wood may qualify it for the fire, and yet the wood may be long so, before it become

 

 

364 (374)

 

the subject of fire; and so may it be with moral qualifications: many a man may be morally qualified to be a fit match for such a woman; or a woman for such a man; and yet the marriage relation never be made up betwixt them: But this cannot be said of faith, whereby the marriage is made, and the person is actually justified, and not a bare fit patient to be justified.

 

 

Home†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Previous††††††††††††††††††††††† Next