Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology

Concerning Repentance
James Durham (1622–1658)

(From An Exposition of the Book of the Revelation)

Lecture III.

epentance is much called-for in these Epistles, and that with peremptory certification of coming wrath, if the same prevent it not, as we may see, Revelation Chapter 2. vers. 5. in the Epistle to these of Ephesus, who look like a people real in the Work of God, though under some decay: It is also called-for from Pergamos, vers. 16. Yea Iezebel hath a door of mercy opened to her, upon supposition of Repentance, vers. 21, 22. This also is re|quired of Sardis, Chap. 3. vers. 3. and of Laodicea, vers. 21. For clearing of which places, and other truths concerning Repentance, it may be enquired, once for all, 1. If Repentance be simplie necessary for preventing of wrath and obtaining of the pardon of sin? 2. In what respect it is necessary, and how it doth concur thereto? 3. If to a Believers recovery after his sin, the exercise of Repentance be necessary? 4. If so, what kind of Repentance?

For understanding of all, we would premit, that Repentance may fall under a threefold consideration, 1. It may be considered as somewhat previous in time to the exercise of Faith and Pardon of sin. This is properly legall-sorrow, and is a common work of the Spirit, which may be in one, whose sins will never be pardoned: it is therefore not of it self gracious, although the Lord may sometimes make use thereof, for a sinners humbling and wakening before his conversion. This is not the Repentance that is pressed here.

2. It may be considered, as it doth not only follow pardon, but also the intimation thereof; so it is a melting of heart, and a self-loathing that floweth from felt love, as the promise of the Covenant is, Ezek. 16.63. and 36.31. This is the melting of heart, spoken of in that woman, Luke 7. Who loved much, because much was forgiven her, vers. 47. Neither is this that which is principally intended here.

3. We may consider Repentance as a work of sanctifying Grace, rising from the sense of by-past sin, and hope of future mercy, whereby the heart is both affected with indignation in respect of what is past, and warmed with desire and love in respect of what it expecteth, and so differeth from the first, which ariseth from apprehended future wrath; and from the second, which floweth from self-received mercy. This Repentance goeth alongst with Faith and the exercise thereof, for the attaining of the hoped-for remission, with a through im|pression of the freenesse thereof in respect of the persons felt sinfulnesse. That is the sor|row after a godly manner, which is spoken of, 2 Cor. 7.11. and it is that which is principally intended here, and in other places where Repentance is required in order to remission of sin.

In Answer then to the first Question, We say, that Repentance, understood in the last sense, is simply necessary for the obtaining of the pardon of sin, so that without it no unrecon|ciled sinner can expect peace with God: which we thus make out, 1. from severall places of Scripture, and first, by these places where the command of Repentance is prefixed to the obtaining of pardon, and preventing of wrath; and that by way of certification, that if it be not, remission is not to be expected, as Acts 3.19. Repent that your sins may be blotted out: which doth imply, that without this, the blotting out of sin is not to be expected: otherwise the proposing of the blotting out of sin, could be no great motive to presse the exercise thereof; which is the Apostles scope: as also, Acts 2.38. Acts 8.22. and so in all other places, where Repentance is pressed as a mids for attaining of that end.

2. We may adde these places where the connexion between Repentance and Pardon is more peremptorily enforced, as Luke 13.2, 3. Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish: than which nothing can be more clear; and Prov. 28.13. He that covereth sin, shall not prosper: but he that confesseth and forsaketh (which is, upon the matter, all one with Repentance) shall find mercy.

3. It is confirmed from such places as ground the cause of peoples ruine upon their not repenting, as in Levit. 26. Amos 4. Ezek. 18. Ra•el. 16, &c. and many such places, is clear, where this, they repented not, is given as the cause of Gods continued quarrell against them.

All these considerations we will find in these Epistles, where the Lord doth not only re|quire the exercise of Repentance by command; but doth threaten judgement, except Re|pentance prevent, Chap. 2. vers. 5, 16, and 22. and it is particularly marked to be the ground of His continued controversie with Iezebel, vers. 21. that she did not repent, and so Chap. 3.21.

In the second place, this may be made out, if we consider the promises of Gods Cove|nant, in which remission of sins is subjoyned to the exercise of Repentance, as necessarily antecedent; so that without it there is no accesse to any promise of pardon. See, first, Levit. 26.40, 41, 42. If they shall confesse their iniquity, then will I remember my Co|venant: which doth presuppose confession, and the exercise of Repentance, and the humbling of the heart, to go before the application of the Covenant. And, left it should be thought a legall-covenant, it is expresly said to be the Covenant with Isaac and Abra|ham, which cannot be denied to be of Grace. The like also may be gathered from the 1 King. 8.47. where Solomon expresly Covenanteth for pardon on these terms: and, 2 Chron. 7.13. the Lord doth expresly assent to these articles. Yet this is a Covenant of Grace, being a Covenant for obtaining of pardon through Faith in Christ Jesus, whereof praying toward the Temple and Mercy-seat, was a type: and it is expresly said to be, upon the mat|ter, Gods Covenant with David: which cannot be denied to be the same Covenant of Grace with that comprehended in the Gospel, seing the mercies sworn to the Fathers Abraham and David, are the same mercies that are now conferred upon Believers. And, although there were some peculiar promises made to Abraham and David in respect of their own seed, and some other things; yet these peculiar promises were not the grounds of their own Justification, much lesse are they to be pleaded by any other for that end. Now, the Covenants end, as it holdeth forth remission, and its essentiall promises, must be com|mon to all. It may be confirmed also from 1 Ioh. 1.9. If we confesse our sins, God is faithfull to pardon, &c. which supponeth that there is no engagement (to speak so) upon Gods faithfulnesse to pardon any sinner but him who repenteth.

In the third and last place, the necessity of Repentance may be confirmed, if we consider the qualifications of such persons as God pronounceth pardon unto in His Word; it is not to sinners, as sinners simplie, but to lost sinners, (that is, lost in their own eyes) such as are weary and loadened, such as are broken in heart, grieved, wounded, &c. as appeareth from Isa. 61.1, 2. and else where. All which qualifications shew the necessity of Repen|tance in a person that may expect pardon. It is true both Repentance and Remission are Christs gifts; but in this method, he giveth first Repentance, and then Remission, Acts 5.31. And though he came to call sinners; yet doth he call them to Repentance, as that which maketh way for their getting good of Him.

From what is said, we may gather these two conclusions in opposition to the Doctrine of the Antinomians. The first is, That Repentance is no legall duty unbecoming for a Minister of the Gospel to Preach, or a Professor thereof to exercise with respect to the obtaining of pardon; and that it is not only to be looked after, and to be pressed upon the account of the faith of sins being already pardoned. Secondly, It followeth from this, That remission of sin is no immanent or eternall act of God; but is a transient act, and that after the committing of the sin: for, if remission presuppose Repentance, it must also pre|suppose the sin to be committed, because Repentance doth presuppose that: and therefore it cannot be from Eternity. This opinion of sins being remitted from Eternity, doth stand and fall with the former, to wit, of the needlesnesse of Repentance for the obtaining of par|don: and therefore the overturning of the one, is the overturning of both. It is true, Gods purpose and decree of pardoning sin, is Eternal, as all His decrees are; But this actual pardoing of a sinner is no more from Eternity, than his creating or glorifying men, yea, in the same decree, he hath p••posed the giving both of Repentance and Pardon, in the me|thod laid down.

If it be said, that thus it will infer, 1. That there is no difference betwixt the Elect in respect of their estate before Repentance, and reprobates. And, 2. That it will infer some change to be in God, if He should behold sin in a person immediatly before his Re|pentance, and not thereafter: both which, say they, are absurd. For answer to the first, we say, That if we consider an Elect person before conversion with respect to himself, and to the Law and Covenant of Works, without respect to Gods purpose, There is indeed no difference betwixt him and a reprobate: because, they are both as impenitent, unbelievers without the Covenant, without hope, and dead in sins and trespasses, as is spoken even of the Elect, Ephes. 2.1, 2. and 12. and both of them are under the curse, seing the Law doth indifferently curse all that have sinned, and are not by Faith in Christ. This is no absur|dity; but contributeth exceedingly to the humbling of the Elect, and to the advancement of Grace. Again, if we consider the Lords purpose, there is a great difference, although as it is His purpose, it doth make no reall change, except in the manner, time, and method in which he hath purposed it to be.

To the second we answer, that this doth not infer any change in Gods will, as if he now willed that which He would not before, more than to say, His will changeth when He glo|rifieth a person which He did not actually glorifie before, although He purposed indeed to do the same. It only proveth, that there is a change wrought upon the creature, who is glo|rified, by that same unchangeable will of God, which did, before the world, decree that in due time to be done: so it is here, in time He pardoneth, and maketh a change upon the crea|tures state, by that same will, and in the same manner as it was decreed. And this is no ab|surdity: because according to the rule, although God cannot change His will; yet He may will a change upon the creature; etsi Deus non potest mutare voluntatem, potest tamen velle mutationem.

There is more difficulty in answering the second Question, to wit, in what respects Re|pentance is necessary for obtaining the pardon of sin, and how it doth contribute to the ob|taining thereof? As Antinomians give too little to it, on the one hand; so on the other, Pa|pists, Socinians, and Arminians, give too much. To guard therefore against those extre|mities, we say, against Papists, 1. That Repentance is not necessary as having any efficiency in it for the expelling of sin, by the in-bringing of a contrary gracious quality; as light doth expell darknesse: For, remission of sins being to them the infusing of habituall Grace, and Repentance being a part of that inherent Holinesse, In this respect they account Repen|tance necessary as a part of our formall Righteousnesse, by which sin is expelled, and the person constituted formally and inherently just: This indeed is an absurd overturning of the nature of true remission of sins, (which consisteth in Gods not imputing the same to us, or in His blotting them out) and altereth the whole strain of the Gospel.

2. We say, that Repentance doth not contur for the obtaining of the pardon of sin, as any materiall cause disposing the soul for the receiving of a gracious quality, for the expel|ling of sin; or, as being a pre-requisit matter to Gods working thereof in the soul. This we reject as absurd, upon the grounds foresaid: for, though we acknowledge the soul of man, yea, the whole man to be the object whom God doth pardon; yet pardon, being a judiciall act of His Grace, it can admit of no material cause.

3. Neither doth Repentance concur for the obtaining of pardon by way of merit, as if there were any congruity or condignity therein for obtaining thereof. This marreth the freedom of forgivenesse, and encroacheth upon Christ Jesus His Offices, who is the alone immediate and meritorious cause of our being accepted and obtaining pardon.

4. Repentance doth not concur by way of satisfaction, as if the grief that doth accom|pany it upon our sensitive part within, were some satisfaction or recompence for the offence committed against God, and so had influence (as it were) to procure the easier terms from Him: in which respect they do place whippings, fastings, and such like, as satisfactions with|out, concurring for the remission of sin, at least, in its temporall punishment, as this doth within. This also we abhorre, as derogatory to the alone satisfaction of our Lord Jesus, who by His once offering up of Himself hath perfected for ever them that believe, Heb. 10.14.

5. Neither do we establish a Sacrament of pennance, thereby instrumentally to commu|nicate remission of sins (that is, habitual grace, as they understand it) by the power of the keyes, in the Priests absolution, and that ex opere operato: this we disclaim, as being with|out any warrand in the Word, and certainly cannot be imagined to be the thing called-for in the forecited Scriptures.

These wayes are indeed pleaded-for by the Papists, who thereby do overturn the whole nature of Repentance, remission of sins, and the Covenant of Grace; and do enervate the consolation of poor penitents, (as may be further spoken-to from Chap. 9.) but are disclaimed by us in Doctrine, and ought to be adverted to in practice, least the Doctrine of the necessity of Repentance be abused beyond that which is warrantable. We have for that cause disclaimed these assertions explicitely; as also, that thereby many, and almost all the Antinomian arguments and calumnies may be answered and removed, who have no|thing ryfer in their mouths and writtings than this, that the pressing of the absolute ne|cessity of Repentance is a point of Popery, a marring of the freedom of Grace, a crying up of inherent holinesse, and such like • which are most injust, as is said.

The Socinians and Arminians, do also acknowledge the necessity of Repentance; and al|though they give it no proper causal influence upon the remission of sins; yet do they mis|carry in reference thereto in these respects, which we also disclaim:

1. Albeit Repentance be necessary; yet it is not necessary as any pre-requisite qualification to be performed by us in the strength of our own free will. This were indeed to make nature a sharer in our conversion, and to give it occasion of boasting, contrary to the scope of the Gospel, which doth exclude that. I, is indeed we who repent formally, and our will and soul is the subject wherein it is wrought; and to say, Christ is formally the penitent, we abhor; yet it is by the strength of Grace working in us to will and to do, Phil. 2.13. that we do repent, and that our wills are enabled to elicite acts of true Repentance: so that if we will consider these acts of Repentance, as they are acts simply, and are in Categori• actionis, they are our acts, and performed by our wills, as the next formall cause producing them. But if we consider them as such, that is, as gracious, and acts of saving Repen|tance in Categoriα qualitatis, they are not from us; but do proceed from the grace of God alone, sweetly and powerfully determining the will in the bringing forth of them.

2. We say, Repentance hath no moving efficacy in it, so as to be an externall impulsive cause, or, ratio movens, why God should forgive sins, as Repentance, and resenting of wrongs committed, have influence to move provoked men to forgive, and pity those that have offended them. This seemeth plausible-like to men, who cast the way of grace in a mould of humane and naturall reason; and inadvertingly in practice may be fallen into by many, who, though they disclaim a meritoriousnesse in their Repentance, yet are ready to conclude some prevailing perswasive efficacy to be in it: which appeareth by this, that when they are satisfied with their own Repentance, they more confidently expect pardon; and when their sensiblnesse in Repentance drieth up, they are ready to question it, as if there were some weight in their Repentance of it self to prevail with God, and perswade him (as it were) to pity. This, I say, is not to be admitted: because Gods will, being abso|lutely pure, simple and soveraign, is not capable of any motus from any cause without it self: and forgivnesse being an act simplie of Grace, and ordered alone in all its manner of proceeding by His soveraignty, there can no reason moving Him thereto be imagined, although He want not reason in His acting, as they say, Datur ratio voluntatis divina, sed non ejusdem movens. This also would propose the most high and holy One, as some way having passions to be wrought upon, like unto us; and would obscure exceedingly the free|dome and soveraignity of Grace, which hath alwayes its rise in his own bosome: There|fore it is assered by Divines in this case, that properly it is not our Repentance that maketh our sins, either actually to be remitted, or yet to be remissible, but God: Grace alone: for if Grace had not ordered the connexion between Repentance and Remission, upon grounds laid down by it self, no sinners could have expected pardon, not would their sins have been remissible even upon supposition of their Repentance, more than if there had not been Re|pentance, if such a supposition may be made.

3. We say, that Repentance doth not concur for the obtaining of remission of sins, as it is a piece of our own new obedience, and of the condition of the Covenant of Grace, and so now to be imputed to us with Faith and the other Graces for Righteousnesse, in stead of the per|fect holinesse which was the condition of the Covenant of Works; as if now, God in the pardoning of penitent sinners, their sin should not respect Christs imputed Righteousnesse as the immediate cause making them acceptable to Him, but the very acts themselves of Faith, Repentance, &c. and so the first Covenant of Works will be mans performing of all holy duties according to the Commands perfectly; which Covenant being now broken, and man made unable by sin to perform the condition thereof, this opinion supponeth Christs satisfaction to have procured (which yet Socinians deny, as any procuring cause of) a new Covenant upon these terms, that sinners who are short of perfect Holinesse, and yet do be|lieve and repent of their sins, should be accepted; and these acts of Believing, Repentance, &c should be accounted to them, by vertue of that Covenant; as if their obedience had been perfect. This way is not sufferable, because it shutteth out Christs imputed Righteousnesse from being the next immediate and meritorious cause of our Justification; and continueth the Covenant to be in substance a Covenant of Works for its form: although it place no condignity of merite in these works; yet by this, it is still some work of outs that is the ground of our defence before Gods Justice; and so cannot be admitted; for even Faith it self, in this case, cometh not in to be considered, but as it uniteth with its object, to wit, Christ Jesus in the promise, as hath been said.

These wayes which are more grosse, being disowned (so that there is neither ground to charge us with Popery nor Arminianis•us for our asserting the necessity of Repentance) we come now to show positively in what respect it is necessary.

1. We say, Repentance is necessary not only by necessity of precept, but also of mids, necessitate & praecepti & medii, that is, not only as a duty laid on by God; but as a mean appointed by Him for attaining that end; to wit, remission of sins: in which respect, a peni|tent, or repenting sinner, may be said to be using the means how pardon is attained, and to be in the way of obtaining it, which cannot be said of a sinner that repenteth not. For although Repentance, as absolutely considered in it self, doth not make a penitent any nearer unto remission; yet it being considered in respect of Gods contrivance, and of the order which He hath laid down, and the promise which He hath subjoyned to it, it may well be called a way and mean for attaining to pardon.

2. Beside this, there is a kind of congruity and suitablnesse in this order which God hath laid down, by subjoyning the promise of pardon to it, thus it is more suitable that a peni|tent sinner should have pardon, than an impenitent: because he is a more congruous object (to speak so) for grace to shew it self gracious upon, than if there were a continuing in se|curity. Neither hath this congruity any causality or merit in it; but only doth shew Gods wise contrivance in appointing a mids suitable to His end, which is the glorifying of His Grace; and the making of Himself to be precious to the sinner.

3. Repentance concurreth in the obtaining of pardon, by qualifying the sinner in reference to the promise, wherein pardon is proposed: which is not to be understood, as if this quali|fication were a thing previous to a saving work of Gods Grace, or, as if it did dispose the subject for receiving of any inherent quality: Or, lastly, as if there were any merit in it to commend the person so qualified unto God, for the attaining of pardon: these things we have already rejected; But it may be said to qualifie a person in these two respects, 1. That it putteth one within the reach of the promise, which speaketh pardon to none but to such who are so qualified: and thus it qualifieth the person meerly with respect to the promise, and the qualification contained it • and so a true penitent sinner, may be said to be qualified for remission, and may take hold of the promises that make offer of the same, which no other, not so qualified, can do: because the promises are peculiarly holden forth to such who are so qualified. 2. It qualifieth the sinner in reference to the promise, as it doth di|spose him to accept the offered salvation freely, and to rest upon Christ alone for that end. Thus it qualifieth for obtaining of pardon, as felt poverty qualifieth a proud begger to receive willingly an offered almes, and to be thankfull for it: neither is the almes the lesse free, that it requireth one sensible of poverty to receive it: but it is rather the more free, and acknow|ledged to be so, when it is conferred: even so it is here.

There is one thing more questioned, even among Orthodox Divines, that is, if Repen|tance may be acounted a condition of the Covenant with Faith, and if in that respect, it be necessary, and do concur for the obtaining of Pardon? For answer, (That we may not disgresse long in this) we shall lay down some assertions, after we have premitted this distin|ction. A condition may be taken more largely for any thing required as an antecedent for obtaining the thing promised: in this sense, there may be many conditions. 2. It may be taken more strictly and properly, for that upon which the closing of the Covenant de|pendeth, and that which, as such, cannot be considered but as implying the closing thereof. 3. A condition may be taken, as it looketh to some consequent following the close, and is virtually implied therein. As for instance, in Marriage there are several things necessary, as the hearing of the proposall, the believing historically the truth of the thing heard, an esteem of it, and a desire to have it, with a loathnesse to offend the party proposing it: These are supposed to be requisit and necessary in one that is called to Marrie, that she should forget her kindred and her fathers house, and cleave to the husband, and so forth. Yet none of these resolutions, or qualifications, are properly the condition of the Marriage-covenant; but the parties consent to accept the offered match, upon the terms proposed. The actuall and positive solemn declaration whereof, in the approven way, is that which formally closeth the match, and entitleth the party so accepting to the husband, which none of these former qualifications did't after which, there followeth the performance of Marriage-duties; the obligation whereof was contained in the Marriage-contract. Yet cannot they be accounted properly the condition of the Marriage-covenant: because the performing of them doth pre-suppose the Marriage: just so is it here, there are some things that in a large sense are pre-requisit to the clossing of the Covenant, or at least do go alongst with it, as conviction of sin, Repentance, historical faith, desire of peace and union with God, &c. something, to wit, Faith, doth actually close therewith; some things follow thereon, as duties to be per|formed by one in Covenant, as the duties of holiness and bringing forth the fruits of it, &c.

Now to come to our assertions, the first of them is this. If we take a condition largely, Repentance may be called a condition of the Covenant, as sensible poverty may be called a condition upon which almes is given, or, as the forsaking of the fathers house and cleaving to the husband, may be called the condition of the Marriage, as conviction may be called a condition of the Covenant, because it is supposed.

Yet, secondly, we assert, That if we take a condition strictly and properly, Repentance cannot be called the condition of the Covenant, but Faith only, in that proper strict sense: because,

1. In the opposition of the two Covenants of Works and Grace, Faith is put in opposition to Works, and Repentance is not so formally opposed, Rom. 10. vers. 5, 6, &c. And Faith in that place is to be understood properly as distinguished from other Graces of Repentance, Love, &c. because it is that Faith which doth peculiarly justifie in opposition to Works, and as contradistinguished from them.

2. Because that which is the condition of the Covenant of Grace, and doth succeed to the condition of the Covenant of Works, must be something laying hold on an externall object without a man, to wit, Christs Righteousnesse: for, the performing of the condi|tion must be the ground of our expecting the thing promised; which only Christs Righte|ousnesse, laid hold on, can be reckoned to be. But Repentance cannot act thus upon Christs Righteousnesse by taking hold of it without a mans self, but it acteth upon an object within himself, to wit, upon his own sins, in turning from them to God, which yet it doth but imperfectly; and so cannot be opposed in reckoning with God, in place of the condition of the Covenant of Works: Therefore Repentance cannot be properly the condition of the Covenant of Grace, nor yet any thing that is meerly inherent in us, and doth not so act upon Christ; whereof more was said formerly.

If it be said, that Faith is an inherent Grace no lesse than Repentance: The answer is easie, to wit, That Faith is not considered meerly as an inherent Grace, when it is called the condition of the Covenant, but as it uniteth to Christ, and closeth with Him offered in the Gospel: even as in a Marriage consent, willingnesse and contentednesse to Marrie such a man, although it be an act of the will; yet as it is an act of the will, it is not consi|dered as the condition of the Marriage-knot, but as it relateth to a proposed match, and is the accepting thereof. And hence, though love, respect to the party and other things be necessary to Marriage, and in a large sense may be called conditions thereof; yet are they not properly the condition which constituteth a person married to another, because they act not so as to receive and close with the proposed offer.

3. Repentance is not that which formally constituteth one a Covenanter: because one is not a Covenanter as he is a penitent, but as he is a Believer: for, the immediat satisfying ground of ones claim to the Covenant, is, because by Faith he hath received the offer; and therefore as such he hath right to the Covenant: it will not so follow from Repentance, to wit, upon this formal consideration; he exerciseth Repentance: therefore upon that formal consideration he is a Covenanter. It is true, it is an evidence of the former, because a penitent is a Covenanter, but his being a penitent is not the ratio formalis of his being a Covenanter; only it supponeth him to have by Faith closed with the Covenant. For we may consider repenting as abstracted from formal closing and covenanting, although we cannot separate the one from the other: but we cannot consider believing as acting on its object, but we must consider it as closing with the Covenant. Therefore Repentance cannot pro|perly be the condition of the Covenant as Faith is.

4. That which is properly the condition, doth of it self, upon its fulfilling, give one a title to the things promised, and doth become the ground of a right unto them: it was so upon supposition of fulfilling the Covenant of Works, and it is so in all Covenants: But Repentance cannot do so: Therefore, &c. If it be said, although Repentance cannot so do it alone; yet Faith and it may do so together. And seing by this opinion Faith is admitted with Repentance joyntly to be the condition of the Covenant, That argument cannot hold: because it is not said that Repentance is the only condition. Answ. The argument doth shut out Repentance from being accounted any part of the proper condition, thus, If Re|pentance cannot joyntly with believing in Christ be put in as a piece of our righteousnesse before Gods Throne, Then it can be no part of the proper condition; because the perform|ing of the proper condition hath a ground in all Covenants to plead for the performance of what is promised, and the absolving of the party fulfilling the same, upon that account: But the former cannot be said of Repentance; for, our Repentance can no way be alledged before Gods Justice as our righteousnesse. Ergo, &c. This may be made out, thus, If Repentance may be tabled as any part of our righteousnesse, Then it must be either as a Grace inherent in us, or as it acteth on Christs Righteousnesse without us; But neither can be said: not the first; because no inherent Grace is to be admitted in that respect in whole or in part: not the second; because Repentance hath no such faculty of acting on Christs Righteousnesse, as hath been said: and therefore cannot be said to concur so at all.

5. If receiving of Christs offer be the formal and proper condition of the Covenant alone, Then Repentance cannot be any part of the proper condition thereof; because it is not by Repentance, but by Faith that we do receive Him; But the former is true: receiving and clo|sing with Christ by faith, is the only proper condition thereof. Therefore, &c. Beside what is said in the former discourse, this appeareth, thus, If receiving of Christ by Faith doth only formally entitle one to the Covenant, and all the promises thereof as such, Then it must be formally the proper condition; because that entitling to the thing promised, is the great cha|racter of a proper condition: But Faith only is such: And therefore is the righteousnesse of this Covenant called peculiarly the righteousnesse of Faith, and not of Repentance, Love, &c. because Faith giveth a title to the righteousnesse Covenanted, which Repentance doth not. And because in the performing of the mercies Covenanted in the way of Grace, greater weight is laid on Faith, than on Repentance, or any other Grace. Again, that Faith is the proper con|dition, may appear, thus, because it is properly and expresly proposed as the condition. Act. 8. It is said to the Eunuch, If thou beleivest thou may be Baptized; and Act. 16. to the Jaylor, when the Question is expresly proposed, What shall I do to be saved? Believe (saith Paul) and thou shalt be saved. So answered the Lord, Ioh. 6.28.29. This is the work of God to believe, &c. Neither can it in reason be objected, that as these places do propose Faith; so other places do propose Repentance as the condition, as Act. 2.38, &c. For it cannot be denied, but Faith doth otherwise act on Christs Righteousnesse and the Covenant than Re|pentance can do; and therefore Faith is acknowledged to be principall: whereas, if that objection hold, Repentance and Works would be equalled with it. We therefore take it thus, where Repentance is proposed, there the whole way of turning to God more gene|rally is proposed: But where Faith is proposed, that which more properly and peculiarly doth state our interest in God, is proposed, as the consideration of the formal actings of these Graces will clear, and is wholly denied by none.

6. That must be the proper condition of the Covenant which doth entitle God to the person, as the person to God: For, the Covenant being mutual, that which giveth men a right to God, and bringeth them within the compasse of the Covenant, must constitute them to be Gods, and give him as it were a right to them by vertue thereof; But it is not Repentance that giveth God formally a Title to a soul, but it is receiving of Him by Faith, and submitting to His Righteousnesse. Therefore it must not be Repentance, but Faith, that is the proper condition. This is seen in a Marriage-covenant. For that is the womans condition, upon her part, which doth entitle her to her Husband, as well as her Husband to her. Now, it is not Repentance that giveth up one to Christ as His, as is clear, but Faith; &c. that delivereth up a person to him, and is that whereby one taketh him and consenteth to be His. And therefore it is Faith that doth entitle Christ to be His. Ergo, &c.

7. If all these works were the condition of the Covenant, then entry into the Covenant were a successive work, and not instantaneous; but this is absurd. Therefore not these, but Faith alone is the condition of the Covenant; for if in an hour; yea, in an instant at a Sermon, a man may have his heart opened to receive Christ, and by that have a right to Bap|tism as a Covenanter, Then it is not successive; But the former is truth Ergo.

8. If these Works were the condition, and not Faith only, Then upon supposition of Faith could not the Sacrament of Baptism be administred; But it behoved to have anteceda|neous to it, not only the purpose, but the actuall performing of these works; because, Bap|tizing supponeth the accepting of the Covenant: what therefore entitleth one in profession, must, when it is really done, be the condition of the inward covenanting.

9. If Faith be the proper condition, Then Repentance cannot be so; because Faith is not a condition of the Covenant meerly as it is a Grace, but as it is peculiarly qualified in its manner of acting. Now, Repentance not being qualified with that manner of acting, can|not be a part of the proper condition, 1. Because if so, then were graces of different actings admitted to concur in the same capacity and manner of acting, contrary to their natures. 2. If so, then not only Repentance but every Grace, and all good Works, might be accounted parts of the proper condition of the Covenant, as well as Repentance and Faith, if there were no peculiarnesse in Faiths acting respected in this. And though this may be counted no absurdity by some; yet to such as plead only to joyn Repentance with Faith, it may have weight: And to others we propose these considerations, First, That the evidence of light doth constrain the acknowledging of Faith to be eminently the condition beyond all; yea, that it may be called the only condition of the new Covenant, 1. Because it is the principall condition, and the other but lesse principall. 2. Because all the rest are reducible to it, as necessary antecedents or means, &c. (so Mr. Baxter, Apho. Thos. 62.) and the formall and essentiall acts of this Faith are acknowledged to be subjection, acceptation, consent, cor|diall Covenanting, and self resigning. Now, if Faith be the principall condition, and that as acting so, in which respects no other Grace can act, Then certainly Faith hath a peculiar property here, and that not as a Grace simply, but in respect of the formality of its acting: which doth confirm all that is said. And thus, Faith is not the principall condition, as be|ing only so in degree (like a chief City amongst many Cities) but in respect of a different manner of acting, and an excellency (to say so) that is in it in that respect, Such acts being peculiar and proper to it, which are the proper characters of a proper condition: and if so, seing all other things mentioned are acknowledged as necessary antecedents or means, or im|plyed duties, &c. why should there be a contending about words, and a new controversie stated for the nature of a condition when the Church is almost suffocated with controver|sies already? Secondly, If Works be the condition equally with Faith, Then our being accounted Covenanters, must follow actuall Holinesse, and till then none are indeed Cove|nanters: which is absurd, as was formerly said: for so, none could otherwayes have right to any thing in the Covenant. If it be said, These are seminally and in purpose at the entry, That will not answer it: because it's not the purpose, but the actuall performing of the con|dition, that giveth right. Beside, if a purpose satisfie for a condition in these, Then either se|minall Faith, or a purpose thereof is to be admitted also; which is absurd: or, if actuall Faith be required, and but other conditions in purpose, Then it is actuall Faith, and not these that is the proper condition of the Covenant. Thirdly, If these Graces and good Works be the condition of the Covenant, Then it is either in respect of their particular acts, or of per|severing in them; But neither can be said. Ergo, &c. Not particular acts; because the Scripture hangeth the prize on overcoming, continuing to the end, &c. and not on acts. Nor can it be perseverance; because so, no benefit of the Covenant could be pleaded till it were ended: for, it is the intire condition, and not a part thereof that giveth title and right: But it is absurd, that none should have right to any benefit before perseverance be ended, whereas perseverance, is a priviledge that a Covenanter may claim. These may in|deed be called someway conditions of obtaining the possession of the great benefit in the Covenant, but not of the Covenant it self; and are duties implied to be performed by • Covenanter, but cannot be conditions upon which he is admitted. And though somewhat to this purposes was said formerly, yet the matter being so like, there is no hazard nor pre|judice from this co-incidencie.

Assert. 3. Although, in strict speaking, Repentance be not the proper condition of the Covenant; yet as to the naming of it a condition, or not, we conceive there is no great ground of debate: and if the matter be well guarded, the expression may be suffered; Otherwayes it is no strife about words. We conceive that the guarding of the matter, doth require, 1. That these Errors both of Papists, Arminians, and Socinians, formerly mentioned, be carefully eschewed, and that, by giving it the name of a condition, we do not fasten upon it any of these senses, especially the last, to which it is most liable.

2. This would be guarded, that Repentance be not shufled-in as a piece of our righteous|nesse, or that which we make an immediat defence and shelter against the Justice of God: of which somewhat hath been formerly spoken.

3. This would be guarded, that Repentance be not accounted to be a condition is that same capacity and formality of acting as Faith is: because that would either confound the nature of these Graces, or wrong the way of the Gospel, wherein ever something peculiarly is attributed to Faith.

We come now to the third thing proposed, that is, if Repentance be necessary to a ju|stified person for obtaining the pardon of sins committed after Justification, as well as be|fore it. To which we Answer shortly, That the Scripture doth hold forth the same neces|sity in this case, as in the former. 1. Because there is the same order in the Commands that are given, and the promises that are made to them for obtaining pardon, as may be gathered from the Epistle to these in Ephesus, who may well be supponed to be Believers; and the ground, is generall, in this Epistle to Laodicea, vers. 19. Whom I love, I rebuke and chasten, (saith the Lord) be zealous therefore and repent: where Repentance is put-in as a necessary mids for removing of Gods rebuke and quarrel, even from them whom He loveth. 2. The promises made to Believers, run in the same terms, 1 Ioh. 1.9. If we confesse, God is faithfull to pardon, &c. where Iohn keepeth the same method in reference to pardon, even when he wrote to Believers; and putteth himself in the roll. 3. Experience doth also confirm the same, as we may gather from David, Psal. 32.3.4, &c. While I kept silence, my bones waxed old, &c. but I confessed unto thee, and thou forgavest me, &c. In which place, this connexion and order is clear. Neither can it be said that David only ob|tained the sense of pardon, 1. Because he himself doth account it pardon, and such happi|nesse as doth proceed from the not imputation of sin. 2. Because, Rom. 4. the Apostle maketh use of this experience for the describing and confirming of Justification it self: which could not have been, if the place had spoke only of the declaration thereof. And it cannot be otherwise, seing the Law curseth every sinner, and the Gospel absolveth none but the penitent. It may be gathered also from Nathan's word to David, 2 Sam. 12. declaring his sin to be pardoned after his acknowledging, which supposeth it not to have been so before that time. So also it may be gathered from the Lords dealing with Iobs friends. Iob 42. with whom the Lord was angry, till they humbled themselves before God.

Neither can it be well objected here, That this may hazard the perseverance of the Saints, supposing that some of them may die without actuall Repentance. For, 1. The Doctrine and nature of the Covenant betwixt God and Believers, doth include a twofold impossibi|lity, 1. That a sinfull Believer can be pardoned without Repentance, because the Lord hath appointed that order and method, and that wisely and graciously for the scaring of Be|lievers from sin, for the humbling of them under it, and for directing of them how to be freed from it. And there is need of this, least Believers being in a great part corrupt, should abuse Gods goodnesse.

The other is, that it is impossible for a justified person to die under sin without Repen|tance. And these two do not crosse one other: because the first is conditionall; no justi|fied person, having sin, if he repent not, can be pardoned: the other is absolute, to wit, no justified person can die under sin without Repentance: because they are kept by the power of God to Salvation, 1 Pet. 1.8. And he who hath ordered the end, hath also in His Co|venant ordered the midses necessary thereunto; so that they cannot be again renewed unto Repentance. And it is in this, as betwixt election and effectuall calling: for, no elect can be justified, till he be effectually called, so that if it were possible he should die at age be|fore effectuall calling, he could not be saved; yet it is simply impossible that any of them can die before effectuall calling: so must it be here in respect of the renewing of Faith and Repentance.

It will be difficult to clear the fourth thing, to wit, what kind of Repentance (to speak so) is to be accounted simply necessary for obtaining the pardon of sin; because some|times persons are not soon satisfied with the degree and kind of their Repentance: some|times again, even Believers after foul slips are taken away without any sensible-like work of Repentance for the same. It may be questioned therefore upon the former suppositions, what is to be accounted Repentance? In answering to which, we shall first lay down some advertisements concerning Repentance, in the generall; and then some distinctions of the same: from which the answer may be easily formed.

1. It is no peremptory degree of Repentance that is required, as simply necessary; it is sincere Repentance, having its native fruits, that is to be acquiesced in.

This sincerity of Repentance, is not to be judged only by the sorrow, horrour, or grief that sometimes do accompany it, nor by the continuance thereof in its exercise; because Repentance may be true where little of these are: and it may be unfound where much of these is sensible, and that for a long times continuance, as experience doth confirm.

3. The sincerity and sufficiency of Repentance therefore, is to be tried mainly by the rise and effects thereof, &c. to wit, if respect to Gods honour affect the heart with the sense of its sin; and if it so affect, as sin becometh hatefull, the person is humbled in himself, and brought to esteem of, and put a price upon, Gods Grace in Christ Jesus, so as to be in love with the same. This is properly turning, and doth comprehend the essentials of Re|pentance, what ever the degree of sorrow be.

These advertisements being laid down, we would now consider some distinctions of that Repentance that is necessary for pardon, especially in the Regenerate, as they are, or may be held forth in several expressions, by severall persons.

Distinct. 1. Repentance is either expresse and explicit, that is, when men both know such things to be sins, and themselves to be guilty of them, and do expresly acknowledge the same, and are affected with them; or, it is implicite, when men are generally affected for sin, although they be guilty of some things which they do not know to be sins, or, know not themselves to be guilty of the same. Of such sort may be the Polygamie of severall Godly men: which is not altogether to be justified, at least, in respect of the extent thereof, in all, as to be so ordinary, to have so many Wives, to have them of such consanguinity, as Sisters, &c. Of such sort may be the errours which were maintained by many of the Godly in the Primitive times concerning meats, dayes, &c. which not being known by them to be sins, cannot be said explicitely to have been repented of; yet that they were impenitent, it cannot be said. Under this also come-in many matters of fact, which are forgotten, not observed, or considered, as appeareth from Psal. 19. Lord purge me from secret sins. The last is to be accounted necessary to pardon, to wit, that they be penitent; but the first, to wit, that Repentance should be explicite with respect to every particular sin they are guilty of; this is not to be esteemed necessary in this absolute sense.

Distict. 2. Repentance is either actuall, and that for particular sins, as when Peter re|pented of his denyall, and David of his murther, &c. or, it is interpretative and virtuall, as when a man is heartily affected for such and such a particular sin, and for the corrupt incli|nation and body of death that is in him, that is the seed of all, although there be some par|ticular sin, which is either not known to him to be such, or is not actually in his mind; and so cannot be particularly and actually repented of: yet it may be said, that virtually he doth repent of the same: Because, 1. He doth repent of all sin in the root and seed thereof; and he may well be constructed to repent of, and to loath all the branches and members, when he is seriously humbled under the impression of the indwelling root and body of death. 2. Because he repenteth of the sins which are known to him, upon the account which is common to all sin, as sin, to wit, its dis-conformity to the Law of God: and therefore may well be constructed to repent virtually of all the sins he is guilty of; because that which is the essence and form (to speak so) of every sin, is detested by him as it is such: and (as it is said) β quatenus ad omne valet consequentia. This last is only pleaded for, as simply necessary, as the former instances do clear.

Dist. 3. Repentance may either be considered intensively, that is, as it doth affect the heart with a high degree of sorrow; or, it may be considered appretiatively, that is, when sin is seen and acknowledged: and though there be no such intense sorrow, or so sensibly affecting the heart; yet sin is accounted a thing to be sorrowed-for, and the heart is weigh|ted that its sorrow is not deeper; and the person reckoneth it self so far under the body of death, as it cannot be answerable to its light in the exercise of Repentance. This last may have the native effects of Repentance, to wit, the humbling of the sinner, &c. without the former; therefore, at least, the former is not simply necessary. Mark here, that the use of this distinction is exceedingly different from the use which Papists make thereof, to wit, for supporting of a ruinous inherent righteousnesse, whereof Repentance is a part: and because they cannot find it in that intensnesse as may stand before justice; therefore they coin a sort of appretiative Repentance, which to them is a desire and endeavour in the uttermost degree possible to attain the former, that so they may underprop the other that is like toruine; or put this in its room: but there is no such thing here; for, as we un|derstand the appretiative Repentance, it is to commend Grace and humble us the more: but as they do, it is to support Works; and can never give a conscience quietnesse, because it is still defective, even in what it might attain, whereof we possibly shall say some|what elsewhere.

Dist. 4. Repentance may be considered as prevalent and taking up the whole man: and thus it carrieth with it a sutablnesse in a mans affections and actions, as may be seen in David, Psal. 51. or, it may be considered as in the renewed part, which may be lamenting sin, and its own condition in respect of the tyrannie of the body of death, even while it is kept in bondage. It cannot be denied but in this respect Paul was exercising Repentance, Rom. 7. when he allowed not that which he did, and was prevailed over by the Law of his members; and no question he was looked on as a penitent upon that account: and there|fore, not the first of these, but the last, is to be accounted simply necessary. This also may be seen in Ephraims bemoaning himself. Ier. 31.18.

Dist. 5. We may also consider Repentance, as it is known to be such before men, or to the person himself by a palpable recovery: such was the Repentance of David, Peter, &c. or, we may consider it, as it is known to be such to God only, without such sensible evi|dences to others, or, it may be, any sensible change to the person it self; yet may there be real Repentance indeed before God. This may be said of Solomon, of whose Repentance and pardon we cannot doubt, as also of Asa's; yet hath the Lord left them in His Word under such a cloud, that their change hath not been, at least, very discernable: for, we find these high places, that were builded by Solomon, continuing unremoved for many gene••|tions thereafter: which doth certainly shew, that his Repentance hath not had so palpable a change before men, as that of Manasses had. And this is ordered by the Lord in deep wisdom; partly, for a chastisement of their back-sliding; partly, to terrifie others from the way of declining; and partly, to make all men sober and sparing to passe sentences upon the state of others, however their condition may look before men, when they are removed: for, the Lord will have the soveraign and infallible decision of their state, to wit, whether they be Penitents and Believers or not, left unto himself alone, who hath an insensible way of begetting Faith and Repentance, and also of recovering and renewing the same, when he pleaseth.

If it be further moved, how, at the first exercising of Repentance and Faith, a man can be said to be justified, that is, accepted as righteous and pardoned of all his sins; seing his sins after Justification are not pardoned untill they be committed and repented of?

Ans. Both are true: for future sins are not actually pardoned till they be committed and repented of; yet is the man a justified person, and in a justified state, having a ground laid in his Justification for obtaining the pardon of these sins that follow, so that they shall not overturn his former absolution: for, Gods Covenant hath both fully in it, yet in due way to be applied. And it is, as if a company of rebels were subdued, and by treaty they are pa•doned, changed from that state of enemies to be natural subjects, and priviledged with their priviledges; so that if they fall in after faults (as subjects may fall in,) yet are they never again counted enemies; nor is their first freedom cancelled; but they are dealt with as native subjects falling into such offences; and have priviledges that strangers have not, nor can plead in the same faults: one of which priviledges may be supposed to be, that they shall not be rigidly fallen upon, although their guilt deserue death; but that they shall have means used to reclaim them, (and th•se, such as cannot but be effectual) and that upon recovery, they shall be pardoned these faults, and be preserved from the de|served punishment. It is so by the treaty of Grace and Justification, the believing sinner is translated from the state of an enemie, to the condition of a friend, this is unalterable, he cannot afterward but be a friend: yet, because a friend may be ingrate, and fail to his benefactor; therefore by that treaty, it is provided, that there should be a way to forgiv|nesse by vertue of that Covenant, yet so, as there should be a new exercise of Repentance and Faith, for the commending of the way of Grace: and so a sinning Believer, is a sinner, but not in the state of sin; nor is an enemie, as he was before Justification, even as a faulty subject is guilty, yet is no enemie, nor rebell, nor can be punished by death, when he be|cometh penitent, although he deserveth it: because the Law of Grace is such to the sub|jects of that Kingdom, that their pleading of their former treaty, and betaking themselves to the terms thereof, is ever to be accepted as a righteousnesse for them in reference to any particular sin following Justification, as well as what preceded. And this no stranger to God can plead, who hath no such ground for his recovery from sin, or, that God will give him Repentance for it, much lesse that he will certainly pardon him. Yes, it differeth from a penitents case at first conversion; because a Covenanter may expect pardon by vertue of that same Covenant in which he is engaged, and to which he hath already right, and he hath jus ad rem: another cannot do so, but must consider the Covenant as offered only, and so expect pardon; not because God is actually engaged to give it to him, as in the others case; but because God doth offer to accept of him on these terms, and then to pardon him.

The great Scottish theologian and preacher James Durham (1622-1658) published a monumental Commentarie Upon the Book of Revelation in 1658 called "An Exposition of the Book of the Revelation." It extend over 1000 pages. This article is the section "lectute III: Concerning Repentence." James Durham was the eldest son of John Durham of Easter Powrie (now Wedderburn), north of Dundee. He was educated at University of St Andrews. While visiting his mother-in-law in the parish of Abercorn, he came under profound religious impressions in consequence of a sermon by Melvill, minister of Queensferry. In the Civil War, he was promoted captain, and seriously exhorted and led the devotions of his company; this being noticed by Professor Dickson, he was induced to prepare himself for the ministry. He graduated M.A. (Glasgow, 1 May 1647). He was licensed for the ministry by the Presbytery of Irvine 18 May 1647. He was admitted to the congregation of Blackfriars 2 December 1647. Durham was appointed chaplain to the King July 1650. He called 4 September 1651, with charge of West Quarter of the city. He endeavoured, without success, to effect a union between the two contending parties in the Church in 1652. He died of consumption, 25 June 1658.

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