Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is from The Doctrine of Repentance, chapter 4: “The Nature of True Repentance.”
The fifth ingredient in repentance is hatred of sin. The Schoolmen distinguished a two-fold hatred: hatred of abominations, and hatred of enmity.
Firstly, there is a hatred or loathing of abominations: ‘Ye shall loathe yourselves for your iniquities’ (Ezek. 36:31). A true penitent is a sin-loather. If a man loathe that which makes his stomach sick, much more will he loathe that which makes his conscience sick. It is more to loathe sin than to leave it. One may leave sin for fear, as in a storm the plate and jewels are cast overboard, but the nauseating and loathing of sin argues a detestation of it. Christ is never loved till sin be loathed. Heaven is never longed for till sin be loathed. When the soul sees an issue of blood running, he cries out, Lord, when shall I be freed from this body of death? When shall I put off these filthy garments of sin and have the fair mitre of glory set upon my head? Let all my self-love be turned into self-loathing (Zech. 3:4-5). We are never more precious in God’s eyes than when we are lepers in our own.
Secondly, there is a hatred of enmity. There is no better way to discover life than by motion. The eye moves, the pulse beats. So to discover repentance there is no better sign than by a holy antipathy against sin. Hatred, said Cicero, is anger boiled up to an inveteracy. Sound repentance begins in the love of God and ends in the hatred of sin.