Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is taken from The Doctrine of Repentance.
Repentance is a grace of God’s Spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed. For a further amplification, know that repentance is a spiritual medicine made up of six special ingredients:
1. Sight of sin
2. Sorrow for sin
3. Confession of sin
4. Shame for sin
5. Hatred for sin
6. Turning from sin
If any one is left out it loses its virtue.
Ingredient 1: Sight of Sin
The first part of Christ’s physic is eye-salve (Acts 26.18). It is the great thing noted in the prodigal’s repentance: ‘he came to himself’ (Luke 15.17). He saw himself a sinner and nothing but a sinner. Before a man can come to Christ he must first come to himself. Solomon, in his description of repentance, considers this as the first ingredient: ‘if they shall bethink themselves’ (I Kings 8.47). A man must first recognize and consider what his sin is, and know the plague of his heart before he can be duly humbled for it. The first creature God made was light. So the first thing in a penitent is illumination: ‘Now ye are light in the Lord’ (Eph. 5.8). The eye is made both for seeing and weeping. Sin must first be seen before it can be wept for.
Hence I infer that where there is no sight of sin, there can be no repentance. Many who can spy ‘faults in others see none in themselves. They cry that they have good hearts. Is it not strange that two should live together, and eat and drink together, yet not know each other? Such is the case of a sinner. His body and soul live together, work together, yet he is unacquainted with himself. He knows not his own heart, nor what a hell he carries about him. Under a veil a deformed face is hid. Persons are veiled over with ignorance and self-love; therefore they see not what deformed souls they have. The devil does with them as the falconer with the hawk. He blinds them and carries them hooded to hell: ‘the sword shall be upon his right eye’ (Zech. 11.17). Men have insight enough into worldly matters, but the eye of their mind is smitten. They do not see any evil in sin; the sword is upon their right eye.