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.
[Godly repentance] is a sorrow for the offense rather than for the punishment. God’s law has been infringed, his love abused. This melts the soul in tears. A man may be sorry, yet not repent, as a thief is sorry when he is taken, not because he stole, but because he has to pay the penalty. Hypocrites grieve only for the bitter consequence of sin. I have read of a fountain that only sends forth streams on the evening before a famine. Likewise their eyes never pour out tears except when God’s judgments are approaching. Pharaoh was more troubled for the frogs and river of blood than for his sin. Godly sorrow, however, is chiefly for the trespass against God, so that even if there were no conscience to smite, no devil to accuse, no hell to punish, yet the soul would still be grieved because of the prejudice done to God. ‘My sin is ever before me’ (Ps. 51.3); David does not say, The sword threatened is ever before me, but ‘my sin’. O that I should offend so good a God, that I should grieve my Comforter! This breaks my heart! Godly sorrow shows itself to be ingenuous because when a Christian knows that he is out of the gun-shot of hell and shall never be damned, yet still he grieves for sinning against that free grace which has pardoned him.