Doctrine of Repentance – Book Review

This book was published in 1668 and written by Thomas Watson. When reading older books, I am always a bit hesitant in reading them because I am fearful that I will not understand some of the details because of the older English vernacular. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case in this edition.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much we still have in common with people throughout the generations. The spiritual struggles Christians had in the 1600’s are the same ones that we have today. As an “old soul” I tend to think that people were nicer in previous generations, but I have found that people are people and there is nothing new under the sun.

In this book, Mr. Watson is very organized. He makes out different lists on how to identify an unrepentant spirit, or how to apply repentance daily and even how to combat sin.  He also uses every day life to help the reader understand the point he is trying to make, and his word usage to compare and contrast is quote worthy.

I also appreciated all the Bible citations he gave after many of his sentences. He made his case for what he was saying by going back to the Bible. The opinions and advise he gave were founded not on his own wisdom, but on Scripture. Many times, I remembered a citation and went back to read it and it was as he had said.

Because of so many citations and so many quote worthy sentences, I do not recommend this book to be listened to as an audio book. This book is meant to be read and highlighted. Maybe, from now on, I will only use Audible for fiction. Thankfully there is a “bookmark” link on Audible where if I hear something I like, I can “bookmark” it and then go back to it later.

Here are some of those compare and contrast quotes I was talking about:

The more regret we have first at our conversion, the less we’ll feel afterwards.
Speaking about the Apostle Paul: He had persecuted saints to death before, now he preached sinners to life. 
Someone who can believe without doubting should suspect his faith, and someone who can repent without sorrowing should suspect his repentance.
On temptation: Is he not a fool who would believe a temptation and not a promise.
So as God has two places where He dwells – Heaven and a humble heart. So does Satan have two places where he dwells – Hell and a hard heart.
And here is a quote that explains repentance with word pictures:
Blessed repentance that has so much sugar at the bottom of the bitter cup!
 The key to personal awakening and revival is repentance and the elation of forgiveness. Believe it or not it is also the key to joy. For when I am truly repentant because I have offended God, I find joy in His forgiveness. When I am repentant I can’t judge hypocritically, for I too am a sinner. I can’t hate what is done to me, for I have done far worse to the most Holy One. I can’t sit idly by and do nothing for my neighbor, for He has done so much for me to be able to grant me forgiveness. I can’t hate, for I am loved. I can’t complain, for I am grateful.

So much in my Christian walk would change if I would just practice repentance daily. This book has helped me to see that. Mr. Watson has so many illustrations and breaks down what he is trying to say so well. His examples of how to apply this and why we should apply repentance are so helpful and clear. He just makes logical sense throughout the whole book. I remember several times just being astounded when he made a point and then clarified it with a reasoned analogy.

The book is actually about 128 pages, so it could be read in one day. And as I researched more I found he wrote several other small books about different topics.  If you would like a list of the books he has written click here.

I recommend that every Christian read at least one book by Thomas Watson. This was a beautifully written book. His grasp on the English language and his thoughtfulness in regards to Scripture is profound.

As I read more on him, I found out that he died suddenly while in private prayer. What a way to die! A thought that came to mind when I read that was that I don’t even pray that much to be caught dead doing it. What are the odds of that for me, much less than Mr. Watson’s or many other strong Christians?

The book is available free here.  Or you may also buy it here.