The Doctrine of Repentance

I have enjoyed reading Thomas Watson’s short The Doctrine of Repentance, and have especially learned that repentance isn’t an easy word to grasp. It involves the whole heart, mind, and body turning from sin and to Christ.

The Puritans love their outlines. I’m grateful for this because it adds clarity to their (at times) verbose writing style and makes for an easier and more enjoyable read. I thought I’d distill Watson’s three main points about repentance that make up the bulk of the book, using his outline. There are other numbered points he makes, including 16 powerful motives to repentance, four exhortations to speedy repentance, and 10 impediments to repentance. I highly recommend the book to get a fuller explanation of repentance.

There are six ingredients to repentance:

  1. Sight of sin
  2. Sorrow of sin
  3. Confession of sin
  4. Shame for sin
  5. Hatred for sin
  6. Turning from sin

There are seven effects from repentance, based on 2 Corinthians 7:11:

  1. Carefulness
  2. Clearing of ourselves
  3. Indignation
  4. Fear
  5. Vehement desire
  6. Zeal
  7. Revenge

There are three points of comfort that come from true repentance:

  1. Your sins are pardoned
  2. God will pass an act of oblivion
  3. Conscience will now speak peace

There are four means conducive for affecting repentance:

  1. Consider seriously what sin is (which he does with 20 subpoints!)
  2. Consider the mercies of God
  3. Consider God’s afflictive providences
  4. Consider how much we shall have to answer for at last if we repent not

One thought on “The Doctrine of Repentance

  1. I too liked that book, although his lists do get a little (a lot) out of control. I eventually had to tell myself that my repentance was still genuine even if I couldn't clearly differentiate distinct stages of sorrow, shame, and hatred for a particular sin.


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