by Patte Smith on Sunday, July 8, 2012 at 7:48pm ·
Thomas Watson noted 9 HINDRANCES of repentance, or what he calls;
1. The love of sin. The love of sin makes sin taste sweet, and this sweetness in sinbewitches the heart. The love of sin hardens the heart and keeps the devil in possession. In true mourning there must be a grieving for sin. But how can a man grieve for that sin which his heart is in love with? Oh, take heed of this sweet poison! The love of sin freezes the soul in impenitence.
2. Despair. Despair affronts God, undervalues Christ's blood and damns the soul! 'But they will say—It's hopeless. We will continue to follow our plans, and each of us will continue to act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart' (Jeremiah 18:12). This is the language of despair. Despair destroys repentance, for the proper ground of repentance is mercy. 'The goodness of God leads you to repentance' (Romans 2:4)—but despair hides mercy out of sight. Oh, take heed of this. Despair is an irrational sin; there is no ground for it. The Lord shows mercy to thousands. Why may you not be one of a thousand? The wings of God's mercy are stretched out to every humble penitent. Though you have been a great sinner—yet if you are a weeping sinner—there is a golden scepter of mercy held forth (Psalm 103:11). Despair locks up the soul in impenitence!
3. A conceit that this mourning will make us melancholy (unhappy). But this is a mistake. Lose our joy? Tell me, what joy can there be in a condemned condition? What joy does sin afford? Is not sin compared to a wound and bruise? (Isaiah 1:6). David had his broken bones (Psalm 51:8). Is there any comfort in having the bones out of joint? Does not sin breed a palpitation and trembling of heart? (Deuteronomy 28:65, 66). Is it any joy for a man to be a 'terror to himself'? (Jeremiah 20:4). Surely of the sinner's laughter it may be said, 'It is mad!' (Ecclesiastes 2:2), whereas holy mourning is the breeder of joy. It does not eclipse joy—but refines our joy and makes it better. The prodigal dated his joy from the time of his repentance. 'Then they began to be merry' (Luke 15:24).
4. Checking the motions of the Spirit. The Spirit sets us a-mourning. Oft we meet with gracious motions to prayer and repentance. Now when we stifle these motions, which is called a quenching the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). When the Spirit of God falls as dew in His influences upon the soul, then it is moistened with sorrow. But if the Spirit withdraws, the soul is like Gideon's dry fleece. A ship can as well sail without the wind, a bird can as well fly without wings—as we can mourn without the Spirit! Take heed of grieving the Spirit. Do not drive away this sweet Dove from the ark of your soul. The Spirit is 'gentle and tender'. If He is grieved, He may say, 'I will come no more'—and if He once withdraws, we cannot mourn.
5. Presumption of mercy. Who will mourn for sin—who thinks he may be saved at a cheaper rate? How many suck damnation out of the sweet flower of God's mercy? Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save sinners, is the occasion of many a man's perishing. 'Oh,' says one, 'Christ died for me. He has done all. What need I pray or mourn?' Many a bold sinner plucks death from the tree of life, and through presumption, goes to hell by that ladder of Christ's blood, by which others go to heaven. It is sad when the goodness of God, which should 'lead to repentance' (Romans 2:4), leads to presumption. O sinner, do not hope yourself into hell. Take heed of being damned upon a mistake. You say God is merciful, and therefore you go on securely in sin. But whom is mercy for? The presuming sinner or the mourning sinner? 'Let the wicked forsake his way, and return to the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him' (Isaiah 55:7). No mercy without forsaking sin, and no forsaking sin without mourning!
6. A conceit of the smallness of sin. 'Is it not a little one?' (Genesis 19:20). The devil holds the small end of the telescope to sinners. To imagine that sin is less than it is, is very dangerous. An opinion of the littleness of sin keeps us from the use of means. Who will be earnest for a physician, who thinks it is but a trivial disease? And who will seek to God with a penitent heart for mercy, who thinks sin is but a slight thing? Consider that sin cannot be little, because it is against the Majesty of heaven. There is no small treason, it being against the king's person. Every sin is sinful, therefore damnable. There is death and hell in every sin. "The wages of sin is death!" (Romans 6:23). It is not with sin as it is with diseases—some are mortal, some not mortal. The least sin without repentance, will be a lock and bolt to shut men out of heaven.
View sin in the red glass of Christ's sufferings. The least sin cost his blood. Read the greatness of your sin in the deepness of Christ's wounds. Let not Satan cast such a mist before your eyes that you cannot see sin in its right colors. Not only do great sins carry men to hell—but lesser sins as well.
7. Procrastination; "When the lamp is almost out, the strength exhausted, and old age comes on—then mourning for sin will be in season—but it is too soon now." That I may show how pernicious this opinion is, and that I may roll away this stone from the mouth of the well, that so the waters of repentance may be drawn forth—let me propose these four serious and weighty considerations:
First, do you know what it is to be in the state of condemnation? And will you say it is too soon to get out of it? You are under 'the wrath of God' (John 3:36)! You are under 'the power of Satan' (Acts 26:18), and is it too soon to get out of the enemy's quarters?
Second, men do not argue thus in other cases. They do not say, 'It is too soon to be rich.' They will not put off getting the world until old age. No! here they take the first opportunity. It is not too soon to be rich—and is it too soon to be saved from sin? Is not repentance a matter of the greatest consequence? Is it not more needful for men to lament their sin, than augment their estate?
Third, God's call to mourning is always in the present. 'Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts' (Hebrews 3:7, 8). Such are God's summons to repentance. 'Today if you will hear His voice'. Sinners, when Satan has tempted you to any wickedness, you have not said, 'It is too soon, Satan'—but have immediately embraced his temptation. You have not put the devil off—and will you put God off?
Fourth, it is a foolish thing to adjourn and put off mourning for sin, for the longer you put off holy mourning—the harder you will find the work when you come to it! A bone which is out of joint is easier to set at first—than if you let it go longer. A disease is sooner cured at first—than if it is let alone until advance stages come. You may easily wade over the waters when they are low but if you wait stay until they are risen, then they will be beyond your depth. O sinner, the more treasons against God you commit—the more do you incense Him against you, and the harder it will be to get your pardon.
To adjourn, and put off mourning for sin is folly in respect of the uncertainty of life. How does the procrastinating sinner know that he shall live to be old? 'What is your life? It is but a vapor' (James 4:14).
It is folly to put off all until the last. Though God has given you space to repent, He may deny you grace to repent. When God calls for mourning and you are deaf—when you call for mercy God may be dumb. 'I called you so often, but you didn't come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you— when calamity overcomes you like a storm, when you are engulfed by trouble, and when anguish and distress overwhelm you. I will not answer when they cry for help. Even though they anxiously search for Me, they will not find Me!' (Proverbs 1:24-28). Think of it seriously. God may take the latter time to judge you in—because you did not take the former time to repent.
To put off our solemn turning to God until old age, or sickness, is high imprudence, because 'death bed repentance' is for the most part insincere and spurious. Though true mourning for sin be never too late—yet 'death bed repentance' is seldom true. That repentance is seldom true-hearted, which is grey-headed. It is disputable whether these death-tears are not shed more out of fear of hell—than love to God.
8. Delay in the execution of justice. "When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong." (Ecclesiastes 8:11). God forbears punishing—therefore men forbear repenting. He does not smite upon their back by correction—therefore they do not smite upon their thigh by humiliation (Jeremiah 31:19). The sinner thinks thus: 'God has spared me all this while; He has eked out patience into longsuffering; surely He will not punish.' 'He says to himself—'God has forgotten; He covers His face and never sees' (Psalm 10:11). God is not only gracious—but 'waits to be gracious' (Isaiah 30:18). But God by His patience, would bribe sinners to repentance. But, alas, how is His patience abused! God's longsuffering hardens most. Because God stops the vial of His wrath, sinners stop the conduit of tears! That the patience of God may not (through our corruption) obstruct holy mourning, let sinners remember:
First, God's patience has bounds set to it (Genesis 6:3). Though men will not set bounds to their sin—yet God sets bounds to His patience. There is a time when the sun of God's patience will set, and, being once set—it never returns any degrees backwards. The lease of patience will soon be run out! There is a time when God says, 'My Spirit shall no longer strive.' The angel cried, 'The hour of judgement has come' (Revelation 14:7). Perhaps at the next sin you commit—God may say, 'Your hour has now come!'
Second, to be hardened under God's patience, makes our condition far worse. Incensed justice will revenge abused patience! God was patient towards Sodom—but when they did not repent, He made the fire and brimstone flame about their ears! Sodom, which was once the wonder of God's patience—is now a standing monument of God's severity. Long forbearance is not forgiveness. God may keep off the stroke awhile—but justice is not dead. The longer God is taking His blow—the sorer it will be when it comes. The longer a stone is falling—the heavier it will be at last. The longer God is whetting His sword—the sharper it cuts. Sins against God's patience are of a deeper dye; they are worse than the sins of the devils. How dreadful will their condition be—who sin because God is patient with them. For every crumb of patience, God puts a drop of wrath into His vial. The longer God forbears with a sinner, the more interest he is sure to pay in hell.
9. Mirth and music. 'You sing idle songs to the sound of the harp. You drink wine by the bowlful, and you perfume yourselves with exotic fragrances.' (Amos 6:5, 6). Instead of the dirge, they sing idle songs. Many sing away sorrow, and drown their tears in wine. The sweet waters of pleasure destroy the bitter waters of mourning. How many go dancing to hell?!
Let us take heed of all these hindrances to holy tears. 'Let the harp play sad music, and the flute accompany those who weep.' (Job 30:31).
Gospel Mourning by Thomas Watson