Repentance – A Review by A W MacColl
This treatise1, originally published in 1825 and entitled A View of Evangelical Repentance, is a precious description of the grace of repentance. The name of its author, the highly-esteemed Dr Colquhoun of Leith (1748-1827), will be familiar to many. He traces the grace of repentance to the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, and shows how it flows out of a true, spiritual sight and sense of sin. This gracious repentance is a turning of the whole man from all that is sinful and hateful to God. ‘The sincere penitent’, Colquhoun writes, ‘forsakes all iniquity from right principles, by right motives, in a right manner, and to a right end.’
Colquhoun shows the reasons why evangelical repentance is absolutely necessary, and carefully distinguishes it from mere legal repentance and all counterfeit and superficial remorse for sin. The latter he states is an abomination to God since it does not flow from a heart regenerated by grace and purified by faith. The fruits and evidences of real repentance, such as Paul outlines in 2 Corinthians 7, are discussed. Colquhoun then goes on to elaborate the priority of that justifying faith which secures forgiveness and comes before the exercise of evangelical repentance. The influence of the Marrow theology, and especially of Thomas Boston, is highly evident here. Colquhoun’s work, in line with the writings of the Marrowmen, breathes the warmth of the glorious gospel and, whilst it is most solemn in its denunciation of all sin, it is full of evangelical consolation to believers seeking a greater assurance of their knowledge of Christ.
He demonstrates how this blessed exercise of soul may be obtained. Since Christ is exalted to give repentance, we are to trust in him for it as well as for pardoning grace. We are to choose God in Christ as our covenant-God and portion. We must be frequent and earnest in prayer for the grace of repentance. Furthermore, we must endeavour to see sin in its hatefulness, especially the sin of our nature. The contemplation of the death of Christ is essential if we would see the awfulness of sin and what it deserves, and we should meditate much on death and judgement to come.
The subdivisions are clearly and attractively set out and help the reader who can perhaps only read a small portion at a time. It hardly needs stating that the material handled so judiciously and profitably here by John Colquhoun is of the highest importance to everyone, and therefore this is a work that comes with our highest recommendation.
by John Colquhoun
216 pages, paperback
ISBN 978 1 84871 055 9
Taken with permission from the Free Presbyterian Magazine, September 2010.