I want to help you a little here. Many of you know that I have published short excerpts from many of them. This time I am offering you a little longer reading from perhaps my favorite Puritan. He may have been Charles Spurgeon's favorite also. The first book that Spurgeon published, other than his own sermons, was a book which his future wife, Susannah, helped him edit. It is titled Smooth Stones Taken From Ancient Brooks. It has been out of print for years, but Banner has just reprinted it.
I guess that if you didn't already know by the above title, I am presenting to you an excellent study on repentance taken from Brooks' first book written in 1652; Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices. I first read it 30 years ago, and have turned to it many times since. I think I am getting ready to read it again. I need it! You can obtain both of these Banner of Truth paperbacks very reasonably from Banner of Truth, Monergism, or Amazon. You might also try Christian Books. All online. "Remedies" is available for a free online download if you prefer at http://www.monergism.com/free_online_books.php It will be well worth your time and effort to read it, and you will have all the footnotes that way that I couldn't take time to copy from my volume one of my own Brooks six volume set.
I hope you enjoy this, and I sincerely hope it helps you, as it did me. Charles
REPENTANCE-THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680)
(An excerpt from his book, which was written in 1652,titled Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices)
The sixth device that Satan hath to draw the soul to sin is, Device (6). By persuading the soul that the work of repentance is an easy work, and that therefore the soul need not make such a matter of sin. Why?! Suppose you do sin, saith Satan, it is no such difficult thing to return, and confess, and be sorrowful, and beg pardon, and cry, 'Lord, have mercy upon me;' and if you do but this, God will cut the score, 1 and pardon your sins, and save your souls, &c.
By this device Satan draws many a soul to sin, and makes many millions of souls servants or rather slaves to sin, &c.
Now, the remedies against this device of Satan are these that follow:
Remedy (1). The first remedy is, seriously to consider, that repentance is a mighty work, a difficult work, a work that is above our power. There is no power below that power that raised Christ from the dead, and that made the world, that can break the heart of a sinner or turn the heart of a sinner. Thou art as well able to melt adamant, as to melt thine own heart; to turn a flint into flesh, as to turn thine own heart to the Lord; to raise the dead and to make a world, as to repent. Repentance is a flower that grows not in nature's garden. ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.’Jer. xiii. 23. Repentance is a gift that comes down from above.2 Men are not born with repentance in their hearts, as they are born with tongues in their mouths: 3 Acts v. 31, 'Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.’So in 2Tim. ii. 25, 'In meekness instructing them that oppose themselves ; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth’ It is not in the power of any mortal to repent at pleasure.4 Some ignorant deluded souls vainly conceit that these five words, 'Lord! have mercy upon me,' are efficacious to send them to heaven; but as many are undone by buying a counterfeit jewel, so many are in hell by mistake of their repentance. Many rest in their repentance, though it be but the shadow of repentance, which caused one to say, ‘Repentance damneth more than sin.’
Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider the nature of true repentance. Repentance is some other thing than what vain men conceive.1
Repentance is sometimes taken, in a more strict and narrow sense for godly sorrow; sometimes repentance is taken, in a large sense, for amendment of life. Repentance hath in it three things, viz.:
The act, subject, terms.
(1.) The formal act of repentance is a changing and converting. It is often set forth in Scripture by turning. 'Turn thou me, and I shall be turned,' saith Ephraim; 'after that I was turned, I repented,' saith he, Jer. xxxi. 18. It is a turning from darkness to light.
(2.) The subject changed and converted, is the whole man; it is both the sinner's heart and life: first his heart, then his life; first his person, then his practice and conversation. 'Wash ye, make you clean.’ there is the change of their persons ; ' Put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes ; cease to do evil, learn to do well,' Isa. i. 16 ; there is the change of their practices. So 'Cast away’ saith Ezekiel, 'all your transgressions whereby you have transgressed;’ there is the change of the life; ' and make you a new heart and a new spirit’ xviii. 30; there is the change of the heart.
(3.) The terms of this change and conversion, from which and to which both heart and life must be changed: from sin to God. The heart must be changed from the state and power of sin, the life from the acts of sin, but both unto God; the heart to be under his power in a state of grace, the life to be under his rule in all new obedience; as the apostle speaks, ' To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.’ Acts xxvi. 18. So the prophet Isaiah saith, ' Let the wicked forsake their ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord,' lv. 7.
Thus much of the nature of evangelical repentance. Now, souls, tell me whether it be such an easy thing to repent, as Satan doth suggest. Besides what hath been spoken, I desire that you will take notice, that repentance doth include turning from the most darling sin. Ephraim shall say, 'What have I to do any more with idols?' Hosea xiv. 8. Yea, it is a turning from all sin to God: Ezek. xviii. 30, 'Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one of you according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.’
Herod turned from many, but turned not from his Herodias, which was his ruin. Judas turned from all visible wickedness, yet he would not cast out that golden devil covetousness. and therefore was cast into the hottest place in hell. He that turns not from every sin turns not aright from any one sin. Every sin strikes at the honour of God, the being of God, the glory of God, the heart of Christ, the joy of the Spirit, and the peace of a man's conscience; and therefore a soul truly penitent strikes at all, hates all, conflicts with all, and will labour to draw strength from a crucified Christ to crucify all. A true penitent knows neither father nor mother; neither right eye nor right hand, but will pluck out the one and cut off the other. Saul spared but one Agag, and that cost him his soul and his kingdom, 1 Sam. xv. 9. Besides, repentance is not only a turning from all sin, but also a turning to all good ; to a love of all good, to a prizing of all good, and to a following after all good : Ezek. xviii. 21, 'But if the wicked will turn from all the sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die;’ that is, only negative righteousness and holiness is no righteousness nor holiness.1 David fulfilled all the will of God, and had respect unto all his commandments, and so had Zacharias and Elizabeth. It is not enough that the tree bears not ill fruit; but it must bring forth good fruit, else it must be ‘cut down and cast into the fire,' Luke xiii. 7. So it is not enough that you are not thus and thus wicked, but you must be thus and thus gracious and good, else divine justice will put the axe of divine vengeance to the root of your souls, and cut you off for ever. ‘Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewed down and cast into the fire’ Mat. iii. 10. Besides, repentance doth include a sensibleness of sin's sinfulness, how opposite and contrary it is to the blessed God. God is light, sin is darkness; God is life, sin is death; God is heaven, sin is hell; God is beauty, sin is deformity. Also true repentance includes a sensibleness of sin's mischievousness; how it cast angels out of heaven, and Adam out of paradise; how it laid the first corner stone in hell, and brought in all the curses, crosses, and miseries, that be in the world; and how it makes men liable to all temporal, spiritual, and eternal wrath; how it hath made men Godless, Christless, hopeless, and heavenless.
Further, true repentance doth include sorrow for sin, contrition of heart. It breaks the heart with sighs, and sobs, and groans, for that a loving God and Father is by sin offended, a blessed Saviour afresh crucified, and the sweet comforter, the Spirit, grieved and vexed.
Again repentance doth include not only a loathing of sin, but also a loathing of ourselves for sin. As a man doth not only loathe poison, but loathes the very dish or vessel that hath the smell of the poison; so a true penitent doth not only loathe his sin, but he loathes himself, the vessel that smells of it; so Ezek. XX. 43, ‘And there shall ye remember your ways and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.’ True repentance will work your hearts, not only to loathe your sins, but also to loathe yourselves.
Again, true repentance doth not only work a man to loathe himself for his sins, but it makes him ashamed of his sin also: 'What fruit have ye of those things whereof ye are now ashamed?' saith the apostle, Rom. vi. 21. So Ezekiel, 'And thou shalt be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God,' xxxvi. 32. When a penitential soul sees his sins pardoned, the anger of God pacified, the divine justice satisfied, then he sits down and blushes, as the Hebrew hath it, as one ashamed. Yea, true repentance doth work a man to cross his sinful self, and to walk contrary to sinful self, to take a holy revenge upon sin, as you may see in Paul, the jailor, Mary Magdalene, and Manasseh. This apostle shews in 2 Cor. vii. 10, 11: 'For godly sorrow worketh repentance never to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold the self-same thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge.'2 Now, souls, sum up all these things together, and tell me whether it be such an easy thing to repent as Satan would make the soul to believe, and I am confident your heart will answer that it is as hard a thing to repent as it is to make a world, or raise the dead.
I shall conclude this second remedy with a worthy saying of a precious holy man: ' Repentance,' saith he, 'strips us stark naked of all the garments of the old Adam, and leaves not so much as a shirt behind.' In this rotten building it leaves not a stone upon a stone. As the flood drowned Noah's own friends and servants, so must the flood of repenting tears drown our sweetest and most profitable sins.
Remedy (3). The third remedy against this device of Satan is seriously to consider, that repentance is a continued act. The word repent implies the continuation of it.3 True repentance inclines a man's heart to perform God's statutes always, even unto the end. A true penitent must go on from faith to faith, from strength to strength; he must never stand still nor turn back. Repentance is a grace, and must have its daily operation as well as other graces. True repentance is a continued spring, where the waters of godly sorrow are always flowing : 'My sins are ever before me,' Ps. li. 3. A true penitent is often casting his eyes back to the days of his former vanity, and this makes him morning and evening to 'water his couch with his tears.' ‘Remember not against me the sins of my youth,' saith one blessed penitent; and 'I was a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious,' saith another penitent.1
Repentance is a continued act of turning, a repentance never to be repented of, a turning never to turn again to folly. A true penitent hath ever something within him to turn from; he can never get near enough to God; no, not so near him as once he was; and therefore he is still turning and turning that he may get nearer and nearer to him, that is his chiefest good and his only happiness, optimum maximum, the best and the greatest.2 They are every day a-crying out, 'O wretched men that we are, who shall deliver us from this body of death!' Rom. vii. 24. They are still sensible of sin, and still conflicting with sin, and still sorrowing for sin, and still loathing of themselves for sin. Repentance is no transient act, but a continued act of the soul.
And tell me, 0 tempted soul, whether it be such an easy thing as Satan would make thee believe, to be every day a-turning more and more from sin, and a-turning nearer and nearer to God, thy choicest blessedness. A true penitent can as easily content himself with one act of faith, or one act of love, as he can content himself with one act of repentance.
A Jewish Rabbi, pressing the practice of repentance upon his disciples, exhorting them to be sure to repent the day before they died, one of them replied, that the day of any man’s death was very uncertain. ‘Repent therefore, every day and then you shall be sure to repent the day before you die.’ You are wise and know how to apply it to your own advantage.Thanks for reading. Please comment. Charles Woodruff