The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson,
Puritan Paperbacks, Banner of Truth Trust, 1987, 122pp.
I was asked to speak on the subject of 'Repentance' for Bethel Evangelical Free Church's 'Away Day' at the end of May. I remembered that some time ago (probably years) I'd started to read this little book by the Puritan, Thomas Watson. However, I only got through a chapter or two before laying it aside. Don't know why. Having agreed to speak on 'Repentance' I thought it might be an idea to take up the book once more and give it a proper read.
Glad I did too. While some Puritans can be rather ponderous and labyrinthine in style (yes, I do mean you, John Owen), Watson is a delightful read. Short, pithy sentences, vivid illustrations, quotable quotes, meaty doctrine, telling applications. It's all there.
In this work Watson carefully explains the nature of true repentance and calls for repentance without delay. It's weighty, heart-searching stuff, but done with a winsome lightness of touch, Objections are dealt with and means for inducing repentance are urged upon the reader.
The Bethel 'Away Day' not only reacquainted me with Thomas Watson, it also reacquainted Sarah and I with Cloverley Hall Christian Conference Centre. We used to attend young people's holidays there before we were married. Happy memories. Like relaxing by the pool, reading The Fight of Faith, vol 2 of Iain Murray's biog of Lloyd-Jones. One sunny afternoon the stripey canvas deck chair on which I was sitting gave way and I ended up stuck in the wooden frame in a rather undignified tangle, much to everyone's amusement. Must have been the weight of Murray's book, rather than my mid 20's self that did that. Was all skin and bones back then. Anyway, I digress...
My talk wasn't based on Watson's work as such, but it proved a helpful stimulus and provided some juicy quotes. It was a reminder that Puritan preaching at its best addressed the mind with reasoned arguments, captured the imagination with attention-grabbing word pictures, challenged the conscience with the light of God's truth and called for a radical change of life through repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. Come to think of it, those aren't simply characteristics of Puritan preaching at its best, but of preaching pure and simple.