longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance??
Walden, The Great Meaning of Metanoia, brings out well the fact that ?repentance? is not the true translation of the word, but rather ?change of mind?; indeed, he would give up the word ?repentance? altogether in the N . T., except as the translation of metame>leia . The idea of meta>noia is abandonment of sin rather than sorrow for sin, an act of the will rather than a state of the sensibility. Repentance is participation in Christ?s revulsion from sin and suffering on account of it. It is repentance from sin, not of sin, nor for sin ? always ajpo> and ejk , never peri> or ejpi> . The true illustrations of repentance are found in Job ( <184206>42:6 ? ?I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes?); in David ( <195110>Psalm 51:10 ? ?Create in me a clean heart; and renew a right spirit within me?); in Peter ( <432117>John 21:17 ? ?thou knowest that I love thee?); in the penitent thief ( <422342>Luke 23:42 ? ?Jesus, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom?) in the prodigal son (Luke l5:18 ? ?I will arise and go to my Father?).
Repentance implies free will. Hence Spinoza, who knows nothing of free will, knows nothing of repentance. In book 4 of his Ethics, he says: ?Repentance is not a virtue, that is, it does not spring from reason so, on the contrary, the man who repents of what he has done is doubly wretched or impotent.? Still he urges that for the good of society it is not desirable that vulgar minds should be enlightened as to this matter; see Upton, Hibbert Lectures, 315. Determinism also renders it irrational to feel righteous indignation either at the misconduct of other people or at our own. Moral admiration is similarly irrational in the determinist. See Balfour, Foundations of Belief, 24.
In broad distinction from the Scriptural doctrine, we find the Romanist view, which regards the three elements of repentance as the following: (1) contrition, (2) confession, (3) satisfaction. Of these, contrition is the only element properly belonging to repentance yet from this contrition the Romanist excludes all sorrow for sin of nature. Confession is confession to the priest and satisfaction is the sinner?s own doing of outward penance, as a temporal and symbolic submission and reparation to violated law. This view is false and pernicious, in that it confounds repentance with its outward fruits, conceives of it as exercised rather toward the church than toward God and regards it as a meritorious ground instead of a mere condition of pardon.
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