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The third conclusion of Crofton concerning repentance is that it is a matter of humiliation. He begins his discuss here:

Sense of and sorrow for sin, as committed against God, are the precursive acts of true repentance.

True repentance, as most divines determine, doth consist in two parts; namely, humiliation, and conversion: the casting down [of] the heart for sin, and the casting off sin: a repenting “for uncleanness,” επι τῃ ακαβαρσιᾳ, (2 Cor. 12:21,) and sin, with grief, shame, and anguish; and repenting “from iniquity,” απο κακιας, (Acts 8:22; Rev. 9:20,) and “from dead works.” (Heb. 6:1.)

James Nichols, Puritan Sermons, vol. 5 (Wheaton, IL: Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers, 1981), 376. After considering various examples of repentance in Scripture he explains:

So that, according to the expressions of scripture, as well as the experiences of the saints, humiliation of the soul is an essential act, and eminent part, of repentance. And this is that which I in the description do denominate “sense of and sorrow for sin, as committed against God;” thereby intending to note unto you, that the soul must be humbled that will be lifted up by the Lord; and his humiliation doth and must consist of these two parts,—conviction and contrition, sight of and sorrow for sin. (377)

377. This begins with the Holy Spirit’s work of conviction, a recognition that one stands guilty under the law:

For as indeed without the law there is no transgression, so without the knowledge of the law there can be no conviction. Ignorance of divine pleasure is the great obstruction of repentance; and therefore the prince of this world doth daily endeavour to blow out the light of the word, or to blind the eyes of the sons of men, that they may not see and be converted. (378)

He refers to this as the “first part of humiliation”: I stand convicted by the law. It is the personal application which matters here: it is not the knowledge that such and such rule exists, but rather than the law is true and applicable. One could know the law of God and yet still not know conviction. Thus, it must be the Spirit brings to realization, this law applies to me here and now.

The first act of repentance is the falling of the scales from off the sinner’s eyes; the first language of a turning soul is, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6, 18:) (378)

There is more here. Not only does one see the law as applicable, one also sees himself as condemned. Yes, this law applies to me, and I stand condemned:

So that now the soul doth not only assent unto the law as true in all its threats, but applieth them unto himself; confessing [that] unto him belongs shame and confusion, hell and horror, woe and eternal misery; that he knoweth not how to escape; but if God proceed against him, he is most miserable and undone for ever; and so is constrained with anguish of soul to cry out, “What shall I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30.) (379)

James Nichols, Puritan Sermons, vol. 5 (Wheaton, IL: Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers, 1981), 378.

Now comes the “second part of humiliation”:

The second part, then, of penitential humiliation is contrition, or sorrow for sin as committed against God.—Herein the soul is not only acquainted with, but afflicted for, its guilt; seeth not only that it is a sinner, but sorroweth under, and is ashamed of, so sad and sinful an estate. (380)

This raises a question: Why should sorrow matter? Humans expect sorrow for repentance, because we want an emotional component to know the “I will stop” is real. But why would God seek sorrow?

Sorrow is a component of an actual change of position: the comprehension of guilt under the law is not merely a cognitive recognition (although it is not less). It must entail a real judgment, “this is true and I am guilty.”

A true recognition of guilt would necessarily entail a fear of the guilt and a horror of that God is my judge and adversary:

The stony heart is broken, the adamantine soul dissolved; he rends not his garment, but his heart, and goeth out and weepeth bitterly. He seeth with shame his many abominations; and readeth, with soul-distressing sorrow and anguish, the curse of the law that is due unto him; and considereth, with almost soul-distracting despair, the doleful estate into which his sin hath resolved him: for he seeth God, with whom he is not able to plead, to be highly offended; and therefore must, with Job, confess that he is not able to answer when God reproveth; he is vile, and must lay his hand on his mouth (380)

One aspect of this recognition which makes no sense from the outside is the recognition “I am vile.”  Taken out of its context, it seems perverse. But let us take this from the inside: A human being is created for fellowship with and the blessing of God. We are the image of God and the pinnacle of creation. To be in sin is to be in a drunken stupor. The awakening of conviction is the like the recognition of one awakens in some horrible state, in a crack den, in a garbage heap, in some utterly degrading and disgusting place and thinking, how did I get here.  It is the person who awakens to discover that in his intoxicated state he crashed his car into a van and murdered a family. That is the horror of sin.

Let us continue with the drunk who has killed the children in the drunken crash. We can imagine two men: one who is horrified at the damage he has done and the life that is lost. We can imagine another man angry at the punishment he will face and loss of his own expectations. The moral quality of these two men is quite different.

That is the distinction between true and false repentance.

His sorrow is a sorrow of candour and ingenuity; not so much that he is liable to the lash, and obnoxious to the curse, as that a Father is offended, the image of his God defaced. His grand complaint is, “I have sinned against God;” his soul-affliction and heart-trembling is, “God is offended.”  (380)