Upon the Nature Heat, and the Radical Moisture
There is a regiment of health in the soul, as well as in the body; in the inward man, as well as the outward man; they both being subjects incident to distempers, and that from a defect, or excess in those qualities which which when regulated are the principle and the basis of life and strength. [This paragraph relies upon an understanding of medicine going back to the Greeks.]
What preserves and maintains natural life but the just temperament of the radical moistures and the innate heat? And again endangers and destroys it, but the heart devouring moisture, or the moisture impairing the heat? When either of these prevail against each other, diseases do suddenly follow.
And is it not thus in the soul and inward man? In it those two signature graces of faith and repentance do keep up and cherish the spiritual life of the Christian: faith being like the calor innatus, the natural heat; and repentance like humidum radicale, the radical moisture. If then any by believing should exercise repentance less or in repenting should lessen their belief, they would soon fall into one of these most dangers extremes: either to be swallowed up in sorrow and despair; or else to puffed up in security and presumption.
Is it not then matter of complaint that these two evangelical duties (as some divines have called them), which in the practice of Christians should never be separated, should be looked upon by many to oppose — rather than to promote each other in their operations. Some out of weakness cannot apprehend what consistency there can be between faith and repentance, whose effects seem to be contrary: the one working peace and joy, the other trouble and sorrow; the one, confidence, the other fear; the one shame, the other boldness.
Now such as these, when touched with a sense of their sin, judge it their duty rather to mourn than to believe; and to feel the bitterness of sin, than to taste the sweetness of the promise, and put away comfort from them, lest it should check and abate the overflowings of their sorrow.
Others again, whether our of heedlessness or willfulness, I will not determine what they behold the fulness of grace, in the blotting out of sin, the freeness of grace in the healing of backsliding, they see so little necessity of repentance as they think it below (as they speak) a gospel spirit to be troubled for that which Christ has satisfied for). It is not repentance that they should now exercise, but rather; sorrow seems interpretively to be a jealousy of the truth of God’s promise in forgiving and of the sufficiency of Christ’s discharge, who was the surety, who has not left one single mite of debt for believers to pay. Sorrow therefore seems to them unseasonable, as it would be for a prisoner to mourn, when the prison door is opened and himself set free from debt and bondage.
Thus this pair of graces and duties, concerning which I may say, as God did of Adam, it is not good that either of them should be alone [Gen. 2:18, said of Adam needing a wife]; are yet divided often times in practice, though indissolubly linked together in the precept. Fain would I therefore evidence to the weak the concord that these two graces, in respect of comfort, and to willful necessity of them both, in order unto pardon.
Unto the weak therefore I say, that the agreement between faith and repentance does no lie in the immediate impressions which they make upon the soul, which are in some respects opposite to each other; but in the principle from which they arise, which is the same, the grace of Christ; and in the end, which is the same salvation of man, in habitude and subordination that they have one to another: for repentance’s never more kindly than when it disposes us to exercise and actings of faith: whose joy, peace and serenity of heart are as gold which is best laid upon sad and dark colors; or as the polished diamond that receives an addition of luster from the watering of it. God’s promise is that the believing Jes who look upon Christ by an eye of faith shall be also great mourners, They shall mourn for him as one mourenth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him as one that is in the bitterness for his first-born. [Zech. 12:10]
Unto the careless or willful I also say, that God never forgives sin but where also he gives a penitent and relenting heart; so that though faith has a peculiar nature in receiving of pardon, applying it by way of instrument which no other grace does; yet repentance is the express formal qualification that fits for pardon, not by way of causality or merit, but by way of means as well as command, which arises from a con decency both to God himself, who is a holy God; and to the nature of mercy, which is the taking and removing of sin away.
Never dream then of such free grace or gospel-mercy as does supersede a broken and contrite heart, or take off the necessity of sorrowing for sin. For Christ did never undertake to satisfy God’s wrath in an absolute and illimited [unlimited] manner, but in a well ordered and meet [fitting] way, viz., [that is] the way of faith and repentance. How else should we ever come to taste the bitterness of sin or the sweetness of grace? How to prize and esteem the physician if not sensible of our disease? How to adore the love of Christ, who redeemed us from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for us, if not burdened with the weight of our iniquities?
Yea, how should we ever give God the glory of his justice in acknowledging ourselves worthy of death, if we do not in a way of repentance judge ourselves, as the apostle bids us? [1 Cor. 11:31] Was not this that David did in that solemn confusion of his in which he cries out, Against thee, thee only have I sinned, had done this evil in thy sight; that thou might be justified when thou speakest and clear when thou judgest. [Ps. 51:4]
Can I therefore wish a better wish to such who are insensible to their sins, that Bernard did, to him whom he thought no heedful enough about the judgments of God, who writing to him, instead of the common salutation, much health, wrote, much fear: that so, their confidence may have an ally of trembling?
Sure I am that it is a mercy that I had need to pray for on my own behalf, and I do,
Lord, make it my request
That my faith for the pardon of sin
May be accompanied with my sorrow for sin;
And that I may have a weeping eye, as well as a believing heart,
That I may mourn for the evil that I have done against my Savior
As well as rejoice in the fulness of the mercy the he has showed to me
In a Glorious salvation.