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The Beginning of Repentance

Hosea 6:1
Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

The Prophet means by these words, that God does not so punish men as to pour forth his wrath upon them for their destruction; but that he intends, on the contrary, to promote their salvation, when he is severe in punishing their sins. We must then remember, as we have before observed, that the beginning of repentance is a sense of God’s mercy; that is, when men are persuaded that God is ready to give pardon, they then begin to gather courage to repent; otherwise perverseness will ever increase in them; how much soever their sin may frighten them, they will yet never return to the Lord. And for this purpose I have elsewhere quoted that remarkable passage in Psalm 130, ‘With thee is mercy, that thou mayest be feared;’ for it cannot be, that men will obey God with true and sincere heart, except a taste of his goodness allures them, and they can certainly determine, that they shall not return to him in vain, but that he will be ready, as we have said, to pardon them. This is the meaning of the words, when he says, Come, and let us turn to the Lord; for he has torn and he will heal us; that is, God has not inflicted on us deadly wounds; but he has smitten, that he might heal.

John Calvin, Commentary on the Prophet Hosea, Lecture 16

One reply on “The Beginning of Repentance”

That accords very well with the reason for hope I have been thinking of so much lately and learning ‘by heart’ — ‘O Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is *mercy*, and with him is plenteous redemption.’

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