How is repentance a condition of Justification?
There are sundry who add to repentance, a love to God, hating sin for the sake of its odiousness, and a reformation of life, and conduct. Such if they think it expedient, to use the word repentance in so extended a sense, as to include all the fruits thereof, I will not upon this ground contradict. It must be confessed that those blessed fruits: such as love to God, hating sin, &c. are the immediate result of repentance. But to speak accurately upon this subject, repentance, and its fruits ought carefully to be distinguished. The distinction is made by the scriptures; — ‘Bring forth fruits meet for repentance.’ Matth, 3, 8, See Acts 26, 20.
Repentance is a condition of justification. Acts 2, 28. Though the word repentance should be used in so extended a sense, as to include the fruits thereof; yet when it is applied to denote a condition of justification, it is erroneous to admit of this addition; as it then can only consist in sorrow for sin, and faith in Christ.
If repentance as a condition of justification, also consisted in hating sin for the sake of its odiousness, and a love to God, it would require a man not only to be justified, but also to be in a state of sanctification, before he could repent; because such a hatred against sin presupposes a holy principle, and a love to God, a conformity to the law. But is there such a holy principle in an unregenerated sinner? No. Hence it is not possible for such a person to hate sin for the sake of its odiousness, or to love God; because such would be contrary to his wicked element. It would be absurd, to suppose that an unregenerated sinner should hate sin in which he delights, and conform to a law, against which he is filled with enmity. But who is to repent, in order to be justified ? — is it the one that is justified, and in a state of sanctification? No. For how should the justified be justified? It is the unjustified sinner, who is to repent if he would enjoy the grace of justification, as our blessed Saviour said ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’ Mark 2, 17. Luke 15, 1-10. Now as the unjustified sinner is to repent; yet as he is destitute of all holy principles, he cannot hate sin for the sake of its odiousness, nor love God; hence it must be concluded that neither this hatred against sin, nor love to God, nor any other good work, constitutes a part of repentance. To suppose that a sinner should possess these holy principles, before he could be in a state of repentance, presupposes him to be a saint, who as such would be justified. Such an idea contradicts itself.
From David Henkel’s Fragments on Justification