“Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:” —Matthew 3:8
The coming of Christ is intimately connected with repentance. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” [Matthew 3:2]. And the essence of repentance consists in the love of God, and the hatred of sin. Without these essentials God does not pardon sin, nor is the priest able to absolve the sinner. But the union of these two things forms in us that godly sorrow for the past, and that resolution, by divine grace, of not offending God any more, which makes the reality of repentance. Moreover the sorrow should be life-long, and the resolution should be renewed at least every day….
The least willful fault, the slightest permitted irregularity of affection, every inordinate passion not subdued, all these disorder and check our spiritual life. To repent at all then, I must endeavor by God’s grace to correct these evils, and to remove whatever obstructs the incoming of his Spirit. I must ask God to change my heart, to heal my wounds, to save me from my sins, and to make me whole. I must ask him to increase my hunger and thirst for his righteousness, and to deepen in me the sense of my vileness and corruption that I may more thoroughly throw myself upon the merits and advocacy of our blessed Savior.… I must strive to put off the old man and to put on the new; to get the victory over sensual thoughts and feelings, and to have the mind of Christ in meekness, humility, and all graces and virtues.…
Now is the season of grace. The judge is at the door; let us not be gloomy: but let us bring to him tears, and contrition, and alms-deeds, crying, “We have sinned beyond the number of the sands of the sea; but forgive all, redeemer of all, that we also may possess the immortal crown.”