561. X. ACTUAL REPENTANCE IS EASY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOW AND THEN PRACTISED IT, BUT IT IS A VERY DIFFICULT TASK FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT.
Actual repentance is to examine oneself, to recognize one's sins, to confess them before God, and thus to begin a new life; this is in accord with the previous description of it. To the Reformed Christian world (meaning by this all those who are separate from the church of Rome, and also to those attached to that church who have not practiced actual repentance), this repentance is a very difficult task. This is because some are unwilling and some are afraid to practice it; and continued neglect establishes a habit, induces unwillingness, and at length gains the endorsement of the reasoning intellect, and this with some produces sadness, dread, and terror at the thought of repentance. Actual repentance is so extremely difficult in the Reformed Christian world chiefly because of their belief that repentance and charity contribute nothing to salvation, but faith alone, from the imputation of which forgiveness of sins, justification, renovation, regeneration, sanctification, and eternal salvation follow. Moreover, their dogmatic writers say that man's cooperation of himself, or as if of himself, is useless, is an obstacle to Christ's merit, and is repugnant and injurious to it. And this idea is implanted in the minds of the common people, although they are ignorant of the mysteries of that faith, merely by the sayings, that "faith alone saves," and who can possibly do good of himself?" For this reason: repentance among the Reformed is like a nest of young birds deprived of the parent birds, which have been captured and killed by the fowler. To this another reason may be added, that a so-called Reformed Christian is associated in the spiritual world as to his spirit, only with such as are like himself, who introduce such things into the ideas of his thought, and lead him away from the very first step toward self-inspection and self-examination.