NOT ONLY THE ACTIONS OF ONE’S LIFE
BUT ALSO THE INTENTIONS OF ONE’S WILL
True repentance is examining, not only the actions of one’s life, but also the intentions of one’s will, for the reason that the acts are done by the understanding and will; for man speaks from his thought, and acts from his will; therefore speech is the thought speaking, and action is the will acting. And this being the source of words and deeds, it follows indubitably that it is will and thought that sin when the body sins. Man can indeed repent of evils that he has done in body, and still think and will evil; but this is like cutting off the trunk of a bad tree, and leaving its root in the ground, from which the same bad tree grows up again, and spreads forth its branches. But it is different when the root also is torn up; and this is done in man when he examines the intentions of his will, and puts away his evils by repentance.
Man examines the intentions of his will when he examines his thoughts, for in these the intentions make themselves manifest; as, for example, when his thought, will, and intention incline to revenge, adultery, theft, false witness, and to lust therefore, also to blasphemy against God and the holy Word and the church, and so on; if he continues to direct his attention to this, and to inquire whether he would actually commit these evils if fear of the law and for his reputation did not hinder; and if after this scrutiny he determines that he will not will to do these things, because they are sins, he truly and interiorly repents; and still more when these evils are delightful to him, and he is free to do them, and yet resists and abstains. He who practices this repeatedly, perceives the delights of evil, when they return, as undelightful, and finally he condemns them to hell. This is what is meant by these words of the Lord:
Whoever wisheth to find his soul shall lose it; and whoever would lose his soul for My sake shall find it (Matt. 10:39).
He that puts away the evils of his will, by such repentance, is like one who in due time plucks up the tares sown in his field by the devil, so that the seed implanted by the Lord God the Savior finds a clear soil and grows to a harvest (Matt. 13:24-30).