Home / Early Church Father Quotes by Topic / Repentence (Metanoia)

Repentence (Metanoia)

Clement of Rome

Noah preached repentance, and as many obeyed were saved. Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites; but they, repenting of their sins, made atonement to God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God. The ministers of the grace of God have, by the Holy Spirit, spoken of repentance… And in another place He speaks thus: “Wash you, and become clean; put away the wickedness of your souls from before mine eyes; cease from your evil ways, and learn to do well; seek out judgment, deliver the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and see that justice is done to the widow; and come, and let us reason together. He declares, Though your sins be like crimson, I will make them white as snow; though they be like scarlet, I will whiten them like wool. And if you be willing and obey Me, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse, and will not hearken unto Me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken these things.” Desiring, therefore, that all His beloved should be partakers of repentance, He has, by His almighty will, established [these declarations].

Second Clement

While we are on earth, then, let us repent: for we are clay under the craftsman’s hand. For in like manner as the potter, if he be making a vessel, and it get twisted or crushed in his hands, reshapes it again; but if he have once put it into the fiery oven, he shall no longer mend it: so also let us, while we are in this world, repent with our whole heart of the evil things which we have done in the flesh, that we may be saved by the Lord, while we have yet time for repentance. For after that we have departed out of the world, we can no more make confession there, or repent any more.

While we have time to be healed, let us place ourselves in the hands of God the physician, giving Him a recompense. What recompense? Repentance from a sincere heart. – ibid

Therefore, brethren, let us repent forthwith. Let us be sober unto that which is good: for we are full of much folly and wickedness. Let us wipe away from us our former sins, and let us repent with our whole soul and be saved. And let us not be found men-pleasers. – ibid

Therefore, brethren, since we have found no small opportunity for repentance, seeing that we have time, let us turn again unto God that called us, while we have still One that receives us. For if we bid farewell to these enjoyments and conquer our soul in refusing to fulfill its evil lusts, we shall be partakers of the mercy of Jesus. – ibid

I read to you an exhortation to the end that you may give heed to the things which are written, so that you may save both yourselves and him that reads in the midst of you. For I ask of you as a reward that you repent with your whole heart, and give salvation and life to yourselves. – ibid

Martyrdom of Polycarp

The proconsul then said to him, “I have wild beasts at hand; to these will I cast you, except you repent.” But he answered, “Call them then, for we are not accustomed to repent of what is good in order to adopt that which is evil; and it is well for me to be changed from what is evil to what is righteous.”

Ignatius

Only pray you for them (the Heretics), if haply they may repent. This indeed is difficult, but Jesus Christ, our true life, has power over it.

Shepherd of Hermas

Yea, and to all the saints that have sinned unto this day, if they repent with their whole heart, and remove double-mindedness from their heart. For the Master swore by His own glory, as concerning His elect; that if, now that this day has been set as a limit, sin shall hereafter be committed, they shall not find salvation; for repentance for the righteous has an end; the days of repentance are accomplished for all the saints; whereas for the Gentiles there is repentance until the last day.

They then that shall repent, if they repent, will be strong in the faith, if they repent now while the tower is building. But if the building shall be finished, they have no more any place, but shall be castaways. – ibid

“To repent is great understanding,” said he. “For the man that has sinned understands that he has done evil before the Lord, and the deed which he has done enters into his heart, and he repents, and does no more evil, but does good lavishly, and humbles his own soul and puts it to torture because it sinned. You see then that repentance is great understanding.”- ibid

“But I say unto you,” said he, “if after this great and holy calling any one, being tempted of the devil, shall commit sin, he has only one (opportunity of) repentance. But if he sin off-hand and repent, repentance is unprofitable for such a man; for he shall live with difficulty.” – ibid

You then that repent, cast away the evil doings of this world which crush you; and, by putting on every excellence of righteousness, you shall be able to observe these commandments, and to add no more to your sins. If then you add no further sin at all, you will depart from your former sins. – ibid

Well, do you think that the sins of those who repent are forgiven immediately? Certainly not; but the person who repents must torture his own soul, and must be thoroughly humble in his every action, and be afflicted with all the divers kinds of affliction; and if he endure the afflictions which come upon him, assuredly He Who created all things and endowed them with power will be moved with compassion and will bestow some remedy. – ibid

“…the Lord, how great and glorious it is, and He has given (His) Spirit to those that are worthy of repentance.” “Wherefore then, Sir,” say I, “did they not all repent?” “To those, whose heart He saw about to become pure and to serve Him with all the heart, to them He gave repentance; but those whose craftiness and wickedness He saw, who intend to repent in hypocrisy, to them He gave not repentance, lest haply they should again profane His name.” – ibid

Go, and tell all men to repent, and they shall live unto God; for the Lord in His compassion sent me to give repentance to all, though some of them, because of their deeds do not deserve to be saved. – ibid

“As many,” [said he,] “as [shall repent] from their whole heart [and] shall cleanse themselves from all the evil deeds aforementioned, and shall add nothing further to their sins, shall receive healing from the Lord for their former sins, unless they be double-minded concerning these commandments, and they shall live unto God.” – ibid

These are they that have heard my commandments now, and have practiced repentance with their whole heart. So when the Lord saw that their repentance was good and pure, and that they could continue therein, he ordered their former sins to be blotted out. – ibid

Clement of Alexandria 

And the Lord, knowing the heart, and foreknowing the future, foresaw both the fickleness of man and the craft and subtlety of the devil from the first, from the beginning; how that, envying man for the forgiveness of sins, he would present to the servants of God certain causes of sins; skillfully working mischief, that they might fall together with himself. Accordingly, being very merciful, He has vouch-safed, in the case of those who, though in faith, fall into any transgression, a second repentance; so that should any one be tempted after his calling, overcome by force and fraud, he may receive still a repentance not to be repented of. “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shah devour the adversaries.” But continual and successive repentings for sins differ nothing from the case of those who have not believed at all, except only in their consciousness that they do sin.

“Born again, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh,” but in the Spirit; which consists in repenting by not giving way to the same fault. For frequent repentance and readiness to change easily from want of training, is the practice of sin again. The frequent asking of forgiveness, then, for those things in which we often transgress, is the semblance of repentance, not repentance itself. – ibid

Repentance then becomes capable of wiping out every sin, when on the occurrence of the soul’s fault it admits no delay, and does not let the impulse pass on to a long space of time. For it is in this way that evil will be unable to leave a trace in us, being plucked away at the moment of its assault like a newly planted plant. – ibid

“But these three abide, Faith, Hope, Love. But the greatest of these is Love.” And rightly. For Faith departs when we are convinced by vision, by seeing God. And Hope vanishes when the things hoped for come. But Love comes to completion, and grows more when that which is perfect has been bestowed. If one introduces it into his soul, although he be born in sins, and has done many forbidden things, he is able, by increasing love, and adopting a pure repentance, to retrieve his mistakes. – ibid

Forgiveness of past sins, then, God gives; but of future, each one gives to himself. And this is to repent, to condemn the past deeds, and beg oblivion of them from the Father, who only of all is able to undo what is done, by mercy proceeding from Him, and to blot out former sins by the dew of the Spirit. “For by the state in which I find you will I judge,” – ibid

Tertullian

For what I say is this, that the repentance which, being shown us and commanded us through God’s grace, recalls us to grace with the Lord, when once learned and undertaken by us ought never afterward to be cancelled by repetition of sin. No pretext of ignorance now remains to plead on your behalf; in that, after acknowledging the Lord, and accepting His precepts — in short, after engaging in repentance of (past) sins— you again betake yourself to sins. Thus, in as far as you are removed from ignorance, in so far are you cemented to contumacy. For if the ground on which you had repented of having sinned was that you had begun to fear the Lord, why have you preferred to rescind what you did for fear’s sake, except because you have ceased to fear? For there is no other thing but contumacy which subverts fear. Since there is no exception which defends from liability to penalty even such as are ignorant of the Lord — because ignorance of God, openly as He is set before men, and comprehensible as He is even on the score of His heavenly benefits, is not possible — how perilous is it for Him to be despised when known? Now, that man does despise Him, who, after attaining by His help to an understanding of things good and evil, often an affront to his own understanding — that is, to God’s gift — by resuming what he understands ought to be shunned, and what he has already shunned: he rejects the Giver in abandoning the gift; he denies the Benefactor in not honouring the benefit. How can he be pleasing to Him, whose gift is displeasing to himself? Thus he is shown to be not only contumacious toward the Lord, but likewise ungrateful.

Cyril of Jerusalem

For God seeks nothing else from us, save a good purpose. Say not, How are my sins blotted out? I tell thee, By willing, by believing. What can be shorter than this? But if, while thy lips declare thee willing, thy heart be silent, He knoweth the heart, who judgeth thee. Cease from this day from every evil deed. Let not thy tongue speak unseemly words, let thine eye abstain from sin, and from roving after things unprofitable.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *