SINCERE AND TRUE REPENTANCE by Menno Simons (1496 - 1561)
In the second place we exhort you in the language of Christ, "Repent ye, and believe the Gospel," Mark. 1:15. Oh, thou faithful word of grace! Oh, thou faithful word of divine love! thou art read in books, sung in hymns, preached with the mouth, with life and death and proclaimed in many countries, but in thy power they desire thee not;  yea more, all those who rightly teach and receive thee, are made a prey for the whole world. Alas, beloved Sirs, it will avail us nothing to be called christians, and boast of the Lord's blood, death, merits, grace and Gospel, as long as we are not converted from this wicked, impious and shameful life. It is in vain that we are called christians; that Christ died; that we were born in the day of grace, and baptized with water, if we do not walk according to his law, counsel, admonition, will and command and are not obedient to his word.
Therefore awake, and behold the doings of the world. On every hand you see nothing but sensuality, wine-bibbing, infernal pride, lying, fraud, avarice, hatred, strife, adultery, fornication, war, murder, hypocrisy, open blasphemy, idolatry, and false worship, Hos. 4:11; Mic. 6:14; Gal. 5:19 -21; in short, nothing but a powerful persecution of all that God teaches, commands and enjoins. Who can relate the terrible and alarming condition of the world at the present time? yet they (the wicked) want to call themselves the holy christian church. Oh, no! they who do such things, saith Paul, shall not inherit the kingdom of God, 1. Cor. 6:9, 10; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:5. Oh, ye men awake and see for yourselves, for thus saith the word of the Lord, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye be born from above ye shall not see the kingdom of God, Jn. 3:3. Also, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," Jn. 3:5, and again, "Verily, I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven," Matt. 18:3. What does it profit to speak much of Christ and his word, if we do not believe him, and obey his commandments? Again, I say, awake and banish the accursed unbelief with all unrighteousness from your hearts, and live a pious, penitent life, according to the scriptures; for Christ says, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish," Luke 13:5. Here do not understand such repentance as is taught and practiced by an erring world, which consists only in an outward appearance and human righteousness, such as hypocritical fastings, pilgrimages, praying and reading Pater Nosters and Ava Marias, hearing frequent masses, auricular confessions, and the like hypocrisies which Christ and his apostles did in no wise teach and command. Hence it cannot be a propitiatory sacrifice, but rather will be a provocation, and tend to excite the divine displeasure. Such doctrines are unavailing and fruitless commands of men, the accursed and enchanted wine of the Babylonian whoredom, which those who have dwelt upon the earth, through the just anger of God, have drunk for so many ages, Rev. 17:2. But we speak of a repentance possessed of power and works, as John the Baptist teaches, saying, "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance, and think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father," Matt. 3:8. "And now also the age is laid unto the root of the trees; every tree, therefore, which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire," Luke 3:9.
Behold, dear reader, the repentance we teach, is to die unto sin, and all ungodly works, and live no longer according to the lusts of the flesh, even as David did, 2 Sam. 13:12; 18:1. When he was reproved by the prophet on account of his adultery, and for numbering the people, he wept bitterly, called upon God, forsook the evil, and committed these sinful abominations no more. Peter sinned very grievously but once, and no more. Matthew, after being called by the Saviour, did not again return to his ways of life. Zaccheus and the sinful woman did not again return to their impure works of darkness. Zaccheus made restitution to those whom he had defrauded, and gave half of his goods to the poor and distressed. The woman wept very bitterly, and washed the feet of the Lord with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; she anointed them with precious ointment, and sat humbly at his feet, to listen to his blessed words.
These are the precious fruits of that repentance, which is acceptable to the Lord; therefore, it was said to David, that the Lord had put away his sins from him; to Peter it was proclaimed, that the Lord had arisen from the dead; Matthew was called to be an apostle; Zaccheus was told that he had become a son of Abraham, and Mary, that she had "chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her," Luke 10:42. To the adulterous woman, Christ said, "Go, and sin no more," Jn. 8:11.
Such a repentance we teach, and no other, namely, that no one can glory in the grace of God, the forgiveness of sins, the merits of Christ; and count himself pious, unless he has truly repented. It is not enough that we say, we are Abraham's children, that is, that we are called christians and esteemed as such, but we must do the works of Abraham, that is, we must walk as all true children of God are commanded by his word, as John writes, "If we say, we have fellowship with him (God) and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sins," 1 Jn. 1:6, 7.
I ask all my readers, if they ever have read in the scriptures, that an impenitent, obdurate man, who fears not God nor his word, who is earthly minded, sensual, devilish, and lives according to his lusts, can be called a child of God and a joint heir of Christ?  I believe you will be constrained to answer, no. But he that with all his heart, ceases from evil and learns to do well, to him the grace of the Lord is proclaimed throughout the whole scriptures, as the prophet says, "Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool," Isa. 1:16-18. Again, "If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die; all his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him," Ezek. 18:21, 22. And further, read and search the whole scriptures, the true instructions and testimonies of the holy prophets, evangelists and apostles, and you will find it clearly set forth, how this godly repentance is to be earnestly received and practiced, and that without it no one can receive grace, enter into the kingdom of heaven, or ever hope for it. 
In short, as far as in us lies, we teach repentance from the word of the Lord, in order that we may subdue those carnal lusts which war against the soul, 1 Peter 2:11, crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts, Gal. 5:24, refrain from conformity to this world, Rom. 12:2, cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, Rom. 13:12; that we "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world," 1. Jn. 2:15; "put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him," Col. 3:9, 10; yea, cast off the old Adam with his whole nature and deceitful lusts, such as pride, avarice, unchastity, hatred, envyings, gluttony, drinking, idolatry, and put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness, whose fruits are faith, love, hope, righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Ghost, Eph. 4:22; Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:16; be patient in suffering, merciful, compassionate, chaste, sincerely hating and rebuking all sin, and entertaining a sincere love and zeal for God and his word.  I repeat it, that this repentance, which we teach, must be sincere, fruitful and acceptable to the Lord, according to the instructions of his word. He that receives this repentance in sincerity, and abides therein unto the end, may rejoice and thank God, for the end thereof is eternal life. But he that rejects it and does not desire it, let him take warning that the end thereof is eternal death.
Beloved Sirs, Friends and Brethren, do for once truly and sincerely lay it to heart, what it is, and what the consequences will be, willfully to transgress the commands of the Lord and haughtily sin against the word of God. Adam and Eve did but once eat of the fruit of which the Lord had forbidden them, therefore, for Adam's sake the earth was cursed. In the sweat of his face he was doomed to eat his bread all the days of his life. Eve and her daughters must bring forth in pain, and be in subjection to their husbands. They were driven from Paradise, and with all their race, doomed to return to dust, from whence they were taken. Here also there was no forgiveness nor consolation of grace to be obtained. But the Eternal Word, God's Eternal Son must needs come from high heaven, assume human nature, suffer hunger, temptation, misery; the cross and death, as the scriptures teach.  Oh, beloved Sirs, if this single transgression was so great before God, what will become of those who so proudly, all their days, despise the holy word, covenant, will and commandment of the Lord, who do not confess their sins and transgressions, though they are full of iniquity from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet. Cain was cursed and became a vagabond upon the earth as long as he lived, because he so enviously slew his innocent brother Abel. Alas! what will become of those, who, at the present day without compassion or justice, persecute, plunder and murder the pious Abelites, who with fervent hearts seek Christ and eternal life.
The ancient world was drowned in the waters of the flood, because the sons of God looked upon the daughters of men, that they were fair, and took to themselves wives of all which they chose, and also because they would not be reproved of the Spirit of God, for every imagination and thought of their hearts were evil continually. Reflect upon the lusts with which the marriages of the world at the present time are contracted, yea, like dumb beasts; how the Holy Ghost is reviled, slandered and grieved, and how they all walk in their perverted ways which lead to hell, yea, to eternal damnation and death.
Sodom and Gomorrah, with the surrounding cities, on account of their pride, wantonness, cruelty, and abominable crimes, were burned up with the fire of the furious wrath of God, and cast into the abyss of hell. Alas, alas, what will befall those miserable men in the great and terrible day when the Lord will appear in his glory, whose pride, excess, debauchery, pomp, tyranny, bloodthirstiness, adultery, fornication, and papal abominations, no heart can conceive, no tongue express, no pen describe! Rom. 1:24.
Koran, Dathan and Abiram, though they were of the seed of Abraham, and some of them were born of Levi, yet because they revolted against Moses and Aaron, and sought to enter into the sacerdotal office, without being called, they and all their company, were swallowed up by the earth alive, Num. 16:32. Consider what will ultimately happen to our Korites, whom God never acknowledged, much less were sent by him, and whose office, calling and service are not from God and his word, but as the scriptures teach, from the bottomless pit, the dragon and the beast, Rev. 9:1; 13:4; 20:1-3, who mislead so many poor, miserable souls with their seducing doctrines, Babylonian sorceries and hypocritical lives, and not only despise, but also rail, persecute, crucify and kill Christ, the righteous Moses and Aaron. If Moses, the faithful servant of God, could not enter the promised land because he once doubted the word of the Lord, how much less shall this unbelieving, perverted and obdurate generation enter the eternal land of promise and glory, that not only disbelieve and despise the word of the Lord, the acceptable gospel of Jesus Christ, but also bitterly hate and persecute it, trample the blood of Christ under foot, stop their ears against the truth, and refuse to be taught by any means, either with the truth, the unblamable lives of the saints, or the innocent blood of the witnesses of Jesus, which has been shed, and in many countries flowed like water.
O, ye miserable men, who are so entirely depraved and miserable before God, take heed to the word of the Lord, cleanse your bloody hands, and your impure and unbelieving hearts, and no longer despise the grace of God with your vain boastings, and say not Abraham is your father, Jn. 8:39; that you are the children of God; that Christ died for you, or that you will also confide in his mercy. "Trust ye not in lying words," says Jeremiah, the prophet; say not, here is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, for it avails nothing, that Christ died, and that we are called by his name, if we do not possess a sincere, regenerating, vigorous faith in Jesus Christ, pure, unfeigned love, willing obedience, and a pious and irreproachable life. God's mercy, we read, is to his saints, and he hath care for his elect, but the hope of the wicked is vain, Wis. 3:9; 5:15. "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry," Ps. 34:15. "Ye are my friends," says Christ, "if ye do whatsoever I command you," John 15:14. Therefore, we pray and exhort you again to reform; he is still the same unchangeable God, Mal. 3:6. He is a strict, jealous and rigid punisher of all wickedness; yea, a righteous judge of all ungodliness and of every evil work. He visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate him, Ex. 20:5. On the other hand, he is compassionate, kind, and merciful unto all that do righteously, and fear his name, to many thousands who love him and keep his commandments.
O reader, reader, beloved reader, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God! The time is fulfilled, now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. The kingdom of heaven is at hand; would you inherit and enter into it, you must repent, not only in appearance, as the hypocrites do, but as sincere penitents, with all your hearts, and all your powers, and bring forth good fruit. If not, you must be cut off and cast into the fire of his fierce wrath, John 15:6; Luke 3:9. Imo nisi resipuerite, omnes similiter, peritites, i.e., "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish," Luke 13:3.
 There are multitudes in the world who profess to believe in the word of God, but by their works deny the power thereof.  The impenitent are without grace.  These remarks apply to those who have ears to hear and hearts to understand, and not to infants that are incapable of understanding.  Such are the fruits of true repentance.  Thus Christ came into the world to redeem mankind.