Often when we repent of a sin, we do it perfunctorily, from principle, coldly from the head; but when we repent of a good deed the repentence comes hot and bitter and straight from the heart. Often when we repent of a sin, we can forgive ourselves and drop the matter out of mind; but when we repent from a good deed, we seldom get peace, we go on repenting to the end.
And the repentence is so perennialy young and strong and vivid and vigorous!
A great benefaction conferred with your whole heart upon an ungrateful man with what immortal persistence and never-cooling energy do you repent that! Repentence of a sin is a pale, poor, perishable thing compared with it.
I am quite sure that the average man is built just as I am; otherwise I should not be making this revelation of my inside. I say the average man and stop there; for I am quite certain that there are people who do not repent of their good deeds when the return they get for them is treachery and ingratitude. I think that these few ought to be in heaven; they are in the way here. In my time I have commited several millions of sins. Many of them I probably repented of, I do not remember now; others I was partly reminded to repent of, but it did not seem worthwhile; all of them but the recent ones and a few scattering former ones I have forgotten.
In my time I have done eleven good deeds. I remember all of them, four with crystal clearness. These four I repent of whenever i think of them-and it is not seldomer than fifty two times a year. I repent of them in the same old original furious way, undiminished, always. If I wake up away in the night, they are there, waiting and ready; and they keep me company till the morning. I have not commited any sin that has lasted like this save one; and have not repented of any sin with the unmodifying earnestness and sincerity with which I have repented of these four graciuos and beautiful good deeds.
Possibly you who are reading these paragraphs are of those few who have got mislaid and ought to be in heaven. In that case you will understand what I have been saying and will have no sympathy with it; but your neighbor will, if he is fifty years old.
-Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth.