“Convictions and legal qualms of the conscience are not repentance: for they do not qualify the subject for it, and that in part only. These are very necessary things I have spoken of under this head; but they are like the unripe fruit which must be ripened by the work of the gospel on the heart, and brought into a perfection by the warm sun of gospel-influences, before he that has them can be accounted a penitent indeed.”
– Thomas Boston, Repentance: Turning from sin to God: What it means and why it’s necessary, pp. 41-42.
This is a wise saying, is it not? Convictions (i.e. ‘feeling bad’) and legal qualms are not equivalent to repentance. They must be present in order to reach a state of repentance, but only the gospel can bring someone to Christ fully repentant.