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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part III: Concerning the Outward Manifestations by Which This Second Repentance is to Be Accompanied.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter IX.—Concerning the Outward Manifestations by Which This Second Repentance is to Be Accompanied.

The narrower, then, the sphere of action of this second and only (remaining) repentance, the more laborious is its probation; in order that it may not be exhibited in the conscience alone, but may likewise be carried out in some (external) act. This act, which is more usually expressed and commonly spoken of under a Greek name, is ἐξομολόγησις8506 whereby we confess our sins to the Lord, not indeed as if He were ignorant of them, but inasmuch as by confession satisfaction is settled, 8507 of confession repentance is born; by repentance God is appeased. And thus exomologesis is a discipline for man’s prostration and humiliation, enjoining a demeanor calculated to move mercy. With regard also to the very dress and food, it commands (the penitent) to lie in sackcloth and ashes, to cover his body in mourning, 8508 to lay his spirit low in sorrows, to exchange for severe treatment the sins which he has committed; moreover, to know no food and drink but such as is plain,—not for the stomach’s sake, to wit, but the soul’s; for the most part, however, to feed prayers on fastings, to groan, to weep and make outcries 8509 unto the Lord your 8510 God; to bow before the feet of the presbyters, and kneel to God’s dear ones; to enjoin on all the brethren to be ambassadors to bear his 8511 deprecatory supplication (before God).  All this exomologesis (does), that it may enhance repentance; may honour God by its fear of the (incurred) danger; may, by itself pronouncing against the sinner, stand in the stead of God’s indignation, and by temporal mortification (I will not say frustrate, but) expunge eternal punishments. Therefore, while it abases the man, it raises him; while it covers him with squalor, it renders him more clean; while it accuses, it excuses; while it condemns, it absolves. The less quarter you give yourself, the more (believe me) will God give you.


Footnotes

664:8506

Utter confession.

664:8507

For the meaning of “satisfaction,” see Hooker Eccl. Pol. vi. 5, where several references to the present treatise occur. [Elucidation II.]

664:8508

Sordibus.

664:8509

Cf. Ps. 22:1, Ps. 38:8, Heb. 5:7.

664:8510

Tertullian changes here to the second person, unless Oehler’s “tuum” be a misprint for “suum.”

664:8511

“Suæ,” which looks as if the “tuum” above should be “suum.” [St. James v. 16.]


Next: Of Men's Shrinking from This Second Repentance and Exomologesis, and of the Unreasonableness of Such Shrinking.

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