Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part III: Of Men's Shrinking from This Second Repentance and Exomologesis, and of the Unreasonableness of Such Shrinking.
Chapter X.—Of Mens Shrinking from This Second Repentance and Exomologesis, and of the Unreasonableness of Such Shrinking.
Yet most men either shun this work, as being a public exposure 8512 of themselves, or else defer it from day to day. I presume (as being) more mindful of modesty than of salvation; just like men who, having contracted some malady in the more private parts of the body, avoid the privity of physicians, and so perish with their own bashfulness. It is intolerable, forsooth, to modesty to make satisfaction to the offended Lord! to be restored to its forfeited 8513 salvation! Truly you are honourable in your modesty; bearing an open forehead for sinning, but an abashed one for deprecating! I give no place to bashfulness when I am a gainer by its loss; when itself in some son exhorts the man, saying, “Respect not me; it is better that I perish through 8514 you, i.e. than you through me.” At all events, the time when (if ever) its danger is serious, is when it is a butt for jeering speech in the presence of insulters, where one man raises himself on his neighbours ruin, where there is upward clambering over the prostrate. But among brethren and fellow-servants, where there is common hope, fear, 8515 joy, grief, suffering, because there is a common Spirit from a common Lord and Father, why do you think these brothers to be anything other than yourself? Why flee from the partners of your own mischances, as from such as will derisively cheer them? The body cannot feel gladness at the trouble of any one member, 8516 it must necessarily join with one consent in the grief, and in labouring for the remedy. In a company of two 8517 is the church; 8518 but the church is Christ. 8519 When, then, you cast yourself at the brethrens knees, you are handling Christ, you are entreating Christ. In like manner, when they shed tears over you, it is Christ who suffers, Christ who prays the Father for mercy. What a son 8520 asks is ever easily obtained. Grand indeed is the reward of modesty, which the concealment of our fault promises us! to wit, if we do hide somewhat from the knowledge of man, shall we equally conceal it from God? Are the judgment of men and the knowledge of God so put upon a par? Is it better to be damned in secret than absolved in public? But you say, “It is a miserable thing thus to come to exomologesis:” yes, for evil does bring to misery; but where repentance is to be made, the misery ceases, because it is turned into something p. 665 salutary. Miserable it is to be cut, and cauterized, and racked with the pungency of some (medicinal) powder: still, the things which heal by unpleasant means do, by the benefit of the cure, excuse their own offensiveness, and make present injury bearable for the sake 8521 of the advantage to supervene.
Per. But “per,” according to Oehler, is used by Tertullian as ="propter” —on your account, for your sake.664:8515
1 Cor. xii. 26.664:8517
In uno et altero.664:8518
See Matt. xviii. 20.664:8519
i.e. as being His body.664:8520
Or, “the Son.” Comp. John 11:41, 42.665:8521
Or, “by the grace.”
Next: Further Strictures on the Same Subject.
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