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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part III: Final Considerations to Induce to Exomologesis.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XII.—Final Considerations to Induce to Exomologesis.

If you shrink back from exomologesis, consider in your heart the hell, 8525 which exomologesis will extinguish for you; and imagine first the magnitude of the penalty, that you may not hesitate about the adoption of the remedy. What do we esteem that treasure-house of eternal fire to be, when small vent-holes 8526 of it rouse such blasts of flames that neighbouring cities either are already no more, or are in daily expectation of the same fate? The haughtiest 8527 mountains start asunder in the birth-throes of their inly-gendered fire; and—which proves to us the perpetuity of the judgment—though they start asunder, though they be devoured, yet come they never to an end. Who will not account these occasional punishments inflicted on the mountains as examples of the judgment which menaces the impenitent?  Who will not agree that such sparks are but some few missiles and sportive darts of some inestimably vast centre of fire? Therefore, since you know that after the first bulwarks of the Lord’s baptism 8528 there still remains for you, in exomologesis a second reserve of aid against hell, why do you desert your own salvation? Why are you tardy to approach what you know heals you?  Even dumb irrational animals recognise in their time of need the medicines which have been divinely assigned them. The stag, transfixed by the arrow, knows that, to force out the steel, and its inextricable lingerings, he must heal himself with dittany. The swallow, if she blinds her young, knows how to give them eyes again by means of her own swallow-wort. 8529 Shall the sinner, knowing that exomologesis has been instituted by the Lord for his restoration, pass that by which restored the Babylonian king 8530 to his realms? Long time had he offered to the Lord his repentance, working out his exomologesis by a seven years’ squalor, with his nails wildly growing after the eagle’s fashion, and his unkempt hair wearing the shagginess of a lion. Hard handling! Him whom men were shuddering at, God was receiving back. But, on the other hand, the Egyptian emperor—who, after purp. 666 suing the once afflicted people of God, long denied to their Lord, rushed into the battle 8531 —did, after so many warning plagues, perish in the parted sea, (which was permitted to be passable to “the People” alone,) by the backward roll of the waves: 8532 for repentance and her handmaid 8533 exomologesis he had cast away.

Why should I add more touching these two planks 8534 (as it were) of human salvation, caring more for the business of the pen 8535 than the duty of my conscience? For, sinner as I am of every dye, 8536 and born for nothing save repentance, I cannot easily be silent about that concerning which also the very head and fount of the human race, and of human offence, Adam, restored by exomologesis to his own paradise, 8537 is not silent.


Footnotes

665:8525

Gehennam. Comp. ad Ux.ii. c. vi. ad fin.

665:8526

Fumariola, i.e. the craters of volcanoes.

665:8527

Superbissimi: perhaps a play on the word, which is connected with “super” and “superus,” as “haughty” with “high.”

665:8528

For Tertullian’s distinction between “the Lord’s baptism” and “John’s” see de Bapt. x.

665:8529

Or “celandine,” which is perhaps only another form of “chelidonia” (“Chelidonia major,” Linn.).

665:8530

Dan. iv. 25 sqq. See de Pa. xiii.

666:8531

Proelium.

666:8532

Ex. xiv. 15-31.

666:8533

“Ministerium,” the abstract for the concrete: so “servitia” = slaves.

666:8534

See c. iv. [Tabula was the word in cap. iv. but here it becomes planca, and planca post naufragium is the theological formula, ever since, among Western theologians.]

666:8535

See de Bapt. xii. sub init.

666:8536

Lit. “of all brands.”  Comp. c. vi.: “Does the soldier…make satisfaction for his brands.”

666:8537

Cf. Gen. 3:24, Luke 23:43, 2 Cor. 12:4, Rev. 2:7. [Elucidation IV.]


Next: Elucidations.

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