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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part III: The Sixth Clause.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VII.—The Sixth Clause.

It was suitable that, after contemplating the liberality of God, 8808 we should likewise address His clemency.  For what will aliments 8809 p. 684 profit us, if we are really consigned to them, as it were a bull destined for a victim? 8810 The Lord knew Himself to be the only guiltless One, and so He teaches that we beg “to have our debts remitted us.” A petition for pardon is a full confession; because he who begs for pardon fully admits his guilt. Thus, too, penitence is demonstrated acceptable to God who desires it rather than the death of the sinner. 8811 Moreover, debt is, in the Scriptures, a figure of guilt; because it is equally due to the sentence of judgment, and is exacted by it: nor does it evade the justice of exaction, unless the exaction be remitted, just as the lord remitted to that slave in the parable his debt; 8812 for hither does the scope of the whole parable tend. For the fact withal, that the same servant, after liberated by his lord, does not equally spare his own debtor; and, being on that account impeached before his lord, is made over to the tormentor to pay the uttermost farthing—that is, every guilt, however small: corresponds with our profession that “we also remit to our debtors;” indeed elsewhere, too, in conformity with this Form of Prayer, He saith, “Remit, and it shall be remitted you.” 8813 And when Peter had put the question whether remission were to be granted to a brother seven times, “Nay,” saith He, “seventy-seven times;” 8814 in order to remould the Law for the better; because in Genesis vengeance was assigned “seven times” in the case of Cain, but in that of Lamech “seventy-seven times.” 8815


Footnotes

683:8808

In the former petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

683:8809

Such as “daily bread.”

684:8810

That is, if we are just to be fed and fattened by them in body, as a bull which is destined for sacrifice is, and then, like him, slain—handed over to death?

684:8811

Exod. 18:23, 32, Exod. 33:11.

684:8812

Matt. xviii. 21-35.

684:8813

Luke vi. 37.

684:8814

Matt. xviii. 21-22.

684:8815

Gen. 4:15, 24.


Next: The Seventh or Final Clause.

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