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On Repentance by Tertullian

Chapter XII.--Final Considerations to Induce to Exomologesis.

If you shrink back from exomologesis, consider in your heart the hell, 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 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 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 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. Shall the sinner, knowing that exomologesis has been instituted by the Lord for his restoration, pass that by which restored the Babylonian king 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 pursuing the once afflicted people of God, long denied to their Lord, rushed into the battle -- 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: for repentance and her handmaid exomologesis he had cast away.

Why should I add more touching these two planks (as it were) of human salvation, caring more for the business of the pen than the duty of my conscience? For, sinner as I am of every dye, 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, is not silent.

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