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  • Concerning the Outward Manifestations by Which This Second Repentance is to Be Accompanied.

    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 ἐξομολόγησις ,8506

    8506 Utter confession.

    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

    8507 For the meaning of “satisfaction,” see Hooker Eccl. Pol. vi. 5, where several references to the present treatise occur. [Elucidation II.]

    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

    8508 Sordibus.

    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 outcries8509

    8509 Cf. Ps. xxii. 1 (in LXX. xxii. 3), xxxviii. 8 (in the LXX. xxxvii. 9). Cf. Heb. v. 7.

    unto the Lord your8510

    8510 Tertullian changes here to the second person, unless Oehler’s “tuum” be a misprint for “suum.”

    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 his8511

    8511 “Suæ,” which looks as if the “tuum” above should be “suum.” [St. James v. 16.]

    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.


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