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ANF02. Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire)
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Chapter XIII.—On First and Second Repentance.

He, then, who has received the forgiveness of sins ought to sin no more. For, in addition to the first and only repentance from sins (this is from the previous sins in the first and heathen life—I mean that in ignorance), there is forthwith proposed to those who have been called, the repentance which cleanses the seat of the soul from transgressions, that faith may be established. And the Lord, knowing the heart, and foreknowing the future, foresaw both the fickleness of man and the craft and subtlety of the devil from the first, from the beginning; how that, envying man for the forgiveness of sins, he would present to the servants of God certain causes of sins; skilfully working mischief, that they might fall together with himself. Accordingly, being very merciful, He has vouch-safed, in the case of those who, though in faith, fall into any transgression, a second repentance; so that should any one be tempted after his calling, overcome by force and fraud, he may receive still a repentance not to be repented of. “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”22782278    Heb. x. 26, 27. But continual and successive repentings for sins differ nothing from the case of those who have not believed at all, except only in their consciousness that they do sin. And I know not which of the two is worst, whether the case of a man who sins knowingly, or of one who, after having repented of his sins, transgresses again. For in the process of proof sin appears on each side,—the sin which in its commission is condemned by the worker of the iniquity, and that of the man who, foreseeing what is about to be done, yet puts his hand to it as a wickedness. And he who perchance gratifies himself in anger and pleasure, gratifies himself in he knows what; and he who, repenting of that in which he gratified himself, by rushing again into pleasure, is near neighbour to him who has sinned wilfully at first. For one, who does again that of which he has repented, and condemning what he does, performs it willingly.

He, then, who from among the Gentiles and from that old life has betaken himself to faith, has obtained forgiveness of sins once. But he who has sinned after this, on his repentance, though he obtain pardon, ought to fear, as one no longer washed to the forgiveness of sins. For not only must the idols which he formerly held as gods, but the works also of his former life, be abandoned by him who has been “born again, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh,”22792279    John i. 13. but in the Spirit; which consists in repenting by not giving way to the same fault. For frequent repentance and readiness to change easily from want of training, is the practice of sin again.22802280    [The penitential system of the early Church was no mere sponge like that of the later Latins, which turns Christ into “the minister of sin.”] The frequent asking of forgiveness, then, for those things in which we often transgress, is the semblance of repentance, not repentance itself. “But the righteousness of the blameless cuts straight paths,”22812281    Prov. xi. 5. says the Scripture. And again, “The righteousness of the innocent will make his way right.”22822282    Prov. xiii. 6. Nay, “as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.”22832283    Ps. ciii. 13. David writes, “They who sow,” then, “in tears, shall reap in joy;”22842284    Ps. cxxvi. 5. those, namely, who confess in penitence. “For blessed are all those that fear the Lord.”22852285    Ps. cxxviii. 1. You see the corresponding blessing in the Gospel. “Fear not,” it is said, “when a man is enriched, and when the glory of his house is increased: because when he dieth he shall leave all, and his glory shall not descend after him.”22862286    Ps. xlix. 16, 17. “But I in Thy I mercy will enter into Thy house. I will worship toward Thy holy temple, in Thy fear: Lord, lead me in Thy righteousness.”22872287    Ps. v. 7, 8. Appetite is then the movement of the mind to or from something.22882288    Adopting the emendation, ὁρμὴ μὲν οὕν φορά. Passion is an excessive appetite exceeding the measures of reason, or appetite unbridled and disobedient to the word. Passions, then, are a perturbation of the soul contrary to nature, in disobedience to reason. But revolt and distraction and disobedience are in our own power, as obedience is in our power. Wherefore voluntary actions are judged. But should one examine each one of the passions, he will find them irrational impulses.


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