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Chapter VIII.—Examples from Scripture to Prove the Lord’s Willingness to Pardon.

This if you doubt, unravel84898489    Evolve: perhaps simply ="read.” the meaning of “what the Spirit saith to the churches.”84908490    Rev. ii. 7, 11, 17, 29; iii. 6, 13, 21. He imputes to the Ephesians “forsaken love;”84918491    Rev. ii. 4. reproaches the Thyatirenes with “fornication,” and “eating of things sacrificed to idols;”84928492    Rev. ii. 20. accuses the Sardians of “works not full;”84938493    Rev. iii. 2. censures the Pergamenes for teaching perverse things;84948494    Rev. ii. 14, 15. upbraids the Laodiceans for trusting to their riches;84958495    Rev. iii. 17. and yet gives them all general monitions to repentance—under comminations, it is true; but He would not utter comminations to one unrepentant if He did not forgive the repentant. The matter were doubtful if He had not withal elsewhere demonstrated this profusion of His clemency. Saith He not,84968496    Jer. viii. 4 (in LXX.) appears to be the passage meant. The Eng. Ver. is very different. “He who hath fallen shall rise again, and he who hath been averted shall be converted?” He it is, indeed, who “would have mercy rather than sacrifices.”84978497    Hos. vi. 6; Matt. ix. 13. The words in Hosea in the LXX. are, διότι ἕλεος θέλω ἤ θυσίαν (al. καὶ οὐ θυσίαν). The heavens, and the angels who are there, are glad at a man’s repentance.84988498    Luke xv. 7, 10. Ho! you sinner, be of good cheer! you see where it is that there is joy at your return.  What meaning for us have those themes of the Lord’s parables? Is not the fact that a woman has lost a drachma, and seeks it and finds it, and invites her female friends to share her joy, an example of a restored sinner?84998499    Luke xv. 8–10. There strays, withal, one little ewe of the shepherd’s; but the flock was not more dear than the one: that one is earnestly sought; the one is longed for instead of all; and at length she is found, and is borne back on the shoulders of the shepherd himself; for much had she toiled85008500    Or, “suffered.” in straying.85018501    Luke xv. 3–7. That most gentle father, likewise, I will not pass over in silence, who calls his prodigal son home, and willingly receives him repentant after his indigence, slays his best fatted calf, and graces his joy with a banquet.85028502    Luke xv. 11–32. Why not?  He had found the son whom he had lost; he had felt him to be all the dearer of whom he had made a gain. Who is that father to be understood by us to be?  God, surely: no one is so truly a Father;85038503    Cf. Matt. xxiii. 9; and Eph. iii. 14, 15, in the Greek. no one so rich in paternal love. He, then, will receive you, His own son,85048504    Publicly enrolled as such in baptism; for Tertullian here is speaking solely of the “second repentance.” back, even if you have squandered what you had received from Him, even if you return naked—just because you have returned; and will joy more over your return than over the sobriety of the other;85058505    See Luke xv. 29–32. but only if you heartily repent—if you compare your own hunger with the plenty of your Father’s “hired servants”—if you leave behind you the swine, that unclean herd—if you again seek your Father, offended though He be, saying, “I have sinned, nor am worthy any longer to be called Thine.”  Confession of sins lightens, as much as dissimulation aggravates them; for confession is counselled by 664(a desire to make) satisfaction, dissimulation by contumacy.

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