44. You do all this, you know well enough, laughing at us in your sleeve: and you profess penitence merely to deceive those to whom you write. Even if your penitence is sincere, as it should be, what is to become of all those souls who for so many years have been led astray by this poisonous doctrine as you call it which you then professed. Besides, who will ever mend his ways on account of your penitence, when that very document, in which you are at once the penitent, the accuser and the judge, sends your readers back to those same doctrines as those which they are to read and to hold. Lastly, even if these things were not so, yet you yourself, after your penitence, have stopped up every avenue of forgiveness. You say that Origen himself repented of these doctrines, and that he sent a document to that effect to Fabian who was at that time Bishop of the city of Rome; and yet after this repentance of his, and after he has been dead a hundred and fifty years, you drag him into court and call for his condemnation. How is it possible then that you should receive forgiveness, even though you repent, since he who before was penitent for emitting those doctrines gains no forgiveness? He wrote just as you have written: he repented as you have repented. You ought therefore either both of you to be absolved for your repentance, or, if you refuse forgiveness to a penitent (which I do not desire to see you insist upon), to be both of you equally condemned. There is a parable of the Gospel which illustrates this. A woman taken in adultery was brought before our Lord by the Jews, so that they might see what judgment he would pronounce according to the law. He, the merciful and pitying Lord, said: “He that is without sin among you let him first cast a stone at her.” And then, it is said, they all departed. The Jews, impious and unbelieving though they were, yet blushed through their own consciousness of guilt; 2923 since they were sinners, they would not appear publicly as executing vengeance on sinners. And the robber upon the cross, said to the other robber who was hanging like him on a cross, and was blaspheming, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing we are in the same condemnation?” But we condemn in others the things of which we ourselves are conscious; yet we neither blush like the Jews nor are softened like the robber.
John viii. 9