Is there no reality in the penitence thus sealed and witnessed by good works?
This morbid meddling of conscience with an immaterial matter betokened, it is to be feared, no genuine and steadfast penitence, but something doubtful, something that might be deeply wrong beneath.
If they would serve their fellowmen, let them do it by making manifest the power and reality of conscience, in constraining them to penitential self-abasement!
Was it but the mockery of penitence?
Of penitence, there has been none!
Here had been her sin; here, her sorrow; and here was yet to be her penitence.
There would have been no scandal, indeed, nor peril to the holy whiteness of the clergyman’s good fame, had she visited him in his own study, where many a penitent, ere now, had confessed sins of perhaps as deep a dye as the one betokened by the scarlet letter.