They formed a new path to Heaven, to tread where no one had tread before.
As public penance finally decayed, and auricular confession took its place, these were superseded by the Summae de Poenitentia, - law-books in the strictest sense.
He points out the equivocal character of the word poenitentia, which meant both " penance " and " penitence "; he declared that " true contrition seeks punishment, while the ampleness of pardons relaxes it and causes men to hate it."
Martyres (perhaps the earliest of all), De baptismo haereticorum (now lost), De baptismo, De poenitentia, De oratione (the last three written for catechumens), De patientia, Ad uxorem Libri II., De praescriptione haereticorum, and Adv.
The De spectaculis and De idololatria show that Tertullian was already in a certain sense a Montanist before he formally went over to that creed; on the other hand, his De poenitentia proves that his earlier views on church discipline were much more tolerant than his later.
His development is chiefly noteworthy in regard to these two leading points - the relation of the evangelium or doctrine of free grace (I) to free will and moral ability, and (2) to the law and poenitentia or the good works connected with repentance.