Water will quench a flaming fire; and alms makes an atonement for sins.
Read Chapter 3
Eternal salvation is promised not only under the particular name of repentance, of which the blessed apostle Peter says, "Repent and be converted that your sins may be forgiven." John the Baptist and the Lord himself said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." The burden of our sins is also overwhelmed by the affection of love, for "love covers a multitude of sins." In the same way, by the fruits of almsgiving a remedy is also provided for our wounds because "as water extinguishes fire, so does almsgiving extinguish sin." So also the washing away of offenses is gained by the shedding of tears, for "every night I will wash my bed; I will water my couch with tears." Finally, to show that they are not shed in vain, he adds, "Depart from me all you who work iniquity, for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping." Moreover, by means of confession of sins, their absolution is granted, for "I said, I will confess against myself my sin to the Lord, and you forgave the iniquity of m...
The apostle calls people to contrition; I only to a cure. He affirms that riches are a fire; I desire to extract from them water that helps to extinguish the blaze. This is precisely why it is written, "Water extinguishes a lit fire; alms extinguish sins." The apostle attests that damnation is the punishment for riches improperly packed away; I desire to obtain eternal life through these very riches that he says cause eternal damnation to all. Not that I believe that riches will enable anyone who has always lived among the pleasures of the flesh to obtain eternal life if he persists in such sin even up to death"even if he bequeaths all he has when he is at death"s door"unless, in fact, he has previously bid farewell to his sins and taken off his filthy clothes, filled with the filth of his profligacy, and puts on the new robe of repentance, of holiness, from the hands of the apostle who admonishes him. - "Against Avarice 1.8.39–40"