But, if anyone has pushed on to the very extremity of wickedness, and chooses to return thence towards the path of virtue, God accepts and welcomes, and does everything so as to restore him to his former position.
And He does what is yet more merciful; for even should anyone not manifest complete repentance, he does not pass by one which is small and insignificant, but assigns a great reward even to this.
This is evident from what Esaias the prophet says concerning the people of the Jews, speaking on this wise:
“On account of his sin I put him to pain for a little while, and smote him, and turned my face away from him, and he was pained, and walked sorrowfully, and then I healed him, and comforted him” (Isaiah 57;17-18).
[…] And after this again, Manasses, having…subverted the legal form of worship, and shut up the temple, and caused the deceit of idolatry to flourish, and having become more ungodly than all who were before him, when he afterwards repented, was ranked amongst the friends of God.
Now if, looking to the magnitude of his own iniquities, he had despaired of restoration and repentance, he would have missed all which he afterwards obtained.
But as it was, looking to the boundlessness of God’s tender mercy instead of the enormity of his transgressions, and having broken in sunder the bonds of the devil, he rose up and contended with him, and finished the good course (2 Chron. 33:10-19).
And not only by what was done to these men, but also by the words of the prophet does God destroy the counsels of despair, speaking on this wise: “To-day, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation” (Psalm 94:9).
Now that expression “to-day,” may be uttered at every time of life, even on the verge of old age, if you desire it: for repentance is judged not by quantity of time, but by disposition of the soul.
For the Ninevites did not need many days to blot out their sin, but the short space of one day availed to efface all their iniquity.
And the robber also did not take a long time to effect his entrance into Paradise, but in such a brief moment as one might occupy in uttering a single word, did he wash off all the sins which he had committed in his whole life, and received the prize bestowed by the divine approval even before the Apostles.
And we also see the martyrs obtain glorious crowns for themselves in the course, not of many years, but of a few days, and often in a single day only.
John Chrysostom (c.347-407): An exhortation to Theodore after his fall, 1, 6.