Abba John used to say, concerning the soul which wishes to repent: ‘There was in a city a courtesan who had many lovers. One of the governors approached her, saying, “Promise me you will be good, and I will marry you.” She promised his and he took her and brought her to his house. Her lovers seeking her again, said to one another, “That lord has taken her with him to his house, so if we go to his house and he learns of it, he will condemn us. But let us go to the back, and whistle to her. Then, when she recognizes the sound of the whistle she will come down to us; as for us, we shall be unassailable.” When she heard the whistle, the woman stopped her ears and withdrew to the inner chamber and shut the doors.’ The old man said that this courtesan is our soul, that her lovers are the passions and other men; that the lord is Christ; that the inner chamber is the eternal dwelling; those who whistle are the evil demons, but the soul always takes refuge in the Lord.
[Abba John the Dwarf, Apophthegmata Patrum]
And old man was asked by a certain soldier if God received a penitent man. And after heartening him with many words, he said to him at the last, “Tell me, beloved, if your cloak were torn, would you throw it away?” He said, “No, but I would patch it and wear it.” The old man said to him, “If you would spare your garment, shall not God have mercy on His own image?”