Argument.-Cyprian Himself Briefly Sets Forth the Occasion
of This Treatise at the Conclusion of His Epistle to Jubaianus as Follows:
"Charity of Spirit, the Honour of Our College, the Bond of Faith, and Priestly
Concord, are Maintained by Us with Patience and Gentleness. For This Reason,
Moreover, We Have, with the Best of Our Poor Abilities, by the Permission
and Inspiration of the Lord, Written a Pamphlet on the Benefit of Patience,
' Which, for the Sake of Our Mutual Love, We Have Transmitted to You." a.d. 256.
1. As I am about to speak, beloved brethren, of patience, and to declare
its advantages and benefits, from what point should I rather begin than
this, that I see that even at this time, for your audience of me, patience
is needful, as you cannot even discharge this duty of hearing and learning
without patience? For wholesome discourse and reasoning are then effectually
learnt, if what is said be patiently heard. Nor do I find, beloved brethren,
among the rest of the ways of heavenly discipline wherein the path of our
hope and faith is directed to the attainment of the divine rewards, anything
of more advantage, either as more useful for life or more helpful to glory,
than that we who are labouring in the precepts of the Lord with the obedience
of fear and devotion, should especially, with our whole watchfulness, be
careful of patience.2
2. Philosophers also profess that they pursue this virtue; but in their
case the patience is as false as their wisdom also is. For whence can he
be either wise or patient, who has neither known the wisdom nor the patience
of God? since He Himself warns us, and says of those who seem to themselves
to be wise in this world, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I
will reprove the understanding of the prudent."3 Moreover, the blessed
Apostle Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, and sent forth for the calling
and training of the heathen, bears witness and instructs us, saying, "See
that no man despoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition
of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ, because
in Him dwelleth all the fulness of divinity."4 And in another place he
says: "Let no man deceive himself; if any man among you thinketh himself
to be wise, let him become a fool to this world, that he may become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,
I will rebuke the wise in their own craftiness." And again: "The Lord knoweth
the thoughts of the wise, that they are foolish."5 Wherefore if the wisdom
among them be not true, the patience also cannot be true. For if he is
wise6 who is lowly and meek-but we do not see that philosophers are either
lowly or meek, but greatly pleasing themselves, and, for the very reason
that they please themselves, displeasing God-it is evident that the patience
is not real among them where there is the insolent audacity of an affected
liberty, and the immodest boastfulness of an exposed and half-naked bosom.
3. But for us, beloved brethren, who are philosophers, not in words,
but in deeds, and do not put forward our wisdom in our garb, but in truth-who
are better acquainted with the consciousness, than with the boast, of virtues-who
do not speak great things, but live them,-let us, as servants and worshippers
of God, show, in our spiritual obedience, the patience which we learn from
heavenly teachings. For we have this virtue in common with God. From Him
patience begins; from Him its glory and its dignity take their rise. The
origin and greatness of patience proceed from God as its author. Man ought
to love the thing which is dear to God; the good which the Divine Majesty
loves, it commends. If God is our Lord and Father, let us imitate the patience
of our Lord as well as our Father; because it behoves servants to be obedient,
no less than it becomes sons not to be degenerate.
4. But what and how great is the patience in God, that, most patiently
enduring the profane temples and the images of earth, and the sacrilegious
rites instituted by men, in contempt of His majesty and honour, He makes
the day to begin and the light of the sun to arise alike upon the good
and the evil; and while He waters the earth with showers, no one is excluded
from His benefits, but upon the righteous equally with the unrighteous
He bestows His undiscriminating rains. We see that with undistinguishing7
equality of patience, at God's behest, the seasons minister to the guilty
and the guiltless, the religious and the impious-those who give thanks
and the unthankful; that the elements wait on them; the winds blow, the
fountains flow, the abundance of the harvests increases, the fruits of
the vineyards ripen,8 the trees are loaded with apples, the groves put
on their leaves, the meadows their verdure; and while God is provoked with
frequent, yea, with continual offences, He softens His indignation, and
in patience waits for the day of retribution, once for all determined;
and although He has revenge in His power, He prefers to keep patience for
a long while, bearing, that is to say, mercifully, and putting off, so
that, if it might be possible, the long protracted mischief may at some
time be changed, and man, involved in the contagion of errors and crimes,
may even though late be converted to God, as He Himself warns and says,
"I do not will the death of him that dieth, so much as that he may return
and live."9 And again," Return unto me, saith the Lord."10 And again: "Return
to the Lord your God; for He is merciful, and gracious, and patient, and
of great pity, and who inclines His judgment towards the evils inflicted."11
Which, moreover, the blessed apostle referring to, and recalling the sinner
to repentance, sets forward, and says: "Or despisest thou the riches of
His goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the
patience and goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy
hardness and impenitent heart thou treasurest up unto thyself wrath in
the day of wrath and of revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who
shall render to every one according to his works."12 He says that God's
judgment is just, because it is tardy, because it is long and greatly,
deferred, so that by the long patience of God man may be benefited for
life eternal.13 Punishment is then executed on the impious and the sinner,
when repentance for the sin can no longer avail.
5. And that we may more fully understand, beloved brethren, that patience
is a thing of God, and that whoever is gentle, and patient, and meek, is
an imitator of God the Father; when the Lord in His Gospel was giving precepts
for salvation, and, bringing forth divine warnings, was instructing His
disciples to perfection, He laid it down, and said, "Ye have heard that
it is said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and have thine enemy in hatred.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them which persecute
you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, who
maketh His sun to rise on the good and on the evil, and raineth upon the
just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward
shall ye have? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye shall salute
your brethren only, what do ye more (than others)? do not even the heathens
the same thing? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven
is perfect."14 He said that the children of God would thus become perfect.
He showed that they were thus completed, and taught that they were restored
by a heavenly birth, if the patience of God our Father dwell in us-if the
divine likeness, which Adam had lost by sin, be manifested and shine in
our actions. What a glory is it to become like to God! what and how great
a felicity, to possess among our virtues, that which may be placed on the
level of divine praises!
6. Nor, beloved brethren, did Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, teach
this in words only; but He fulfilled it also in deeds. And because He had
said that He had come down for this purpose, that He might do the will
of His Father; among the other marvels of His virtues, whereby He showed
forth the marks of a divine majesty, He also maintained the patience of
His Father in the constancy of His endurance. Finally, all His actions,
even from His very advent, are characterized by patience as their associate;
in that, first of all, coming down from that heavenly sublimity to earthly
things, the Son of God did not scorn to put on the flesh of man, and although
He Himself was not a sinner, to bear the sins of others. His immortality
being in the meantime laid aside, He suffers Himself to become mortal,
so that the guiltless may be put to death for the salvation of the guilty.
The Lord is baptized by the servant; and He who is about to bestow remission
of sins, does not Himself disdain to wash His body in the layer of regeneration.
For forty days He fasts, by whom others are feasted. He is hungry, and
suffers famine, that they who had been in hunger of the word and of grace
may be satisfied with heavenly bread. He wrestles with the devil tempting
Him; and, content only to have overcome the enemy, He strives no farther
than by words. He ruled over His disciples not as servants in the power
of a master; but, kind and gentle, He loved them with a brotherly love.
He deigned even to wash the apostles' feet, that since the Lord is such
among His servants, He might teach, by His example, what a fellow-servant
ought to be among his peers and equals. Nor is it to be wondered at, that
among the obedient15 He showed Himself such, since He could bear Judas
even to the last with a long patience-could take meat with His enemy-could
know the household foe, and not openly point him out, nor refuse the kiss
of the traitor. Moreover, in bearing with the Jews, how great equanimity
and how great patience, in turning the unbelieving to the faith by persuasion,
in soothing the unthankful by concession, in answering gently to the contradictors,
in bearing the proud with clemency, in yielding with humility to the persecutors,
in wishing to gather together the slayers of the prophets, and those who
were always rebellious against God, even to the very hour of His cross
7. And moreover, in His very passion and cross, before they had reached
the cruelty of death and the effusion of blood, what infamies of reproach
were patiently heard, what mockings of contumely were suffered, so that
He received16 the spittings of insulters, who with His spittle had a little
before made eyes for a blind man; and He in whose name the devil and his
angels is now scourged by His servants, Himself suffered scourgings! He
was crowned with thorns, who crowns martyrs with eternal flowers. He was
smitten on the face with palms, who gives the true palms to those who overcome.
He was despoiled of His earthly garment, who clothes others in the vesture
of immortality. He was fed with gall, who gave heavenly food. He was given
to drink of vinegar, who appointed the cup of salvation. That guiltless,
that just One,-nay, He who is innocency itself and justice itself,-is counted
among transgressors, and truth is oppressed with false witnesses. He who
shall judge is judged; and the Word of God is led silently to the slaughter.
And when at the cross, of the Lord the stars are confounded, the elements
are disturbed, the earth quakes, night shuts out the day, the sun, that
he may not be compelled to look on the crime of the Jews, withdraws both
his rays and his eyes, He speaks not, nor is moved, nor declares His majesty
even in His very passion itself. Even to the end, all things are borne
perseveringly and constantly, in order that in Christ a full and perfect
patience may be consummated.17
8. And after all these things, He still receives His murderers, if they
will be converted and come to Him; and with a saving patience, He who is
benignant18 to preserve, closes His Church to none. Those adversaries,
those blasphemers, those who were always enemies to His name, if they repent
of their sin, if they acknowledge the crime committed, He receives, not
only to the pardon of their sin, but to the reward of the heavenly kingdom.
What can be said more patient, what more merciful? Even he is made alive
by Christ's blood who has shed Christ's blood. Such and so great is the
patience of Christ; and had it not been such and so great, the Church would
never have possessed Paul as an apostle.19
9. But if we also, beloved brethren, are in Christ; if we put Him on,
if He is the way of our salvation, who follow Christ in the footsteps of
salvation, let us walk by the example of Christ, as the Apostle John instructs
us, saying, "He who saith he abideth in Christ, ought himself also to walk
even as He walked."20 Peter also, upon whom by the Lord's condescension
the Church was founded,21 lays it down in his epistle, and says, "Christ
suffered for us, leaving you an example, that ye should follow His steps,
who did no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was
reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not, but gave
Himself up to him that judged Him unjustly."22
10. Finally, we find that both patriarchs and prophets, and all the
righteous men who in their preceding likeness wore the figure of Christ,
in the praise of their virtues were watchful over nothing more than that
they should preserve patience with a strong and stedfast equanimity. Thus
Abel, who first initiated and consecrated the origin of martyrdom, and
the passion of the righteous man, makes no resistance nor struggles against
his fratricidal23 brother, but with lowliness and meekness he is patiently
slain. Thus Abraham, believing God, and first of all instituting the root
and foundation of faith, when tried in respect of his son, does not hesitate
nor delay, but obeys the commands of God with all the patience of devotion.
And Isaac, prefigured as the likeness of the Lord's victim, when he is
presented by his father for immolation, is found patient. And Jacob, driven
forth by his brother from his country, departs with patience; and afterwards
with greater patience, he suppliantly brings him back to concord with peaceful
gifts, when he is even more impious and persecuting. Joseph, sold by his
brethren and sent away, not only with patience pardons them, but even bountifully
and mercifully bestows gratuitous supplies of corn on them when they come
to him. Moses is frequently contemned by an ungrateful and faithless people,
and almost stoned; and yet with gentleness and patience he entreats the
Lord for those people. But in David, from whom, according to the flesh,
the nativity of Christ springs, how great and marvellous and Christian
is the patience, that he often had it in his power to be able to kill king
Saul, who was persecuting him and desiring to slay him; and yet, chose
rather to save him when placed in his hand, and delivered up to him, not
repaying his enemy in turn, but rather, on the contrary, even avenging
him when slain! In fine, so many prophets were slain, so many martyrs were
honoured with glorious deaths, who all have attained to the heavenly crowns
by the praise of patience. For the crown of sorrows and sufferings cannot
be received unless patience in sorrow and suffering precede it.
11. But that it may be more manifestly and fully known how useful and
necessary patience is, beloved brethren; let the judgment of God be pondered,
which even in the beginning of the world and of the human race, Adam, forgetful
of the commandment, and a transgressor of the given law, received. Then
we shall know how patient in this life we ought to be who are born in such
a state, that we labour here with afflictions and contests. "Because,"
says He, "thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten
of the tree of which alone I had charged thee that thou shouldest not eat,
cursed shall be, the ground in all thy works: in sorrow and in groaning
shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall
it give forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the food of the field. In the
sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread, till thou return into the ground
from which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and to dust shall thou go."24
We are all tied and bound with the chain of this sentence, until, death
being expunged, we depart from this life. In sorrow and groaning we must
of necessity be all the days of our life: it is necessary that we eat our
bread with sweat and labour.
12. Whence every one of us, when he is born and received in the inn
of this world, takes his beginning from tears; and, although still unconscious
and ignorant of all things, he knows nothing else in that very earliest
birth except to weep. By a natural foresight, the untrained soul laments
the anxieties and labours of the mortal life, and even in the beginning
bears witness by its wails and groans to the storms of the world which
it is entering. For the sweat of the brow and labour is the condition of
life so long as it lasts. Nor can there be supplied any consolations to
those that sweat and toil other than patience; which consolations, while
in this world they are fit and necessary for all men, are especially so
for us who are more shaken by the siege of the devil, who, daily standing
in the battle-field, are wearied with the wrestlings of an inveterate and
skilful enemy; for us who, besides the various and continual battles of
temptations, must also in the contest of persecutions25 forsake our patrimonies,
undergo imprisonment, bear chains, spend our lives, endure the sword, the
wild beasts, fires, crucifixions-in fine, all kinds of torments and penalties,
to be endured in the faith and courage of patience; as the Lord Himself
instructs us, and says, "These things have I spoken unto you, that in me
ye might have peace. But in the world ye shall have tribulation; yet be
confident, for I have overcome the world."26 And if we who have renounced
the devil and the world, suffer the tribulations and mischiefs of the devil
and the world with more frequency and violence, how much more ought we
to keep patience, wherewith as our helper and ally, we may bear all mischievous
13. It is the wholesome precept of our Lord and Master: "He that endureth,"
saith He, "unto the end, the same shall be saved; "27 and again, "If ye
continue," saith He, "in my word, ye shall be truly my disciples; and ye
shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."28 We must endure
and persevere, beloved brethren, in order that, being admitted to the hope
of truth and liberty, we may attain to the truth and liberty itself; for
that very fact that we are Christians is the substance of faith and hope.
But that hope and faith may attain to their result, there is need of patience.
For we are not following after present glory, but future, according to
what Paul the apostle also warns us, and says, "We are saved by hope; but
hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?
But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we by patience wait for
it."29 Therefore, waiting and patience are needful, that we may fulfil
that which we have begun to be, and may receive that which we believe and
hope for, according to God's own showing.30 Moreover, in another place,
the same apostle instructs the righteous and the doers of good works, and
them who lay up for themselves treasures in heaven with the increase of
the divine usury, that they also should be patient; and teaches them, saying,
"Therefore, while we have time, let us labour in that which is good unto
all men, but especially to them who are of the household of faith. But
let us not faint in well-doing, for in its season we shall reap."31 He
admonishes that no man should impatiently faint in his labour, that none
should be either called off or overcome by temptations and desist in the
midst of the praise and in the way of glory; and the things that are past
perish, while those which have begun cease to be perfect; as it is written,
"The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in whatever day
he shall transgress; "32 and again, "Hold that which thou hast, that another
take not thy crown."33 Which word exhorts us to persevere with patience
and courage, so that he who strives towards the crown with the praise now
near at hand, may be crowned by the continuance of patience.
14. But patience, beloved brethren, not only, keeps watch over what
is good, but it also repels what is evil. In harmony with the Holy Spirit,
and associated with what is heavenly and divine, it struggles with the
defence of its strength against the deeds of the flesh and the body, wherewith
the soul is assaulted and taken. Let us look briefly into a few things
out of many, that from a few the rest also may be understood. Adultery,
fraud, manslaughter, are mortal crimes. Let patience be strong and stedfast
in the heart; and neither is the sanctified body and temple of God polluted
by adultery, nor is the innocence dedicated to righteousness stained with
the contagion of fraud; nor, after the Eucharist carried in it,34 is the
hand spotted with the sword and blood.
15. Charity is the bond of brotherhood, the foundation of peace, the
holdfast and security of unity, which is greater than both hope and faith,
which excels both good works and martyrdoms, which will abide with us always,
eternal with God in the kingdom of heaven. Take from it patience; and deprived
of it, it does not endure. Take from it the substance of bearing and of
enduring, and it continues with no roots nor strength. The apostle, finally,
when he would speak of charity, joined to it endurance and patience. "Charity,"
he says, "is large-souled; charity is kind; charity envieth not, is not
puffed up, is not provoked, thinketh not evil; loveth all things, believeth
all things, hopeth all things, beareth all things."35 Thence he shows that
it can tenaciously persevere, because it knows how to endure all things.
And in another place: "Forbearing one another," he says, "in love, using
every effort to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."36 He
proved that neither unity nor peace could be kept unless brethren should
cherish one another with mutual toleration, and should keep the bond of
concord by the intervention of patience.
16. What beyond;-that you should not swear nor curse; that you should
not seek again your goods when taken from you; that, when you receive a
buffet, you should give your other cheek to the smiter; that you should
forgive a brother who sins against you, not only seven times, but seventy
times seven times,37 but, moreover, all his sins altogether; that you should
love your enemies; that you should offer prayer for your adversaries and
persecutors? Can you accomplish these things unless you maintain38 the
stedfastness of patience and endurance? And this we see done in the case
of Stephen, who, when he was slain by the Jews with violence and stoning,
did not ask for vengeance for himself, but for pardon for his murderers,
saying, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge."39 It behoved the first
martyr of Christ thus to be, who, fore-running the martyrs that should
follow him in a glorious death, was not only the preacher of the Lord's
passion, but also the imitator of His most patient gentleness. What shall
I say of anger, of discord, of strife, which things ought not to be found
in a Christian? Let there be patience in the breast, and these things cannot
have place there; or should they try to enter, they are quickly excluded
and depart, that a peaceful abode may continue in the heart, where it delights
the God of peace to dwell. Finally, the apostle warns us, and teaches,
saying: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye are sealed unto
the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and anger, and wrath, and clamour,
and blasphemy, be put away from you."40 For if the Christian have departed
from rage and carnal contention as if from the hurricanes of the sea, and
have already begun to be tranquil and meek in the harbour of Christ, he
ought to admit neither anger nor discord within his breast, since he must
neither return evil for evil, nor bear hatred.
17. And moreover, also, for the varied ills of the flesh, and the frequent
and severe torments of the body, wherewith the human race is daily wearied
and harassed, patience is necessary. For since in that first transgression
of the commandment strength of body departed with immortality, and weakness
came on with death-and strength cannot be received unless when immortality
also has been received-it behoves us, in this bodily frailty and weakness,
always to struggle and to fight. And this struggle and encounter cannot
be sustained but by the strength of patience. But as we are to be examined
and searched out, diverse sufferings are introduced; and a manifold kind
of temptations is inflicted by the losses of property, by the heats of
fevers, by the torments of wounds, by the loss of those dear to us. Nor
does anything distinguish between the unrighteous and the righteous more,
than that in affliction the unrighteous man impatiently complains and blasphemes,
while the righteous is proved by his patience, as it is written: "In pain
endure, and in thy low estate have patience; for gold and silver are tried
in the fire."41
18. Thus Job was searched out and proved, and was raised up to the very
highest pinnacle of praise by the virtue of patience. What darts of the
devil were sent forth against him! what tortures were put in use! The loss
of his estate is inflicted, the privation of a numerous offspring is ordained
for him. The master, rich in estate, and the father, richer in children,
is on a sudden neither master nor father! The wasting of wounds is added;
and, moreover, an eating pest of worms consumes his festering and wasting
limbs. And that nothing at all should remain that Job did not experience
in his trials, the devil arms his wife also, making use of that old device
of his wickedness, as if he could deceive and mislead all by women, even
as he did in the beginning of the world. And yet Job is not broken down
by his severe and repeated conflicts, nor the blessing of God withheld
from being declared in the midst of those difficulties and trials of his,
by the victory of patience. Tobias also, who, after the sublime works of
his justice and mercy, was tried with the loss of his eyes, in proportion
as he patiently endured his blindness, in that proportion deserved greatly
of God by the praise of patience.
19. And, beloved brethren, that the benefit of patience may still more
shine forth, let us consider, on the contrary, what mischief impatience
may cause. For as patience is the benefit of Christ, so, on the other hand,
impatience is the mischief of the devil; and as one in whom Christ dwells
and abides is found patient, so he appears always impatient whose mind
the wickedness of the devil possesses. Briefly let us look at the very
beginnings. The devil suffered with impatience that man was made in the
image of God.42 Hence he was the first to perish and to ruin others. Adam,
contrary to the heavenly command with respect to the deadly food, by impatience
fell into death; nor did he keep the grace received from God under the
guardianship of patience. And in order that Cain should put his brother
to death, he was impatient of his sacrifice and gift; and in that Esau
descended from the rights of the first-born to those of the younger, he
lost his priority by impatience for the pottage. Why was the Jewish people
faithless and ungrateful in respect of the divine benefits? Was it not
the crime of impatience, that they first departed from God? Not being able
to bear the delays of Moses conferring with God, they dared to ask for
profane gods, that they might call the head of an ox and an earthen image
leaders of their march; nor did they ever desist from their impatience,
until, impatient always of docility and of divine admonition, they put
to death their prophets and all the righteous men, and plunged even into
the crime of the crucifixion and bloodshedding of the Lord. Moreover, impatience
makes heretics in the Church, and, after the likeness of the Jews, drives
them in opposition to the peace and charity of Christ as rebels, to hostile
and raging hatred.43 And, not at length to enumerate single cases, absolutely
everything which patience, by its works, builds up to glory, impatience
casts down into ruin.
20. Wherefore, beloved brethren, having diligently pondered both the
benefits of patience and the evils of impatience, let us hold fast with
full watchfulness the patience whereby we abide in Christ, that with Christ
we may attain to God; which patience, copious and manifold, is not restrained
by narrow limits, nor confined by strait boundaries. The virtue of patience
is widely manifest, and its fertility and liberality proceed indeed from
a source of one name, but are diffused by overflowing streams through many
ways of glory; nor can anything in our actions avail for the perfection
of praise, unless from this it receives the substance of its perfection.
It is patience which both commends and keeps us to God. It is patience,
too, which assuages anger, which bridles the tongue, governs the mind,
guards peace, rules discipline, breaks the force of lust, represses the
violence of pride, extinguishes the fire of enmity, checks the power of
the rich, soothes the want of the poor, protects a blessed integrity in
virgins, a careful purity in widows, in those who are united and married
a single affection. It makes men humble in prosperity, brave in adversity,
gentle towards wrongs and contempts. It teaches us quickly to pardon those
who wrong us; and if you yourself do wrong, to entreat long and earnestly.
It resists temptations, suffers persecutions, perfects passions and martyrdoms.
It is patience which firmly fortifies the foundations of our faith. It
is this which lifts up on high the increase of our hope. It is this which
directs our doing, that we may hold fast the way of Christ while we walk
by His patience. It is this that makes us to persevere as sons of God,
while we imitate our Father's patience.
21. But since I know, beloved brethren, that very many are eager, either
on account of the burden or the pain of smarting wrongs, to be quickly
avenged of those who act harshly and rage against them,44 we must not withhold
the fact in the furthest particular, that placed as we are in the midst
of these storms of a jarring world, and, moreover, the persecutions both
of Jews or Gentiles, and heretics, we may patiently wait for the day of
(God's) vengeance, and not hurry to revenge our suffering with a querulous45
haste, since it is written, "Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, in the day
of my rising up for a testimony; for my judgment is to the congregations
of the nations, that I may take hold on the kings, and pour out upon them
my fury."46 The Lord commands us to wait,47 and to bear with brave patience
the day of future vengeance; and He also speaks in the Apocalypse, saying,
"Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for now the time is
at hand for them that persevere in injuring to injure, and for him that
is filthy to be filthy still; but for him that is righteous to do things
still more righteous, and likewise for him that is holy to do things still
more holy. Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render
to every man according to his deeds."48 Whence also the martyrs, crying
out and hastening with grief breaking forth to their revenge, are bidden
still to wait, and to give patience for the times to be fulfilled and the
martyrs to be completed. "And when He had opened," says he, "the fifth
seal, I saw under the altar of God the souls of them that were slain for
the word of God, and for their testimony; and they cried with a loud voice,
saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge
our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And there were given to them
each white robes; and it was said unto them that they should rest yet for
a little season, until the number of their fellow-servants and brethren
is fulfilled, who afterwards shall be slain after their example."49
22. But when shall come the divine vengeance for the righteous blood,
the Holy Spirit declares by Malachi the prophet, saying, "Behold, the day
of the Lord cometh, burning as an oven; and all the aliens and all the
wicked shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith
the Lord."50 And this we read also in the Psalms, where the approach of
God the Judge is announced as worthy to be reverenced for the majesty of
His judgment: "God shall come manifest, our God, and shall not keep I silence;
a fire shall burn before Him, and round about Him a great tempest. He shall
call the heaven above, and the earth beneath, that He may separate His
people. Gather His saints together unto Him, who establish His covenant
in sacrifices; and the heavens shall declare His righteousness, for God
is the Judge."51 And Isaiah foretells the same things, saying: "For, behold,
the Lord shall come like a fire, and His chariot as a storm, to render
vengeance in anger; for in the fire of the Lord they shall be judged, and
with His sword shall they be wounded."52 And again: "The Lord God of hosts
shall go forth, and shall crumble the war to pieces; He shall stir up the
battle, and shall cry out against His enemies with strength, I have held
my peace; shall I always hold my peace? "53
23. But who is this that says that he has held his peace before, and
will not hold his peace for ever? Surely it is He who was led as a sheep
to the slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is without voice, so
He opened not His mouth. Surely it is He who did not cry, nor was His voice
heard in the streets. Surely He who was not rebellious, neither contradicted,
when He offered His back to stripes, and His cheeks to the palms of the
hands; neither turned away His face from the foulness of spitting. Surely
it is He who, when He was accused by the priests and elders, answered nothing,
and, to the wonder of Pilate, kept a most patient silence. This is He who,
although He was silent in His passion, yet by and by will not be silent
in His vengeance. This is our God, that is, not the God of all, but of
the faithful and believing; and He, when He shall come manifest in His
second advent, will not be silent.54 For although He came first shrouded
in humility, yet He shall come manifest in power.
24. Let us wait for Him, beloved brethren, our Judge and Avenger, who
shall equally avenge with Himself the congregation of His Church, and the
number of all the righteous from the beginning of the world. Let him who
hurries, and is too impatient for his revenge, consider that even He Himself
is not yet avenged who is the Avenger. God the Father ordained His Son
to be adored; and the Apostle Paul, mindful of the divine command, lays
it down, and says: "God hath exalted Him, and given Him a name which is
above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things
heavenly, and things earthly, and things beneath."55 And in the Apocalypse
the angel withstands John, who wishes to worship him,56 and says: "See
thou do it not; for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren. Worship
Jesus the Lord."57 How great is the Lord Jesus, and how great is His patience,
that He who is adored in heaven is not yet avenged on earth! Let us, beloved
brethren, consider His patience in our persecutions and sufferings; let
us give an obedience full of expectation to His advent; and let us not
hasten, servants as we are, to be defended before our Lord with irreligious
and immodest eagerness. Let us rather press onward and labour, and, watching
with our whole heart, and stedfast to all endurance, let us keep the Lord's
precepts; so that when that day of anger and vengeance shall come, we may
not be punished with the impious and sinners, but may be honoured with
the righteous and those that fear God.
1 Having at the outset distinguished true patience from
the false patience of philosophers, he commends Christian patience by the
patience of God, of Christ, and of all righteous men. He further proves,
as well by Scripture as by reason, and, moreover, by the instances of Job
and Tobias, that not only is patience useful, but that it is needful also;
and in order that the excellence of patience may shine forht the more by
contra.it with the vice opposed to it, he sets forth what is the evil of
impatience. Finally, he reproves the desire of vengeance, and teaches that
revenge ought, according to Scripture, to be left to God rather than to
be arrogated to ourselves. If in any writing Cyprian is an imitator of
Tertullian, assuredly in this he imitates that writer's treatise On Patience.
[See vol. iii. p. 707.]
2 [Hermas, vol. ii. 23, 49; also Tertullian p 714. and
elucidation, p. 717.]
3 Isa. xxix. 14.
4 Col. ii. 8, 10.
5 1 Cor. iii. 18-20.
6 The Oxford edition (Treatise ix.), and many others
7 " Inseparabili."
8 The original here is read variously "maturescere" and"
9 Ezek. xviii 32.
10 Mal. iii. 7. The Oxford edition omits this quotation,
and introduces the next with the words, "And again the prophet."
11 Joel ii. 13.
12 Rom. ii. 4-6.
13 [" Deus patiens quia aeternus" (Augustine).]
14 Matt. v. 43-48.
15 Baluzius reads, "compares obaudientes "-His obedient
peers. The mss. have "obaudientes" only.
16 Erasmus adds, "with patience."
17 [This sublime passage recalls Bacon's Paradoxes. See
p. 237, note 3, supra.]
18 Some editors insert "and patient."
19 [1 Tim. i. 3. A striking suggestion, put in our author's
20 1 John ii. 6.
21 [See Elucidation VII. The Trent Council itself (on
Matt. xvi. 18) affirms this of the Creed, not Peter. Vol. iv. pp. 99 and
22 1 Pet. ii, 21-23, with a singular departure from the
23 According to some, "parricidal."
24 Gen. iii. 17-19.
25 [How practical this treatise in an age when to be
a Christian meant to be prepared for all these things! "Fiery trials" the
26 John xvi. 33.
27 Matt. x. 22.
28 John viii. 31, 32.
29 Rom. viii. 24, 25.
30 A common reading here is "giving" instead of" showing,"
scil. "praestante" for "representante."
31 Gal. vi. 10, 9.
32 Ezek. xxxiii. 12.
33 Rev. iii. 11.
34 The older editions have "gustatam," "tasted," instead
of "gestatam," " carried," as above. [See page p. 350, supra. Also St.
Cyril. Elucidation VIII.]
35 1 Cor. xiii. 4-7.
36 Eph. iv. 2, 3.
37 Manutius, Pamelius, and others add, "not only seventy
times seven times."
38 Or, "them with the stedfastness of patience," etc.
39 Acts vii. 60.
40 Eph. iv. 30, 31.
41 Ecclus. ii. 4, 5.
42 [Admirably worked out in Messiasand Anti-Messias,
by the Rev. C. I. Black, ed. London, Masters, 1854.]
43 [The downfall of Novatian and of Arius and others
seems largely attributable to this sin. They could not await God's time
to give them influence and power for good. See quotation from Massillon,
vol. iii. p. 718, this series. Also Tertull., iii. p. 677.]
44 The Oxford edition adds here, according to some authorities,
"and will not put off the recompense of evils until that day of last judgment,
we exhort you, for the meanwhile, embrace with us this benefit of patience,
that," etc.; and it omits the following ten words.
45 On the authority of one codex, Pamelius here adds,
46 Zeph. iii. 8.
47 "Dearest brethren," Oxford edit.
48 Rev. xxii. 10-12.
49 Rev. vi. 9-11.
50 Mal. iv. 1.
51 Ps. l. 3 6.
52 Isa. lxvi. 15, 16.
53 Isa. xlii. 13, 14.
54 [Ps. l. 3.]
55 Phil. ii. 9, 10.
56 [Origen, vol. iv. p. 544, this series.]
57 Rev. xxii. 9; [also Rev. xix. 10. And compare Acts
x. 26, and Acts xiv. 14, 15; also Col. ii. 18.]