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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chapter XI.—The Objection, Why Do You Suffer If God Cares for You, Answered.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XI.—The Objection, Why Do You Suffer If God Cares for You, Answered.

But, say they, if God cares for you, why are you persecuted and put to death? Has He delivered you to this? No, we do not suppose that the Lord wishes us to be involved in calamities, but that He foretold prophetically what would happen—that we should be persecuted for His name’s sake, slaughtered, and impaled. So that it was not that He wished us to be persecuted, but He intimated beforehand what we shall suffer by the prediction of what would take place, training us to endurance, to which He promised the inheritance, although we are punished not alone, but along with many. But those, it is said, being malefactors, are righteously punished. Accordingly, they unwillingly bear testimony to our righteousness, we being unjustly punished for righteousness’ sake. But the injustice of the judge does not affect the providence of God. For the judge must be master of his own opinion—not pulled by strings, like inanimate machines, set in motion only by external causes. Accordingly he is judged in respect to his judgment, as we also, in accordance with our choice of things desirable, and our endurance. Although we do not wrong, yet the judge looks on us as doing wrong, for he neither knows nor wishes to know about us, but is influenced by unwarranted prejudice; wherefore also he is judged. 2794 Accordingly they persecute us, not from the supposition that we are wrong-doers, but imagining that by the very fact of our being Christians we sin against life in so conducting ourselves, and exhorting others to adopt the like life.

But why are you not helped when persecuted? say they. What wrong is done us, as far as we are concerned, in being released by death to go to the Lord, and so undergoing a change of life, as if a change from one time of life to another? Did we think rightly, we should feel obliged to those who have afforded the means for speedy departure, if it is for love that we bear witness; and if not, we should appear to the multitude to be base men. Had they also known the truth, all would have bounded on to the way, and there would have been no choice. But our faith, being the light of the world, reproves unbelief. “Should Anytus and Melitus kill me, they will not hurt me in the least; for I do not think it right for the better to be hurt by the worse,” [says Socrates]. So that each one of us may with confidence say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear: what shall man do to me?” 2795 “For the souls of the righteous are in the hand of the Lord, and no plague shall touch them.” 2796


Footnotes

423:2794

[Self-condemned. A pathetic description of the indifference of the Roman law to the rights of the people. Pilates all were these judges of Christ’s followers or Gallios at best.]

423:2795

Ps. cxviii. 6.

423:2796

Wisd. iii. 1. [This is pronounced canonical Scripture by the Trent theology, and yet the same theology asserts a purgatory to which none but the faithful are committed.]


Next: Chapter XII.—Basilides’ Idea of Martyrdom Refuted.

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