Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part III: Patience Both Antecedent and Subsequent to Faith.
Chapter VI.—Patience Both Antecedent and Subsequent to Faith.
Accordingly it is patience which is both subsequent and antecedent to faith. In short, Abraham believed God, and was accredited by Him with righteousness; 9075 but it was patience which proved his faith, when he was bidden to immolate his son, with a view to (I would not say the temptation, but) the typical attestation of his faith. But God knew whom He had accredited with righteousness. 9076 So heavy a precept, the perfect execution whereof was not even pleasing to the Lord, he patiently both heard, and (if God had willed) would have fulfilled. Deservedly then was he “blessed,” because he was “faithful;” deservedly “faithful,” because “patient.” So faith, illumined by patience, when it was becoming propagated among the nations through “Abrahams seed, which is Christ,” 9077 and was superinducing grace over the law, 9078 made patience her pre-eminent coadjutrix for amplifying and fulfilling the law, because that alone had been lacking unto the doctrine of righteousness. For men were of old wont to require “eye for eye, and tooth for tooth” 9079 and to repay with usury “evil with evil;” for, as yet, patience was not on earth, because faith was not either. Of course, meantime, impatience used to enjoy the opportunities which the law gave. That was easy, while the Lord and Master of patience was absent. But after He has supervened, and has united 9080 the grace of faith with patience, now it is no longer lawful to assail even with word, nor to say “fool” 9081 even, without “danger of the judgment.” Anger has been prohibited, our spirits retained, the petulance of the hand checked, the poison of the tongue 9082 extracted. The law has found more than it has lost, while Christ says, “Love your personal enemies, and bless your cursers, and pray for your persecutors, that ye may be sons of your heavenly Father.” 9083 Do you see whom patience gains for us as a Father? In this principal precept the universal discipline of patience is succinctly comprised, since evil-doing is not conceded even when it is deserved.
See Gen. 15:6, Rom. 4:3, 9, 22, Gal. 3:6, Jas. 2:23.711:9076
i.e. the trial was necessary not to prove his faith to God, who knows all whom He accounts righteous, but “typically” to us.711:9077
Gal. iii. 16.711:9078
John 1:17, Rom. 6:14, 15.711:9079
Matt. vi. 38, and the references there given.711:9080
See Matt. v. 22; and Wordsworth in loco, who thinks it probable that the meaning is “apostate.”711:9082
Ps. 40:3, Rom. 3:13, Jas. 3:8.711:9083
Matt. 5:44, 45.
Next: The Causes of Impatience, and Their Correspondent Precepts.
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