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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part III: Of Patience Under Bereavement.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter IX.—Of Patience Under Bereavement.

Not even that species of impatience under the loss of our dear ones is excused, where some assertion of a right to grief acts the patron to it.  For the consideration of the apostle’s declaration must be set before us, who says, “Be not overwhelmed with sadness at the falling asleep of any one, just as the nations are who are without hope.” 9108 And justly; or, believing the resurrection of Christ we believe also in our own, for whose sake He both died and rose again. Since, then, there is certainty as to the resurrection of the dead, grief for death is needless, and impatience of grief is needless. For why should you grieve, if you believe that (your loved one) is not perished? Why should you bear impatiently the temporary withdrawal of him who you believe will return?  That which you think to be death is departure. He who goes before us is not to be lamented, though by all means to be longed for. 9109 That longing also must be tempered with patience. For why should you bear without moderation the fact that one is gone away whom you will presently follow?  Besides, impatience in matters of this kind bodes ill for our hope, and is a dealing insincerely with the faith.  And we wound Christ when we accept not with equanimity the summoning out of this world of any by Him, as if they were to be pitied. “I desire,” says the apostle, “to be now received, and to be with Christ.” 9110 How far better a desire does he exhibit! If, then, we grieve impatiently over such as have attained the desire of Christians, we show unwillingness ourselves to attain it.


Footnotes

713:9108

1 Thess. iv. 13, not very strictly rendered.

713:9109

Desiderandus.

713:9110

Phil. i. 23, again loosely rendered: e.g. ἀναλῦσαι ="to weigh anchor,” is rendered by Tertullian “recipi.”


Next: Of Revenge.

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