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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part III: General Summary of the Virtues and Effects of Patience.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XV.—General Summary of the Virtues and Effects of Patience.

So amply sufficient a Depositary of patience is God. If it be a wrong which you deposit in His care, He is an Avenger; if a loss, He is a Restorer; if pain, He is a Healer; if death, He is a Reviver. What honour is granted to Patience, to have God as her Debtor! And not without reason: for she keeps all His decrees; she has to do with all His mandates. She fortifies faith; is the pilot of peace; assists charity; establishes humility; waits long for repentance; sets her seal on confession; rules the flesh; preserves the spirit; bridles the tongue; restrains the hand; tramples temptations under foot; drives away scandals; gives their crowning grace to martyrdoms; consoles the poor; teaches the rich moderation; overstrains not the weak; exhausts not the strong; is the delight of the believer; invites the Gentile; commends the servant to his lord, and his lord to God; adorns the woman; makes the man approved; is loved in childhood, praised in youth, looked up to in age; is beauteous in either sex, in every time of life. Come, now, see whether 9177 we have a general idea of her mien and habit.  Her countenance is tranquil and peaceful; her brow serene 9178 contracted by no wrinkle of sadness or of anger; her eyebrows evenly relaxed p. 717 in gladsome wise, with eyes downcast in humility, not in unhappiness; her mouth sealed with the honourable mark of silence; her hue such as theirs who are without care and without guilt; the motion of her head frequent against the devil, and her laugh threatening; 9179 her clothing, moreover, about her bosom white and well fitted to her person, as being neither inflated nor disturbed.  For Patience sits on the throne of that calmest and gentlest Spirit, who is not found in the roll of the whirlwind, nor in the leaden hue of the cloud, but is of soft serenity, open and simple, whom Elias saw at his third essay. 9180 For where God is, there too is His foster-child, namely Patience. When God’s Spirit descends, then Patience accompanies Him indivisibly. If we do not give admission to her together with the Spirit, will (He) always tarry with us? Nay, I know not whether He would remain any longer. Without His companion and handmaid, He must of necessity be straitened in every place and at every time. Whatever blow His enemy may inflict He will be unable to endure alone, being without the instrumental means of enduring.



Si. This is Oehler’s reading, who takes “si” to be ="an.” But perhaps “sis” (="si vis”), which is Fr. Junius’ correction, is better:  “Come, now, let us, if you please, give a general sketch of her mien and habit.”


Pura; perhaps “smooth.”


Compare with this singular feature, Isa. xxxvii. 22.


i.e., as Rigaltius (referred to by Oehler), explains, after the two visions of angels who appeared to him and said, “Arise and eat.” See 1 Kings xix. 4-13. [It was the fourth, but our author having mentioned two, inadvertently calls it the third, referring to the “still small voice,” in which Elijah saw His manifestation.]

Next: The Patience of the Heathen Very Different from Christian Patience. Theirs Doomed to Perdition. Ours Destined to Salvation.

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