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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
On Christian Doctrine: Chapter 29

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 29.—We are to Desire and Endeavor that All Men May Love God.

30. Now of all who can with us enjoy God, we love partly those to whom we render services, partly those who render services to us, partly those who both help us in our need and in turn are helped by us, partly those upon whom we confer no advantage and from whom we look for none.  We ought to desire, however, that they should all join with us in loving God, and all the assistance that we either give them or accept from them should tend to that one end.  For in the theatres, dens of iniquity though they be, if a man is fond of a particular actor, and enjoys his art as a great or even as the very greatest good, he is fond of all who join with him in admiration of his favorite, not for their own sakes, but for the sake of him whom they admire in common; and the more fervent he is in his admiration, the more he works in every way he can to secure new admirers for him, and the more anxious he becomes to show him to others; and if he find any one comparatively indifferent, he does all he can to excite his interest by urging his favorite’s merits:  if, however, he meet with any one who opposes him, he is exceedingly displeased by such a man’s contempt of his favorite, and strives in every way he can to remove it.  Now, if this be so, what does it become us to do who live in the fellowship of the love of God, the enjoyment of whom is true happiness of life, to whom all who love Him owe both their own existence and the love they bear Him, concerning whom we have no fear that any one who comes to know Him will be disappointed in Him, and who desires our love, not for any gain to Himself, but that those who love Him may obtain an eternal reward, even Himself whom they love?  And hence it is that we love even our enemies.  For we do not fear them, seeing they cannot take away from us what we love; but we pity them rather, because the more they hate us the more are they separated from Him whom we love.  For if they would turn to Him, they must of necessity love Him as the supreme good, and love us too as partakers with them in so great a blessing.

Next: Chapter 30

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