Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part III: Duty of Imitating Our Master Taught Us by Slaves. Even by Beasts. Obedient Imitation is Founded on Patience.
Chapter IV.—Duty of Imitating Our Master Taught Us by Slaves. Even by Beasts. Obedient Imitation is Founded on Patience.
Therefore, if we see all servants of probity and right feeling shaping their conduct suitably to the disposition of their lord; if, that is, the art of deserving favour is obedience, 9031 while the rule of obedience is a compliant subjection: how much more does it behove us to be found with a character in accordance with our Lord,—servants as we are of the p. 709 living God, whose judgment on His servants turns not on a fetter or a cap of freedom, but on an eternity either of penalty or of salvation; for the shunning of which severity or the courting of which liberality there needs a diligence in obedience 9032 as great as are the comminations themselves which the severity utters, or the promises which the liberality freely makes. 9033 And yet we exact obedience 9034 not from men only, who have the bond of their slavery under their chin, 9035 or in any other legal way are debtors to obedience, 9036 but even from cattle, 9037 even from brutes; 9038 understanding that they have been provided and delivered for our uses by the Lord. Shall, then, creatures which God makes subject to us be better than we in the discipline of obedience? 9039 Finally, (the creatures) which obey, acknowledge their masters. Do we hesitate to listen diligently to Him to whom alone we are subjected—that is, the Lord? But how unjust is it, how ungrateful likewise, not to repay from yourself the same which, through the indulgence of your neighbour, you obtain from others, to him through whom you obtain it! Nor needs there more words on the exhibition of obedience 9040 due from us to the Lord God; for the acknowledgment 9041 of God understands what is incumbent on it. Lest, however, we seem to have inserted remarks on obedience 9042 as something irrelevant, (let us remember) that obedience 9043 itself is drawn from patience. Never does an impatient man render it, or a patient fail to find pleasure 9044 in it. Who, then, could treat largely (enough) of the good of that patience which the Lord God, the Demonstrator and Acceptor of all good things, carried about in His own self? 9045 To whom, again, would it be doubtful that every good thing ought, because it pertains 9046 to God, to be earnestly pursued with the whole mind by such as pertain to God? By means of which (considerations) both commendation and exhortation 9047 on the subject of patience are briefly, and as it were in the compendium of a prescriptive rule, established. 9048
“Obsequium,” distinguished by Döderlein from “obedientia,” as a more voluntary and spontaneous thing, founded less on authority than respect and love.709:9032
“Pollicetur,” not “promittit.”709:9034
“Subnixis.” Perhaps this may be the meaning, as in Virg. Æn. iv. 217. But Oehler notices “subnexis” as a conjecture of Jos. Scaliger, which is very plausible, and would mean nearly the same. Mr. Dodgson renders “supported by their slavery;” and Oehler makes “subnixis” ="præditis,” “instructis.” [Elucidation II.]709:9036
Pecudibus,” i.e. tame domestic cattle.709:9038
“Bestiis,” irrational creatures, as opposed to “homines,” here apparently wild beasts.709:9039
Obsequii. For the sentiment, compare Isa. i. 3.709:9040
See above, “the creatures…acknowledge their masters.”709:9042
“Oblectatur” Oehler reads with the mss. The editors, as he says, have emended “Obluctatur,” which Mr. Dodgson reads.709:9045
See the previous chapter.709:9046
See the previous chapter.709:9047
See chap. i.709:9048
[All our authors instances of this principle of the Præscriptio are noteworthy, as interpreting its use in the Advs. Hæreses.]
Next: As God is the Author of Patience So the Devil is of Impatience.
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