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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part III: The Causes of Impatience, and Their Correspondent Precepts.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VII.—The Causes of Impatience, and Their Correspondent Precepts.

Now, however, while we run through the causes of impatience, all the other precepts also will answer in their own places. If our spirit is aroused by the loss of property, it is commonished by the Lord’s Scriptures, in almost every place, to a contemning of the world; 9084 nor is there any more powerful exhortation to contempt of money submitted 9085 (to us), than (the fact) the Lord Himself is found amid no riches. He always justifies the poor, fore-condemns the rich. So He fore-ministered to patience “loss,” and to opulence “contempt” (as portion); 9086 demonstrating, by means of (His own) repudiation of riches, that hurts done to them also are not to be much regarded. Of that, therefore, which we have not the smallest need to seek after, because the Lord did not seek after it either, we ought to endure without heart-sickness the cutting down or taking away.  “Covetousness,” the Spirit of the Lord has through the apostle pronounced “a root of all evils.” 9087 Let us not interpret that covetousness as consisting merely in the concupiscence of what is another’s: for even what seems ours is another’s; for nothing is ours, since all things are God’s, whose are we also ourselves. And so, if, when suffering from a loss, we feel impatiently, grieving for what is lost from what is not our own, we shall be detected as bordering on covetousness:  we seek what is another’s when we ill brook losing what is another’s. He who is greatly stirred with impatience of a loss, does, by giving things earthly the precedence over things heavenly, sin directly 9088 against God; for the Spirit, which he has received from the Lord, he p. 712 greatly shocks for the sake of a worldly matter. Willingly, therefore, let us lose things earthly, let us keep things heavenly. Perish the whole world, 9089 so I may make patience my gain! In truth, I know not whether he who has not made up his mind to endure with constancy the loss of somewhat of his, either by theft, or else by force, or else even by carelessness, would himself readily or heartily lay hand on his own property in the cause of almsgiving:  for who that endures not at all to be cut by another, himself draws the sword on his own body? Patience in losses is an exercise in bestowing and communicating. Who fears not to lose, finds it not irksome to give. Else how will one, when he has two coats, give the one of them to the naked, 9090 unless he be a man likewise to offer to one who takes away his coat his cloak as well? 9091 How shall we fashion to us friends from mammon, 9092 if we love it so much as not to put up with its loss? We shall perish together with the lost mammon.  Why do we find here, where it is our business to lose9093 To exhibit impatience at all losses is the Gentiles’ business, who give money the precedence perhaps over their soul; for so they do, when, in their cupidities of lucre, they encounter the gainful perils of commerce on the sea; when, for money’s sake, even in the forum, there is nothing which damnation (itself) would fear which they hesitate to essay; when they hire themselves for sport and the camp; when, after the manner of wild beasts, they play the bandit along the highway. But us, according to the diversity by which we are distinguished from them, it becomes to lay down not our soul for money, but money for our soul, whether spontaneously in bestowing or patiently in losing.







This appears to be the sense of this very difficult passage as Oehler reads it; and of Fr. Junius’ interpretation of it, which Oehler approves.


1 Tim. vi. 10. See de Idol. xi. ad init.


De proximo. See above, c. v. Deo de proximo amicus, “a most intimate friend to God.”




Luke iii. 11.


Matt. 5:40, Luke 6:29.


Luke xvi. 9.


“Alluding to Christ’s words in Matt. x. 39” (Rigalt. quoted by Oehler).

Next: Of Patience Under Personal Violence and Malediction.

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