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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part III: Certain Other Divine Precepts. The Apostolic Description of Charity. Their Connection with Patience.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XII.—Certain Other Divine Precepts. The Apostolic Description of Charity. Their Connection with Patience.

As regards the rule of peace, which 9132 is so pleasing to God, who in the world that is prone to impatience 9133 will even once forgive his brother, I will not say “seven times,” or 9134 “seventy-seven times?” 9135 Who that is contemplating a suit against his adversary will compose the matter by agreement, 9136 unless he first begin by lopping off chagrin, hardheartedness, and bitterness, which are in fact the poisonous outgrowths of impatience? How will you “remit, and remission shall be granted” you 9137 if the absence of patience makes you tenacious of a wrong? No one who is at variance with his brother in his mind, will finish offering his “duteous gift at the altar,” unless he first, with intent to “reconciliate his brother,” return to patience. 9138 If “the sun go down over our wrath,” we are in jeopardy: 9139 we are not allowed to remain one day without patience. But, however, since Patience takes the lead in 9140 every species of salutary discipline, what p. 715 wonder that she likewise ministers to Repentance, (accustomed as Repentance is to come to the rescue of such as have fallen,) when, on a disjunction of wedlock (for that cause, I mean, which makes it lawful, whether for husband or wife, to persist in the perpetual observance of widowhood), 9141 she 9142 waits for, she yearns for, she persuades by her entreaties, repentance in all who are one day to enter salvation? How great a blessing she confers on each!  The one she prevents from becoming an adulterer; the other she amends. So, too, she is found in those holy examples touching patience in the Lord’s parables. The shepherd’s patience seeks and finds the straying ewe: 9143 for Impatience would easily despise one ewe; but Patience undertakes the labour of the quest, and the patient burden-bearer carries home on his shoulders the forsaken sinner. 9144 That prodigal son also the father’s patience receives, and clothes, and feeds, and makes excuses for, in the presence of the angry brother’s impatience. 9145 He, therefore, who “had perished” is saved, because he entered on the way of repentance. Repentance perishes not, because it finds Patience (to welcome it).  For by whose teachings but those of Patience is Charity 9146 —the highest sacrament of the faith, the treasure-house of the Christian name, which the apostle commends with the whole strength of the Holy Spirit—trained? “Charity,” he says, “is long suffering;” thus she applies patience: “is beneficent;” Patience does no evil: “is not emulous;” that certainly is a peculiar mark of patience:  “savours not of violence:” 9147 she has drawn her self-restraint from patience: “is not puffed up; is not violent;” 9148 for that pertains not unto patience:  “nor does she seek her own” if, she offers her own, provided she may benefit her neighbours: “nor is irritable;” if she were, what would she have left to Impatience? Accordingly he says, “Charity endures all things; tolerates all things;” of course because she is patient. Justly, then, “will she never fail;” 9149 for all other things will be cancelled, will have their consummation. “Tongues, sciences, prophecies, become exhausted; faith, hope, charity, are permanent:” Faith, which Christ’s patience introduced; hope, which man’s patience waits for; charity, which Patience accompanies, with God as Master.


Footnotes

714:9132

i.e. peace.

714:9133

Impatientiæ natus: lit. “born for impatience.” Comp. de Pæniten. 12, ad fin. “nec ulli rei nisi pænitentiæ natus.”

714:9134

Oehler reads “sed,” but the “vel” adopted in the text is a conjecture of Latinius, which Oehler mentions.

714:9135

Septuagies septies. The reference is to Matt. 18:21, 22. Compare de Orat. vii. ad fin. and the note there.

714:9136

Matt. v. 25.

714:9137

Luke vi. 37.

714:9138

Matt. 5:23, 24.

714:9139

Eph. iv. 26. Compare de Orat. xi.

714:9140

Gubernet.

715:9141

What the cause is is disputed. Opinions are divided as to whether Tertullian means by it “marriage with a heathen” (which as Mr. Dodgson reminds us, Tertullian—de Uxor. ii. 3—calls “adultery”), or the case in which our Lord allowed divorce.  See Matt. xix. 9.

715:9142

i.e. patience.

715:9143

Luke xv. 3-6.

715:9144

Peccatricem, i.e. the ewe.

715:9145

Luke xv. 11-32.

715:9146

Dilectio = ἀγάπη. See Trench, New Testament Syn., s. v. ἀγάπη; and with the rest of this chapter compare carefully, in the Greek, 1 Cor. xiii. [Neander points out the different view our author takes of the same parable, in the de Pudicit. cap. 9, Vol. IV. this series.]

715:9147

Protervum = Greek περπερεύεται.

715:9148

Proterit = Greek ἀσχημονεῖ.

715:9149

Excidet = Greek ἐκλείπει, suffers eclipse.


Next: Of Bodily Patience.

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