Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part III: Elucidations.
(Unless patience sit by his side, cap. i. p. 707.)
Let me quote words which, many years ago, struck me forcibly, and which I trust, have been blest to my soul; for which reason, I must be allowed, here, to thank their author, the learned and fearless Dean Burgon, of Chichester. In his invaluable Commentary on the Gospel, which while it abounds in the fruits of a varied erudition, aims only to be practically useful, this pious scholar remarks: “To Faith must be added Patience, the patient waiting for God, if we would escape the snare which Satan spread, no less for the Holy One (i.e. in the Temp. upon the Pinnacle) than for the Israelites at Massah. And this is perhaps the reason of the remarkable prominence given to the grace of Patience, both by our Lord and His Apostles; a circumstance, as it may be thought, which has not altogether attracted the p. 718 attention which it deserves.” He then cites examples; 9185 but a reference to any good concordance will strikingly exemplify the admirable comment of this “godly and well-learned man.” See his comments on Matt. 4:7, Luke 21:19.
(Under their chin, cap. iv. p. 709.)
The reference in the note to Paris, as represented by Virgil and in ancient sculpture, seems somewhat to the point:
“Et nunc ille Paris, cum semiviro comitatu.
Mæonia mentum mitra crinemq, madentem,
He had just spoken of the pileus as a “Cap of freedom,” but there was another form of pileus which was just the reverse and was probably tied by fimbriæ, under the chin, denoting a low order of slaves, effeminate men, perhaps spadones. Now, the Phrygian bonnet to which Virgil refers, is introduced by him to complete the reproach of his contemptuous expression (semiviro comitatu) just before. So, our author—“not only from men, i.e. men so degraded as to wear this badge of extreme servitude, but even from cattle, etc. Shall these mean creatures outdo us in obedience and patience?”
(The worlds misusage, cap. xiii. p. 716.)
The Reverend Clergy who may read this note will forgive a brother, who begins to be in respect of years, like “Paul the aged,” for remarking, that the reading of the Ante-Nicene Fathers often leads him to sigh—“Such were they from whom we have received all that makes life tolerable, but how intolerable it was for them: are we, indeed, such as they would have considered Christians?” God be praised for His mercy and forbearance in our days; but, still it is true that “we have need of patience.” Is not much of all that we regard as “the worlds misusage,” the gracious hand of the Master upon us, giving us something for the exercise of that Patience, by which He forms us into His own image? (Heb. xii. 3.) Impatience of obscurity, of poverty, of ingratitude, of misrepresentation, of “the slings and arrows” of slander and abuse, is a revolt against that indispensable discipline of the Gospel which requires us to “endure afflictions” in some form or other. Who can complain when one thinks what it would have cost us to be Christians in Tertullians time? The ambition of the Clergy is always rebellion against God, and “patient waiting” is its only remedy. One will find profitable reading on this subject in Massillon, 9186 de lAmbition des Clercs: “Reposez-vous sur le Seigneur du soin de votre destinée: il saura bien accomplir, tout seul, les desseins quil a sur vous. Si votre élévation est son bon plaisir, elle sera, aussi son ouvrage. Rendez-vous en digne seulement par la retraite, par la frayeur, par la fuite, par les sentiments vifs de votre indignité…cest ainsi que les Chrysostome, les Grégoire, les Basil, les Augustin, furent donnés à lÉglise.”
See—A Plain Commentary on the Four Gospels, intended chiefly for Devotional Reading. Oxford, 1854. Also (Vol. I. p. 28) Philadelphia, 1855.718:9186
Œuvres, Tom. vi. pp. 133–5. Ed. Paris, 1824.
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