Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Lactantius: Chap. LII.—The hope of the salvation of men consists in the knowledge of the true God, and of the hatred of the heathens against the Christians
Chap. LII.—The Hope of the Salvation of Men Consists in the Knowledge of the True God, and of the Hatred of the Heathens Against the Christians.
There is therefore but one hope of life for men, one harbour of safety, one refuge of liberty, if, laying aside the errors by which they were held, they open the eyes of their mind and recognise God, in whom alone is the abode of truth; despise earthly things, and those made from the ground esteem as nothing philosophy, which is foolishness with God; and having undertaken true wisdom, that is, religion, become heirs of immortality. But indeed they are not so much opposed to the truth as to their own safety; and when they hear these things, they abominate them as some inexpiable wickedness. But they do not even endure 1565 to hear: they think that their ears are polluted with impiety 1566 if they hear; nor do they now refrain from reproaches, but assail them with the most insulting words; and also, if they have obtained the power, persecute them as public enemies, yea, even as worse than enemies; for enemies, when they have been vanquished, are punished with death or slavery; nor is there any torturing after the laying down of arms, although those deserved to suffer all things who wished so to act, that piety might have place among swords.
Cruelty, combined with innocence, is unheard of, nor is it worthy of the condition of victorious enemies. What is the so powerful cause of this fury? Doubtless, because they cannot contend on the ground of reason, they urge forward their cause by means of violence; and, with the subject not understood, they condemn those as most pernicious persons who have declined to make a stand respecting the fact of their innocence. Nor do they deem it sufficient that those whom they unreasonably hate should die by a speedy and simple death; but they lacerate them with refined tortures, that they may satisfy their hatred, which is not produced by any fault, but by the truth, which is hateful to those who live wickedly, because they take it ill that there are some whom their deeds cannot please. They desire in every way to destroy these, that they may be able to sin without restraint in the absence of any witness.
Ne audire quidem patiuntur; others read “patienter.”243:1566
Next: Chap. LIII.—The reasons of the hatred against the Christians are examined and refuted
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