Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 5
Cyprian: Epistle LV
In this Epistle, Cyprian apologizes for not being able to come in person, and encourages the Thibarians to prepare to endure the coming persecution. "Which things must all now be considered by us, that no one may desire anything from the world that is now dying, but may follow Christ, who both lives forever and quickens his servants, who are established in the faith of his name." To that end, we ought to hold to the "glory of life eternal and the crown of the confession of the Lord," and this through faith, courage, and the gathering of the church around the Lord's Table daily. We ought not fear death in any form, but especially death by the unbelieving government. "He is not alone whose companion in flight Christ is; he is not alone who, keeping God's temple wheresoever he is, is not without God." And again "for this is the strength of courage and of faith, to believe and to know that God can deliver from present death, and yet not to fear death nor to give way, that faith may be the more mightily proved."
Such persecution should not surprise us, for Christ too was persecuted even more than we are. But just as "for the secular contest men are trained and prepared," so we ought to put on the armor of God and stand firm in the faith for the inevitable triumph of Christ over the world, even to the point of death. Our weapons and armor, while very real ones, are weapons of holiness built upon faith in what Christ has done and with hope for the coming heavenly city where all things will be set right.
Frankly, this epistle is excellent and should certainly be read.