Cyprian: Epistle LXXVI
In this Epistle, Cyprian returns to the subject we should most love him for: encouraging those being persecuted. He thanks God for their faithfulness, and encourages them to remain constant in their devotion to the Lord so that they themselves might receive the promised rewards and encourage others to do likewise. He reminds them that their sufferings are temporary and will be turned to joy once passed through:
For a Christian body is not very greatly terrified at clubs, seeing all its hope is in the Wood [of the cross.]... Moreover, they have put fetters on your feet, and have bound your blessed limbs, and the temples of God with disgraceful chains, as if the spirit also could be bound with the body, or your gold could be stained by the contact of iron. To men who are dedicated to God, and attesting their faith with religious courage, such things are ornaments, not chains..."Cyprian reminds the Christians that though they are separated from the church and its ordinances, they are not separated from Christ so long as they cling to their faith. What God really demands from our faith is obedience, not ritual--and who is more obedient than those who cling to Him despite the worst the world can throw at us?
In which, indeed, is both the great confidence of believers, and the gravest fault of the faithless, that they do not trust Him who promises to give His help to those who confess Him, and do not on the other hand fear Him who threatens eternal punishment to those who deny Him.Seriously, read this letter!