Wednesday, March 18, 2015

ANF V: Cyprian Treatise IX Patience

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 5

Cyprian: Treatise IX On the Advantage of Patience

Like Tertullian, Cyprian doesn't seem to be the type who is terribly patient. And yet, he tells us, few things are more necessary to a godly life. This is not a virtue available to all, despite what pagan philosophers claim-- "For whence can he be either wise or patient, who has neither known the wisdom nor the patience of God?" Patience comes directly from God--
From Him patience begins; from Him its glory and dignity take their rise. The origin and greatness of patience proceed from God as its author. Man ought to love the thiing which is dear to God; the good which the Divine Majesty loves, it commends. If God is our Lord and Father, let us imitate the patience of our Lord as well as our Father; because it behooves servants to be obedient no less than it becomes sons not to be degenerate.
We see God's patience above all in his patience with sin in the world. We see patience in His active goodness to a rebellious world, in His continually calling us to repent, in His love for His enemies, and His command to His friends to do the same. "What a glory it is to become like to God! what and how great a felicity, to possess among our virtues, that which may be placed on the level of divine praises!" Jesus was the fulfillment of this, as He was perfectly patient even to the point of death.
Finally, all His actions, even from His very advent, are characterized by patience as their associate; in that, first of all, coming down from that heavenly sublimity to earthly things, the Son of God did not scorn to put on the flesh of man, and although He Himself was not a sinner, to bear the sins of others.  His immortality being in the meantime laid aside, He suffers Himself to become mortal, so that the guiltless may be put to death for the salvation of the guilty. 
"Even to the end, all things are borne perseveringly and constantly, in order that in Christ a full and perfect patience may be consummated." Having done all this, Jesus is still patient with us, receiving even murderers into salvation.

So we too should be patient, just as the apostles and prophets and patriarchs who came before us were. We should at the same time realize that this patience is contrary to our innate natures--since the fall of man we desire instant gratification and are frustrated by a harsh world. patience alone makes this world bearable since it alone can overcome at least some of the worldly effects of the fall. Patience as Christians is what especially enables us to endure through the additional trials of persecution and the assaults of sin and the devil. It is the doorway through which the other fruits of the Spirit are brought into our lives.

Ultimately, the patience of Christians will be rewarded when God's patience is finally exhausted and Christ returns in judgment. So let us be found patiently waiting until then, when all things will finally be set right and restored.

This treatise is fantastic--read it and be blessed!

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