Select Works And Letters Or Athanasius by Athanasius
21. The Saints fled for our sakes.
The flight of the saints therefore was neither blameable nor unprofitable. If they had not avoided their persecutors, how would it have come to pass that the Lord should spring from the seed of David? Or who would have preached the glad tidings of the word of truth? It was for this that the persecutors sought after the saints, that there might be no one to teach, as the Jews charged the Apostles; but for this cause they endured all things, that the Gospel might be preached. Behold, therefore, in that they were thus engaged in conflict with their enemies, they passed not the time of their flight unprofitably, nor while they were persecuted, did they forget the welfare of others: but as being ministers of the good word, they grudged not to communicate it to all men; so that even while they fled, they preached the Gospel, and gave warning of the wickedness of those who conspired against them, and confirmed the faithful by their exhortations. Thus the blessed Paul, having found it so by experience, declared beforehand, As many as will live godly in Christ, shall suffer persecution .' And so he straightway prepared them that fled for the trial, saying, Let us run with patience the race that is set before us ;' for although there be continual tribulations, yet tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed .' And the Prophet Isaiah when such-like affliction was expected, exhorted and cried aloud, Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors; hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast .' And so also the Preacher, who knew the conspiracies against the righteous, and said, If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for He that is higher than the highest regardeth, and there be higher than they: moreover there is the profit of the earth .' He had his own father David for an example, who had himself experienced the sufferings of persecution, and who supports them that suffer by the words, Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that put your trust in the Lord ;' for them that so endure, not man, but the Lord Himself (he says), shall help them, and deliver them, because they put their trust in Him:' for I also waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined unto me, and heard my calling; He brought me up also out of the lowest pit, and out of the mire and clay .' Thus is shewn how profitable to the people and productive of good is the flight of the Saints, howsoever the Arians may think otherwise.