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Of Patience by Tertullian

Chapter VIII.--Of Patience Under Personal Violence and Malediction.

We who carry about our very soul, our very body, exposed in this world to injury from all, and exhibit patience under that injury; shall we be hurt at the loss of less important things? Far from a servant of Christ be such a defilement as that the patience which has been prepared for greater temptations should forsake him in frivolous ones. If one attempt to provoke you by manual violence, the monition of the Lord is at hand: |To him,| He saith, |who smiteth thee on the face, turn the other cheek likewise.| Let outrageousness be wearied out by your patience. Whatever that blow may be, conjoined with pain and contumely, it shall receive a heavier one from the Lord. You wound that outrageous one more by enduring: for he will be beaten by Him for whose sake you endure. If the tongue's bitterness break out in malediction or reproach, look back at the saying, |When they curse you, rejoice.| The Lord Himself was |cursed| in the eye of the law; and yet is He the only Blessed One. Let us servants, therefore, follow our Lord closely; and be cursed patiently, that we may be able to be blessed. If I hear with too little equanimity some wanton or wicked word uttered against me, I must of necessity either myself retaliate the bitterness, or else I shall be racked with mute impatience. When, then, on being cursed, I smite (with my tongue,) how shall I be found to have followed the doctrine of the Lord, in which it has been delivered that |a man is defiled, not by the defilements of vessels, but of the things which are sent forth out of his mouth.| Again, it is said that |impeachment awaits us for every vain and needless word.| It follows that, from whatever the Lord keeps us, the same He admonishes us to bear patiently from another. I will add (somewhat) touching the pleasure of patience. For every injury, whether inflicted by tongue or hand, when it has lighted upon patience, will be dismissed with the same fate as, some weapon launched against and blunted on a rock of most stedfast hardness. For it will wholly fall then and there with bootless and fruitless labour; and sometimes will recoil and spend its rage on him who sent it out, with retorted impetus. No doubt the reason why any one hurts you is that you may be pained; because the hurter's enjoyment consists in the pain of the hurt. When, then, you have upset his enjoyment by not being pained, he must needs he pained by the loss of his enjoyment. Then you not only go unhurt away, which even alone is enough for you; but gratified, into the bargain, by your adversary's disappointment, and revenged by his pain. This is the utility and the pleasure of patience.
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