Of Patience by Tertullian
Chapter XI.--Further Reasons for Practising Patience. Its Connection with the Beatitudes.
After these principal material causes of impatience, registered to the best of our ability, why should we wander out of our way among the rest, -- what are found at home, what abroad? Wide and diffusive is the Evil One's operation, hurling manifold irritations of our spirit, and sometimes trifling ones, sometimes very great. But the trifling ones you may contemn from their very littleness; to the very great ones you may yield in regard of their overpoweringness. Where the injury is less, there is no necessity for impatience; but where the injury is greater, there more necessary is the remedy for the injury -- patience. Let us strive, therefore, to endure the inflictions of the Evil One, that the counter-zeal of our equanimity may mock the zeal of the foe. If, however, we ourselves, either by imprudence or else voluntarily, draw upon ourselves anything, let us meet with equal patience what we have to blame ourselves for. Moreover, if we believe that some inflictions are sent on us by the Lord, to whom should we more exhibit patience than to the Lord? Nay, He teaches us to give thanks and rejoice, over and above, at being thought worthy of divine chastisement. |Whom I love,| saith He, |I chasten.| O blessed servant, on whose amendment the Lord is intent! with whom He deigns to be wroth! whom He does not deceive by dissembling His reproofs! On every side, therefore, we are bound to the duty of exercising patience, from whatever quarter, either by our own errors or else by the snares of the Evil One, we incur the Lord's reproofs. Of that duty great is the reward -- namely, happiness. For whom but the patient has the Lord called happy, in saying, |Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens?| No one, assuredly, is |poor in spirit,| except he be humble. Well, who is humble, except he be patient? For no one can abase himself without patience, in the first instance, to bear the act of abasement. |Blessed,| saith He, |are the weepers and mourners.| Who, without patience, is tolerant of such unhappinesses? And so to such, |consolation| and |laughter| are promised. |Blessed are the gentle:| under this term, surely, the impatient cannot possibly be classed. Again, when He marks |the peacemakers| with the same title of felicity, and names them |sons of God,| pray have the impatient any affinity with |peace?| Even a fool may perceive that. When, however, He says, |Rejoice and exult, as often as they shall curse and persecute you; for very great is your reward in heaven,| of course it is not to the impatience of exultation that He makes that promise; because no one will |exult| in adversities unless he have first learnt to contemn them; no one will contemn them unless he have learnt to practise patience.