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Of Patience by Tertullian

Chapter XIII.--Of Bodily Patience.

Thus far, finally, of patience simple and uniform, and as it exists merely in the mind: though in many forms likewise I labour after it in body, for the purpose of |winning the Lord;| inasmuch as it is a quality which has been exhibited by the Lord Himself in bodily virtue as well; if it is true that the ruling mind easily communicates the gifts of the Spirit with its bodily habitation. What, therefore, is the business of Patience in the body? In the first place, it is the affliction of the flesh -- a victim able to appease the Lord by means of the sacrifice of humiliation -- in making a libation to the Lord of sordid raiment, together with scantiness of food, content with simple diet and the pure drink of water in conjoining fasts to all this; in inuring herself to sackcloth and ashes. This bodily patience adds a grace to our prayers for good, a strength to our prayers against evil; this opens the ears of Christ our God, dissipates severity, elicits clemency. Thus that Babylonish king, after being exiled from human form in his seven years' squalor and neglect, because he had offended the Lord; by the bodily immolation of patience not only recovered his kingdom, but -- what is more to be desired by a man -- made satisfaction to God. Further, if we set down in order the higher and happier grades of bodily patience, (we find that) it is she who is entrusted by holiness with the care of continence of the flesh: she keeps the widow, and sets on the virgin the seal and raises the self-made eunuch to the realms of heaven. That which springs from a virtue of the mind is perfected in the flesh; and, finally, by the patience of the flesh, does battle under persecution. If flight press hard, the flesh wars with the inconvenience of flight; if imprisonment overtake us, the flesh (still was) in bonds, the flesh in the gyve, the flesh in solitude, and in that want of light, and in that patience of the world's misusage. When, however, it is led forth unto the final proof of happiness, unto the occasion of the second baptism, unto the act of ascending the divine seat, no patience is more needed there than bodily patience. If the |spirit is willing, but the flesh,| without patience, |weak,| where, save in patience, is the safety of the spirit, and of the flesh itself? But when the Lord says this about the flesh, pronouncing it |weak,| He shows what need there is of strengthening, it -- that is by patience -- to meet every preparation for subverting or punishing faith; that it may bear with all constancy stripes, fire, cross, beasts, sword; all which prophets and apostles, by enduring, conquered!
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