The Instructions Of Commodianus by Commodianus
XXVI.--To Those Who Resist the Law of Christ the Living God.
Thou rejectest, unhappy one, the advantage of heavenly discipline, and rushest into death while wishing to stray without a bridle. Luxury and the shortlived joys of the world are ruining thee, whence thou shalt be tormented in hell for all time. They are vain joys with which thou art foolishly delighted. Do not these make thee to be a man dead? Cannot thirty years at length make thee a wise man? Ignorant how thou hast first strayed, look upon ancient time, thou thinkest now to enjoy here a joyous life in the midst of wrongs. These are the ruins of thy friends, wars, or wicked frauds, thefts with bloodshed: the body is vexed with sores, and groaning and wailing is indulged; whether a slight disease invade thee, or thou art held down by long sickness, or thou art bereaved of thy children, or thou mournest over a lost wife. All is a wilderness: alas, dignities are hurried down from their height by vices and poverty; doubly so, assuredly, if thou languishest long. And callest thou it life when this life of glass is mortal? Consider now at length that this time is of no avail, but in the future you have hope without the craft of living. Certainly the little children which have been snatched away desired to live. Moreover, the young men who have been deprived of life, perchance were preparing to grow old, and they themselves were making ready to enjoy joyful days; and yet we unwillingly lay aside all things in the world. I have delayed with a perverse mind, and I have thought that the life of this world was a true one; and I judged that death would come in like manner as ye did -- that when once life had departed, the soul also was dead and perished. These things, however, are not so; but the Founder and Author of the world has certainly required the brother slain by a brother. Impious man, say, said He, where is thy brother? and he denied. For the blood of thy brother has cried aloud to Me to heaven. Thou art tormented, I see, when thou thoughtest to feel nothing; but he lives and occupies the place on the right hand. He enjoys delights which thou, O wicked one, hast lost; and when thou hast called back the world, he also has gone before, and will be immortal: for thou shalt wail in hell. Certainly God lives, who makes the dead to live, that He may give worthy rewards to the innocent and to the good; but to the fierce and impious, cruel hell. Commence, O thou who art led away, to perceive the judgments of God.