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The Treatises Of Cyprian by Cyprian

12. What hope and reward remains for the righteous and for martyrs after the conflicts and sufferings of this present time,

The Holy Spirit shows and predicts by Solomon, saying: |And although in the sight of men they suffered torments, yet their hope is full of immortality. And having been troubled in a few things, they shall be in many happily ordered, because God has tried them, and has found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace, He hath tried them; and as whole burnt-offerings of sacrifice, He hath received them, and in its season there will be respect of them. They will shine and run about as sparks in a place set with reeds. They shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the peoples; and their Lord shall reign for ever.| In the same also our vengeance is described, and the repentance of those who persecute and molest us is announced. |Then,| saith he, |shall the righteous stand in great constancy before such as have afflicted them, and who have taken away their labours; when they see it, they shall be troubled with a horrible fear: and they shall marvel at the suddenness of their unexpected salvation, saying among themselves, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit, These are they whom we had sometime in derision and as a proverb of reproach. We fools counted their life madness, and their end to be without honour. How are they numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints! Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shined unto us, and the sun hath not risen upon us. We have been wearied in the way of unrighteousness and perdition, and have walked through hard deserts, but have not known the way of the Lord. What hath pride profited us, or what hath the boasting of riches brought to us? All these things have passed away like a shadow.| Likewise in the cxvth Psalm is shown the price and the reward of suffering: |Precious,| it says, |in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.| In the cxxvth Psalm also is expressed the sadness of the struggle, and the joy of the retribution: |They who sow,| it says, |in tears, shall reap in joy. As they walked, they walked and wept, casting their seeds; but as they come again, they shall come in exultation, bearing their sheaves.| And again, in the cxviiith Psalm: |Blessed are those that are undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who search His testimonies, and seek Him out with their whole heart.| Moreover, the Lord in the Gospel, Himself the avenger of our persecution and the rewarder of our suffering, says: |Blessed are they who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.| And again: |Blessed shall ye be when men shall hate you, and shall separate you, and shall expel you, and shall revile your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward is great in heaven.| And once more: |Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.| Nor do the rewards of the divine promise attend those alone who are reproached and slain; but if the passion itself be wanting to the faithful, while their faith has remained sound and unconquered, and having forsaken and contemned all his possessions, the Christian has shown that he is following Christ, even he also is honoured by Christ among the martyrs, as He Himself promises and says: |There is no man that leaveth house, or land, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, but shall receive seven times as much in this present time, and in the world to come eternal life.| In the Apocalypse also He says the same thing: |And I saw,| saith he, |the souls of them that were slain for the name of Jesus and the word of God.| And when he had placed those who were slain in the first place, he added, saying: |And whosoever had not worshipped the image of the beast, neither had received his mark upon their forehead or in their hand;| all these he joins together, as seen by him at one time in the same place, and says, |And they lived and reigned with Christ.| He says that all live and reign with Christ, not only who have been slain; but even whosoever, standing in firmness of the faith and in the fear of God, have not worshipped the image of the beast, and have not consented to his deadly and sacrilegious edicts.
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