Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Cyprian/The Treatises of Cyprian/Exhortation to Martyrdom/Part 8

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7. That those who are snatched from the jaws of the devil, and delivered from the snares of this world,[1] ought not again to return to the world, lest they should lose the advantage of their withdrawal therefrom.

In Exodus the Jewish people, prefigured as a shadow and image of us, when, with God for their guardian and avenger, they had escaped the most severe slavery of Pharaoh and of Egypt—that is, of the devil and the world—faithless and ungrateful in respect of God, murmur against Moses, looking back to the discomforts of the desert and of their labour; and, not understanding the divine benefits of liberty and salvation, they seek to return to the slavery of Egypt—that is, of the world whence they had been drawn forth—when they ought rather to have trusted and believed on God, since He who delivers His people from the devil and the world, protects them also when delivered. “Wherefore hast thou thus done with us,” say they, “in casting us forth out of Egypt? It is better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in this wilderness. And Moses said unto the people, Trust, and stand fast, and see the salvation which is from the Lord, which He shall do to you to-day. The Lord Himself shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”[2] The Lord, admonishing us of this in His Gospel, and teaching that we should not return again to the devil and to the world, which we have renounced, and whence we have escaped, says: “No man looking back, and putting his hand to the plough, is fit for the kingdom of God.”[3] And again: “And let him that is in the field not return back. Remember Lot’s wife.”[4] And lest any one should be retarded by any covetousness of wealth or attraction of his own people from following Christ, He adds, and says: “He that forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple.”[5]


  1. The Oxford edition here interpolates, “if they find themselves in straits and tribulations.”
  2. Ex. xiv. 11–14.
  3. Luke ix. 62.
  4. Luke xvii. 31, 32.
  5. Luke xiv. 33.