Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Cyprian/The Treatises of Cyprian/Exhortation to Martyrdom/Part 9

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8. That we must press on and persevere in faith and virtue, and in completion of heavenly and spiritual grace, that we may attain to the palm and the crown.

In the book of Chronicles: “The Lord is with you so long as ye also are with Him; but if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you.”[1] In Ezekiel also:  “The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in what day soever he may transgress.”[2] Moreover, in the Gospel the Lord speaks, and says: “He that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.”[3] And again: “If ye shall abide in my word, ye shall be my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”[4]  Moreover, forewarning us that we ought always to be ready, and to stand firmly equipped and armed, He adds, and says: “Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord when he shall return from the wedding, that when he cometh and knocketh they may open unto him.  Blessed are those servants whom their lord, when he cometh, shall find watching.”[5]  Also the blessed Apostle Paul, that our faith may advance and grow, and attain to the highest point, exhorts us, saying: “Know ye not, that they which run in a race run all indeed, yet one receiveth the prize?  So run, that ye may obtain.[6] And they, indeed, that they may receive a corruptible crown; but ye an incorruptible.”[7] And again: “No man that warreth for God binds himself to anxieties of this world, that he may be able to please Him to whom he hath approved himself. Moreover, also, if a man should contend, he will not be crowned unless he have fought lawfully.”[8] And again: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the mercy of God, that ye constitute your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God; and be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed in the renewing of your spirit, that ye may prove what is the will of God, good, and acceptable, and perfect.”[9] And again: “We are children of God: but if children, then heirs; heirs indeed of God, but joint-heirs with Christ, if we suffer together, that we may also be glorified together.”[10] And in the Apocalypse the same exhortation of divine preaching speaks, saying, “Hold fast that which thou hast, lest another take thy crown;”[11] which example of perseverance and persistence is pointed out in Exodus, when Moses, for the overthrow of Amalek, who bore the type of the devil, raised up his open hands in the sign and sacrament of the cross,[12] and could not conquer his adversary unless when he had stedfastly persevered in the sign with hands continually lifted up. “And it came to pass,” says he, “when Moses raised up his hands, Israel prevailed; but when he let down his hands, Amalek grew mighty. And they took a stone and placed it under him, and he sate thereon. And Aaron and Hur held up his hands on the one side and on the other side, and Moses’ hands were made steady even to the going down of the sun. And Jesus routed Amalek and all his people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this, and let it be a memorial in a book, and tell it in the ears of Jesus; because in destroying I will destroy the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”[13]


Footnotes[edit]

  1. 2 Chron. xv. 2.
  2. Ezek. xxxiii. 12.
  3. Matt. x. 22.
  4. John viii. 31, 32.
  5. Luke xii. 35–37.
  6. Oxford edition: “For every one that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.”
  7. 1 Cor. ix. 24, 25.
  8. 2 Tim. ii. 4, 5.
  9. Rom. xii. 1, 2.
  10. Rom. viii. 16, 17.
  11. Rev. iii. 11.
  12. [Vol. i., Justin, pp. 242, 244; Barnabas, ibid., pp. 144, 145.]
  13. Ex. xvii. 11–14.