Tertullian: Do You Listen Diligently to Our Lord?

Feast of St Agrippina the Martyr of Rome

Tertullian_Square_4.jpegIF WE SEE all servants of probity and right feeling shaping their conduct suitably to the disposition of their lord; if, that is, the art of deserving favor is obedience, while the rule of obedience is a compliant subjection: how much more does it behoove us to be found with a character in accordance with our Lord, – servants as we are of the living God, whose judgment on His servants turns not on a fetter or a cap of freedom, but on an eternity either of penalty or of salvation; for the shunning of which severity or the courting of which liberality there needs a diligence in obedience as great as are the comminations themselves which the severity utters, or the promises which the liberality freely makes. And yet we exact obedience not from men only, who have the bond of their slavery under their chin, or in any other legal way are debtors to obedience, but even from cattle, even from brutes; understanding that they have been provided and delivered for our uses by the Lord. Shall, then, creatures which God makes subject to us be better than we in the discipline of obedience? Finally, the creatures which obey, acknowledge their masters. Do we hesitate to listen diligently to Him to whom alone we are subjected – that is, the Lord? But how unjust is it, how ungrateful likewise, not to repay from yourself the same which, through the indulgence of your neighbor, you obtain from others, to Him through whom you obtain it! Nor needs there more words on the exhibition of obedience due from us to the Lord God; for the acknowledgement of God understands what is incumbent on it. Lest, however, we seem to have inserted remarks on obedience as something irrelevant, (let us remember) that obedience itself is drawn from patience. Never does an impatient man render it, or a patient fail to find pleasure in it. Who, then, could treat largely enough of the good of that patience which the Lord God, the Demonstrator and Acceptor of all good things, carried about in His own self? To whom, again, would it be doubtful that every good thing ought, because it pertains to God, to be earnestly pursued with the whole mind by such as pertain to God? By means of which considerations both commendation and exhortation on the subject of patience are briefly, and as it were in the compendium of a prescriptive rule, established.

~Tertullian, On Patience


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