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Chapter VIII.—Of Patience Under Personal Violence and Malediction.

We who carry about our very soul, our very body, exposed in this world90949094    Sæculo. to injury from all, and exhibit patience under that injury; shall we be hurt at the loss90959095    Delibatione. of less important things?90969096    i.e. money and the like. Compare Matt. vi. 25; Luke xii. 23. Far from a servant of Christ be such a defilement as that the patience which has been prepared for greater temptations should forsake him in frivolous ones. If one attempt to provoke you by manual violence, the monition of the Lord is at hand: “To him,” He saith, “who smiteth thee on the face, turn the other cheek likewise.”90979097    Matt. v. 39. Let outrageousness90989098    Improbitas. be wearied out by your patience.  Whatever that blow may be, conjoined90999099    Constrictus. I have rendered after Oehler: but may not the meaning be “clenched,” like the hand which deals the blow? with pain and contumely, it91009100    As Oehler says “the blow” is said to “receive” that which, strictly, the dealer of it receives. shall receive a heavier one from the Lord.  You wound that outrageous91019101    Improbum. one more by enduring: for he will be beaten by Him for whose sake you endure.  If the tongue’s bitterness break out in malediction or reproach, look back at the saying, “When they curse you, rejoice.”91029102    Matt. v. 11, 12; Luke vi. 22, 23. The Lord Himself was “cursed” in the eye of the law;91039103    Deut. xxi. 23; Gal. iii. 13. Tertullian’s quotations here are somewhat loose. He renders words which are distinct in the Greek by the same in his Latin. and yet is He the only Blessed One. Let us servants, therefore, follow our Lord closely; and be cursed patiently, that we may be able to be blessed. If I hear with too little equanimity some wanton or wicked word uttered against me, I must of necessity either myself retaliate the bitterness, or else I shall be racked with mute impatience. When, then, on being cursed, I smite (with my tongue,) how shall I be found to have followed the doctrine of the Lord, in which it has been delivered that “a man is defiled,91049104    Communicari—κοινοῦσθαι. See Mark vii. 15, “made common,” i.e. profane, unclean. Compare Acts x. 14, 15 in the Greek. not by the defilements of vessels, but of the things which are sent forth out of his mouth.” Again, it is said that “impeachment91059105    Reatum. See de Idol. i. ad init., “the highest impeachment of the age.” awaits us for every vain and needless word.”91069106    Matt. xii. 36. Tertullian has rendered ἀργόν by “vani et supervacui.” It follows that, from whatever the Lord keeps us, the same He admonishes us to bear patiently from another. I will add (somewhat) touching the pleasure of patience. For every injury, whether inflicted by tongue or hand, when it has lighted upon patience, will be dismissed91079107    Dispungetur: a word which, in the active, means technically “to balance accounts,” hence “to discharge,” etc. with the same fate as, some weapon launched against and blunted on a rock of most stedfast hardness. For it will wholly fall then and there with bootless and fruitless labour; and sometimes will recoil and spend its rage on him who sent it out, with retorted impetus. No doubt the reason why any one hurts you is that you may be pained; because the hurter’s enjoyment consists in the pain of the hurt. When, then, you have upset his enjoyment by not being pained, he must needs he pained by the loss of his enjoyment. Then you not only go 713unhurt away, which even alone is enough for you; but gratified, into the bargain, by your adversary’s disappointment, and revenged by his pain.  This is the utility and the pleasure of patience.


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