To Demetrian

Author: St. Cyprian

TO DEMETRIAN by St. Cyprian

Chapter 1

I had treated you with contempt, Demetrian, as you railed with sacrilegious mouth against God, who is one and true, and frequently cried out with impious words, thinking it more fitting and better to ignore with silence the ignorance of a man in error than to provoke with speech the fury o£ a man in madness. And I did not do this without the authority of the divine teaching, since it is written: 'Do not say anything in the ears of the foolish, lest when he hears he may mock your wise words,' and again: 'Do not answer the foolish according to his folly, }est you become like him,' and let us be admonished to keep within our own conscience what is holy, and not to expose it to be trampled upon by swine and dogs, for the Lord speaks saying: 'Do not give that which is holy to the dogs, and do not cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet.' For when you came to me often rather with an eagerness to contradict than with a wish to learn, and you preferred impudently to insist on your own views, shouting with noisy words, rather than to listen patiently to our own, it seemed foolish to contend with you, since it would be an easier and lighter task to restrain the angry waves of a turbulent sea by shouting than to check your madness by arguments. Surely it is a futile labor and of no effect to offer light to someone blind, words to a deaf person, and wisdom to a brute, since a brute cannot understand, and a blind person cannot admit light, and one deaf cannot hear.

Chapter 2

Bearing this in mind, I often kept silence and overcame impatience by patience, since I could neither teach the unteachable nor check the impious with religion, nor repress him who raves with kindliness. But yet, when you say that very many are complaining and are blaming us because wars are arising more frequently, because the plague, famine are raging, and because long droughts are suspending rains and showers, I should be silent no longer, lest presently our silence begin to be a matter not of modesty, but of diffidence, and if we scorn to refute false charges, we seem to acknowledge the crime. Therefore, I reply to you, Demetrian, as well as to the others whom you by chance have stirred up, and whom, by sowing hatreds against us by your malicious words, you have made companions of yours in great numbers by the increase of your root and origin, yet who, I believe, admit the reasonableness of our speech. For he who has been moved to evil by deceiving falsehood will be moved to good much more by truth.

Chapter 3

You have said that all those things by which the world is now being shaken and oppressed have occurred through us, and that they ought to be imputed to us, because your gods are not worshipped by us. You who in this respect are ignorant of divine knowledge and are a stranger to the truth, in the first place ought to know this, that the world has grown old, does not enjoy that strength which it had formerly enjoyed, and does not flourish with the same vigor and strength with which it formerly prevailed. The world itself is now saying this, even as we are silent and offer no citations from holy Scriptures and divine prophecies, and it testifies to its decline by the proof of its failing estate. In the winter the supply of rain is not so plentiful for the nourishment of seeds; there is not the accustomed heat in the summer for ripening the harvest; neither are the corn fields so joyous in the spring nor are the autumn seasons so fecund in their leafy products. To a less extent are slabs of marble dug out of the disemboweled and wearied mountains; to a less extent do the mines already exhausted produce quantities of silver and gold, and the impoverished veins are lessened day by day. The farmer is vanishing and disappearing in the fields, the sailor on the sea, the soldier in the camp, innocence in the market, justice in the courts, harmony among friendships, skill among the arts, discipline in morals. Do you think that there can be as much substance in an aging thing, as there would have flourished formerly, when it was still young and vigorous with youth? Whatever at its very last is sinking to its setting and end must be diminishing. Thus the sun at its setting casts forth rays of less bright and fiery splendor; thus the moon, as its course declines, diminishes with exhausted horns; and the tree, which had once been green and fertile, afterwards, as its branches dry up, becomes sterile, deformed by old age; and the fountain, which before flowed forth profusely from its overflowing veins, in failing old age scarcely trickles with moderate moisture. This sentence has been passed upon the world; this is the law of God; that all things which have come into existence die; and that those which have increased grow old; and that the strong be weakened; and that the large be diminished; and that when they have been weakened and diminished they come to an end.

Chapter 4

You impute to the Christians that everything is diminished as the world grows old. What if old men also impute to Christians that they have less strength in old age, that no longer as before are they vigorous in the sense of hearing, in the swiftness of their feet, in the sharpness of their eyes, in the force of their strength, in the freshness of their vitals, in the fullness of their limbs, and that, whereas before the old age of man extended eight hundred and nine hundred years, now it can scarcely arrive at the number of one hundred. We see gray hair among boys; hair falls out before it grows; and age does not cease in old age but begins with old age. Thus, still at its beginning birth rushes to its end; thus whatever is born degenerates with the old age of the world, itself, so that no one should marvel that everything in the world has begun to fail, when the entire world itself is already in a decline and at its end.

Chapter 5

Moreover, that wars continue with greater frequency, that barrenness and famine accumulate anxiety, that health is broken by raging diseases, that the human race is laid waste by ravages of pestilence, this too you should know was predicted, that in the last days evils are multiplied and adversities are diversified and presently with the approach of the day of judgment more and more is the censure of an indignant God roused to the scourging of the human race. For these things do not occur, as your false complaints and inexperience ignorant of the truth boast and cry out, because your gods are not worshipped by us, but because God is not worshipped by you. For since He himself is the Lord and the Director of the universe, and since all things are done at His decision and nod and nothing can be done except what He Himself has done or has permitted to be done, surely when those things are done which show the anger of an offended God, these are done not on account of us by whom God is worshipped, but are inflicted because of your sins and merits, by whom God is neither sought nor feared, nor are empty superstitions abandoned and true religion recognized, so that He who is the one God for all is alone worshipped and sought by all.

Chapter 6

Finally, hear Him as He speaks, as he instructs and advises us with His divine words: 'Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve,' and again: 'Thou shalt not have strange gods before me,' and again: 'And go not after strange gods to serve them, and adore them; nor provoke me to wrath by the works of your hands to scatter you.' The prophet likewise, filled with the Holy Spirit, attests and proclaims the wrath of God in these words: 'Thus saith the Lord omnipotent: "Because my house is desolate, and you make haste every man to his own house, therefore the heaven will abstain from dew, and the earth will withdraw her fruits, and I shall bring a sword upon the earth and upon the corn and upon the vine, and upon the oil, and upon man and upon beasts and upon all the labors of their hands." ' Likewise, another prophet repeats and says: 'I shall cause it to rain upon one city, and I shall not cause it to rain upon another city. One piece shall be rained upon, and the piece upon which I shall not rain, shall wither. Two and three cities shall gather in one city to drink water, but shall not be filled. Yet you returned not to me, saith the Lord.'

Chapter 7

Behold, the Lord is indignant and wrathful and, because you do not turn to Him, threatens. And you wonder or complain in this your obstinacy and contempt, if the rain descends rarely from above, if the earth lies neglected because of the accumulation of dust, if the barren globe with difficulty produces feeble and pallid blades of grass, if the destructive hail weakens the vines; if the overwhelming whirlwind uproots the olive, if drought stanches the spring, if a breeze spreading pestilence befouls the air, if deadly disease consumes mankind, although all these things come because of the sins that provoke them, and God is exasperated the more when such great evils avail nothing. For the same God declares in holy Scriptures in these words that these things occur either for discipline of the obstinate or for the punishment of the devil: 'In vain have I struck your children; they have not received correction.' And the prophet devoted and dedicated to God replies to these same words and says: 'Thou has struck them and they have not grieved; thou hast bruised them and they have refused to receive correction.' Behold, blows are inflicted by God and there is no fear of God. Behold stripes and scourgings from above are. not lacking, and there is no trembling, no alarm. What if even such censure did not interfere with human affairs? How much greater still would the audacity of men be, if it were secure in the impunity of its crimes?

Chapter 8

You complain because now the rich springs and the salubrious breezes and the frequent rains and the fertile earth furnish you less support, because the elements do not serve interests and pleasures so much. But do you serve God through whom all things serve you; do you wait upon Him, at whose nod all things wait upon you? You yourself exact servitude from your slave and you, a man, compel a man to submit and obey you, and although you both have the same lot as to being born, one condition as to dying, identical material of bodies, a common order of souls, although your coming into this world and later your departure from the world is with equal right and by the same law, nevertheless, unless you are served according to your decision, unless you are obeyed according to the obedience of your will, you as an imperious and excessive exactor of servitude, flog, whip, afflict, and torture with hunger, thirst, nakedness, and frequently with the sword and imprisonment. Do you acknowledge the Lord, your God, when you yourself thus exercise Lordship?

Chapter 9

Therefore, deservedly are the stripes and lashes of God not lacking in these attacking plagues. Since these avail nothing here and do not turn you one by one to God by such terror of destruction, there awaits you later the eternal prison and everlasting flame and perpetual punishment, nor will the groaning of the suppliants be heard there, because the terror of the indignant God was not heard here, who cried out through the prophet, saying: 'Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel, for the Lord shall enter into judgment with the inhabitants of the land, for there is no mercy, and there is no truth, and there is no knowledge of God in the land. Cursing, and lying, and killing, and theft, and adultery have overflowed upon the land, and blood has touched blood. Therefore shall the land mourn with all its inhabitants, and with the beasts of the field, with the creeping things of the earth, with the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea shall fail, so that no one passes judgment, no one convicts another.' God says that He is indignant because there is no knowledge of God on earth, and God is not known, neither is he feared. God rebukes and accuses the sins of Lying, of lust, of fraud, of cruelty, of impiety, and of madness, but no one is converted to innocence. Behold, the events that were formerly foretold by the words of God are coming to pass, and no one by faith in the present is warned to take counsel for the future. Among these adversities, bound and hemmed in by which the soul breathes with difficulty, there is time for men to be evil and in so great perils to pass judgment not so much on themselves as on others. You are indignant that God is indignant, as if you deserved anything good by living evilly, as if all those things that happen were still not less and lighter than your own sins.

Chapter 10

You who judge others, at some time be also a judge of yourself, look into the recesses of your own conscience; rather, because there is no shame, indeed, in doing wrong, and sin is so committed as if pleasure came rather through sins themselves, do you who are seen clearly and nakedly by all yourself also look upon yourself. For you are either swollen with pride, or greedy with avarice, or cruel with anger, or prodigal with gambling, or drunk with wine-bibbing, or envious with jealousy, or incestuous with lust, or violent with cruelty; and do you wonder that the wrath of God increases for the punishment of the human race, when what is worthy to be punished increases daily? You complain that an enemy rises up, as if, though an enemy were waiting, there could be peace among the very togas of peace, as if, though external arms and dangers from barbarians were repressed, the weapons of domestic attack from the calumnies and injuries of powerful citizens were not ranging more fiercely and more seriously from within; you complain about barrenness and famine, as if drought causes more famine than rapacity, as if the fierceness of want did not increase more flagrantly from the striving after the yearly crops and the accumulation of their price; you complain that the heavens are shut off from showers, although the granaries on earth are so shut off; you complain that less is being produced, as if what has been produced were offered to the needy; you accuse of the crime of plague and disease, although by plague itself and disease the crimes of individuals are either detected or increased, while mercy is not shown the weak and avarice and rapine await open-mouthed for the dead. The same men are timid in the observance of piety, rash for impious gains, avoiding the deaths of the dying, but seeking the spoils of the dead, so that it appears that the wretched in their sickness have even been abandoned perhaps for this, that they may not be able to escape when they are being treated, for he who enters upon the property of the dying wished the sick man to die.

Chapter 11

So great a terror of destruction cannot give the teaching of innocency, and in the midst of a people dying with recurring slaughter no one considers that he too is mortal. There is running about everywhere, there is seizure, there is taking possession, there is no concealment of plundering, no delay; as if it were lawful, as if it were right, as if he who does not seize were experiencing damage and a proper loss; thus every one hastens to seize. Among thieves there is at least some shame for their crimes; they love pathless ravines and deserted solitudes, and wrongs are so committed there that nevertheless the crime of the wrong-doers is veiled by shadows and night. Avarice rages openly and safe by its very boldness thrusts forth in the light of the market-place the arms of unrestrained lust. Thus they are cheats, thus poisoners, thus in the middle of the city murderers are eager for sinning as they sin with impunity. The crime is confessed by the guilty, but the innocent is not found to press the charge. There is no fear of the accuser or the judge; the wicked obtain impunity, while the modest are silent, accomplices are afraid, and those who are to judge have a price. And so through the prophet the truth of the matter is set forth with the divine spirit and inspiration; a certain and manifest method is shown: that the Lord can prohibit adversities, but the merits of sinners cause Him to give no aid. 'Behold,' he says 'does not the hand of the Lord prevail to save (men), or will His ear be heavy that it cannot hear? But your iniquities divide between you and your God, and on account of your sins He turns his face away from you lest He have mercy.' Therefore, let your sins and offenses be computed; let the wounds of your conscience be considered; and let each one cease to complain about God and about us, if he understands that he deserves what he suffers.

Chapter 12

Behold of what nature is the subject of our discourse chiefly about--that you molest us who are innocent, that you in contempt of God attack and oppress the servants of God? It is of little importance that your life is stained by a variety of mad vices, with the iniquity of deadly crimes, with a collection of bloody rapines, that the true religion is overturned by false superstitions, that God is in no way ever sought or feared. Still more you provoke with unjust persecutions the servants of God and those dedicated to His majesty and will. It is not enough that you yourself do not worship God. Still more with a sacrilegious attack do you persecute those who do worship. Neither do you worship God, nor do you permit Him to be worshipped at all, although others who not only venerate those empty idols and images fashioned by the hand of man but also certain portents and monsters please you, the worshipper of God alone displeases. Everywhere in your temples the funeral pyres and piles of cattle smoke, but the altars of God do not exist or are concealed. Crocodiles and bees and stones and serpents are worshipped, and God alone on earth either is not worshipped or His worship does not exist with impunity. The innocent, the just, the dear to God you deprive of a home, you despoil of their inheritance, you load down with chains, you shut up in prison, you punish by beasts, by the sword, by fire. And you are not content with the collection of our pains and with the simple and swift brevity of the punishments; you apply long torments by lacerating our bodies, you multiply the numerous punishments by tearing our vitals; nor can your savagery and inhumanity be content with customary torments; your ingenious cruelty devises new inflictions. What is this insatiable madness for torture, what this interminable lust for cruelty? Why not rather choose one of two alternatives: to be a Christian either is a crime or it is not. If it is a crime, why do you not kill him who confesses it? If it is not a crime, why do you persecute the innocent? For I ought to have been tortured, if I had denied it. If out of fear of your punishment I concealed with Lying deceit that which I had been before and that I had not worshipped your gods, then I ought to have been tortured, I ought to have been forced to a confession of the crime with force of pain, just as in other trials defendants who deny that they are guilty of the crime of which they are accused, so that the truth of the misdeed, which is not forthcoming by the testimony of the word, is extracted by pain of body. But now when of my free will I confess and cry out and with words frequent and repeated again and again I attest that I am a Christian, why do you apply tortures to me as I confess and destroy your gods not in hidden and secret places but openly and publicly in the very forum within the hearing of the magistrates and officers, so that, even if that with which you charged me before had been a little thing, it has increased to something which you ought both to hate and punish the more? Why, when I pronounce myself a Christian in a crowded place with people standing all around, and confound you and your gods by a clear and public pronouncement, why do you concern yourself with the weakness of the body, why do you contend with the feebleness of earthly flesh? Attack the vigor of the mind, break the strength of the mind, destroy faith, conquer, if you can, by discussion, conquer by reason.

Chapter 14

Indeed, if your gods have any divinity and power, let them themselves rise to their vindication, let them themselves defend themselves by their own majesty. But of what advantage can they be to their worshippers, who cannot avenge themselves on those who do not worship them. For if he who avenges is of greater power than he who is avenged, you are greater than your gods. Therefore, if you are greater than those whom you worship, you should not worship them, but you should be worshipped by them. Thus your vengeance defends them when afflicted, just as also your protection guards them, when enclosed, from perishing. You should be ashamed to worship those whom you yourself defend; you should be ashamed to hope for protection from those whom you protect.

Chapter 15

Oh, if you would hear and see them, when they are adjured by us, when they are tortured by spiritual scourges and are ejected by torments of words from the bodies of the possessed, when howling and groaning at a human voice and feeling the lashes and scourges of divine power they confess the judgment which is to come. Come and learn that what we say is true, and since you say that you thus worship the gods, then believe them whom you worship. Or if you should wish to believe yourself also, within your hearing he (the demon) will speak of you yourself, who now has possessed your breast, who now has blinded your mind with the night of ignorance. You will see that we are entreated by those whom you entreat, that we are feared by those whom you adore. You will see that they stand bound under our hand and tremble as captives whom you look up to and venerate as lords. Surely even so you can be confounded in those errors of yours, when you see and hear that your gods on our questioning immediately betray what they are, and that even in your presence cannot conceal those deceptions and trickeries.

Chapter 16

So what cowardice of mind is this, rather, what blind and stupid madness of fools not to come from darkness to the light, and when bound by the bonds of eternal death to be unwilling to receive the hope of immortality, not to fear God as He threatens saying: 'He that sacrificeth to gods shall be put to death, save only to the Lord'; and again: 'They have adored them whom their fingers have made, and man hath bowed himself down, and man hath been debased, and I shall not forgive them'? Why do you humble and bend yourself to false gods? Why do you bow your captive body before foolish images and creations of earth? God made you erect, and, although the other animals are prone and are depressed with posture bent toward earth, you have an exalted stature and a countenance raised upward toward heaven and the Lord. Look there, direct your eyes there, seek God on high. That you may be able to be free of things here below, hold up and raise your heart to the heavenly things on high. Why do you prostrate yourself into the ruin of death with the serpent whom you worship? Why do you fall into the destruction of the devil through him and with him? Preserve the sublime nature with which you were born. Persevere just as you were made by God. Establish your soul with the state of your face and body. That you may be able to know God, know yourself first. Abandon the idols which human error invented. Turn to God, and if you implore Him, He comes to your aid. Believe in Christ whom the Father sent to quicken and restore us. Cease to injure the servants of God and of Christ with your persecutions for when they are injured divine vengeance defends them.

Chapter 17

For this reason it is that no one of us fights back when he is apprehended, nor do our people avenge themselves against your unjust violence though numerous and plentiful. Our certainty of the vengeance which is to come makes us patient. The harmless give way to the harmful; the innocent acquiesce in the punishments and tortures certain and confident that whatever we suffer will not remain unavenged, and that the greater is the injury of the persecution, the more just and serious will be the vengeance for the persecution. Never is there any uprising from the wickedness of impious man against our name, that is not immediately accompanied by divine vengeance. To be silent on the old memories of the past and not to reflect upon the oft-repeated vengeances in behalf of the worshippers of God with clarion voice, the testimony of a recent event is enough to prove that our defense recently followed so swiftly and in such great swiftness, so mightily in the ruin of affairs, in the loss of wealth, in the waste of soldiers, and in a decrease of forts. And let no one think that this happened by chance or consider that it was fortuitous, since long ago divine Scripture laid down and said: 'Vengeance is mine, I shall repay, says the Lord,' and let the Holy Spirit again warn us saying: 'Say not: I will avenge myself on my enemy, but wait in the Lord so that He may aid thee.' Thus it is clear and manifest that not through us but for us do all these things happen which come down from the anger of God.

Chapter 18

Nor let anyone, therefore, think that Christians are not avenged by these things that happen, because they also seem to be affected by the onrush of events; that man feels the punishment of the adversities of the world whose every joy and glory is in the world; that man grieves and mourns if it is ill with him in this life, with whom it cannot be well after this life, the fruit of whose living is taken entirely here, whose solace is all ended here, whose fleeting and short life reckons some sweetness and pleasure here, but, when he has passed from here, only punishment unto grief remains. But there is no grief from the attack of present evils for those who have confidence in future blessings. Finally we are not prostrated by adversities, nor are we broken down, nor do we grieve, nor do we murmur in any catastrophe of events or in sickness of body. Living by the spirit rather than by the flesh we overcome the weakness of the body by the strength of the soul. By those very things that torture and weary us we know and are confident that we are proved and strengthened.

Chapter 19

Do you think that we endure adversities equally with you, when you see that the same adversities are not sustained equally by us and by you? With you there is always a clamorous and querulous impatience; with us there is a strong and religious patience always quiet and always grateful to God, and it does not claim anything here for itself, either pleasant or prosperous, but gentle and kind and firm against all the disturbances of a changing world it awaits the time of the divine promise. For as long as this body remains common with the rest, its corporal condition must also be common, and it is not granted the members of the human race to be separated from one another, unless there is withdrawal from this life. Meanwhile, we, good and evil, are contained within our house. Whatever comes within the house we endure with equal fate, until, when our temporal earthly period has been fulfilled, we are distributed among the homes of eternal death or immortality. So then we are not comparable and equal with you, because, while we are still in this world and in this flesh, we incur equally with you the annoyances of the world and of the flesh. For since all that punishes is in the sense of pain, it is manifest that he is not a participant in your punishment whom you see does not suffer pain with you.

Chapter 20

There flourishes with us the strength of hope and firmness of faith, and in the midst of the very ruins of a collapsing world our mind is lifted up and our courage is unshaken, and never is our patience unhappy, and our soul is always secure in its God, just as the Holy Spirit says and exhorts through the prophet, strengthening the firmness of our hope and faith by His heavenly voice. He says: 'The fig tree shall not bear fruit, and there shall be no spring in the vines. The labor of the olive tree shall deceive and the fields shall yield no food. The sheep shall lack pasture, and there shall be no oxen in the stable. But I will rejoice in the Lord, and I will joy in God my Savior. He says that the man of God and the worshipper of God relying on the truth of hope and established in the stability of faith is not moved by the assaults of this world and life. Although the vine fails and the olive deceives and the field with its grass dying from drought becomes parched and withers, what is this to Christians? What to God's servants whom paradise invites, whom all the graces and abundance of the heavenly kingdom awaits? They always exult in the Lord and rejoice and are happy in their God and bravely endure the evils and adversities of the world, while they look forward to the blessings and prosperity of the future. For we, who after putting off our earthly birth, have been recreated and reborn in the Spirit and no longer live to the world but to God, will not receive God's gifts and promises except when we have come to God. And yet for warding off the enemy and for obtaining rain and for either removing or mitigating adversities we always beseech and pour forth prayers, and, propitiating and placating God, we pray constantly and fervently day and night for your peace and salvation.

Chapter 21

Thus let no one flatter himself that meanwhile for us and the profane, the worshippers of God and the adversaries of God by reason of the equality of flesh and body there is a common condition of worldly troubles, so that from this he think that not all the things that happen are imposed upon you, since by the prediction of God Himself and the attestation of the prophets it was predicted before that God's wrath would come upon the unjust, that persecutions which would harm us in a human way would not be lacking, but also that vengeance to defend in a divine way those who were hurt would follow.

Chapter 22

How great the things which meanwhile are being done here for us! Something is given as an example that the wrath of God may be known. But on the other hand there is the day of judgment which holy Scripture announces saying: 'Howl ye, for the day o£ the Lord is near: it shall come as a destruction from the Lord. For behold the day of the Lord shall come, a cruel day, and full of indignation, and of wrath, to lay the land desolate, and to destroy the sinners out of it.' And again: 'Behold the day of the Lord comes kindled as a furnace, and all the proud and all the wicked shall be as stubble; and the day coming shall set them on fire, says the Lord.' The Lord prophecies that aliens will be burned and consumed, that is, aliens from the divine race, and the profane, those who have not been reborn spiritually and have not become sons of God. For in another place God says that only those can escape who have been reborn and signed with the sign of Christ; when sending His angels to lay waste the world and to destroy the human race He threatens more seriously than the last time, saying: 'Go ye and slay and do not spare your eyes. Do not have pity on the old or the young, but slay the maidens and the women and the children that they may be blotted out. But everyone on whom the sign has been written you shall not touch.' But what this sign is and in what part of the body it is placed, God makes clear in another place saying: 'Go through the midst of Jerusalem and mark the sign upon the foreheads of the men who mourn and grieve for all the iniquities that are done in the midst of them.' And that this sign pertains to the passion and blood of Christ and that he is kept safe and unharmed whoever is found in this sign, is likewise proved by the testimony of God who says: 'And the blood shall be unto you for a sign upon the houses where you shall be; and I shall see the blood and shall protect you, and the plague of destruction shall not be on you, when I shall strike the hand of Egypt.' What preceded before in a figure in the slaying of a lamb is fulfilled in Christ the truth which followed later. Just as then, when Egypt was smitten, no one could escape except by the blood and sign of the lamb, so too, when the world begins to be laid waste and smitten, he alone escapes who is found in the blood and sign of Christ.

Chapter 23

Therefore, while there is time, look to the trees, and eternal salvation, and, since the end of the world is now at hand, out of fear of God turn your minds to God. Let not your powerless and vain dominion in the world over the just and the meek delight you, since also in the fields the tares and the darnel have dominion over the cultivated and fruitful corn, and you should not say that evils happen because your gods are not worshipped by us, but you should realize that this is God's anger, this is God's censure, so that He who is not recognized for His blessings may at least be recognized for His plagues. Seek God at least late, since He has now for a long time been warning and exhorting you through the prophet, saying: 'Seek God, and your soul shall live.' Acknowledge God at least late, because Christ too at His coming advises and teaches this, saying: 'Now this is everlasting life, that they may know Thee the only true God, and him whom Thou hast sent, Jesus Christ.' Believe Him who by no means deceives. Believe Him who has foretold that all these things would come to pass. Believe Him who will give the reward of eternal life to those who believe. Believe Him who by the fires of Gehenna will inflict eternal punishments on the incredulous.

Chapter 24

What glory of the faith will there be then, what punishment for perfidy, when the day of judgment shall come! What joy for believers, what sorrow for unbelievers, that they were unwilling before to believe here and cannot now return to believe! An ever burning Gehenna and a devouring punishment of lively flames will consume the condemned, and there will be no means whereby the torments can at any time have respite and end. Souls with their bodies will be reserved in infinite tortures for suffering. There he will be seen always by us, who here saw us for a time, and the brief of cruel eyes in the persecutions that took place will be compensated by a perpetual spectacle according to the faith of holy Scripture which says: "Their worm shall not die and their fire shall not be extinguished, and they shall be for a spectacle for all flesh.' And again: 'Then shall the just stand with great constancy against those that have afflicted them and taken away their labors. These seeing it shall be troubled with great fear, and shall be amazed at the suddenness of their unexpected salvation, saying within themselves, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit: "These are they whom we had some time in derision, and for a parable of reproach" We fools esteemed their life madness and their end without honor. How are they numbered among the sons of God and their lot is among the saints? Therefore, we have erred from the way of truth, and the light of justice hath not shined unto us, and the sun hath not risen upon us. We wearied ourselves in the way of iniquity and destruction and have walked through hard ways, but the way of the Lord we have not known. What hath pride profited us? Or, what advantage hath the boasting of riches brought us? All those things are passed away like a shadow.' Then there will be the pain of punishment without the fruit of repentance, useless weeping, and ineffectual prayer. Too late do they believe in eternal punishment who were unwilling to believe in eternal life.

Chapter 25

Therefore, while you may, provide for security and life. We offer you the salutary aid of our mind and counsel. And since we may not hate, and thus we are more pleasing to God, while we do not return injury for injury, we urge, while the opportunity is at hand, while there still remains something of this life, to make satisfaction to God, and to come forth from the depth of dark superstition into the bright light of true religion. We do not envy your advantages nor do we conceal divine benefits. We repay your hatreds with kindness, and for the torments and punishments which are inflicted upon us we point out the ways of salvation. Believe and live, and do you who persecute us in time rejoice with us for eternity. When there has been a withdrawal hence, then there is no opportunity for repentance, no accomplishment of satisfaction. Here life is either lost or kept; here by the worship of God, and by the fruit of faith provision is made for eternal salvation. Let no one either by sins or by years be retarded from coming to the acquiring of salvation. To him who still remains in this world no repentance is too late. The approach to God's forgiveness is open, and for those who seek and understand the truth the access is easy. Although you entreat for your sins at the very end and sunset of temporal life and you implore God who is one and true by the confession and faith of the acknowledgment of Him, pardon is granted to him who confesses, and to him who believes saving forgiveness is conceded out of God's goodness, and there is a crossing into immortality at the very moment of death.

Chapter 26

This grace does Christ bestow; this gift of His mercy He confers by undergoing death with the victory of the cross, by redeeming the believer at the price of His blood, by reconciling man with God the Father, by quickening mortality by heavenly regeneration. This one, if it can be done, let us follow; under the sacrament and sign of this one let us be counted. This one opens up to us the way of life; this one causes us to be led back to paradise; this one guides us to the kingdom of heaven. With Him we shall always live, having become sons of God through Him; with Him we shall always rejoice, having been restored by His blood. We Christians will be both glorious with Christ and blessed of God the Father, rejoicing in perpetual delight always in the sight of God, and giving thanks to God always. For he cannot be other than ever happy and grateful who, after he has been subject to death, has been made secure in immortality.