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then should a christian be fond of that which hates him ; and not rather follow Christ, who hath given him so great a proof of his love, by undertaking to redeem him? St. John has pronounced upon this subject with great vehemence, and warned us against being seduced by the lusts of the flesh into an irregular love of the world. “ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If
any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." Wherefore, my beloved brethren, it will become us to resign ourselves entirely to the will of God, with courage and constancy, and to prepare ourselves for any portion which he shall be pleased to allot us: we should lay aside all cowardly apprehension of death, and think only of that life and immortality to which it leads us : We should shew the power of our faith, by bearing the departure of our dearest friends without undue emotion; and when it shall please God to call us, in our own persons, to himself, we should gladly receive his summons, and follow him with cheerfulness and without delay.
15. This is a conduct at all times fit for the servants of God; but at no time more fit than
now; when the world is hastening to its period, and is already surrounded with various evils, which are the harbingers of its approaching catastrophe. We, therefore, who observe them begun, and know that worse are coming, should esteem it our privilege and advantage to be removed out of the way of them.—Should the walls of your house be bulging, through length of time, and threaten its sudden fall, would you not make all the haste you could to get out of it? Should a storm arise when you are out at sea, and forebode a wreck to you, would you not crowd your sails, and make with all speed to harbour ? The world, my brethren, gives you as plain prognostics of its end approaching, though not so much from the length of its continuance, as from having reached its appointed period ; and will you not then give thanks to God and congratulate your own felicity, when you are permitted to make your retreat betimes, and to escape thereby the shocks and terrors of its dissolution ?
16. Finally, we should ever carry it in our thoughts, and improve it into a standing principle, that we have solemnly renounced the world, and therefore, whilst we continue in it, should behave like strangers and pilgrims. Hence we should thankfully welcome that happy day which is to fix us, each, in our proper habitation, to rescue us from the various embarrassments of the world, to disengage us from its perplexities and snares,
and to restore us to a state of paradise, and to the kingdom of heaven. Who amongst us, if he had been long a sojourner in a foreign land, would not desire a return to his native country? Who, when he had begun to sail thither, would not wish for a prosperous wind to carry him home with expedition, that he might the sooner embrace his friends and relations? We now should account paradise our proper country, as we have already begun to reckon the patriarchs our fathers; and therefore should be fond of hasting to the sight of that country, to the embraces of our parents and our friends. There friends, and parents, and brethren, and children, without number wait for us, and long to congratulate our happy arrival ; they are in secure possession of their own felicity, and want only the accession of ours to finish and complete it. How great must we then conceive will be our common joy upon the transport of our meeting together in those blessed abodes? How unutterable must be the pleasures of the kingdom of heaven, which have no allay from any danger of their discontinuance, but are sure and immutable for evermore, as having eternity added to the highest degrees of bliss ? There we shall meet with the glorious choir of the apostles; with the goodly company of the prophets ; with an innumerable multitude of holy martyrs, who, agreeably to the commands of Christ, have wrought their several works of righteousness, and are honoured
with their crowns of victory. To this delightful society, and to Christ who is at the head of it, let us hasten, my brethren, upon the wings of desire, and of a holy love, and let God and Christ observe, that this is the main bent of our wishes, and the sum of our most ardent hopes.
THE LETTER TO THE GOVERNOR
The Pestilence which had raged in Africa was succeeded
by Famine: and as Demetrian often urged that these judgments were owing to the contempt which the Christians had shewn for the gods, Cyprian, in a powerful reply, both defended the Christians from the injurious imputations of their persecutors, and also pointed out the causes of all national afflictions.
1. As you have often visited me, Demetrian, rather with the design of disputing and contradicting every thing, than of learning any thing; and as you always chose to obtrude upon me boldly your own sense, rather than to hear mine with patience and attention, I judged it impertinent and insignificant to maintain a dispute with you; since I could as easily silence the noise of the roaring sea, as put a stop to any clamour by reason or discourse. Upon these considerations, I have often held my peace, and have only opposed my patience to your fury; as knowing well it would be in vain to attempt instructing the unteachable, restraining impiety by any persuasives of religion, or controlling your mad excursions by mild and gentle treatment. But since you suggest a general complaint against us, and charge upon us the wars, the distempers, and the famine, wherewith the