Hoc denique inter nos et ceteros interest qui Deum nesciunt, quod illi in adversis queruntur et murmurant, nos adversa non avocant a virtutis et fidei veritate, sed corroborant in dolore. hoc quod nunc corporis vires solutus in fluxum venter eviscerat, quod in faucium vulnera conceptus medullitus ignis exaestuat, quod assiduo vomitu intestina quatiuntur, quod oculi vi sanguinis inardescunt, quod quorundam vel pedes vel aliquae membrorum partes contagio morbidae putredinis amputantur, quod per iacturas et damna corporum prorumpente languore vel debilitatur incessus, vel auditus obstruitur, vel caecatur aspectus, ad documentum proficit fidei. contra tot impetus vastitatis et mortis inconcussi animi virtutibus congredi quanta pectoris magnitudo est? quanta sublimitas inter ruinas generis humani stare erectum, nec cum eis, quibus spes in Deum nulla est, iacere prostratum? gratulari magis oportet et temporis munus amplecti, quod, dum nostram fidem fortiter promimus, et labore tolerato ad Christum per angustam Christi viam pergimus, praemium vitae eius et fidei ipso iudicante capiamus.
(Cyprian, De Mortalitate 10)
This, in short, is the difference between us and others who know not God, that in misfortune they complain and murmur, while adversity does not call us away from the truth of virtue and faith, but strengthens us by its suffering. This trial, that now the bowels, relaxed into a constant flux, discharge the bodily strength; that a fire originated in the marrow ferments into wounds of the fauces; that the intestines are shaken with a continual vomiting; that the eyes are on fire with the injected blood; that in some cases the feet or some parts of the limbs are taken off by the contagion of diseased putrefaction; that from the weakness arising by the maiming and loss of the body, either the gait is enfeebled, or the hearing is obstructed, or the sight darkened;—is profitable as a proof of faith. What a grandeur of spirit it is to struggle with all the powers of an unshaken mind against so many onsets of devastation and death! what sublimity, to stand erect amid the desolation of the human race, and not to lie prostrate with those who have no hope in God; but rather to rejoice, and to embrace the benefit of the occasion; that in thus bravely showing forth our faith, and by suffering endured, going forward to Christ by the narrow way that Christ trod, we may receive the reward of His life and faith according to His own judgment! (tr. Ernest Wallis)