Cyprian Share his Testimony of Being Born Again with Donatus   Leave a comment

“While i was still lying in darkness and gloomy night, wavering hither and thither, tossed about on the foam of this boastful age, and uncertain of my wandering steps, knowing nothing of my real life, and remote from truth and light, i used to regard it as a difficult matter, and especially as difficult in respect of my character at that time, that a man should be capable of being born again – a truth which the divine mercy had announced for my salvation – and that a man quickened to a new life in the laver of saving water should be able to put off what he had previously been; and, although retaining all his bodily structure, should be himself changed in heart and soul. ‘How,’ said I, ‘is such a  conversion possible, that there should be a sudden and rapid divestment of all which, either innate in us has hardened in the corruption of our material nature, or acquired by us has become inveterated by long accustomed use? These things have become deeply and radically engrained within us. When does he learn thrift who has been used to liberal banquets and sumptuous feasts? And he who has been glittering in gold and purple, and has been celebrated for his costly attire, when does he reduce himself to ordinary and simple clothing ? One who has felt the charm of the fasces and of civic honours shrinks from becoming a mere private and inglorious citizen. The man who is attended by crowds of clients, and dignified by the numerous association  of an officious train, regards it as a punishment when he is alone. It is inevitable, as it ever has been, that the love of wine should entice, pride inflate, anger inflame, covetousness disquiet, cruelty stimulate, ambition delight, lust hasten to ruin, with allurements that will not let go their hold.’

These were my frequent thoughts. For as i myself was held in bonds by the innumerable errors of my previous life, from which i did not believe that i could by possibility be delivered, so i was disposed to acquiesce in my clinging vices; and because i despaired of better things, i used to indulge my sins as if they were actually parts of me and indigenous to me. But after that, by the help of the water of new birth, the stain of former years had been washed away, and a light from above, serene and pure, had been infused into my reconciled heart, – after that, by the agency of the Spirit breathed from heaven, a second birth had restored me to a new man; – then, in a wondrous manner, doubtful things at once began to assure themselves to me, hidden things to be revealed, dark things to be enlightened, what before had seemed difficult began to suggest a means of accomplishment, what had been thought impossible, to be capable of being achieved; so that i was enabled to acknowledge that what previously, being born of the flesh, had been living in the practice of sins, was of the earth earthly, but had now begun to be  of God, and was animated by the Spirit of holiness. You yourself assuredly know and recollect as well as i do what was taken away from us, and what was given to us by that death of evil, and that life of virtue. You yourself assuredly know and recollect as well as i do what was taken away from us, and what was given to us by that death of evil, and that life of virtue. You yourself know this without my information. Anything like boasting in one’s own praise is hateful although we cannot in reality boast  but only be grateful for whatever we do not ascribe to man’s virtue but declare to be the gift of God; so that now we sin not is the beginning of the work of faith, whereas that we sinned before was the result of human error. All our power is of God; I say, of God. From Him we have life, from Him we have strength, by power derived and conceived from Him we do, while yet in this world, foreknow that indications of things to come. Only let fear be the keeper of innocence, that the Lord, who of His mercy has flowed into our hearts in the access of celestial gaze, may be kept by righteous submissiveness in the hostelry of a grateful mind, that the assurance we have gained may not beget carelessness, and so the old enemy creep upon us again.”

Epistle 1, To Donatus

 

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Posted March 31, 2014 by FiveSolas in Uncategorized

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