Some bewail and lament the inmates of the prison, some those who have been expelled from their country and transported to the land of exile, others those who have been deprived of their freedom, others those who have been seized and made captives by enemies, others those who have been drowned, or burnt, or buried by the fall of a house, but no one mourns those who are living in wickedness: on the contrary, which is worse than all, they often congratulate them, a practice which is the cause of all manner of evils …

Let us determine what is the virtue of man, and let us regard that alone as an injury, which is destructive to it. What then is the virtue of man? not riches that you should fear poverty: nor health of body that you should dread sickness, nor the opinion of the public, that you should view an evil reputation with alarm, nor life simply for its own sake, that death should be terrible to you: nor liberty that you should avoid servitude: but carefulness in holding true doctrine, and rectitude in life. Of these things not even the devil himself will be able to rob a man, if he who possesses them guards them with the needful carefulness: and that most malicious and ferocious demon is aware of this …

Joseph’s brethren did indeed injure him, yet he himself was not injured: and Cain laid snares for Abel, yet he himself was riot ensnared. This is the reason why there are penalties and punishments. For God does not abolish penalties on account of the virtue of those who suffer; but he ordains punishments on account of the malice of those who do wickedly. For although they who are evil entreated become more illustrious in consequence of the designs formed against them, this is not due to the intention of those who plan the designs, but to the courage of those who are the victims of them. Wherefore for the latter the rewards of philosophy are made ready and prepared, for the former the penalties of wickedness.

Have you been deprived of your money? Read the word “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither.” And add to this the apostolic saying “for we brought nothing into this world; it is certain we can carry nothing out.” Are you evil reported of, and have some men loaded you with countless abuse? Remember that passage where it is said “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you” and “rejoice ye and leap for joy when they shall cast upon you an evil name.” Have you been transported into the land of exile? Consider that you have not here a fatherland, but that if you will be wise you are bidden to regard the whole world as a strange country. Or have you been given over to a sore disease? quote the apostolic saying “the more our outward man decayeth, so much the more is the inward man renewed day by day.” Has any one suffered a violent death? consider the case of John, his head cut off in prison, carried in a charger, and made the reward of a harlot’s dancing. Consider the recompense which is derived from these things: for all these sufferings when they are unjustly inflicted by any one on another, expiate sins, and work righteousness. So great is the advantage of them in the case of those who bear them bravely …

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