To the Beraeans.2
The Lord has given great consolation to all who are deprived of personal intercourse in allowing them to communicate by letter. By this means, it is true, we cannot learn the express image of the body, but we can learn the disposition of the very soul. Thus on the present occasion, when I had received the letter of your reverences, I at the same moment recognised you, and took your love towards me into my heart, and needed no long time to create intimacy with you. The disposition shewn in your' letter was quite enough to enkindle in me affection for the beauty of your soul. And, besides your letter, excellent as it was, I had a yet plainer proof of how things are with you from the amiability of the brethren who have been the means of communication between us. The well-beloved and reverend presbyter Acacius, has told me much in addition to what you have written, and has brought before my eyes the conflict you have to keep up day by day, and the stoutness of the stand you are making for the true religion. He has thus so moved my admiration, and roused in me so earnest a desire of enjoying the good qualities in you, that I do pray the Lord that a time may come when I may know you and yours by personal experience. He has told me of the exactitude of those of you who are entrusted with the ministry of the altar, and moreover of the harmonious agreement of all the people, and the generous character and genuine love towards God of the magistrates and chief men of your city. I consequently congratulate the Church on consisting of such members, and pray that spiritual peace may be given to you in yet greater abundance, to the end (hat in quieter times you may derive enjoyment from your labours in the day of affliction. For sufferings that are painful while they are being experienced are naturally often remembered with pleasure. For the present I beseech you not to faint. Do not despair because your troubles follow so closely one upon another. Your crowns are near: the help of the Lord is near. Do not let all you have hitherto undergone go l for nothing; do not nullify a struggle which has been famous over all the world. Human life is but of brief duration. "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. ... The grass withereth, tile flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand for ever."3 Let us hold fast to the commandment that abideth, and despise the unreality that passeth away. Many Churches have been cheered by your example. In calling new champions into the field you have won for yourselves a great reward, though you knew it not. The Giver of the prize is rich. and is able to reward you not unworthily for your brave deeds.