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The treatises of S. Caecilius Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, and martyr online

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2. Our words however and entreatings, when we pray,
must be under nde. They must have quietness and modesty
in them. We must consider that we stand in God's presence.
The carriage of body and the measure of voice, must find
acceptance with the Eye divine. As the man who has no
shame will lift aloft his voice in clamour, so not less will it
belong to one of modest character, to use a measure in
praying. INIoreover the Lord has bade us in His instiiictions
to pray secretly, in remote and withdrawn places, and even
in our chambers, as best suited to faith ; that we may be
assured that God, who is present every where, hears and sees
all, and in the fulness of His jNlajcsty penetrates even con-
Jer.23, ccaled and hidden places; as it is written, / am a God at
' hand, and not a God far off. If a wan shall hide himself in

Prayer must be calm and arave. yet intense. 179

secret place<i, shall I not then see him ? Do not I Jill heaven
and earth ? And again, The eyes of the Lord are in every Prov.


place, beholding the evil and the good. And when we come ' '

together into one place with the brethren, and celebrate divine

sacrifices with the Priest of God, we ought to give regard to

a modest and disciplined feeling, not lifting our prayers

abroad in disorderly tones of sjieech, nor tossing in a tumult

of words a petition that should be commended with modesty

to God, for God listens to the heart, not the voice. He needs

no loud words to remind Him, who sees the thoughts of men,

as the Lord shews us when He says, IMiy think ye evil in your Mat. 9,

hearts? And in another place, And all the Churches shall^'

Rev. 2,
know that I am He that searcheth the hearts and reins. 23.

Hannah, who in the first book of Kings contains a type of the
Church, was faithful and obedient herein; making her prayer
to the Lord, not with clamorous entreating, but silently and
modestly within the hidden depth of her breast. She spoke
with hidden prayer, but with faith manifest ; not with her voice,
but with her heart she spoke, because she knew that God so
hears; and she gained her petition effectually, because she
asked it faithfully. Divine Scripture declares this, thus speak-
ing ; She spake in her heart, and Iter lips moved, and her \ Sam.
voice uas not lieard; and God did hear her. We read like- ^' ^^'
wise in the Psalms: Commune in your hearts and upon your Ps. 4, 4.
beds, and be pierced. By Jeremiah likewise the Holy Spirit
suggests the same things, and teaches us, saying, In the heart, Baruch
O God, u-e ought to icorship Thee. Let a worshipper, dearest^' ^*
brethren, be not ignorant how the Publican prayed with the
Pharisee in the Temple ; not \\\\\\ the presumption to lift up
his eyes to heaven, nor ha^-ing confidence to upraise his
hands; but striking upon his breast, and giving testimony of
the sins enclosed within, he implored help from the divine
mercy; and while the Pharisee was satisfied with himself,
this man, thus asking, obtained rather to be sanctified, who meruit,
placed the hope of salvation not in a reliance on his own
innocence, for no man is innocent, but hvunbly prayed with a
confession of his sins, and praying was heard of Him, who
pardons the humble. These things the Lord in His Gospel
thus puts forth and declares; Tuo men uent np into /7jeLukel8,
Tetnple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. '^•

N 2

180 The Lord's Prayer teaches us the duty of united prayer,

Trfat. TJie Phariseestood, and prayed thiistriih himself; God, 1 thank
^ '^- Thee that I am not as other men are, unjust, extortioners,
adulterers, even a* this publican. I fast twice in the week, I
(jive tithes of all that I possess. But the publican stood afar off,
and would not so much as lift up his eyes unto heaven, but smote
upon his breast, sayiny, God be merciful to me a sinner. I say
unto you, this man went down to his house justified rather
than the Pharisee; for every one that e.valteth hitnself shall
be abased, and whosoever humbleth himself shall be exalted.

3. These things, clearest brethren, learning from the sacred
lesson, when we understand how to betake ourselves unto
prayer, next let us understand from the Lord's teaching, what

Mat.6,9. prayer we ought to make. After this manner, He saith, pray ye.

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy
Name. Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done as in
heaven so IN earth: give us this day our daily bread,


EVIL. Amen.

4. First of all the Teacher of peace and Master of unity,
would not have men pray singly and severally, since, when
anv prays, he is not to pray for himself only. For we say
not, ' My Father, \vhicli art in heaven;' nor ' Give me this
day my bread;' nor does each individual pray that his own
debt onlv should be forgiven, or ask for himself alone, not to
be led into temptation, or to be delivered from evil. Our
prayer is general and for all ; and when we pray, we pray
not for one person but for us all, because we all are one.
God, the Master of peace and concord, so willed that one
should pray for all, according as Himself in one did bear
us all. This rule of prayer the Three Children shut up
in the fiery furnace kept, being in unison in prayer, and being
concordant in an agreement of spirit. The authority of
Divine Scripture declares this, and in teaching how such
persons pravcd, it gives an example which we ought to
imitate in our prayers, in order that we may become like

Song of them. Then the three, it says, as out of one mouth, sany an
rhi?dren '"/'""* '""^ blessed the Lord. They spake as out of one
V. 28. niouth, though Christ had not yet taught them to pray.

and that ice hare no Father upon earth. 181

Hence in prayer their words were availing and effectual,
because the Lord was gained by peaceable and simple and
spiritual jiraying. It was thus too that we find the Apostles
and disciples prayed, after the Ascension of the Lord; They Acts i,
all, we are told, continued uith one accord in prayer with the
iro/nen, and Mary the Mother of Jesux, and His brethren.
They continued with one accord in prayer, manifesting at
the same time the instancy of their praying, and the agree-
ment. Because God icho vtaketJi men to he of one mind in Ps.68,6.
an houae, admits into the house divine and eternal those only
among whom is unanimous prayer.

5. What sacraments, dearest brethren, are those of the
Lord's Prayer! Plow numerous! how weighty! gathered up
in {q'w words, but with such wealth of spiritual virtue, that
not any thing, for prayer and petition of ours, is left unin-
cluded in this comprehension of heavenly doctrine. After
this manner, He saith, pray ye: Our Father, which art in
hearen. The new man, bom again, and restored to his God
by His grace, first of all says, " Father," because he has now
become a son. He came, He tells us, to His oun, and His John i,
oun received Him not. But as many as received Him, to '
them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them

that believe in His Xame. He then who has believed in His
Name, and is become a son of God, ought from hence to
make beginning both of thanksgiving, and of avowing himself
God's son, when he speaks of God as his Father in heaven;
and of testif\iug his renunciation of an earthly and fleshly
father, and his recognizing and beginning to have one Father
onlv, which is in heaven: according as it is written, 77ieuDeut.

33 9

who say iinto their father and to their mother, I have not '
known thee, and who have not acknowledged their own
children, these have observed Thy word, and kept Thy
covenant. The Lord likewise in the Gospel commands us,
not to name us a Father who is on earth, because to us /.?Mat. 23,
one Father, which is in heaven. And to the disciple ^'ho ^j^^ g
made mention of his dead father, He gave answer, Let the^i-
dead bury their dead ; for he had spoken of his father as
being dead, while the Father of believers is living.

6. Neither, dearest brethren, have we only to consider and
observe, that we speak of One in heaven as a Father, but we

182 The xcord Son implies remission of sins.

Tpi»t. go further, and say, Our Father, — Father, that is, of those who

-^21^ believe, of those who being sancliliecl by Him and niade
again by a nativity of spiritual graee, have begun to be the
sons of God. This exjjression does also apply reproof and
condemnation to the Jews, who not only unbelievingly de-
spised Christ, foretold to them by the Prophets, and first sent
to themselves, but also cnielly slew Jlim. They can no
more call God their Father, for the Lord confounds and

John 8, convicts them, saying, Ye are of your father the Devil, and
the lusts of your father ye nill do. He was a murderer from
the hcyinniny, and abode not in the truth, because there is no
truth in him. x\nd by Isaiah the Prophet, God speaks forth

Is. I, 3. in His wrath; / have nourished and brought up children, but
they hare despised Me. The ox knoueth his ouner, and the
ass his master's orib, but Israel doth not know. My j)eople
doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with
iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that are corrupters: ye
have forsaken the Lord, ye have provoked the Holy One of
Israel to anger. In condemnation of them, we Christians,
when we pray, say, Our Father, because He has begun to be
ours, and no longer belongs to the Jews, who have forsaken
Him. A sinful people cannot be a son ; but they to whom
remission of sins is given, to them is given the name of sons,
and to them eternity is promised in the words of the Lord

John 8, Himself; Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

^*- And the servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the Son
abideth for ever. What indulgence is it of the Lord, what
exuberance of condescension and goodness towards us, to
peniiit us when praying in God's presence to address our-
selves to God as a Father, and name ourselves sons of God,
even as Christ is Son of God! — a name, which none of us in
prayer would have dared to reach unto, had not He Himself
allowed us thus to pray. We should therefore, dearest bretliren,
recollect and feel, that when we call God a Father, we ought to
act like sons of (Jod, and if we have a comfort in regarding Him
as our Father, let us cause that He may be comforted in us. Let
us so walk, as the Temples of God, that it may be known that
God dwellcth in us. Let our conduct not I'all away from the
Spirit, but let us, who have begun to be spiritual and heavenly,
have only spiritual and heavenly thoughts and actions, for the

Need of daily cleamin(/ of our sins by daily sanctif cation. 183

Lord God Himself hath said, T/teu that honour Me, I will i Sam.

2 30
honour; and lie ihat despi.seih Mc% shall he despised. The '

blessed Apostle has likewise in his Epistle set forth : Ye are l Cor.

not your on-n, with a great price ye are bouyJit. Glorify (md '^^^[^

possess God in your body. Deum.

7. After this we say, Hallowed he Tliy Name; not as °'
wishing for God to be made holy by our prayers, but asking

of Him, for His Name to be kept holy in us. By whom
indeed could God be sanctified, who Himself sanctifies ?
But seeing He has Himself said. Be ye holy, for I also Lev. 20,
avi holy, it is this that we ask and request, that we who have "
been sanctified in Baptism, may persevere such as we have
begim. For this we daily make petition : since we need
a daily sanctification, in order that we, who sin day by day,
may cleanse afresh our offences by a continual sanctification.
What that sanctification is, which God's good pleasure confers
on us, the Apostle in these words expresses : Neither forni- 1 Cor. 6,
cators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers
of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor
drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the
kingdom of God. And such were some of you ; but ye are washed,
but ye are justified, but ye are sanctified, in the Name of our
Lord Jesus Christ, andhy the Spirit of our God. He says that we
are sanctified in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by
the Spirit of our God. We pray that this sanctification may
remain in us : and as our Lord and Judge warns the man to
whom He had given healing and fi-esh life, to sin no more lest
a worse thing should come upon him, we make petition with
continual prayers, by day and by night we make our request,
that the sanctification and renewed life, which is obtained
from God's grace, may be preserved by His protection.

8. It follows in our Prayer, Thy kingdom come. We here
entreat, that the kingdom of God may be manifested unto us,
in the same way that we ask that His Name may be hallowed
in us. For when is God's kmgdom not.^ or when begins
^■ith Him, that which both ever has been, and will be ever?
We pray for the connng of that our kingdom, which has been
promised to us by God, and was gained by the Blood and
passion of Christ; that we who have continued His subjects
in the life below, may afterward reign in Christ's kingdom,

184 }ye ore iiut stronr/ in ourselves, but safe in God's mercy.

Treat, according to His own promise and word : Come, ye blessed of
RJat 25 '^^'-^ I'atlier, inherit the kin<jdom prepared for you, from the
'6\. ' heyinninij of the world. The kingdom of God, dearest
brethren, may stand for Christ Himself, ^^•hom we day by day
wish to come, and for whose advent we pray, that it be
qnickly manifested to us. As He is our Resurrection, because
in Him we rise again ; so may He be called the kingdom of
God, because we are to reign in Him. Kiglitly we ask for
God's kingdom, that is, for the heavenly, because there is a
kingdom of this earth beside. He, however, who has renounced
the world, is superior to its honours and its kingdom ; and
hence he who dedicates himself to God and to Christ, longs
not for the kingdom of earth, but for the kingdom of heaven.
Need have we of continual supplication and prayer, that we
perish not from the heavenly kingdom, as the Jews perished
to whom it had aforetime been promised, as the Lord has
i\iat. 8, taught and assured us; Many, saith He, shall come from the
east andfrotn the icest, and shall sit down with Abraham and
Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the children
of the kingdom shall be cast into outer darkness; there shall
be weeping and gnashing of teeth. He shews that the Jews
were children of the kingdom before, so long as they held on
to be God's children; but when they lost their concern in
the Name of Father, they lost that in the kingdom also.
Thus Christians being now admitted to address God in
prayer as our Father, make petition also that His kingdom
may come to us.

9. We further go on to say. Thy will be done, as in heaven so
in earth : not in order that God may do His own will, but that
we may be enabled to do what He wills should be done by us.
For who resists God, so that He cannot do His own will ?
Yet .since we are resisted by the Devil, so that our disposition
and conduct does less submit itself to God in all points, we
pray and desire, that the Mill of God may be done in us ; and
that it may be done in us, we stand in need of that will, that
is, of God's aid and protection ; for no man is strong by his
own strength, but is safe in the indulgence and pity of God.
Furthermore the Lord, manifesting, the infmnity of that
liomiris. human nature u liich He bare, says, Father, if it be possible,
3^!" '^'fff fb'"^ <'iip pass from Me; and yielding lo His Disciples

The will of God, the one principle of moral excellence in us. 185

the example of doing not their own will but that of God, He
added, Yet fiat My will hut Thine be done. And in another
place He savs, I came down from heaven, )iot to do Mij o/r// -'ohn 6,
will, hut the will of Him thai sent Me. If then the Son was
obedient, in doing His Father's will, how much more ought
the servant to be obedient, in doing the will of his Lord ;
even as John also in his Epistle thus exhorts and instructs
us; Love not the world, neither the thinys that are in the lJohn2,
world ; if any man love the world, the lore of the Father is^^'
not in him. For all that is in the world, is lust of the flesh,
and lust of the eyes, and pride of life, which is not of
the Father, hut is of the lust of the world. And the world
passeth away, and the lust thereof: hut he that doeth the
will of God, ahideth for ever, like as God also ahideth far
ever. Would we abide eternally, we must do the will of God,
who is eternal.

10. The will of God, is what Christ has done and taught:
it is humility in conduct, it is stedl'astness in faith, scrupulous-
ness in our words, rectitude in our deeds, mercy in our
works, governance in our habits ; it is innocence of injiu-ious-
ness, and patience under it, preserving peace with the
Brethren, loving God with all our heart, loving Him as our
Father, and fearing Him as our God ; accounting Clirist
before all things, because He accoimted nothing before us,
clinging inseparably to His love, being stationed with fortitude
and faith at His Cross, and when the battle comes for His
Name and honour, maintaining in words that constancy
which makes confession, in torture that confidence which
joms battle, and in death that patience which receives the
crown. This it is, to endeavour to be coheir with Christ ;
this it is to perfonn the conmiandment of God, and fidfil the^^^'m-
will of the Father. P'"'^'

11. It is our prayer, that the will of God may be done,
both in heaven, and in earth; each of which bears toward
the accomplishment of our health and salvation. Having a
body from the earth, and a spirit from heaven, we are both
earth and heaven ; in l)oth, that is, both in body and spirit,
we pray that God's will may be done. Flesh and spirit have
a strife between them, a daily encounter from their mutual
quarrel, so that we cannot do the things that we would.

186 Different senses in which GocTs iclU may he done un earth.
Til EAT. because the spirit seeks thin<^s heavenly and divine, the flesh


desires things earthly and temporal. Hence it is our earnest
prayer, that, by God's help and aid, a peace may be esta-
blished between these two, that by the doing of God's will,
both in the spirit and flesh, that soul may be preserved which
has been bom again through Him. This the Apostle Paul

Gal. 5, in distinct and manifest words sets forth ; Thejiesli, saith he,
lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the Jiesh :
and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot
do the things that ye tvould. Now the works of the Jiesh are
manifest, which are these, adulteries, fornications, unclean-
ness, lose iviousn ess, idolatry, witchcraft, murders, hatred,
variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envy-
ings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like ; of the which I
tell you before, as I have also told you in times past, that
they lohich do such tilings shall not inherit the kingdom
of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
magnanimity, goodness, faith, kindness, continence, chastity.
For this cause we make it our daily, yea, our unceasing
petition, that God's will in us may be done, both in heaven
and earth ; for this is the will of G od, that the earthly should
give way to the heavenly, that spiritual and divine things
should become supreme.

12. It may moreover be thus understood, dearest brethren,
that as the Lord commands and admonishes us, to love even
our enemies, and to pray too for those who persecute us, we
should make petition for those who still are earth, who have
not yet begun to be heavenly, that in their instance also that
will of God may be done, which Christ fulfilled, in the saving

homi- and renewing of man's nature. For as the Disciples are

°®'"- called by Him no longer earth, but the salt of the earth, and

Mat 5 o 7 .' t

13, ■ ' the Apostle says that the first man is from the dust of the

1 Cor. earth, but the second from heaven ; agreeably hereto do we,

Mat 5 ^^^^ ought to be like God our Father, who makes His sun to

45. rise on the good and on the evil, and sends rain on the just

and on the unjust, so frame our prayer and petition by the

admonition of Christ, as to make entreaty for the salvation of

all ; that as in heaven, that is in us, through our faith God's

will has been done, so that we are of heaven ; so in earth, that

is in unbelievers, God's will may be done, so that those who

'File Eucharist our daily Dread. 137

are yet of earth under the first birth, may become of heaven

by being horn ofnater and of the Spirit. John 3,

13. As the prayer proceeds we offer request and say, Give'^'
us this day our daily bread. This may be understood, both
in the spiritual and in the simple meaning, seeing that either
purpoi-t coiitains a divine aid, for the advancing of our salva-
tion. For Christ is the Bread of life, and this Bread belongs
not to all men, but to us ; and as we say Our Father, because
the Father of the understanding and believing, so we speak

of our Bread, because Christ is the Bread of us, who appertain contingi-
to His Body. This Bread we pray that it be given us day'""**
by day, lest we who are in Christ, and who daily ^ receive the
Euchaiist for food of salvation, should by the admission of
any grievous crime, and our being therefore shut out from
Communion and forbidden the heavenly Bread, be separated
from the Body of Christ, according as Himself preaches and
forewarns ; / am the Bread of life which came doion from John 6,
heaven. If any man eat of My Bread, lie shall lire for'
ever. But the Bread that I icill give is My Flesh, for the life
of the world. Seeing therefore He says, that if any man eat
of His Bread, he shall live for ever; it follows, that while it is
manifest that those do thus live, who appertain to His Bodyattin-
and receive the Eucharist by right of communication, so also ^°''
is it matter both for our fears and prayers, that none of us by
being forbidden Communion be separated from the Body of
Christ, and so remain far from salvation ; as E[imself threatens
and declares; Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and John 6,
drink His blood, ye shall have no life in you. Hence then
we pray that our Bread, that is Christ, may be given to us
day by day ; that we who abide in Christ and live in Him,
may not draw back from His sanctification and Mis Body.

14. It may likewise bear this meaning, that we who have
renounced the world, and rejected its riches and pomps,
through the faith of spiritual grace, should ask for ourselves
no more than food and sustenance, as the Lord instructs and

tells us, IVliosoever forsake til not all that he hath, cannot beLuleli,
My disciple. But he who has begun to be a disciple of Christ, *

* In the Churches of Rome, Milan, Chrj>'ostom, Eusebius, and S. Basil.

Africa, and Spain, the custom seems to The disuse of the Sacrament began in

have obtained of daily Communion. It the fourth century in the East,
is also attested or recommended by S.

188 Daily food all that need he asked for the body.

TwrAT. forsaking all things after the commandment of his Master, has
^ ^L- but his food to ask for to-day, without indulging excessive long-
ings in his ])rayer, as the Lord again prescribes and teaches ;

Mat. 6, Take no though I for the morrou-, for the morrow shall take
thought for the things of itself : sujficient unto the day is the evil
thereof Justly therefore does the disciple of Christ make
petition for to-day's provision, since he is forbidden to take
thought for to-morrow ; it were a self-contradicting and in-
compatible thing, for us, who pray that the kingdom of God
may quickly come, to be looking unto long life in the world
below. Thus also the blessed Apostle instructs us, forming

1 Tim.6, and establishing the stedfastness of our hope and faith ; J^'e
brought notJiing into this icorhl, and neither can ue carry
any thing out. Having therefore food^ and raiment, let us
be liereicith content. But they that nill be rich fall into
temptation and a snare, and into many and hurtful lusts,
which droun men in destruction and perdition. For the love
of money is the root of all evil, uhich ti hile some coveted after,
they have made shipureck from the faith, and pierced them-
selves through icilh many sorrows. He teaches us that riches
are not only despicable, but are also dangerous ; that in
them is the root of seductive evils, misleading the blindness
of the human heart, by a concealed deception. Wherefore

Online LibrarySaint CyprianThe treatises of S. Caecilius Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, and martyr → online text (page 21 of 34)