There are three passages in the early church fathers that stand out in my memory. I wanted to share them with you.
“Among us you will find uneducated persons, craftsmen, and old women, who, if they are unable in words to prove the benefit of our doctrine, yet by their deeds exhibit the benefit arising from their persuasion of its truth.They do not rehearse speeches, but exhibit good works; when struck, they do not strike again; when robbed, they do not go to law; they give to those that ask of them, and love their neighbors as themselves.” (Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians, ch. 11, c. A.D. 175)
“It’s a beautiful thing to God when a Christian does battle with pain. When he faces threats, punishments and tortures by mocking death and treading underfoot the horror of the executioner; when he raises up his freedom in Christ as a standard before kings and princes; when he yields to God alone, and—triumphant and victorious—he tramples upon the very man who has pronounced the sentence upon him … God finds all these things beautiful.” (Minucius Felix, The Octavius, ch. 37, A.D. 160-230)
“My friend Cecilius, let Socrates, the Athenian buffoon, confess that he knew nothing at all. Let all the philosophers go on deliberating. Let the great philosopher Simonides go on forever putting off a decision about what he believes.
We despise the bent brows of the philosophers, because we know them to be corrupters, adulterers, and tyrants. They have great eloquence, but they’re speaking against vices that they themselves live in.
We, on the other hand, who do not carry our wisdom in our clothes, but in our minds, don’t speak great things; we live them. We boast that we have found what they have sought for with the utmost eagerness but have not been able to find.” (Minucius Felix, The Octavius, ch. 38, A.D. 160-230)
You can read a modern English condensed version of The Octavius: an Early Christian Debate at https://www.christian-history.org/the-octavius-early-christian-debate.html.
I hope you enjoyed these quotes as much as I have the last 29 years.