A Letter to a Bishop

3. I beseech you, spare yourself and us. Yourself, lest you run into peril; us, lest we be grieved because of you. Take thought of the Church, lest many of the little ones be injured on your account, and the others be given an occasion of withdrawing. 

Nay but if you feared the times and acted as you did from timidity, your mind is not manly; for in such a case you ought to manifest zeal for Christ, and rather meet circumstances boldly, and use the language of blessed Paul: ‘in all these things we are more than conquerors;’ and the more so in that we ought to serve not the time, but the Lord But if the organising of the Churches is distasteful to you, and you do not think the ministry of the episcopate has its reward, why, then you have brought yourself to despise the Savior that ordered these things. 

I beseech you, dismiss such ideas, nor tolerate those who advise you in such a sense, for this is not worthy of Dracontius. For the order the Lord has established by the Apostles abides fair and firm; but the cowardice of the brethren shall cease .

St. Athanasius, A Letter to Dracontius, NPNF II, Volume 4, p. 557

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