The Perfection of Justice

The supreme rite in worshipping God is praise directed to God from the mouth of a just man; for it to be acceptable to God itself, however, there is need of the greatest humility, awe and devotion, in case one should incur a charge of pride and arrogance when behaving in the confidence of one’s integrity and innocence, thereby losing the grace of virtue. In order to be precious to God and free from all stain, a man should beg continually for God’s mercy and should pray only for forgiveness of his sins, even if they be none. If he wants for anything further, it needs no saying to him who knows our wishes: if he has good fortune, he should give thanks, and if bad, he should render satisfaction, and admit that it happened so because of his sins. And yet he should also give thanks in misfortune, and should render satisfaction for good fortune, so that he may be the same at all times, steady, unchangeable and unshaken. Nor should he think that such action is only for the temple; he should act so at home too, and even in his own bed. Let him finally keep God always holy in his heart, since he himself is a temple of God. If he serves God his Father and Lord with this constancy, obedience and devotion, that is the consummation and perfection of justice, and he who maintains such justice is, as we declared above, obedient to God and has satisfied the claims both of religion and of his own duty.

Lactantius, The Divine Institutes Book Six 25.12-16

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