Source?: non est mors, sed causa mortis quæ facit Martyrem

Discussion in 'Quotes Forum' started by NaphtaliPress, Jun 17, 2019.

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  1. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    In his commentayr on Revelation, James Durham says: "1. That the person suffer as a well-doer, so it must be for the truth of Christ, or righteousness sake (Matt. 5:10, 11); for, non est mors, sed causa mortis quæ facit Martyrem [it is not the dying, but the cause of death that makes the martyr]." Citing Latin like this usually implies a standard saying. I've struck out finding anything except two unsourced uses of the phrase, one being a commentary on Revelation so it likely had Durham as the source. If anyone dabbling in the Latin fathers has any other ideas, this is my current resolution, that Durham was citing from memory and miss cited a saying of Augustine. Thoughts? Note below.
    Fn. This may simply be an old maxim as J. A. Seiss styles it (I {1865; 8th ed., 1901}, 350). Seiss does not credit it otherwise, but he may have drawn it from here. The phrasing may be Durham’s, and he may have had in mind Augustine’s Non facit martyrem pœna, sed causa (It is not the punishment but the cause that makes the martyr). See Augustine, Opera Omnia, Sermones, Classis III, Sermones de Sanctis, Sermo CCCXXVII, Migne, PL 38, col. 1451.
  2. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior


    Since I have all of Augustine's sermons translated by New City Press, here is the specific reference for a hard copy English translation . . .

    Augustine (354-430): We have sung to God in the words of the martyrs, Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from an unholy people (Ps 43:1). It is the voice of the martyrs. Who would dare to say Judge me, O God, unless they had the best of causes? The soul is tempted and tried by promises and menaces, soothed by allurements, tormented by pains; all these things were beaten for Christ's sake by the unbeaten martyrs. The world was beaten when making its promises, beaten when uttering its savage threats. Pleasure did not hold them back, torture did not terrify them. Gold refined in the furnace is not afraid of the fire of Gehenna. That's why, as having been refined by the fire of tribulation, the blessed martyr can say without a qualm, “Judge me, O God. Whatever good you find in me, judge it. You have endowed me with what pleases you; find it in me and judge me. I have not been held back by the delights of this age, the tribulations of this age do not wrench me away from you. Judge me, and distinguish my cause from an unholy people.
    Many people endure tribulation; they have equivalent pains, but not equivalent causes. Many evils are endured by adulterers, many evils by sorcerers, many evils by robbers and murderers, many evils by all sorts of villains; “I too, your martyr,” he says, “endure many evils. But distinguish my cause from an unholy people of robbers, murderers, villains of all sorts. They can suffer the same sort of things as I do, they cannot have the same sort of cause. I am being refined in the furnace; they are just being incinerated.” Heretics too suffer, and very often at their own hands; and they want to be called martyrs. But it is against them that we have sung, Distinguish my cause from an unholy people. It is not the punishment that makes the martyr but the cause. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Sermons 306-340A, Part 3, Vol. 9, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermon 327.1 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1994), p. 173.

    This sermon was preached by Augustine sometime between the years 405 to 411. This was a favorite slogan of Augustine against the Donatists, which I suspect is the source from which the adage was popularized.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  3. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks very much for the translation David; I did not have that.
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