Church FathersI shall therefore speak unto you, not the wisdom of this world, but that secret and hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory.

[…] The first duty of man ordained and brought forth into this world for that end, — my most dear Valerian! — is to know his creator, and being known, to confess Him, and to resign or give up his life — which is the wonderful and peculiar gift of God, — to the service and worship of the Giver;

for what he received by God’s free donation, may be employed in true devotion, and what was conferred upon him in the state of wrath and unworthiness, may by an obedient resignation make him precious and beloved.

For of this saving opinion are we; that as it is most certain, that we came forth first from God, so should we believe it, and press on still towards Him: whereupon we shall conclude, that he only rightly and divinely apprehends the purpose of God in making man who understands it thus, that God Himself made us for Himself.

It is then our best course to bestow our greatest care upon the soul; so shall that which is the first and highest in dignity be not the lowest and last in consideration. Amongst us Christians, let that which is the first in order be the first cared for; let salvation, which is the chiefest profit, be our chiefest employment.

Let the safeguard and the defense of this take up all our forces; let it be not only our chiefest, but our sole delight. As it surpasseth all other things in excellency, so let it in our care and consideration.

Our supreme duty is that which we owe to God, and the next appertains to the soul. And yet these two are such loving correlates, that though every one of the is a duty of supreme consequence, and such as by no means we may presume to neglect or omit, yet cannot we possibly perform any one of them without the other.

So that whosoever will serve God doth at the same time provide for his own soul; and he that is careful for his own soul doth at the same time serve God.

So that the state of these two sovereign duties in man, is by a certain compendious dependency and co-intention rendered very easy, while the faithful performance of the one is a perfect consumation of both: for by the unspeakable tenderness and mercy of God, the good we do to our own souls is the most acceptable service and sacrifice that we can offer unto Him.

Eucherius of Lyons (c.380-c.449): Eucherius to his Kinsman Valarianus on Contempt of the World, translated by Henry Vaughan (1621-1695).