"He Who Turns And Runs Away, Lives To Fight Another Day"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In answer to Fabius, who asks whether or not the Christian should flee from persecution, Tertullian replies with this treatise in which he sets forth the responsibilities of the persecuted. After examining the demands of God on those who would be soldiers of Christ, the writer comes to the conclusion that those who have received Him as Lord will not choose the broad way of flight from their persecutors but the narrow way of suffering for His sake. However, Tertullian admits that there are those who, rather than obey the exhortations of God, would argue themselves out of standing fast by applying to themselves from the ancient worldly wisdom of the Greeks, a proverb that is found again in English in rhymed form as early as the seventeenth century.

But some, paying no attention to the exhortations of God, are readier to apply to themselves that Greek versicle of worldly wisdom, "He who fled will fight again;" perhaps also in the battle to flee again. And when will he who, as a fugitive, is a defeated man, be conqueror? A worthy soldier he furnishes to his commander Christ, who, so amply armed by the apostle, as soon as he hears persecution's trumpet, runs off from the day of persecution. I also will produce in answer a quotation taken from the world: "Is it a thing so very sad to die?" He must die, in whatever way of it, either as conquered or as conqueror. But although he has succumbed in denying, he has yet faced and battled with the torture. I had rather be one to be pitied than to be blushed for. More glorious is the soldier pierced with the javelin in battle, than he who has a safe skin as a fugitive.