When one sees men, weak by nature, leaping forward to death, and not fearing its corruption nor frightened of the descent into Hades, but with eager soul challenging it; and not flinching from torture, but on the contrary, for Christ’s sake electing to rush upon death in preference to life upon earth, or even if one be an eye-witness of men and women and young children rushing and leaping upon death for the sake of Christ’s religion; who is so silly, or who is so incredulous, or who so maimed in his mind, as not to see and infer that Christ, to Whom the people witness, Himself supplies and gives to each the victory over death, depriving him of all his power in each one of them that hold His faith and bear the sign of the Cross.
For he that sees the serpent trodden under foot, specially knowing his former fierceness, no longer doubts that he is dead and has quite lost his strength, unless his is perverted in mind and has not even his bodily senses sound. For who that sees a lion, either, made sport of by children, fails to see that he is either dead or has lost all his power? Just as, then, it is possible to see with the eyes the truth of all this, so now that death is made sport of and despised by believers in Christ, let none any longer doubt, nor any prove incredulous, of death having been brought to nought by Christ, and the corruption of death destroyed and stayed.
—Athanasius, Selections from The Incarnation of the Word