ORATIONS 1-3, 7-8, 12, 16, 18, 21
[Translated by Charles Gordon Browne, M.A., Rector of Lympstone, Devon; and James Edward Swallow, M.A., Chaplain of the House of Mercy, Horbury.]
On Easter and His Reluctance,
I. It is the Day of the Resurrection, and my Beginning has good auspices. Let us then keep the Festival with splendour,(a) and let us embrace one another. Let us say Brethren, even to those who hate us; much more to those who have done or suffered aught out of love for us. Let us forgive all offences for the Resurrection's sake: let us give one another pardon, I for the noble tyranny, which I have suffered (for I can now call it noble); and you who exercised it, if you had cause to blame my tardiness; for perhaps this tardiness may be more precious in God's sight than the haste of others. For it is a good thing even to hold back from God for a little while, as did the great Moses of old,(b) and Jeremiah(g) later on; and then to run readily to Him when He calls, as did Aaron(d) and Isaiah,(e) so only both be done in a dutiful spirit;--the former because of his own want of strength; the latter because of the Might of Him That calleth.
II. A Mystery(z) anointed me; I withdrew a little while at a Mystery, as much as was needful to examine myself; now I come in with a Mystery, bringing with me the Day as a good defender of my cowardice and weakness; that He Who to-day rose again from the dead may renew me also by His Spirit; and, clothing me with the new Man, may give me to His New Creation, to those who are begotten after God, as a good modeller and teacher for Christ, willingly both dying with Him and rising again with Him.
III. Yesterday the Lamb was slain and the door-posts were anointed,(h) and Egypt bewailed her Firstborn, and the Destroyer passed us over, and the Seal was dreadful and reverend, and we were walled in with the Precious Blood. To-day we have clean escaped from Egypt and from Pharaoh; and there is none to hinder us from keeping a Feast to the Lord our God--the Feast of our Departure; or from celebrating that Feast, not in the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but in the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth,(a) carrying with us nothing of ungodly and Egyptian leaven.
IV. Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; today I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; to-day I rise with Him. But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us--you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world. Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image. Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honour our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.
V. Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God's for His sake, since He for ours became Man. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich;(b) He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty; He came down that we might be exalted; He was tempted that we might conquer; He was dishonoured that He might glorify us; He died that He might save us; He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the Fall of sin. Let us give all, offer all, to Him Who gave Himself a Ransom and a Reconciliation for us. But one can give nothing like oneself, understanding the Mystery, and becoming for His sake all that He became for ours.
VI. As you see, He offers you a Shepherd; for this is what your Good Shepherd,(a) who lays down his life for his sheep, is hoping and praying for, and he asks from you his subjects; and he gives you himself double instead of single, and makes the staff of his old age a staff for your spirit. And he adds to the inanimate temple a living one; to that exceedingly beautiful and heavenly shrine, this poor and small one,(b) yet to him of great value, and built too with much sweat and many labours. Would that I could say it is worthy of his labours. And he places at your disposal all that belongs to him (O great generosity!--or it would be truer to say, O fatherly love!) his hoar hairs, his youth, the temple, the high priest, the testator, the heir, the discourses which you were longing for; and of these not such as are vain and poured out into the air, and which reach no further than the outward ear; but those which the Spirit writes and engraves on tables of stone, or of flesh, not merely superficially graven, nor easily to be rubbed off, but marked very deep, not with ink, but with grace.
VII. These are the gifts given you by this august Abraham, this honourable and reverend Head, this Patriarch, this Restingplace of all good, this Standard of virtue, this Perfection of the Priesthood, who to- day is bringing to the Lord his willing Sacrifice, his only Son,(g) him of the promise. Do you on your side offer to God and to us obedience to your Pastors, dwelling in a place of herbage, and being fed by water of refreshment;(d) knowing your Shepherd well, and being known by him;(e) and following when he calls you as a Shepherd frankly through the door; but not following a stranger climbing up into the fold like a robber and a traitor; nor listening to a strange voice when such would take you away by stealth and scatter you from the truth on mountains,(z) and in deserts, and pitfalls, and places which the Lord does not visit; and would lead you away from the sound Faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the One Power and Godhead, Whose Voice my sheep always heard (and may they always hear it), but with deceitful and corrupt words would tear them from their true Shepherd. From which may we all be kept, Shepherd and flock, as from a poisoned and deadly pasture; guiding and being guided far away from it, that we may all be one in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and unto the heavenly rest. To Whom be the glory and the might for ever and ever. Amen.
IN DEFENCE OF HIS FLIGHT TO PONTUS, AND HIS RETURN, AFTER HIS ORDINATION TO THE PRIESTHOOD, WITH AN EXPOSITION OF THE CHARACTER OF THE PRIESTLY OFFICE.
1. I have been defeated, and own my defeat. I subjected myself to the Lord, and prayed unto Him.(a) Let the most blessed David supply my exordium, or rather let Him Who spoke in David, and even now yet speaks through him. For indeed the very best order of beginning every speech and action, is to begin from God,(b) and to end in God. As to the cause, either of my original revolt and cowardice, in which I got me away far off, and remained(g) away from you for a time, which perhaps seemed long to those who missed me; or of the present gentleness and change of mind, in which I have given myself up again to you, men may think and speak in different ways, according to the hatred or love they bear me, on the one side refusing to acquit me of the charges alleged, on the other giving me a hearty welcome. For nothing is so pleasant to men as talking of other people's business, especially under the influence of affection or hatred, which often almost entirely blinds us to the truth. I will, however, myself, unabashed, set forth the truth, and arbitrate with justice between the two parties, which accuse or gallantly defend us, by, on the one side, accusing myself, on the other, undertaking my own defence.
2. Accordingly, that my speech may proceed in due order, I apply myself to the question which arose first, that of cowardice. For I cannot endure that any of those who watch with interest the success, or the contrary, of my efforts, should be put to confusion on my account, since it has pleased God that our affairs should be of some consequence to Christians, so I will by my defence relieve, if there be any such, those who have already suffered; for it is well, as far us possible, and as reason allows, to shrink from causing, through our sin or suspicion, any offence or stumbling-block to the community: inasmuch as we know how inevitably even those who offend one of the little ones(d) will incur the severest punishment at the hands of Him who cannot lie.
3. For my present position is due, my good people, not to inexperience and ignorance, nay indeed, that I may boast myself a little,(e) neither is it due to contempt for the divine laws and ordinances. Now, just as in the body there is(z) one member(h) which rules and, so to say, presides, while another is ruled over and subject; so too in the churches, God has ordained, according either to a law of equality, which admits of an order of merit, or to one of providence, by which He has knit all together, that those for whom such treatment is beneficial, should be subject to pastoral care and rule, and be guided by word and deed in the path of duty; while others should be pastors and teachers,(a) for the perfecting of the church, those, I mean, who surpass the majority in virtue and nearness to God, performing the functions of the soul in the body, and of the intellect in the soul; in order that both may be so united and compacted together, that, although one is lacking and another is pre-eminent, they may, like the members of our bodies, be so combined and knit together by the harmony of the Spirit, as to form one perfect body.(b) really worthy of Christ Himself, our Head.(g)
4. I am aware then that anarchy(d) and disorder cannot be more advantageous than order and rule, either to other creatures or to men; nay, this is true of men in the highest possible degree, because the interests at stake in their case are greater; since it is a great thing(e) for them, even if they fail of their highest purpose--to be free from sin--to attain at least to that which is second best, restoration from sin. Since this seems right and just, it is, I take it, equally wrong and disorderly that all should wish to rule, and that no one should accept(z) it. For if all men were to shirk this office, whether it must be called a ministry or a leadership, the fair fulness(h) of the Church would be halting in the highest degree, and in fact cease to be fair. And further, where, and by whom would God be worshipped among us in those mystic and elevating rites which are our greatest and most precious privilege, if there were neither king, nor governor, nor priesthood, nor sacrifice,(th) nor all those highest offices to the loss of which, for their great sins, men were of old condemned in consequence of their disobedience?
5. Nor indeed is it strange or inconsistent for the majority of those who are devoted to the study of divine things, to ascend to rule from being ruled, nor does it overstep the limits laid down by philosophy,(i) or involve disgrace; any more than for an excellent sailor to become a lookout-man, and for a lookout-man, who has successfully kept watch over the winds, to be entrusted with the helm; or, if you will, for a brave soldier to be made a captain, and a good captain to become a general, and have committed to him the conduct of the whole campaign. Nor again, as perhaps some of those absurd and tiresome people may suppose, who judge of others' feelings by their own, was I ashamed of the rank of this grade from my desire for a higher. I was not so ignorant either of its divine greatness or human low estate, as to think it no great thing for a created nature, to approach in however slight degree to God, Who alone is most glorious and illustrious, and surpasses in purity every nature, material and immaterial alike.
6. What then were my feelings, and what was the reason of my disobedience? For to most men I did not at the time seem consistent with myself, or to be such as they had known me, but to have undergone some deterioration, and to exhibit greater resistance and self-will than was right. And the causes of this you have long been desirous to hear. First, and most important, I was astounded at the unexpectedness of what had occurred, as people are terrified by sudden noises; and, losing the control of my reasoning faculties, my self- respect, which had hitherto controlled me, gave way. In the next place, there came over me an eager longing(a) for the blessings of calm and retirement, of which I had from the first been enamoured to a higher degree, I imagine, than any other student of letters, and which amidst the greatest and most threatening dangers I had promised to God, and of which I had also had so much experience, that I was then upon its threshold, my longing having in consequence been greatly kindled, so that I could not submit to be thrust into the midst of a life of turmoil by an arbitrary act of oppression, and to be torn away by force from the holy sanctuary of such a life as this.
7. For nothing seemed to me so desirable as to close the doors of my senses, and, escaping from the flesh and the world, collected within myself, having no further connection than was absolutely necessary with human affairs, and speaking to myself and to God(b) to live superior to visible things, ever preserving in myself the divine impressions pure and unmixed with the erring tokens of this lower world, and both being, and constantly growing more and more to be, a real unspotted mirror of God and divine things, as light is added to light, and what was still dark grew clearer, enjoying already by hope the blessings of the world to come, roaming about with the angels, even now being above the earth by having forsaken it, and stationed on high by the Spirit. If any of you has been possessed by this longing, he knows what I mean and will sympathise with my feelings at that time. For, perhaps, I ought not to expect to persuade most people by what I say, since they are unhappily disposed to laugh at such things, either from their own thoughtlessness, or from the influence of men unworthy of the promise, who have bestowed upon that which is good an evil name, calling philosophy nonsense, aided by envy and the evil tendencies of the mob, who are ever inclined to grow worse: so that they are constantly occupied with one of two sins, either the commission of evil, or the discrediting of good.
8. I was influenced besides by another feeling, whether base or noble I do not know, but I will speak out to you all my secrets. I was ashamed of all those others, who, without being better than ordinary people, nay, it is a great thing if they be not worse, with unwashen hands,(a) as the saying rims, and uninitiated souls, intrude into the most sacred offices; and, before becoming worthy to approach the temples, they lay claim to the sanctuary,(b) and they push and thrust around the holy table, as if they thought this order to be a means of livelihood, instead of a pattern of virtue, or an absolute authority, instead of a ministry of which we must give account. In fact they are almost more in number than those whom they govern; pitiable as regards piety,(g) and unfortunate in their dignity; so that, it seems to me, they will not, as time and this evil alike progress, have any one left to rule, when all are teachers, instead of, as the promise says, taught of God,(d) and all prophesy,(e) so that even "Saul is among the prophets,"(z) according to the ancient history and proverb. For at no time, either now or in former days, amid the rise and fall of various developments, has there ever been such an abundance, as now exists among Christians, of disgrace and abuses of this kind. And, if to stay this current is beyond our powers, at any rate it is not the least important duty of religion to testify the hatred and shame we feel for it.
9. Lastly, there is a matter more serious than any which I have mentioned, for I am now coming to the finale(a) of the question: and I will not deceive you; for that would not be lawful in regard to topics of such moment. I did not, nor do I now, think myself qualified to rule a flock or herd, or to have authority over the souls of men. For in their case it is sufficient to render the herd or flock as stout and fat as possible; and with this object the neatherd and shepherd will look for well watered and rich pastures, and will drive his charge from pasture to pasture, and allow them to rest, or arouse, or recall them, sometimes with his staff, most often with his pipe; and with the exception of occasional struggles with wolves, or attention to the sickly, most of his time will be devoted to the oak and the shade and his pipes, while he reclines on the beautiful grass, and beside the cool water, and shakes down his couch in a breezy spot, and ever and anon sings a love ditty, with his cup by his side, and talks to his bullocks or his flock, the fattest of which supply his banquets or his pay. But no one ever has thought of the virtue of flocks or herds; for indeed of what virtue are they capable? Or who has regarded their advantage as more important than his own pleasure?
10. But in the case of man, hard as it is for him to learn how to submit to rule, it seems far harder to know how to rule over men, and hardest of all, with this rifle of ours, which leads them by the divine law, and to God, for its risk is, in the eyes of a thoughtful man, proportionate to its height and dignity. For, first of all, he must, like silver or gold, though in general circulation in all kinds of seasons and affairs, never ring false or alloyed, or give token of any inferior matter, needing further refinement in the fire;(b) or else, the wider his rule, the greater evil he will be. Since the injury which extends to many is greater than that which is confined to a single individual.
II. For it is not so easy to dye deeply a piece of cloth, or to impregnate with odours, foul or the reverse, whatever comes near to them; nor is it so easy for the fatal vapour, which is rightly called a pestilence, to infect the air, and through the air to gain access to living being, as it is for the vice of a superior to take most speedy possession of his subjects, and that with far greater facility than virtue its opposite. For it is in this that wickedness especially has the advantage over goodness, and most distressing it is to me to perceive it, that vice is something attractive and ready at hand, and that nothing is so easy as to become evil, even without any one to lead us on to it; while the attainment of virtue is rare and difficult, even where there is much to attract and encourage us. And it is this, I think, which the most blessed Haggai had before his eyes, in his wonderful and most true figure:(a)--"Ask the priests concerning the law, saying: If holy flesh borne in a garment touch meat or drink or vessel, will it sanctify what is in contact with it? And when they said No; ask again if any of these things touch what is unclean, does it not at once partake of the pollution? For they will surely tell you that it does partake of it, and does not continue clean in spite of the contact."
12. What does he mean by this? As I take it, that goodness can with difficulty gain a hold upon human nature, like fire upon green wood; while most men are ready and disposed to join in evil, like stubble,(b) I mean, ready for a spark and a wind, which is easily kindled and consumed from its dryness. For more quickly would any one take part in evil with slight inducement to its full extent, than in good which is fully set before him to a slight degree. For indeed a little wormwood most quickly imparts its bitterness to honey; while not even double the quantity of honey can impart its sweetness to wormwood: and the withdrawal of a small pebble would draw headlong a whole river, though it would be difficult for the strongest dam to restrain or stay its course.
13. This then is the first point in what we have said, which it is right for us to guard against, viz.: being found to be bad painters(g) of the charms of virtue, and still more, if not, perhaps, models for poor painters, poor models for the people, or barely escaping the proverb, that we undertake to heal others(d) while ourselves are full of sores.
14. In the second place, although a man has kept himself pure from sin, even in a very high degree; I do not know that even this is sufficient for one who is to instruct others in virtue. For he who has received this charge, not only needs to be free from evil, for evil is, in the eyes of most of those under his care, most disgraceful, but also to be eminent in good, according to the command, "Depart from evil and do good."(a) And he must not only wipe out the traces of vice from his soul, but also inscribe better ones, so as to outstrip men further in virtue than he is superior to them in dignity. He should know no limits in goodness or spiritual progress, and should dwell upon the loss of what is still beyond him, rather than the gain of what he has attained, and consider that which is beneath his feet a step to that which comes next: and not think it a great gain to excel ordinary people, but a loss to fall short of what we ought to be: and to measure his success by the commandment and not by his neighbours, whether they be evil, or to some extent proficient in virtue: and to weigh virtue in no small scales, inasmuch as it is due to the Most High, "from Whom are all things, and to Whom are all things."(b)
15. Nor must he suppose that the same things are suitable to all, just as all have not the same stature, nor are the features of the face, nor the nature of animals, nor the qualities of soil, nor the beauty and size of the stars, in all cases the same: but he must consider base conduct a fault in a private individual, and deserving of chastisement under the hard rule of the law; while in the case of a ruler or leader it is a fault not to attain to the highest possible excellence, and always make progress in goodness, if indeed he is, by his high degree of virtue, to draw his people to an ordinary degree, not by the force of authority, but by the influence of persuasion. For what is involuntary apart from its being the result of oppression, is neither meritorious nor durable. For what is forced, like a plant(g) violently drawn aside by our hands, when set free, returns to what it was before, but that which is the result of choice is both most legitimate and enduring, for it is preserved by the bond of good will. And so our law and our lawgiver enjoin upon us most strictly that we should "tend the flock not by constraint but willingly."(d)
16. But granted that a man is free from vice, and has reached the greatest heights of virtue: I do not see what knowledge or power would justify him in venturing upon this office. For the guiding of man, the most variable and manifold of creatures, seems to me in very deed to be the art of arts(e) and science of sciences. Any one may recognize this, by comparing the work of the physician of souls with the treatment of the body; and noticing that, laborious as the latter is, ours is more laborious, and of more consequence, from the nature of its subject matter, the power of its science, and the object of its exercise. The one labours about bodies, and perishable failing matter, which absolutely must be dissolved and undergo its fate,(a) even if upon this occasion by the aid of art it can surmount the disturbance within itself, being dissolved by disease or time in submission to the law of nature, since it cannot rise above its own limitations.
17. The other is concerned with the soul, which comes from God and is divine, and partakes of the heavenly nobility, and presses on to it, even if it be bound to an inferior nature. Perhaps indeed there are other reasons also for this, which only God, Who bound them together, and those who are instructed by God in such mysteries, can know, but as far as I, and men like myself can perceive, there are two: one, that it may inherit the glory above by means of a struggle and wrestling(b) with things below, being tried as gold in the fire(g) by things here, and gain the objects of our hope as a prize of virtue, and not merely as the gift of God. This, indeed, was the will of Supreme Goodness, to make the good even our own, not only because sown in our nature, but because cultivated by our own choice, and by the motions of our will,(d) free to act in either direction. The second reason is, that it may draw to itself and raise to heaven the lower nature, by gradually freeing it from its grossness, in order that the soul may be to the body what God is to the soul, itself leading on the matter which ministers to it, and uniting it, as its fellow-servant, to God.
18. Place and time and age and season and the like are the subjects of a physician's scrutiny; he will prescribe medicines and diet, and guard against things injurious, that the desires of the sick may not be a hindrance to his art. Sometimes, and in certain cases, he will make use of the cautery or the knife or the severer remedies; but none of these, laborious and hard as they may seem, is so difficult as the diagnosis and cure of our habits, passions, lives, wills, and whatever else is within us, by banishing from our compound nature everything brutal and fierce, and introducing and establishing in their stead what is gentle and dear to God, and arbitrating fairly between soul and body; not allowing the superior to be overpowered by the inferior, which would be the greatest injustice; but subjecting to the ruling and leading power that which naturally takes the second place: as indeed the divine law enjoins, which is most excellently imposed on His whole creation, whether visible or beyond our ken.
19. This further point does not escape me, that the nature of all these objects of the watch-fulness of the physician remains the same, and does not evolve out of itself any crafty opposition, or contrivance hostile to the appliances of his art, nay, it is rather the treatment which modifies its subject matter,(a) except where some slight insubordination occurs on the part of the patient, which it is not difficult to prevent or restrain. But in our case, human prudence and selfishness, and the want of training and inclination to yield ready submission are a very great obstacle to advance in virtue, amounting almost to an armed resistance to those who are wishful to help us. And the very eagerness with which we should lay bare our sickness to oar spiritual physicians, we employ in avoiding this treatment,(b) and shew our bravery by struggling against what is for our own interest, our skill in shunning what is for our health.
20. For we either hide away our sin, cloaking it over in the depth of our soul, like some festering and malignant disease, as if by escaping the notice of men we could escape the mighty eye of God and justice. Or else we allege excuses in our sins,(g) by devising pleas in defence of our falls, or tightly closing our ears, like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ears, we are obstinate in refusing to hear the voice of the charmer, and be treated with the medicines of wisdom? by which spiritual sickness is healed. Or, lastly, those of us who are most daring and self-willed shamelessly brazen out our sin before those who would heal it, marching with bared head, as the saying is, into all kinds of transgression. O what madness, if there be no term more fitting for this state of mind! Those whom we ought to love as our benefactors we keep off, as if they were our enemies, hating those who reprove in the gates, and abhorring the righteous word;(d) and we think that we shall succeed in the war that we are waging against those who are well disposed to us by doing ourselves all the harm we can, like men who imagine they are consuming the flesh of others when they are really fastening upon their own.
21. For these reasons I allege that our office as physicians far exceeds in toilsomeness, and consequently in worth, that which is confined to the body; and further, because the latter is mainly concerned with the surface, and only in a slight degree investigates the causes which are deeply hidden. But the whole of our treatment and exertion is concerned with the hidden man of the heart,(a) and our warfare is directed against that adversary and foe within us, who uses ourselves as his weapons against ourselves, and, most fearful of all, hands us over to the death of sin. In opposition then, to these foes we are in need of great and perfect faith, and of still greater co-operation on the part of God, and, as I am persuaded, of no slight countermanoeuvring on our own part, which mast manifest itself both in word and deed, if ourselves, the most precious possession we have, are to be duly tended and cleansed and made as deserving as possible.
22. To turn however to the ends in view in each of these forms of healing, for this point is still left to be considered, the one preserves, if it already exists, the health and good habit of the flesh, or if absent, recalls it; though it is not yet clear whether or not these will be for the advantage of those who possess them, since their opposites very often confer a greater benefit on those who have them, just as poverty and wealth, renown or disgrace, a low or brilliant position, and all other circumstances, which are naturally indifferent, and do not incline in one direction more than in another, produce a good or bad effect according to the will of, and the manner in which they are used by the persons who experience them. But the scope of our art is to provide the soul with wings, to rescue it from the world and give it to God, and to watch over that which is in His image,(b) if it abides, to take it by the hand, if it is in danger, or restore it, if ruined, to make Christ to dwell in the heart(g) by the Spirit: and, in short, to deify, and bestow heavenly bliss upon, one who belongs to the heavenly host.
23. This is the wish of our schoolmaster(d) the law, of the prophets who intervened between Christ and the law, of Christ who is the fulfiller and end(e) of the spiritual law; of the emptied Godhead,(z) of the assumed flesh,(h) of the novel union between God and man, one consisting(th) of two, and both in one. This is why God was united(a) to the flesh by means of the soul,(b) and natures so separate were knit together by the affinity to each of the element which mediated between them: so all became one for the sake of all, and for the sake of one, our progenitor, the soul because of the soul which was disobedient, the flesh because of the flesh which co- operated with it and shared in its condemnation, Christ, Who was superior to, and beyond the reach of, sin, because of Adam, who became subject to sin.
24. This is why the new was substituted for the old,(g) why He Who suffered was for suffering recalled to life, why each property of His, Who was above us, was interchanged with each of ours, why the new mystery took place of the dispensation, due to loving kindness which deals with him who fell through disobedience. This is the reason for the generation and the virgin, for the manger and Bethlehem; the generation on behalf of the creation,(d) the virgin on behalf of the woman,(e) Bethlehem(z) because of Eden, the manger because of the garden, small and visible things on behalf of great and hidden things. This is why the angels(h) glorified first the heavenly, then the earthly,(th) why the shepherds saw the glory over the Lamb and the Shepherd, why the star led the Magi to worship and offer gifts,(i) in order that idolatry might be destroyed. This is why Jesus was baptized,(k) and received testimony from above, and fasted,(l) and was tempted, and overcame him who had overcome. This is why devils were cast out,(m) and diseases healed, and the mighty preaching was entrusted to, and successfully proclaimed by men of low estate.
25. This is why the heathen rage and the peoples imagine vain things;(n) why tree(x) is set over against tree,(o) hands against hand, the one stretched out in self indulgence,(p) the others in generosity; the one unrestrained, the others fixed by nails,(r) the one expelling Adam, the other reconciling the ends of the earth. This is the reason of the lifting up to atone for the fall, and of the gall for the tasting, and of the thorny crown for the dominion of evil, and of death for death, and of darkness for the sake of light, and of burial for the return to the ground, and of resurrection for the sake of resurrection.(a) All these are a training from God for us, and a healing for our weakness, restoring the old Adam to the place whence he fell, and conducting us to the tree of life,(b) from which the tree of knowledge estranged us, when partaken of unseasonably, and improperly.
26. Of this healing we, who are set over others, are the ministers and fellow-labourers;(g) for whom it is a great thing to recognise and heal their own passions and sicknesses: or rather, not really a great thing, only the viciousness of most of those who belong to this order has made me say so: but a much greater thing is the power to heal and skilfully cleanse those of others, to the advantage both of those who are in want of healing and of those whose charge it is to heal.
27. Again, the healers of our bodies will have their labours and vigils and cares, of which we are aware; and will reap a harvest of pain for themselves from the distresses of others, as one of their wise men(d) said; and will provide for the use of those who need them, both the results of their own labours and investigations, and what they have been able to borrow from others: and they consider none, even of the minutest details, which they discover, or which elude their search, as having other than an important influence upon health or danger. And what is the object of all this? That a man may live some days longer on the earth, though he is possibly not a good man, but one of the most depraved, for whom it had perhaps been better, because of his badness, to have died long ago, in order to be set free from vice, the most serious of sicknesses. But, suppose he is a good man, how long will he be able to live? Forever? Or what will he gain from life here, from which it is the greatest of blessings, if a man be sane and sensible, to seek to be set free?
28. But we, upon whose efforts is staked the salvation of a soul, a being blessed and immortal, and destined for undying chastisement or praise, for its vice or virtue,--what a struggle ought ours to be, and how great skill do we require to treat, or get men treated properly, and to change their life, and give up the clay to the spirit. For men and women, young and old, rich and poor, the sanguine and despondent, the sick and whole, rulers and ruled, the wise and ignorant, the cowardly and courageous, the wrathful and meek, the successful and failing, do not require the same instruction and encouragement.
29. And if you examine more closely, how great is the distinction between the married and the unmarried, and among the latter between hermits and those who(a) live together in community, between those who are proficient and advanced in contemplation and those who barely hold on the straight course, between townsfolk again and rustics, between the simple and the designing, between men of business and men of leisure, between those who have met with reverses and those who are prosperous and ignorant of misfortune. For these classes differ sometimes more widely from each other in their desires and passion than in their physical characteristics; or, if you will, in the mixtures and blendings of the elements of which we are composed, and, therefore, to regulate them is no easy task.
30. As then the same medicine and the same food are not in every case administered to men's bodies, but a difference is made according to their degree of health or infirmity; so also are souls treated with varying instruction and guidance. To this treatment witness is borne by those who have had experience of it. Some are led by doctrine, others trained by example; some need the spur, others the curb; some are sluggish and hard to rouse to the good, and must be stirred up by being smitten with the word; others are immoderately fervent in spirit, with impulses difficult to restrain, like thoroughbred colts, who run wide of the turning post, and to improve them the word must have a restraining and checking influence.
31. Some are benefited by praise, others by blame, both being applied in season; while if out of season, or unreasonable, they are injurious; some are set right by encouragement, others by rebuke; some, when taken to task in public, others, when privately corrected. For some are wont to despise private admonitions, but are recalled to their senses by the condemnation of a number of people, while others, who would grow reckless under reproof openly given, accept rebuke because it is in secret, and yield obedience in return for sympathy.
32. Upon some it is needful to keep a close watch, even in the minutest details, because if they think they are unperceived (as they would contrive to be), they are puffed up with the idea of their own wisdom: Of others it is better to take no notice, but seeing not to see, and hearing not to hear them, according to the proverb, that we may not drive them to despair, under the depressing influence of repeated reproofs, and at last to utter recklessness, when they have lost the sense of self-respect, the source of persuasiveness.(a) In some cases we must even be angry, without feeling angry, or treat them with a disdain we do not feel, or manifest despair, though we do not really despair of them, according to the needs of their nature. Others again we must treat with condescension(b) and lowliness, aiding them readily to conceive a hope of better things. Some it is often more advantageous to conquer--by others to be overcome, and to praise or deprecate, in one case wealth and power, in another poverty and failure.
33. For our treatment does not correspond with virtue and vice, one of which is most excellent and beneficial at all times and in all cases, and the other most evil and harmful; and, instead of one and the same of our medicines invariably proving either most wholesome or most dangerous in the same cases--be it severity or gentleness, or any of the others which we have enumerated--in some cases it proves good and useful, in others again it has the contrary effect, according, I suppose, as time and circumstance and the disposition of the patient admit. Now to set before you the distinction between all these things, and give you a perfectly exact view of them, so that you may in brief comprehend the medical art, is quite impossible, even for one in the highest degree qualified by care and skill: but actual experience and practice are requisite to form(g) a medical system and a medical man.
34. This, however, I take to be generally admitted--that just as it is not safe for those who walk on a lofty tight rope to lean to either side, for even though the inclination seems slight, it has no slight consequences, but their safety depends upon their perfect balance: so in be case of one of us, if he leans to either side, whether from vice or ignorance, no slight danger of a fail into sin is incurred, both for himself and those who are led by him. But we must really walk in the King's highway,(a) and take care not to turn aside from it either to the right hand or to the left,(b) as the Proverbs say. For such is the case with our passions, and such in this matter is the task of the good shepherd, if he is to know properly the souls of his flock, and to guide them according to the methods of a pastoral care which is fight and just, and worthy of our true Shepherd.
35. In regard to the distribution of the word, to mention last the first of our duties, of that divine and exalted word, which everyone now is ready to discourse upon; if anyone else boldly undertakes it and supposes it within the power of every man's intellect, I am amazed at his intelligence, not to say his folly. To me indeed it seems no slight task, and one requiring no little spiritual power, to give in due season(g) to each his portion of the word, and to regulate with judgment the truth of our opinions, which are concerned with such subjects as the world or worlds,(d) matter, soul, mind, intelligent natures, better or worse, providence which holds together and guides the universe, and seems in our experience of it to be governed according to some principle, but one which is at variance with those of earth and of men.
36. Again, they are concerned with our original constitution, and final restoration, the types of the truth, the covenants, the first and second coming of Christ, His incarnation, sufferings and dissolution,(e) with the resurrection, the last day, the judgment and recompense, whether sad or glorious; I, to crown all, with what we are to think of the original(z) and blessed Trinity. Now this involves a very great risk to those who are charged with the illumination(h) of others, if they are to avoid contracting(th) their doctrine to a single Person, from fear of polytheism, and so leave us empty terms, if we suppose the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit to be one and the same Person only: or, on the other hand, severing It into three, either foreign and diverse, or disordered and unprincipled, and, so to say, opposed divinities, thus falling from the opposite side into an equally dangerous error: like some distorted plant if bent far back in the opposite direction.
37. For, amid the three infirmities in regard to theology, atheism, Judaism, and polytheism, one of which is patronised by Sabellius the Libyan, another by Arius of Alexandria, and the third by some of the ultra- orthodox among us, what is my position, can I avoid whatever in these three is noxious, and remain within the limits of piety; neither being led astray by the new analysis and synthesis into the atheism(a) of Sabellius, to assert not so much that all are one as that each is nothing, for things which are transferred and pass into each other cease to be that which each one of them is, of that we have an unnaturally compound deity, like those mythical creatures, the subject of a picturesque imagination: nor again, by alleging a plurality of severed natures, according to the well named madness(b) of Arius, becoming involved in a Jewish poverty, and introducing envy into the divine nature, by limiting the Godhead to the Unbegotten One alone, as if afraid that our God would perish, if He were the Father of a real God of equal nature: nor again, by arraying three principles in opposition to, or in alliance with, each other, introducing the Gentile plurality of principles from which we have escaped?
38. It is necessary neither to be so devoted to the Father, as to rob Him of His Fatherhood, for whose Father would He be, if the Son were separated and estranged from Him, by being ranked with the creation, (for an alien being, or one which is combined and confounded with his father, and, for the sense is the same, throws him into confusion, is not a son); nor to be so devoted to Christ, as to neglect to preserve both His Sonship, (for whose son would He be, if His origin were not referred to the Father?) and the rank of the Father as origin, inasmuch as He is the Father and Generator; for He would be the origin of petty and Unworthy beings, or rather the term would be used in a petty and unworthy sense, if He were not the origin of Godhead and goodness, which are contemplated in the Son and the Spirit: the former being the Son and the Word, the latter the proceeding and indissoluble Spirit. For both the Unity of the Godhead must be preserved, and the Trinity of Persons confessed, each with His own property.
39. A suitable and worthy comprehension and exposition of this subject demands a discussion of greater length than the present occasion, or even our life, as I suppose, allows, and, what is more, both now and at all times, the aid of the Spirit, by Whom alone we are able to perceive, to expound, or to embrace, the truth in regard to God. For the pure alone can grasp. Him Who is pure and of the same disposition as himself; and I have now briefly dwelt upon the subject, to show how difficult it is to discuss such important questions, especially before a large audience, composed of every age and condition, and needing like an instrument of many strings, to be played upon in various ways; or to find any form of words able to edify them all, and illuminate them with the light of knowledge. For it is not only that there are three sources from which danger springs, understanding, speech, and hearing, so that failure in one, if not in all, is infallibly certain; for either the mind is not illuminated, or the language is feeble, or the hearing, not having been cleansed, fails to comprehend, and accordingly, in one or all respects, the truth must be maimed: but further, what makes the instruction of those who profess to teach any other subject so easy and acceptable--viz. the piety(a) of the audience--on this subject involves difficulty and danger.
40. For having undertaken to contend on behalf of God, the Supreme Being, and of salvation, and of the primary hope(b) of us all, the more fervent they are in the faith, the more hostile are they to what is said, supposing that a submissive spirit indicates, not piety, but treason to the truth, and therefore they would sacrifice anything rather than their private convictions, and the accustomed doctrines in which they have been educated. I am now referring to those who are moderate and not utterly depraved in disposition, who, if they have erred in regard to the truth, have erred from piety, who have zeal, though not according to knowledge,(g) who will possibly be of the number of those not excessively condemned, and not beaten with many stripes,(a) because it is not through vice or depravity that they have failed to do the will of their Lord; and these perchance would be persuaded and forsake the pious opinion which is the cause of their hostility, if some reason either from their own minds, or from others, were to take hold of them, and at a critical moment, like iron from flint, strike fire from a mind which is pregnant and worthy of the light, for thus a little spark would quickly kindle the torch of truth within it.
41. But what is to be said of those who, from vain glory or arrogance, speak unrighteousness against the most High,(b) arming themselves with the insolence of Jannes and Jambres,(g) not against Moses, but against the truth, and rising in opposition to sound doctrine? Or of the third class, who through ignorance and, its consequence, temerity, rush headlong against every form of doctrine in swinish fashion, and trample under foot the fair pearls(d) of the truth?
42. What again of those who come with no private idea, or form of words, better or worse, in regard to God, but listen to all kinds of doctrines and teachers, with the intention of selecting from all what is best and safest, in reliance upon no better judges of the truth than themselves? They are, in consequence, borne and turned about hither and thither by one plausible idea after another, and, after being deluged and trodden down by all kinds of doctrine,(e) and having rung the changes on a long succession of teachers and formul, which they throw to the winds as readily as dust, their ears and minds at last are wearied out, and, O what folly! they become equally disgusted with all forms of doctrine, and assume the wretched character of deriding and despising our faith as unstable and unsound; passing in their ignorance from the teachers to the doctrine: as if anyone whose eyes were diseased, or whose ears had been injured, were to complain of the sun for being dim and not shining, or of sounds for being inharmonious and feeble.
43. Accordingly, to impress the truth upon a soul when it is still fresh, like wax not yet subjected to the seal, is an easier task than inscribing pious doctrine on the top of inscriptions--I mean wrong doctrines and dogmas(z)--with the result that the former are confused and thrown into disorder by the latter. It is better indeed to tread a road which is smooth and well trodden than one which is untrodden and rough, or to plough land which has often been cleft and broken up by the plough: but a soul to be written upon should be free from the inscription of harmful doctrines, or the deeply cut marks of vice: otherwise the pious inscriber would have a twofold task, the erasure of the former impressions and the substitution of others which are more excellent, and more worthy to abide. So numerous are they whose wickedness is shown, not only by yielding to their passions, but even by their utterances, and so numerous the forms and characters of wickedness, and so considerable the task of one who has been intrusted with this office of educating and taking charge of souls. Indeed I have omitted the majority of the details, lest my speech should be unnecessarily burdensome.
44. If anyone were to undertake to tame and train an animal of many forms and shapes, compounded of many animals of various sizes and degrees of tameness and wildness, his principal task, involving a considerable struggle, would be the government of so extraordinary and heterogeneous a nature, since each of the animals of which it is compounded would, according to its nature or habit, be differently affected with joy, pleasure or dislike, by the same words, or food, or stroking with the hand, or whistling, or other modes of treatment. And what must the master of such an animal do, but show himself manifold and various in his knowledge, and apply to each a treatment suitable for it, so as successfully to lead and preserve the beast? And since the common body of the church is composed of many different characters and minds, like a single animal compounded of discordant parts, it is absolutely necessary that its ruler should be at once simple in his uprightness in all respects, and as far as possible manifold and varied in his treatment of individuals, and in dealing with all in an appropriate and suitable manner.
45. For some need to be fed with the milk(a) of the most simple and elementary doctrines, viz., those who are in habit babes and, so to say, new-made, and unable to bear the manly food of the word: nay, if it were presented to them beyond their strength, they would probably be overwhelmed and oppressed, owing to the inability of their mind, as is the case with our material bodies,(b) to digest and appropriate what is offered to it, and so would lose even their original power. Others require the wisdom which is spoken among the perfect,(a) and the higher and more solid food, since their senses have been sufficiently exercised to discern(b) truth and falsehood, and if they were made to drink milk, and fed on the vegetable diet of invalids,(g) they would be annoyed. And with good reason, for they would not be strengthened(d) according to Christ, nor make that laudable increase, which the Word produces in one who is rightly feel, by making him a perfect man, and bringing him to the measure of spiritual stature.(e)
46. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as the many, able to corrupt(z) the word of truth, and mix the wine,(h) which maketh glad the heart of man,(th) with water, mix, that is, our doctrine with what is common and cheap, and debased, and stale, and tasteless, in order to turn the adulteration to our profit, and accommodate ourselves to those who meet us, and curry favor with everyone, becoming ventriloquists(i) and chatterers, who serve their own pleasures by words uttered from the earth, and sinking into the earth, and, to gain the special good will of the multitude, injuring in the highest degree, nay, ruining ourselves, and shedding the innocent blood of simpler souls, which will be required at our hands.(k)
47. Besides, we are aware that it is better to offer our own reins to others more skilful than ourselves, than, while inexperienced, to guide the course of others, and rather to give a kindly hearing than stir an untrained tongue; and after a discussion of these points with advisers who are, I fancy, of no mean worth, and, at any rate, wish us well, we preferred to learn those canons of speech and action which we did not know, rather than undertake to teach them in our ignorance. For it is delightful to have the reasoning(l) of the aged come to one even until the depth of old age, able, as it is, to aid a soul new to piety. Accordingly, to undertake the training of others before being sufficiently trained oneself, and to learn, as men say, the potter's art on a wine-jar, that is, to practise ourselves in piety at the expense of others' souls seems to me to be excessive folly or excessive rashness--folly, if we are not even aware of our own ignorance; rashness, if in spite of this knowledge we venture on the task.
48. Nay, the wiser of the Hebrews tell us that there was of old among the Hebrews a most excellent and praiseworthy law,(m) that every age was not entrusted with the whole of Scripture, inasmuch as this would not be the more profitable course, since the whole of it is not at once intelligible to everyone, and its more recondite parts would, by their apparent meaning, do a very great injury to most people. Some portions therefore, whose exterior(a) is unexceptionable, are from the first permitted and common to all; while others are only en-trusted to those who have attained their twenty-fifth year, viz., such as hide their mystical beauty under a mean-looking cloak, to be the reward of diligence and an illustrious life; flashing forth and presenting itself only to those whose mind has been purified, on the ground that this age alone(b) can be superior to the body, and properly rise from the letter to the spirit.
49. Among us, however, there is no boundary line between giving and receiving instruction, like the stones of old between the tribes within and beyond the Jordan: nor is a certain part entrusted to some, another to others; nor any rule for degrees(g) of experience; but the matter has been so disturbed and thrown into confusion, that most of us, not to say all, almost before we have lost our childish curls and lisp, before we have entered the house of God, before we know even the names of the Sacred Books, before we have learnt the character and authors of the Old and New Testaments: (for my present point is not our want of cleansing from the mire and marks of spiritual shame which our viciousness has contracted) if, I say, we have furnished ourselves with two or three expressions of pious authors, and that by hearsay, not by study; if we have had a brief experience of David, or clad ourselves properly in a cloak-let, or are wearing at least a philosopher's girdle, or have girt about us some form and appearance of piety--phew! how we take the chair and show our spirit! Samuel was holy even in his swaddling-clothes:(d) we are at once wise teachers, of high estimation in Divine things, the first of scribes and lawyers; we ordain ourselves men of heaven and seek to be called Rabbi by men;(e) the letter is nowhere, everything is to be understood spiritually, and our dreams are utter drivel, and we should be annoyed if we were not lauded to excess. This is the case with the better and more simple of us: what of those who are more spiritual and noble?(a) After frequently condemning us, as men of no account, they have forsaken us, and abhor fellowship with impious people such as we are.
50. Now, if we were to speak gently to one of them, advancing, as follows, step by step in argument: "Tell me, my good sir, do you call dancing anything, and flute-playing?" "Certainly," they would say. "What then of wisdom and being wise, which we venture to define as a knowledge of things divine and human?" This also they will admit. "Are then these accomplishments better than and superior to wisdom, or wisdom by far better than these?" "Better even than all things," I know well that they will say. Up to this point they are judicious. "Well, dancing and flute-playing require to be taught and learnt, a process which takes time, and much toil in the sweat of the brow, and sometimes the payment of fees, and entreaties for initiation, and long absence from home, and all else which must be done and borne for the acquisition of experience: but as for wisdom, which is chief of all things, and holds in her embrace everything which is good, so that even God himself prefers this title to all the names which He is called; are we to suppose that it is a matter of such slight consequence, and so accessible, that we need but wish, and we would be wise?" "It would be utter folly to do so." If we, or any learned and prudent man, were to say this to them, and try by degrees to cleanse them from their error, it would be sowing upon rocks,(b) and speaking to ears of men who will not hear:(g) so far are they from being even wise enough to perceive their own ignorance. And we may rightly, in my opinion, apply to them the saying of Solomon: There is an evil which I have seen under the sun,(d) a man wise in his own conceit;(e) and a still greater evil is to charge with the instruction of others a man who is not even aware of his own ignorance.
51. This is a state of mind which demands, in special degree, our tears and groans, and has often stirred my pity, from the conviction that imagination robs us in great measure of reality, and that vain glory is a great hindrance to men's attainment of virtue. To heal and stay this disease needs a Peter or Paul, those great disciples of Christ, who in addition to guidance in word and deed, received their grace,(z) and became all things to all men, that they might gain all.(a) But for other men like ourselves, it is a great thing to be rightly guided and led by those who have been charged with the correction and setting right of things such as these.
52. Since, however, I have mentioned Paul, and men like him, I will, with your permission, pass by all others who have been foremost as lawgivers, prophets, or leaders, or in any similar office--for instance, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, the Judges, Samuel, David, the company of Prophets, John, the Twelve Apostles, and their successors, who with many toils and labors exercised their authority, each in his own time; all these I pass by, to set forth Paul as the witness to my assertions, and for us to consider by his example how important a matter is the care of souls, and whether it requires slight attention and little judgment. But that we may recognize and perceive this, let us hear what Paul himself says of Paul.
53. I say nothing of his labours, his watchings, his sufferings in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, his assailants from without, his adversaries within.(b) I pass over the persecutions, councils, prisons, bonds, accusers, tribunals, the daily and hourly deaths, the basket, the stonings, beatings with rods, the travelling about, the perils by land and sea, the deep, the shipwrecks, the perils of rivers, perils of robbers, perils from his countrymen, perils among false brethren, the living by his own hands, the gospel without charge,(g) the being a spectacle to both angels and men,(d) set in the midst between God and men to champion His cause,(e) and to unite them to Him, and make them His own peculiar people,(z) beside those things that are without.(h) For who could worthily detail these matters, the daily pressure,(th) the individual solicitude, the care of all the churches, the universal sympathy, and brotherly love? Did anyone stumble, Paul also was weak; did another suffer scandal, it was Paul who was on fire.
54. What of the laboriousness of his teaching? The manifold character of his ministry? His loving kindness? And on the other hand his strictness? And the combination and blending of the two; in such wise that his gentleness should not enervate, nor his severity exasperate? He gives laws for slaves and masters,(i) rulers and ruled,(k) husbands and wives,(l) parents and children,(a) marriage and celibacy,(b) self-discipline and indulgence,(g) wisdom and ignorance,(d) circumcision and uncircumcision,(e) Christ and the world, the flesh and the spirit.(z) On behalf of some he gives thanks, others he upbraids. Some he names his joy and crown,(h) others he charges with folly.(th) Some who hold a straight course he accompanies, sharing in their zeal; others he checks, who are going wrong. At one time he excommunicates,(i) at another he confirms his love;(k) at one time he grieves, at another rejoices; at one time he feeds with milk, at another he handles mysteries;(l) at one time he condescends, at another he raises to his own level; at one time he threatens a rod,(m) at another he offers the spirit of meekness; at one time he is haughty toward the lofty, at another lowly toward the lowly. Now he is least of the apostles,(n) now he offers a proof of Christ speaking in him;(x) now he longs for departure and is being poured forth as a libation,(o) now he thinks it more necessary for their sakes to abide in the flesh. For he seeks not his own interests, but those of his children,(p) whom he has begotten in Christ by the gospel.(r) This is the aim of all his spiritual authority, in everything to neglect his own in comparison with the advantage of others.
55. He glories in his infirmities and distresses. He takes pleasure in the dying of Jesus,(s) as if it were a kind of ornament. He is lofty in carnal things,(t) he rejoices in things spiritual; he is not rude in knowledge,(u) and claims to see in a mirror, darkly.(ph) He is bold in spirit, and buffets his body,(ch) throwing it as an antagonist. What is the lesson and instruction he would thus impress upon us? Not to be proud of earthly things, or puffed up by knowledge, or excite the flesh against the spirit. He fights for all, prays for all, is jealous for all, is kindled on behalf of all, whether without law, or under the law; a preacher of the Gentiles,(ps) a patron of the Jews. He even was exceedingly bold on behalf of his brethren according to the flesh,( w) if I may myself be bold enough to say so, in his loving prayer that they might in his stead be brought to Christ. What magnanimity! what fervor of spirit! He imitates Christ, who became a curse for us,(aa) who took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses;(bb) or, to use more measured terms, he is ready, next to Christ, to suffer anything, even as one of the ungodly, for them, if only they be saved.
56. Why should I enter into detail? He lived not to himself, but to Christ and his preaching. He crucified the world to himself,(a) and being crucified to the world and the things which are seen, he thought all things little,(b) and too small to be desired; even though from Jerusalem and round about unto Illyricum(g) he had fully preached the Gospel, even though he had been prematurely caught up to the third heaven, and had a vision of Paradise, and had heard unspeakable words.(d) Such was Paul, and everyone of like spirit with him. But we fear that, in comparison with them, we may be foolish princes of Zoan,(e) or extortioners, who exact the fruits of the ground, or falsely bless the people:(z) and further make themselves happy, and confuse the way of your feet,(h) or mockers ruling over you, or children in authority,(th) immature in mind, not even having bread and clothing enough to be rulers over any;(i) or prophets teaching lies,(k) or rebellious princes,(l) deserving to share the reproach of their elders for the straitness of the famine,(m) or priests very far from speaking comfortably(n) to Jerusalem, according to the reproaches and protests urged by Isaiah, who was purged by the Seraphim with a live coal.(x)
57. Is the undertaking then so serious and laborious to a sensitive and sad heart--a very rottenness to the bones o of a sensible man: while the danger is slight, and a fall not worth consideration? Nay the blessed Hosea inspires me with serious alarm, where he says that to us priests and rulers pertaineth the judgment,(o) because we have been a snare to the watchtower; and as a net spread upon Tabor, which has been firmly fixed by the hunters of men's souls, and he threatens to cut off the wicked prophets,(p) and devour their judges with fire, and to cease for a while from anointing a king and princes,(r) because they ruled for themselves, and not by Him.(s)
58. Hence again the divine Micah, unable to brook the building of Zion with blood, however you interpret the phrase, and of Jerusalem with iniquity, while the heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests teach for hire, and the prophets divine for money--what does he say will be the result of this? Zion shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem be as a lodge in a garden, and the mountain of the house be reckoned as a glade in a thicket.(a) He bewails also the scarcity of the upright, there being scarcely a stalk or a gleaning grape left, since both the prince asketh, and the judge curries favour,(b) so that his language is almost the same as the mighty David's: Save me, O Lord, for the godly man ceaseth:(g) and says that therefore their blessings shall fail them, as if wasted by the moth.
59. Joel again summons us to wailing, and will have the ministers of the altar lament under the presence of famine: so far is he from allowing us to revel in the misfortunes of others: and, after sanctifying a fast, calling a solemn assembly, and gathering the old men, the children, and those of tender age,(d) we ourselves must further haunt the temple in sackcloth and ashes,(e) prostrated right humbly on the ground, because the field is wasted, and the meat-offering and the drink-offering is cut off from the house of the Lord, till we draw down mercy by our humiliation.
60. What of Habakkuk? He utters more heated words, and is impatient with God Himself, and cries down, as it were our good Lord, because of the injustice of the judges. O Lord, how long shall I cry and Thou wilt not hear? Shall I cry out unto Thee of violence, and Thou wilt not save? Why dost Thou show me toil and labour, causing me to look upon perverseness and impiety? Judgment has been given against me, and the judge is a spoiler. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth. Then comes the denunciation, and what follows upon it. Behold, ye despisers, and regard, and wonder marvellously, and vanish away, for I work a work.(z) But why need I quote the whole of the denunciation? A little further on, however, for I think it best to add this to what has been said, after upbraiding and lamenting many of those who are in some respect unjust or depraved, he upbraids the leaders and teachers of wickedness, stigmatising vice as a foul disorder, and an intoxication and aberration of mind; charging them with giving their neighbours drink in order to look upon the darkness of their soul,(h) and the dens of creeping things and wild beasts, viz.: the dwelling places of wicked thoughts. Such indeed they are, and such teachings do they discuss with us.
61. How can it be right to pass by Malachi, who at one time brings bitter charges against the priests, and reproaches them with despising the name of the Lord,(a) and explains wherein they did this, by offering polluted bread upon the altar, and meat which is not firstfruits, which they would not have offered to one of their governors, or, if they had offered it, they would have been dishonoured; yet offering these in fulfilment of a vow to the King of the universe, to wit, the lame and the sick, and the deformed, which are utterly profane and loathsome.(b) Again he reminds them of the covenant of God, a covenant of life and peace, with the sons of Levi, and that they should serve Him in fear, and stand in awe of the manifestation of His Name. The law of truth, he says, was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found in his lips; he walked with me uprightly in peace, and turned away many from iniquity: for the priest's lips shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth. And how honourable and at the same time how fearful is the cause! for he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty.(g) Although I pass over the following imprecations, as strongly worded,(d) yet I am afraid of their truth. This however may be cited without offence, to our profit. Is it right, he says, to regard your sacrifice, and receive it with good will at your hands,(e) as if he were most highly incensed, and rejecting their ministrations owing to their wickedness.
62. Whenever I remember Zechariah, I shudder at the reaping-hook,(z) and likewise at his testimony against the priests, his hints in reference to the celebrated Joshua, the high priest, whom he represents as stripped of filthy and unbecoming garments and then clothed in rich priestly apparel.(h) As for the words and charges to Joshua which he puts into the angel's mouth, let them be treated with silent respect, as referring perhaps to a greater(th) and higher object than those who are many priests:(i) but even at his right hand stood the devil, to resist him. A fact, in my eyes, of no slight significance, and demanding no slight fear and watchfulness.
63. Who is so bold and adamantine of soul as not to tremble and be abashed at the charges and reproaches deliberately urged against the rest of the shepherds. A voice, he says, of the howling of the shepherds, for their glory is spoiled. A voice of the roaring of lions,(k) for this hath befallen them. Does he not all but hear the wailing as if close at hand, and himself wail with the afflicted. A little further is a more striking and impassioned strain. Feed, he says, the flock of slaughter, whose possessors slay them without repentance, and they that sell them say, "Blessed be the Lord, for we are rich:" and their own shepherds are without feeling for them. Therefore, I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord Almighty.(a) And again: Awake, O sword, against the shepherds, and smite the shepherds, and scatter the sheep, and I will turn My Hand upon the shepherds;(b) and, Mine anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will visit the lambs:(g) adding to the threat those who rule over the people. So industriously does he apply himself to his task that he cannot easily free himself from denunciations, and I am afraid that, did I refer to the whole series, I should exhaust your patience. This must then suffice for Zechariah.
64. Passing by the elders in the book of Daniel;(d) for it is better to pass them by, together with the Lord's righteous sentence and declaration concerning them, that wickedness came from Babylon from ancient judges, who seemed to govern the people; how are we affected by Ezekiel, the beholder and expositor of the mighty mysteries and visions? By his injunction to the watchmen(e) not to keep silence concerning vice and the sword impending over it, a course which would profit neither themselves nor the sinners; but rather to keep watch and forewarn, and thus benefit, at any rate those who gave warning, if not both those who spoke and those who heard?
65. What of his further invective against the shepherds, Woe shall come upon woe, and rumour upon rumour, then shall they seek a vision of the prophet, but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients,(z) and again, in these terms, Son of man, say unto her, thou art a land that is not watered, nor hath rain come upon thee in the day of indignation: whose princes in the midst of her are like roaring lions, ravening the prey, devouring souls in their might.(h) And a little further on: Her priests have violated My laws and profaned My holy things, they have put no difference between the holy and profane, but all things were alike to them, and they hid their eyes from My Sabbaths, and I was profaned among them.(th) He threatens that He will consume both the wall and them that daubed it,(i) that is, those who sin and those who throw a cloak over them; as the evil rulers and priests have done, who caused the house of Israel to err according to their own hearts which are estranged in their lusts.(a)
66. I also refrain from entering into his discussion of those who feed themselves, devour the milk, clothe themselves with the wool, kill them that are fat, but feed not the flock, strengthen not the diseased, nor bind up that which is broken, nor bring again that which is driven away, nor seek that which is lost, nor keep watch over that which is strong, but oppress them with rigour, and destroy them with their pressure;(b) so that, because there was no shepherd, the sheep were scattered over every plain and mountain, and became meat for all the fowls and beasts,(g) because there was no one to seek for them and bring them back. What is the consequence? As I live, saith the Lord, because these things are so, and My flock became a prey,(d) behold I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hands, and will gather them and make them My own: but the shepherds shall suffer such and such things, as bad shepherds ought.
67. However, to avoid unreasonably prolonging my discourse, by an enumeration of all the prophets, and of the words of them all, I will mention but one more, who was known before he was formed, and sanctified from the womb,(e) Jeremiah: and will pass over the rest. He longs for water over his head, and a fountain of tears for his eyes, that he may adequately weep for Israel;(z) and no less does he bewail the depravity of its rulers.
68. God speaks to him in reproof of the priests: The priests said not, Where is the Lord, and they that handled the law knew Me not; the pastors also transgressed against Me.(h) Again He says to him: The pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord, and therefore all their flock did not understand, and was scattered.(th) Again, Many pastors have destroyed My vineyard, and have polluted My pleasant portion, till it was reduced to a track less wilderness.(i) He further inveighs against the pastors again: Woe be to the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! Therefore thus saith the Lord against them that feed My people: Ye have scattered My flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold I will visit upon you the evil of your doings.(k) Moreover he bids the shepherds to howl, and the rams of the flock to lament, because the days of their slaughter are accomplished.(l)
69. Why need I speak of the things of ancient days? Who can test himself by the rules and standards which Paul laid down for bishops and presbyters, that they are to be temperate, soberminded, not given to wine, no strikers, apt to teach, blameless in all things, and beyond the reach of the wicked,(a) without finding considerable deflection from the straight line of the rules? What of the regulations of Jesus for his disciples, when He sends them to preach?(b) The main object of these is--not to enter into particulars--that they should be of such virtue, so simple and modest, and in a word, so heavenly, that the gospel should make its way, no less by their character than by their preaching.
70. I am alarmed by the reproaches of the Pharisees, the conviction of the Scribes. For it is disgraceful for us, who ought greatly surpass them, as we are bidden, if we desire the kingdom of heaven, to be found more deeply sunk in vice: so that we deserve to be called serpents, a generation of vipers, and blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel, or sepulchres foul within, in spite of our external comeliness, or platters outwardly clean, and everything else, which they are, or which is laid to their charge.(g)
71. With these thoughts I am occupied night and day: they waste my marrow, and feed upon my flesh, and will not allow me to be confident or to look up. They depress my soul, and abase my mind, and fetter my tongue, and make me consider, not the position of a prelate, or the guidance and direction of others, which is far beyond my powers; but how I myself am to escape the wrath to come, and to scrape off from myself somewhat of the rust of vice. A man must himself be cleansed, before cleansing others: himself become wise, that he may make others wise; become light, and then give light: draw near to God, and so bring others near; be hallowed, then hallow them; be possessed of hands to lead others by the hand, of wisdom to give advice.
72. When will this be, say they who are swift but not sure in every thing, readily building up, readily throwing down. When will the lamp be upon its stand,(d) and where is the talent?(e) For so they call the grace.(z) Those who speak thus are more fervent in friendship than in reverence. You ask me, you men of exceeding courage, when these things shall be, and what account I give of them? Not even extreme old age would be too long a limit to assign. For hoary hairs combined with prudence are better than inexperienced youth, well-reasoned hesitation than inconsiderate haste, and a brief reign than a long tyranny: just as a small portion honourably won is better than considerable possessions which are dishonourable and uncertain, a little gold than a great weight of lead, a little light than much darkness.
73. But this speed, in its untrustworthiness and excessive haste, is in danger of being like the seeds which fell upon the rock,(a) and, because they had no depth of earth,(b) sprang up at once, but could not bear even the first heat of the sun; or like the foundation laid upon the sand,(g) which could not even make a slight resistance to the rain and the winds. Woe to thee, O city, whose king is a child,(d) says Solomon. Be not hasty of speech,(e) says Solomon again, asserting that hastiness of speech is less serious than heated action. And who, in spite of all this, demands haste rather than security and utility? Who can mould, as clay-figures are modelled in a single day, the defender of the truth, who is to take his stand with Angels, and give glory with Archangels, and cause the sacrifice to ascend to the altar on high, and share the priesthood of Christ, and renew the creature, and set forth the image, and create inhabitants for the world above, aye and, greatest of all, be God, and make others to be God?
74. I know Whose ministers we are, and where we are placed, and whither we are guides. I know the height of God, and the weakness of man, and, on the contrary, his power. Heaven is high, and the earth deep;(z) and who of those who have been cast down by sin shall ascend?(h) Who that is as yet surrounded by the gloom here below, and by the grossness of the flesh can purely gaze with his whole mind upon that whole mind, and amid unstable and visible things hold intercourse with the stable and invisible? For hardly may one of those who have been most specially purged, behold here even an image of the Good, as men see the sun in the water. Who hath measured the water with his hand, and the heaven with a span, and the whole earth in a measure? Who hath weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?(th) What is the place of his rest?(i) and to whom shall he be likened?(k)
75. Who is it, Who made all things by His Word,(l) and formed man by His Wisdom, and gathered into one things scattered abroad, and mingled dust with spirit, and compounded an animal visible and invisible, temporal and immortal, earthly and heavenly, able to attain to God but not to comprehend Him, drawing near and yet afar off. I said, I will be wise, says Solomon, but she (i.e. Wisdom) was far from me beyond what is:(a) and, Verily, he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.(b) For the joy of what we have discovered is no greater than the pain of what escapes us; a pain, I imagine, like that felt by those who are dragged, while yet thirsty, from the water, or are unable to retain what they think they hold, or are suddenly left in the dark by a flash of lightning.
76. This depressed and kept me humble, and persuaded me that it was better to hear the voice of praise(g) than to be an expounder of truths beyond my power; the majesty, and the height, and the dignity, and the pure natures scarce able to contain the brightness of God, Whom the deep covers, Whose secret place is darkness,(d) since He is the purest light,(e) which most men cannot approach unto; Who is in all this universe, and again is beyond the universe; Who is all goodness,(z) and beyond all goodness; Who enlightens the mind, and escapes the quickness and height of the mind, ever retiring as much as He is apprehended, and by His flight and stealing away when grasped, withdrawing to the things above one who is enamoured of Him.
77. Such and so great is the object of our longing zeal, and such a man should he be, who prepares and conducts souls to their espousals. For myself, I feared to be cast, bound hand and foot,(h) from the bride- chamber, for not having on a wedding-garment, and for having rashly intruded among those who there sit at meat. And yet I had been invited from my youth, if I may speak of what most men know not, and had been cast upon Him from the womb,(th) and presented by the promise of my mother, afterwards confirmed in the hour of danger: and my longing grew up with it, and my reason agreed to it, and I gave as an offering my all to Him Who had won me and saved me, my property, my fame, my health, my very words, from which I only gained the advantage of being able to despise them, and of having something in comparison of which I preferred Christ. And the words of God were made sweet as honeycombs(i) to me, and I cried after knowledge and lifted up my voice for wisdom.(k) There was moreover the moderation of anger, the curbing of the tongue, the restraint of the eyes, the discipline of the belly, and the trampling under foot of the glory which clings to the earth. I speak foolishly,(a) but it shall be said, in these pursuits I was perhaps not inferior to many.
78. One branch of philosophy is, however, too high for me, the commission to guide and govern souls--and before I have rightly learned to submit to a shepherd, or have had my soul duly cleansed, the charge of caring for a flock: especially in times like these, when a man, seeing everyone else rushing hither and thither in confusion, is content to flee from the melee and escape, in sheltered retirement, from the storm and gloom of the wicked one: when the members are at war with one another, and the slight remains of love, which once existed, have departed, and priest is a mere empty name, since, as it is said, contempt(b) has been poured upon princes.(g)
79. Would that it were merely empty! And now may their blasphemy fall upon the head of the ungodly! All fear has been banished from souls, shamelessness has taken its place, and knowledge(d) and the deep things of the Spirit(e) are at the disposal of anyone who will; and we all become pious by simply condemning the impiety of others; and we claim the services of ungodly judges,(z) and fling that which is holy to the dogs, and cast pearls before swine,(h) by publishing divine things in the hearing of profane souls, and, wretches that we are, carefully fulfil the prayers of our enemies, and are not ashamed to go a whoring with our own inventions.(th) Moabites and Ammonites, who were not permitted even to enter the Church of the Lord,(i) frequent our most holy rites. We have opened to all not the gates of righteousness,(k) but, doors of railing and partizan arrogance; and the first place among us is given, not to one who in the fear of God refrains from even an idle word, but to him who can revile his neighbour most fluently, whether explicitly, or by covert allusion; who rolls beneath his tongue mischief and iniquity, or to speak more accurately, the poison of asps.(l)
80. We observe each other's sins, not to bewail them, but to make them subjects of reproach, not to heal them, but to aggravate them, and excuse our own evil deeds by the wounds of our neighbours. Bad and good men are distinguished not according to personal character, but by their disagreement or friendship with ourselves. We praise one day what we revile the next, denunciation at the hands of others is a passport to our admiration; so magnanimous are we in our viciousness, that everything is frankly forgiven to impiety.
81. Everything has reverted to the original state of things(a) before the world, with its present fair order and form, came into being. The general confusion and irregularity cry for some organising hand and power. Or, if you will, it is like a battle at night by the faint light of the moon, when none can discern the faces of friends or foes; or like a sea fight on the surge, with the driving winds, and boiling foam, and dashing waves, and crashing vessels, with the thrusts of poles, the pipes of boatswains, the groans of the fallen, while we make our voices heard above the din, and not knowing what to do, and having, alas! no opportunity for showing our valour, assail one another, and fall by one another's hands.
82. Nor indeed is there any distinction between the state of the people and that of the priesthood: but it seems to me to be a simple fulfilment of the ancient curse, "As with the people so with the priest."(b) Nor again are the great and eminent men affected otherwise than the majority; nay, they are openly at war with the priests, and their piety is an aid to their powers of persuasion. And indeed, provided that it be on behalf of the faith, and of the highest and most important questions, let them be thus disposed, and I blame them not; nay, to say the truth, I go so far as to praise and congratulate them. Yea! would that I were one of those who contend and incur hatred for the truth's sake: or rather, I can boast of being one of them. For better is a laudable war than a peace which severs a man from God: and therefore it is that the Spirit arms the gentle warrior, as one who is able to wage war in a good cause.
83. But at the present time there are some who go to war even about small matters and to no purpose, and, with great ignorance and audacity, accept, as an associate in their ill-doing, anyone whoever he may be. Then everyone makes the faith his pretext, and this venerable name is dragged into their private quarrels. Consequently, as was probable, we are hated, even among the Gentiles, and, what is harder still, we cannot say that this is without just cause. Nay, even the best of our own people are scandalized, while this result is not surprising in the case of the multitude, who are ill-disposed to accept anything that is good.
84. Sinners are planning upon our backs;(a) and what we devise against each other, they turn against us all: and we have become a new spectacle, not to angels and men,(b) as says Paul, that bravest of athletes, in his contest with principalities and powers,(g) but to almost all wicked men, and at every time and place, in the public squares, at carousals, at festivities, and times of sorrow. Nay, we have already--I can scarcely speak of it without tears--been represented on the stage, amid the laughter of the most licentious, and the most popular of all dialogues and scenes is the caricature of a Christian.
85. These are the results of our intestine warfare, and our extreme readiness to strive about goodness and gentleness, and our inexpedient excess of love for God. Wrestling, or any other athletic contest, is only permitted according to fixed laws, and the man will be shouted down and disgraced, and lose the victory, who breaks the laws of wrestling, or acts unfairly in any other contest, contrary to the rules laid down for the contest, however able and skilful he may be; and shall anyone contend for Christ in an unchristlike manner, and yet be pleasing to peace for having fought unlawfully in her name.
86. Yea, even now, when Christ is invoked, the devils tremble,(d) and not even by our ill-doing has the power of this Name been extinguished, while we are not ashamed to insult a cause and name so venerable; shouting it, and having it shouted in return, almost in public, and every day; for My Name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.(e)
87. Of external warfare I am not afraid, nor of that wild beast, and fulness of evil, who has now arisen against the churches, though he may threaten fire, sword, wild beasts, precipices, chasms; though he may show himself more inhuman than all previous madmen, and discover fresh tortures of greater severity. I have one remedy for them all, one road to victory; I will glory in Christ(z) namely, death for Christ's sake.
88. For my own warfare, however, I am at a loss what course to pursue, what alliance, what word of wisdom, what grace to devise, with what panoply to arm myself, against the wiles of the wicked one.(h) What Moses is to conquer him by stretching out his hands upon the mount,(th) in order that the cross, thus typified and prefigured, may prevail? What Joshua, as his successor, arrayed alongside the Captain of the Lord's hosts?(a) What David, either by harping, or fighting with his sling,(b) and girded by God with strength unto the battle,(g) and with his fingers trained to war?(d) What Samuel, praying(e) and sacrificing for the people, and anointing as king one who can gain the victory? What Jeremiah, by writing lamentations for Israel, is fitly to lament these things?
89. Who will cry aloud, Spare Thy People, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them?(z) What Noah, and Job,(h) and Daniel, who are reckoned together as men of prayer, will pray for us, that we may have a slight respite from warfare, and recover ourselves, and recognize one another for a while, and no longer, instead of united Israel, be Judah(th) and Israel, Rehoboam and Jeroboam, Jerusalem and Samaria, in turn delivered up because of our sins, and in turn lamented.
90. For I own that I am too weak for this warfare, and therefore turned my back, hiding my face in the rout, and sat solitary,(i) because I was filled with bitterness(k) and sought to be silent, understanding that it is an evil time,(l) that the beloved had kicked,(m) that we were become backsliding children,(n) who are the luxuriant vine,(x) the true vine, all fruitful, all beautiful,(o) springing up splendidly with showers from on high.(p) For the diadem of beauty,(r) the signet of glory,(s) the crown of magnificence(t) has been changed for me into shame; and if anyone, in face of these things, is daring and courageous, he has my blessing on his daring and courage.
91. I have said nothing yet of the internal warfare within ourselves, and in our passions, in which we are engaged night and day against the body of our humiliation,(u) either secretly or openly, and against the tide which tosses and whirls us hither and thither, by the aid of our senses and other sources of the pleasures of this life; and against the miry clay(ph) in which we have been fixed; and against the law of sin,(ch) which wars against the law of the spirit, and strives to destroy the royal image in us, and all the divine emanation which has been bestowed upon us; so that it is difficult for anyone, either by a long course of philosophic training, and gradual separation of the noble and enlightened part of the soul from that which is debased and yoked with darkness, or by the mercy of God, or by both together, and by a constant practice of looking upward, to overcome the depressing power of matter. And before a man has, as far as possible, gained this superiority, and sufficiently purified his mind, and far surpassed his fellows in nearness to God, I do not think it safe for him to be entrusted with the rule over souls, or the office of mediator (for such, I take it, a priest is) between God and man.
92. What is it that has induced this fear in me, that, instead of supposing me to be needlessly afraid, you may highly commend my foresight? I hear from Moses himself, when God spake to him, that, although many were bidden to come to the mount, one of whom was even Aaron, with his two sons who were priests, and seventy elders of the senate, the rest were ordered to worship afar off, and Moses alone to draw near, and the people were not to go up with him.(a) For it is not everyone who may draw near to God, but only one who, like Moses, can bear the glory of God. Moreover, before this, when the law was first given, the trumpet-blasts, and lightnings, and thunders, and darkness, and the smoke of the whole mountain,(b) and the terrible threats that if even a beast touched the mountain it should be stoned,(g) and other like alarms, kept back the rest of the people, for whom it was a great privilege, after careful purification, merely to hear the voice of God. But Moses actually went up and entered into the cloud,(d) and was charged with the law, and received the tables, which belong, for the multitude, to the letter, but, for those who are above the multitude, to the spirit.(e)
93. I hear again that Nadab and Abihu, for having merely offered incense with strange fire, were with strange fire destroyed,(z) the instrument of their impiety being used for their punishment, and their destruction following at the very time and place of their sacrilege; and not even their father Aaron, who was next to Moses in the favor of God, could save them. I know also of Eli the priest, and a little later of Uzzah, the former made to pay the penalty for his sons' transgression, in daring to violate the sacrifices by an untimely exaction of the first fruits of the cauldrons, although he did not condone their impiety, but frequently rebuked them;(h) the other, because he only touched the ark, which was being thrown off the cart by the ox,(a) and though he saved it, was himself destroyed, in God's jealousy for the reverence due to the ark.
94. I know also that not even bodily blemishes in either priests(b) or victims(g) passed without notice, but that it was required by the law that perfect sacrifices must be offered by perfect men--a symbol, I take it, of integrity of soul. It was not lawful for everyone to touch the priestly vesture, or any of the holy vessels; nor might the sacrifices themselves be consumed except by the proper persons, and at the proper time and place;(d) nor might the anointing oil nor the compounded incense(e) be imitated; nor might anyone enter the temple who was not in the most minute particular pure in both soul and body; so far was the Holy of holies removed from presumptuous access, that it might be entered by one man only once a year;(z) so far were the veil, and the mercy-seat, and the ark, and the Cherubim, from the general gaze and touch.
95. Since then I knew these things, and that no one is worthy of the mightiness of God, and the sacrifice, and priesthood, who has not first presented himself to God, a living, holy sacrifice, and set forth the reasonable, well-pleasing service,(h) and sacrificed to God the sacrifice of praise and the contrite spirit,(th) which is the only sacrifice required of us by the Giver of all; how could I dare to offer to Him the external sacrifice, the antitype of the great mysteries,(i) or clothe myself with the garb and name of priest, before my hands had been consecrated by holy works; before my eyes had been accustomed to gaze safely upon created things, with wonder only for the Creator, and without injury to the creature; before my ear had been sufficiently opened to the instruction of the Lord, and He had opened mine ear to hear(k) without heaviness, and had set a golden earring with precious sardius, that is, a wise man's word in an obedient ear;(l) before my mouth had been opened to draw in the Spirit,(m) and opened wide to be filled(n) with the spirit of speaking mysteries and doctrines;(x) and my lips bound,(o) to use the words of wisdom, by divine knowledge, and, as I would add, loosed in due season: before my tongue had been filled with exultation, and become an instrument of Divine melody, awaking with glory, awaking right early,(a) and laboring till it cleave to my jaws:(b) before my feet had been set upon the rock,(g) made like hart's feet, and my footsteps directed in a godly fashion so that they should not well-night slip,(d) nor slip at all; before all my members had become instruments of righteousness,(e) and all mortality had been put off, and swallowed up of life,(z) and had yielded to the Spirit?
96. Who is the man, whose heart has never been made to burn,(h) as the Scriptures have been opened to him, with the pure words of God which have been tried in a furnace;(th) who has not, by a triple(i) inscription(k) of them upon the breadth of his heart, attained the mind of Christ;(l) nor been admitted to the treasures which to most men remain hidden, secret, and dark, to gaze upon the riches therein? and become able to enrich others, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.(m)
97. Who is the man who has never beheld, as our duty is to behold it, the fair beauty of the Lord, nor has visited His temple,(n) or rather, become the temple of God,(x) and the habitation of Christ in the Spirit?(o) Who is the man who has never recognized the correlation and distinction between figures and the truth, so that by withdrawing from the former and cleaving to the latter, and by thus escaping from the oldness of the letter and serving the newness of the spirit,(p) he may clean pass over to grace from the law, which finds its spiritual fulfilment in the dissolution of the body.(r)
98. Who is the man who has never, by experience and contemplation, traversed the entire series of the titles(s) and powers of Christ, both those more lofty ones which originally were His, and those more lowly ones which He later assumed for our sake--viz.: God, the Son, the Image, the Word, the Wisdom, the Truth, the Light, the Life, the Power, the Vapour, the Emanation, the Effulgence, the Maker, the King, the Head, the Law, the Way, the Door, the Foundation, the Rock, the Pearl, the Peace, the Righteousness, the Sanctification, the Redemption, the Man, the Servant, the Shepherd, the Lamb, the High Priest, the Victim, the Firstborn before creation, the Firstborn from the dead, the Resurrection: who is the man who hearkens, but pays no heed, to these names so pregnant with reality, and has never yet held communion with, nor been made partaker of, the Word, in any of the real relations signified by each of these names which He bears?
99. Who, in fine, is the man who, although he has never applied himself to, nor learnt to speak, the hidden wisdom of God in a mystery,(a) although he is still a babe, still fed with milk,(b) still of those who are not numbered in Israel,(g) nor enrolled in the army of God, although he is not yet able to take up the Cross of Christ like a man, although he is possibly not yet one of the more honorable members, yet will joyfully and eagerly accept his appointment as head of the fulness of Christ?(d) No one, if he will listen to my judgment and accept my advice! This is of all things most to be feared, this is the extremest of dangers in the eyes of everyone who understands the magnitude of success, the utter ruin of failure.
100. Let others sail for merchandise, I used to say, and cross the wide oceans, and constantly contend with winds and waves, to gain great wealth, if so it should chance, and run great risks in their eagerness for sailing and merchandise; but, for my part, I greatly prefer to stay ashore and plough a short but pleasant furrow, saluting at a respectful distance the sea and its gains, to live as best I can upon a poor and scanty store of barley-bread, and drag my life along in safety and calm, rather than expose myself to so long and great a risk for the sake of great gains.
101. For one in high estate, if he fail to make further progress and to disseminate virtue still more widely, and contents himself with slight results, incurs punishment, as having spent a great light upon the illumination of a little house, or girt round the limbs of a boy the full armor of a man. On the contrary, a man of low estate may with safety assume a light burden, and escape the risk of the ridicule and increased danger which would attend him if he attempted a task beyond his powers. For, as we have heard, it is not seemly for a man to build a tower, unless he has sufficient to finish it.(e)
102. Such is the defence which I have been able to make, perhaps at immoderate length, for my flight. Such are the reasons which, to my pain and possibly to yours, carried me away from you, my friends and brothers; yet, as it seemed to me at the time, with irresistible force. My longing after you, and the sense of your longing for me, have, more than anything else, led to my return, for nothing inclines us so strongly to love as mutual affection.
103. In the next place there was my care, my duty, the hoar hairs and weakness of my holy parents, who were more greatly distressed on my account than by their advanced age--of this Patriarch Abraham whose person is honored by me, and numbered among the angels, and of Sarah, who travailed in my spiritual birth by instructing me in the truth. Now, I had specially pledged myself to become the stay of their old age and the support of their weakness, a pledge which, to the best of my power, I have fulfilled, even at the expense of philosophy itself, the most precious of possessions and titles to me; or, to speak more truly, although I made it the first object of my philosophy to appear to be no philosopher, I could not bear that my labor in consequence of a single purpose should be wasted, nor yet that blessing should be lost, which one of the saints of old is said to have stolen from his father, whom he deceived by the food which he offered to him, and the hairy appearance he assumed, thus attaining a good object by disgraceful trickery.(a) These are the two causes of my submission and tractability. Nor is it, perchance, unreasonable that my arguments should yield and submit to them both, for there is a time to be conquered, as I also think there is for every purpose,(b) and it is better to be honorably overcome than to win a dangerous and lawless victory.
104. There is a third reason of the highest importance which I will further mention, and then dismiss the rest. I remembered the days of old,(g) and, recurring to one of the ancient histories, drew counsel for myself therefrom as to my present conduct; for let us not suppose these events to have been recorded without a purpose, nor that they are a mere assemblage of words and deeds gathered together for the pastime of those who listen to them, as a kind of bait for the ears, for the sole purpose of giving pleasure. Let us leave such jesting to the legends and the Greeks, who think but little of the truth, and enchant ear and mind by the charm of their fictions and the daintiness of their style.
105. We however, who extend the accuracy of the Spirit to the merest stroke and tittle,(d) will never admit the impious assertion that even the smallest matters were dealt with haphazard by those who have recorded them, and have thus been borne in mind down to the present day: on the contrary, their purpose has been to supply memorials and instructions for our consideration under similar circumstances, should such befall us, and that the examples of the past might serve as rules and models, for our warning and imitation.
106. What then is the story, and wherein lies its application? For, perhaps, it would not be amiss to relate it, for the general security. Jonah also was fleeing from the face of God,(a) or rather, thought that he was fleeing: but he was overtaken by the sea, and the storm, and the lot, and the whale's belly, and the three days' entombment, the type of a greater mystery. He fled from having to announce the dread and awful message to the Ninevites, and from being subsequently, if the city was saved by repentance, convicted of falsehood: not that he was displeased at the salvation of the wicked, but he was ashamed of being made an instrument of falsehood, and exceedingly zealous for the credit of prophecy, which was in danger of being destroyed in his person, since most men are unable to penetrate the depth of the Divine dispensation in such cases.
107. But, as I have learned from a man(b) skilled in these subjects, and able to grasp the depth of the prophet, by means of a reasonable explanation of what seems unreasonable in the history, it was not this which caused Jonah to flee, and carried him to Joppa and again from Joppa to Tarshish, when he entrusted his stolen self to the sea:(g) for it was not likely that such a prophet should be ignorant of the design of God, viz., to bring about, by means of the threat, the escape of the Ninerites from the threatened doom, according to His great wisdom, and unsearchable judgments, and according to His ways which are beyond our tracing and finding out;(d) nor that, if he knew this he would refuse to co-operate with God in the use of the means which He designed for their salvation. Besides, to imagine that Jonah hoped to hide himself at sea, and escape by his flight the great eye of God, is surely utterly absurd and stupid, and unworthy of credit, not only in the case of a prophet, but even in the case of any sensible man, who has only a slight perception of God, Whose power is over all.
108. On the contrary, as my instructor said, and as I am myself convinced, Jonah knew better than any one the purpose of his message to the Ninevites, and that, in planning his flight, although he changed his place, he did not escape from God. Nor is this possible for any one else, either by concealing himself in the bosom of the earth, or in the depths of the sea, or by soaring on wings, if there be any means of doing so, and rising into the air, or by abiding in the lowest depths of hell,(a) or by enveloping himself in a thick cloud, or by any other of the many devices for ensuring escape. For God alone of all things cannot be escaped from or contended with; if He wills to seize and bring them under His hand, He outstrips the swift, He outwits the wise, He overthrows the strong, He abases the lofty, He subdues rashness, He represses power.
109. Jonah then was not ignorant of the mighty hand of God, with which he threatened other men, nor did he imagine that he could utterly escape the Divine power; this we are not to believe: but when he saw the falling away of Israel, and perceived the passing over of the grace of prophecy to the Gentiles--this was the cause of his retirement from preaching and of his delay in fulfilling the command; accordingly he left the watchtower of joy, for this is the meaning of Joppa in Hebrew, I mean his former dignity and reputation, and flung himself into the deep of sorrow: and hence he is tempest-tossed, and falls asleep, and is wrecked, and aroused from sleep, and taken by lot, and confesses his flight, and is cast into sea, and swallowed, but not destroyed, by the whale; but there he calls upon God, and, marvellous as it is, on the third day he, like Christ, is delivered: but my treatment of this topic must stand over, and shall shortly, if God permit, be more deliberately worked out.(b)
110. Now however, to return to my original point, the thought and question occurred to me, that although he might possibly meet with some indulgence, if reluctant to prophesy, for the cause which I mentioned--yet, in my own case, what could be said, what defence could be made, if I longer remained restive, and rejected the yoke of ministry, which, though I know not whether to call it light or heavy, had at any rate been laid upon me.
111. For if it be granted, and this alone can be strongly asserted in such matters, that we are far too low to perform the priest's office before God, and that we can only be worthy of the sanctuary after we have become worthy of the Church,(a) and worthy of the post of president, after being worthy of the sanctuary, yet some one else may perhaps refuse to acquit us on the charge of disobedience. Now terrible are the threatenings against disobedience, and terrible are the penalties which ensue upon it; as indeed are those on the other side, if, instead of being reluctant, and shrinking back, and concealing ourselves as Saul did among his father's stuff(b)-- although called to rule but for a short time--if, I say, we come forward readily, as though to a slight and most easy task, whereas it is not safe even to resign it, nor to amend by second thoughts our first.
112. On this account I had much toilsome consideration to discover my duty, being set in the midst betwixt two fears, of which the one held me back, the other urged me on. For a long while I was at a loss between them, and after wavering from side to side, and, like a current driven by inconstant winds, inclining first in this direction, then in that, I at last yielded to the stronger, and the fear of disobedience overcame me, and has carried me off. Pray, mark how accurately and justly I hold the balance between the fears, neither desiring an office not given to me, nor rejecting it when given. The one course marks the rash, the other the disobedient, both the undisciplined. My position lies between those who are too bold, or too timid; more timid than those who rush at every position, more bold than those who avoid them all. This is my judgment on the matter.
113. Moreover, to distinguish still more clearly between them, we have, against the fear of office, a possible help in the law of obedience, inasmuch as God in His goodness rewards our faith, and makes a perfect ruler of the man who has confidence in Him, and places all his hopes in Him; but against the danger of disobedience I know of nothing which can help us, and of no ground to encourage our confidence. For it is to be feared that we shall have to hear these words concerning those who have been entrusted to us: I will require their souls at your hands;(g) and, Because ye have rejected me, and not been leaders and rulers of my people, I also will reject you, that I should not be king over you;(a) and, As ye refused to hearken to My voice, and turned a stubborn back, and were disobedient, so shall it be when ye call upon Me, and I will not regard nor give ear to your prayer.(b) God forbid that these words should come to us from the just Judge, for when we sing of His mercy we must also by all means sing of His judgment.(g)
114. I resort once again to history, and on considering the men of best repute in ancient days, who were ever preferred by grace to the office of ruler or prophet, I discover that some readily complied with the call, others deprecated the gift, and that neither those who drew back were blamed for timidity, nor those who came forward for eagerness. The former stood in awe of the greatness of the ministry, the latter trustfully obeyed Him Who called them. Aaron was eager, but Moses resisted,(d) Isaiah readily submitted, but Jeremiah was afraid of his youth,(e) and did not venture to prophesy until he had received from God a promise and power beyond his years.(z)
115. By these arguments I charmed myself, and by degrees my soul relaxed and became ductile, like iron, and time came to the aid of my arguments, and the testimonies of God, to which I had entrusted my whole life, were my counsellors.(h) Therefore I was not rebellious, neither turned away back,(th) saith my Lord, when, instead of being called to rule, He was led, as a sheep to the slaughter;(i) but I fell down and humbled myself under the mighty hand of God,(k) and asked pardon for my former idleness and disobedience, if this is at all laid to my charge. I held my peace,(l) but I will not hold my peace for ever: I withdrew for a little while,(m) till I had considered myself and consoled my grief: but now I am commissioned to exalt Him in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the seat of the elders.(n) If my former conduct deserved blame, my present action merits pardon.
116. What further need is there of words. Here am I, my pastors and fellow-pastors, here am I, thou holy flock, worthy of Christ, the Chief Shepherd,(x) here am I, my father, utterly vanquished, and your subject according to the laws of Christ rather than according to those of the land:(o) here is my obedience, reward it with your blessing. Lead me with your prayers, guide me with your words, establish me with your spirit. The blessing of the father establisheth the houses of children,(a) and would that both I and this spiritual house may be established, the house which I have longed for, which I pray may be my rest for ever,(b) when I have been passed on from the church here to the church yonder, the general assembly of the firstborn, who are written in heaven.(g)
117. Such is my defence: its reasonableness I have set forth: and may the God of peace,(d) Who made both one,(e) and has restored us to each other, Who setteth kings upon thrones, and raiseth up the poor out of the dust and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill,(z) Who chose David His servant and took him away from the sheepfolds,(h) though he was the least and youngest of the sons of Jesse,(th) Who gave the word(i) to those who preach the gospel with great power for the perfection of the gospel,--may He Himself hold me by my right hand, and guide me with His counsel, and receive me with glory,(k) Who is a Shepherd(l) to shepherds and a Guide to guides: that we may feed His flock with knowledge,(m) not with the instruments of a foolish shepherd,(n) according to the blessing, and not according to the curse pronounced against the men of former days: may He give strength and power unto his people,(x) and Himself present to Himself(o) His flock resplendent and spotless and worthy of the fold on high, in the habitation of them that rejoice,(p) in the splendour of the saints,(r) so that in His temple everyone, both flock and shepherds together may say, Glory,(s) in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be all glory for ever and ever. Amen.
TO THOSE WHO HAD INVITED HIM, AND NOT COME TO RECEIVE HIM.
(About Easter A.D. 362.)
I. How slow you are, my friends and brethren, to come to listen to my words, though you were so swift in tyrannizing over me, and tearing me from my Citadel Solitude, which I had embraced in preference to everything else, and as coadjutress and mother of the divine ascent, and as deifying man,(a) I had especially admired, and had set before me as the guide of my whole life.(b) How is it that, now you have got it, you thus despise what you so greatly desired to obtain, and seem to be better able to desire the absent than to enjoy the present; as though you preferred to possess my teaching rather than to profit by it? Yes, I may even say this to you: "I became a surfeit unto you before you tasted of me, or gave me a trial"(g)--which is most strange.
II. And neither did you entertain me as a guest, nor, if I may make a remark of a more compassionate kind, did you allow yourselves to be entertained by me, reverencing this command if nothing else; nor did you take me by the hand, as beginning a new task; nor encourage me in my timidity, nor console me for the violence I had suffered; but--I shrink from saying it, though say it I must--you made my festival no festival, and received me with no happy introduction; and you mingled the solemn festival with sorrow, because it lacked that which most of all would have contributed to its happiness, the presence of you my conquerors, for it would not be true to call you people who love me. So easily is anything despised which is easily conquered, and the proud receives attention, while he who is humble before God is slighted.
III. What will ye? Shall I be judged by you, or shall I be your judge? Shall I pass a verdict, or receive one, for I hope to be acquitted if I be judged, and if I give sentence, to give it against you justly? The charge against you is that you do not answer my love with equal measure, nor do you repay my obedience with honour, nor do you pledge the future to me by your present alacrity--though even if you had, I could hardly have believed it. But each of you has something which he prefers to both the old and the new Pastor, neither reverencing the grey hairs of the one, nor calling out the youthful spirit of the other.
IV. There is a Banquet in the Gospels,(d) and a hospitable Host and friends; and the Banquet is most pleasant, for it is the marriage of His Son. He calleth them, but they come not: He is angry, and--I pass over the interval for fear of bad omen--but, to speak gently, He filleth the Banquet with others. God forbid that this should be your case; but yet you have treated me (how shall I put it gently?) with as much haughtiness or boldness as they who after being called to a feast rise up against it, and insult their host; for you, though you are not of the number of those who are without, or are invited to the marriage, but are yourselves those who invited me, and bound me to the Holy Table, and shewed me the glory of the Bridal Chamber, then deserted me (this is the most splendid thing about you)--one to his field, another to his newly bought yoke of oxen, another to his just-married wife, another to some other trifling matter; you were all scattered and dispersed, caring little for the Bridechamber and the Bridegroom.(a)
V. On this account I was filled with despondency and perplexity--for I will not keep silence about what I have suffered--and I was very near withholding the discourse which I was minded to bestow as a Marriage-gift, the most beautiful and precious of all I had; and I very nearly let it loose upon you, whom, now that the violence had once been done to me, I greatly longed for: for I thought I could get from this a splendid theme, and because my love sharpened my tongue--love which is very hot and ready for accusation when it is stirred to jealousy by grief which it conceives from some unexpected neglect. If any of you has been pierced with love's sting, and has felt himself neglected, he knows the feeling, and will pardon one who so suffers, because he himself has been near the same frenzy.
VI. But it is not permitted to me at the present time to say to you anything upbraiding; and God forbid I ever should. And even now perhaps I have reproached you more than in due measure, the Sacred Flock, the praise- worthy nurselings of Christ, the Divine inheritance; by which, O God, Thou art rich, even wert Thou poor in all other respects. To Thee, I think, are fitting those words, "The lot is fallen unto Thee in a fair ground: yea Thou hast the goodliest heritage."(b) Nor will I allow that the most populous cities or the broadest flocks have any advantage over us, the little ones of the smallest of all the tribes of Israel, of the least of the thousands of Judah,(g) of the little Bethlehem among cities,(d) where Christ was born and is from the beginning well-known and worshipped; amongst those whom the Father is exalted, and the Son is held to be equal to Him, and the Holy Ghost is glorified with Them: we who are of one soul, who mind the same thing, who in nothing injure the Trinity, neither by preferring One Person above another, nor by cutting off any: as those bad umpires and measurers of the Godhead do, who by magnifying One Person more than is fit, diminish and insult the whole.
VII. But do ye also, if you bear me any good will--ye who are my husbandry, my vineyard, my own bowels, or rather His Who is our common Father, for in Christ he hath begotten you through the Gospels(a)--shew to us also some respect. It is only fair, since we have honoured you above all else: ye are my witnesses, ye, and they who have placed in our hands this-- shall I say Authority, or Service? And if to him that loveth most is due, how shall I measure the love, for which I have made you my debtors by my own love? Rather, shew respect for yourselves, and the Image committed to your care,(b) and Him Who committed it, and the Sufferings of Christ, and your hopes therefrom, holding fast the faith which ye have received, and in which ye were brought up, by which also ye are being saved, and trust to save others (for not many, be well assured, can boast of what you can), and reckoning piety to consist, not in often speaking about God, but in silence for the most part, for the tongue is a dangerous thing to men, if it be not governed by reason. Believe that listening is always less dangerous than talking, just as learning about God is more pleasant than teaching. Leave the more accurate search into these questions to those who are the Stewards of the Word; and for yourselves, worship a little in words, but more by your actions, and rather by keeping the Law than by admiring the Lawgiver; shew your love for Him by fleeing from wickedness, pursuing after virtue, living in the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, drawing your knowledge from Him, building upon the foundation of the faith, not wood or hay or stubble,(g) weak materials and easily spent when the fire shall try our works or destroy them; but gold, silver, precious stones, which remain and stand.
VIII. So may ye act, and so may ye honour us, whether present or absent, whether taking your part in our sermons, or preferring to do something else: and may ye be the children of God, pure and unblamable, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation:(a) and may ye never be entangled in the snares of the wicked that go round about, or bound with the chain of your sins. May the Word in you never be smothered with cares of this life and so ye become unfruitful: but may ye walk in the King's Highway, turning aside neither to the right hand nor to the left,(b) but led by the Spirit through the strait gate. Then all our affairs shall prosper, both now and at the inquest There, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be the glory for ever. Amen.
PANEGYRIC ON HIS BROTHER S. CAESARIUS.
1. It may be, my friends, my brethren, my fathers (ye who are dear to me in reality as well as in name) that you think that I, who am about to pay the sad tribute of lamentation to him who has departed, am eager to undertake the task, and shall, as most men delight to do, speak at great length and in eloquent style. And so some of you, who have had like sorrows to bear, are prepared to join in my mourning and lamentation, in order to bewail your own griefs in mine, and learn to feel pain at the afflictions of a friend, while others are looking to feast their ears in the enjoyment of my words. For they suppose that I must needs make my misfortune an occasion for display--as was once my wont, when possessed of a superabundance of earthly things, and ambitious, above all, of oratorical renown--before I looked up to Him Who is the true and highest Word, and gave all up to God, from Whom all things come, and took God for all in all. Now pray do not think this of me, if you wish to think of me aright. For I am neither going to lament for him who is gone more than is good--as I should not approve of such conduct even in others--nor am I going to praise him beyond due measure. Albeit that language is a dear and especially proper tribute to one gifted with it, and eulogy to one who was exceedingly fond of my words--aye, not only a tribute, but a debt, the most just of all debts. But even in my tears and admiration I must respect the law which regards such matters: nor is this alien to our philosophy; for he says The memory of the just is accompanied with eulogies,(a) and also, Let tears fall down over the dead, and begin to lament, as if thou hadst suffered great harm thyself:(b) removing us equally from insensibility and immoderation. I shall proceed then, not only to exhibit the weakness of human nature, but also to put you in mind of the dignity of the soul, and, giving such consolation as is due to those who are in sor-sow, transfer our grief, from that which concerns the flesh and temporal things, to those things which are spiritual and eternal.
2. The parents of Caesarius, to take first the point which best becomes me, are known to you all. Their excellence you are eager to notice, and hear of with admiration, and share in the task of setting it forth to any, if there be such, who know it not: for no single man is able to do so entirely, and the task is one beyond the powers of a single tongue, however laborious, however zealous. Among the many and great points for which they are to be celebrated (I trust I may not seem extravagant in praising my own family) the greatest of all, which more than any other stamps their character, is piety. By their hoar hairs they lay claim to reverence, but they are no less venerable for their virtue than for their age; for while their bodies are bent beneath the burden of their years, their souls renew their youth in God.
3. His father(a) was well grafted out of the wild olive tree into the good one, and so far partook of its fatness as to be entrusted with the engrafting of others, and charged with the culture of souls, presiding in a manner becoming his high office over this people, like a second Aaron or Moses, bidden himself to draw near to God,(b) and to convey the Divine Voice to the others who stand afar off;(g) gentle, meek, calm in mien,(d) fervent in spirit, a fine man in external appearance, but richer still in that which is out of sight. But why should I describe him whom you know? For I could not even by speaking at great length say as much as he deserves, or as much as each of you knows and expects to be said of him. It is then better to leave your own fancy to picture him, than mutilate by my words the object of your admiration.
4. His mother(e) was consecrated to God by virtue of her descent from a saintly family, and was possessed of piety as a necessary inheritance, not only for herself, but also for her children--being indeed a holy lump from a holy firstfruits.(z) And this she so far increased and amplified that some,(bold though the statement be, I will utter it,) have both believed and said that even her husband's perfection has been the work of none other than herself; and, oh how wonderful! she herself, as the reward of her piety, has received a greater and more perfect piety. Lovers of their children and of Christ as they both were, what is most extraordinary, they were far greater lovers of Christ than of their children: yea, even their one enjoyment of their children was that they should be acknowledged and named by Christ, and their one measure of their blessedness in their children was their virtue and close association with the Chief Good.(a) Compassionate, sympathetic, snatching many a treasure from moths and robbers,(b) and from the prince of this world,(g) to transfer it from their sojourn here to the [true] habitation, laying up in store(d) for their children the heavenly splendour as their greatest inheritance. Thus have they reached a fair old age, equally reverend both for virtue and for years, and full of days, alike of those which abide and those which pass away; each one failing to secure the first prize here below only so far as equalled by the other; yea, they have fulfilled the measure of every happiness with the exception of this last trial, or discipline, whichever anyone may think we ought to call it; I mean their having to send before them the child who was, owing to his age, in greater danger of falling, and so to close their life in safety, and be translated with all their family to the realms above.
5. I have entered into these details, not from a desire to eulogize them, for this, I know well, it would be difficult worthily to do, if I made their praise the subject of my whole oration, but to set forth the excellence inherited from his parents by Caesarius, and so prevent you from being surprised or incredulous, that one sprung from such progenitors, should have deserved such praises himself; nay, strange indeed would it have been, had he looked to others and disregarded the examples of his kinsfolk at home. His early life was such as becomes those really well born and destined for a good life. I say little of his qualities evident to all, his beauty, his stature, his manifold gracefulness, and harmonious disposition, as shown in the tones of his voice-- for it is not my office to laud qualities of this kind, however important they may seem to others-- and proceed with what I have to say of the points which, even if I wished, I could with difficulty pass by.
6. Bred and reared under such influences, we were fully trained in the education afforded here,(e) in which none could say how far he excelled most of us from the quickness and extent of his abilities--and how can I recall those days without my tears showing that, contrary to my promises, my feelings have overcome my philosophic restraint? The time came when it was decided that we should leave home, and then for the first time we were separated, for I studied rhetoric in the then flourishing schools of Palestine; he went to Alexandria, esteemed both then and now the home of every branch of learning. Which of his qualities shall I place first and foremost, or which can I omit with least injury to my description? Who was more faithful to his teacher than he? Who more kindly to his classmates? Who more carefully avoided the society and companionship of the depraved? Who attached himself more closely to that of the most excellent, and among others, of the most esteemed and illustrious of his countrymen? For he knew that we are strongly influenced to virtue or vice by our companions. And in consequence of all this, who was more honoured by the authorities than he, and whom did the whole city (though(a) all individuals are concealed in it, because of its size), esteem more highly for his discretion, or deem more illustrious for his intelligence?
7. What branch of learning did he not master, or rather, in what branch of study did he not surpass those who had made it their sole study? Whom did he allow even to approach him, not only of his own time and age, but even of his elders, who had devoted many more years to study? All subjects he studied as one, and each as thoroughly as if he knew no other. The brilliant in intellect, he surpassed in industry, the devoted students in quickness of perception; nay, rather he outstripped in rapidity those who were rapid, in application those who were laborious, and in both respects those who were distinguished in both. From geometry and astronomy, that science so dangerous(b) to anyone else, he gathered all that was helpful (I mean that he was led by the harmony and order of the heavenly bodies to reverence their Maker), and avoided what is injurious; not attributing all things that are or happen to the influence of the stars, like those who raise their own fellow- servant, the creation, in rebellion against the Creator, but referring, as is reasonable, the motion of these bodies, and all other things besides, to God. In arithmetic and mathematics, and in the wonderful art of medicine, in so far as it treats of physiology and temperament, and the causes of disease, in order to remove the roots and so destroy their offspring with them, who is there so ignorant or contentious as to think him inferior to himself, and not to be glad to be reckoned next to him, and carry off the second prize? This indeed is no unsupported assertion, but East and West(g) alike, and every place which he afterward visited, are as pillars inscribed with the record of his learning.
8. But when, after gathering into his single soul every kind of excellence and knowledge, as a mighty merchantman gathers every sort of ware, he was voyaging to his own city, in order to communicate to others the fair cargo of his culture, there befell a wondrous thing, which I must, as its mention is most cheering to me and may delight you, briefly set forth. Our mother,(a) in her motherly love for her children, had offered up a prayer that, as she had sent us forth together, she might see us together return home. For we seemed, to our mother at least, if not to others, to form a pair worthy of her prayers and glances, if seen together, though now, alas, our connection has been severed. And God, Who hears a righteous prayer, and honours the love of parents for well-disposed children, so ordered that, without any design or agreement on our part, the one from Alexandria, the other from Greece, the one by sea, the other by land, we arrived at the same city at the same time. This city was Byzantium, which now presides over Europe, in which Caesarius, after the lapse of a short time, gained such a repute, that public honours, an alliance with an illustrious family, and a seat in the council of state were offered him; and a mission was despatched to the Emperor by public decision, to beg that the first of cities be adorned and honoured by the first of scholars (if he cared at all for its being indeed the first, and worthy of its name); and that to all its other titles to distinction this further one be added, that it was embellished by having Caesarius as its physician and its inhabitant, although its brilliancy was already assured by its throngs of great men both in philosophy and other branches of learning. But enough of this. At this time there happened what seemed to others a chance without reason or cause, such as frequently occurs of its own accord in our day, but was more than sufficiently manifest to devout minds as the result of the prayers to god-fearing parents, which were answered by the united arrival of their sons by land and sea.
9. Well, among the noble traits of Caesarius' character, we must not fail to note one, which perhaps is in others' eyes slight and unworthy of mention, but seemed to me, both at the time and since, of the highest import, if indeed brotherly love be a praiseworthy quality; nor shall I ever cease to place it in the first rank, in relating the story of his life. Although the metropolis strove to retain him by the honours I have mentioned, and declared that it would under no circumstances let him go, my influence, which he valued most highly on all occasions, prevailed upon him to listen to the prayer of his parents, to supply his country's need, and to grant me my own desire. And when he thus returned home in my company, he preferred me not only to cities and peoples, not only to honours and revenues, which had in part already flowed to him in abundance from many sources and in part were within his reach, but even to the Emperor himself and his imperial commands. From this time, then, having shaken off all ambition, as a hard master and a painful disorder, I resolved to practise philosophy and adapt myself to the higher life: or rather the desire was earlier born, the life came later. But my brother, who had dedicated to his country the first fruits of his learning, and gained an admiration worthy of his efforts, was afterwards led by the desire of fame, and, as he persuaded me, of being the guardian of the city, to betake himself to court, not indeed according to my own wishes or judgment; for I will confess to you that I think it a better and grander thing to be in the lowest rank with God than to win the first place with an earthly king. Nevertheless I cannot blame him, for inasmuch as philosophy is the greatest, so is it the most difficult, of professions, which can be taken in hand by but few, and only by those who have been called forth by the Divine magnanimity, which gives its hand to those who are honoured by its preference. Yet it is no small thing if one, who has chosen the lower form of life, follows after goodness, and sets greater store on God and his own salvation than on earthly lustre; using it as a stage, or a manifold ephemeral mask while playing in the drama of this world, but himself living unto God with that image which he knows that he has received from Him, and must render to Him Who gave it. That this was certainly the purpose of Caesarius, we know full well.
10. Among physicians he gained the foremost place with no great trouble, by merely exhibiting his capacity, or rather some slight specimen of his capacity, and was forthwith numbered among the friends of the Emperor, and enjoyed the highest honours. But he placed the humane functions of his art at the disposal of the authorities free of cost, knowing that nothing leads to further advancement than virtue and renown for honourable deeds; so that he far surpassed in fame those to whom he was inferior in rank. By his modesty he so won the love of all that they entrusted their precious charges to his care, without requiring him to be sworn by Hippocrates, since the simplicity of Crates was nothing to his own: winning in general a respect beyond his rank; for besides the present repute he was ever thought to have justly won, a still greater one was anticipated for him, both by the Emperors(a) themselves and by all who occupied the nearest positions to them. But, most important, neither by his fame, nor by the luxury which surrounded him, was his nobility of soul corrupted; for amidst his many claims to honour, he himself cared most for being, and being known to be, a Christian, and, compared with this, all other things were to him but trifling toys. For they belong to the part we play before others on a stage which is very quickly set up and taken down again--perhaps indeed more quickly destroyed than put together, as we may see from the manifold changes of life, and fluctuations of prosperity; while the only real and securely abiding good thing is godliness.
11. Such was the philosophy of Caesarius, even at court: these were the ideas amidst which he lived and died, discovering and presenting to God, in the hidden man, a still deeper godliness than was publicly visible. And if I must pass by all else, his protection of his kinsmen in distress, his contempt for arrogance, his freedom from assumption towards friends, his boldness towards men in power, the numerous contests and arguments in which he engaged with many on behalf of the truth, not merely for the sake of argument, but with deep piety and fervour, I must speak of one point at least as especially worthy of note. The Emperor(b) of unhappy memory was raging against us, whose madness in rejecting Christ, after making himself its first victim, had now rendered him intolerable to others; though he did not, like other fighters against Christ, grandly enlist himself on the side of impiety, but veiled his persecution under the form of equity; and, ruled by the crooked serpent which possessed his soul, dragged down into his own pit his wretched victims by manifold devices. His first artifice and contrivance was, to deprive us of the honour of our conflicts (for, noble man as he was, he grudged this to Christians), by causing us, who suffered for being Christians, to be punished as evil doers: the second was, to call this process persuasion, and not tyranny, so that the disgrace of those who chose to side with impiety might be greater than their danger. Some he won over by money, some by dignities, some by promises, some by various honours, which he bestowed, not royally but in right servile style, in the sight of all, while everyone was influenced by the witchery of his words, and his own example. At last he assailed Caesarius. How utter was the derangement and folly which could hope to take for his prey a man like Caesarius, my brother, the son of parents like ours!
12. However, that I may dwell awhile upon this point, and luxuriate in my story as men do who are eyewitnesses in some marvellous event,(a) that noble man, fortified with the sign of Christ, and defending himself with His Mighty Word, entered the lists against an adversary experienced in arms and strong in his skill in argument. In no wise abashed at the sight, nor shrinking at all from his high purpose through flattery, he was an athlete ready, both in word and deed, to meet a rival of equal power. Such then was the arena, and so equipped the champion of godliness. The judge on one side was Christ, arming the athlete with His own sufferings: and on the other a dreadful tyrant,(b) persuasive by his skill in argument, and overawing him by the weight of his authority; and as spectators, on either hand, both those who were still left on the side of godliness and those who had been snatched away by him, watching whether victory inclined to their own side or to the other, and more anxious as to which would gain the day than the combatants themselves.
13. Didst thou not fear for Caesarius, lest aught unworthy of his zeal should befall him? Nay, be ye of good courage. For the victory is with Christ, Who overcame the world.(g) Now for my part, be well assured, I should be highly interested in setting forth the details of the arguments and allegations used on that occasion, for indeed the discussion contains certain feats and elegances, which I dwell on with no slight pleasure; but this would be quite foreign to an occasion and discourse like the present. And when, after having torn to shreds all his opponent's sophistries, and thrust aside as mere child's play every assault, veiled or open, Caesarius in a loud clear voice declared that he was and remained a Christian--not even thus was he finally dismissed. For indeed, the Emperor was possessed by an eager desire to enjoy and be distinguished by his culture, and then uttered in the hearing of all his famous saying--O happy father, O unhappy sons! thus deigning to honour me, whose culture and godliness(a) he had known at Athens, with a share in the dishonour of Caesarius, who was remanded for a further trial.(b) (since Justice was fitly arming the Emperor against the Persians),(g) and welcomed by us after his happy escape and bloodless victory, as more illustrious for his dishonour than for his celebrity.
14. This victory I esteem far more sublime and honourable than the Emperor's mighty power and splendid purple and costly diadem. I am more elated in describing it than if he had won from him the half of his Empire. During the evil days he lived in retirement, obedient herein to our Christian law,(d) which bids us, when occasion offers, to make ventures on behalf of the truth, and not be traitors to our religion from cowardice; yet refrain, as long as may be, from rushing into danger, either in fear for our own souls, or to spare those who bring the danger upon us. But when the gloom had been dispersed, and the righteous sentence had been pronounced in a foreign land, and the glittering sword had struck down the ungodly, and power had returned to the hands of Christians, what boots it to say with what glory and honour, with how many and great testimonies, as if bestowing rather than receiving a favour, he was welcomed again at the Court; his new honour succeeding to that of former days; while tithe changed its Emperors, the repute and commanding influence of Caesarius with them was undisturbed, nay, they vied with each other in striving to attach him most closely to themselves, and be known as his special friends and acquaintances. Such was the godliness of Caesarius, such its results. Let all men, young and old, give ear, and press on through the same virtue to the same distinction, for glorious is the fruit of good labours,(e) if they suppose this to be worth striving after, and a part of true happiness.
15. Again another wonder concerning him is a strong argument for his parents' piety and his own. He was living in Bithynia, holding an office of no small importance from the Emperor, viz., the stewardship of his revenue, and care of the exchequer: for this had been assigned to him by the Emperor as a prelude to the highest offices. And when, a short time ago, the earthquake(a) in Nicaea occurred, which is said to have been the most serious within the memory of man, overwhelming in a common destruction almost all the inhabitants and the beauty of the city, he alone, or with very few of the men of rank, survived the danger, being shielded by the very falling ruins in his incredible escape, and bearing slight traces of the peril; yet he allowed fear to lead him to a more important salvation, for he dedicated himself entirely to the Supreme Providence; he renounced the service of transitory things, and attached himself to another court. This he both purposed himself, and made the object of the united earnest prayers to which he invited me by letter, when I seized this opportunity to give him warning,(b) as I never ceased to do when pained that his great nature should be occupied in affairs beneath it, and that a soul so fitted for philosophy should, like the sun behind a cloud, be obscured amid the whirl of public life. Unscathed though he had been by the earthquake, he was not proof against disease, since he was but human. His escape was peculiar to himself; his death common to all mankind; the one the token of his piety, the other the result of his nature. The former, for our consolation, preceded his fate, so that, though shaken by his death, we might exult in the extraordinary character of his preservation. And now our illustrious Caesarius has been restored to us, when his honoured dust and celebrated coarse, after being escorted home amidst a succession of hymns and public orations, has been honoured by the holy hands of his parents; while his mother, substituting the festal garments of religion for the trappings of woe, has overcome her tears by her philosophy, and lulled to sleep lamentations by psalmody, as her son enjoys honours worthy of his newly regenerate soul, which has been, through water, transformed by the Spirit.
16. This, Caesarius, is my funeral offering to thee, this the firstfruits of my words, which thou hast often blamed me for withholding, yet wouldst have stripped off, had they been bestowed on thee; with this ornament I adorn thee, an ornament, I know well, far dearer to thee than all others, though it be not of the soft flowing tissues of silk, in which while living, with virtue for thy sole adorning, thou didst not, like the many, rejoice; nor texture of transparent linen, nor outpouring of costly unguents, which thou hadst long resigned to the boudoirs of the fair, with their sweet savours lasting but a single day; nor any other small thing valued by small minds, which would have all been hidden to-day with thy fair form by this bitter stone. Far hence be games and stories of the Greeks, the honours of ill-fated youths, with their petty prizes for petty contests; and all the libations and firstfruits or garlands and newly plucked flowers, wherewith men honour the departed, in obedience to ancient custom and unreasoning grief, rather than reason. My gift is an oration, which perhaps succeeding time will receive at my hand and ever keep in motion, that it may not suffer him who has left us to be utterly lost to earth, but may ever keep him whom we honour in men's ears and minds, as it sets before them, more clearly than a portrait, the image of him for whom we mourn.
17. Such is my offering; if it be slight and inferior to his merit, God loveth that which is according to our power.(a) Part of our gift is now complete, the remainder we will now pay by offering (those of us who still survive) every year our honours and memorials. And now for thee, sacred and holy soul, we pray for an entrance into heaven; mayest thou enjoy such repose as the bosom of Abraham affords, mayest thou behold the choir of Angels, and the glories and splendours of sainted men; aye, mayest thou be united to that choir and share in their joy, looking down from on high on all things here, on what men call wealth, and despicable dignities, and deceitful honours, and the errors of our senses, and the tangle of this life, and its confusion and ignorance, as if we were fighting in the dark; whilst thou art in attendance upon the Great King and filled with the light which streams forth from Him: and may it be ours hereafter, receiving therefrom no such slender rivulet, as is the object of our fancy in this day of mirrors and enigmas, to attain to the fount of good itself, gazing with pure mind upon the truth in its purity, and finding a reward for our eager toil here below on behalf of the good, in our more perfect possession and vision of the good on high: the end to which our sacred books and teachers foretell that our course of divine mysteries shall lead us.
18. What; now remains? To bring the healing of the Word to those in sorrow. And a powerful remedy for mourners is sympathy, for sufferers are best consoled by those who have to bear a like suffering. To such, then, I specially address myself, of whom I should be ashamed, if, with all other virtues, they do not show the elements of patience. For even if they surpass all others in love of their children, let them equally surpass them in love of wisdom and love of Christ, and in the special practice of meditation on our departure hence, impressing it likewise on their children, making even their whole life a preparation for death. But if your misfortune still clouds your reason and, like the moisture which dims our eyes, hides from you the clear view of your duty, come, ye elders, receive the consolation of a young man, ye fathers, that of a child, who ought to be admonished by men as old as you, who have admonished many and gathered experience from your many years. Yet wonder not, if in my youth I admonish the aged; and if in aught I can see better than the hoary, I offer it to you. How much longer have we to live, ye men of honoured held, so near to God? How long are we to suffer here? Not even man's whole life is long, compared with the Eternity of the Divine Nature, still less the remains of life, and what I may call the parting of our human breath, the close of our frail existence. How much has Caesarius outstripped us? How long shall we be left to mourn his departure? Are we not hastening to the same abode? Shall we not soon be covered by the same stone? Shall we not shortly be reduced to the same dust? And what in these short days will be our gain, save that after it has been ours to see, or suffer, or perchance even to do, more ill, we must discharge the common and inexorable tribute to the law of nature, by following some, preceding others, to the tomb, mourning these, being lamented by those, and receiving from some that meed of tears which we ourselves had paid to others?
19. Such, my brethren, is our existence, who live this transient life, such our pastime upon earth: we come into existence out of non-existence, and after existing are dissolved. We are unsubstantial dreams, impalpable visions,(a) like the flight of a passing bird, like a ship leaving no track upon the sea,(b) a speck of dust, a vapour, an early dew, a flower that quickly blooms, and quickly fades. As for man his days are as grass, as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.(g) Well hath inspired David discoursed of our frailty, and again in these words, "Let me know the shortness of my days;" and he defines the days of man as "of a span long."(a) And what wouldst thou say to Jeremiah, who complains of his mother in sorrow for his birth,(b) and that on account of others' faults? I have seen all things,(g) says the preacher, I have reviewed in thought all human things, wealth, pleasure, power, unstable glory, wisdom which evades us rather than is won; then pleasure again, wisdom again, often revolving the same objects, the pleasures of appetite, orchards, numbers of slaves, store of wealth, serving men and serving maids, singing men and singing women, arms, spearmen, subject nations, collected tributes, the pride of kings, all the necessaries and superfluities of life, in which I surpassed all the kings that were before me. And what does he say after all these things? Vanity of vanities,(d) all is vanity and vexation of spirit, possibly meaning some unreasoning longing of the soul, and distraction of man condemned to this from the original fall: but hear, he says, the conclusion of the whole matter, Fear God.(e) This is his stay in his perplexity, and this is thy only gain from life here below, to be guided through the disorder of the things which are seen(z) and shaken, to the things which stand firm and are not moved. (h)
20. Let us not then mourn Caesarius but ourselves, knowing what evils he has escaped to which we are left behind, and what treasure we shall lay up, unless, earnestly cleaving unto God and outstripping transitory things, we press towards the life above, deserting the earth while we are still upon the earth, and earnestly following the spirit which bears us upward. Painful as this is to the faint-hearted, it is as nothing to men of brave mind. And let us consider it thus. Caesarius will not reign, but rather will he be reigned over by others. He will strike terror into no one, but he will be free from fear of any harsh master, often himself unworthy even of a subject's position. He will not amass wealth, but neither will he be liable to envy, or be pained at lack of success, or be ever seeking to add to his gains as much again. For such is the disease of wealth, which knows no limit to its desire of more, and continues to make drinking the medicine for thirst. He will make no display of his power of speaking, yet for his speaking will he be admired. He will not discourse upon the dicta of Hippocrates and Galen, and their adversaries, but neither will he be troubled by diseases, and suffer pain at the misfortunes of others. He will not set forth the principles of Eucleides, Ptolemaeus, and Heron, but neither will he be pained by the tumid vaunts of uncultured men. He will make no display of the doctrines of Plato, and Aristotle, and Pyrrho, and the names of any Democritus, and Heracleitus, Anaxagoras, Cleanthes and Epicurus, and all the members of the venerable Porch and Academy: but neither will he trouble himself with the solution of their cunning syllogisms. What need of further details? Yet here are some which all men honour or desire. Nor wife nor child will he have beside him, but he will escape mourning for, or being mourned by them, or leaving them to others, or being left behind himself as a memorial of misfortune. He will inherit no property: but he will have such heirs(a) as are of the greatest service, such as he himself wished, so that he departed hence a rich man, bearing with him all that was his. What an ambition! What a new consolation! What magnanimity in his executors! A proclamation has been heard, worthy of the ears of all, and a mother's grief has been made void by a fair and holy promise, to give entirely to her son his wealth as a funeral offering on his behalf, leaving nothing to those who expected it.
21. Is this inadequate for our consolation? I will add a more potent remedy. I believe the words of the wise, that every fair and God-be-loved soul, when, set free from the bonds of the body, it departs hence, at once enjoys a sense and perception of the blessings which await it, inasmuch as that which darkened it has been purged away, or laid aside--I know not how else to term it--and feels a wondrous pleasure and exultation, and goes rejoicing to meet its Lord, having escaped as it were from the grievous poison of life here, and shaken off the fetters which bound it and held down the wings of the mind, and so enters on the enjoyment of the bliss laid up for it, of which it has even now some conception. Then, a little later, it receives its kindred flesh, which once shared in its pursuits of things above, from the earth which both gave and had been entrusted with it, and in some way known to God, who knit them together and dissolved them, enters with it upon the inheritance of the glory there. And, as it shared, through their close union, in its hardships, so also it bestows upon it a portion of its joys, gathering it up entirely into itself, and becoming with it one in spirit and in mind and in God, the mortal and mutable being swallowed up of life. Hear at least how the inspired Ezekiel discourses of the knitting together of bones and sinews,(a) how after him Saint Paul speaks of the earthly tabernacle, and the house not made with hands, the one to be dissolved, the other laid up in heaven, alleging absence from the body to be presence with the Lord,(b) and bewailing his life in it as an exile, and therefore longing for and hastening to his release. Why am I faint-hearted in my hopes? Why behave like a mere creature of a day? I await the voice of the Archangel,(g) the last trumpet,(d) the transformation of the heavens, the transfiguration of the earth, the liberation of the elements, the renovation of the universe.(e) Then shall I see Caesarius himself, no longer in exile, no longer laid upon a bier, no longer the object of mourning and pity, but brilliant, glorious, heavenly, such as in my dreams I have often beheld thee, dearest and most loving of brothers, pictured thus by my desire, if not by the very truth.
22. But now, laying aside lamentation, I will look at myself, and examine my feelings, that I may not unconsciously have in myself anything to be lamented. O ye sons of men, for the words apply to you, how long will ye be hard-hearted and gross in mind? Why do ye love vanity and seek after leasing,(z) supposing life here to be a great thing and these few days many, and shrinking from this separation, welcome and pleasant as it is, as if it were really grievous and awful? Are we not to know ourselves? Are we not to cast away visible things? Are we not to look to the things unseen? Are we not, even if we are somewhat grieved, to be on the contrary distressed at our lengthened sojourn,(h) like holy David, who calls things here the tents of darkness, and the place of affliction, and the deep mire,(th) and the shadow of death;(i) because we linger in the tombs we bear about with us, because, though we are gods, we die like men(k) the death of sin? This is my fear, this day and night accompanies me, and will not let me breathe, on one side the glory, on the other the place of correction: the former I long for till I can say, "My soul fainteth for Thy salvation;"(l) from the latter I shrink back shuddering; yet I am not afraid that this body of mine should utterly perish in dissolution and corruption; but that the glorious creature of God (for glorious it is if upright, just as it is dishonourable if sinful) in which is reason, morality, and hope, should be condemned to the same dishonour as the brutes, and be no better after death; a fate to be desired for the wicked, who are worthy of the fire yonder.
23. Would that I might mortify my members that are upon the earth,(a) would that I might spend my all upon the spirit, walking in the way that is narrow and trodden by few, not that which is broad and easy.(b) For glorious and great are its consequences, and our hope is greater than our desert. What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?(g) What is this new mystery which concerns me? I am small and great, lowly and exalted, mortal and immortal, earthly and heavenly. I share one condition with the lower world, the other with God; one with the flesh, the other with the spirit. I must be buried with Christ, arise with Christ, be joint heir with Christ, become the son of God, yea, God Himself. See whither our argument has carried us in its progress. I almost own myself indebted to the disaster which has inspired me with such thoughts, and made me more enamoured of my departure hence. This is the purpose of the great mystery for us. This is the purpose for us of God, Who for us was made man and became poor,(d) to raise our flest,(e) and recover His image,(z) and remodel man,(h) that we might all be made one in Christ,(th) who was perfectly made in all of us all that He Himself is,(i) that we might no longer be male and female, barbarian, Scythian, bond or free(k) (which are badges of the flesh), but might bear in ourselves only the stamp of God, by Whom and for Whom we were made,(l) and have so far received our form and model from Him, that we are recognized by it alone.
24. Yea, would that what we hope for might be, according to the great kindness of our bountiful God, Who asks for little and bestows great things, both in the present and in the future, upon those who truly love Him;(m) bearing all things, enduring all things(n) for their love and hope of Him, giving thanks for all things(x) favourable and unfavourable alike: I mean pleasant and painful, for reason knows that even these are often instruments of salvation; commending to Him our own souls(o) and the souls of those fellow wayfarers who, being more ready, have gained their rest before us. And, now that we have done this, let us cease from our discourse, and yon too from your tears, hastening, as yon now are, to your tomb, which as a sad abiding gift you have given to Caesarius, seasonably prepared as it was for his parents in their old age, and now unexpectedly bestowed on their son in his youth, though not without reason in His eyes Who disposes our affairs. O Lord and Maker of all things, and specially of this our frame! O God and Father and Pilot of men who are Thine! O Lord of life and death! O Judge and Benefactor of our souls! O Maker and Transformer in due time of all things(a) by Thy designing Word,(b) according to the knowledge of the depth of Thy wisdom and providence! do Thou now receive Caesarius, the firstfruits of our pilgrimage; and if he who was last is first, we bow before Thy Word, by which the universe is ruled; yet do Thou receive us also afterwards, in a time when Thou mayest be found,(g) having ordered us in the flesh as long as is for our profit; yea, receive us, prepared and not troubled(d) by Thy fear, not departing from Thee in our last day, nor violently borne away from things here, like souls fond of the world and the flesh, but filled with eagerness for that blessed and enduring life which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord, to whom be glory, world without end. Amen.
FUNERAL ORATION ON HIS SISTER GORGONIA.
1. In praising my sister, I shall pay honour to one of my own family; yet my praise will not be false, because it is given to a relation, but, because it is true, will be worthy of commendation, and its truth is based not only upon its justice, but upon well-known facts. For, even if I wished, I should not be permitted to be partial; since everyone who hears me stands, like a skilful critic, between my oration and the truth, to discountenance exaggeration, yet, if he be a man of justice, demanding what is really due. So that my fear is not of outrunning the truth, but, on the contrary, of falling short of it, and lessening her just repute by the extreme inadequacy of my panegyric; for it is a hard task to match her excellences with suitable action and words. Let us not then be so unjust as to praise every characteristic of other folk, and disparage really valuable qualities because they are our own, so as to make some men gain by their absence of kindred with us, while others suffer for their relationship. For justice would be violated alike by the praise of the one and the neglect of the other, whereas if we make the truth our standard and rule, and look to her alone, disregarding all the objects of the vulgar and the mean, we shall praise or pass over everything according to its merits.
2. Yet it would be most unreasonable of all, if, while we refuse to regard it as a righteous thing to defraud, insult, accuse, or treat unjustly in any way, great or small, those who are our kindred, and consider wrong done to those nearest to us the worst of all; we were yet to imagine that it would be an act of justice to deprive them of such an oration as is due most of all to the good, and spend more words upon those who are evil, and beg for indulgent treatment, than on those who are excellent and merely claim their due. For if we are not prevented, as would be far more just, from praising men who have lived outside our own circle, because we do not know and cannot personally testify to their merits, shall we be prevented from praising those whom we do know, because of our friendship, or the envy of the multitude, and especially those who have departed hence, whom it is too late to ingratiate ourselves with, since they have escaped, amongst all other things, from the reach of praise or blame.
3. Having now made a sufficient defence on these points, and shown how necessary it is for me to be the speaker, come, let me proceed with my eulogy, rejecting all daintiness and elegance of style (for she whom we are praising was unadorned and the absence of ornament was to her, beauty), and yet performing, as a most indispensable debt, all those funeral rites which are her due, and further instructing everyone in a zealous imitation of the same virtue, since it is my object in every word and action to promote the perfection of those committed to my charge. The task of praising the country and family of our departed one I leave to another, more scrupulous in adhering to the rules of eulogy; nor will he lack many fair topics, if he wish to deck her with external ornaments, as men deck a splendid and beautiful form with gold and precious stones, and the artistic devices of the craftsman; which, while they accentuate ugliness by their contrast, can add no attractiveness to the beauty which surpasses them. For my part, I will only conform to such rules so far as to allude to our common parents, for it would not be reverent to pass unnoticed the great blessing of having such parents and teachers, and then speedily direct my attention to herself, without further taxing the patience of those who are eager to learn what manner of woman she was.
4. Who is there who knows not the Abraham and Sarah of these our latter days, Gregory and Nonna his wife? For it is not well to omit the incitement to virtue of mentioning their names. He has been justified by faith, she has dwelt with him who is faithful; he beyond all hope has been the father of many nations,(a) she has spiritually travailed in their birth; he escaped from the bondage of his father's gods,(b) she is the daughter as well as the mother of the free; he went out from kindred and home for the sake of the land of promise,(a) she was the occasion of his exile; for on this head alone I venture to claim for her an honour higher than that of Sarah; he set forth on so noble a pilgrimage, she readily shared with him in its toils; he gave himself to the Lord, she both called her husband lord and regarded him as such, and in part was thereby justified; whose was the promise, from whom, as far as in them lay, was born Isaac, and whose was the gift.
5. This good shepherd was the result of his wife's prayers and guidance, and it was from her that he learned his ideal of a good shepherd's life. He generously fled from his idols, and afterwards even put demons to flight; he never consented to eat salt with idolators: united together with a bond of one honour, of one mind, of one soul, concerned as much with virtue and fellowship with God as with the flesh; equal in length of life and hoary hairs, equal in prudence and brilliancy, rivals of each other, soaring beyond all the rest, possessed in few respects by the flesh, and translated in spirit, even before dissolution: possessing not the world, and yet possessing it, by at once despising and rightly valuing it: forsaking riches and yet being rich through their noble pursuits; rejecting things here, and purchasing instead the things yonder: possessed of a scanty remnant of this life, left over from their piety, but of an abundant and long life for which they have laboured. I will say but one word more about them: they have been rightly and fairly assigned, each to either sex; he is the ornament of men, she of women, and not only the ornament but the pattern of virtue.
6. From them Gorgonia derived both her existence and her reputation; they sowed in her the seeds of piety, they were the source of her fair life, and of her happy departure with better hopes. Fair privileges these, and such as are not easily attained by many of those who plume themselves highly upon their noble birth, and are proud of their ancestry. But, if I must treat of her case in a more philosophic and lofty strain, Gorgonia's native land was Jerusalem above,(b) the object, not of sight but of contemplation, wherein is our commonwealth, and whereto we are pressing on: whose citizen Christ is, and whose fellow-citizens are the assembly and church of the first born who are written in heaven, and feast around its great Founder in contemplation of His glory, and take part in the endless festival; her nobility consisted in the preservation of the Image, and the perfect likeness to the Archetype, which is produced by reason and virtue and pure desire, ever more and more conforming, in things pertaining to God, to those truly initiated into the heavenly mysteries; and in knowing whence, and of what character, and for what end we came into being.
7. This is what I know upon these points: and therefore it is that I both am aware and assert that her soul was more noble than those of the East,(a) according to a better than the ordinary rule of noble or ignoble birth, whose distinctions depend not on blood but on character; nor does it classify those whom it praises or blames according to their families, but as individuals. But speaking as I do of her excellences among those who know her, let each one join in contributing some particular and aid me in my speech: for it is impossible for one man to take in every point, however gifted with observation and intelligence.
8. In modesty she so greatly excelled, and so far surpassed, those of her own day, to say nothing of those of old time who have been illustrious for modesty, that, in regard to the two divisions of the life of all, that is, the married and the unmarried state, the latter being higher and more divine, though more difficult and dangerous, while the former is more humble and more safe, she was able to avoid the disadvantages of each, and to select and combine all that is best in both, namely, the elevation of the one and the security of the other, thus becoming modest without pride, blending the excellence of the married with that of the unmarried state, and proving that neither of them absolutely binds us to, or separates us from, God or the world (so that the one from its own nature must be uttely avoided, and the other altogether praised): but that it is mind which nobly presides over wedlock and maidenhood, and arranges and works upon them as the raw material of virtue under the master-hand of reason. For though she had entered upon a carnal union, she was not therefore separated from the spirit, nor, because her husband was her head, did she ignore her first Head: but, performing those few ministrations due to the world and nature, according to the will of the law of the flesh, or rather of Him who gave to the flesh these laws, she consecrated herself entirely to God. But what is most excellent and honourable, she also won over her husband to her side, and made of him a good fellow-servant, instead of an unreasonable master. And not only so, but she further made the fruit of her body, her children and her children's children, to be the fruit of her spirit, dedicating to God not her single soul, but the whole family and household, and making wedlock illustrious through her own acceptability in wedlock, and the fair harvest she had reaped thereby; presenting herself, as long as she lived, as an example to her offspring of all that was good, and when summoned hence, leaving her will behind her, as a silent exhortation to her house.
9. The divine Solomon, in his instructive wisdom, I mean his Proverbs, praises the woman(a) who looks to her household and loves her husband, contrasting her with one who roams abroad, and is uncontrolled and dishonourable, and hunts for precious souls with wanton words and ways, while she manages well at home and bravely sets about her woman's duties, as her hands hold the distaff, and she prepares two coats for her husband, buying a field in due season, and makes good provision for the food of her servants, and welcomes her friends at a liberal table; with all the other details in which he sings the praises of the modest and industrious woman. Now, to praise my sister in these points would be to praise a statue for its shadow, or a lion for its claws, without allusion to its greatest perfections. Who was more deserving of renown, and yet who avoided it so much and made herself inaccessible to the eyes of man? Who knew better the due proportions of sobriety and cheerfulness, so that her sobriety should not seem inhuman, nor her tenderness immodest, but prudent in one, gentle in the other, her discretion was marked by a combination of sympathy and dignity? Listen, ye women addicted to ease and display, who despise the veil of shamefastness. Who ever so kept her eyes under control? Who so derided laughter, that the ripple of a smile seemed a great thing to her? Who more steadfastly closed her ears? And who opened them more to the Divine words, or rather, who installed the mind as ruler of the tongue in uttering the judgments of God? Who, as she, regulated her lips?
10. Here, if you will, is another point of her excellence: one of which neither she nor any truly modest and decorous woman thinks anything: but which we have been made to think much of, by those who are too fond of ornament and display, and refuse to listen to instruction on such matters. She was never adorned with gold wrought into artistic forms of surpassing beauty, nor flaxen tresses, fully or partially displayed, nor spiral curls, nor dishonouring designs of men who construct erections on the honourable head, nor costly folds of flowing and transparent robes, nor graces of brilliant stones, which color the neighbouring air, and cast a glow upon the form; nor the arts and witcheries of the painter, nor that cheap beauty of the infernal creator who works against the Divine, hiding with his treacherous pigments the creation of God, and putting it to shame with his honour, and setting before eager eyes the imitation of an harlot instead of the form of God, so that this bastard beauty may steal away that image which should be kept for God and for the world to come. But though she was aware of the many and various external ornaments of women, yet none of them was more precious to her than her own character, and the brilliancy stored up within. One red tint was dear to her, the blush of modesty; one white one, the sign of temperance: but pigments and pencillings, and living pictures, and flowing lines of beauty, she left to women of the stage and of the streets, and to all who think it a shame and a reproach to be ashamed.
11. Enough of such topics. Of her prudence and piety no adequate account can be given, nor many examples found besides those of her natural and spiritual parents, who were her only models, and of whose virtue she in no wise fell short, with this single exception most readily admitted, that they, as she both knew and acknowledged, were the source of her goodness, and the root of her own illumination. What could be keener than the intellect of her who was recognized as a common adviser not only by those of her family, those of the same people and of the one fold, but even by all men round about, who treated her counsels and advice as a law not to be broken? What more sagacious than her words? What more prudent than her silence? Having mentioned silence, I will proceed to that which was most characteristic of her, most becoming to women, and most serviceable to these times. Who had a fuller knowledge of the things of God, both from the Divine oracles, and from her own understanding? But who was less ready to speak, confining herself within the due limits of women? Moreover, as was the bounden duty of a woman who has learned true piety, and that which is the only honourable object of insatiate desire, who, as she, adorned temples with offerings, both others and this one, which will hardly, now she is gone, be so adorned again? Or rather, who so presented herself to God as a living temple? Who again paid such honor to Priests, especially to him who was her fellow soldier and teacher of piety, whose are the good seeds, and the pair of children consecrated to God.
12. Who opened her house to those who live according to God with a more graceful and bountiful welcome? And, which is greater than this, who bade them welcome with such modesty and godly greetings? Further, who showed a mind more unmoved in sufferings? Whose soul was more sympathetic to those in trouble? Whose hand more liberal to those in want? I should not hesitate to honour her with the words of Job: Her door was opened to all comers; the stranger did not lodge in the street. She was eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, a mother to the orphan.(a) Why should I say more of her compassion to widows, than that its fruit which she obtained was, never to be called a widow herself? Her house was a common abode to all the needy of her family; and her goods no less common to all in need than their own belonged to each. She hath dispersed abroad and given to the poor,(b) and according to the infallible truth of the Gospel, she laid up much store in the wine-presses above, and oftentimes entertained Christ in the person of those whose benefactress she was. And, best of all, there was in her no unreal profession, but in secret she cultivated piety before Him who seeth secret things. Everything she rescued from the ruler of this world, everything she transferred to the safe garners. Nothing did she leave behind to earth, save her body. She bartered everything for the hopes above: the sole wealth she left to her children was the imitation of her example, and emulation of her merits.
13. But amid these tokens of incredible magnanimity, she did not surrender her body to luxury, and unrestrained pleasures of the appetite, that raging and tearing dog, as though presuming upon her acts of benevolence, as most men do, who redeem their luxury by compassion to the poor, and instead of healing evil with good, receive evil as a recompense for their good deeds. Nor did she, while subduing her dust(a) by fasting, leave to another the medicine of hard lying; nor, while she found this of spiritual service, was she less restrained in sleep than anyone else; nor, while regulating her life on this point as if freed from the body, did she lie upon the ground, when others were passing the night erect, as the most mortified men struggle to do. Nay in this respect she was seen to surpass not only women, but the most devoted of men, by her intelligent chanting of the psalter, her converse with, and unfolding and apposite recollection of, the Divine oracles, her bending of her knees which had grown hard and almost taken root in the ground, her tears to cleanse her stains with contrite heart and spirit of lowliness, her prayer rising heavenward, her mind freed from wandering in rapture; in all these, or in any one of them, is there man or woman who can boast of having surpassed her? Besides, it is a great thing to say, but it is true, that while she was zealous in her endeavour after some points of excellence, of others she was the paragon: of some she was the discoverer, in others she excelled. And if in some single particular she was rivalled, her superiority consists in her complete grasp of all. Such was her success in all points, as none else attained even in a moderate degree in one: to such perfection did she attain in each particular, that any one might of itself have supplied the place of all.
14. O untended body, and squalid garments, whose only flower is virtue! O soul, clinging to the body, when reduced almost to an immaterial state through lack of food; or rather, when the body had been mortified by force, even before dissolution, that the soul might attain to freedom, and escape the entanglements of the senses! O nights of vigil, and psalmody, and standing which lasts from one day to another! O David, whose strains never seem tedious to faithful souls! O tender limbs, flung upon the earth and, contrary to nature, growing hard! O fountains of tears, sowing in affliction that they might reap in joy.(b) O cry in the night, piercing the clouds and reaching unto Him that dwelleth in the heavens! O fervour of spirit, waxing bold in prayerful longings against the dogs of night, and frosts and rain, and thunders, and hail, and darkness! O nature of woman overcoming that of man in the common struggle for salvation, and demonstrating that the distinction between male and female is one of body not of soul! O Baptismal purity, O soul, in the pure chamber of thy body, the bride of Christ! O bitter eating! O Eve mother of our race and of our sin! O subtle serpent, and death, overcome by her self-discipline! O self- emptying of Christ, and form of a servant, and sufferings, honoured by her mortification!
15. Oh! how am I to count up all her traits, or pass over most of them without injury to those who know them not? Here however it is right to subjoin the rewards of her piety, for indeed I take it that you, who knew her life well, have long been eager and desirous to find in my speech not only things present, or her joys yonder, beyond the conception and hearing and sight of man, but also those which the righteous Rewarder bestowed upon her here: a matter which often tends to the edification of unbelievers, who from small things attain to faith in those which are great, and from things which are seen to those which are not seen. I will mention then some facts which are generally notorious, others which have been from most men kept secret; and that because her Christian principle made a point of not making a display of her [Divine] favours. You know how her maddened mules ran away with her carriage, and unfortunately overturned it, how horribly she Was dragged along, and seriously injured, to the scandal of unbelievers at the permission of such accidents to the righteous, and how quickly their unbelief was corrected: for, all crushed and bruised as she was, in bones and limbs, alike in those exposed and in those out of sight, she would have none of any physician, except Him Who had permitted it; both because she shrunk from the inspection and the hands of men, preserving, even in suffering, her modesty, and also awaiting her justification from Him Who allowed this to happen, so that she owed her preservation to none other than to Him: with the result that men were no less struck by her unhoped- for recovery than by her misfortune, and concluded that the tragedy had happened for her glorification through sufferings, the suffering being human, the recovery superhuman, and giving a lesson to those who come after, exhibiting in a high degree faith in the midst of suffering, and patience under calamity, but in a still higher degree the kindness of God to them that are such as she. For to the beautiful promise to the righteous "though he fall, he shall not be utterly broken,"(a) has been added one more recent, "though he be utterly broken, he shall speedily be raised up and glorified."(b) For if her misfortune was unreasonable, her recovery was extraordinary, so that health soon stole away the injury, and the cure became more celebrated than the blow.
16. O remarkable and wonderful disaster! O injury more noble than security! O prophecy, "He hath smitten, and He will bind us up, and revive us, and after three days He will raise us up,"(a) portending indeed, as it did, a greater and more sublime event, yet no less applicable to Gorgonia's sufferings! This then, notorious to all, even to those afar off, for the wonder spread to all, and the lesson was stored up in the tongues and ears of all, with the other wonderful works and powers of God. But the following incident, hitherto unknown and concealed from moot men by the Christian principle I spoke of, and her pious shrinking from vanity and display, dost thou bid me tell, O best(b) and most perfect of shepherds, pastor of this holy sheep, and dost thou further give thy assent to it, since to us alone has this secret been entrusted, and we were mutual witnesses of the marvel, or are we still to keep our faith to her who is gone? Yet I do think, that as that was the time to be silent, this is the time to manifest it, not only for the glory of God, but also for the consolation of those in affliction.
17. She was sick in body, and dangerously ill of an extraordinary and malignant disease, her whole frame was incessantly fevered, her blood at one time agitated and boiling, then curdling with coma, incredible pallor, and paralysis of mind and limbs: and this not at long intervals, but sometimes very frequently. Its virulence seemed beyond human aid; the skill of physicians, who carefully examined the case, both singly and in consultation, was of no avail; nor the tears of her parents, which often have great power, nor public supplications and intercessions, in which all the people joined as earnestly as if for their own preservation: for her safety was the safety of all, as, on the contrary, her suffering and sickness was a common misfortune.
18. What then did this great soul, worthy offspring of the greatest, and what was the medicine for her disorder, for we have now come to the great secret? Despairing of all other aid, she betook herself to the Physician of all, and awaiting the silent hours of night, during a slight intermission of the disease, she approached the altar with faith, and, calling upon Him Who is honoured thereon, with a mighty cry, and every kind of invocation, calling to mind all His former works of power, and well she knew those both of ancient and of later days, at last she ventured on an act of pious and splendid effrontery: she imitated the woman whose fountain of blood was dried up by the hem of Christ's garment.(a) What did she do? Resting her head with another cry upon the altar, and with a wealth of tears, as she who once bedewed the feet of Christ,(b) and declaring that she would not loose her hold until she was made whole, she then applied her medicine to her whole body, viz., such a portion of the antitypes(g) of the Precious Body and Blood as she treasured in her hand, mingling therewith her tears, and, O the wonder, she went away feeling at once that she was saved, and with the lightness of health in body, soul, and mind, having received, as the reward of her hope, that which she hoped for, and having gained bodily by means of spiritual strength. Great though these things be, they are not untrue. Believe them all of you, whether sick or sound, that ye may either keep or regain your health. And that my story is no mere boastfulness is plain from the silence in which she kept, while alive, what I have revealed. Nor should I now have published it, be well assured, had I not feared that so great a marvel would have been utterly hidden from the faithful and unbelieving of these and later days.
19. Such was her life. Most of its details I have left untold, lest my speech should grow to undue proportions, and lest I should seem to be too greedy for her fair fame: but perhaps we should be wronging her holy and illustrious death, did we not mention some of its excellences; especially as she so longed for and desired it. I will do so therefore, as concisely as I can. She longed for her dissolution, for indeed she had great boldness towards Him who called her, and preferred to be with Christ, beyond all things on earth.(d) And there is none of the most amorous and unrestrained, who has such love for his body, as she had to fling away these fetters, and escape from the mire in which we spend our lives, and to associate in purity with Him Who is Fair, and entirely to hold her Beloved, Who is I will even say it, her Lover, by Whose rays, feeble though they now are, we are enlightened, and Whom, though separated from Him, we are able to know. Nor did she fail even of this desire, divine and sublime though it was, and, what is still greater, she had a foretaste of His Beauty through her forecast and constant watching. Her only sleep transferred her to exceeding joys, and her one vision embraced her departure at the foreappointed time, having been made aware of this day, so that according to the decision of God she might be prepared and yet not disturbed.
20. She had recently obtained the blessing of cleansing and perfection, which we have all received from God as a common gift and foundation of our new(a) life. Or rather all her life was a cleansing and perfecting: and while she received regeneration from the Holy Spirit, its security was hers by virtue of her former life. And in her case almost alone, I will venture to say, the mystery was a seal rather than a gift of grace. And when her husband's perfection was her one remaining desire (and if you wish me briefly to describe the man, I do not know what more to say of him than that he was her husband) in order that she might be consecrated to God in her whole body, and not depart half-perfected, or leave behind her imperfect anything that was hers; she did not even fail of this petition, from Him Who fulfils the desire of them that fear Him,(b) and accomplishes their requests.
21. And now when she had all things to her mind, and nothing was lacking of her desires, and the appointed time drew nigh, being thus prepared for death and departure, she fulfilled the law which prevails in such matters, and took to her bed. After many injunctions to her husband, her children, and her friends, as was to be expected from one who was full of conjugal, maternal, and brotherly love, and after making her last day a day of solemn festival with brilliant discourse upon the things above, she fell asleep, full not of the days of man, for which she had no desire, knowing them to be evil for her, and mainly occupied with our dust and wanderings, but more exceedingly full of the days of God, than I imagine any one even of those who have departed in a wealth of hoary hairs, and have numbered many terms of years. Thus she was set free, or, it is better to say, taken to God, or flew away, or changed her abode, or anticipated by a little the departure of her body.
22. Yet what was I on the point of omitting? But perhaps thou, who art her spiritual father, wouldst not have allowed me, and hast carefully concealed the wonder, and made it known to me. It is a great point for her distinction, and in our memory of her virtue, and regret for her departure. But trembling and tears have seized upon me, at the recollection of the wonder. She was just passing away, and at her last breath, surrounded by a group of relatives and friends performing the last offices of kindness, while her aged mother bent over her, with her soul convulsed with envy of her departure, anguish and affection being blended in the minds of all. Some longed to hear some burning word to be branded in their recollection; others were eager to speak, yet no one dared; for tears were mute and the pangs of grief unconsoled, since it seemed sacrilegious, to think that mourning could be an honour to one who was thus passing away. So there was solemn silence, as if her death had been a religious ceremony. There she lay, to all appearance, breathless, motionless, speechless; the stillness of her body seemed paralysis, as though the organs of speech were dead, after that which could move them was gone. But as her pastor, who in this wonderful scene, was carefully watching her, perceived that her lips were gently moving, and placed his ear to them, which his disposition and sympathy emboldened him to do,--but do you expound the meaning of this mysterious calm, for no one can disbelieve it on your word! Under her breath she was repeating a psalm--the last words of a psalm--to say the truth, a testimony to the boldness with which she was departing, and blessed is he who can fall asleep with these words, "I will lay me down in peace, and take my rest."(a) Thus wert thou singing, fairest of women, and thus it fell out unto thee; and the song became a reality, and attended on thy departure as a memorial of thee, who hast entered upon sweet peace after suffering, and received (over and above the rest which comes to all), that sleep which is due to the beloved,(b) as befitted one who lived and died amid the words of piety.
23. Better, I know well, and far more precious than eye can see, is thy present lot, the song of them that keep holy-day,(g) the throng of angels, the heavenly host, the vision of glory, and that splendour, pure and perfect beyond all other, of the Trinity Most High, no longer beyond the ken of the captive mind, dissipated by the senses, but entirely contemplated and possessed by the undivided mind, and flashing upon our souls with the whole light of Godhead: Mayest thou enjoy to the full all those things whose crumbs thou didst, while still upon earth, possess through the reality of thine inclination towards them. And if thou takest any account of our affairs, and holy souls receive from God this privilege, do thou accept these words of mine, in place of, and in preference to many panegyrics, which I have bestowed upon Caesarius before thee, and upon thee after him--since I have been preserved to pronounce panegyrics upon my brethren. If any one will, after you, pay me the like honour, I cannot say. Yet may my only honour be that which is in God, and may my pilgrimage and my home be in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever. Amen.
TO HIS FATHER, WHEN HE HAD ENTRUSTED TO HIM THE CARE OF THE CHURCH OF NAZIANZUS.
1. I opened my mouth, and drew in the Spirit,(g) and I give myself and my all to the Spirit, my action and speech, my inaction and silence, only let Him hold me and guide me, and move both hand and mind and tongue whither it is right, and He wills: and restrain them as it is right and expedient. I am an instrument of God, a rational instrument, an instrument tuned and struck by that skilful artist, the Spirit. Yesterday His work in me was silence. I mused on abstinence from speech. Does He strike upon my mind today? My speech shall be heard, and I will muse on utterance. I am neither so talkative, as to desire to speak, when He is bent on silence; nor so reserved and ignorant as to set a watch before my lips(a) when it is the time to speak: but I open and close my door at the will of that Mind and Word and Spirit, Who is One kindred Deity.
2. I will speak then, since I am so bidden. And I will speak both to the good shepherd here, and to you, his holy flock, as I think is best both for me to speak, and for you to hear to-day. Why is it that you have begged for one to share your shepherd's toil? For my speech shall begin with you, O dear and honoured head, worthy of that of Aaron, down which runs that spiritual and priestly ointment upon his beard and clothing.(b) Why is it that, while yet able to stablish and guide many, and actually guiding them in the power of the Spirit, you support yourself with a staff and prop in your spiritual works? Is it because you have heard and know that even with the illustrious Aaron were anointed Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron?(g) For I pass over Nadab and Abihu,(d) test the allusion be ill- omened: and Moses during his lifetime appoints Joshua in his stead, as lawgiver and general over those who were pressing on to the land of promise? The office of Aaron and Hur, supporting the hands of Moses on the mount where Amalek was warred down(e) by the Cross,(z) prefigured and typified long before, I feel willing to pass by, as not very suitable or applicable to us: for Moses did not choose them to share his work as lawgiver, but as helpers in his prayer and supports for the weariness of his hands.
3. What is it then that ails you? What is your weakness? Is it physical? I am ready to sustain you, yea I have sustained, and been sustained, like Jacob of old, by your fatherly blessings.(h) Is it spiritual? Who is stronger, and more fervent, especially now, when the powers of the flesh are ebbing and fading, like so many barriers which interfere with, and dim the brilliancy of a light? For these powers are wont, for the most part, to wage war upon and oppose one another, while the body's health is purchased by the sickness of the soul, and the soul flourishes and looks upward when pleasures are stilled and fade away along with the body. But, wonderful as your simplicity and nobility have seemed to me before, how is it that you have no fear, especially in times like these, that your spirit will be considered a pretext, and that most men will suppose, in spite of our spiritual professions, that we are undertaking this from carnal motives. For most men have made(a) the office to be looked upon as great and princely, and accompanied with considerable enjoyment, even though a man have the charge and rule over a more slender flock than this, and one which affords more troubles than pleasures. Thus far of your simplicity, or parental preference, if it be so, which makes you neither admit yourself, nor readily suspect in others anything disgraceful; for a mind hardly roused to evil, is slow to suspect evil. My second duty is briefly to address this people of yours, or now even of mine.
4. I have been overpowered, my friends and brethren, for I will now, though I did not at the time, ask for your aid. I have been overpowered by the old age of my father, and, to use moderate terms, the kindliness of my friend. So, help me, each of you who can, and stretch out a hand to me who am pressed down and torn asunder by regret and enthusiasm. The one suggests flights, mountains and deserts, and calm of soul and body, and that the mind should retire into itself, and recall its powers from sensible things, in order to hold pure communion with God, and be clearly illumined by the flashing rays of the Spirit, with no admixture or disturbance of the divine light by anything earthly or clouded, Until we come to the source of the effulgence which we enjoy here, and regret and desire are alike stayed, when our mirrors(b) pass away in the light of truth. The other wills that I should come forward, and bear fruit for the common good, and be helped by helping others; and publish the Divine light, and bring to God a people for His own possession, a holy nation, a royal priesthood,(g) and His image cleansed in many souls. And this, because, as a park is better than and preferable to a tree, the whole heaven with its ornaments to a single star, and the body to a limb, so also, in the sight of God, is the reformation of a whole church preferable to the progress of a single soul: and therefore, I ought not to look only on my own interest, but also on that of others.(a) For Christ also likewise, when it was possible for him to abide in His own honour and deity, not only so far emptied Himself as to take the form of a slave,(b) but also endured the cross, despising the shame,(g) that he might by His own sufferings destroy sin, and by death slay death.(d) The former are the imaginings of desire, the latter the teachings of the Spirit. And I, standing midway between the desire and the Spirit, and not knowing to which of the two I should rather yield, will impart to you what seems to me the best and safest course, that you may test it with me and take part in my design.
5. It seemed to me to be best and least dangerous to take a middle course between desire and fear, and to yield in part to desire, in part to the Spirit: and that this would be the case, if I neither altogether evaded the office, and so refused the grace, which would be dangerous, nor yet assumed a burden beyond my powers, for it is a heavy one. The former indeed is suited to the person of another, the latter to another's power, or rather to undertake both would be madness. But piety and safety would alike advise me to proportion the office to my power, and as is the case with food, to accept that which is within my power and refuse what is beyond it for health is gained for the body, and tranquillity for the soul, by such a course of moderation. Therefore I now consent to share in the cares of my excellent father, like an eaglet, not quite vainly flying close to a mighty and high soaring eagle. But hereafter I will offer my wing to the Spirit to be borne whither, and as, He wills: no one shall force or drag me in any direction, contrary to His counsel. For sweet it is to inherit a father's toils, and this flock is more familiar than a strange and foreign one; I would even add, more precious in the sight of God, unless the spell of affection deceives me, and the force of habit robs me of perception: nor is there any more useful or safer course than that willing rulers should rule willing subjects: since it is our practice not to lead by force, or by compulsion, but by good will. For this would not hold together even another form of government, since that which is held in by force is wont, when opportunity offers, to strike for freedom: but freedom of will more than anything else it is, which holds together our--I will not call it rule, but--tutorship. For the mystery of godliness(a) belongs to those who are willing, not to those who are overpowered.
6. This is my speech to you, my good men, uttered in simplicity and with all good will, and this is the secret of my mind. And may the victory rest with that which will be for the profit of both you and me, under the Spirit's guidance of our affairs, (for our discourse comes back again to the same point,)(b) to Whom we have given ourselves, and the head anointed with the oil of perfection, in the Almighty Father, and the Only- begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit, Who is God. For how long shall we hide(g) the lamp under the bushel,(d) and withhold from others the full knowledge of the Godhead, when it ought to be now put upon the lampstand and give light to all churches and souls and to the whole fulness of the world, no longer by means of metaphors, or intellectual sketches, but by distinct declaration? And this indeed is a most perfect setting forth of Theology to those Who have been deemed worthy of this grace in Christ Jesus Himself, our Lord, to Whom be glory, honour, and power for ever. Amen.
ON HIS FATHER'S SILENCE, BECAUSE OF THE PLAGUE OF HAIL.
1. Why do you infringe upon the approved order of things? Why would you do violence to a tongue which is under obligation to the law? Why do you challenge a speech which is in subjection to the Spirit? Why, when you have excused the head, have you hastened to the feet? Why do you pass by Aaron(a) and urge forward Eleazar? I cannot allow the fountain to be dammed up, while the rivulet runs its course; the sun to be hidden, while the star shines forth; hoar hairs to be in retirement, while youth lays down the law; wisdom to be silent, while inexperience speaks with assurance. A heavy rain is not always more useful than a gentle shower. Nay, indeed, if it be too violent, it sweeps away the earth, and increases the proportion of the farmer's loss: while a gentle fall, which sinks deep, enriches the soil, benefits the tiller and makes the corn grow to a fine crop. So the fluent Speech is not more profitable than the wise. For the one, though it perhaps gave a slight pleasure, passes away, and is dispersed as soon, and with as little effect, as the air on which it struck, though it charms with its eloquence the greedy ear. But the other sinks into the mind, and opening wide its mouth, fills it(b) with the Spirit, and, showing itself nobler than its origin, produces a rich harvest by a few syllables.
2. I have not yet alluded to the true and first wisdom, for which our wonderful husbandman and shepherd is conspicuous. The first wisdom is a life worthy of praise, and kept pure for God, or being purified for Him Who is all-pure and all-luminous, Who demands of us, us His only sacrifice, purification--that is, a contrite heart and the sacrifice of praise,(g) and a new creation in Christ,(d) and the new man,(e) and the like, as the Scripture loves to call it. The first wisdom is to despise that wisdom which consists of language and figures of speech, and spurious and unnecessary embellishments. Be it mine to speak five words with my understanding in the church, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue,(z) and with the unmeaning voice of a trumpet,(h) which does not rouse my soldier to the spiritual combat. This is the wisdom which I praise, which I welcome. By this the ignoble have won renown, and the despised have attained the highest honours. By this a crew of fishermen have taken the whole world in the meshes of the Gospel-net, and overcome by a word finished and cut short(a) the wisdom that comes to naught.(b) I count not wise the man who is clever in words, nor him who is of a ready tongue, but unstable and undisciplined in soul, like the tombs which, fair and beautiful as they are outwardly, are fetid with corpses within,(g) and full of manifold ill-savours; but him who speaks but little of virtue, yet gives many examples of it in his practice, and proves the trustworthiness of his language by his life.
3. Fairer in my eyes, is the beauty which we can gaze upon than that which is painted in words: of more value the wealth which our hands can hold, than that which is imagined in our dreams; and more real the wisdom of which we are convinced by deeds, than that which is set forth in splendid language. For "a good understanding," he saith, "have all they that do thereafter,"(d) not they who proclaim it. Time is the best touchstone of this wisdom, and "the hoary head is a crown of glory."(e) For if, as it seems to me as well as to Solomon, we must "judge none blessed before his death,"(z) and it is uncertain" what a day may bring forth,"(h) since our life here below has many turnings, and the body of our humiliation(th) is ever rising, falling and changing; surely he, who without fault has almost drained the cup of life, and nearly reached the haven of the common sea of existence is more secure, and therefore more enviable, than one who has yet a long voyage before him.
4. Do not thou, therefore, restrain a tongue whose noble utterances and fruits have been many, which has begotten many children of righteousness-- yea, lift up thine eyes round about and see,(i) how many are its sons, and what are its treasures; even this whole people, whom thou hast begotten in Christ through the Gospel.(k) Grudge not to us those words which are excellent rather than many, and do not yet give us a foretaste of our impending loss.(l) Speak in words which, if few, are dear and most sweet to me, which, if scarcely audible, are perceived from their spiritual cry, as God heard the silence of Moses, and said to him when interceding mentally, "Why criest thou unto Me?"(m) Comfort this people, I pray thee, I, who was thy nursling, and have since been made Pastor, and now even Chief Pastor. Give a lesson, to me in the Pastor's art, to this people of obedience. Discourse awhile on our present heavy blow, about the just judgments of God, whether we grasp their meaning, or are ignorant of their great deep.(a) How again "mercy is put in the balance,"(b) as holy Isaiah declares, for goodness is not without discernment, as the first labourers in the vineyard(g) fancied, because they could not perceive any distinction between those who were paid alike: and how anger, which is called "the cup in the hand of the Lord,"(d) and "the cup of falling which is drained,"(e) is in proportion to transgressions, even though He abates to all somewhat of what is their due, and dilutes with compassion the unmixed draught of His wrath. For He inclines from severity to indulgence towards those who accept chastisement with fear, and who after a slight affliction conceive and are in pain with conversion, and bring forth(z) the perfect spirit of salvation; but nevertheless he reserves the dregs,(h) the last drop of His anger, that He may pour it out entire upon those who, instead of being healed by His kindness, grow obdurate, like the hard-hearted Pharaoh,(th) that bitter taskmaster, who is set forth as an example of the power(i) of God over the ungodly.
5. Tell us whence come such blows and scourges, and what account we can give of them. Is it some disordered and irregular motion or some unguided current, some unreason of the universe, as though there were no Ruler of the world, which is therefore borne along by chance, as is the doctrine of the foolishly wise, who are themselves borne along at random by the disorderly spirit of darkness? Or are the disturbances and changes of the universe, (which was originally constituted, blended, bound together, and set in motion in a harmony known only to Him Who gave it motion,) directed by reason and order under the guidance of the reins of Providence? Whence come famines and tornadoes and hailstorms, our present warning blow? Whence pestilences, diseases, earthquakes, tidal waves, and fearful things in the heavens? And how is the creation, once ordered for the enjoyment of men, their common and equal delight, changed for the punishment of the ungodly, in order that we may be chastised through that for which, when honoured with it, we did not give thanks, and recognise in our sufferings that power which we did not recognise in our benefits? How is it that some receive at the Lord's hand double for their sins,(a) and the measure of their wickedness is doubly filled up, as in the correction of Israel, while the sins of others are done away by a sevenfold recompense into their bosom?(b) What is the measure of the Amorites that is not yet full?(g) And how is the sinner either let go, or chastised again, let go perhaps, because reserved for the other world, chastised, because healed thereby in this? Under what circumstances again is the righteous, when unfortunate, possibly being put to the test, or, when prosperous, being observed, to see if he be poor in mind or not very far superior to visible things, as indeed conscience, our interior and unerring tribunal, tells us. What is our calamity, and what its cause? Is it a test of virtue, or a touchstone of wickedness? And is it better to bow beneath it as a chastisement, even though it be not so, and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God,(d) or, considering it as a trial, to rise superior to it? On these points give us instruction and warning, lest we be too much discouraged by our present calamity, or fall into the gulf of evil and despise it; for some such feeling is very general; but rather that we may bear our admonition quietly, and not provoke one more severe by our insensibility to this.
6. Terrible is an unfruitful season, and the loss of the crops. It could not be otherwise, when men are already rejoicing in their hopes, and counting on their all but harvested stores. Terrible again is an unseasonable harvest, when the farmers labour with heavy hearts, sitting as it were beside the grave of their crops, which the gentle rain nourished, but the wild storm has rooted up, whereof the mower filleth not his hand, neither he that bindeth up the sheaves his bosom,(e) nor have they obtained the blessing which passers- by bestow upon the farmers. Wretched indeed is the sight of the ground devastated, cleared, and shorn of its ornaments, over which the blessed Joel wails in his most tragic picture of the desolation of the land, and the scourge of famine;(z) while another(h) prophet wails, as he contrasts with its former beauty its final disorder, and thus discourses on the anger of the Lord when He smites the land: before him is the garden of Eden, behind Him a desolate wilderness.(a) Terrible indeed these things are, and more than terrible, when we are grieved only at what is present, and are not yet distressed by the feeling of a severer blow: since, as in sickness, the suffering which pains us from time to time is more distressing than that which is not present. But more terrible still are those which the treasures(b) of God's wrath contain, of which God forbid that you should make trial; nor will you, if you fly for refuge to the mercies of God, and win over by your tears Him Who will have mercy,(g) and avert by your conversion what remains of His wrath. As yet, this is gentleness and loving- kindness and gentle reproof, and the first elements of a scourge to train our tender years: as yet, the smoke(d) of His anger, the prelude of His torments; not yet has fallen the flaming fire,(e) the climax of His being moved; not yet the kindled coals,(z) the final scourge, part of which He threatened, when He lifted up the other over us, part He held back by force, when He brought the other upon us; using the threat and the blow alike for our instruction, and making a way for His indignation, in the excess of His goodness; beginning with what is slight, so that the more severe may not be needed; but ready to instruct us by what is greater, if He be forced so to do.
7. I know the glittering sword,(h) and the blade made drunk in heaven, bidden to slay, to bring to naught, to make childless, and to spare neither flesh, nor marrow, nor bones. I know Him, Who, though free from passion, meets us like a bear robbed of her whelps, like a leopard in the way of the Assyrians,(th) not only those of that day, but if anyone now is an Assyrian in wickedness: nor is it possible to escape the might and speed of His wrath when He watches over our impieties, and His jealousy,(i) which knoweth to devour His adversaries, pursues His enemies to the death.(k) I know the emptying, the making void, the making waste, the melting of the heart, and knocking of the knees together,(l) such are the punishments of the ungodly. I do not dwell on the judgments to come, to which indulgence in this world delivers us, as it is better to be punished and cleansed now than to be transmitted to the torment to come, when it is the time of chastisement, not of cleansing. For as he who remembers God here is conqueror of death (as David(m) has most excellently sung) so the departed have not in the grave confession and restoration; for God has confined life and action to this world, and to the future the scrutiny of what has been done.
8. What shall we do in the day of visitation,(a) with which one of the Prophets terrifies me, whether that of the righteous sentence of God against us, or that upon the mountains and hills, of which we have heard, or whatever and whenever it may be, when He will reason with us, and oppose us, and set before us(b) those bitter accusers, our sins, comparing our wrongdoings with our benefits, and striking thought with thought, and scrutinising action with action, and calling us to account for the image(g) which has been blurred and spoilt by wickedness, till at last He leads us away self-convicted and self-condemned, no longer able to say that we are being unjustly treated--a thought which is able even here sometimes to console in their condemnation those who are suffering.
9. But then what advocate shall we have? What pretext? What false excuse? What plausible artifice? What device contrary to the truth will impose upon the court, and rob it of its right judgment, which places in the balance for us all, our entire life, action, word, and thought, and weighs against the evil that which is better, until that which preponderates wins the day, and the decision is given in favour of the main tendency; after which there is no appeal, no higher court, no defence on the ground of subsequent conduct, no oil obtained from the wise virgins, or from them that sell, for the lamps going out,(d) no repentance of the rich man wasting away in the flame,(e) and begging for repentance for his friends, no statute of limitations; but only that final and fearful judgment-seat, more just even than fearful; or rather more fearful because it is also just; when the thrones are set and the Ancient of days takes His seat,(z) and the books are opened, and the fiery stream comes forth, and the light before Him, and the darkness prepared; and they that have done good shall go into the resurrection of life,(h) now hid in Christ(th) and to be manifested hereafter with Him, and they that have done evil, into the resurrection of judgment,(i) to which they who have not believed have been condemned already by the word which judges them.(k) Some will be welcomed by the unspeakable light and the vision of the holy and royal Trinity, Which now shines upon them with greater brilliancy and purity and unites Itself wholly to the whole soul, in which solely and beyond all else I take it that the kingdom of heaven consists. The others among other torments, but above and before them all must endure the being outcast from God, and the shame of conscience which has no limit. But of these anon.
10. What are we to do now, my brethren, when crushed, cast down, and drunken but not with strong drink nor with wine,(a) which excites and obfuscates but for a while, but with the blow which the Lord has inflicted upon us, Who says, And thou, O heart, be stirred and shaken,(b) and gives to the despisers the spirit of sorrow and deep sleep to drink:(g) to whom He also says, See, ye despisers, behold, and wonder and perish?(d) How shall we bear His convictions; or what reply shall we make, when He reproaches us not only with the multitude of the benefits for which we have continued ungrateful, but also with His chastisements, and reckons up the remedies with which we have refused to be healed? Calling us His children(e) indeed, but unworthy children, and His sons, but strange sons(z) who have stumbled from lameness out of their paths, in the trackless and rough ground. How and by what means could I have instructed you, and I have not done so? By gentler measures? I have applied them. I passed by the blood drunk in Egypt from the wells and rivers and all reservoirs of water(h) in the first plague: I passed over the next scourges, the frogs, lice, and flies. I began with the flocks and the cattle and the sheep, the fifth plague, and, sparing as yet the rational creatures, I struck the animals. You made light of the stroke, and treated me with less reason and attention than the beasts who were struck. I withheld from you the rain; one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered,(th) and ye said "We will brave it."(i) I brought the hail upon you, chastising you with the opposite kind of blow, I uprooted your vineyards and shrubberies, and crops, but I failed to shatter your wickedness.
11. Perchance He will say to me, who am not reformed even by blows, I know that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew,(k) the heedless is heedless and the lawless man acts lawlessly,(l) naught is the heavenly correction, naught the scourges. The bellows are burnt, the lead is consumed,(a) as I once reproached you by the mouth of Jeremiah, the founder melted the silver in vain, your wickednesses are not melted away. Can ye abide my wrath, saith the Lord. Has not My hand the power to inflict upon you other plagues also? There are still at My command the blains breaking forth from the ashes of the furnace,(b) by sprinkling which toward heaven, Moses, or any other minister of God's action, may chastise Egypt with disease. There remain also the locusts, the darkness that may be felt, and the plague which, last in order, was first in suffering and power, the destruction and death of the firstborn, and, to escape this, and to turn aside the destroyer, it were better to sprinkle the doorposts of our mind, contemplation and action, with the great and saving token, with the blood of the new covenant, by being crucified and dying with Christ, that we may both rise and be glorified and reign with Him both now and at His final appearing, and not be broken and crushed, and made to lament, when the grievous destroyer smites us all too late in this life of darkness, and destroys our firstborn, the offspring and results of our life which we had dedicated to God.
12. Far be it from me that I should ever, among other chastisements, be thus reproached by Him Who is good, but walks contrary to me in fury(g) because of my own contrariness: I have smitten you with blasting and mildew, and blight;(d) without result. The sword from without(e) made you childless, yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord. May I not become the vine of the beloved, which after being planted and entrenched, and made sure with a fence and tower and every means which was possible, when it ran wild and bore thorns, was consequently despised, and had its tower broken down and its fence taken away, and was not pruned nor digged, but was devoured and laid waste and trodden down by all!(z) This is what I feel I must say as to my fears, thus have I been pained by this blow, and this, I will further tell you, is my prayer. We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly,(h) for we have forgotten Thy commandments and walked after our own evil thought,(th) for we have behaved ourselves un-worthily of the calling and gospel of Thy Christ, and of His holy sufferings and humiliation for us; we have become a reproach to Thy beloved, priest and people, we have erred together, we have all gone out of the way, we have together become unprofitable, there is none that doeth judgment and justice, no not one.(a) We have cut short Thy mercies and kindness and the bowels and compassion of our God, by our wickedness and the perversity of our doings, in which we have turned away. Thou art good, but we have done amiss; Thou art long-suffering, but we are worthy of stripes; we acknowledge Thy goodness, though we are without understanding, we have been scourged for but few of our faults; Thou art terrible, and who will resist Thee?(b) the mountains will tremble before Thee; and who will strive against the might of Thine arm? If Thou shut the heaven, who will open it? And if Thou let loose Thy torrents, who will restrain them? It is a light thing in Thine eyes to make poor and to make rich, to make alive and to kill, to strike and to heal, and Thy will is perfect action. Thou art angry, and we have sinned,(g) says one of old, making confession; and it is now time for me to say the opposite, "We have sinned, and Thou art angry:" therefore have we become a reproach to our neighbours.(d) Thou didst turn Thy face from us, and we were filled with dishonour. But stay, Lord, cease, Lord, forgive, Lord, deliver us not up for ever because of our iniquities, and let not our chastisements be a warning for others, when we might learn wisdom from the trials of others. Of whom? Of the nations which know Thee not, and kingdoms which have not been subject to Thy power. But we are Thy people,(e) O Lord, the rod of Thine inheritance; therefore correct us, but in goodness and not in Thine anger, lest Thou bring us to nothingness(z) and contempt among all that dwell on the earth.
13. With these words I invoke mercy: and if it were possible to propitiate His wrath with whole burnt offerings or sacrifices, I would not even have spared these. Do you also yourselves imitate your trembling priest, you, my beloved children, sharers with me alike of the Divine correction and loving-kindness. Possess your souls in tears, and stay His wrath by amending your way of life. Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly,(h) as blessed Joel with us charges you: gather the elders, and the babes that suck the breasts, whose tender age wins our pity, and is specially worthy of the loving-kindness of God. I know also what he enjoins both upon me, the minister of God, and upon you, who have been thought worthy of the same honour, that we should enter His house in sackcloth and lament night and day between the porch and the altar, in piteous array, and with more piteous voices, crying aloud without ceasing on behalf of ourselves and the people, sparing nothing, either toil or word, which may propitiate God: saying "Spare, O Lord, Thy people, and give not Thine heritage to reproach,"(a) and the rest of the prayer; surpassing the people in our sense of the affliction as much as in our rank, instructing them in our own persons in compunction and correction of wickedness, and in the consequent long-suffering of God, and cessation of the scourge.
14. Come then, all of you, my brethren, let us worship and fall down, and weep before the Lord our Maker;(b) let us appoint a public mourning, in our various ages and families, let us raise the voice of supplication; and let this, instead of the cry which He hates, enter into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Let us anticipate His anger by confession;(g) let us desire to see Him appeased, after He was wroth. Who knoweth, he says, if He will turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him?(d) This I know certainly, I the sponsor of the loving-kindness of God. And when He has laid aside that which is unnatural to Him, His anger, He will betake Himself to that which is natural, His mercy. To the one He is forced by us, to the other He is inclined. And if He is forced to strike, surely He will refrain, according to His Nature. Only let us have mercy on ourselves, and open a road for our Father's righteous affections. Let us sow in tears, that we may reap in joy,(e) let us show ourselves men of Nineveh, not of Sodom.(z) Let us amend our wickedness, lest we be consumed with it; let us listen to the preaching of Jonah, lest we be overwhelmed by fire and brimstone, and if we have departed from Sodom let us escape to the mountain, let us flee to Zoar, let us enter it as the sun rises; let us not stay in all the plain, let us not look around us, lest we be frozen into a pillar of salt, a really immortal pillar, to accuse the soul which returns to wickedness.
15. Let us be assured that to do no wrong(h) is really superhuman, and belongs to God alone. I say nothing about the Angels, that we may give no room for wrong feelings, nor opportunity for harmful altercations. Our unhealed condition arises from our evil and unsubdued nature, and from the exercise of its powers. Our repentance when we sin, is a human action, but an action which bespeaks a good man, belonging to that portion which is in the way of salvation. For if even our dust contracts somewhat of wickedness, and the earthly tabernacle presseth down the upward flight of the soul,(a) which at least was created to fly upward, yet let the image be Cleansed from filth, and raise aloft the flesh, its yoke-fellow, lifting it on the wings of reason; and, what is better, let us neither need this cleansing, nor have to be cleansed, by preserving our original dignity, to which we are hastening through our training here, and let us not by the bitter taste of sin be banished from the tree of life: though it is better to turn again when we err, than to be free from correction when we stumble. For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth,(b) and a rebuke is a fatherly action; while every soul which is un-chastised, is unhealed. Is not then freedom from chastisement a hard thing? But to fail to be corrected by the chastisement is still harder. One of the prophets, speaking of Israel, whose heart was hard and uncircumcised, says, Lord, Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved, Thou hast consumed them but they have refused to receive correction;(g) and again, The people turned not to Him that smiteth them;(d) and Why is my people slid-den back by a perpetual backsliding,(e) because of which it will be utterly crushed and destroyed?
16. It is a fearful thing, my brethren, to fall into the hands of a living God,(z) and fearful is the face of the Lord against them that do evil,(h) and abolishing wickedness with utter destruction. Fearful is the ear of God, listening even to the voice of Abel speaking through his silent blood. Fearful His feet, which overtake evildoing. Fearful also His filling of the universe, so that it is impossible anywhere to escape the action of God,(th) not even by flying up to heaven, or entering Hades, or by escaping to the far East, or concealing ourselves in the depths and ends of the sea.(i) Nahum the Elkoshite was afraid before me, when he proclaimed the burden of Nineveh, God is jealous, and the Lord takes vengeance in wrath upon His adversaries,(k) and uses such abundance of severity that no room is left for further vengeance upon the wicked. For whenever I hear Isaiah threaten the people of Sodom and rulers of Gomorrah,(l) and say Why will ye be smitten any more, adding sin to sin?(a) I am almost filled with horror, and melted to tears. It is impossible, he says, to find any blow to add to those which are past, because of your newly added sins; so completely have you run through the whole, and exhausted every form of chastisement, ever calling upon yourselves some new one by your wickedness. There is not a wound, nor bruise, nor putrefying sore;(b) the plague affects the whole body and is incurable: for it is impossible to apply a plaster, or ointment or bandages. I pass over the rest of the threatenings, that I may not press upon you more heavily than your present plague.
17. Only let us recognise the purpose of the evil. Why have the crops withered, our storehouses been emptied, the pastures of our flocks failed, the fruits of the earth been withheld, and the plains been filled with shame instead of with fatness: why have valleys lamented and not abounded in corn, the mountains not dropped sweetness, as they shall do hereafter to the righteous, but been stript and dishonoured, and received on the contrary the curse of Gilboa?(g) The whole earth has become as it was in the beginning, before it was adorned with its beauties. Thou visitedst the earth, and madest it to drink(d)--but the visitation has been for evil, and the draught destructive. Alas! what a spectacle! Our prolific crops reduced to stubble, the seed we sowed is recognised by scanty remains, and our harvest, the approach of which we reckon from the number of the months, instead of from the ripening corn, scarcely bears the firstfruits for the Lord. Such is the wealth of the ungodly, such the harvest of the careless sower; as the ancient curse runs, to look for much, and bring in little,(e) to sow and not reap, to plant and not press,(z) ten acres of vineyard to yield one hath:(h) and to hear of fertile harvests in other lands, and be ourselves pressed by famine. Why is this, and what is the cause of the breach? Let us not wait to be convicted by others, let us be our own examiners. An important medicine for evil is confession, and care to avoid stumbling. I will be first to do so, as I have made my report to my people from on high, and performed the duty of a watcher.(th) For I did not conceal the coming of the sword that I might save my own soul(i) and those of my hearers. So will I now announce the disobedience of my people, making what is theirs my own, if I may perchance thus obtain some tenderness and relief.
18. One of us has oppressed the poor, and wrested from him his portion of land, and wrongly encroached upon his landmark by fraud or violence, and joined house to house, and field to field, to rob his neighbour of something, and been eager to have no neighbour, so as to dwell alone on the earth.(a) Another has defiled the land with usury and interest, both gathering where he had not sowed and reaping where he had not strawed,(b) farming, not the land, but the necessity of the needy. Another has robbed God,(g) the giver of all, of the firstfruits of the barnfloor and winepress, showing himself at once thankless and senseless, in neither giving thanks for what he has had, nor prudently providing, at least, for the future. Another has had no pity on the widow and orphan, and not imparted his bread and meagre nourishment to the needy, or rather to Christ, Who is nourished in the persons of those who are nourished even in a slight degree; a man perhaps of much property unexpectedly gained, for this is the most unjust of all, who finds his many barns too narrow for him, filling some and emptying others, to build greater(d) ones for future crops, not knowing that he is being snatched away with hopes unrealised, to give an account of his riches and fancies, and proved to have been a bad steward of another's goods. Another has turned aside the way of the meek,(e) and turned aside the just among the unjust; another has hated him that reproveth in the gates,(z) and abhorred him that speaketh uprightly;(h) another has sacrificed to his net which catches much,(th) and keeping the spoil of the poor in his house,(i) has either remembered not God, or remembered Him ill--by saying "Blessed be the Lord, for we are rich,"(k) and wickedly supposed that he received these things from Him by Whom he will be punished. For because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.(l) Because of these things the heaven is shut, or opened for our punishment; and much more, if we do not repent, even when smitten, and draw near to Him, Who approaches us through the powers of nature.
19. What shall be said to this by those of us who are buyers and sellers of corn, and watch the hardships of the seasons, in order to grow prosperous, and luxuriate in the misfortunes of others, and acquire, not, like Joseph, the property of the Egyptians,(a) as a part of a wide policy, (for he could both collect and supply corn duly, as he also could foresee the famine, and provide against it afar off,) but the property of their fellow countrymen in an illegal manner, for they say, "When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell, and the sabbaths, that we may open our stores?"(b) And they corrupt justice with divers measures and balances,(g) and draw upon themselves the ephah of lead.(d) What shall we say to these things who know no limit to our getting, who worship gold and silver, as those of old worshipped Baal, and Astarte and the abomination Chemosh?(e) Who give heed to the brilliance of costly stones, and soft flowing garments, the prey of moths, and the plunder of robbers and tyrants and thieves; who are proud of their multitude of slaves and animals, and spread themselves over plains and mountains, with their possessions and gains and schemes, like Solomon's horseleach(z) which cannot be satisfied, any more than the grave, and the earth, and fire, and water; who seek for another world for their possession, and find fault with the bounds of God, as too small for their insatiable cupidity? What of those who sit on lofty thrones and raise the stage of government, with a brow loftier than that of the theatre, taking no account of the God over all, and the height of the true kingdom that none can approach unto, so as to rule their subjects as fellow-servants, as needing themselves no less loving- kindness? Look also, I pray you, at those who stretch themselves upon beds of ivory, whom the divine Amos filly upbraids, who anoint themselves with the chief ointments, and chant to the sound of instruments of music, and attach themselves to transitory things as though they were stable, but have not grieved nor had compassion for the affliction of Joseph;(h) though they ought to have been kind to those who had met with disaster before them, and by mercy have obtained mercy; as the fir-tree should howl, because the cedar had fallen,(th) and be instructed by their neighbours' chastisement, and be led by others' ills to regulate their own lives, having the advantage of being saved by their predecessors' fate, instead of being themselves a warning to others.
20. Join with us, thou divine and sacred person, in considering these questions, with the store of experience, that source of wisdom, which thou hast gathered in thy long life. Herewith instruct thy people. Teach them to break their bread to the hungry, to gather together the poor that have no shelter, to cover their nakedness and not neglect those of the same blood,(a) and now especially that we may gain a benefit from our need instead of from abundance, a result which pleases God more than plentiful offerings and large gifts. After this, nay before it, show thyself, I pray, a Moses,(b) or Phinehas(g) to day. Stand on our behalf and make atonement, and let the plague be stayed, either by the spiritual sacrifice,(d) or by prayer and reasonable intercession.(e) Restrain the anger of the Lord by thy mediation: avert any succeeding blows of the scourge. He knoweth to respect the hoar hairs of a father interceding for his children. Intreat for our past wickedness: be our surety for the future. Present a people purified by suffering and fear. Beg for bodily sustenance, but beg rather for the angels' food that cometh down from heaven. So doing, thou wilt make God to be our God, wilt conciliate heaven, wilt restore the former and latter rain:(z) the Lord shall show loving-kindness(h) and our land shall yield her fruit;(th) our earthly land its fruit which lasts for the day, and our frame, which is but dust, the fruit which is eternal, which we shall store up in the heavenly winepresses by thy hands, who presentest both us and ours in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory for evermore. Amen.
FUNERAL ORATION ON HIS FATHER, IN THE PRESENCE OF S. BASIL.
1. O man of God,(a) and faithful servant,(b) and steward of the mysteries of God,(g) and man of desires(d) of the Spirit:(e) for thus Scripture speaks of men advanced and lofty, superior to visible things. I will call you also a God to Pharaoh(z) and all the Egyptian and hostile power, and pillar and ground of the Church(h) and will of God(th) and light in the world, holding forth the word of life,(i) and prop of the faith and resting place of the Spirit. But why should I enumerate all the titles which your virtue, in its varied forms, has won for and applied to you as your own?
2. Tell me, however, whence do you come, what is your business, and what favour do you bring us? Since I know that you are entirely moved with and by God, and for the benefit of those who receive you. Are you come to inspect us, or to seek for the pastor, or to take the oversight of the flock? You find us no longer in existence, but for the most part having passed away with him, unable to bear with the place of our affliction, especially now that we have lost our skilful steersman, our light of life, to whom we looked to direct our course as the blazing beacon of salvation above us: he has departed with all his excellence, and all the power of pastoral organization, which he had gathered in a long time, full of days and wisdom, and crowned, to use the words of Solomon, with the hoary head of glory.(k) His flock is desolate and downcast, filled, as you see, with despondency and dejection, no longer reposing in the green pasture,(l) and reared up by the water of comfort, but seeking precipices, deserts and pits, in which it will be scattered and perish;(m) in despair of ever obtaining another wise pastor, absolutely persuaded that it cannot find such an one as he, content if it be one who will not be far inferior.
3. There are, as I said, three causes to necessitate your presence, all of equal weight, ourselves, the pastor, and the flock: come then, and according to the spirit of ministry which is in you, assign to each its due, and guide your words in judgment, so that we may more than ever marvel at your wisdom. And how will you guide them? First by bestowing seemly praise upon his virtue, not only as a pure sepulchral tribute of speech to him who was pure, but also to set forth to others his conduct and example as a mark of true piety. Then bestow upon us some brief counsels concerning life and death, and the union and severance of body and soul, and the two worlds, the one present but transitory, the other spiritually perceived and abiding; and persuade us to despise that which is deceitful and disordered and uneven, carrying us and being carried, like the waves, now up, now down; but to cling to that which is firm and stable and divine and constant, free from all disturbance and confusion. For this would lessen our pain because of friends departed before us, nay we should rejoice if your words should carry us hence and set us on high, and hide distress of the present in the future, and persuade us that we also are pressing on to a good Master, and that our home is better than our pilgrimage; and that translation and removal thither is to us who are tempest-tost here like a calm haven to men at sea; or as ease and relief from toil come to men who, at the close of a long journey, escape the troubles of the wayfarer, so to those who attain to the hostel yonder comes a better and more tolerable existence than that of those who still tread the crooked and precipitous path of this life.
4. Thus might you console us; but what of the flock? Would you first promise the oversight and leadership of yourself, a man under whose wings we all would gladly repose, and for whose words we thirst more eagerly than men suffering from thirst for the purest fountain? Secondly, persuade us that the good shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep(a) has not even now left us; but is present, and tends and guides, and knows his own, and is known of his own, and, though bodily invisible, is spiritually recognized, and defends his flock against the wolves, and allows no one to climb over into the fold as a robber and traitor; to pervert and steal away, by the voice of strangers, souls under the fair guidance of the truth. Aye, I am well assured that his intercession is of more avail now than was his instruction in former days, since he is closer to God, now that he has shaken off his bodily fetters, and freed his mind from the clay which obscured it, and holds intercourse naked with the nakedness of the prime and purest Mind; being promoted, if it be not rash to say so, to the rank and confidence of an angel. This, with your power of speech and spirit, you will set forth and discuss better than I can sketch it. But in order that, through ignorance of his excellences, your language may not fall very far short of his deserts, I will, from my own knowledge of the departed, briefly draw an outline, and preliminary plan of an eulogy to be handed to you, the illustrious artist of such subjects, for the details of the beauty of his virtue to be filled in and transmitted to the ears and minds of all.
5. Leaving to the laws of panegyric the description of his country, his family, his nobility of figure, his external magnificence, and the other subjects of human pride, I begin with what is of most consequence and comes closest to ourselves. He sprang from a stock unrenowned, and not well suited for piety, for I am not ashamed of his origin, in my confidence in the close of his life, one that was not planted in the house of God,(a) but far removed and estranged, the combined product of two of the greatest opposites--Greek error and legal imposture, some parts of each of which it escaped, of others it was compounded. For, on the one side, they reject idols and sacrifices, but reverence fire and lights; on the other, they observe the Sabbath and petty regulations as to certain meats, but despise circumcision. These lowly men call themselves Hypsistarii, and the Almighty is, so they say, the only object of their worship. What was the result of this double tendency to impiety? I know not whether to praise more highly the grace which called him, or his own purpose. However, he so purged the eye of his mind from the humours(b) which obscured it, and ran towards the truth with such speed that he endured the loss of his mother and his property for a while, for the sake of his heavenly Father and the true inheritance: and submitted more readily to this dishonour, than others to the greatest honours, and, most wonderful as this is, I wonder at it but little. Why? Because this glory is common to him with many others, and all must come into the great net of God, and be caught by the words of the fishers, although some are earlier, some later, enclosed by the Gospel. But what does especially in his life move my wonder, it is needful for me to mention.
6. Even before he was of our fold, he was ours. His character made him one of us. For, as many of our own are not with us, whose life alienates them from the common body, so, many of those without are on our side, whose character anticipates their faith, and need only the name of that which indeed they possess. My father was one of these, an alien shoot, but inclined by his life towards us. He was so far advanced in self control, that he became at once most beloved and most modest, two qualities difficult to combine. What greater and more splendid testimony can there be to his justice than his exercise of a position second to none in the state, without enriching himself by a single farthing, although he saw everyone else casting the hands of Briareus upon the public funds, and swollen with ill-gotten gain? For thus do I term unrighteous wealth. Of his prudence this also is no slight proof, but in the course of my speech further details will be given. It was as a reward(a) for such conduct, I think, that he attained to the faith. How this came about, a matter too important to be passed over, I would now set forth.
7. I have heard the Scripture say: Who can find a valiant woman?(b) and declare that she is a divine gift, and that a good marriage is brought about by the Lord. Even those without are of the same mind; if they say that a man can win no fairer prize than a good wife, nor a worse one than her opposite.(g) But we can mention none who has been in this respect more fortunate than he. For I think that, had anyone from the ends of the earth and from every race of men attempted to bring about the best of marriages, he could not have found a better or more harmonious one than this. For the most excellent of men and of women were so united that their marriage was a union of virtue rather than of bodies: since, while they excelled all others, they could not excel each other, because in virtue they were quite equally matched.
8. She indeed who was given to Adam as a help meet for him, because it was not good for man to be alone,(d) instead of an assistant became an enemy, and instead of a yoke-fellow, an opponent, and beguiling the man by means of pleasure, estranged him through the tree of knowledge from the tree of life. But she who was given by God to my father became not only, as is less wonderful, his assistant, but even his leader, drawing him on by her influence in deed and word to the highest excellence; judging it best in all other respects to be overruled by her husband according to the law of marriage, but not being ashamed, in regard of piety, even to offer herself as his teacher. Admirable indeed as was this conduct of hers, it was still more admirable that he should readily acquiesce in it. She is a woman who while others have been honoured and extolled for natural and artificial beauty, has acknowledged but one kind of beauty, that of the soul, and the preservation, or the restoration as far as possible, of the Divine image. Pigments and devices for adornment she has rejected as worthy of women on the stage. The only genuine form of noble birth she recognized is piety, and the knowledge of whence we are sprung and whither we are tending. The only safe and inviolable form of wealth is, she considered, to strip oneself of wealth for God and the poor, and especially for those of our own kin who are unfortunate; and such help only as is necessary, she held to be rather a reminder, than a relief of their distress, while a more liberal beneficence brings stable honour and most perfect consolation. Some women have excelled in thrifty management, others in piety, while she, difficult as it is to unite the two virtues, has surpassed all in both of them, both by her eminence in each, and by the fact that she alone has combined them together. To as great a degree has she, by her care and skill, secured the prosperity of her household, according to the injunctions and laws of Solomon as to the valiant woman, as if she had had no knowledge of piety; and she applied herself to God and Divine things as closely as if absolutely released from household cares, allowing neither branch of her duty to interfere with the other, but rather making each of them support the other.
9. What time or place for prayer ever escaped her? To this she was drawn before all other things in the day; or rather, who had such hope of receiving an immediate answer to her requests? Who paid such reverence to the hand and countenance of the priests? Or honoured all kinds of philosophy? Who reduced the flesh by more constant fast and vigil? Or stood like a pillar at the night long and daily psalmody? Who had a greater love for virginity, though patient of the marriage bond herself? Who was a better patron of the orphan and the widow? Who aided as much in the alleviation of the misfortunes of the mourner? These things, small as they are, and perhaps contemptible in the eyes of some, because not easily attainable by most people (for that which is unattainable comes, through envy, to be thought not even credible), are in my eyes most honourable, since they were the discoveries of her faith and the undertakings of her spiritual fervour. So also in the holy assemblies, or places, her voice was never to be heard except(a) in the necessary responses of the service.
10. And if it was a great thing for the altar never to have had an iron tool lifted upon it,(b) and that no chisel should be seen or heard, with greater reason, since everything dedicated to God ought to be natural and free from artificiality, it was also surely a great thing that she reverenced the sanctuary by her silence; that she never turned her back to the venerable table, nor spat upon the divine pavement; that she never grasped the hand or kissed the lips of any heathen woman, however honourable in other respects, or closely related she might be; nor would she ever share the salt, I say not willingly but even under compulsion, of those who came from the profane and unholy table; nor could she bear, against the law of conscience, to pass by or look upon a polluted house; nor to have her ears or tongue, which had received and uttered divine things, defiled by Grecian tales or theatrical songs, on the ground that what is unholy is unbecoming to holy things; and what is still more wonderful, she never so far yielded to the external signs of grief, although greatly moved even by the misfortunes of strangers, as to allow a sound of woe to burst forth before the Eucharist, or a tear to fall from the eye mystically sealed, or any trace of mourning to be left on the occasion of a festival, however frequent her own sorrows might be; inasmuch as the God-loving soul should subject every human experience to the things of God.
11. I pass by in silence what is still more ineffable, of which God is witness, and those of the faithful handmaidens to whom she has confided such things. That which concerns myself is perhaps undeserving of mention, since I have proved unworthy of the hope cherished in regard to me: yet it was on her part a great undertaking to promise me to God before my birth, with no fear of the future, and to dedicate me immediately after I was born. Through God's goodness has it been that she has not utterly failed in her prayer, and that the auspicious sacrifice was not rejected. Some of these things were already in existence, others were in the future, growing up by means of gradual additions. And as the sun which most pleasantly casts its morning rays, becomes at midday hotter and more brilliant, so also did she, who from the first gave no slight evidence of piety, shine forth at last with fuller light. Then indeed he, who had established her in his house, had at home no slight spur to piety, possessed, by her origin and descent, of the love of God and Christ, and having received virtue as her patrimony; not, as he had been, cut out of the wild olive and grafted into the good olive, yet unable to bear, in the excess of her faith, to be unequally yoked; for, though surpassing all others in endurance and fortitude, she could not brook this, the being but half united to God, because of the estrangement of him who was a part of herself, and the failure to add to the bodily union, a close connexion in the spirit: on this account, she fell before God night and day, entreating for the salvation of her head with many fastings and tears, and assiduously devoting herself to her husband, and influencing him in many ways, by means of reproaches, admonitions, attentions, estrangements, and above all by her own character with its fervour for piety, by which the soul is specially prevailed upon and softened, and willingly submits to virtuous pressure. The drop(a) of water constantly striking the rock was destined to hollow it, and at length attain its longing, as the sequel shows.
12. These were the objects of her prayers and hopes, in the fervour of faith rather than of youth. Indeed, none was as confident of things present as she of things hoped for, from her experience of the generosity of God. For the salvation of my father there was a concurrence of the gradual conviction(b) of his reason, and the vision of dreams which God often bestows upon a soul worthy of salvation. What was the vision? This is to me the most pleasing part of the story. He thought that he was singing, as he had never done before, though his wife was frequent in her supplications and prayers, this verse from the psalms of holy David: I was glad when they said unto me, we will go into the house of the Lord.(a) The psalm was a strange one to him, and along with its words the desire came to him. As soon as she heard it, having thus obtained her prayer, she seized the opportunity, replying that the vision would bring the greatest pleasure, if accompanied by its fulfilment, and, manifesting by her joy the greatness of the benefit, she urged forward his salvation, before anything could intervene to hinder the call, and dissipate the object of her longing. At that very time it happened that a number of Bishops were hastening to Nicaea, to oppose the madness of Arius, since the wickedness of dividing the Godhead had just arisen; so my father yielded himself to God and to the heralds of the truth, and confessed his desire, and requested from them the common salvation, one of them being the celebrated Leontius, at that time our own metropolitan. It would be a great wrong to grace, were I to pass by in silence the wonder which then was bestowed upon him by grace. The witnesses of the wonder(b) are not few. The teachers of accuracy were spiritually at fault, and the grace was a forecast of the future, and the formula of the priesthood was mingled with the admission of the catechumen. O involuntary initiation! bending his knee, he received the form of admission to the state of a catechumen in such wise, that many, not only of the highest, but even of the lowest, intellect, prophesied the future, being assured by no indistinct signs of what was to be.
13. After a short interval, wonder succeeded wonder. I will commend the account of it to the ears of the faithful, for to profane minds nothing that is good is trustworthy. He was approaching that regeneration by water and the Spirit, by which we confess to God the formation and completion of the Christlike man, and the transformation and reformation from the earthy to the Spirit. He was approaching the layer with warm desire and bright hope, after all the purgation possible, and a far greater purification of sold and body than that of the men who were to receive the tables from Moses. Their purification extended only to their dress, and a slight restriction of the belly, and a temporary continence.(g) The whole of his past life had been a preparation for the enlightenment, and a preliminary purification making sure the gift, in order that perfection might be entrusted to purity, and that the blessing might incur no risk in a soul which was confident in its possession of the grace. And as he was ascending out of the water, there flashed around him a light and a glory worthy of the disposition with which he approached the girt of faith;(a) this was manifest even to some others, who for the time concealed the wonder, from fear of speaking of a sight which each one thought had been only his own, but shortly afterwards communicated it to one another. To the baptiser(b) and initiator, however, it was so clear and visible, that he could not even hold back the mystery, but publicly cried out that he was anointing with the Spirit his own successor.
14. Nor indeed would anyone disbelieve this who has heard and knows that Moses, when little in the eyes of men, and not yet of any account, was called from the bush which burned but was not consumed, or rather by Him who appeared in the bush,(g) and was encouraged by that first wonder: Moses, I say, for whom the sea was divided,(d) and manna rained down,(e) and the rock poured out a fountain,(z) and the pillar of fire and cloud led the way in turn. and the stretching out of his hands gained a victory, and the representation of the cross overcame tens of thousands. Isaiah, again, who beheld the glory of the Seraphim,(h) and after him Jeremiah, who was entrusted with great power against nations and kings;(th) the one heard the divine voice and was cleansed by a live coal for his prophetic office, and the other was known before his formation and sanctified before his birth. Paul, also, while yet a persecutor, who became the great herald of the truth and teacher of the Gentiles in faith,(i) was surrounded by a light(k) and acknowledged Him whom he was persecuting, and was entrusted with his great ministry, and filled every ear and mind with the gospel.
15. Why need I count up all those who have been called to Himself by God and associated with such wonders as confirmed him in his piety? Nor was it the case that after such and so incredible and startling beginnings, any of the former things was put to shame by his subsequent conduct, as happens with those who very soon acquire a distaste for what is good, and so neglect all further progress, if they do not utterly relapse into vice. This cannot be said of him, for he was most consistent with himself and his early days, and kept in harmony his life before the priesthood with its excellence, and his life after it with what had gone before, since it would have been unbecoming to begin in one way and end in another, or to advance to a different end from that which he had in view at first. He was next entrusted with the priesthood, not with the facility and disorder of the present day, but after a brief interval, in order to add to his own cleansing the skill and power to cleanse others; for this is the law of spiritual sequence. And when he had been entrusted with it, the grace was the more glorified, being really the grace of God, and not of men, and not, as the preacher(a) says, an independent impulse and purpose(b) of spirit.
16. He received a woodland and rustic church, the pastoral care and oversight of which had not been bestowed from a distance, but it had been cared for by one of his predecessors of admirable and angelic disposition, and a more simple man than our present rulers of the people; but, after he had been speedily taken to God, it had, in consequence of the loss of its leader, for the most part grown careless and run wild; accordingly, he at first strove without harshness to soften the habits of the people, both by words of pastoral knowledge, and by setting himself before them as an example, like a spiritual statue, polished into the beauty of all excellent conduct. He next, by constant meditation on the divine words, though a late student of such matters, gathered together so much wisdom within a short time that he was in no wise excelled by those who had spent the greatest toil upon them, and received this special grace from God, that he became the father and teacher of orthodoxy--not, like our modern wise men, yielding to the spirit of the age, nor defending our faith by indefinite and sophistical language, as if they bad no fixity of faith, or were adulterating the truth; but, he was more pious than those who possessed rhetorical power, more skilled in rhetoric than those who were upright in mind; or rather, while he took the second place as an orator, he surpassed all in piety. He acknowledged One God worshipped in Trinity, and Three, Who are united in One Godhead; neither Sabellianising(g) as to the One, nor Arianising as to the Three; either by contracting and so atheistically annihilating the Godhead, or by tearing It asunder by distinctions of unequal greatness or nature. For, seeing that Its every quality is incomprehensible and beyond the power of our intellect, how can we either perceive or express by definition on such a subject, that which is beyond our ken? How can the immeasurable be measured, and the Godhead be reduced to the condition of finite things, and measured by degrees(a) of greater or less?
17. What else must we say of this great man of God, the true Divine, under the influence, in regard to these subjects, of the Holy Ghost, but that through his perception of these points, he, like the great Noah, the father of this second world, made this church to be called the new Jerusalem, and a second ark borne up upon the waters; since it both surmounted the deluge of souls, and the insults of the heretics, and excelled all others in reputation no less than it fell behind them in numbers; and has had the same fortune as the sacred Bethlehem, which can without contradiction be at once said to be a little city and the metropolis of the world, since it is the nurse and mother of Christ, Who both made and overcame the world.
18. To give a proof of what I say. When a tumult of the over-zealous part of the Church was raised against us, and we had been decoyed by a document(b) and artful terms into association with evil, he alone was believed to have an unwounded mind, and a soul unstained by ink, even when he had been imposed upon in his simplicity, and failed from his guilelessness of soul to be on his guard against guile. He it was alone, or rather first of all, who by his zeal for piety reconciled to himself and the rest of the church the faction opposed to us, which was the last to leave us, the first to return, owing to both their reverence for the man and the purity of his doctrine, so that the serious storm in the churches was allayed, and the hurricane reduced to a breeze under the influence of his prayers and admonitions; while, if I may make a boastful remark, I was his partner(g) in piety and activity, aiding him in every effort on behalf of what is good, accompanying and running beside him, and being permitted on this occasion to contribute a very great share of the toil. Here my account of these matters, which is a little premature, must come to an end.
19. Who could enumerate the full tale of his excellences, or, if he wished to pass by most of them, discover without difficulty what can be omitted? For each trait, as it occurs to the mind, seems superior to what has gone before; it takes possession of me, and I feel more at a loss to know what I ought to pass by, than other panegyrists are as to what they ought to say. So that the abundance of material is to some extent a hindrance to me, and my mind is itself put to the test in its efforts to test his qualities, and its inability, where all are equal, to find one which surpasses the rest. So that, just as when we see a pebble failing into still water, it becomes the centre and starting-point of circle after circle, each by its continuous agitation breaking up that which lies outside of it; this is exactly the case with myself. For as soon as one thing enters my mind, another follows and displaces it; and I am wearied out in making a choice, as what I have already grasped is ever retiring in favour of that which follows in its train.
20. Who was more anxious than he for the common weal? Who more wise in domestic affairs, since God, who orders all things in due variation, assigned to him a house and suitable fortune? Who was more sympathetic in mind, more bounteous in hand, towards the poor, that most dishonoured portion of the nature to which equal honour is due? For he actually treated his own property as if it were another's, of which he was but the steward, relieving poverty as far as he could, and expending not only his superfluities but his necessities--a manifest proof of love for the poor, giving a portion, not only to seven, according to the injunction of Solomon,(a) but if an eighth came forward, not even in his case being niggardly, but more pleased to dispose of his wealth than we know others are to acquire it; taking away the yoke and election (which means, as I think, all meanness in testing as to whether the recipient is worthy or not) and word of murmuring(b) in benevolence. This is what most men do: they give indeed, but without that readiness, which is a greater and more perfect thing than the mere offering. For he thought it much better(g) to be generous even to the undeserving for the sake of the deserving, than from fear of the undeserving to deprive those who were deserving. And this seems to be the duty of casting our bread upon the waters,(a) since it will not be swept away or perish in the eyes of the just Investigator, but will arrive yonder where all that is ours is laid up, and will meet with us in due time, even though we think it not.
21. But what is best and greatest of all, his magnanimity was accompanied by freedom from ambition. Its extent and character I will proceed to show. In considering their wealth to be common to all, and in liberality in bestowing it, he and his consort rivalled each other in their struggles after excellence; but he intrusted the greater part of this bounty to her hand, as being a most excellent and trusty steward of such matters. What a woman she is? Not even the Atlantic Ocean, or if there be a greater one, could meet her drafts upon it. So great and so boundless is her love of liberality. In the contrary sense she has rivalled the horse- leech(b) of Solomon, by her insatiable longing for progress, overcoming the tendency to backsliding, and unable to satisfy her zeal for benevolence. She not only considered all the property which they originally possessed, and what accrued to them later, as unable to suffice her own longing, but she would, as I have often heard her say, have gladly sold herself and her children into slavery, had there been any means of doing so, to expend the proceeds upon the poor. Thus entirely did she give the rein to her generosity. This is, I imagine, far more convincing than any instance of it could be. Magnanimity in regard to money may be found without difficulty in the case of others, whether it be dissipated in the public rivalries of the state, or lent to God through the poor, the only mode of treasuring it up for those who spend it: but it is not easy to discover a man who has renounced the consequent reputation. For it is desire for reputation which supplies to most men their readiness to spend. And where the bounty must be secret, there the disposition to it is less keen.
22. So bounteous was his hand--further details I leave to those who knew him, so that if anything of the kind is borne witness to in regard to myself, it proceeds from that fountain, and is a portion of that stream. Who was more trader the Divine guidance in admitting men to the sanctuary,(g) or in resenting dishonour done to it, or in cleansing the holy table with awe from the unholy? Who with such unbiassed judgment, and with the scales of justice, either decided a suit, or hated vice, or honoured virtue, or promoted the most excellent? Who was so compassionate for the sinner, or sympathetic towards those who were running well? Who better knew the right time for using the rod and the staff,(a) yet relied most upon the staff? Whose eyes were more upon the faithful in the land,(b) especially upon those who, in the monastic and unwedded life, have despised the earth and the things of earth?
23. Who did more to rebuke pride and foster lowliness? And that in no assumed or external way, as most of those who now make profession of virtue, and are in appearance as elegant as the most mindless women, who, for lack of beauty of their own, take refuge in pigments, and are, if I may say so, splendidly made up, uncomely in their comeliness, and more ugly than they originally were. For his lowliness was no matter of dress, but of spiritual disposition: nor was it expressed by a bent neck, or lowered voice, or downcast look, or length of beard, or close-shaven head, or measured gait, which can be adopted for a while, but are very quickly exposed, for nothing which is affected can be permanent. No! he was ever most lofty in life, most lowly in mind; inaccessible in virtue, most accessible in intercourse. His dress had in it nothing remarkable, avoiding equally magnificence and sordidness, while his internal brilliancy was supereminent. The disease and insatiability of the belly, he, if anyone, held in check, but without ostentation; so that he might be kept down without being puffed up, from having encouraged a new vice by his pursuit of reputation. For he held that doing and saying everything by which fame among externs might be won, is the characteristic of the politician, whose chief happiness is found in the present life: but that the spiritual and Christian man should look to one object alone, his salvation, and think much of what may contribute to this, but detest as of no value what does not; and accordingly despise what is visible, but be occupied with interior perfection alone, and estimate most highly whatever promotes his own improvement, and attracts others through himself to that which is supremely good.
24. But what was most excellent and most characteristic, though least generally recognized, was his simplicity, and freedom from guile and resentment. For among men of ancient and modern days, each is supposed to have had some special success, as to have received from God some particular virtue: Job unconquered patience in misfortune,(a) Moses(b) and David(g) meekness, Samuel prophecy, seeing into the future,(d) Phineas zeal,(e) for which he has a name, Peter and Paul eagerness in preaching,(z) the sons of Zebedee magniloquence, whence also they were entitled Sons of thunder.(h) But why should I enumerate them all, speaking as I do among those who know this? Now the specially distinguishing mark of Stephen and of my father was the absence of malice. For not even when in peril did Stephen hate his assailants, but was stoned while praying for those who were stoning him(th) as a disciple of Christ, on Whose behalf he was allowed to suffer, and so, in his long-suffering, bearing for God a nobler fruit than his death: my father, in allowing no interval between assault and forgiveness, so that he was almost robbed of pain itself by the speed of pardon.
25. We both believe in and hear of the dregs(i) of the anger of God, the residuum of His dealings with those who deserve it: For the Lord is a God of vengeance.(k) For although He is disposed by His kindness to gentleness rather than severity, yet He does not absolutely pardon sinners, lest they should be made worse by His goodness. Yet my father kept no grudge against those who provoked him, indeed he was absolutely uninfluenced by anger, although in spiritual things exceedingly overcome by zeal: except when he had been prepared and armed and set in hostile array against that which was advancing to injure him. So that this sweet disposition of his would not, as the saying goes, have been stirred by tens of thousands. For the wrath which he had was not like that of the serpent,(l) smouldering within, ready to defend itself, eager to burst forth, and longing to strike back at once on being disturbed; but like the sting of the bee, which does not bring death with its stroke; while his kindness was superhuman. The wheel and scourge were often threatened, and those who could apply them stood near; and the danger ended in being pinched on the ear, patted on the face, or buffeted on the temple: thus he mitigated the threat. His dress and sandals were dragged off, and the scoundrel was felled to the ground: then his anger was directed not against his assailant, but against his eager succourer, as a minister of evil. How could anyone be more conclusively proved to be good, and worthy to offer the gifts to God? For often, instead of being himself roused, he made excuses for the man who assailed him, blushing for his faults as if they had been his own.
26. The dew would more easily resist the morning rays of the sun, than any remains of anger continue in him; but as soon as he had spoken, his indignation departed with his words, leaving behind only his love for what is good, and never outlasting the sun; nor did he cherish anger which destroys even the prudent, or show any bodily trace of vice within, nay, even when roused, he preserved calmness. The result of this was most unusual, not that he was the only one to give rebuke, but the only one to be both loved and admired by those whom he reproved, from the victory which his goodness gained over warmth of feeling; and it was felt to be more serviceable to be punished by a just man than besmeared by a bad one, for in one case the severity becomes pleasant for its utility, in the other the kindliness is suspected because of the evil of the man's character. But though his soul and character were so simple and divine, his piety nevertheless inspired the insolent with awe: or rather, the cause of their respect was the simplicity which they despised. For it was impossible to him to utter either prayer or curse without the immediate bestowal of permanent blessing or transient pain. The one proceeded from his inmost soul, the other merely rested upon his lips as a paternal reproof. Many indeed of those who had injured him incurred neither lingering requital nor, as the poet(a) says, "vengeance which dogs men's steps;" but at the very moment of their passion they were struck and converted, came forward, knelt before him, and were pardoned, going away gloriously vanquished, and amended both by the chastisement and the forgiveness. Indeed, a forgiving spirit often has great saving power, checking the wrongdoer by the sense of shame, and bringing him back from fear to love, a far more secure state of mind. In chastisement some were tossed by oxen oppressed by the yoke, which suddenly attacked them, though they had never done anything of the kind before; others were thrown and trampled upon by most obedient and quiet horses; others seized by intolerable fevers, and apparitions of their daring deeds; others being punished in different ways, and learning obedience from the things which they suffered.
27. Such and so remarkable being his gentleness, did he yield the palm to others in industry and practical virtue? By no means. Gentle as he was, he possessed, if any one did, an energy corresponding to his gentleness. For although, for the most part, the two virtues of benevolence and severity are at variance and opposed to each other, the one being gentle but without practical qualities, the other practical but unsympathetic, in his case there was a wonderful combination of the two, his action being as energetic as that of a severe man, but combined with gentleness; while his readiness to yield seemed unpractical but was accompanied with energy, in his patronage, his freedom of speech, and every kind of official duty. He united the wisdom of the serpent, in regard to evil, with the harmlessness of the dove, in regard to good, neither allowing the wisdom to degenerate into knavery, nor the simplicity into silliness, but as far as in him lay, he combined the two in one perfect form of virtue. Such being his birth, such his exercise of the priestly office, such the reputation which he won at the hands of all, what wonder if he was thought worthy of the miracles by which God establishes true religion?
28. One of the wonders which concern him was that he suffered from sickness and bodily pain. But what wonder is it for even holy men to be distressed, either for the cleansing of their clay, slight though it may be, or a touchstone of virtue and test of philosophy, or for the education of the weaker, who learn from their example to be patient instead of giving way under their misfortunes? Well, he was sick, the time was the holy and illustrious Easter, the queen of days, the brilliant night which dissipates the darkness of sin, upon which with abundant light we keep the feast of our salvation, putting ourselves to death along with the Light once put to death for us, and rising again with Him who rose. This was the time of his sufferings. Of what kind they were, I will briefly explain. His whole frame was on fire with an excessive, burning fever, his strength had failed, he was unable to take food, his sleep had departed from him, he was in the greatest distress, and agitated by palpitations. Within his mouth, the palate and the whole of the upper surface was so completely and painfully ulcerated, that it was difficult and dangerous to swallow even water. The skill of physicians, the prayers, most earnest though they were, of his friends, and every possible attention were alike of no avail. He himself in this desperate condition, while his breath came short and fast, had no perception of present things, but was entirely absent, immersed in the objects he had long desired, now made ready for him. We were in the temple, mingling supplications with the sacred rites, for, in despair, of all others, we had betaken ourselves to the Great Physician, to the power of that night, and to the last succour, with the intention, shall I say, of keeping a feast, or of mourning; of holding festival, or paying funeral honours to one no longer here? O those tears! which were shed at that time by all the people. O voices, and cries, and hymns blended with the psalmody! From the temple they sought the priest, from the sacred rite the celebrant, from God their worthy ruler, with my Miriam(a) to lead them and strike the timbrel(b) not of triumph, but of supplication; learning then for the first time to be put to shame by misfortune, and calling at once upon the people and upon God; upon the former to sympathize with her distress, and to be lavish of their tears, upon the latter, to listen to her petitions, as, with the inventive genius of suffering, she rehearsed before Him all His wonders of old time.
29. What then was the response of Him who was the God of that night and of the sick man? A shudder comes over me as I proceed with my story. And though you, my hearers, may shudder, do not disbelieve: for that would be impious, when I am the speaker, and in reference to him. The time of the mystery was come, and the reverend station and order, when silence is kept for the solemn rites; and then he was raised up by Him who quickeneth the dead, and by the holy night. At first he moved slightly, then more decidedly; then in a feeble and indistinct voice he called by name one of the servants who was in attendance upon him, and bade him come, and bring his clothes, and support him with his hand. He came in alarm, and gladly waited upon him, while he, leaning upon his hand as upon a staff, imitates Moses upon the mount, arranges his feeble hands in prayer, and in union with, or on behalf of,(g) his people eagerly celebrates the mysteries, in such few words as his strength allowed, but, as it seems to me, with a most perfect intention. What a miracle! In the sanctuary without a sanctuary, sacrificing without an altar, a priest far from the sacred rites: yet all these were present to him in the power of the spirit, recognised by him, though unseen by those who were there. Then, after adding the customary words of thanksgiving, and after blessing the people, he retired again to his bed, and after taking a little food, and enjoying a sleep, he recalled his spirit, and, his health being gradually recovered, on the new day(a) of the feast, as we call the first Sunday after the festival of the Resurrection, he entered the temple and inaugurated his life which had been preserved, with the full complement of clergy, and offered the sacrifice of thanksgiving. To me this seems no less remarkable than the miracle in the case of Hezekiah,(b) who was glorified by God in his sickness and prayers with an extension of life, and this was signified by the return of the shadow of the degrees,(g) according to the request of the king who was restored, whom God honoured at once by the favour and the sign, assuring him of the extension of his days by the extension of the day.
30. The same miracle occurred in the case of my mother not long afterwards. I do not think it would be proper to pass by this either: for we shall both pay the meed of honour which is due to her, if to anyone at all, and gratify him, by her being associated with him in our recital. She, who had always been strong and vigorous and free from disease all her life, was herself attacked by sickness. In consequence of much distress, not to prolong my story, caused above all by inability to eat, her life was for many days in danger, and no remedy for the disease could be found. How did God sustain her? Not by raining down manna, as for Israel of old(d) or opening the rock, in order to give drink to His thirsting people,(e) or feasting her by means of ravens, as Elijah,(z) or feeding her by a prophet carried through the air, as He did to Daniel when a-hungered in the den.(h) But how? She thought she saw me, who was her favourite, for not even in her dreams did she prefer any other of us, coming up to her suddenly at night, with a basket of pure white loaves, which I blessed and crossed as I was wont to do, and then fed and strengthened her, and she became stronger. The nocturnal vision was a real action. For, in consequence, she became more herself and of better hope, as is manifest by a clear and evident token. Next morning, when I paid her an early visit, I saw at once that she was brighter, and when I asked, as usual, what kind of a night she had passed, and if she wished for anything, she replied, "My child, you most readily and kindly fed me, and then you ask how I am. I am very well and at ease." Her maids too made signs to me to offer no resistance, and to accept her answer at once, lest she should be thrown back into despondency, if the truth were laid bare. I will add one more instance common to them both.
31. I was on a voyage from Alexandria to Greece over the Parthenian Sea. The voyage was quite unseasonable, undertaken in an Aeginetan vessel, under the impulse of eager desire; for what specially induced me was that I had fallen in with a crew who were well known to me. After making some way on the voyage, a terrible storm came upon us, and such an one as my shipmates said they had but seldom seen before. While we were all in fear of a common death, spiritual death was what I was most afraid of; for I was in danger of departing in misery, being unbaptised, and I longed for the spiritual water among the waters of death. On this account I cried and begged and besought a slight respite. My shipmates, even in their common danger, joined in my cries, as not even my own relatives would have done, kindly souls as they were, having learned sympathy from their dangers. In this my condition, my parents felt for me, my danger having been communicated to them by a nightly vision, and they aided me from the land, soothing the waves by prayer, as I afterwards learned by calculating the time, after I had landed. This was also shown me in a wholesome sleep, of which I had experience during a slight lull of the tempest. I seemed to be holding a Fury, of fearful aspect, boding danger; for the night presented her clearly to my eyes. Another of my shipmates, a boy most kindly disposed and dear to me, and exceedingly anxious on my behalf, in my then present condition, thought he saw my mother walk upon the sea, and seize and drag the ship to land with no great exertion. We had confidence in the vision, for the sea began to grow calm, and we soon reached Rhodes after the intervention of no great discomfort. We ourselves became an offering in consequence of that peril; for we promised ourselves if we were saved, to God, and, when we had been saved, gave ourselves to Him.
32. Such were their common experiences. But I imagine that some of those who have had an accurate knowledge of his life must have been for a long while wondering why we have dwelt upon these points, as if we thought them his only title to renown, and postponed the mention of the difficulties of his times, against which he conspicuously arrayed himself, as though we were either ignorant of them, or thought them to be of no great consequence. Come, then, we will proceed to speak upon this topic. The first, and I think the last, evil of our day, was the Emperor who apostatised from God and from reason, and thought it a small matter to conquer the Persians, but a great one to subject to himself the Christians; and so, together with the demons who led and prevailed upon him, he failed in no form of impiety, but by means of persuasions, threats, and sophistries, strove to draw men to him, and even added to his various artifices the use of force. His design, however, was exposed, whether he strove to conceal persecution under sophistical devices, or manifestly made use of his authority--namely by one means or the other--either by cozening or by violence, to get us into his power. Who can be found who more utterly despised or defeated him? One sign, among many others, of his contempt, is the mission to our sacred buildings of the police and their commissary, with the intention of taking either voluntary or forcible possession of them: he had attacked many others, and came hither with like intent, demanding the surrender of the temple according to the Imperial decree, but was so far from succeeding in any of his wishes that, had he not speedily given way before my father, either from his own good sense or according to some advice given to him, he would have had to retire with his feet mangled, with such wrath and zeal did the priest boil against him in defence of his shrine. And who had a manifestly greater share in bringing about his end, both in public, by the prayers and united supplications which he directed against the accursed one, without regard to the [dangers of] the time; and in private, arraying against him his nightly armoury, of sleeping on the ground, by which he wore away his aged and tender frame, and of tears, with whose fountains he watered the ground for almost a whole year, directing these practices to the Searcher of hearts alone, while he tried to escape our notice, in his retiring piety of which I have spoken. And he would have been utterly unobserved, had I not once suddenly rushed into his room, and noticing the tokens of his lying upon the ground, inquired of his attendants what they meant, and so learned the mystery of the night.
33. A further story of the same period and the same courage. The city of Caesarea was in an uproar about the election of a bishop; for one(a) had just departed, and another must be found, amidst heated partisanship not easily to be soothed. For the city was naturally exposed to party spirit, owing to the fervour of its faith, and the rivalry was increased by the illustrious position of the see. Such was the state of affairs; several Bishops had arrived to consecrate the Bishop; the populace was divided into several parties, each with its own candidate, as is usual in such cases, owing to the influences of private friendship or devotion to God; but at last the whole people came to an agreement, and, with the aid of a band of soldiers at that time quartered there, seized one of(b) their leading citizens, a man of excellent life, but not yet sealed with the divine baptism, brought him against his will to the sanctuary, and setting him before the Bishops, begged, with entreaties mingled with violence, that he might be consecrated and proclaimed, not in the best of order, but with all sincerity and ar-dour. Nor is it possible to say whom time pointed out as more illustrious and religious than he was. What then took place, as the result of the uproar? Their(g) resistance was overcome, they purified him, they proclaimed him, they enthroned him, by external action, rather than by spiritual judgment and disposition, as the sequel shows. They were glad to retire and regain freedom of judgment, and agreed upon a plan--I do not know that it was inspired by the Spirit--to hold nothing which had been done to be valid, and the institution to have been void, pleading violence on the part of him who had had no less violence done to himself, and laying hold of certain words which had been uttered on the occasion with greater vigour than wisdom. But the great high-priest and just examiner of actions was not carried away by this plan of theirs, and did not approve of their judgment, but remained as uninfluenced and unmoved as if no pressure at all had been put upon him. For he saw that, the violence having been common, if they brought any charge against him, they were themselves liable to a counter-charge, or, if they acquitted him, they themselves might be acquitted, or rather with still more justice, they were unable to secure their own acquittal, even by acquitting him: for if they were deserving of excuse, so assuredly was he, and if he was not, much less were they: for it would have been far better to have at the time run the risk of resistance to the last extremity, than afterwards to enter into designs against him, especially at such a juncture, when it was better to put an end to existing enmities than to devise new ones. For the state of affairs was as follows.
34. The Emperor(a) had come, raging against the Christians; he was angry at the election and threatened the elect, and the city stood in imminent peril(b) as to whether, after that day it should cease to exist, or escape and be treated with some degree of mercy. The innovation in regard to the election was a new ground of exasperation, in addition to the destruction of the temple of Fortune in a time of prosperity, and was looked upon as an invasion of his rights. The governor of the province also was eager to turn the opportunity to his own account, and was ill disposed to the new bishop, with whom he had never had friendly relations, in consequence of their different political views. Accordingly he sent letters to summon the consecrators to invalidate the election, and in no gentle terms, for they were threatened as if by command of the Emperor. Hereupon, when the letter reached him, without fear or delay, he replied--consider the courage and spirit of his answer--"Most excellent governor, we have one Censor of all our actions, and one Emperor, against whom his enemies are in arms. He will review the present consecration, which we have legitimately performed according to His will. In regard to any other matter, you may, if you will, use violence with the greatest ease against us. But no one can prevent us from vindicating the legitimacy and justice of our action in this case; unless you should make a law on this point, you, who have no right to interfere in our affairs." This letter excited the admiration of its recipient, although he was for a while annoyed at it, as we have been told by many who know the facts well. It also stayed the action of the Emperor, and delivered the city from peril, and ourselves, it is not amiss to add, from disgrace. This was the work of the occupant of an unimportant and suffragan see. Is not a presidency of this kind far preferable to a title derived from a superior see, and a power which is based upon action rather than upon a name.
35. Who is so distant from this world of ours, as to be ignorant of what is last in order, but the first and greatest proof of his power? The same city was again in an uproar for the same reason, in consequence of the sudden removal of the Bishop chosen with such honourable violence, who had now departed to God, on Whose behalf he had nobly and bravely contended in the persecutions. The heat of the disturbance was in proportion to its unreasonableness. The man of eminence was not unknown, but was more conspicuous than the sun amidst the stars, in the eyes not only of all others, but especially of that select and most pure portion of the people, whose business is in the sanctuary, and the Nazarites(a) amongst us, to whom such appointments should, if not entirely, as much as possible belong, and so the church would be free from harm, instead of to the most opulent and powerful, or the violent and unreasonable portion of the people, and especially the most corrupt of them. Indeed, I am almost inclined to believe that the civil government is more orderly than ours, to which divine grace is attributed, and that such matters are better regulated boy fear than by reason. For what man in his senses could ever have approached another, to the neglect of your divine(b) and sacred person, who have been beautified by the hands of the Lord, the unwedded the destitute of property and almost of flesh and blood, who in your words come next to the Word Himself, who are wise among philosophers, superior to the world among worldlings, my companion and workfellow, and to speak more daringly, the sharer with me of a common soul, the partaker of my life and education. Would that I could speak at liberty and describe you before others without being obliged by your presence, in dwelling upon such topics, to pass over the greater part of them, lest I should incur the suspicion of flattery. But, as I began by saying, the Spirit must needs have known him as His own; yet he was the mark of envy, at the hands of those whom I am ashamed to mention, and would that it were not possible to hear their names from others who studiously ridicule our affairs. Let us pass this by like a rock in the midstream of a river, and treat with respectful silence a subject which ought to be forgotten, as we pass on to the remainder of our subject.
36. The things of the Spirit were exactly known to the man of the Spirit, and he felt that he must take up no submissive position, nor side with factions and prejudices which depend upon favour rather than upon God, but must make the advantage of the Church and the common salvation his sole object. Accordingly he wrote, gave advice, strove to unite the people and the clergy, whether ministering in the sanctuary or not, gave his testimony, his decision and his vote, even in his absence, and assumed, in virtue of his gray hairs, the exercise of authority among strangers no less than among his own flock. At last, since it was necessary that the consecration should be canonical, and there was(a) lacking one of the proper number of Bishops for the proclamation, he tore himself from his couch, exhausted as he was by age and disease, and manfully went to the city, or rather was borne, with his boy dead though just breathing, persuaded that, if anything were to happen to him, this devotion would be a noble winding-sheet. Hereupon once more there was a prodigy, not unworthy of credit. He received strength from his toil, new life from his zeal, presided at the function, took his place in the conflict, enthroned the Bishop, and was conducted home, no longer borne upon a bier, but in a divine ark. His long-suffering, over whose praises I have already lingered, was in this case further exhibited. For his colleagues were annoyed at the shame Of being overcome, and at the public influence of the old man, and allowed their annoyance to show itself in abuse of him; but such was the strength of his endurance that he was superior even to this, finding in modesty a most powerful ally, and refusing to bandy abuse with them. For he felt that it would be a terrible thing, after really gaining the victory, to be vanquished by the tongue. In consequence, he so won upon them by his long-suffering, that, when time had lent its aid to his judgment, they exchanged their annoyance for admiration, and knelt before him to ask his pardon, in shame for their previous conduct, and flinging away their hatred, submitted to him as their patriarch, lawgiver, and judge.
37. From the same zeal proceeded his opposition to the heretics, when, with the aid of the Emperor's impiety, they made their expedition, in the hope of overpowering us also, and adding us to the number of the others whom they had, in almost all cases, succeeded in enslaving. For in this he afforded us no slight assistance, both in himself, and by hounding us on like well-bred dogs against these most savage beasts, through his training in piety. On one point I blame you both, and pray do not take amiss my plainspeaking. if I should annoy you by expressing the cause of my pain. When I was disgusted at the evils of life, and longing, if anyone of our day has longed, for solitude, and eager, as speedily as possible, to escape to some haven of safety, from the surge and dust of public life, it was you who, somehow or other seized and gave me up by the noble title of the priesthood to this base and treacherous mart of souls. In consequence, evils have already befallen me, and others are yet to be anticipated. For past experience renders a man somewhat distrustful of the future, in spite of the better suggestions of reason to the contrary.
38. Another of his excellences I must not leave unnoticed. In general, he was a man of great endurance, and superior to his robe of flesh: but during the pain of his last sickness, a serious addition to the risks and burdens of old age, his weakness was common to him and all other men; but this fitting sequel to the other marvels, so far from being common, was peculiarly his own. He was at no time free from the anguish of pain, but often in the day, sometimes in the hour, his only relief was the liturgy, to which the pain yielded, as if to an edict of banishment. At last, after a life of almost a hundred years, exceeding David's limit of our age,(a) forty-five of these, the average life of man, having been spent in the priesthood, he brought it to a close in a good old age. And in what manner? With the words and forms of prayer, leaving behind no trace of vice, and many recollections of virtue. The reverence felt for him was thus greater than falls to the lot of man, both on the lips and in the hearts of all. Nor is it easy to find anyone who recollects him, and does not, as the Scripture says, lay his hand upon his mouth(b) and salute his memory. Such was his life, and such its completion and perfection.
39. And since some living memorial of his munificence ought to be left behind, what other is required than this temple, which he reared for God and for us, with very little contribution from the people in addition to the expenditure of his private fortune? An exploit which should not be buried in silence, since in size it is superior to most others, in beauty absolutely to all. It surrounds itself with eight regular equilaterals, and is raised aloft by the beauty of two stories of pillars and porticos, while the statues placed upon them are true to the life; its vault flashes down upon us from above, and it dazzles our eyes with abundant sources of light on every side, being indeed the dwelling-place of light. It is surrounded by excrescent equiangular ambulatories of most splendid material, with a wide area in the midst, while its doors and vestibules shed around it the lustre of their gracefulness, and offer from a distance their welcome to those who are drawing nigh. I have not yet mentioned the external ornament, the beauty and size of the squared and dove-tailed stonework, whether it be of marble in the bases and capitals, which divide the angles, or from our own quarries, which are in no wise inferior to those abroad; nor of the belts of many shapes and colours, projecting or inlaid from the foundation to the roof-tree, which robs the spectator by limiting his view. How could anyone with due brevity describe a work which cost so much time and toil and skill: or will it suffice to say that amid all the works, private and public, which adorn other cities, this has of itself been able to secure us celebrity among the majority of mankind? When for such a temple a priest was needed, he also at his own expense provided one, whether worthy of the temple or no, it is not for me to say. And when sacrifices were required, he supplied them also, in the misfortunes of his son, and his patience under trials, that God might receive at his hands a reasonable whole burnt offering and spiritual priesthood, to be honourably consumed, instead of the sacrifice of the Law.
40. What sayest thou, my father? Is this sufficient, and dost thou find an ample recompense for all thy toils, which thou didst undergo for my learning, in this eulogy of farewell or of entombment? And dost thou, as of old, impose silence on my tongue, and bid me stop in due time, and so avoid excess? Or dost thou require some addition? I know thou bidst me cease, for I have said enough. Yet stiffer me to add this. Make known to us where thou art in glory, and the light which encircles thee, and receive into the same abode thy partner soon to follow thee, and the children whom thou hadst laid to rest before thee, and me also, after no further, or but a slight addition to the ills of this life: and before reaching that abode receive me in this sweet stone,(a) which thou didst erect for both of us, to the honour even here of thy consecrated namesake, and excuse me from the care both of the people which I have already resigned,(b) and of that which for thy sake I have since accepted: and mayest thou guide and free from peril, as I earnestly entreat, the whole flock and all the clergy, whose father thou art said to be, but especially him who was overpowered by thy paternal and spiritual coercion, so that he may not entirely consider that act of tyranny obnoxious to blame.
41. And what do you think of us, O judge of my words and motions? If we have spoken adequately, and to the satisfaction of your desire, confirm it by your decision, and we accept it: for your decision is entirely the decision of God. But if it falls far short of his glory and of your hope, my ally is not far to seek. Let fall thy voice, which is awaited by his merits like a seasonable shower. And indeed he has upon you the highest claims, those of a pastor upon a pastor and of a father upon his son in grace. What wonder if he, who has(a) through your voice thundered throughout the world, should himself have some enjoyment of it? What more is needed? Only to unite with our spiritual Sarah, the consort and fellow- traveller through life of our great father Abraham, in the last Christian offices.
42. The nature of God, my mother, is not the same as that of men; indeed, to speak generally, the nature of divine things is not the same as that of earthly things. They possess unchangeableness and immortality, and absolute being with its consequences, for sure are the properties of things sure. But how is it with what is ours? It is in a state of flux and corruption, constantly undergoing some fresh change. Life and death, as they are called, apparently so different, are in a sense resolved into, and successive to, each other. For the one takes its rise from the corruption which is our mother, runs its course through the corruption which is the displacement of all that is present, and comes to an end in the corruption which is the dissolution of this life; while the other, which is able to set us free from the ills of this life, and oftentimes translates us to the life above, is not in my opinion accurately called death, and is more dreadful in name than in reality; so that we are in danger of irrationally being afraid of what is not fearful, and courting as preferable what we really ought to fear. There is one life, to look to life. There is one death, sin, for it is the destruction of the soul. But all else, of which some are proud, is a dream-vision, making sport of realities, and a series of phantasms which lead the soul astray. If this be our condition, mother, we Shall neither be proud of life, nor greatly hurt, by death. What grievance can we find in being transferred hence to the true life? In being freed from the vicissitudes, the agitation, the disgust, and all the vile tribute we must pay to this life, to find ourselves, amid stable things, which know no flux, while as lesser lights, we circle round the great light?(a)
43. Does the sense of separation cause you pain? Let hope cheer you. Is widowhood grievous to you? Yet it is not so to him. And what is the good of love, if it gives itself easy things, and assigns the more difficult to its neighbour? And why should it be grievous at all, to one who is soon to pass away? The appointed day is at hand, the pain will not last long. Let us not, by ignoble reasonings, make a burden of things which are really light. We have endured a great loss--because the privilege we enjoyed was great. Loss is common to all, such a privilege to few. Let us rise superior to the one thought by the consolation of the other. For it is more reasonable, that that which is better should win the day. You have borne, in a most brave, Christian spirit, the loss of children, who were still in their prime and qualified for life; bear also the laying aside of his aged body by one who was weary of life, although his vigor of mind preserved for him his senses unimpaired. Do you want some one to care for you? Where is your Isaac, whom he left behind for you, to take his place in all respects? Ask of him small things, the support of his hand and service, and requite him with greater things, a mother's blessing and prayers, and the consequent freedom. Are you vexed at being admonished? I praise you for it. For you have admonished many whom your long life has brought under your notice. What I have said can have no application to you, who are so truly wise; but let it be a general medicine of consolation for mourners, so that they may know that they are mortals following mortals to the grave.
ON THE GREAT ATHANASIUS, BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA.
1. In praising Athanasius, I shall be praising virtue. To speak of him and to praise virtue are identical, because he had, or, to speak more truly, has embraced virtue in its entirety. For all who have lived according to God still live unto God, though they have departed hence. For this reason, God is called the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, since He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.(a) Again, in praising virtue, I shall be praising God, who gives virtue to men and lifts them up, or lifts them up again, to Himself by the enlightenment which is akin to Himself.(b) For many and great as are our blessings--none can say how many and how great--which we have and shall have from God, this is the greatest and kindliest of all, our inclination and relationship to Him. For God is to intelligible things what the sun is to the things of sense. The one lightens the visible, the other the invisible, world. The one makes our bodily eyes to see the sun, the other makes our intellectual natures to see God. And, as that, which bestows on the things which see and are seen the power of seeing and being seen, is itself the most beautiful of visible things; so God, who creates, for those who think, and that which is thought of, the power of thinking and being thought of, is Himself the highest of the objects of thought, in Whom every desire finds its bourne, beyond Whom it can no further go. For not even the most philosophic, the most piercing, the most curious intellect has, or can ever have, a more exalted object. For this is the utmost of things desirable, and they who arrive at it find an entire rest from speculation.
2. Whoever has been permitted to escape by reason and contemplation from matter and this fleshly cloud or veil (whichever it should be called) and to hold communion with God, and be associated, as far as man's nature can attain, with the purest Light, blessed is he, both from his ascent from hence, and for his deification there, which is conferred by true philosophy, and by rising superior to the dualism of matter, through the unity which is perceived in the Trinity. And whosoever has been depraved by being knit to the flesh, and so far oppressed by the clay that he cannot look at the rays of truth, nor rise above things below, though he is born from above, and called to things above, I hold him to be miserable in his blindness, even though he may abound in things of this world; and all the more, because he is the sport of his abundance, and is persuaded by it that something else is beautiful instead of that which is really beautiful, reaping, as the poor fruit of his poor opinion, the sentence of darkness, or the seeing Him to be fire, Whom he did not recognize as light.
3. Such has been the philosophy of few, both nowadays and of old--for few are the men of God, though all are His handiwork,--among lawgivers, generals, priests, Prophets, Evangelists, Apostles, shepherds, teachers, and all the spiritual host and band--and, among them all, of him whom now we praise. And whom do I mean by these? Men like Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve Patriarchs, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, the Judges, Samuel, David, to some extent Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, the Prophets before the captivity, those after the captivity, and, though last in order, first in truth, those who were concerned with Christ's Incarnation or taking of our nature, the lamp(a) before the Light, the voice before the Word, the mediator before the Mediator, the mediator between the old covenant and the new, the famous John, the disciples of Christ, those after Christ, who were set over the people, or illustrious in word, or conspicuous for miracles, or made perfect through their blood.
4. With some of these Athanasius vied, by some he was slightly excelled, and others, if it is not bold to say so, he surpassed: some he made his models in mental power, others in activity, others in meekness, others in zeal, others in dangers, others in most respects, others in all, gathering from one and another various forms of beauty (like men who paint figures of ideal excellence), and combining them in his single soul, he made one perfect form of virtue out of all, excelling in action men of intellectual capacity, in intellect men of action; or, if you will, surpassing in intellect men renowned for intellect, in action those of the greatest active power; outstripping those who had moderate reputation in both respects, by his eminence in either, and those who stood highest in one or other, by his powers in both; and, if it is a great thing for those who have received an example, so to use it as to attach themselves to virtue, he has no inferior title to fame, who for our advantage has set an example to those who come after him.
5. To speak of and admire him fully, would perhaps be too long a task for the present purpose of my discourse, and would take the form of a history rather than of a panegyric: a history which it has been the object of my desires to commit to writing for the pleasure and instruction of posterity, as he himself wrote the life of the divine Antony,(a) and set forth, in the form of a narrative, the laws of the monastic life. Accordingly, after entering into a few of the many details of his history, such as memory suggests at the moment as most noteworthy, in order both to satisfy my own longing and fulfil the duty which befits the festival, we will leave the many others to those who know them. For indeed, it is neither pious nor safe, while the lives of the ungodly are honoured by recollection, to pass by in silence those who have lived piously, especially in a city which could hardly be saved by many examples of virtue, making sport, as it does, of Divine things, no less than of the horse-race and the theatre.
6. He was brought up, from the first, in religious habits and practices, after a brief study of literature and philosophy, so that he might not be utterly unskilled in such subjects, or ignorant of matters which he had determined to despise. For his generous and eager soul could not brook being occupied in vanities, like unskilled athletes, who beat the air instead of their antagonists and lose the prize. From meditating on every book of the Old and New Testament, with a depth such as none else has applied even to one of them, he grew rich in contemplation, rich in splendour of life, combining them in wondrous sort by that golden bond which few can weave; using life as the guide of contemplation, contemplation as the seal of life. For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and, so to say, its first swathing band; but, when wisdom has burst the bonds of fear and risen up to love, it makes us friends of God, and sons instead of bondsmen.
7. Thus brought up and trained, as even now those should be who are to preside over the people, and take the direction of the mighty body of Christ,(a) according to the will and foreknowledge of God, which lays long before the foundations of great deeds, he was invested with this important ministry, and made one of those who draw near to the God Who draws near to us, and deemed worthy of the holy office and rank, and, after passing through the entire series of orders, he was (to make my story short) entrusted with the chief rule over the people, in other words, the charge of the whole world: nor can I say whether he received the priesthood as the reward of virtue, or to be the fountain and life of the Church. For she, like Ishmael,(b) fainting from her thirst for the truth, needed to be given to drink, or, like Elijah,(g) to be refreshed from the brook, when the land was parched by drought; and, when but faintly breathing, to be restored to life and left as a seed to Israel,(d) that we might not become like Sodom and Gomorrah,(e) whose destruction by the rain of fire and brimstone is only more notorious than their wickedness. Therefore, when we were cast down, a horn of salvation was raised up for us,(z) and a chief corner stone,(h) knitting us to itself and to one another, was laid in due season, or a fire(th) to purify our base and evil matter,(i) or a farmer's fan(k) to winnow the light from the weighty in doctrine, or a sword to cut out the roots of wickedness; and so the Word finds him as his own ally, and the Spirit takes possession of one who will breathe on His behalf.
8. Thus, and for these reasons, by the vote of the whole people, not in the evil fashion which has since prevailed, nor by means of bloodshed and oppression, but in an apostolic and spiritual manner, he is led up to the throne(l) of Saint Mark, to succeed him in piety, no less than in office; in the latter indeed at a great distance from him, in the former, which is the genuine right of succession, following him closely. For unity in doctrine deserves unity in office; and a rival teacher sets up a rival throne; the one is a successor in reality, the other but in name. For it is not the intruder, but he whose rights are intruded upon, who is the successor, not the lawbreaker, but the lawfully appointed, not the man of contrary opinions, but the man of the same faith; if this is not what we mean by successor, he succeeds in the same sense as disease to health, darkness to light, storm to calm, and frenzy to sound sense.
9. The duties of his office he discharged in the same spirit as that in which he had been preferred to it. For he did not at once, after taking possession of his throne, like men who have unexpectedly seized upon some sovereignty or inheritance, grow insolent from intoxication. This is the conduct of illegitimate and intrusive priests, who are unworthy of their vocation; whose preparation for the priesthood has cost them nothing, who have endured no inconvenience for the sake of virtue, who only begin to study religion when appointed to teach it, and undertake the cleansing of others before being cleansed themselves; yesterday sacrilegious, to-day sacerdotal; yesterday excluded from the sanctuary,(a) to-day its officiants; proficient in vice, novices in piety; the product of the favour of man, not of the grace of the Spirit; who, having run through the whole gamut of violence, at last tyrannize over even piety; who, instead of gaining credit for their office by their character, need for their character the credit of their office, thus subverting the due relation between them; who ought to offer more sacrifices(b) for themselves than for the ignorances of the people;(g) who inevitably fall into one of two errors, either, from their own need of indulgence, being excessively indulgent, and so even teaching, instead of checking, vice, or cloaking their own sins under the harshness of their rule. Both these extremes he avoided; he was sublime in action, lowly in mind; inaccessible in virtue, most accessible in intercourse; gentle, free from anger, sympathetic, sweet in words, sweeter in disposition; angelic in appearance, more angelic in mind; calm in rebuke, persuasive in praise, without spoiling the good effect of either by excess, but rebuking with the tenderness of a father, praising with the dignity of a ruler, his tenderness was not dissipated, nor his severity sour; for the one was reasonable, the other prudent, and both truly wise; his disposition sufficed for the training of his spiritual children, with very little need of words; his words with very little need of the rod,(a) and his moderate use of the rod with still less for the knife.
10. But why should I paint for you the portrait of the man? St. Paul(b) has sketched him by anticipation. This he does, when he sings the praises of the great High-priest, who hath passed through the heavens(g) (for I will venture to say even this, since Scripture(d) can call those who live according to Christ by the name of Christs):(e) and again when by the rules in his letter to Timothy,(z) he gives a model for future Bishops: for if you will apply the law as a test to him who deserves these praises, you will clearly perceive his perfect exactness. Come then to aid me in my panegyric; for I am labouring heavily in my speech, and though I desire to pass by point after point, they seize upon me one after another, and I can find no surpassing excellence in a form which is in all respects well proportioned and beautiful; for each as it occurs to me seems fairer than the rest and so takes by storm my speech. Come then I pray, you who have been his admirers and witnesses, divide among yourselves his excellences, contend bravely with one another, men and women alike, young men and maidens, old men and children, priests and people, solitaries and cenobites,(h) men of simple or of exact life, contemplatives or practically minded. Let one praise him in his fastings and prayers as if he had been disembodied and immaterial, another his unweariedness and zeal for vigils and psalmody, another his patronage of the needy, another his dauntlessness towards the powerful, or his condescension to the lowly. Let the virgins celebrate the friend of the Bridegroom;(th) those under the yoke(i) their restrainer, hermits him who lent wings to their course, cenobites their lawgiver, simple folk their guide, contemplatives the divine, the joyous their bridle, the unfortunate their consolation, the hoary-headed their staff, youths their instructor, the poor their resource, the wealthy their steward. Even the widows will, methinks, praise their protector, even the orphans their father, even the poor their benefactor, strangers their entertainer, brethren the man of brotherly love, the sick their physician, in whatever sickness or treatment you will, the healthy the guard of health, yea all men him who made himself all things to all men that he might gain almost, if not quite, all.
11. On these grounds, as I have said, I leave others, who have leisure to admire the minor details of his character, to admire and extol him. I call them minor details only in comparing him and his character with his own standard, for that which hath been made glorious hath not been made glorious, even though it be exceeding splendid by reason of the glory that surpasseth,(a) as we are told; for indeed the minor points of his excellence would suffice to win celebrity for others. But since it would be intolerable for me to leave the word and serve(b) less important details, I must turn to that which is his chief characteristic; and God alone, on Whose behalf I am speaking, can enable me to say anything worthy of a soul so noble and so mighty in the word.
12. In the palmy days of the Church, when all was well, the present elaborate, far-fetched and artificial treatment of Theology had not made its way into the schools of divinity, but playing with pebbles which deceive the eye by the quickness of their changes, or dancing before an audience with varied and effeminate contortions, were looked upon as all one with speaking or hearing of God in a way unusual or frivolous. But since the Sextuses(g) and Pyrrhos, and the antithetic style, like a dire and malignant disease, have infected our churches, and babbling is reputed culture, and, as the book of the Acts(d) says of the Athenians, we spend our time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing. O what Jeremiah(e) will bewail our confusion and blind madness; he alone could utter lamentations befitting our misfortunes.
13. The beginning of this madness was Arius (whose name is derived from frenzy(z)), who paid the penalty of his unbridled tongue by his death in a profane spot,(h) brought about by prayer not by disease, when he like Judas(th) burst asunder(i) for his similar treachery to the Word. Then others, catching the infection, organized an art of impiety, and, confining Deity to the Unbegotten, expelled from Deity not only the Begotten, but also the Proceeding one, and honoured the Trinity with communion in name(a) alone, or even refused to retain this for it. Not so that blessed one, Who was indeed a man of God and a mighty trumpet of truth: but being aware that to contract(b) the Three Persons to a numerical Unity is heretical, and the innovation of Sabellius, who first devised a contraction of Deity; and that to sever the Three Persons by a distinction of nature, is an unnatural mutilation of Deity; he both happily preserved the Unity, which belongs to the Godhead, and religiously taught the Trinity, which refers(g) to Personality, neither confounding the Three Persons in the Unity, nor dividing the Substance among the Three Persons, but abiding within the bounds of piety, by avoiding excessive inclination or opposition to either side.
14. And therefore, first in the holy Synod of Nicaea,(d) the gathering of the three hundred and eighteen chosen men, united by the Holy Ghost, as far as in him lay, he stayed the disease. Though not yet ranked among the Bishops, he held the first rank among the members of the Council, for preference was given to virtue just as much as to office. Afterwards, when the flame had been fanned by the blasts of the evil one, and had spread very widely (hence came the tragedies of which almost the whole earth and sea are full), the fight raged fiercely around him who was the noble champion of the Word. For the assault is hottest upon the point of resistance, while various dangers surround it on every side: for impiety is skilful in designing evils, and excessively daring in taking them in hand: and how would they spare men, who had not spared the Godhead? Yet one of the assaults was the most dangerous of all: and I myself contribute somewhat to this scene; yea, let me plead for the innocence of my dear fatherland, for the wickedness was not due to the land that bore them, but to the men who undertook it. For holy indeed is that land, and everywhere noted for its piety, but these men are unworthy of the Church which bore them, and ye have heard of a briar growing in a vine;(a) and the traitor(b) was Judas, one of the disciples.
15. There are some who do not excuse even my namesake(g) from blame; who, living at Alexandria at the time for the sake of culture, although he had been most kindly treated by him, as if the dearest of his children, and received his special confidence, yet joined in the revolutionary plot against his father and patron: for, though others took the active part in it, the hand of Absalom(d) was with them, as the saying goes. If any of you had heard of the hand which was produced by fraud against the Saint, and the corpse(e) of the living man, and the unjust banishment, he knows what I mean. But this I will gladly forget. For on doubtful points, I am disposed to think we ought to incline to the charitable side, and acquit rather than condemn the accused. For a bad man would speedily condemn even a good man, while a good man would not be ready to condemn even a bad one. For one who is not ready to do ill, is not inclined even to suspect it. I come now to what is matter of fact, not of report, what is vouched for as truth instead of unverified suspicion.
16. There was a monster(z) from Cappadocia, born on our farthest confines, of low birth, and lower mind, whose blood was not perfectly free, but mongrel, as we know that of mules to be; at first, dependent on the table of others, whose price was a barley cake, who had learnt to say and do everything with an eye to his stomach, and, at last, after sneaking into public life, and filling its lowest offices, such as that of contractor for swine's flesh, the soldiers' rations, and then having proved himself a scoundrel for the sake of greed in this public trust, and been stripped to the skin, contrived to escape, and after passing, as exiles do, from country to country and city to city, last of all, in an evil hour for the Christian community, like one of the plagues of Egypt, he reached Alexandria. There, his wanderings being stayed, he began his villany. Good for nothing in all other respects, without culture, without fluency in conversation, without even the form and pretence of reverence, his skill in working villany and confusion was unequalled.
17. His acts of insolence towards the saint you all know in full detail. Often were the righteous given into the hands of the wicked,(a) not that the latter might be honoured, but that the former might be tested: and though the wicked come, as it is written, to an awful death,(b) nevertheless for the present the godly are a laughing stock, while the goodness of God and the great treasuries of what is in store for each of them hereafter are concealed. Then indeed word and deed and thought will be weighed in the just balances of God, as He arises to judge the earth,(g) gathering together counsel and works, and revealing what He had kept sealed up.(d) Of this let the words and sufferings of Job convince thee, who was a truthful, blameless, just, godfearing man, with all those other qualities which are testified of him, and yet was smitten with such a succession of remarkable visitations, at the hands of him who begged for power over him, that, although many have often suffered in the whole course of time, and some even have, as is probable, been grievously afflicted, yet none can be compared with him in misfortunes. For he not only suffered, without being allowed space to mourn for his losses in their rapid succession, the loss of his money, his possessions, his large and fair family, blessings for which all men care; but was at last smitten with an incurable disease horrible to look upon, and, to crown his misfortunes, had a wife whose only comfort was evil counsel. For his surpassing troubles were those of his soul added to those of the body.(e) He had also among his friends truly miserable comforters,(z) as he calls them, who could not help him. For when they saw his suffering, in ignorance of its hidden meaning, they supposed his disaster to be the punishment of vice and not the touchstone of virtue. And they not only thought this, but were not even ashamed to reproach him with his lot,(h) at a time when, even if he had been suffering for vice, they ought to have treated his grief with words of consolation.
18. Such was the lot of Job: such at first sight his history. In reality it was a contest between virtue and envy:(th) the one straining every nerve to overcome the good, the other enduring everything, that it might abide unsubdued; the one striving to smooth the way for vice, by means of the chastisement of the upright, the other to retain its hold upon the good, even if they do exceed others in misfortunes. What then of Him who answered Job out of the whirlwind and cloud,(a) Who is slow to chastise and swift to help, Who suffers not utterly the rod of the wicked to come into the lot of the righteous, lest the righteous should learn iniquity?(b) At the end of the contests He declares the victory of the athlete in a splendid proclamation and lays bare the secret of his calamities, saying: "Thinkest thou that I have dealt with thee for any other purpose than the manifestation of thy righteousness?"(g) This is the balm for his wounds, this is the crown of the contest, this the reward for his patience. For perhaps his subsequent prosperity was small, great as it may seem to some, and ordained for the sake of small minds, even though he received again twice as much as he had lost.
19. In this case then it is not wonderful, if George had the advantage of Athanasius; nay it would be more wonderful, if the righteous were not tried in the fire of contumely; nor is this very wonderful, as it would have been had the flames availed for more than this. Then he was in retirement, and arranged his exile most excellently, for he betook himself to the holy and divine homes(d) of contemplation in Egypt, where, secluding themselves from the world, and welcoming the desert, men live to God more than all who exist in the body. Some struggle on in an utterly monastic and solitary life, speaking to themselves alone and to God,(e) and all the world they know is what meets their eyes in the desert. Others, cherishing the law of love in community, are at once Solitaries and Coenobites, dead to all other men and to the eddies of public affairs which whirl us and are whirled about themselves and make sport of us in their sudden changes, being the world to one another and whetting the edge of their love in emulation. During his intercourse with them, the great Athanasius, who was always the mediator and reconciler of all other men, like Him Who made peace through His blood(z) between things which were at variance, reconciled the solitary with the community life: by showing that the Priesthood is capable of contemplation, and that contemplation is in need of a spiritual guide.
20. Thus he combined the two, and so united the partisans of both calm action and of active calm, as to convince them that the monastic life is characterised by steadfastness of disposition rather than by bodily retirement. Accordingly the great David was a man of at once the most active and most solitary life, if any one thinks the verse, I am in solitude, till I pass away,(a) of value and authority in the exposition of this subject. Therefore, though they surpass all others in virtue, they fell further short of his mind than others fell short of their own, and while contributing little to the perfection of his priesthood, they gained in return greater assistance in contemplation. Whatever he thought, was a law for them, whatever on the contrary he disapproved, they abjured: his decisions were to them the tables of Moses,(b) and they paid him more reverence than is due from men to the Saints. Aye, and when men came to hunt the Saint like a wild beast, and, after searching for him everywhere, failed to find him, they vouchsafed these emissaries not a single word, and offered their necks to the sword, as risking their lives for Christ's sake, and considering the most cruel sufferings on behalf of Athanasius to be an important step to contemplation, and far more divine and sublime than the long fasts and hard lying and mortifications in which they constantly revel.
21. Such were his surrounding when he approved the wise counsel of Solomon that their is a time to every purpose:(g) so he hid himself for a while, escaping during the time of war, to show himself when the time of peace came, as it did soon afterwards. Meanwhile George, there being absolutely no one to resist him, overran Egypt, and desolated Syria, in the might of ungodliness. He seized upon the East also as far as he could, ever attracting the weak, as torrents roll down objects in their course, and assailing the unstable or faint-hearted. He won over also the simplicity of the Emperor, for thus I must term his instability, though I respect his pious motives. For, to say the truth, he had zeal, but not according to knowledge.(d) He purchased those in authority who were lovers of money rather than lovers of Christ--for he was well supplied with the funds for the poor, which he embezzled--especially the effeminate and unmanly men,(e) of doubtful sex, but of manifest impiety; to whom, I know not how or why, Emperors of the Romans entrusted authority over men, though their proper function was the charge of women. In this lay the power of that servant(a) of the wicked one, that sower of tares, that forerunner of Antichrist; foremost in speech of the orators of his time among the Bishops; if any one likes to call him an orator who was not so much an impious, as he was a hostile and contentious reasoner,--his name I will gladly pass by: he was the hand of his party, perverting the truth by the gold subscribed for pious uses, which the wicked made an instrument of their impiety.
22. The crowning feat of this faction was the council which sat first at Seleucia, the city of the holy and illustrious virgin Thekla, and afterwards at this mighty city, thus connecting their names, no longer with noble associations, but with these of deepest disgrace; whether we must call that council, which subverted and disturbed everything, a tower of Chalane,(b) which deservedly confounded the tongues--would that theirs had been confounded for their harmony in evil !--or a Sanhedrim of Caiaphas(g) where Christ was condemned, or some other like name. The ancient and pious doctrine which defended the Trinity was abolished, by setting up a(d) palisade and battering down the Consubstantial: opening the door to impiety by means of what is written, using as their pretext, their reverence for Scripture and for the use of approved terms, but really introducing unscriptural Arianism. For the phrase "like, according to the Scriptures," was a bait to the simple, concealing the hook of impiety, a figure seeming to look in the direction of all who passed by, a boot fitting either foot, a winnowing with every wind,(e) gaining authority from the newly written villany and device against the truth. For they were wise to do evil, but to do good they had no knowledge.(z)
23. Hence came their pretended condemnation(h) of the heretics, whom they renounced in words, in order to gain plausibility for their efforts, but in reality furthered; charging them not with unbounded impiety, but with exaggerated language. Hence came the profane judges of the Saints, and the new combination, and public view and discussion of mysterious questions, and the illegal enquiry into the actions of life, and the hired informers, and the purchased sentences. Some were unjustly deposed(a) from their sees, others intruded, and among other necessary qualifications, made to sign the bonds of iniquity: the ink was ready, the informer at hand. This the majority even of us, who were not overcome, had to endure, not falling in mind, though prevailed upon to sign,(b) and so uniting with men who were in both respects wicked, and involving ourselves in the smoke,(g) if not in the flame. Over this I have often wept, when contemplating the con-fission of impiety at that time, and the persecution of the orthodox teaching which now arose at the hands of the patrons of the Word.
24. For in reality, as the Scripture says, the shepherds became brutish,(d) and many shepherds destroyed My vineyard, and defiled my pleasant portion,(e) I mean the Church of God, which has been gathered together by the sweat and blood of many toilers and victims both before and after Christ, aye, even the great sufferings of God for us. For with very few exceptions, and these either men who from their insignificance were disregarded, or from their virtue manfully resisted, being left unto Israel,(z) as was ordained, for a seed and root,(h) to blossom and come to life again amid the streams of the Spirit, everyone(th) yielded to the influences of the time, distinguished only by the fact that some did so earlier, some later, that some became the champions and leaders of impiety, while such others were assigned a lower rank, as had been shaken by fear, enslaved by need, fascinated by flattery, or beguiled in ignorance; the last being the least guilty, if indeed we can allow even this to be a valid excuse for men entrusted with the leadership of the people. For just as the force of lions and other animals, or of men and of women, or of old and of young men is not the same, but there is a considerable difference due to age or species--so it is also with rulers and their subjects. For while we might pardon laymen in such a case, and often they escape, because not put to the test, yet how can we excuse a teacher, whose duty it is, unless he is falsely so-called, to correct the ignorance of others. For is it not absurd, while no one, however great his boorishness and want of education, is allowed to be ignorant of the Roman law, and while there is no law in favour of sins of ignorance, that the teachers of the mysteries of salvation should be ignorant of the first principles of salvation, however simple and shallow their minds may be in regard to other subjects. But, even granting indulgence to them who erred in ignorance, what can be said for the rest, who lay claim to subtlety of intellect, and yet yielded to the court-party for the reasons I have mentioned, and after playing the part of piety for a long while, failed in the hour of trial.
25. "Yet once more,"(a) I hear the Scripture say that the heaven and the earth shall be shaken, inasmuch as this has befallen them before, signifying, as I suppose, a manifest renovation of all things. And we must believe S. Paul when he says(b) that this last shaking is none other than the second coming of Christ, and the transformation and changing of the universe to a condition of stability which cannot be shaken. And I imagine that this present shaking, in which(g) the contemplatives and lovers of God, who before the time exercise their heavenly citizenship, are shaken from us, is of no less consequence than any of former days. For, however peaceful and moderate in other respects these men are, yet they cannot bear to carry their reasonableness so far as to be traitors to the cause of God for quietness' sake: nay on this point they are excessively warlike and sturdy in fight; such is the heat of their zeal, that they would sooner proceed to excess in disturbance, than fail to notice anything that is amiss. And no small portion of the people is breaking away with them, flying away, as a flock of birds does, with those who lead the flight, and even now does not cease to fly with them.
26. Such was Athanasius to us, when present, the pillar of the Church; and such, even when he retired before the insults of the wicked. For those who have plotted the capture of some strong fort, when they see no other easy means of approaching or taking it, betake themselves to arts, and then, after seducing the commander by money or guile, without any effort possess themselves of the stronghold, or, if you will, as those who plotted against Samson first cut off his hair,(d) in which his strength lay, and then seized upon the judge, and made sport of him at will, to requite him for his former power: so did our foreign foes, after getting rid of our source of strength, and shearing off the glory of the Church, revel in like manner in utterances and deeds of impiety. Then the supporter(a) and patron of the hostile shepherd(b) died, crowning(g) his reign, which had not been evil, with an evil close, and unprofitably repenting, as they say, with his last breath, when each man, in view of the higher judge-merit seat, is a prudent judge of his own conduct. For of these three evils, which were unworthy of his reign, he said that he was conscious, the murder of his kinsmen, the proclamation of the Apostate, and the innovation upon the faith; and with these words he is said to have departed. Thus there was once more authority to teach the word of truth, and those who had suffered violence had now undisturbed freedom of speech, while jealousy was whetting the weapons of its wrath. Thus it was with the people of Alexandria, who, with their usual impatience of the insolent, could not brook the excesses of the man, and therefore marked his wickedness by an unusual death, and his death by an unusual ignominy. For you know that camel,(d) and its strange burden, and the new form of elevation, and the first and, I think, the only procession, with which to this day the insolent are threatened.
27. But when from this hurricane of unrighteousness, this corrupter of godliness, this precursor of the wicked one, such satisfaction had been exacted, in a way I cannot praise, for we must consider not what he ought to have suffered, but what we ought(e) to do: exacted however it was, as the result of the public anger and excitement: and thereupon, our champion was restored from his illustrious banishment, for so I term his exile on behalf of, and under the blessing of, the Trinity, amid such delight of the people of the city and of almost all Egypt, that they ran together from every side, from the furthest limits of the country, simply to hear the voice of Athanasius, or feast their eyes upon the sight of him, nay even, as we are told of the Apostles, that they might be hallowed by the shadows(z) and unsubstantial image of his body: so that, many as are the honours, and welcomes bestowed on frequent occasions in the course of time upon various individuals, not only upon public rulers and bishops, but also upon the most illustrious of private citizens, not one has been recorded more numerously attended or more brilliant than this. And only one honour can be compared with it by Athanasius himself, which had been conferred upon him on his former entrance into the city, when returning from the same exile for the same reasons.
28. With reference to this honour there was also current some such report as the following; for I will take leave to mention it, even though it be superfluous, as a kind of flavouring to my speech, or a flower scattered in honour of his entry. After that entry, a certain officer, who had been twice Consul, was riding into the city; he was one of us, among the most noted of Cappadocians. I am sure that yon know that I mean Philagrius, who won upon our affections far beyond any one else, and was honoured as much as he was loved, if I may thus briefly set forth all his distinctions: who had been for a second time entrusted with the government of the city, at the request of the citizens, by the decision of the Emperor. Then one of the common people present, thinking the crowd enormous, like an ocean whose bound no eye can see, is reported to have said to one of his comrades and friends--as often happens in such a case -- "Tell me, my good fellow, have you ever before seen the people pour out in such numbers and so enthusiastically to do honour to any one man?" "No!" said the young man, "and I fancy that not even Constantius himself would be so treated;" indicating, by the mention of the Emperor, the climax of possible honour. "Do you speak of that," said the other with a sweet and merry laugh, "as something wonderfully great? I can scarcely believe that even the great Athanasius would be welcomed like this," adding at the same time one of our native oaths in confirmation of his words. Now the point of what he said, as I suppose you also plainly see, is this, that he set the subject of our eulogy before the Emperor himself.
29. So great was the reverence of all for the man, and so amazing even now seems the reception which I have described. For if divided according to birth, age and profession,(and the city is most usually arranged in this way, when a public honour is bestowed on anyone) how can I set forth in words that mighty spectacle? They formed one river, and it were indeed a poet's task to describe that Nile, of really golden stream and rich in crops, flowing back again from the city to the Chaereum, a day's journey, I take it, and more. Permit me to revel a while longer in my description: for I am going there, and it is not easy to bring back even my words from that ceremony. He rode upon a colt, almost, blame me not for folly, as my Jesus did upon that other colt,(a) whether it were the people of the Gentiles, whom He mounts in kindness, by setting it free from the bonds of ignorance, or something else, which the Scripture sets forth. He was welcomed with branches of trees, and garments with many Bowers and of varied hue were torn off and strewn before him and under his feet: there alone was all that was glorious and costly and peerless treated with dishonour. Like, once more, to the entry of Christ were those that went before with shouts and followed with dances; only the crowd which sung his praises was not of children only, but every tongue was harmonious, as men contended only to outdo one another. I pass by the universal cheers, and the pouring forth of unguents, and the nightlong festivities, and the whole city gleaming with light, and the feasting in public and at home, and all the means of testifying to a city's joy, which were then in lavish and incredible profusion bestowed upon him. Thus did this marvellous man, with such a concourse, regain his own city.
30. He lived then as becomes the rulers of such a people, but did he fail to teach as he lived? Were his contests out of harmony with his teaching? Were his dangers less than those of men who have contended for any truth? Were his honours inferior to the objects for which he contended? Did he after his reception in any way disgrace that reception? By no means. Everything was harmonious, as an air upon a single lyre, and in the same key; his life, his teaching, his struggles, his dangers, his return, and his conduct after his return. For immediately on his restoration to his Church, he was not like those who are blinded by unrestrained passion, who, under the dominion of their anger, thrust away or strike at once whatever comes in their way, even though it might well be spared. But, thinking this to be a special time for him to consult his reputation, since one who is ill-treated is usually restrained, and one who has the power to requite a wrong is ungoverned, he treated so mildly and gently those who had injured him, that even they themselves, if I may say so, did not find his restoration distasteful.
31. He cleansed the temple of those who made merchandise of God, and trafficked in the things of Christ, imitating Christ(b) in this also; only it was with persuasive words, not with a twisted scourge that this was wrought. He reconciled also those who were at variance, both with one another and with him, without the aid of any coadjutor. Those who had been wronged he set free from oppression, making no distinction as to whether they were of his own or of the opposite party. He restored too the teaching which had been overthrown: the Trinity was once more boldly spoken of, and set upon the lampstand, flashing with the brilliant light of the One Godhead into the souls of all. He legislated again for the whole world, and brought all minds trader his influence, by letters to some, by invitations to others, instructing some, who visited him uninvited, and proposing as the single law to all--Good will.(a) For this alone was able to conduct them to the true issue. In brief, he exemplified the virtues of two celebrated stones--for to those who assailed him he was adamant, and to those at variance a magnet, which by some secret natural power draws iron to itself, and influences the hardest of substances.
32. But yet it was not likely that envy could brook all this, or see the Church restored again to the same glory and health as in former days, by the speedy healing over, as in the body, of the wounds of separation. Therefore it was, that he raised up against Athanasius the Emperor, a rebel like himself,(b) and his peer in villany, inferior to him only from lack of time, the first of Christian Emperors to rage against Christ, bringing forth all at once the basilisk of impiety with which he had long been in labour, when he obtained an opportunity, and shewing himself, at the time when he was proclaimed Emperor, to be a traitor to the Emperor who had entrusted him with the empire, and a traitor double dyed to the God who had saved him. He devised the most inhuman of all the persecutions by blending speciousness with cruelty, in his envy of the honour won by the martyrs in their struggles; and so he called in question their repute for courage, by making verbal twists and quibbles a part of his character, or to speak the real truth, devoting himself to them with an eagerness born of his natural disposition, and imitating in varied craft the Evil one who dwelt within him. The subjugation of the whole race of Christians he thought a simple task; but found it a great one to overcome Athanasius and the power of his teaching over us. For he saw that no success could he gained in the plot against us, because of this man's resistance and opposition; the places of the Christians cut down being at once filled up, surprising though it seems, by the accession of Gentiles and the prudence of Athanasius. In full view therefore of this, the crafty perverter and persecutor, clinging no longer to his cloak of illiberal sophistry, laid bare his wickedness and openly banished the Bishop from the city. For tile illustrious warrior must needs conquer in three struggles(a) and thus make good his perfect title to fame.
33. Brief was the interval before Justice pronounced sentence, and handed over the offender(b) to the Persians: sending him forth an ambitious monarch--and bringing him back a corpse for which no one even felt pity; which, as I have heard, was not allowed to rest in the grave, but was shaken out and thrown up by the earth which he had shaken: a prelude--I take it --to his future chastisement. Then another king(g) arose,(d) not shameless in countenance like the former, nor an oppressor of Israel with cruel tasks and taskmasters, but most pious and gentle. In order to lay the best of foundations for his empire, and begin, as is right, by an act of justice, he recalled from exile all the Bishops, but in the first place him who stood first in virtue and had conspicuously championed the cause of piety. Further, he inquired into the truth of our faith which had been turn asunder, confused, and parcelled out into various opinions and portions by many; with the intention, if it were possible, of reducing the whole world to harmony and union by the co-operation of the Spirit: and, should he fail in this, of attaching himself to the best party, so as to aid and be aided by it, thus giving token of the exceeding loftiness and magnificence of his ideas on questions of the greatest moment. Here too was shown in a very high degree the simple-mindedness of Athanasius, and the steadfastness of his faith in Christ. For, when all the rest who sympathised with us were divided into three parties, and many were faltering in their conception of the Son, and still more in that of the Holy Ghost, (a point on which to be only slightly in error was to be orthodox) and few indeed were sound upon both points, he was the first and only one, or with the concurrence of but a few, to venture to confess in writing, with entire clearness and distinctness, the Unity of Godhead and Essence of the Three Persons, and thus to attain in later days, under tile influence of inspiration, to the same faith in regard to the Holy Ghost, as had been bestowed at an earlier time on most of the Fathers ia regard to the Son. This confession. a truly royal and magnificent gift, he presented to the Emperor, opposing to the unwritten innovation, a written account(e) the orthodox faith, so that an emperor might be overcome by an emperor, reason by reason, treatise by treatise.
34. This confession was, it seems, greeted with respect by all, both in West and East, who were capable of life; some cherishing piety within their own bosoms, if we may credit what they say, but advancing no further, like a still-born child which dies within its mother's womb; others kindling to some extent, as it were, sparks, so far as to escape the difficulties of the time, arising either from the more fervent of the orthodox, or the devotion of the people; while others spoke the truth with boldness, on whose side I would be, for I dare make no further boast; no longer consulting my own fearfulness--in other words, the views of men more unsound than myself (for this we have done enough and to spare, without either gaining anything from others, or guarding from injury that which was our own, just as bad stewards do) but bringing forth to light my offspring, nourishing it with eagerness, and exposing it, in its constant growth, to the eyes of all.
35. This, however, is less admirable than his conduct. What wonder that he, who had already made actual ventures on behalf of the truth, should confess it in writing? Yet this point I will add to what has been said, as it seems to me especially wonderful and cannot with impunity be passed over in a time so fertile in disagreements as this. For his action, if we take note of him, will afford instruction even to the men of this clay. For as, in the case of one and the same quantity of water, there is separated from it, not only the residue which is left behind by the hand when drawing it, but also those drops, once contained in the hand, which trickle out through the fingers; so also there is a separation between us anti, not only those who hold aloof in their impiety, but also those who are most pious, and that. both in regard to such doctrines as are of small consequence (a matter of less moment) and also in regard to expressions intended to bear the same meaning. We use in an orthodox sense the terms one Essence and three Hypostases, the one to denote the nature of the Godhead, the other the properties(a) of the Three; the Italians(b) mean the same, but, owing to the scantiness of their vocabulary, and its poverty of terms, they are unable to distinguish between Essence and Hypostases, and therefore introduce the term Persons, to avoid being understood to assert three Essences. The result, were it not piteous, would be laughable. This slight difference of sound was taken to indicate a difference of faith. Then, Sabellianism was suspected in the doctrine of Three Persons, Arianism in that of Three Hypostases, both being the offspring of a contentious spirit. And then, from the gradual but constant growth of irritation (the unfailing result of contentionsness) there was a danger of tile whole world being torn asunder in the strife about syllables. Seeing and hearing this, our blessed one, true man of God and great steward of souls as he was, felt it inconsistent with his duty to overlook so absurd and unreasonable a rending of the word, and applied his medicine to the disease. In what manner? He conferred in his gentle and sympathetic way with both parties, anti after be had carefully weighed the meaning of their expressions, and found that they had the same sense, and were in nowise different in doctrine, by permit-ring each party to use its own terms, he bound them(g) together in unity of action.
36. This in itself was more profitable than the long course of labours and teaching on which all writers enlarge, for in it somewhat of ambition mingled, and consequently, perhaps, somewhat of novelty in expressions. This again was of more value than his many vigils and acts of discipline,(d) the advantage of which is limited to those who perform them. This Was worthy of our hero's famous banishments and flights; for the object, in view of which he chose to endure such sufferings, he still pursued when the sufferings were past. Nor did he cease to cherish the same ardour in others, praising some, gently rebuking others; rousing the sluggishness of these, restraining the passion of those; in some cases eager to prevent a fall, in others devising means of recovery after a fall; simple in disposition, manifold in the arts of government; clever in argument, more clever still in mind; condescending to the more lowly, outsoaring the more lofty; hospitable,(a) protector of suppliants, averted of evils, really combining in himself alone the whole of the attributes parcelled out by the sons of Greece among their deities. Further he was the patron of the wedded and virgin state alike, both peaceable and a peacemaker, and attendant upon those who are passing from hence. Oh, how many a title does his virtue afford me, if I would detail its many-sided excellence.
37. After such a course, as taught and teacher, that his life and habits form the ideal of an Episcopate, and his teaching the law of orthodoxy, what reward does he win for his piety? It is not indeed right to pass this by. In a good old age he closed his life,(b) and was gathered to his fathers, the Patriarchs, and Prophets, and Apostles, and Martyrs, who contended for the truth. To be brief in my epitaph, the honours at his departure surpassed even those of his return from exile; the object of many tears, his glory, stored up in the minds of all, outshines all its visible tokens. Yet, O thou dear and holy one, who didst thyself, with all thy fair renown, so especially illustrate the due proportions of speech and of silence, do thou stay here my words, falling short as they do of thy true meed of praise, though they have claimed the full exercise of all my powers. And mayest thou cast upon us from above a propitious glance, and conduct this people in its perfect worship of the perfect Trinity, which, as Father, Son, Holy Ghost, we contemplate and adore. And mayest thou, if my lot be peaceful, possess and aid me in my pastoral charge, or if it pass through struggles, uphold me, or take me to thee, and set me with thyself and those like thee (though I have asked a great thing) in Christ Himself, our Lord, to whom be all glory, honour, and power for evermore. Amen.