[Translated by The Hon. W. H. Fremantle, M.A., Canon of Canterbury Cathedral and Fellow and Tutor of Balliol College, Oxford, with the assistance of the Rev. G. Lewis, M.A., of Balliol College, Oxford, Vicar of Dodderhill near Droitwick, and the Rev. W. G. Martley, M.A., of Balliol College, Oxford.]
LETTER LXXIII: TO EVANGELUS.
Evangelus had sent Jerome an anonymous treatise in which Melchisedek was indentified with the Holy Ghost, and had asked him what he thought of the theory. Jerome in his reply repudiates the idea as absurd and insists that Melchisedek was a real man, possibly, as the Jews said, Shem the eldest son of Noah. The date of the letter is 398 A.D.
LETTER LXXIV: TO RUFINUS OF ROME.
Rufinus, a Roman Presbyter (to be carefully distinguished from Rufinus of Aquileia and Rufinus the Syrian), had written to Jerome for an explanation of the judgment of Solomon (1 Kings iii. 16-28). This Jerome gives at length, treating the narrative as a parable and making the false and true mothers types of the Synagogue and the Church. The date of the letter is 398 A.D.
LETTER LXXV: TO THEODORA.
Theodora the wife of the learned Spaniard Lucinius (for whom see Letter LXXI.) had recently lost her husband, a bereavement which suggested the present letter. In it Jerome recounts the many virtues of Lucinius and especially his zeal in resisting the gnostic heresy of Marcus which during his life was prevalent in Spain. The date of the letter is 399 A.D.
1. So overpowered am I by the sad intelligence of the falling asleep of the holy and by me deeply revered Lucinius that I am scarcely able to dictate even a short letter. I do not, it is true, lament his fate, for I know that he has passed to better things: like Moses he can say: "I will now turn aside and see this great sight."(1) but I am tormented with regret that I was not allowed to look upon the face of one, who was likely, as I believed, in a short time to come hither. True indeed is the prophetic warning concerning the doom of death that it divides brothers,(2) and with harsh and cruel hand sunders those whose names are linked together in the bonds of love. But we have this consolation that it is slain by the word of the Lord. For it is said: "O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction," and in the next verse: "An east wind shall come, the wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up."(3) For, as Isaiah says, "there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots":(4) and He says Himself in the Song of Songs, "I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley."(5) Our rose is the destruction of death, and died that death itself might die in His dying. But, when it is said that He is to be brought "from the wilderness," the virgin's womb is indicated, which without sexual intercourse or impregnation has given to us God in the form of an infant able to quench by the glow of the Holy Spirit the fountains of lust and to sing in the words of the psalm: "as in a dry and pathless and waterless land, so have I appeared unto thee in the sanctuary."(6) Thus when we have to face the hard and cruel necessity of death, we are upheld by this consolation, that we shall shortly see again those whose absence we now mourn. For their end is not called death but a slumber and a falling asleep. Wherefore also the blessed apostle forbids us to sorrow concerning them which are asleep,(7) telling us to believe that those whom we know to sleep now may hereafter be roused from their sleep, and when their slumber is ended may watch once more with the saints and sing with the angels:--"Glory to God in the highest and on earth where there is no sin, there is glory and perpetual praise and unwearied singing; but on earth where sedition reigns, and war and discord hold sway, peace must be gained by prayer, and it is to be found not among all but only among men of good will, who pay heed to the apostolic salutation: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."(1) For "His abode is in peace and His dwelling place is in Zion,"(2) that is, on a watch-tower,(3) on a height of doctrines and of virtues, in the soul of the believer; for the angel of this latter daily beholds the face of God,(4) and contemplates with unveiled face the glory of God.
2. Wherefore, though you are already running in the way, I urge a willing horse, as the saying goes, and implore you, while you regret in your Lucinius a true brother, to rejoice as well that he now reigns with Christ. For, as it is written in the book of Wisdom, he was "taken away lest that wickedness should alter his understanding ... for his soul pleased the Lord ... and he ... in a short time fulfilled a long time."(5) We may with more right weep for ourselves that we stand daily in conflict with our sins, that we are stained with vices, that we receive wounds, and that we must give account for every idle word.(6) Victorious now and free from care he looks down upon you from on high and supports you in your struggle, nay more, he prepares for you a place near to himself; for his love and affection towards you are still the same as when, disregarding his claim on you as a husband, he resolved to treat you even on earth as a sister, or indeed I may say as a brother, for difference of sex while essential to marriage is not so to a continent tie. And since even in the flesh, if we are born again in Christ, we are no longer Greek and Barbarian, bond and free, male and female, but are all one in Him,(7) how much more true will this be when this corruptible has put on incorruption and when this mortal has put on immortality.(8) "In the resurrection," the Lord tells us, "they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are as the angels ... in heaven."(9) Now when it is said that they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are as the angels in heaven, there is no taking away of a natural and real body but only an indication of the greatness of the glory to come. For the words are not "they shall be angels" but "they shall be as the angels": thus while likeness to the angels is promised identity with them is refused. "They shall be," Christ tells us, "as the angels," that is like the angels; therefore they will not cease to be human. Glorious indeed they shall be, and graced with angelic splendour, but they will still be human; the apostle Paul will still be Paul, Mary will still be Mary. Then shall confusion overtake that heresy(1) which holds out great but vague promises only that it may take away hopes which are at once modest and certain.
3. And now that I have once mentioned the word "heresy," where can I find a trumpet loud enough to proclaim the eloquence of our dear Lucinius, who, when the filthy heresy of Basilides(2) raged in Spain and like a pestilence ravaged the provinces between the Pyrenees and the ocean, upheld in all its purity the faith of the church and altogether refused to embrace Armagil, Barbelon, Abraxas, Balsamum, and the absurd Leusibora. Such are the portentous names which, to excite the minds of unlearned men and weak women, they pretend to draw from Hebrew sources, terrifying the simple by barbarous combinations which they admire the more the less they understand them.(3) The growth of this heresy is described for us by Irenaeus, bishop of the church of Lyons, a man of the apostolic times, who was a disciple of Papias the hearer of the evangelist John. He informs us that a certain Mark,(4) of the stock of the gnostic Basilides, came in the first instance to Gaul, that he contaminated with his teaching those parts of the country which are watered by the Rhone and the Garonne, and that in particular he misled by his errors high-born women; to whom he promised certain secret mysteries and whose affection he enlisted by magic arts and hidden indulgence in unlawful intercourse. Irenaeus goes on to say that subsequently Mark crossed the Pyrenees and occupied Spain, making it his object to seek out the houses of the wealthy, and in these especially the women, concerning whom we are told that they are "led away with divers lusts, ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."(5) All this he wrote about three hundred years ago(6) in the extremely learned and eloquent books which he composed under the title Against all heresies.
4. From these facts you in your wisdom will realize how worthy of praise our dear Lucinius shewed himself when he shut his ears that he might not have to hear the judgement passed upon bloodshedders,(1) and dispersed all his substance and gave to the poor that his righteousness might endure for ever.(2) And not satisfied with bestowing his bounty upon his own country, he sent to the churches of Jerusalem and Alexandria gold enough to alleviate the want of large numbers. But while many will admire and extol in him this liberality, I for my part will rather praise him for his zeal and diligence in the study of the scriptures. With what eagerness he asked for my poor works! He actually sent six copyists for in this province there is a dearth of scribes who understand Latin) to copy for him all that I have ever dictated from my youth until the present time. The honour was not of course paid to me who am but a little child, the least of all Christians, living in the rocks near Bethlehem because I know myself a sinner; but to Christ who is honoured in his servants(3) and who makes this promise to them, "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me."(4)
5. Therefore, my beloved daughter, regard this letter as the epitaph which love prompts me to write upon your husband, and if there is any spiritual work of which you think me to be capable, boldly command me to undertake it: that so ages to come may know that He who says of Himself in Isaiah, "He hath made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me,"(5) has with His sharp arrow so wounded two men severed by an immense interval of sea and land, that, although they know each other not in the flesh, they are knit together in love in the spirit.
May you be kept holy both in body and spirit by the Samaritan--that is, saviour and keeper--of whom it is said in the psalm, "He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."(6) May the watcher and the holy one who came down to Daniel(7) come also to you, that you too may be able to say, "I sleep but my heart waketh."(8)
LETTER LXXVI: TO ABIGAUS.
Abigaus the recipient of this letter was a blind presbyter of Betica in Spain. He had asked the help of Jerome's prayers in his struggles with evil and Jerome now writes to cheer and to console him. He concludes his remarks by commending to his especial care the widow Theodora. The letter should be compared with that addressed to Castrutius (LXVIII.). It was written at the same time with the preceding.
1. Although I am conscious of many sins and every day pray on bended knees, "Remember not the sins of my youth nor my transgressions,(1) yet because I know that it has been said by the Apostle "let a man not be lifted up with pride lest he fall into the condemnation of the devil,"(2) and that it is written in another passage, "God resisteth the proud but giveth grace to the humble,"(3) there is nothing I have striven so much to avoid from my boyhood up as a swelling mind and a stiff neck,(4) things which always provoke against themselves the wrath of God. For I know that my master and Lord and God has said in the lowliness of His flesh: "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart,"(5) and that before this He has sung by the mouth of David: "Lord, remember David and all his gentleness.(6) Again we read in another passage, "Before destruction the heart of man is haughty; and before honour is humility."(7) Do not, then, I implore you, suppose that I have received your letter and have passed it over in silence. Do not, I beseech you, lay to my charge the dishonesty and negligence of which others have been guilty. For why should I, when called on to respond to your kind advances, continue dumb and repel by my silence the friendship which you offer? I who am always forward to seek intimate relations with the good and even to thrust myself upon their affection. "Two," we read, "are better than one .... for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow .... a three fold cord is not quickly broken, and a brother that helps his brother shall be exalted."(8) Write to me, therefore, boldly, and overcome the effect of absence by frequent colloquies.
2. You should not grieve that you are destitute of those bodily eyes which ants, flies, and creeping things have as well as men; rather you should rejoice that you possess that eye of which it is said in the Song of Songs, "Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes."(9) This is the eye with which God is seen and to which Moses refers when he says:--"I will now turn aside and see this great sight."(10) We even read of some philosophers of this world(11) that they have plucked out their eyes in order to turn all their thoughts upon the pure depths of the mind. And a prophet has said "Death has entered through your windows."(12) Our Lord too tells the Apostles: "Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."(1) Consequently they are commanded to lift up their eyes and to look on the fields, for these are white and ready for harvest.(2)
3. You request me by my exhortations to slay in you Nebuchadnezzar and Rabshakeh and Nebuzar-adan and Holofernes.(3) Were they alive in you, you would never have sought my aid. No, they are dead within you, and yon have begun to build up the ruins of Jerusalem with the help of Zerubbabel and of Joshua the son of Josedech the high priest, of Ezra and of Nehemiah. You do not put your wages into a bag with holes,(4) but you lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,(5) and if you seek my friendship, it is because you believe me to be a servant of Christ.
I commend to you--although she needs no commendation but her own--my holy daughter Theodora, formerly the wife or rather the sister of Lucinius of blessed memory. Tell her that she must not grow weary of the path upon which she has entered, and that she can only reach the Holy Land by toiling through the wilderness. Warn her against supposing that the work of virtue is perfected when she has made her exodus from Egypt. Remind her that she must pass through snares innumerable to arrive at mount Nebo and the River Jordan,(6) that she must receive circumcision anew at Gilgal,(7) that Jericho must fall before her, overthrown by the blasts of priestly trumpets,(8) that Adoni-zedec must be slain,(9) that Ai and Hazor, once fairest of cities, must both fall.(10)
The brothers who are with me in the monastery salute you, and I through you earnestly salute those reverend persons who deign to bestow upon me their regard.
LETTER LXXVII: TO OCEANUS.
The eulogy of Fabiola whose restless life had come to an end in 399 A.D. Jerome tells the story of her sin and of her penitence (for which see Letter LV.), of the hospital established by her at Portus, of her visit to Bethlehem, and of her earnestness in the study of scripture. He relates how he wrote for her his account of the vestments of the high priest (Letter LXIV.) and how at the time of her death he was at her request engaged upon a commentary on the forty-two halting-places of the Israelites in the wilderness (Letter LXXIX.). This last he now sends along with this letter to Oceanus. Jerome also bestows praise upon Pammachius as the companion of all Fabiola's labours. The date of the letter is 399 A.D.
1. Several years since I consoled the venerated Paula, whilst her affliction was still recent for the falling asleep of Blaesilla.(1) Four summers ago I wrote for the bishop Heliodorus the epitaph of Nepotian, and expended what ability I possessed in giving expression to my grief at his loss.(2) Only two years have elapsed since I sent a brief letter to my dear Pammachius on the sudden flitting of his Paulina.(3) I blushed to say more to one so learned or to give him back his own thoughts: lest I should seem less the consoler of a friend than the officious instructor of one already perfect. But now, Oceanus my son, the duty that you lay upon me is one that I gladly accept and would even seek unasked. For when new virtues have to be dealt with, an old subject itself becomes new. In previous cases I have had to soften and restrain a mother's affection, an uncle's grief, and a husband's yearning; according to the different requirements of each I have had to apply from scripture different remedies.
2. To-day you give me as my theme Fabiola, the praise of the Christians, the marvel of the gentiles, the sorrow of the poor, and the consolation of the monks. Whatever point in her character I choose to treat of first, pales into insignificance compared with those which follow after. Shall I praise her fasts? Her alms are greater still. Shall I commend her lowliness? The glow of her faith is yet brighter. Shall I mention her studied plainness in dress, her voluntary choice of plebeian costume and the garb of a slave that she might put to shame silken robes? To change one's disposition is a greater achievement than to change one's dress. It is harder for us to part with arrogance than with gold and gems. For, even though we throw away these, we plume ourselves sometimes on a meanness that is really ostentatious, and we make a bid with a saleable poverty for the popular applause. But a virtue that seeks concealment and is cherished in the inner consciousness appeals to no judgement but that of God. Thus the eulogies which I have to bestow upon Fabiola will be altogether new: I must neglect the order of the rhetoricians and begin all I have to say only from the cradle of her conversion and of her penitence. Another writer, mindful of the school, would perhaps bring forward Quintus Maximus, "the man who by delaying rescued Rome,"(4) and the whole Fabian family; he would describe their struggles and battles and would exult that Fabiola had come to us through a line so noble, shewing that qualities not apparent in the branch still existed in the root. But as I am a lover of the inn at Bethlehem and of the Lord's stable in which the virgin travailed with and gave birth to an infant God, I shall deduce the lineage of Christ's handmaid not from a stock famous in history but from the lowliness of the church.
3. And because at the very outset there is a rock in the path and she is overwhelmed by a storm of censure, for having forsaken her first husband and having taken a second, I will not praise her for her conversion till I have first cleared her of this charge. So terrible then were the faults imputed to her former husband that not even a prostitute or a common slave could have put up with them. If I were to recount them, I should undo the heroism of the wife who chose to bear the blame of a separation rather than to blacken the character and expose the stains of him who was one body with her. I will only urge this one plea which is sufficient to exonerate a chaste matron and a Christian woman. The Lord has given commandment that a wife must not be put away "except it be for fornication, and that, if put away, she must remain unmarried."(1) Now a commandment which is given to men logically applies to women also. For it cannot be that, while an adulterous wife is to be put away, an incontinent husband is to be retained. The apostle says: "he which is joined to an harlot is one body."(2) Therefore she also who is joined to a whore-monger and unchaste person is made one body with him. The laws of Caesar are different, it is true, from the laws of Christ: Papinianus(3) commands one thing; our own Paul another. Earthly laws give a free rein to the unchastity of men, merely condemning seduction and adultery; lust is allowed to range unrestrained among brothels and slave girls, as if the guilt were constituted by the rank of the person assailed and not by the purpose of the assailant. But with us Christians what is unlawful for women is equally unlawful for men, and as both serve the same God both are bound by the same obligations. Fabiola then has put away--they are quite right--a husband that was a sinner, guilty of this and that crime, sins--I have almost mentioned their names--with which the whole neighbourhood resounded but which the wife alone refused to disclose. If however it is made a charge against her that after repudiating her husband she did not continue unmarried, I readily admit this to have been a fault, but at the same time declare that it may have been a case of necessity. "It is better," the apostle tells us, "to marry than to burn."(4) She was quite a young woman, she was not able to continue in widowhood. In the words of the apostle she saw another law in her members warring against the law of her mind;(1) she felt herself dragged in chains as a captive towards the indulgences of wedlock. Therefore she thought it better openly to confess her weakness and to accept the semblance of an unhappy marriage than, with the flame of a monogamist, to ply the trade of a courtesan. The same apostle wills that the younger widows should marry, bear children, and give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.(2) And he at once goes on to explain his wish: "for some are already turned aside after Satan."(3) Fabiola therefore was fully persuaded in her own mind: she thought she had acted legitimately in putting away her husband, and that when she had done so she was free to marry again. She did not know that the rigour of the gospel takes away from women all pretexts for re-marriage so long as their former husbands are alive; and not knowing this, though she contrived to evade other assaults of the devil, she at this point unwittingly exposed herself to a wound from him.
4. But why do I linger over old and forgotten matters, seeking to excuse a fault for which Fabiola has herself confessed her penitence? Who would believe that, after the death of her second husband at a time when most widows, having shaken off the yoke of servitude, grow careless and allow themselves more liberty than ever, frequenting the baths, flitting through the streets, shewing their harlot faces everywhere; that at this time Fabiola came to herself? Yet it was then that she put on sackcloth to make public confession of her error. It was then that in the presence of all Rome (in the basilica which formerly belonged to that Lateranus who perished by the sword of Caesar(4)) she stood in the ranks of the penitents and exposed before bishop, presbyters, and people--all of whom wept when they saw her weep--her dishevelled hair, pale features, soiled hands and unwashed neck. What sins would such a penance fail to purge away? What ingrained stains would such tears be unable to wash out? By a threefold confession Peter blotted out his threefold denial.(5) If Aaron committed sacrilege by fashioning molten gold into the head of a calf, his brother's prayers made amends for his transgressions.(6) If holy David, meekest of men, committed the double sin of murder and adultery, he atoned for it by a fast of seven days. He lay upon the earth, he rolled in the ashes, he forgot his royal power, he sought for light in the darkness.(1) And then, turning his eyes to that God whom he had so deeply offended, he cried with a lamentable voice: "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight," and "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me with thy free spirit."(2) He who by his virtues teaches me how to stand and not to fall, by his penitence teaches me how, if I fall, I may rise again. Among the kings do we read of any so wicked as Ahab, of whom the scripture says: "there was none like unto Ahab which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord"?(3) For shedding Naboth's blood Elijah rebuked him, and the prophet denounced God's wrath against him: "Hast thou killed and also taken possession? ... behold I will bring evil upon thee and will take away thy posterity"(4) and so on. Yet when Ahab heard these words "he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted ... in sackcloth, and went softly."(5) Then came the word of God to Elijah the Tishbite saying: "Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? Because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days."(6) O happy penitence which has drawn down upon itself the eyes of God, and which has by confessing its error changed the sentence of God's anger! The same conduct is in the Chronicles(7) attributed to Manasseh, and in the book of the prophet Jonah(8) to Nineveh, and in the gospel to the publican.(9) The first of these not only was allowed to obtain forgiveness but also recovered his kingdom, the second broke the force of God's impending wrath, while the third, smiting his breast with his hands, "would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven." Yet for all that the publican with his humble confession of his faults went back justified far more than the Pharisee with his arrogant boasting of his virtues. This is not however the place to preach penitence, neither am I writing against Montanus and Novatus.(10) Else would I say of it that it is "a sacrifice ... well pleasing to God,"(11) I would cite the words of the psalmist: "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,"(12) and those of Ezekiel "I prefer the repentance of a sinner rather than his death,"(13) and those of Baruch, "Arise, arise, O Jerusalem,(14) and many other proclamations made by the trumpets of the prophets.
5. But this one thing I will say, for it is at once useful to my readers and pertinent to my present theme. As Fabiola was not ashamed of the Lord on earth, so He shall not be ashamed of her in heaven.(1) She laid bare her wound to the gaze of all, and Rome beheld with tears the disfiguring scar which marred her beauty. She uncovered her limbs, bared her head, and closed her mouth. She no longer entered the church of God but, like Miriam the sister of Moses,(2) she sat apart without the camp, till the priest who had cast her out should himself call her back. She came down like the daughter of Babylon from the throne of her daintiness, she took the millstones and ground meal, she passed bare-looted through rivers of tears.(3) She sat upon the coals of fire, and these became her aid.(4) That face by which she had once pleased her second husband she now smote with blows; she hated jewels, shunned ornaments and could not bear to look upon fine linen.(5) In fact she bewailed the sin she had committed as bitterly as if it had been adultery, and went to the expense of many remedies in her eagerness to cure her one wound.
6. Having found myself aground in the shallows of Fabiola's sin, I have dwelt thus long upon her penitence in order that I might open up a larger and quite unimpeded space for the description of her praises. Restored to communion before the eyes of the whole church, what did she do? In the day of prosperity she was not forgetful of affliction;(6) and, having once suffered shipwreck she was unwilling again to face the risks of the sea. Instead therefore of re-embarking on her old life, 'she broke up(7) and sold all that she could lay hands on of her property (it was large and suitable to her rank), and turning it into money she laid out this for the benefit of the poor. She was the first person to found a hospital, into which she might gather sufferers out of the streets, and where she might nurse the unfortunate victims of sickness and want. Need I now recount the various ailments of human beings? Need I speak of noses slit, eyes put out, feet half burnt, hands covered with sores? Or of limbs dropsical and atrophied? Or of diseased flesh alive with worms? Often did she carry on her own shoulders persons infected with jaundice or with filth. Often too did she wash away the matter discharged from wounds which others, even though men, could not bear to look at. She gave food to her patients with her own hand, and moistened the scarce breathing lips of the dying with sips of liquid. I know of many wealthy and devout persons who, unable to overcome their natural repugnance to such sights, perform this work of mercy by the agency of others, giving money instead of personal aid. I do not blame them and am far from construing their weakness of resolution into a want of faith. While however I pardon such squeamishness, I extol to the skies the enthusiastic zeal of a mind that is above it. A great faith makes little of such trifles. But I know how terrible was the retribution which fell upon the proud mind of the rich man clothed in purple for not having helped Lazarus.(1) The poor wretch whom we despise, whom we cannot so much as look at, and the very sight of whom turns our stomachs, is human like ourselves, is made of the same clay as we are, is formed out of the same elements. All that he suffers we too may suffer. Let us then regard his wounds as though they were our own, and then all our insensibility to another's suffering will give way before our pity for ourselves.
Not with a hundred tongues or throat of bronze Could I exhaust the forms of fell disease(2)
which Fabiola so wonderfully alleviated in the suffering poor that many of the healthy fell to envying the sick. However she showed the same liberality towards the clergy and monks and virgins. Was there a monastery which was not supported by Fabiola's wealth? Was there a naked or bedridden person who was not clothed with garments supplied by her? Were there ever any in want to whom she failed to give a quick and unhesitating supply? Even Rome was not wide enough for her pity. Either in her own person or else through the agency of reverend and trustworthy men she went from island to island and carried her bounty not only round the Etruscan Sea, but throughout the district of the Volscians, as it stands along those secluded and winding shores where communities of monks are to be found.
7. Suddenly she made up her mind, against the advice of all her friends, to take ship and to come to Jerusalem. Here she was welcomed by a large concourse of people and for a short time took advantage of my hospitality. Indeed, when I call to mind our meeting, I seem to see her here now instead of in the past. Blessed Jesus, what zeal, what earnestness she bestowed upon the sacred volumes! In her eagerness to satisfy what was a veritable craving she would run through Prophets, Gospels, and Psalms: she would suggest questions and treasure up the answers in the desk of her own bosom. And yet this eagerness to hear did not bring with it any feeling of satiety: increasing her knowledge she also increased her sorrow,(1) and by casting oil upon the flame she did but supply fuel for a still more burning zeal. One day we had before us the book of Numbers written by Moses, and she modestly questioned me as to the meaning of the great mass of names there to be found. Why was it, she inquired, that single tribes were differently associated in this passage and in that, how came it that the soothsayer Balaam in prophesying of the future mysteries of Christ(2) spoke more plainly of Him than almost any other prophet? I replied as best I could and tried to satisfy her enquiries. Then unrolling the book still farther she came to the passage(3) in which is given the list of all the halting-places by which the people after leaving Egypt made its way to the waters of Jordan. And when she asked me the meaning and reason of each of these, I spoke doubtfully about some, dealt with others in a tone of assurance, and in several instances simply confessed my ignorance. Hereupon she began to press me harder still, expostulating with me as though it were a thing unallowable that I should be ignorant of what I did not know, yet at the same time affirming her own unworthiness to understand mysteries so deep. In a word I was ashamed to refuse her request and allowed her to extort from me a promise that I would devote a special work to this subject for her use. Till the present time I have had to defer the fulfilment of my promise: as I now perceive, by the Will of God in order that it should be consecrated to her memory. As in a previous work(4) I clothed her with the priestly vestments, so in the pages of the present(5) she may rejoice that she has passed through the wilderness of this world and has come at last to the land of promise.
8. But let me continue the task which I have begun. Whilst I was in search of a suitable dwelling for so great a lady, whose only conception of the solitary life included a place of resort like Mary's inn; suddenly messengers flew this way and that and the whole East was terror-struck. For news came that the hordes of the Huns had poured forth all the way from Maeotis(6) (they had their haunts between the icy Tanais(7) and the rude Massagetae(8) where the gates of Alexander keep back the wild peoples behind the Caucasus); and that, speeding hither and thither on their nimble-footed horses, they were filling all the world with panic and bloodshed. The Roman army was absent at the time, being detained in Italy on account of the civil wars. Of these Huns Herodotus(1) tells us that under Darius King of the Medes they held the East in bondage for twenty years and that from the Egyptians and Ethiopians they exacted a yearly tribute. May Jesus avert from the Roman world the farther assaults of these wild beasts! Everywhere their approach was unexpected, they outstripped rumour in speed, and, when they came, they spared neither religion nor rank nor age, even for wailing infants they had no pity. Children were forced to die before it could be said that they had begun to live; and little ones not realizing their miserable fate might be seen smiling in the hands and at the weapons of their enemies. It was generally agreed that the goal of the invaders was Jerusalem and that it was their excessive desire for gold which made them hasten to this particular city. Its walls uncared for in time of peace were accordingly put in repair. Antioch was in a state of siege. Tyre, desirous of cutting itself off from the land, sought once more its ancient island. We too were compelled to marl our ships and to lie off the shore as a precaution against the arrival of our foes. No matter how hard the winds might blow, we could not but dread the barbarians more than shipwreck. It was not, however, so much for our own safety that we were anxious as for the chastity of the virgins who were with us. Just at that time also there was dissension among us,(2) and our intestine struggles threw into the shade our battle with the barbarians. I myself clung to my long-settled abode in the East and gave way to my deep-seated love for the holy places. Fabiola, used as she was to moving from city to city and having no other property but what her baggage contained, returned to her native land; to live in poverty where she had once been rich, to lodge in the house of another, she who in old days had lodged many guests in her own, and--not unduly to prolong my account--to bestow upon the poor before the eyes of Rome the proceeds of that property which Rome knew her to have sold.
9. This only do I lament that in her the holy places lost a necklace of the loveliest. Rome recovered what it had previously parted with, and the wanton and slanderous tongues of the heathen were confuted by the testimony of their own eyes. Others may commend her pity, her humility, her faith: I will rather praise her ardour of soul. The letter(3) in which as a young man I once urged Heliodorus to the life of a hermit she knew by heart, and whenever she looked upon the walls of Rome she complained that she was in a prison. Forgetful of her sex, unmindful of her frailty, and only desiring to be alone she was in fact there(1) where her soul lingered. The counsels of her friends could not hold her back; so eager was she to burst from the city as from a place of bondage. Nor did she leave the distribution of her alms to others; she distributed them herself. Her wish was that, after equitably dispensing her money to the poor, she might herself find support from others for the sake of Christ. In such haste was she and so impatient of delay that you would fancy her on the eve of her departure. As she was always ready, death could not find her unprepared.
10. As I pen her praises, my dear Pammachius seems suddenly to rise before me. His wife Paulina sleeps that he may keep vigil; she has gone before her husband that he remaining behind may be Christ's servant. Although he was his wife's heir, others--I mean the poor--are now in possession of his inheritance. He and Fabiola contended for the privilege of setting up a tent like that of Abraham(2) at Portus. The contest which arose between them was for the supremacy in shewing kindness. Each conquered and each was overcome. Both admitted themselves to be at once victors and vanquished for what each had desired to effect alone both accomplished together. They united their resources and combined their plans that harmony might forward what rivalry must have brought to nought. No sooner was the scheme broached than it was carried out. A house was purchased to serve as a shelter and a crowd flocked into it. "There was no more travail in Jacob nor distress in Israel."(3) The seas carried voyagers to find a welcome here on landing. Travellers left Rome in haste to take advantage of the mild coast before setting sail. What Publius once did in the island of Malta for one apostle and--not to leave room for gainsaying-- for a single ship's crew,(4) Fabiola and Pammachius have done over and over again for large numbers; and not only have they supplied the wants of the destitute, but so universal has been their munificence that they have provided additional means for those who have something already. The whole world knows that a home for strangers has been established at Portus; and Britain has learned in the summer what Egypt and Parthia knew in the spring.
11. In the death of this noble lady we have seen a fulfilment of the apostle's words:-- "All things work together for good to them that fear God."(1) Having a presentiment of what would happen, she had written to several monks to come and release her from the burthen under which she laboured;(2) for she wished to make to herself friends of the mammon of unrighteousness that they might receive her into everlasting habitations.(3) They came to her and she made them her friends; she fell asleep in the way that she had wished, and having at last laid aside her burthen she soared more lightly up to heaven. How great a marvel Fabiola had been to Rome while she lived came out in the behaviour of the people now that she was dead. Hardly had she breathed her last breath, hardly had she given back her soul to Christ whose it was when
"Flying Rumour heralding the woe"(4)
gathered the entire city to attend her obsequies. Psalms were chaunted and the gilded ceilings of the temples were shaken with uplifted shouts of Alleluia.
The choirs of young and old extolled her deeds And sang the praises of her holy soul.(5)
Her triumph was more glorious far than those won by Furius over the Gauls, by Papirius over the Samnites, by Scipio over Numantia, by Pompey over Pontus. They had conquered physical force, she had mastered spiritual iniquities.(6) I seem to hear even now the squadrons which led the van of the procession, and the sound of the feet of the multitude which thronged in thousands to attend her funeral. The streets, porches, and roofs from which a view could be obtained were inadequate to accommodate the spectators. On that day Rome saw all her peoples gathered together in one, and each person present flattered himself that he had some part in the glory of her penitence. No wonder indeed that men should thus exult in the salvation of one at whose conversion there was joy among the angels in heaven.(7)
12. I give you this, Fabiola,(8) the best gift of my aged powers, to be as it were a funeral offering. Oftentimes have I praised virgins and widows and married women who have kept their garments always white(9) and who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.(10) Happy indeed is she in her encomium who throughout her life has been stained by no defilement. But let envy depart and censoriousness be silent. If the father of the house is good why should our eye be evil?(11) The soul which fell among thieves has been carried home upon the shoulders of Christ.(1) In our father's house are many mansions.(2) Where sin hath abounded, grace hath much more abounded.(3) To whom more is forgiven the same loveth more.(4)
LETTER LXXVIII: TO FABIOLA.
A treatise on the Forty-two Mansions or Halting-places of the Israelites, originally intended for Fabiola but not completed until after her death. Sent to Oceanus along with the preceding letter. These Mansions are made an emblem of the Christian's pilgrimage, the true Hebrew hastening to pass from earth to heaven.
LETTER LXXIX: TO SALVINA.
A letter of consolation addressed by Jerome to Salvina (a lady of the imperial court) on the death of her husband Nebridius. After excusing his temerity in addressing a complete stranger Jerome eulogizes the virtues of Nebridius, particularly his chastity and his bounty to the poor. He next warns Salvina (in no courtier-like terms) of the dangers that will beset her as a widow and recommends her to devote all her energies to the careful training of the son and daughter who are now her principal charge. The tone of the letter is somewhat arrogant and it can hardly be regarded as one of Jerome's happiest efforts. Salvina, however, consecrated her life to deeds of piety, and became one of Chrysostom's deaconesses. Its date is 400 A. D.
1. My desire to do my duty may, I fear, expose me to a charge of self- seeking; and although I do but follow the example of Him who said: "learn of me for I am meek and lowly of heart,"(5) the course that I am taking may be attributed to a desire for notoriety. Men may say that I am not so much trying to console a widow in affliction as endeavouring to creep into the imperial court; and that, while I make a pretext of offering comfort, I am really seeking the friendship of the great. Clearly this will not be the opinion of any one who knows the commandment: "thou shall not respect the person of the poor,"(6) a precept given lest under pretext of shewing pity we should judge unjust judgment. For each individual is to be judged not by his personal importance but by the merits of his case. His wealth need not stand in the way of the rich man, if he makes a good use of it; and poverty can be no recommendation to the poor if in the midst of squalor and want he fails to keep clear of wrong doing. Proofs of these things are not wanting either in scriptural times or our own; for Abraham, in spite of his immense wealth, was "the friend of God"(7) and poor men are daily arrested and punished for their crimes by law. She whom I now address is both rich and poor so that she cannot say what she actually has. For it is not of her purse that I am speaking but of the purity of her soul. I do not know her face but I am well acquainted with her virtues; for report speaks well of her and her youth makes her chastity all the more commendable. By her grief for her young husband she has set an example to all wives; and by her resignation she has proved that she believes him not lost but gone before. The greatness of her bereavement has brought out the reality of her religion. For while she forgets her lost Nebridius, she knows that in Christ he is with her still.
But why do I write to one who is a stranger to me? For three reasons, First, because (as a priest is bound to do) I love all Christians as my children and find my glory in promoting their welfare. Secondly because the father of Nebridius was bound to me by the closest ties.(1) Lastly--and this is a stronger reason than the others--because I have failed to say no to my son Avitus.(2) With an importunacy surpassing that of the widow towards the unjust judge(3) he wrote to me so frequently and put before me so many instances in which I had previously dealt with a similar theme, that he overcame my modest reluctance and made the resolve to do not what would best become me but what would most nearly meet his wishes.
2. As the mother of Nebridius was sister to the empress(4) and as he was brought up in the bosom of his aunt, another might perhaps praise him for having so much endeared himself to the unvanquished emperor. Theodosius, indeed, procured him from Africa a wife of the highest rank,(5) who, as her native land at this time was distracted by civil wars, became a kind of hostage for its loyalty. I ought to say at the very outset that Nebridius seems to have had a presentiment that he would die early. For amid the splendour of the palace and in the high positions to which his rank and not his years entitled him he lived always as one who believed that he must soon go to meet Christ. Of Cornelius, the centurion of the Italian band, the sacred narrative tells us that God so fully accepted him as to send to him an angel; and that this angel told him that to his merit was due the mystery whereby Peter from the narrow limits of the circumcision was conveyed to the wide field of the uncircumcision. He was the first Gentile baptized by the apostle, and in him the Gentiles were set apart to salvation. Now of this man it is written: "there was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway."(1) All this that is said of him I claim--with a change of name only--for my dear Nebridius. So "devout" was this latter and so enamoured of chastity that at his marriage he was still pure. So truly did he "fear God with all his house" that forgetting his high position he spent all his time with monks and clergymen. So profuse were the alms which he gave to the people that his doors were continually beset with swarms of sick and poor. And assuredly he "prayed to God alway" that what was for the best might happen to him. Therefore "speedily was he taken away lest that wickedness should alter his understanding ... for his soul pleased the Lord."(2) Thus I may truthfully apply to him the apostle's words: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him."(3) As a soldier Nebridius took no harm from his cloak and sword-belt and troops of orderlies; for while he wore the uniform of the emperor he was enlisted in the service of God. On the other hand nothing is gained by men who while they affect coarse mantles, sombre tunics, dirt, and poverty, belie by their deeds their lofty pretensions. Of another centurion we find in the gospel this testimony from our Lord:--"I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel."(4) And, to go back to earlier times, we read of Joseph who gave proof of his integrity both when he was in want and when he was rich, and who inculcated freedom of soul both as slave and as lord. He was made next to Pharaoh and invested with the emblems of royalty;(5) yet so dear was he to God that, alone of all the patriarchs, he became the father of two tribes.(6) Daniel and the three children were set over the affairs of Babylon and were numbered among the princes of the state; yet although they wore the dress of Nebuchadnezzar, in their hearts they served God. Mordecai also and Esther amid purple and silk and jewels overcame pride with humility; and although captives were so highly esteemed as to be able to impose commands upon their conquerors.
3. These remarks are intended to shew that the youth of whom I speak used his kinship to the royal family, his abundant wealth, and the outward tokens of power, as helps to virtue. For, as the preacher says, "wisdom is a defence and money is a defence"(7) also. We must not hastily conclude that this statement conflicts with that of the Lord: "verily I say unto you that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven; and again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven."(1) Were it so, the salvation of Zacchaeus the publican, described in scripture as a man of great wealth, would contradict the Lord's declaration. But that what is impossible with men is possible with God(2) we are taught by the counsel of the apostle who thus writes to Timothy:--"charge them that are rich in this world that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God who giveth us richly all things to enjoy, that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute. willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come that they may lay hold on the true life."(3) We have learned how a camel can pass through a needle's eye, how an animal with a hump on its back,(4) when it has laid down its packs, can take to itself the wings of a dove(5) and rest in the branches of the tree which has grown from a grain of mustard seed.(6) In Isaiah we read of camels, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah and Sheba, which carry gold and incense to the city of the Lord.(7) On like typical camels the Ishmaelitish merchantmen(8) bring down to the Egyptians perfume and incense and balm(of the kind that grows in Gilead good for the healing of wounds(9)); and so fortunate are they that in the purchase and sale of Joseph they have for their merchandise the Saviour of the world.(10) And Aesop's fable tells us of a mouse which after eating its fill can no longer creep out as before it crept in.(11)
4. Daily did my dear Nebridius revolve the words: "they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare" of the devil "and into many lusts."(12) All the money that the Emperor's bounty gave him or that his badges of office procured him he laid out for the benefit of the poor. For he knew the commandment of the Lord: "If thou wilt be perfect go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and come and follow me."(13) And because he could not literally fulfil these directions, having a wife and little children and a large household, he made to himself friends of the mammon of unrighteousness that they might receive him into everlasting habitations.(14) He did not once for all cast away his brethren, as did the apostles who forsook father and nets and ship,(1) but by an equality he ministered to the want of others out of his own abundance that afterwards their wealth might be a supply for his own want.(2) The lady to whom this letter is addressed knows that what I narrate is only known to me by hearsay, but she is aware also that I am no Greek writer repaying with flattery some benefit conferred upon me. Far be such an imputation from all Christians. Having food and raiment we are therewith content.(3) Where there is cheap cabbage and household bread, a sufficiency to eat and a sufficiency to drink, these riches are superfluous and no place is left for flattery with its sordid calculations. You may conclude therefore that, where there is no motive to tell a falsehood, the testimony given is true.
5. It must not, however, be supposed that I praise Nebridius only for his liberality in alms-giving, although we are taught the great importance of this in the words: "water will quench a flaming fire; and alms maketh an atonement for sins."(4) I will pass on now to his other virtues each one of which is to be found but in few men. Who ever entered the furnace of the King of Babylon without being burned?(5) Was there ever a young man whose garment his Egyptian mistress did not seize?(6) Was there ever a eunuch's(7) wife contented with a childless marriage bed? Is there any man who is not appalled by the struggle of which the apostle says: "I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members?"(8) But wonderful to say Nebridius, though bred up in a palace as a companion and fellow pupil of the Augusti(9) (whose table is supplied by the whole world and ministered to by land and sea); Nebridius, I say, though in the midst of abundance and in the flower of his age, shewed himself more modest than a girl and never gave occasion, even the slightest, for scandalous rumours. Again though he was the friend, companion, and cousin of princes and had been educated along with them--a thing which makes even strangers intimate- -he did not allow pride to inflate him or frown with contempt upon others who were less fortunate than he: no, he was kind to all, and while he loved the princes as brothers he revered them as sovereigns. He used to avow that his own health and safety were dependent upon theirs. Their attendants and all those officers of the palace who by their numbers add to the grandeur of the imperial court he had so well conciliated by shewing his regard for them, that men who were in reality inferior to him were led by his attention to believe themselves his peers. It is no easy task to throw one's rank into the shade by one's virtue, or to gain the affection of men who are forced to yield you precedence. What widow was not supported by his help? What ward did not find in him a father? To him the bishops of the entire East used to bring the prayers of the unfortunate and the petitions of the distressed. Whenever he asked the Emperor for a boon, he sought either alms for the poor or ransom for captives or clemency for the afflicted. Accordingly the princes also used gladly to accede to his requests, for they knew well that their bounty would benefit not one man but many.
6. Why do I farther postpone the end? "All flesh is grass and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field."(1) The dust has returned to the dust.(2) He has fallen asleep in the Lord and has been laid with his fathers, full of days and of light and fostered in a good old age. For "wisdom is the grey hair unto men."(3) "In a short time he" has "fulfilled a long time."(4) In his place we now have his charming children. His wife is the heir of his chastity. To those who miss his father the tiny Nebridius shews him once more, for
"Such were the eyes and hands and looks he bore."(5)
A spark of the parent's excellence shines in the son: the child's face betrays like a mirror a resemblance in character.
"That narrow frame contains a hero's heart."(6)
And with him there is his sister, a basket of roses and lilies, a mixture of ivory and purple. Her face though it takes after that of her father inclines to be still more attractive; and, while her complexion iS that of her mother, she is so like both her parents that the lineaments of each are reflected in her features. So sweet and honied is she that she is the pride of all her kinsfolk. The Emperor(7) does not disdain to hold her in his arms, and the Empress(8) likes nothing better than to nurse her on her lap. Everyone runs to be the first to catch her up. Now she clings to the neck of one, and now she is fondled in the arms of another. She prattles and stammers, and is all the sweeter for her faltering tongue.
7. You have, therefore, Salvina, those to nurse who may well represent to you your absent husband: "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward."(1) In the place of one husband you have received two children, and thus your affection has more objects than before. All that was due to him you can give to them. Temper grief with love, for if he is gone they are still with you. It is no small merit in God's eyes to bring up children well. Hear the apostle's counsel: "Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work."(2) Here you learn the roll of the virtues which God requires of you, what is due to the name of widow which you bear, and by what good deeds you can attain to that second degree of chastity(3) which is still open to you. Do not be disturbed because the apostle allows none to be chosen as a widow under threescore years old, neither suppose that he intends to reject those who are still young. Believe that you are indeed chosen by him who said to his disciple, "Let no man despise thy youth,"(4) your want of age that is, not your want of continence. If this be not his meaning, all who become widows under threescore years will have to take husbands. He is training a church still untaught in Christ, and making provision for people of all stations but especially for the poor, the charge of whom had been committed to himself and Barnabas.(5) Thus he wishes only those to be supported by the exertions of the church who cannot labour with their own hands, and who are widows indeed,(6) approved by their years and by their lives. The faults of his children made Eli the priest an offence to God. On the other hand He is appeased by the virtues of such as "continue in faith and charity and holiness with chastity."(7) "O Timothy," cries the apostle, "keep thyself pure."(8) Far be it from me to suspect you capable of doing anything wrong; still it is only a kindness to admonish one whose youth and opulence lead her into temptation. You must take what I am going to say as addressed not to you but to your girlish years. A widow "that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth."(9) So speaks the "chosen vessel"(10) and the words are brought out from his treasure who could boldly say: "Do ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me?"(1) Yet they are the words of one who in his own person admitted the weakness of the human body, saying: "The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not that I do."(2) And again: Therefore "I keep under my body and bring it into subjection lest that by any means when I have preached to others I myself should be a castaway."(3) If Paul is afraid, which of us can venture to be confident? If David the friend of God and Solomon who loved God(4) were overcome like other men, if their fall is meant to warn us and their penitence to lead us to salvation, who in this slippery life can be sure of not falling? Never let pheasants be seen upon your table, or plump turtledoves or black cock from Ionia, or any of those birds so expensive that they fly away with the largest properties. And do not fancy that you eschew meat diet when you reject pork, hare, and venison and the savoury flesh of other quadrupeds.(5) It is not the number of feet that makes the difference but delicacy of flavour. I know that the apostle has said: "every creature of God is good and nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving."(6) But the same apostle says: "it is good neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine,"(7) and in another place: "be not drunk with wine wherein is excess."(8) "Every creature of God is good"--the precept is intended for those who are careful how they may please their husbands.(9) Let those feed on flesh who serve the flesh, whose bodies boil with desire, who are tied to husbands, and who set their hearts on having offspring. Let those whose wombs are burthened cram their stomachs with flesh. But you have buried every indulgence in your husband's tomb: over his bier you have cleansed with tears a face stained with rouge and whitelead; you have exchanged a white robe and gilded buskins for a sombre tunic and black shoes; and only one thing more is needed, perseverance in fasting. Let paleness and squalor be henceforth your jewels. Do not pamper your youthful limbs with a bed of down or kindle your young blood with hot baths. Hear what words a heathen poet (10) puts into the mouth of a chaste widow:(11)
He, my first spouse, has robbed me of my loves. So be it: let him keep them in the tomb.
If common glass is worth so much, what must be the value of a pearl of price?(12) If in deference to a law of nature a Gentile widow can condemn all sensual indulgence, what must we expect from a Christian widow who owes her chastity not to one who is dead but to one with whom she shall reign in heaven?
8. Do not, I pray you, regard these general remarks--applying as they do to all young women--as intended to insult you or to take you to task. I write in a spirit of apprehension, yet pray that you may never know the nature of my fears. A woman's reputation is a tender plant; it is like a fair flower which withers at the slightest blast and fades away at the first breath of wind. Especially is this so when she is of an age to fall into temptation and the authority of a husband is wanting to her. For the very shadow of a husband is a wife's safeguard. What has a widow to do with a large household or with troops of retainers? As servants, it is true, she must not despise them, but as men she ought to blush before them. If a grand establishment requires such domestics, let her at least set over them an old man of spotless morals whose dignity may guard the honour of his mistress. I know of many widows who, although they live with closed doors, have not escaped the imputation of too great intimacy with their servants. These latter become objects of suspicion when they dress above their degree, or when they are stout and sleek, or when they are of an age inclined to passion, or when knowledge of the favour in which they are secretly held betrays itself in a too confident demeanour. For such pride, however carefully concealed, is sure to break out in a contempt for fellow- servants as servants. I make these seemingly superfluous remarks that you may keep your heart with all diligence(1) and guard against every scandal that may be broached concerning you.
9. Take no well-curled steward to walk with you, no effeminate actor, no devilish singer of poisoned sweetness, no spruce and smooth-shorn youth. Let no theatrical compliments, no obsequious adulation be associated with you. Keep with you bands of widows and virgins; and let your consolers be of your own sex. The character of the mistress is judged by that of the maid. So long as you have with you a holy mother, so long as an aunt vowed to virginity is at your side, you ought not to neglect them and at your own risk to seek the company of strangers. Let the divine scripture be always in your hands, and give yourself so frequently to prayer that such shafts of evil thoughts as ever assail the young may thereby find a shield to repel them. It is difficult, nay more it is impossible, to escape the beginnings of those internal motions which the Greeks with much significance call propa'theiai that is 'predispositions to passion.' The fact is that suggestions of sin tickle all our minds, and the decision rests with our own hearts either to admit or to reject the thoughts which come. The Lord of nature Himself says in the gospel:--"out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies."(1) It is clear from the testimony of another book that "the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth,"(2) and that the soul wavers between the works of the flesh and of the spirit enumerated by the apostle,(3) desiring now the former and now the latter. For
From faults no mortal man is wholly free; The best is he who has but few of them.(4)
And, to quote the same poet,
"At moles men cavil when they mark fair skins."(5)
To the same effect in different words the prophet says:--"I am so troubled that I cannot speak,"(6) and in the same book, "Be ye angry and sin not."(7) So Archytas of Tarentum(8) once said to a careless steward: "I should have flogged you to death had I not been in a passion." For "the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."(9) Now what is here said of one form of perturbation may be applied to all. Just as auger is human and the repression of it Christian, so it is with other passions. The flesh always lusts after the things of the flesh, and by its allurements draws the soul to partake of deadly pleasures; but it is for us Christians to restrain the desire for sensual indulgence by an intenser love for Christ. It is for us to break in the mettlesome brute within us by fasting, in order that it may desire not lust but food and amble easily and steadily forward having for its rider the Holy Spirit.
10. Why do I write thus? To shew you that you are but human and subject, unless you guard against them, to human passions. We are all of us made of the same clay and formed of the same elements. Whether we wear silk or rags we are all at the mercy of the same desire. It does not fear the royal purple; it does not disdain the squalor of the mendicant. It is better then to suffer in stomach than in soul to rule the body than to serve it, to lose one's balance than to lose one's chastity. Let us not lull ourselves with the delusion that we can always fall back on penitence. For this is at best but a remedy for misery. Let us shrink from incurring a wound which must be painful to cure. For it is one thing to enter the haven of salvation with ship safe and merchandise uninjured, and another to cling naked to a plank and, as the waves toss you this way and that, to be dashed again and again on the sharp rocks. A widow should be ignorant that second marriage is permitted; she should know nothing of the apostle's words:--"It is better to marry than to burn."(1) Remove what is said to be worse, the risk of burning, and marriage will cease to be regarded as good. Of course I repudiate the slanders of the heretics; I know that "marriage is honourable ... and the bed undefiled."(2) Yet Adam even after he was expelled from paradise had but one wife. The accursed and blood- stained Lamech, descended from the stock of Cain, was the first to make out of one rib two wives; and the seedling of digamy then planted was altogether destroyed by the doom of the deluge. It is true that in writing to Timothy the apostle from fear of fornication is forced to countenance second marriage. His words are these:--"I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully." But he immediately adds as a reason for this concession; "for some are already turned aside after Satan."(3) Thus we see that he is offering not a crown to those who stand but a helping hand to those who are down. What must a second marriage be if it is looked on merely as an alternative to the brothel! "For some," he writes, "are already turned aside after Satan." The upshot of the whole matter is that, if a young widow cannot or will not contain herself, she had better take a husband to her bed than the devil.
A noble alternative truly which is only to be embraced in preference to Satan! In old days even Jerusalem went a-whoring and opened her feet to every one that passed by.(4) It was in Egypt that she was first deflowered and there that her teats were bruised.(5) And afterwards when she had come to the wilderness and, impatient of the delays of her leader Moses, had said when maddened by the stings of lust: "these be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt,"(6) she received statutes that were not good and commandments that were altogether evil whereby she should not live(7) but should be punished through them. Is it surprising then that when the apostle had said in another place of young widows: "when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ they will marry, having damnation because they have cast off their first faith,"(1) he granted to such as should wax wanton statutes of digamy that were not good and commandments that were altogether evil? For the reason which he gives for allowing a second husband would justify a woman in marrying a third or even, if she liked, a twentieth. He evidently wished to shew them that he was not so much anxious that they should take husbands as that they should avoid paramours. These things, dearest daughter in Christ, I impress upon you and frequently repeat, that you may forget those things which are behind and reach forth unto those things which are before.(2) You have widows like yourself worthy to be your models, Judith renowned in Hebrew story and Anna the daughter of Phanuel famous in the gospel. Both these lived day and night in the temple and preserved the treasure of their chastity by prayer and by fasting. One was a type of the Church which cuts off the head of the devil(3) and the other first received in her arms the saviour of the world and had revealed to her the holy mysteries which were to come.(4) In conclusion I beg you to attribute the shortness of my letter not to want of language or scarcity of matter but to a deep sense of modesty which makes me fear to force myself too long upon the ears of a stranger, and causes me to dread the secret verdict of those who read my words.
LETTER LXXX: FROM RUFINUS TO MACARIUS.
Rufinus on his return from Bethlehem to Rome published a Latin version of Origen's treatise peri` Archw^n, On First Principles. To this he prefixed the preface which is here printed among Jerome's letters. Professing to take as his model Jerome's own translations of Origen's commentaries which he greatly praises, he declares that, following his example, he has paraphrased the obscure passages of the treatise and has paraphrased the obscure passages of the treatise and has omitted as due to interpolators such parts as seem heretical. This preface with its insincere praise of Jerome (whose name, however, is not mentioned) and its avowed manipulation of Origen's text caused much perplexity at Rome (see Letters LXXXI., LXXXIII., and LXXXIV.), and gave rise to the controversy between Rufinus and Jerome described in the Prolegomena, and given at length in vol. iii. of this Series. The date is 398 A.D.
1. Large numbers of the brethren have, I know, in their zeal for the knowledge of the scriptures begged learned men skilled in Greek literature to make Origen a Roman by bringing home his teaching to Latin ears. One of these scholars, a dear brother and associate,(5) at the request of bishop Damasus translated from Greek into Latin his two homilies on the Song of Songs and prefaced the work with an eloquent and eulogistic introduction such as could not fail to arouse in all an ardent desire to read and to study Origen. To the soul of that just man--so he declared--the words of the Song were applicable: "the king hath brought me into his chambers;"(1) and he went on to speak thus: "while in his other books Origen surpasses all former writers, in dealing with the Song of Songs he surpasses himself." In his preface he pledges himself to give to Roman ears these homilies of Origen and as many of his other works as he can. His style is certainly attractive but I can see that he aims at a more ambitious task than that of a mere translator. Not content with rendering the words of Origen he desires to be himself the teacher.(2) I for my part do but follow up an enterprise which he has sanctioned and commenced, but I lack his vigorous eloquence with which to adorn the sayings of this great man. I am even afraid lest my deficiencies and inadequate command of Latin may detract seriously from the reputation of one whom this writer has deservedly termed second only to the apostles as a teacher of the Church in knowledge and in wisdom.
2. Often turning this over in my mind I held my peace and refused to listen to the brethren when--as frequently happened--they urged me to undertake the work. But your persistence, most faithful brother Macarius, is so great that even want of ability cannot resist it. Thus, to escape the constant importunings to which you subject me, I have given way contrary to my resolution; yet only on these terms that, so far as is possible, I am to be free to follow the rules of translation laid down by my predecessors, and particularly those acted upon by the writer whom I have just mentioned. He has rendered into Latin more than seventy of Origen's homiletical treatises and a few also of his commentaries upon the apostle; (3) and in these wherever the Greek text presents a stumbling block, he has smoothed it down in his version and has so emended the language used that a Latin writer can find no word that is at variance with our faith. In his steps, therefore, I propose to walk, if not displaying the same vigorous eloquence at least observing the same rules. I shall not reproduce passages in Origen's books which disagree with or contradict his own statements elsewhere. The reason of these inconsistencies I have put more fully before you in the defence of Origen's writings composed by Pamphilianus(1) which I have supplemented by a short treatise of my own. I have given what I consider plain proofs that his books have been corrupted in numbers of places by heretics and ill-disposed persons, and particularly those which you now urge me to translate. The books peri` Archw^n, that is of Principles or of Powers, are in fact in other respects extremely obscure and difficult. For they treat of subjects on which the philosophers have spent all their days and yet have been able to discover nothing. In dealing with these themes Origen has done his best to make belief in a Creator and a rational account of things created subservient to religion and not, as with the philosophers, to irreligion. Wherever then in his books I have found a statement concerning the Trinity contrary to those which in other places he has faithfully made on the same subject, I have either omitted the passage as garbled and misleading or have substituted that view of the matter which I find him to have frequently asserted. Again, wherever--in haste to get on with his theme--he is brief or obscure relying on the skill and intelligence of his readers, I, to make the passage clearer, have sought to explain it by adding any plainer statements that I have read on the point in his other books. But I have added nothing of my own. The words used may be found in other parts of his writings: they are his, not mine. I mention this here to take from cavillers all pretext for once more(2) finding fault. But let such perverse and contentious persons look well to what they are themselves doing.
3. Meantime I have taken up this great task--if so be that God will grant your prayers-- not to stop the mouths of slanderers (an impossible feat except perhaps to God) but to give to those who desire it the means of making progress in knowledge.
In the sight of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,(3) I adjure and require everyone who shall either read or copy these books of mine, by his belief in a kingdom to come, by the mystery of the resurrection from the dead, by the eternal fire which is "prepared for the devil and his angels;(4) as he hopes not to inherit eternally that place where "there is weeping and gnashing of teeth,"(5) and where "their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched,"(6) let him add nothing to what is written, let him subtract nothing, let him insert nothing, let him alter nothing, but let him compare his transcript with the copies from which it is made, let him correct it to the letter and let him punctuate it aright. Every manuscript that is not properly corrected and punctuated he must reject: for otherwise the difficulties in the text arising from the want of punctuation will make obscure arguments still more obscure to those who read them.
LETTER LXXXI: TO RUFINUS.
A friendly letter of remonstrance written by Jerome to Rufinus on receipt of his version of the peri` Archw^n (see the preceding letter). Being sent in the first instance to Pammachius this latter treacherously suppressed it and thus put an end to all hope of the reconciliation of the two friends. The date of the letter is 399 A.D.
1. That you have lingered some time at Rome your own language shews. Yet I feel sure that a yearning to see your spiritual parents(1) would have drawn you to your native country,(2) had not grief for your mother deterred you lest a sorrow scarce bearable away might have proved unbearable at home.
As to your complaint that men listen only to the dictates of passion and refuse to acquiesce in your judgement and mine; the Lord is witness to my conscience that since our reconciliation I have harboured no rancour in my breast to injure anyone; on the contrary I have taken the utmost pains to prevent any chance occurrence being set down to ill-will. But what can I do so long as everyone supposes that Ire has a right to do as he does and thinks that in publishing a slander he is requiting not originating a calumny? True friendship ought never to conceal what it thinks.
The short preface to the books peri` Archw^n which has been sent to me I recognize as yours by the style. You know best with what intention it was written; but even a fool can see how it must necessarily be understood. Covertly or rather openly I am the person aimed at. I have often myself reigned a controversy to practise declamation.(3) Thus I might now recall this well-worn artifice and praise you in your own method.(4) But far be it from me to imitate what I blame in you. In fact I have so far restrained my feelings that I make no charge against you, and, although injured, decline for my part to injure a friend. But another time, if you wish to follow any one, pray be satisfied with your own judgement. The objects which we seek are either good or bad. If they are good, they need no help from another; and if they are bad, the fact that many sin together is no excuse. I prefer thus to expostulate with you as a friend rather than to give public vent to my indignation at the wrong I have suffered. I want you to see that when I am reconciled to anyone I become his sincere friend and do not--to borrow a figure from Plautus(1)--while offering him bread with one hand, hold a stone in the other.
2. My brother Paulinian has not yet returned from home and I fancy that you will see him at Aquileia at the house of the reverend pope Chromatius.(2) I am also sending the reverend presbyter Rufinus(3) on business to Milan by way of Rome, and have requested him to communicate to you my feelings and respects. I am sending the same message to the rest of my friends; lest, as the apostle says, ye bite and devour one another, ye be consumed one of another.(4) It only remains for you and your friends to shew your moderation by giving no offence to those who are disinclined to put up with it. For you will hardly find everyone like me. There are few who can be pleased with pretended eulogies.
LETTER LXXXII: TO THEOPHILUS BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA.
Two years after his former attempt (see Letter LXIII.) Theophilus again wrote to Jerome urging him to be reconciled with John of Jerusalem. Jerome replies that there is nothing he desires more earnestly than peace but that this must be real and not a hollow truce. He speaks very bitterly of John who has, he alleges, intrigued to procure his banishment from Palestine. He also deals with the ordination of his brother Paulinian (for which see Letter LI.)and defends himself for having translated Origen's commentaries by adducing the example of Hilary of Poitiers. This letter should be compared with the Treatise "Against John of Jerusalem" in this volume. Its date is 399 A.D.
1. Your letter shews you to possess that heritage of the Lord of which when going to the Father he said to the apostles, "peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you,"(5) and to own the happiness described in the words, "blessed are the peace-makers."(6) You coax as a father, you teach as a master, you enjoin as a bishop. You come to me not with a rod and severity but in a spirit of kindness, gentleness, and meekness.(7) Your opening words echo the humility of Christ who saved men not with thunder and lightning(8) but as a wailing babe in the manger and as a silent sufferer upon the cross. You have read the prediction made in one who was a type of Him, "Lord, remember David and all his meekness,"(1) and you know how it was fulfilled afterwards in Himself. "Learn of me," He said, "for I am meek and lowly in heart."(2) You have quoted many passages from the sacred books in praise of peace, you have flitted like a bee over the flowery fields of scripture, you have culled with cunning eloquence all that is sweet and conducive to concord. I was already running after peace, but you have made me quicken my pace: my sails were set for the voyage but your exhortation has filled them with a stronger breeze. I drink in the sweet streams of peace not reluctantly and with aversion but eagerly and with open mouth.
2. But what can I do, I who can only wish for peace and have no power to bring it about? Even though the wish may win its recompense with God, its futility must still sadden him who cherishes it. When the apostle said, "as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men,"(3) he knew quite well that the realisation of peace depends upon the consent of two parties. The prophet truly cries "They say Peace, peace: and yet there is no peace."(4) To overthrow peace by actions while professing it in words is not hard. To point out its advantages is one thing and to strive for it another. Men's speeches may be all for unity but their actions may enforce bondage. I wish for peace as much as others; and not only do I wish for it, I ask for it. But the peace which I want is the peace of Christ; a true peace, a peace without rancour, a peace which does not involve war, a peace which will not reduce opponents but will unite friends. How can I term domination peace? I must call things by their right names. Where there is hatred there let men talk of feuds; and where there is mutual esteem, there only let peace be spoken of. For my part I neither rend the church nor separate myself from the communion of the fathers. From my very cradle, I may say, I have been reared on Catholic milk; and no one can be a better churchman than one who has never been a heretic. But I know nothing of a peace that is without love or of a communion that is without peace. In the gospel I read:--"if thou bring thy gift to the altar and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."(5) If then we l may not offer gifts that are our own unless, we are at peace with our brothers; how much less can we receive the body of Christ if we cherish enmity in our hearts? How can I conscientiously approach Christ's eucharist and answer the Amen(1) if I doubt the charity of him who ministers it?
3. Hear me, I beg you with patience and do not take truthfulness for flattery. Is any man reluctant to communicate with you? Does any turn his face away when you hold out your hand? Does any at the holy banquet offer you the kiss of Judas?(2) At your approach the monks instead of trembling rejoice. They race to meet you and leaving their dens in the desert are fain to master you by their humility. What compels them to come forth? Is it not their love for you? What draws together the scattered dwellers in the desert? Is it not the esteem in which they hold you? A parent ought to love his children; and not only a parent but a bishop ought to be loved by his children. Neither ought to be feared. There is an old saying:(3) "whom a man fears he hates; and whom he hates, he would fain see dead." Accordingly, while for the young the holy scripture makes fear the beginning of knowledge,(4) it also tells us that "perfect love casteth out fear."(5) You exact no obedience from them; therefore the monks obey you. You offer them a kiss; therefore they bow the neck. You shew yourself a common soldier; therefore they make you their general. Thus from being one among many you become one above many. Freedom is easily roused if attempts are made to crush it. No one gets more from a free man than he who does not force him to be a slave. I know the canons of the church; I know what rank her ministers hold; and from men and books I have daily up to the present learned and gathered many things. The kingdom of the mild David was quickly dismembered by one who chastised his people with scorpions and fancied that his fingers were thicker than his father's loins.(6) The Roman people refused to brook insolence even in a king.(7) Moses was leader of the host of Israel; he brought ten plagues upon Egypt; sky, earth, and sea alike obeyed his commands: yet he is spoken of as "very meek above all the men which were" at that time "upon the face of the earth."(8) He maintained his forty-years' supremacy because he tempered the insolence of office with gentleness and meekness. When he was being stoned by the people he made intercession for them;(1) nay more he wished to be blotted out of God's book sooner than that the flock committed to him should perish.(2) He sought to imitate the Shepherd who would, he knew, carry on his shoulders even the wandering sheep. "The good Shepherd"--they are the Lord's own words--"layeth down his life for the sheep."(3) One of his disciples can wish to be anathema from Christ for his brethren's sake, his kinsmen according to the flesh who were Israelites.(4) If then Paul can desire to perish that the lost may not be lost, how much should good parents not provoke their children to wrath(5) or by too great severity embitter those who are naturally mild.
4. The limits of a letter compel me to restrain myself; otherwise, indignation would make me diffuse. In an epistle which its writer regards as conciliatory but which to me appears full of malice my opponent(6) admits that I have never calumniated him or accused him of heresy. Why then does he calumniate me by spreading a rumour that I am infected with that awful malady and am in revolt against the Church? Why is he so ready to spare his real assailants and so eager to injure me who have done nothing to injure him? Before my brother's ordination he said nothing of any dogmatic difference between himself and pope Epiphanius. What then can have "forced" him--I use his own word--publicly to argue a point which no one had yet raised? One so full of wisdom as you knows well the danger of such discussions and that silence is in such cases the safest course; except, indeed, on some occasion which renders it imperative to deal with great matters. What ability and eloquence it must have needed to compress into a single sermon--as he boasts to have done(7)--all the topics which the most learned writers have treated in detail in voluminous treatises! But this is nothing to me: it is for the hearers of the sermon to notice and for the writer of the letter to realize. But as for me he ought of his own accord to acquit me of bringing the charge against him. I was not present and did not hear the sermon. I was only one of the many, indeed hardly one of them; for while others were crying out I held my peace. Let us confront the accused and the accuser, and let us give credit to him whose services, life, and doctrine are seen to be the best.
5. You see, do you not, that I shut my eyes to many things and touch upon others only in the most cursory manner, hinting at what I suppose rather than saying out what I think.
I understand and approve your manoeuvres;(1) how in the interests of the peace of the Church you stop your ears when you come within range of the Sirens. Moreover, trained as you have been from childhood in sacred studies, you know exactly what is meant by each expression which you use. You knowingly employ ambiguous terms and carefully balanced sentences so as not to condemn others(2) or repudiate us.(3) But it is not a pure faith and a frank confession which look for quibbles or circumlocutions. What is simply believed must be professed with equal simplicity. For my part I could cry out--though it were amid the swords and fires of Babylon, "why does the answer evade the question? why is there no frank, straightforward declaration?" From beginning to end all is shrinking, compromise, ambiguity: as though he were trying to walk on spikes of corn. His blood boils with eagerness for peace; yet he will not give a straightforward answer! others are free to insult him; for, when he is insulted, he does not venture to retaliate. I meantime hold my peace: for the present I shall let it be thought that I am too busy, or ignorant, or afraid; for how would he treat me were I to accuse him, if when I praise him--as he admits himself that I do--he secretly traduces me?
6. His whole letter is less an exposition of his faith than a mass of calumnies aimed at myself. Without any of those mutual courtesies which men may use towards each other without flattery, he takes up my name again and again, flouts it, and bandies it about as though I were blotted out of the book of the living. He thinks that he has beaten me black and blue with his letter; and that I live for the trifles at which he aims, I who from my boyhood have been shut up in a monastic cell, and have always made it my aim to be rather than to seem a good man. Some of us, it is true, he mentions with respect, but only that he may afterwards wound us more deeply. As if, forsooth, we too have no open secrets to reveal! One of his charges is that we have allowed a slave to be ordained. Yet he himself has clergymen of the same class, and he must have read of Onesimus who, being made regenerate by Paul in prison,(4) from a slave became a deacon. Then he throws out that the slave in question was a common informer; and, lest he should be compelled to prove the charge, declares he has it from hearsay only! Why, if I had chosen to repeat the talk of the crowd and to listen to scandal-mongers, he would have learned before now that I too know what all the world knows and have heard the same stories as other people. He declares farther that ordination has been given to this slave as a reward for a slander spread abroad by him. Does not such cunning and subtlety appal one? And is there any answer to eloquence so overwhelming? Which is best, to spread a calumny or to suffer from one? To accuse a man whose love you may afterwards wish for, or to pardon a sinner? And is it more tolerable that a common informer should be made a consul than that he should be made an aedile?(1) He knows what I pass over in silence and what I say; what I myself have heard and what--from the fear of Christ--I perhaps refuse to believe.
7. He charges me with having translated Origen into Latin. In this I do not stand alone for the confessor Hilary has done the same, and we are both at one in this that while we have rendered all that is useful, we have cut away all that was harmful. Let him read our versions for himself, if he knows how (and as he constantly converses and daily associates with Italians,(2) I think he cannot be ignorant of Latin); or else, if he cannot quite take it in, let him use his interpreters and then he will come to know that I deserve nothing but praise for the work on which he grounds a charge against me. For, while I have always allowed to Origen his great merit as an interpreter and critic of the scriptures, I have invariably denied the truth of his doctrines. Is it I then that let him loose upon the crowd? Is it I that act sponsor to other preachers like him? No, for I know that a difference must be made between the apostles and all other preachers. The former always speak the truth; but the latter being men sometimes go astray. It would be a strange defence of Origen surely to admit his faults and then to excuse them by saying that other men have been guilty of similar ones! As if, when you cannot venture to defend a man openly, you may hope to shield him by imputing his mistake to a number of others! As for the six thousand volumes of Origen of which he speaks, it is impossible that any one should have read books which have never been written: and I for my part find it easier to suppose that this falsehood is due to the man who professes to have heard it rather than to him who is said to have told it.(3)
8. Again he avers that my brother(1) is the cause of the disagreement which has arisen, a man who is content to stay in a monastic cell and who regards the clerical office as onerous rather than honourable. And although up to this very day he has spoon-fed us with insincere protestations of peace, he has caused commotion in the minds of the western bishops(2) by telling them that a mere youth, hardly more than a boy, has been ordained(3) presbyter of Bethlehem in his own diocese. If this is the truth, all the bishops of Palestine must be aware of it. For the monastery of the reverend pope Epiphanius--called the old monastery--where my brother was ordained presbyter is situated in the district of Eleutheropolis(4) and not in that of Aelia.(5) Furthermore his age is well known to your Holiness; and as he has now attained to thirty years I apprehend that no blame can attach to him on that score. Indeed this particular age is stamped as full and complete by the mystery of Christ's assumed manhood. Let him call to mind the ancient law, and he will see that after his twenty-fifth rear a Levite might be chosen to the priesthood;(6) or if in this passage he prefers to follow the Hebrew he will find that candidates for the priesthood must be thirty years old. And that he may not venture to say that "old things are passed away; and, behold, all things are become new,"(7) let him hear the apostle's words to Timothy, "Let no man despise thy youth."(8) Certainly when my opponent was himself ordained bishop, he was not much older than my brother is now. And if he argues that youth is no hindrance to a bishop but that it is to a presbyter because a young elder(9) is a contradiction in terms, I ask him this question: Why has he himself ordained a presbyter of this age or younger still, and that too to minister in another man's church? But if he cannot be at peace with my brother unless he consents to submit and to renounce the bishop who has ordained him, he shews plainly that his object is not peace but revenge, and that he will not rest satisfied with the quietude of repose and peace unless he is able to inflict to the full every penalty that he now threatens. Had he himself ordained my brother, it would have made no difference to this latter. So dearly does he love seclusion that he would even then have continued to live quietly and would not have exercised his office. And should the bishop have seen fit to rend the church on that score, he would then have owed him nothing save the respect which is due to all who offer sacrifice.(1)
9. So much for his prolix defence of himself or I should rather say his attack on me. In this letter I have only answered him briefly and cursorily that from what I have said he may perceive what I do not say, and may know that as I am a human being I am a rational animal and well able to understand his shrewdness, and that I am not so obtuse or brutish as to catch only the sound of his words and not their meaning. I now ask of you to pardon my chagrin and to allow that if it is arrogant to answer back, it is yet more arrogant to bring baseless charges. Yet my answer has indicated what I might have said rather than has actually said it. Why do men look for peace at a distance? and why do they wish to have it enforced by word of command? Let them shew themselves peacemakers, and peace will follow at once. Why do they use the name of your holiness to terrorize us, when your letter--strange contrast to their harsh and menacing words-- breathes only peace and meekness? For that the letter which Isidore the presbyter has brought for me from you does make for peace and harmony I know by this, that these insincere professors of a wish for peace have refused to deliver it to me. Let them choose whichever alternative they please. Either I am a good man or I am a bad one. If I am a good one let them leave me in quiet if I am a bad one, why do they desire to be in bad company? Surely my opponent has learnt by experience the value of humility. He who now tears asunder things which, formerly separate, he of his own will put together, proves that in severing now what he then joined, he is acting at the instigation of another.(2)
10. Recently he sought and obtained a decree of exile against me, and I only wish that he had been able to carry it out,(3) so that, as the will is imputed to him for the deed, so I, too not in will only but in deed might wear the crown of exile. The church of Christ has been founded by shedding its own blood not that of others, by enduring outrage not by inflicting it. Persecutions have made it grow; martyrdoms have crowned it. Or if the Christians among whom I live are unique in their love of severity and know only how to persecute and not how to undergo persecution, there are Jews here, there are heretics professing various false doctrines, and in particular the foulest of all, I mean, Manichaeism. Why is it that they do not venture to say a word against them? Why am I the only person they wish to drive into exile? Am I who communicate with the church the only person of whom it can be said that he rends the church? I put it to you, is it not a fair demand either that they should expel these others as well as myself, or that, if they keep them, they should keep me too? All the same they honour men by sending them into exile, for by so doing they separate them from the company of heretics. It is a monk,(1) shame to say, who menaces monks and obtains decrees of exile against them; and that too a monk who boasts that he holds an apostolic chair. But the monastic tribe does not succumb to terrorism: it prefers to expose its neck to the impending sword rather than to allow its hands to be tied. Is not every monk an exile from his country? Is he not an exile from the whole world? Where is the need for the public authority, the cost of a rescript, the journeyings up and down the earth to obtain one? Let him but touch me with his little finger, and I will go into exile of myself. "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof."(2) Christ is not shut up in any one spot.
11. Moreover when he writes that, though I seem to be separated from communion with him, I in reality hold communion with him through you and through the church of Rome: he need not go so far afield, for I am connected with him in the same way also here in Palestine. And lest even this should appear distant, in this village of Bethlehem I hold communion with his presbyters as much as I can. Thus it is clear that a private chagrin is not to be taken for the cause of the church, and that one man's choler, or even that of several stirred up by him, ought not to be styled the displeasure of the church. Accordingly I now repeat what I said at the beginning of my letter that I for my part am desirous of Christ's peace, that I pray for harmony, and that I request you to admonish him not to exact peace but to purpose it. Let him be satisfied with the pain which he has caused by the insults that he has inflicted upon me in the past. Let him efface old wounds by a little new charity. Let him shew himself what he was before, when of his own choice he bestowed upon me his esteem. Let his words no longer be tinged with a gall that flows from the heart of another. Let him do what he wishes himself, and not what others force him to wish. Either as a pontiff, let him exercise authority over all alike, or as a follower of the apostle, let him serve all for the salvation of all.(1) If he will shew himself such, I am ready freely to yield and to hold out my arms; he will find me a friend and a kinsman, and will perceive that in Christ I am submissive to him as to all the saints. "Charity," writes the apostle, "suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not; ... is not puffed up ... beareth all things, believeth all things." (2) Charity is the mother of all virtues, and the apostle's words about faith hope and charity(3) are like that threefold cord which is not quickly broken.(4) We believe we hope, and through our faith and hope we are joined together in the bond of charity.(5) It is for these virtues that I and others have left our homes, it is for these that we would live peaceably without any contention in the fields and alone; paying all due veneration to Christ's pontiffs--so long as they preach the right faith--not because we fear them as lords but because we honour them as fathers deferring also to bishops as bishops, but refusing to serve under compulsion, beneath the shadow of episcopal authority, men whom we do not choose to obey. I am not so much puffed up in mind as not to know what is due to the priests of Christ. For he who receives them, receives not them but Him, whose bishops they are.(6) But let them be content with the honour which is theirs. Let them know that they are fathers and not lords, especially in relation to those who scorn the ambitions of the world and count peace and repose the best of all things. And may Christ who is Almighty God grant to your prayers that I and my opponent may be united not in a feigned and hollow peace but in true and sincere mutual esteem, lest biting and devouring one another we be consumed one of another.(7)
LETTER LXXXIII: FROM PAMMACHIUS AND OCEANUS.
A letter from Pammachius and Oceanus in which they express the, perplexity into which they have been thrown by Rufinus s version of Origen's treatise, On First Principles (see Letter LXXX.) and request Jerome to make for them a literal translation of the work. Written in 399 or 400 A .D.
1. Pammachius and Oceanus to the presbyter Jerome, health.
A reverend brother has brought to us sheets containing a certain person's translation into Latin of a treatise by Origen--entitled peri` Archw^n. These contain many things which disturb our poor wits and which appear to us to be uncatholic. We suspect also that with a view of clearing the author many passages of his books have been removed which had they been left would have plainly proved the irreligious character of his teaching. We therefore request your excellency to be so good as to bestow upon this particular matter an attention which will benefit not only ourselves but all who reside in the city; we ask you to publish in your own language the abovementioned book of Origen exactly as it was brought out by the author himself; and we desire you to make evident the interpolations which his defender has introduced. You will also confute and overthrow all statements in the sheets which we have sent to your holiness that are ignorantly made or contradict the Catholic faith. The writer in the preface to his work has, with much subtlety but without mentioning your holiness's name, implied that he has done no more than complete a work which you had yourself promised, thus indirectly suggesting that you agree with him. Remove then the suspicions men cannot help feeling and confute your assailant; for, if you ignore his implications, people will say that you admit their truth.
LETTER LXXXIV: TO PAMMACHIUS AND OCEANUS.
A calm letter in which Jerome defines and justifies his own attitude towards Origen, but unduly minimizes his early enthusiasm for him. He admires him in the same way that Cyprian admired Tertullian but does not in any way adopt his errors. He then describes his own studies and recounts his obligations to Apollinaris, Didymus, and a Jew named Bar-anina. The rest of the letter deals with the errors of Origen, the state of the text of his writings, and the eulogy of him composed by the martyr Pamphilus (the authenticity of which Jerome assails without any sufficient reason). The date of the letter is 400 A .D.
Jerome to the brothers Pammachius and Oceanus, with all good wishes.
1. The sheets that you send me(1) cover me at once with compliments and confusion; for, while they praise my ability, they take away my sincerity in the faith. But as both at Alexandria and at Rome and, I may say, throughout the whole world good men have made it a habit to take the same liberties with my name, esteeming me only so far that they cannot bear to be heretics without having me of the number, I will leave aside personalities and only answer specific charges. For it is of no benefit to a cause to encounter railing with railing and to retaliate for attacks upon oneself by attacks upon one's opponents. We are commanded not to return evil for evil(1) but to overcome evil with good,(2) to take our fill of insults, and to turn the other cheek to the smiter.(3)
2. It is charged against me that I have sometimes praised Origen. If I am not mistaken I have only done so in two places, in the short preface (addressed to Damasus) to his homilies on the Song of Songs and in the prologue to my book of Hebrew Names. In these passages do the dogmas of the church come into question? Is anything said of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost? or of the resurrection of the flesh? or of the condition and material of the soul? I have merely praised the simplicity of his rendering and commentary and neither the faith nor the dogmas of the Church come in at all. Ethics only are dealt with and the mist of allegory is dispelled by a clear explanation. I have praised the commentator but not the theologian, the man of intellect but not the believer, the philosopher but not the apostle. But if men wish to know my real judgement upon Origen; let them read my commentaries upon Ecclesiastes, let them go through my three books upon the epistle to the Ephesians: they will then see that I have always opposed his doctrines. How foolish it would be to eulogize a system so far as to endorse its blasphemy! The blessed Cyprian takes Tertullian for his master, as his writings prove; yet, delighted as he is with the ability of this learned and zealous writer he does not join him in following Montanus and Maximilla.(4) Apollinaris is the author of a most weighty book against Porphyry, and Eusebius has composed a fine history of the Church; yet of these the former has mutilated Christ's incarnate humanity,(5) while the latter is the most open champion of the Arian impiety.(6) "Woe," says Isaiah, "unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."(7) We must not detract from the virtues of our opponents--if they have any praiseworthy qualities--but neither must we praise the defects of our friends. Each several case must be judged on its own merits and not by a reference to the persons concerned. While Lucilius is rightly assailed by Horace(1) for the unevenness of his verses, he is equally rightly praised for his wit and his charming style.
3. In my younger days I was carried away with a great passion for learning, yet I was not like some presumptuous enough to teach myself. At Antioch I frequently listened to Apollinaris of Laodicea, and attended his lectures; yet, although he instructed me in the holy scriptures, I never embraced his disputable doctrine as to their meaning. At length my head became sprinkled with gray hairs so that I looked more like a master than a disciple. Yet I went on to Alexandria and heard Didymus.(2) And I have much to thank him for: for what I did not know I learned from him, and what I knew already I did not forget. So excellent was his teaching. Men fancied that I had now made an end of learning. Yet once more I came to Jerusalem and to Bethlehem. What trouble and expense it cost me to get Baraninas(3) to teach me under cover of night. For by his fear of the Jews he presented to me in his own person a second edition of Nicodemus.(4) Of all of these I have frequently made mention in my works. The doctrines of Apollinaris and of Didymus are mutually contradictory. The squadrons of the two leaders must drag me in different directions, for I acknowledge both as my masters. If it is expedient to hate any men and to loath any race, I have a strange dislike to those of the circumcision. For up to the present day they persecute our Lord Jesus Christ in the synagogues of Satan.(5) Yet can anyone find fault with me for having had a Jew as a teacher? Does a certain person dare to bring forward against me the letter I wrote to Didymus calling him my master? It is a great crime, it would seem, for me a disciple to give to one both old and learned the name of master. And yet when I ask leave to look at the letter which has been held over so long to discredit me at last, there is nothing in it but courteous language and a few words of greeting. Such charges are both foolish and frivolous. It would be more to the point to exhibit a passage in which I have defended heresy or praised some wicked doctrine of Origen. In the portion of Isaiah which describes the crying of the two seraphim(6) he explains these to be the Son and the Holy Ghost; but have not I altered this hateful explanation into a reference to the two testaments?(7) I have the book in my hand as it was published twenty years ago. In numbers of my works and especially in my commentaries I have, as occasion has offered, mangled this heathen school. And if my opponents allege that I have done more than anyone else to form a collection of Origen's books, I answer that I only wish I could have the works of all theological writers that by diligent study of them, I might make up for the slowness of my own wits. I have made a collection of his books, I admit; but because I know everything that he has written I do not follow his errors. I speak as a Christian to Christians: believe one who has tried him. His doctrines are poisonous, they are unknown to the Holy Scriptures, nay more, they do them violence. I have read Origen, I repeat, I have read him; and if it is a crime to read him, I admit my guilt: indeed, these Alexandrian writings have emptied my purse. If you will believe me, I have never been an Origenist: if you will not believe me, I have now ceased to be one. But if even this fails to convince you, you will compel me in self-defence to write against your favourite, so that, if you will not believe me when I disclaim him, you will have to believe me when I attack him. But I find readier credence when I go wrong than when I shew amendment. And this is not surprising, for my would-be friends suppose me a fellow-disciple with them in the arcana of their system. I am loath, they fancy, to profess esoteric doctrines before persons who according to them are brute-like and made of clay. For it is an axiom with them that pearls ought not to be lightly cast before swine, nor that which is holy given to the dogs.(1) They agree with David when he says: "Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee;"(2) and when in another place he describes the righteous man as one "who speaketh truth with his neighbour,"(3) that is with those who "are of the household of faith."(4) From these passages they conclude that those of us who as yet are uninitiated ought to be told falsehoods, lest, being still unweaned babes, we should be choked by too solid food. Now that perjury and lying enter into their mysteries and form a bond between them appears most clearly from the sixth book of Origen's Miscellanies,(5) in which he harmonizes the Christian doctrine(6) with the conceptions of Plato.
4. What must I do then? deny that I am of Origen's opinion? They will not believe me. Swear that I am not? They will laugh and say that I deal in lies. I will do the one thing which they dread. I will bring forward their sacred rites and mysteries, and will expose the cunning whereby they delude simple folk like myself. Perhaps, although they refuse credence to my voice when I deny, they may believe my pen when I accuse. Of one thing they are particularly apprehensive, and that is that their writings may some day be taken as evidence against their master. They are ready to make statements on oath and to disclaim them afterwards with an oath as false as the first. When asked for their signatures they use shifts and seek excuses. One says: "I cannot condemn what no one else has condemned." Another says: "No decision was arrived at on the point by the Fathers."(1) It is thus that they appeal to the judgment of the world to put off the necessity of assenting to a condemnation. Another says with yet more assurance: "how am I to condemn men whom the council of Nicaea has left untouched? For the council which condemned Arius would surely have condemned Origen too, had it disapproved of his doctrines." They were bound in other words to cure all the diseases of the church at once and with one remedy; and by parity of reasoning we must deny the majesty of the Holy Ghost because nothing was said of his nature in that council. But the question was of Arius, not of Origen; of the Son, not of the Holy Ghost. The bishops at the council proclaimed their adherence to a dogma which was at the time denied; they said nothing about a difficulty which no one had raised. And yet they covertly struck at Origen as the source of the Arian heresy: for, in condemning those who deny the Son to be of the substance of the Father, they have condemned Origen as much as Arius. On the ground taken by these persons we have no right to condemn Valentine,(2) Marcion,(3) or the Cataphrygians,(4) or Manichaeus, none of whom are named by the council of Nicaea, and yet there is no doubt that in time they were prior to it. But when they find themselves pressed either to subscribe or to leave the Church, you may see some strange twisting. They qualify their words, they arrange them anew, they use vague expressions; so as, if possible, to, hold both our confession and that of our opponents, to be called indifferently heretics and Catholics. As if it were not in the same spirit that the Delphian Apollo (or, as he is sometimes called, Loxias) gave his oracles to Croesus and to Pyrrhus; cheating with a similar device two men widely separated in time.(1) To make my meaning clear I will give a few examples.
5. We believe, say they, in the resurrection of the body. This confession, if only it be sincere, is free from objection. But as there are bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial(2) and as thin air and the aether are both according to their natures Called bodies, they use the word body instead of the word flesh in order that an orthodox person hearing them say body may take them to mean flesh while a heretic will understand that they mean spirit. This is their first piece of craft, and if this is found out, they devise fresh wiles, and, pretending innocence themselves, accuse us of malice. As though they were frank believers they say, "We believe in the resurrection of the flesh." Now when they have said this, the ignorant crowd thinks it ought to be satisfied, particularly because these exact words are found in the creed.(3) If you go on to question them farther, a buzz of disapproval is heard in the ring and their backers cry out: "You have heard them say that they believe in the resurrection of the flesh; what more do you want?" the popular favour is transferred from our side to theirs, and while they are called honest, we are looked on as false accusers. But if you set your face steadily and keeping a firm hold of their admission about the flesh, proceed to press them as to whether they assert the resurrection of that flesh which is visible and tangible, which walks and speaks, they first laugh and then signify their assent. And when we inquire whether the resurrection will exhibit anew the hair and the teeth, the chest and the stomach, the hands and the feet, and all the other members of the body, then no longer able to contain their mirth they burst out laughing and tell us that in that case we shall need barbers, and cakes, and doctors, and cobblers. Do we, they ask us in turn, believe that after the resurrection men's cheeks will still be rough and those of women smooth, and that sex will differentiate their bodies as it does at present? Then if we admit this, they at once deduce from our admission conclusions involving the grossest materialism. Thus, while they maintain the resurrection of the body as a whole, they deny the resurrection of its separate members.
6. The present is not a time to speak rhetorically against a perverse doctrine. Neither the rich vocabulary of Cicero nor the fervid eloquence of Demosthenes could adequately convey the warmth of my feeling, were I to attempt to expose the quibbles by which these heretics, while verbally professing a belief in the resurrection, in their hearts deny it. For their women finger their breasts, slap their chests, pinch their legs and arms, and say, "What will a resurrection profit us if these frail bodies are to rise again? No, if we are to be like angels,(1) we shall have the bodies of angels." That is to say they scorn to rise again with the flesh and bones wherewith even Christ rose.(2) Now suppose for a moment that in my youth I went astray and that, trained as I was in the schools of heathen philosophy, I was ignorant, in the beginning of my faith, of the dogmas of Christianity, and fancied that what I had read in Pythagoras and Plato and Empedocles was also contained in the writings of the apostle: Supposing, I say, that I believed all this, why do you yet follow the error of a mere babe and sucking child in Christ? Why do you learn irreligion of one who as yet knew not religion? After shipwreck one has still a plank to cling to;(3) and one may atone for sin by a frank confession. You have followed me when I have gone astray; follow me also now that I have been brought back. In youth we have wandered; now that we are old let us mend our ways. Let us unite our tears and our groans; let us weep together, and return to the Lord our Maker.(4) Let us not wait for the repentance of the devil; for this is a vain anticipation and one that will drag us into the deep of hell. Life must be sought or lost here. If I have never followed Origen, it is in vain that you seek to discredit me: if I have been his disciple, imitate my penitence. You have believed my confession; credit also my denial.
7. But it will be said, "If you knew these things, why did you praise him in your works?" I should praise him today but that you and men like you praise his errors. I should still find his talent attractive, but that some people have been attracted by his impiety. "Read(5) all things," says the apostle, "hold fast that which is good."(6) Lactantius in his books and particularly in his letters to Demetrian altogether denies the subsistence of the Holy Spirit, and following the error of the Jews says that the passages in which he is spoken of refer to the Father or to the Son and that the words 'holy spirit' merely prove the holiness of these two persons in the Godhead. But who can forbid me to read his Institutes--in which he has written against the Gentiles with much ability-- simply because this opinion of his is to be abhorred? Apollinaris(1) has written excellent treatises against Porphyry, and I approve of his labours, although I despise his doctrine in many points because of its foolishness. If you too for your parts will but admit that Origen errs in certain things I will not say another syllable. Acknowledge that he thought amiss concerning the Son, and still more amiss concerning the Holy Spirit, point out the impiety of which he has been guilty in speaking of men's souls as having fallen from heaven, and shew that, while in word he asserts the resurrection of the flesh, he destroys the force of this language by other assertions. As, for instance, that, after many ages and one "restitution of all things,"(2) it will be the same for Gabriel as for the devil, for Paul as for Caiaphas, for virgins as for prostitutes. When once you have rejected these misstatements and have parted them with your censor's wand from the faith of the Church, I may read what left with safety, and having first taken the antidote need no longer dread the poison. For instance it will do me no harm to say as I have said, "Whereas in his other books Origen has surpassed all other writers, in commenting on the Song of Songs he has surpassed himself"; nor will I fear to face the words with which formerly in my younger days I spoke of him as a doctor of the churches.(3) Will it be pretended, that I was bound to accuse a man whose works was translating by special request? that I was bound to say in my preface, "This writer whose books I translate is a heretic: beware of him, reader, read him not, flee from the viper: or, if you are bent on reading him, know that the treatises which I have translated have been garbled by heretics and wicked men; yet you need not fear, for I have corrected all the places which they have corrupted," that in other words I ought to have said: "the writer that I translate is a heretic, but I, his translator, am a Catholic." The fact is that you and your party in your anxiety to be straightforward, ingenuous, and honest, have paid too little regard to the precepts of rhetoric and to the devices of oratory. For in admitting that his books On First Principles are heretical and in trying to lay the blame of this upon others, you raise difficulties for your readers; you induce them to examine the whole life of the author and to form a judgment on the question from the remainder of his writings. I on the other hand have been wise enough to emend silently what I wished to emend: thus by ignoring the crime I have averted prejudice from the criminal. Doctors tell us that serious maladies ought not to be subjected to treatment, but should be left to nature, lest the remedies applied should intensify the disease. It is now almost one hundred and fifty years since Origen died at Tyre.(1) Yet what Latin writer has ever ventured to translate his books On the Resurrection and On First Principles, his Miscellanies(2) and his Commentaries or as he himself calls them his Tomes?(3) Who has ever cared by so infamous a work to cover himself with infamy? I am not more eloquent than Hilary or truer to the faith than Victorinus who both have rendered his Homilies(4) not in exact versions but in independent paraphrases. Recently also Ambrose appropriated his Six Days' Work,(5) but in such a way that it expressed the views of Hippolytus and Basil rather than of Origen. You profess to take me for your model, and blind as moles in relation to others you scan me with the eyes of gazelles. Well, had I been ill-disposed towards Origen, I might have translated these very books so as to make his worst writings known to Latin readers; but this I have never done; and, though many have asked me, I have always refused. For it has never been my habit to crow over the mistakes of men whose talents I admire. Origen himself, were he still alive, would soon fall out with you his would-be patrons and would say with Jacob: "Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land."(6)
8. Does any one wish to praise Origen Let him praise him as I do. From his childhood he was a great man, and truly a martyr's son.(7) At Alexandria he presided over the school of the church, succeeding a man of great learning the presbyter Clement. So greatly did he abhor sensuality that, out of a zeal for God but yet one not according to knowledge,(9) he castrated himself with a knife. Covetousness he trampled under foot. He knew the scriptures by heart and laboured hard day and night to explain their meaning. He delivered in church more than a thousand sermons, and published innumerable commentaries which he called tomes. These I now pass over, for it is not my purpose to catalogue his writings. Which of us can read all that he has written? and who can fail to admire his enthusiasm for the scriptures? If some one in the spirit of Judas the Zealot(1) brings up to me his mistakes, he shall have his answer in the words of Horace:
'Tis true that sometimes Homer sleeps, but then He's not without excuse: The fault is venial, for his work is long.(2)
Let us not imitate the faults of one whose virtues we cannot equal. Other men have erred concerning the faith, both Greeks and Latins, but I must not mention their names lest I should be supposed to defend Origen not by his own merits but by the errors of others. This, you will say, is to accuse them and not to excuse him. You would be right, if I had declared him not to have erred, or if I had professed a belief that the apostle Paul or an angel from heaven(3) ought to be listened to in a depravation of the faith. But as it is seeing I frankly admit him to be wrong, I may read him on the same terms as I read others, because if he is wrong so also are they. But you may say, If error is common to many, why do you assail him alone? I answer, because he alone is praised by you as an apostle. Take away your exaggerated love for him, and I am ready to take away the greatness of my dislike. While you gather other men's faulty statements out of their books merely to defend Origen in his error, you extol this latter to the sky and will not allow that he has erred at all. Whosoever you are who are thus preaching new doctrines, I beseech you, spare the ears of the Romans, spare the faith of a church which an apostle has praised.(4) Why after four hundred years do you try to teach us Romans doctrines of which until now we have known nothing? Why do you publicly proclaim opinions which Peter and Paul(5) refused to profess? Until now no such teaching has been heard of, and yet the world has become christian. For my part I will hold fast in my old age the faith wherein I was born again in my boyhood.(6) They speak of us as claytowners,(7) made out of dirt, brutish and carnal, because, say they, we refuse to receive the things of the spirit; but of course they themselves are citizens of Jerusalem and their mother is in heaven.(8) I do not despise the flesh in which Christ was born and rose again, or scorn the mud which, baked into a clean vessel, reigns in heaven. And yet I wonder why they who detract from the flesh live after the flesh,(9) and cherish and delicately nurture that which is their enemy. Perhaps indeed they wish to fulfil the words of scripture: "love your enemies and bless them that persecute you."(1) I love the flesh, but I love it only when it is chaste, when it is virginal, when it is mortified by fasting: I love not its works but itself, that flesh which knows that it must be judged, and therefore dies as a martyr for Christ, which is scourged and torn asunder and burned with fire.
9. The folly also of their contention that certain heretics and ill- disposed persons have tampered with Origen's writings may be shewn thus. Could any person be more wise, more learned, or more eloquent than were Eusebius and Didymus, Origen's supporters? Of these the former in the six volumes of his Apology(2) asserts that Origen is of the same mind with himself; while the latter, though he tries to excuse his errors, admits that he has made them. Not being able to deny what he finds written, he endeavours to explain it away. It is one thing to say that additions have been made by heretics, but another to maintain that heretical statements are commendable. Origen's case would be unique if his writings were falsified all over the world and if in one day by an edict like that of Mithridates(3) all the truth were shorn from his volumes. Even supposing that some one treatise of his has been tampered with, can it be possible that all his works, published as they were at different times and places, have been corrupted? Origen himself in a letter written to Fabian, bishop of Rome,(4) expresses penitence for having made erroneous statements, and charges Ambrose(5) with over haste in making public what was meant only for private circulation. And yet to this day his disciples search for shifts to prove that all that excites disapprobation in his writings is due not to him but to others.
10. Moreover, when they speak of Pamphilus as one who praised Origen, I am personally much obliged to them for accounting me worthy to be calumniated with that martyr. For if, sirs, you tell me that Origen's books have been tampered with by his enemies to bring them into discredit; why may not I in my turn allege that his friends and followers have attributed to Pamphilus a volume composed by themselves to vindicate their master from disrepute by the testimony of a martyr? Lo and behold, you yourselves correct in Origen's books passages which (according to you) he never wrote: and yet you are surprised if a man is said to have published a book which as a matter of fact he did not publish. But while your statements can easily be brought to the test by an appeal to Origen's published works; as Pamphilus has published nothing else, it is easier for calumny to fix a book upon him. For shew me any other work of Pamphilus; you will nowhere find any, this is his only one. How then can I know that it is by Pamphilus? You will tell me, that the style and tone ought to inform me. Well, I shall never believe that a man so learned has dedicated the first fruits of his talent to defend doubtful and discredited positions. The very name of an apology which the treatise bears implies a previous charge made; for nothing is defended that is not first attacked. I will now bring forward but a single argument, one, however, the force of which only folly and effrontery can deny. The treatise attributed to Pamphilus contains nearly the first thousand lines of Eusebius's sixth book in defence of Origen.(1) Yet in the remaining parts of his work the writer brings forward passages by which he seeks to prove that Origen was a Catholic. Now Eusebius and Pamphilus were in such thorough harmony with each other that they seemed to have but one soul between them, and one even went so far as to adopt the other's name.(2) How then could they have disagreed so fundamentally on this point, Eusebius in all his works proving Origen to be an Arian, and Pamphilus describing him as a supporter of the Nicene council, which had not yet been held? It is evident from this consideration that the book belongs not to Pamphilus but to Didymus or somebody else, who having cut off the head of Eusebius's sixth book supplied the other members himself. But I am willing to be generous and to allow that the book is written by Pamphilus, only by Pamphilus not yet a martyr. For he must have written the book before he underwent martyrdom. And why, you will say, was he accounted worthy of martyrdom? Surely that he might efface his error by a martyr's death, and wash away his one fault by shedding his blood. How many martyrs there have been all the world over who before their deaths have been the slaves of sins! Are we then to palliate the sins because those who committed them have afterwards become martyrs?
11. This reply to your letter, my most loving brothers, I have dictated in all haste; and, overcoming my scruples, I have taken up my pen against a man whose ability I once eulogized. I would sooner, indeed, risk my reputation than my faith. My friends have placed me in the awkward dilemma that if I say nothing I shall be held guilty, and if I offer a defence I shall be accounted an enemy. Both alternatives are hard; but of the two I will choose that which is the least so. A quarrel can be made up, but blasphemy can find no forgiveness. I leave to your judgment to discover how much labour I have expended in translating the books On First Principles; for on the one hand if one alters anything from the Greek the work becomes less a version than a perversion; and on the other hand a literal adherence to the original by no means tends to preserve the charm of its eloquence.
LETTER LXXXV: TO PAULINUS.
Paulinus had asked Jerome two questions,(1) how can certain passages of scripture (Exod. vii. 13: Rom. ix. 16) be reconciled with Free Will? and(2) Why are the children of believers said to be holy (1 Cor. vii. 14) apart from baptismal grace? For the first of these questions Jerome refers Paulinus to his version (newly made) of Origen's treatise, On First Principles. For the second he quotes the explanation of Tertullian. Written in 400 A.D.
1. Your words urge me to write to you but your eloquence deters me from doing so. For as a letter-writer you are almost as good as Tully. You complain that my letters are short and unpolished: this is not due to carelessness but to fear of you, lest writing to you at greater length I should but send you more sentences to find fault with. Moreover, to make a clean breast of it to a good man like you, just about the time the vessels sail for the west, so many letters are demanded of me at once that, if I were to reply to all my correspondents, I should be unable to accomplish my task. Hence it happens that, neglecting the niceties of composition and not revising the work of my secretaries, I dictate whatever first comes into my head. Thus when I write to you I regard you as a friend and not as a critic.
2. Your letter propounds two questions, the first, why God hardened Pharaoh's heart, and why the apostle said: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy;"(1) and other things which appear to do away with free will: the second, how those are holy who are born of believing, that is, of baptized parents,(2) seeing that without the gift of grace afterwards received and kept they cannot be saved.
3. Your first question is most ably answered by Origen in his treatise on First Principles which, at the request of my friend Pammachius, I have recently translated. This task has occupied me so fully that I am unable to keep my word with you and must again postpone the sending my commentary on Daniel. Indeed, distinguished and devoted to me as Pammachius is, had he been alone in his request, I should have deferred it to another time, but, as it was, almost all our brothers at Rome urged the same demand declaring that many persons were in danger, and that some even accepted Origen's heretical teaching. I have found myself forced therefore to translate a book in which there is more of bad than of good, and to keep to this rule that I should neither add nor subtract but should preserve in Latin in its integrity the true sense of the Greek. You will be able to borrow a copy of my version from the aforesaid brother, though in your case the Greek will serve quite as well neither should you, who can drink from the fountain head, turn to the muddy streamlets supplied by my poor wits.
4. Moreover, as I am speaking to an educated man, well versed both in the sacred scriptures and in secular literature, I desire to give your excellency this note of warning. Do not suppose that I am a clumsy buffoon(1) who condemn everything that Origen has written,--as his injudicious friends falsely assert--or that I have changed my mind as suddenly as the philosopher Dionysius.(2) The fact is that I repudiate merely his objectionable dogmas. For I know that one curse hangs over those who call evil good and over those who call good evil, over those who put bitter for sweet, and over those who put sweet for bitter.(3) Who would go so far in praise of another man's teaching as to acquiesce in blasphemy?
5. Your second question is discussed by Tertullian in his books an Monogamy(4) where he declares that the children of believers are l called holy because they are as it were candidates for the faith and have suffered no pollution from idolatry. Consider also that the vessels of which we read in the tabernacle are called holy and everything else required for the ceremonial worship: although in strictness of speech there can be nothing holy except creatures which know of and worship God. But it is a scriptural usage sometimes to give the name of holy to those who are clean, or who have been purified, or who have made expiation. For instance, it is written of Bathsheba that she was made holy(1) from her uncleanness,(2) and the temple itself is called the holy place.
6. I beg that you will not silently in your mind accuse me either of vanity or of insincerity. God bears me witness in my conscience that the unavoidable circumstances mentioned above drew me back when I was just going to grapple with my commentary; and you know that what is done when the mind is pre-occupied is never well done. I gladly accept the cap that you have sent me, a mark, though small, of no small affection and just the thing to keep an old man's head warm. I am delighted alike with the gift and with the giver.
LETTER LXXXVI: TO THEOPHILUS.
Jerome congratulates Theophilus on the success of his crusade against Origenism, and speaks of the good work done in Palestine by his emissaries Priscus and Eubulus. He then (by a singular change in his sentiments) asks Theophilus to forgive John of Jerusalem for having unwittingly received an excommunicated Egyptian. The date of the Letter is 400 A.D.
Jerome to the most blessed Pope Theophilus. I have recently received despatches from your blessedness setting right your long silence and summoning me to return to my duty. So, though the reverend brothers Priscus and Eubulus have been slow in bringing me your letters, yet, as they are now hastening in the ardour of faith from end to end of Palestine and scattering and driving into their holes the basilisks of heresy, I write a few lines to congratulate you on your success. The whole world glories in your victories. An exultant crowd of all nations gazes on the standard of the cross raised by you at Alexandria and upon the shining trophies which mark your triumph over heresy. Blessings on your courage! blessings on your zeal! You have shewn that your long silence has been due to policy and not to inclination. I speak quite openly to your reverence. I grieved to find you too for-bearing, and, knowing nothing of the course shaped by the pilot, I yearned for the destruction of those abandoned men. But, as I now see, you have had your hand raised and, if you have delayed to strike, it has only been that you might strike harder. As regards the welcome given to a certain person,(3) you have no reason to be vexed with the prelate of this city;(1) for as you gave no instructions on the point in your letter, it would have been rash in him to decide a case of which he knew nothing. Still I think that he would neither wish nor venture to annoy you in any way.
LETTER LXXXVII: FROM THEOPHILUS TO JEROME.
Theophilus informs Jerome that he has expelled the Origenists from the monasteries of Nitria, and urges him to shew his zeal for the faith by writing against the prevalent heresy. The date of the letter is 400 A.D.
Theophilus, bishop, to the well-beloved and most loving brother, the presbyter Jerome. The reverend bishop Agatho with the well-beloved deacon Athanasius is accredited to you with tidings relating to the church. When you learn their import I feel no doubt but that you will approve my resolution and will exult in the church's victory. For we have cut down with the prophet's sickle(2) certain wicked fanatics who were eager to sow broadcast in the monasteries of Nitria the heresy of Origen. We have remembered the warning words of the apostle, "rebuke with all authority."(3) Do you therefore on your part, as you hope to receive a share in this reward, make haste to bring back with scriptural discourses those who have been deceived. It is our desire, if possible, to guard in our days not only the Catholic faith and the rules of the church, but the people committed to our charge, and to give a quietus to all strange doctrines.
LETTER LXXXVIII: TO THEOPHILUS.
Replying to the preceding letter Jerome again congratulates Theophilus on the success of his efforts to put down Origenism, and informs him that they have already borne fruit as far west as Italy. He then asks him for the decrees of his council (held recently at Alexandria). The date of the letter is 400 A.D.
Jerome to the most blessed pope Theophilus. The letter of your holiness has given me a twofold pleasure, partly because it has had for its bearers those reverend and estimable men, the bishop Agatho and the deacon Athanasius, and partly because it has shewn your zeal for the faith against a most wicked heresy. The voice of your holiness has rung throughout the world, and to the joy of all Christ's churches the poisonous suggestions of the devil have been silenced. The old serpent(1) hisses no longer, but, writhing and disembowelled, lurks in dark caverns unable to bear the shining of the sun. I have already, before the writing of your letter, sent missives to the West pointing out to those of my own language some of the quibbles employed by the heretics. I hold it due to the special providence of God that you should have written to the pope Anastasius(2) at the same time as myself, and should thus without knowing it have been the means of confirming my testimony. Now that you have directly urged me to do so, I shall shew myself more zealous than ever to recall from their error simple souls both near and far. Nor shall I hesitate, if needful, to incur odium with some, for we ought to please God rather than men:(3) although indeed they have been much more forward to defend their heresy than I and others have been to attack it. At the same time I beg that if you have any synodical decrees bearing upon the subject you will forward them to me, that, strengthened with the authority of so great a prelate, I may open my mouth for Christ with more freedom and confidence. The presbyter Vincent has arrived from Rome two days ago and humbly salutes you. He tells me again and again that Rome and almost the whole of Italy owe their deliverance after Christ to your letters. Shew diligence therefore, most loving and most blessed pope, and whenever opportunity offers write to the bishops of the West not to hesitate--in your own words(4)--to cut down with a sharp sickle the sprouts of evil.
LETTER LXXXIX: FROM THEOPHILUS TO JEROME.
This letter (probably earlier in date than the three preceding) commends to Jerome the monk Theodore, who, having come from Rome to declare the condemnation of Origenism by the church there, had visited the monasteries of Nitria now purged of heresy, and wished before returning to the West to see the Holy Places as well. The date of the letter is 400 A.D.
Theophilus, bishop, to the well-beloved lord and most loving brother the presbyter Jerome. I have learned the project of the monk Theodore-- which will be known also to your holiness--and I approve of it. Having to leave us on a voyage for Rome, he has been unwilling to set out without first visiting and embracing as his own flesh and blood you and the reverend brothers who are with you in the monastery. You will, I am sure, rejoice in the news with which he will meet your welcome, that quiet has been restored to the church here. He has seen all the monasteries of Nitria and can tell you of the continence and meekness of the monks in them; as also how the Origenists have been put down and scattered, how peace has been restored to the church, and how the discipline of the Lord is being upheld. How gladly would I see the mask of hypocrisy laid aside by those also who near you are said to be undermining the truth. I feel obliged to write thus because the brothers in your neighbourhood(1) are mistaken concerning them. Wherefore take heed to yourselves and shun men of this type; even as it is written:--"if any man bring not to you the faith of the church, bid him not God speed."(2) It may, indeed, be superfluous to write thus to you who can recall the erring from their error, yet no harm is done when those careful for the faith admonish even the wise and learned. Kindly salute in my name all the brothers who are with you.
LETTER XC: FROM THEOPHILUS TO EPIPHANIUS.
Theophilus writes to Epiphanius to convoke a council in Cyprus for the condemnation of Origenism and asks him to transmit to Constantinople by a trustworthy messenger a copy of it's decrees together with the synodical letter of Theophilus himself. His anxiety about this last point is caused by the news that certain of the excommunicated monks have set sail for Constantinople to lay their case before the bishop, John Chrysostom. The date of the letter is 400 A.D.
Theophilus to his well-beloved lord, brother, and fellow-bishop Epiphanius.
The Lord has said to his prophet "See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms to root out and to pull down and to destroy and ... to build and to plant."(3) In every age he bestows the same grace upon his church, that His Body(4) may be preserved intact and that the poison of heretical opinions may nowhere prevail over it. And now also do we see the words fulfilled. For the church of Christ "not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing"(5) has with the sword of the gospel cut down the Origenist serpents crawling out of their caves, and has delivered from their deadly contagion the fruitful host of the monks of Nitria. I have compressed a short account of my proceedings (it was all that time would allow) into the general letter(1) which I have addressed indiscriminately to all. As your excellency has often fought in contests of the kind before me, it is your present duty to strengthen the hands of those who are in the field and to gather together to this end the bishops of your entire island.(2) A synodical letter should be sent to myself and the bishop of Constantinople(3) and to l any others whom you think fit; that by universal consent Origen himself may be expressly condemned and also the infamous heresy of which he was the author. I have learned that certain calumniators of the true faith, named Ammonius, Eusebius, and Euthymius, filled with a fresh access of enthusiasm in behalf of the heresy, have taken ship for Constantinople, to ensnare with their deceits as many new converts as they can and to confer anew with the old companions of their impiety. Let it be your care, therefore, to set forth the course of the matter to all the bishops throughout Isauria and Pamphylia and the rest of the neighbouring provinces: moreover, if you think fit, you can add my letter, so that all of us gathered together in one spirit with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ may deliver these men unto Satan for the destruction of the impiety which possesses them.(4) And to ensure the speedy arrival of my despatches at Constantinople, send a diligent messenger, one of the clergy (as I send fathers from the monasteries of Nitria with others also of the monks, learned men and continent) that when they arrive they may be able themselves to relate what has been done. Above all I beg of you to offer up earnest prayers to the Lord that we may be able in this contest also to gain the victory; for no small joy has filled the hearts of the people both in Alexandria and throughout all Egypt, because a few men have been expelled from the Church that the body of it might be kept pure. Salute the brothers who are with you. The people(6) with us salute you in the Lord.
LETTER XCI: FROM EPIPHANIUS TO JEROME,
An exultant letter from Epiphanius in which he describes the success of his council (convened at the suggestion of Theophilus), sends Jerome a copy of its synodical letter. and urges him to go on with his work of translating into Latin documents bearing on the Origenistic controversy. Written in 400 A.D.
To his most loving lord, son, and brother, the presbyter Jerome, Epiphanius sends greeting in the Lord. The general epistle written(1) to all Catholics belongs particularly to you; for you, having a zeal for the faith against all heresies, particularly oppose the disciples of Origen and of Apollinaris whose poisoned roots and deeply planted impiety almighty God has dragged forth into our midst, that having been unearthed at Alexandria they might wither throughout the world. For know, my beloved son, that Amalek has been destroyed root and branch and that the trophy of the cross has been set up on the hill of Rephidim.(2) For as when the hands of Moses were held up on high Israel prevailed, so the Lord has strengthened His servant Theophilus to plant His standard against Origen on the altar of the church of Alexandria; that in him might be fulfilled the words: "Write this for a memorial, for I will utterly put out Origen's heresy from under heaven together with that Amalek himself." And that I may not appear to be repeating the same things over and over and thus to be making my letter tedious, I send you the actual missive written to me that you may know what Theophilus has said to me, and what a great blessing the Lord has granted to my last days in approving the principles which I have always proclaimed by the testimony of so great a prelate. I fancy that by this time you also have published something and that, as I suggested in my former letter to you on this subject, you have elaborated a treatise for readers of your own language. For I hear that certain of those who have made shipwreck(3) have come also to the West, and that, not content with their own destruction, they desire to involve others in death with them; as if they thought that the multitude of sinners lessens the guilt of sin and the flames of Gehenna do not grow in size in proportion as more logs are heaped upon them. With you and by you we send our best greetings to the reverend brothers who are with you in the monastery serving God.
LETTER XCII: THE SYNODICAL LETTER OF THEOPHILUS TO THE BISHOPS OF PALESTINE AND OF CYPRUS.
The synodical letter of the council held at Alexandria in 400 A.D. to condemn Origenism. Written originally in Greek it was translated into Latin by Jerome.
This letter has been sent in identical terms to the Bishops of Palestine and to those of Cyprus. We reproduce the headings of both copies. That to the Bishops of Palestine commences thus: To the well-be-loved lords, brothers, and fellow-bishops, Eulogius, John, Zebianus, Auxentius, Dionysius, Gennadius, Zeno, Theodosius, Dicterius, Porphyry, Saturninus, Alan, Paul, Ammonius, Helianus, Eusebius, the other Paul, and to all the Catholic bishops gathered together at the dedication festival of lid, Theophilus [sends] greeting in the Lord.
The Cyprians he addresses thus: To the well-be-loved lords, brothers, and fellow- bishops, Epiphanius, Marcianus, Agapetus, Boethius, Helpidius, Entasius, Norbanus, Macedonius. Aristo, Zeno, Asiaticus, Heraclides, the other Zeno, Cyriacus, and Aphroditus, Theophilus [sends] greeting in the Lord.
The scope of the letter is as follows:
We have personally visited the monasteries of Nitria and find that the Origenistic heresy has made great ravages among them. It is accompanied by a strange fanaticism: men even maim themselves or cut out their tongues(2) to show how they despise the body. I find that some men of this kind have gone from Egypt into Syria and other countries(3) where they speak against us and the truth.
The books of Origen have been read before a council of bishops and unanimously condemned. The following are his chief errors, mainly found in the peri` Archw^n.
1. The Son compared with us is truth, but compared with the Father he is falsehood.
2. Christ's kingdom will one day come to an end.
3. We ought to pray to the Father alone, not to the Son.
4. Our bodies after the resurrection will be corruptible and mortal.
5. There is nothing perfect even in heaven; the angels themselves are faulty, and some of them feed on the Jewish sacrifices.
6. The stars are conscious of their own movements, and the demons know the future by their courses.
7. Magic, if real, is not evil.
8. Christ suffered once for men; he will suffer again for the demons.
The Origenists have tried to coerce me; they have even stirred up the heathen by denouncing the destruction of the Serapeum; and have sought to withdraw from the ecclesiastical jurisdiction two persons accused of grave crimes. One of these is the woman(4) who was wrongly placed on the list of widows by Isidore, the other Isidore himself. He is the standard-bearer of the heretical faction, and his wealth supplies them with unbounded resources for their violent enterprises. They have tried to murder me; they seized the monastery church at Nitria, and for a time prevented the bishops from entering and the offices from being performed. Now, like Zebul (Beelzebub) they go to and fro on the earth.
I have done them no harm; I have even protected them. But I would not let an old friendship (with Isidore) impair our faith and discipline. I implore you to oppose them wherever they come, and to prevent them from unsettling the brethren committed to you.
LETTER XCIII: FROM THE BISHOPS OF PALESTINE TO THEOPHILUS.
The synodical letter of the council of Jerusalem sent to Theophilus in reply to the preceding. The translation as before is due to Jerome.
The following is an epitome: We have done all that you wished, and Palestine is almost wholly free from the taint of heresy. We wish that not only the Origenists, but Jews, Samaritans and heathen also, could be put down. Origenism does not exist among us. The doctrines you describe are never heard here. We anathematize those who hold such doctrines, and also those of Apollinaris, and shall not receive anyone whom you excommunicate.
LETTER XCIV: FROM DIONYSIUS TO THEOPHILUS.
In this letter (translated into Latin by Jerome) Dionysius, bishop of Lydda, praises Theophilus for his signal victories over Origenism and urges him to continue his efforts against that heresy. Written in 400 A.D.
LETTER XCV: FROM POPE ANASTASIUS TO SIMPLICIANUS.
At the request of Theophilus Anastasius, bishop of Rome, writes to Simplicianus, bishop of Milan, to inform him that he, like Theophilus, has condemned Origen whose blasphemies have been brought under his notice by Eusebius of Cremona. This latter had shewn him a copy of the version by Rufinus of the treatise On First Principles. The date of the letter is 400 A.D.
To his lord and brother Simplicianus, Anastasius.
1. It is felt right that a shepherd should bestow great care and watchfulness upon his flock. In like manner too from his lofty tower the careful watchman keeps a lookout day and night on behalf of the city. So also in the hour of tempest when the sea is dangerous the shipmaster suffers keen anxiety(1) lest the gale and the violence of the waves shall dash his vessel upon the rocks. It is with similar feelings that the reverend and honourable Theophilus our brother and fellow-bishop, ceases not to watch over the things that make for salvation, that God's people in the different churches may not by reading Origen run into awful blasphemies.
2. Being informed, then, by a letter of the aforesaid bishop, we inform your holiness that we in like manner who are set in the city of Rome in which the prince of the apostles, the glorious Peter, first founded the church and then by his faith strengthened it; to the end that no man may contrary to the commandment read these books which we have mentioned, have condemned the same; and have with earnest prayers urged the strict observance of the precepts which God and Christ have inspired the evangelists to teach. We have charged men to remember the words of the venerable apostle Paul, prophetic and full of warning:--"if any than preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."(2) Holding fast, therefore, this precept, we have intimated that everything written in days gone by by Origen that is contrary to our faith is even by us rejected and condemned.
3. I send this letter to your holiness by the hand of the presbyter Eusebius,(3) a man filled with a glowing faith and love for the Lord. He has shewn to me some blasphemous chapters which made me shudder as I passed judgement on them. If Origen has put forth any other writings, you are to know that they and their author are alike condemned by me. The Lord have you in safe keeping, my lord and brother deservedly held in honour.
LETTER XCVI: FROM THEOPHILUS.
A translation by Jerome of Theophilus's paschal letter for the year 401 A.D. In it Theophilus refutes at length the heresies of Apollinaris and Origen.
LETTER XCVII: TO PAMMACHIUS AND MARCELLA.
With this letter Jerome sends to Pammachius and Marcella a translation of the paschal letter issued by Theophilus for the year 402 A.D. together with the Greek original. He takes the precaution of sending this latter because in the preceding year complaints have been made that his translation was not accurate. Written in 402 A.D.
1. Once more with the return of spring I enrich you with the wares of the east and send the treasures of Alexandria to Rome: as it is written, "God shall come from the south and the Holy One from Mount Paran, even a thick shadow."(1)(Hence in the Song of Songs the joyous cry of the bride: "I sat down under his shadow with great delight and his fruit was sweet to my taste."(2)) Now truly is Isaiah's prophecy fulfilled: "In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the land of Egypt."(3) "Where sin hath abounded, grace doth much more abound."(4) They who fostered the infant Christ now with glowing faith defend Him in His manhood; and they who once saved Him from the hands of Herod are ready to save Him again from this blasphemer and heretic. Demetrius expelled Origen from the city of Alexander; but he is now thanks to Theophilus outlawed from the whole world. Like him to whom Luke has dedicated the Acts of the Apostles(5) this bishop derives his name from his love to God. Where now is the wriggling serpent?(6) In what plight does the venomous viper find himself? His is
"A human face with wolfish body joined."(7)
Where now is that heresy which crawled hissing through the world and boasted that both the bishop Theophilus and I were partisans of its errors? Where now is the yelping of those shameless hounds who, to win over the simple minded, falsely proclaimed our adherence to their cause? Crushed by the authority and eloquence of Theophilus they are now like demon-spirits only able to mutter and that from out of the earth.(8) For they know nothing of Him who, as He comes from above,(9) speaks only of the things that are above.
2. Would that this generation of vipers(10) would either honestly accept our doctrines, or else consistently defend its own; that we might know whom we are to esteem and whom we are to shun. As it is they have invented a new kind of penitence, hating us as enemies though they dare not deny our faith. What, I ask, is this chagrin of theirs which neither time nor reason seems able to cure? When swords flash in battle and men fall and blood flows in streams, hostile hands are often clasped in amity and the fury of war is exchanged for an unexpected peace. The partisans of this heresy alone can make no terms with churchmen; for they repudiate mentally the verbal assent that is extorted from them. When their open blasphemy is made plain to the public ear, and when they perceive their hearers clamouring against them; then they assume an air of simplicity, declaring that they hear such doctrines for the first time and that they have no previous knowledge of them as taught by their master. And when you hold their writings in your hand, they deny with their lips what their hands have written. Why, sirs, need you beset the Propontis,(1) shift your abode, wander through different countries, and rend with foaming mouths a distinguished prelate of Christ and his followers? If your recantations are sincere, you should replace your former zeal for error with an equal zeal for the faith. Why do you patch together from this quarter and from that these rags of cursing? And why do you rail at the lives of men whose faith you cannot resist? Do you cease to be heretics because according to you sundry persons believe us to be sinners? And does impiety cease to disfigure your lips because you can point to scars on our ears? So long as you have a leopard's spots and an Ethiopian's skin,(2) how can it help your perfidy to know that I too am marked by moles? See, Pope Theophilus is freely allowed to prove Origen a heretic; and the disciples do not defend the master's words. They merely pretend that they have been altered by heretics and tampered with, like the works of many other writers. Thus they seek to maintain his cause not by their own belief but by other people's errors. So much I would say against heretics who in the fury of their unjust hostility to us betray the secret feelings of their minds and prove the incurable nature of the wound that rankles in their breasts.
3. But you are Christians and the lights of the senate: accept therefore from me the letter which I append.(3) This year I send it both in Greek and Latin that the heretics may not again lyingly assert that I have made many changes in and additions to the original. I have laboured hard, I must confess, to preserve the charm of the diction by a like elegance in my version: and keeping within fixed lines and never allowing myself to deviate from these I have done my best to maintain the smooth flow of the writer's eloquence and to render his remarks in the tone in which they are made. Whether I have succeeded in these two objects or not I must leave to your judgement to determine. As for the letter itself you are to know that it is divided into four parts. In the first Theophilus exhorts believers to celebrate the Lord's passover; in the second he slays Apollinarius; in the third he demolishes Origen; while in the fourth and last he exhorts the heretics to penitence. If the polemic against Origen should seem to you to be inadequate, you are to remember that Origenism was fully treated in last year's letter;(1) and that this which I have just translated, as it aims at brevity, was not bound to dwell farther upon the subject. Besides, its terse and clear confession of faith directed against Apollinarius is not lacking in dialectical subtlety. Theophilus first wrests the dagger from his opponent's hand, and then stabs him to the heart.
4. Entreat the Lord, therefore, that a composition which has won favour in Greek may not fail to win it also in Latin, and that what the whole East admires and praises Rome may gladly take to her heart. And may the chair of the apostle Peter by its preaching confirm the preaching of the chair of the evangelist Mark. Popular rumour, indeed, has it that the blessed pope Anastasius is of like zeal and spirit with Theophilus and that he has pursued the heretics even to the dens in which they lurk. Moreover his own letters inform us that he condemns in the West what is already condemned in the East. May he live for many years(2) so that the reviving sprouts of heresy may in course of time by his efforts be made to wither and to die.
LETTER XCVIII: FROM THEOPHILUS.
A translation by Jerome of Theophilus's paschal letter for the year 402 A.D. Like that of the previous! year (Letter XCVI.) it deals mainly with the heresies of Apollinarius and Origen.
LETTER XCIX: TO THEOPHILUS.
Jerome forwards to Theophilus a translation of the latter's paschal letter for 404 A.D. and apologizes for his delay in sending it, on the ground that ill-health and grief for the death of Paula have prevented him from doing literary work. The date of the letter is 404 A.D.
To the most blessed pope Theophilus, Jerome.
1. From the time that I received the letters of your holiness together with the paschal treatise(1) until the present day I have been so harassed with sorrow and mourning, with anxiety, and with the different reports which have come from all quarters concerning the condition of the church, that I have hardly been able to turn your volume into Latin. You know the truth of the old saying, grief chokes utterance; and it is more than ever true when to sickness of the mind is added sickness of the body. I have now been five days in bed in a burning fever: consequently it is only by using the greatest haste that I can dictate this very letter. But I wish to shew your holiness in a few words what pains I have taken, in translating your treatise, to transfer the charm of diction which marks every sentence in the original, and to make the style of the Latin correspond in some degree with that of the Greek.
2. At the outset you use the language of philosophy; and, without appearing to particularize, you slay one(2) while you instruct all. In the remaining sections--a task most difficult of accomplishment--you combine philosophy and rhetoric and draw together for us Demosthenes and Plato. What diatribes you have launched against self- indulgence! What eulogies you have bestowed upon the virtue of continence! With what secret stores of wisdom you have spoken of the interchange of day and night, the course of the moon, the laws of the sun, the nature of our world; always appealing to the authority of scripture lest in a paschal treatise you should appear to have borrowed anything from secular sources! To be brief, I am afraid to praise you for these things lest I should be charged with offering flattery. The book is excellent both in the philosophical portions and where, without making personal attacks, you plead the cause which you have espoused. Wherefore, I beseech you, pardon me my backwardness: I have been so completely overcome by the falling asleep of the holy and venerable Paula(3) that except my translation of this book I have hitherto written nothing bearing on sacred subjects. As you yourself know, I have suddenly lost the comforter whom I have led about with me, not--the Lord is my witness--to minister to my own needs, but for the relief and refreshment of the saints upon whom she has waited with all diligence. Your holy and estimable daughter Eustochium (who refuses to be comforted for the loss of her mother), and with her all the brotherhood humbly salute you. Kindly send me the books which you say that you have lately written that I may translate them or, if not that, at least read them. Farewell in Christ.
LETTER C: FROM THEOPHILUS.
A translation by Jerome of Theophilus's paschal letter for 404 A.D. In it Theophilus inculcates penitence for sinners, recommends the practice of fasting and condemns the errors of Origen.
LETTER CI: FROM AUGUSTINE.
A letter from Augustine in which he denies that he has written a book against Jerome and sent it to Rome but confesses that he has criticized him although without giving details. Written in 402 A.D. This and the following letters are to be found in the First Volume of the First Series of this Library. Letter LXVII.
LETTER CII: TO AUGUSTINE.
Jerome's reply to the foregoing in which, it has been said, friendship struggles with suspicion and resentment. He warns Augustine not to provoke him, lest old as he is he may prove a dangerous opponent; and encloses part of his reply to the apology of Rufinus. Written in 402 A.D. See Augustine, vol. i., Letter LXVIII.
LETTER CIII: TO AUGUSTINE.
A letter of introduction in which Jerome commends the deacon Praesidius to the kind offices of Augustine. Written in 403 A.D. See Augustine, vol. i., Letter XXXIX.
LETTER CIV: FROM AUGUSTINE.
In this letter Augustine(1) commends to Jerome the deacon Cyprian,(2) explains how it is that his first letter (Letter LVI.) has miscarried, and(3) urges Jerome to base his scriptural labours not on the Hebrew text but on the version of the LXX. The date of the letter is 403 A.D. See Augustine, vol. i., Letter LXXI.
LETTER CV: TO AUGUSTINE.
Jerome's answer to the foregoing. He complains that even now he has not received Augustine's letter and asks him to Send him a copy of it. Popular rumour, be declares, credits Augustine with a deliberate suppression of the letter in order that he may seem to win an easy victory over his opponent. Jerome next deals with Augustine's denial of having made a written attack upon him and concludes by refusing for the present all discussion of points of criticism. The date of the letter is 403 A.D. See Augustine, vol. i., Letter LXXII.
LETTER CVI: TO SUNNIAS AND FRETELA.
A long letter in which Jerome answers a number of questions put to him by two sojourners in Getica, Sunnias and Fretela. Diligent students of scripture, these men were at a loss to understand the frequent differences between Jerome's Latin psalter of 383 A.D. (the so-called Roman psalter) and the LXX, and accordingly sent him a long list of passages with a request for explanation. Jerome in his reply deals fully with all these and points out to his correspondents that they have been misled by their edition of the LXX. (the "common" edition) which differs widely from the critical text of Origen as given in the Hexapla and used by himself. He also expresses his joy to find that even among the Getae the scriptures are now diligently studied. The date of the letter is about 403 A.D.
LETTER CVII: TO LAETA.
Laeta, the daughter-in-law of Paula, having written from Rome to ask Jerome how she ought to bring up her infant daughter (also called Paula) as a virgin consecrated to Christ, Jerome now instructs her in detail as to the child's training and education. Feeling some doubt, however, as to whether the scheme proposed by him will be practicable at Rome, he advises Laeta in case of difficulty to send Paula to Bethlehem where she will be under the care of her grandmother and aunt, the eider Paula and Eustochium. Laeta subsequently accepted Jerome's advice and sent the child to Bethlehem where she eventually succeeded Eustochium as head of the nunnery rounded by her grandmother. The date of the letter is 403 A.D.
1. The apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians and instructing in sacred discipline a church still untaught in Christ has among other commandments laid down also this: "The woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband; else were your children unclean but now are they holy."(1) Should any person have supposed hitherto that the bonds of discipline are too far relaxed and that too great indulgence is conceded by the teacher, let him look at the house of your father, a man of the highest distinction and learning, but one still walking in darkness; and he will perceive as the result of the apostle's counsel sweet fruit growing from a bitter stock and precious balsams exhaled from common canes. You yourself are the offspring of a mixed marriage; but the parents of Paula--you and my friend Toxotius--are both Christians. Who could have believed that to the heathen pontiff Albinus should be born--in answer to a mother's vows--a Christian granddaughter; that a delighted grandfather should hear from the little one's faltering lips Christ's Alleluia, and that in his old age he should nurse in his bosom one of God's own virgins? Our expectations have been fully gratified. The one unbeliever is sanctified by his holy and believing family. For, when a main is surrounded by a believing crowd of children and grandchildren, he is as good as a candidate for the faith. I for my part think that, had he possessed so many Christian kinsfolk when he was a young man, he might then have been brought to believe in Christ. For though he may spit upon my letter and laugh at it, and though he may call me a fool or a madman, his son-in-law did the same before he came to believe. Christians are not born but made. For all its gilding the Capitol is beginning to look dingy. Every temple in Rome is covered with soot and cobwebs. The city is stirred to its depths and the people pour past their half-ruined shrines to visit the tombs of the martyrs. The belief which has not been accorded to conviction may come to be extorted by very shame.
2. I speak thus to you, Laeta my most devout daughter in Christ, to teach you not to despair of your father's salvation. My hope is that the same faith which has gained you your daughter may win your father too, and that so you may be able to rejoice over blessings bestowed upon your entire family. You know the Lord's promise: "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."(1) It is never too late to mend. The robber passed even from the cross to paradise.(2) Nebuchadnezzar also, the king of Babylon, recovered his reason, even after he had been made like the beasts in body and in heart and had been compelled to live with the brutes in the wilderness.(3) And to pass over such old stories which to unbelievers may well seem incredible, did not your own kinsman Gracchus whose name betokens his patrician origin, when a few years back he held the prefecture of the City, overthrow, break in pieces, and shake to pieces the grotto of Mithras(4) and all the dreadful images therein? Those I mean by which the worshippers were initiated as Raven, Bridegroom, Soldier, Lion, Perseus, Sun, Crab, and Father? Did he not, I repeat, destroy these and then, sending them before him as hostages, obtain for himself Christian baptism?
Even in Rome itself paganism is left in solitude. They who once were the gods of the nations remain under their lonely roofs with horned-owls and birds of night. The standards of the military are emblazoned with the sign of the Cross. The emperor's robes of purple and his diadem sparkling with jewels are ornamented with representations of the shameful yet saving gibbet. Already the Egyptian Serapis has been made a Christian;(5) while at Gaza Marnas(1) mourns in confinement and every moment expects to see his temple overturned. From India, from Persia, from Ethiopia we daily welcome monks in crowds. The Armenian bowman has laid aside his quiver, the Huns learn the psalter, the chilly Scythians are warmed with the glow of the faith. 'The Getae,(2) ruddy and yellow-haired, carry tent-churches about with their armies: and perhaps their success in fighting against us may be due to the fact that they believe in the same religion.
3. I have nearly wandered into a new subject, and while I have kept my wheel going, my hands have been moulding a flagon when it has been my object to frame an ewer.(3) For, in answer to your prayers and those of the saintly Marcella, I wish to address you as a mother and to instruct you how to bring up our dear Paula, who has been consecrated to Christ before her birth and vowed to His service before her conception. Thus in our own day we have seen repeated the story told us in the Prophets,(4) of Hannah, who though at first barren afterwards became fruitful. You have exchanged a fertility bound up with sorrow for offspring which shall never die. For I am confident that having given to the Lord your first-born you will be the mother of sons. It is the first-born that is offered under the Law.(5) Samuel and Samson are both instances of this, as is also john the Baptist who when Mary came in leaped for joy.(6) For he heard the Lord speaking by the mouth of the Virgin and desired to break from his mother's womb to meet Him. As then Paula has been born in answer to a promise, her parents should give her a training suitable to her birth. Samuel, as you know, was nurtured in the Temple, and John was trained in the wilderness. The first as a Nazarite wore his hair long, drank neither wine nor strong drink, and even in his childhood talked with God. The second shunned cities, wore a leathern girdle, and had for his meat locusts and wild honey.(7) Moreover, to typify that penitence which he was to preach, he was clothed in the spoils of the hump-backed camel.(8)
4. Thus must a soul be educated which is to be a temple of God. It must learn to hear nothing and to say nothing but what belongs to the fear of God. It must have no understanding of unclean words, and no knowledge of the world's songs. Its tongue must be steeped while still tender in the sweetness of the psalms. Boys with their wanton thoughts must be kept from Paula: even her maids and female attendants must be separated from worldly associates. For if they have learned some mischief they may teach more. Get for her a set of letters made of boxwood or of ivory and called each by its proper name. Let her play with these, so that even her play may teach her something. And not only make her grasp the right order of the letters and see that she forms their names into a rhyme, but constantly disarrange their order and put the last letters in the middle and the middle ones at the beginning that she may know them all by sight as well as by sound. Moreover, so soon as she begins to use the style upon the wax, and her hand is still faltering, either guide her soft fingers by laying your hand upon hers, or else have simple copies cut upon a tablet; so that her efforts confined within these limits may keep to the lines traced out for her and not stray outside of these. Offer prizes for good spelling and draw her onwards with little gifts such as children of her age delight in. And let her have companions in her lessons to excite emulation in her, that she may be stimulated when she sees them praised. You must not scold her if she is slow to learn but must employ praise to excite her mind, so that she may be glad when she excels others and sorry when she is excelled by them, Above all you must take care not to make her lessons distasteful to her lest a dislike for them conceived in childhood may continue into her maturer years. The very words which she tries bit by bit to put together and to pronounce ought not to be chance ones, but names specially fixed upon and heaped together for the purpose, those for example of the prophets or the apostles or the list of patriarchs from Adam downwards as it is given by Matthew and Luke. In this way while her tongue will be well-trained, her memory will be likewise developed. Again, you must choose for her a master of approved years, life, and learning. A man of culture will not, I think, blush to do for a kinswoman or a highborn virgin what Aristotle did for Philip's son when, descending to the level of an usher, he consented to teach him his letters.(1) Things must not be despised as of small account in the absence of which great results cannot be achieved. The very rudiments and first beginnings of knowledge sound differently in the mouth of an educated man and of an uneducated. Accordingly you must see that the child is not led away by the silly coaxing of women to form a habit of shortening long words or of decking herself with gold and purple. Of these habits one will spoil her conversation and the other her character. She must not therefore learn as a child what afterwards she will have to unlearn. The eloquence of the Gracchi is said to have been largely due to the way in which from their earliest years their mother spoke to them.(1) Hortensius(2) became an orator while still on his father's lap. Early impressions are hard to eradicate from the mind. When once wool has been dyed purple who can restore it to its previous whiteness? An unused jar long retains the taste and smell of that with which it is first filled.(3) Grecian history tells us that the imperious Alexander who was lord of the whole world could not rid himself of the tricks of manner and gait which in his childhood he had caught from his governor Leonides.(4) We are always ready to imitate what is evil; and faults are quickly copied where virtues appear inattainable. Paula's nurse must not be intemperate, or loose, or given to gossip. Her bearer must be respectable, and her foster-father of grave demeanour. When she sees her grandfather, she must leap upon his breast, put her arms round his neck, and, whether he likes it or not, sing Alleluia in his ears. She may be fondled by her grandmother, may smile at her father to shew that she recognizes him, and may so endear herself to everyone, as to make the whole family rejoice in the possession of such a rosebud. She should be told at once whom she has for her other grandmother and whom for her aunt; and she ought also to learn in what army it is that she is enrolled as a recruit, and what Captain it is under whose banner she is called to serve. Let her long to be with the absent ones and encourage her to make playful threats of leaving you for them.
5. Let her very dress and garb remind her to Whom she is promised. Do not pierce her ears or paint her face consecrated to Christ with white lead or rouge. Do not hang gold or pearls about her neck or load her head with jewels, or by reddening her hair make it suggest the fires of gehenna. Let her pearls be of another kind and such that she may sell them hereafter and buy in their place the pearl that is "of great price."(5) In days gone by a lady of rank, Praetextata by name, at the bidding of her husband Hymettius, the uncle of Eustochium, altered that virgin's dress and appearance and arranged her neglected hair after the manner of the world, desiring to overcome the resolution of the virgin herself and the expressed wishes of her mother. But lo in the same night it befell her that an angel came to her in her dreams. With terrible looks he menaced punishment and broke silence with these words, 'Have you presumed to put your husband's commands before those of Christ? Have you presumed to lay sacrilegious hands upon the head of one who is God's virgin? Those hands shall forthwith wither that you may know by torment what you have done, and at the end of five months you shall be carried off to hell.(1) And farther, if you persist still in your wickedness, you shall be bereaved both of your husband and of your children.' All of which came to pass in due time, a speedy death marking the penitence too long delayed of the unhappy woman. So terribly does Christ punish those who violate His temple,(2) and so jealously does He defend His precious jewels. I have related this story here not from any desire to exult over the misfortunes of the unhappy, but to warn you that you must with much fear and carefulness keep the vow which you have made to God.
6. We read of Eli the priest that he became displeasing to God on account of the sins of his children;(3) and we are told that a man may not be made a bishop if his sons are loose and disorderly.(4) On the other hand it is written of the woman that "she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with chastity."(5) If then parents are responsible for their children when these are of ripe age and independent; how much more must they be responsible for them when, still unweaned and weak, they cannot, in the Lord's words, "discern between their right hand and their left:"(6)--when, that is to say, they cannot yet distinguish good from evil? If you take precautions to save your daughter from the bite of a viper, why are you not equally careful to shield her from "the hammer of the whole earth"?(7) to prevent her from drinking of the golden cup of Babylon? to keep her from going out with Dinah to see the daughters of a strange land?(8) to save her from the tripping dance and from the trailing robe? No one administers drugs till be has rubbed the rim of the cup with honey;(9) so, the better to deceive us, vice puts on the mien and the semblance of virtue. Why then, you will say, do we read:--" the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son," but "the soul that sinneth it shall die"?(10) The passage, I answer, refers to those who have discretion, such as he of whom his parents said in the gospel:--"he is of age ... he shall speak for himself." (1) While the son is a child and thinks as a child and until he comes to years of discretion to choose between the two roads to which the letter of Pythagoras points,(2) his parents are responsible for his actions whether these be good or bad. But perhaps you imagine that, if they are not baptized, the children of Christians are liable for their own sins; and that no guilt attaches to parents who withhold from baptism those who by reason of their tender age can offer no objection to it. The truth is that, as baptism ensures the salvation of the child, this in turn brings advantage to the parents. Whether you would offer your child or not lay within your choice, but now that you have offered her, you neglect her at your peril. I speak generally for in your case you have no discretion, having offered your child even before her conception. He who offers a victim that is lame or maimed or marked with any blemish is held guilty of sacrilege.(3) How much more then shall she be punished who makes ready for the embraces of the king a portion of her own body and the purity of a stainless soul, and then proves negligent of this her offering?
7. When Paula comes to be a little older and to increase like her Spouse in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man,(4) let her go with her parents to the temple of her true Father but let her not come out of the temple with them. Let them seek her upon the world's highway amid the crowds and the throng of their kinsfolk, and let them find her nowhere but in the shrine of the scriptures,(5) questioning the prophets and the apostles on the meaning of that spiritual marriage to which she is vowed. Let her imitate the retirement of Mary whom Gabriel found alone in her chamber and who was frightened,(6) it would appear, by seeing a man there. Let the child emulate her of whom it is written that "the king's daughter is all glorious within."(7) Wounded with love's arrow let her say to her beloved, "the king hath brought me into his chambers."(8) At no time let her go abroad, lest the watchmen find her that go about the city, and lest they smite and wound her and take away from her the veil of her chastity,(9) and leave her naked in her blood.(10) Nay rather when one knocketh at her door(11) let her say: "I am a wall and my breasts like towers.(12) I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?"(1)
8. Let her not take her food with others, that is, at her parents' table; lest she see dishes she may long for. Some, I know, hold it a greater virtue to disdain a pleasure which is actually before them, but I think it a safer self-restraint to shun what must needs attract you. Once as a boy at school I met the words: 'It is ill blaming what you allow to become a habit.'(2) Let her learn even now not to drink wine "wherein is excess."(3) But as, before children come to a robust age, abstinence is dangerous and trying to their tender frames, let her have baths if she require them, and let her take a little wine for her stomach's sake.(4) Let her also be supported on a flesh diet, lest her feet fail her before they commence to run their course. But I say this by way of concession not by way of command; because I fear to weaken her, not because I wish to teach her self- indulgence. Besides why should not a Christian virgin do wholly what others do in part? The superstitious Jews reject certain animals and products as articles of food, while among the Indians the Brahmans and among the Egyptians the Gymnosophists subsist altogether on porridge, rice, and apples. If mere glass repays so much labour, must not a pearl be worth more labour still?(5) Paula has been born in response to a vow. Let her life be as the lives of those who were born under the same conditions. If the grace accorded is in both cases the same, the pains bestowed ought to be so too. Let her be deaf to the sound of the organ, and not know even the uses of the pipe, the lyre, and the cithern.
9. And let it be her task daily to bring to you the flowers which she has culled from scripture. Let her learn by heart so many verses in the Greek, but let her be instructed in the Latin also. For, if the tender lips are not from the first shaped to this, the tongue is spoiled by a foreign accent and its native speech debased by alien elements. You must yourself be her mistress, a model on which she may form her childish conduct. Never either in you nor in her father let her see what she cannot imitate without sin. Remember both of you that you are the parents of a consecrated virgin, and that your example will teach her more than your precepts. Flowers are quick to fade and a baleful wind soon withers the violet, the lily, and the crocus. Let her never appear in public unless accompanied by you. Let her never visit a church or a martyr's shrine unless with her mother. Let no young man greet her with smiles; no dandy with curled hair pay compliments to her. If our little virgin goes to keep solemn eves and all-night vigils, let her not stir a hair's breadth from her mother's side. She must not single out one of her maids to make her a special favourite or a confidante. What she says to one all ought to know. Let her choose for a companion not a handsome well-dressed girl, able to warble a song with liquid notes but one pale and serious, sombrely attired and with the hue of melancholy. Let her take as her model some aged virgin of approved faith, character, and chastity, apt to instruct her by word and by example. She ought to rise at night to recite prayers and psalms; to sing hymns in the morning; at the third, sixth, and ninth hours to take her place in the line to do battle for Christ; and, lastly, to kindle her lamp and to offer her evening sacrifice.(1) In these occupations let her pass the day, and when night comes let it find her still engaged in them. Let reading follow prayer with her, and prayer again succeed to reading. Time will seem short when employed on tasks so many and so varied.
10. Let her learn too how to spin wool, to hold the distaff, to put the basket in her lap, to turn the spinning wheel and to shape the yarn with her thumb. Let her put away with disdain silken fabrics, Chinese fleeces,(2) and gold brocades: the clothing which she makes for herself should keep out the cold and not expose the body which it professes to cover. Let her food be herbs and wheaten bread(3) with now and then one or two small fishes. And that I may not waste more time in giving precepts for the regulation of appetite (a subject I have treated more at length elsewhere)(4) let her meals always leave her hungry and able on the moment to begin reading or chanting. I strongly disapprove--especially for those of tender years--of long and immoderate fasts in which week is added to week and even oil and apples are forbidden as food. I have learned by experience that the ass toiling along the high way makes for an inn when it is weary.(5) Our abstinence may turn to glutting, like that of the worshippers of Isis and of Cybele who gobble up pheasants and turtle-doves piping hot that their teeth may not violate the gifts of Ceres.(6) If perpetual fasting is allowed, it must be so regulated that those who have a long journey before them may hold out all through; and we must take care that we do not, after starting well, fall halfway. However in Lent, as I have written before now, those who practise self-denial should spread every stitch of canvas, and the charioteer should for once slacken the reins and increase the speed of his horses. Yet there will be one rule for those who live in the world and another for virgins and monks. The layman in Lent consumes the coats of his stomach, and living like a snail on his own juices makes ready a paunch for rich foods and feasting to come. But with the virgin and the monk the case is different; for, when these give the rein to their steeds, they have to remember that for them the race knows of no intermission. An effort made only for a limited time may well be severe, but one that has no such limit must be more moderate. For whereas in the first case we can recover our breath when the race is over, in the last we have to go on continually and without stopping.
11. When you go a short way into the country, do not leave your daughter behind you. Leave her no power or capacity of living without you, and let her feel frightened when she is left to herself. Let her not converse with people of the world or associate with virgins indifferent to their vows. Let her not be present at the weddings of your slaves and let her take no part in the noisy games of the household. As regards the use of the bath, I know that some are content with saying that a Christian virgin should not bathe along with eunuchs or with married women, with the former because they are still men. at all events in mind, and with the latter because women with child offer a revolting spectacle. For myself, however, I wholly disapprove of baths for a virgin of full age. Such an one should blush and feel overcome at the idea of seeing herself undressed. By vigils and fasts she mortifies her body and brings it into subjection. By a cold chastity she seeks to put out the flame of lust and to quench the hot desires of youth. And by a deliberate squalor she makes haste to spoil her natural good looks. Why, then, should she add fuel to a sleeping fire by taking baths?
12. Let her treasures be not silks or gems but manuscripts of the holy scriptures; and in these let her think less of gilding, and Babylonian parchment, and arabesque patterns,(1) than of correctness and accurate punctuation. Let her begin by learning the psalter, and then let her gather rules of life out of the proverbs of Solomon. From the Preacher let her gain the habit of despising the world and its vanities.(2) Let her follow the example set in Job of virtue and of patience. Then let her pass on to the gospels never to be laid aside when once they have been taken in hand. Let her also drink in with a willing heart the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. As soon as she has enriched the storehouse of her mind with these treasures, let her commit to memory the prophets, the heptateuch,(1) the books of Kings and of Chronicles, the rolls also of Ezra and Esther. When she has done all these she may safely read the Song of Songs but not before: for, were she to read it at the beginning, she would fail to perceive that, though it is written in fleshly words, it is a marriage song of a spiritual bridal. And not understanding this she would suffer hurt from it. Let her avoid all apocryphal writings, and if she is led to read such not by the truth of the doctrines which they contain but out of respect for the miracles contained in them; let her understand that they are not really written by those to whom they are ascribed, that many faulty elements have been introduced into them, and that it requires infinite discretion to look for gold in the midst of dirt. Cyprian's writings let her have always in her hands. The letters of Athanasius(2) and the treatises of Hilary(3) she may go through without fear of stumbling. Let her take pleasure in the works and wits of all in whose books a due regard for the faith is not neglected. But if she reads the works of others let it be rather to judge them than to follow them.
13. You will answer, 'How shall I, a woman of the world, living at Rome, surrounded by a crowd, be able to observe all these injunctions?' In that case do not undertake a burthen to which you are not equal. When you have weaned Paula as Isaac was weaned and when you have clothed her as Samuel was clothed, send her to her grandmother and aunt; give up this most precious of gems, to be placed in Mary's chamber and to rest in the cradle where the infant Jesus cried. Let her be brought up in a monastery, let her be one amid companies of virgins, let her learn to avoid swearing, let her regard lying as sacrilege, let her be ignorant of the world, let her live the angelic life, while in the flesh let her be without the flesh, and let her suppose that all human beings are like herself. To say nothing of its other advantages this course will free you from the difficult task of minding her, and from the responsibility of guardianship. It is better to regret her absence than to be for ever trembling for her. For you cannot but tremble as you watch what she says and to whom she says it, to whom she bows and whom she likes best to see. Hand her over to Eustochium while she is still but an infant and her every cry is a prayer for you. She will thus become her companion in holiness now as well as her successor hereafter. Let her gaze upon and love, let her "from her earliest years admire"(1) one whose language and gait and dress are an education in virtue.(2) Let her sit in the lap of her grandmother, and let this latter repeat to her granddaughter the lessons that she once bestowed upon her own child. Long experience has shewn Paula how to rear, to preserve, and to instruct virgins; and daily inwoven in her crown is the mystic century which betokens the highest chastity.(3) O happy virgin! happy Paula, daughter of Toxotius, who through the virtues of her grandmother and aunt is nobler in holiness than she is in lineage! Yes, Laeta: were it possible for you with your own eyes to see your mother-in-law and your sister, and to realize the mighty souls which animate their small bodies; such is your innate thirst for chastity that I cannot doubt but that you would go to them even before your daughter, and would emancipate yourself from God's first decree of the Law(4) to put yourself under His second dispensation of the Gospel.(5) You would count as nothing your desire for other offspring and would offer up yourself to the service of God. But because "there is a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing,"(6) and because "the wife hath not power of her own body,"(7) and because the apostle says "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called"(8) in the Lord, and because he that is under the yoke ought so to run as not to leave his companion in the mire, I counsel you to pay back to the full in your offspring what meantime you defer paying in your own person. When Hannah had once offered in the tabernacle the son whom she had vowed to God she never took him back; for she thought it unbecoming that one who was to be a prophet should grow up in the same house with her who still desired to have other children. Accordingly after she had conceived him and given him birth, she did not venture to come to the temple alone or to appear before the Lord empty, but first paid to Him what she owed; and then, when she had offered up that great sacrifice, she returned home and because she had borne her firstborn for God, she was given five children for herself.(9) Do you marvel at the happiness of that holy woman? Imitate her faith. Moreover, if you will only send Paula, I promise to be myself both a tutor and a fosterfather to her. Old as I am I will carry her on my shoulders and train her stammering lips; and my charge will be a far grander one than that of the worldly philosopher;(1) for while he only taught a King of Macedon who was one day to die of Babylonian poison, I shall instruct the handmaid and spouse of Christ who must one day be offered to her Lord in heaven.