LETTERS OF ST. BASIL THE GREAT, 123-196
[Translated by the Rev. Blomfield Jackson, M.A., Vicar of Saint Bartholomew's, Moor Lane, and Fellow of King's college, London.]
LETTER CXXIII. (1): To Urbicius, the monk. (2)
You were to have come to see me (and the blessing was drawing near) to cool me, aflame in my temptations, with the tip of your finger. What then? My sins stood in the way and hindered your start, so that I am sick without a remedy. Just as when the waves are round us, one sinks and another rises, and another looms black and dreadful, so of my troubles: some have ceased, some are with me, some are before me. As is generally the case, the one remedy for these troubles is to yield to the crisis and withdraw from my persecutors. Yet come to me, to console, to advise, or even to travel with me; in any case you will make me better for the mere sight of you. Above all, pray, and pray again, that my reason be not whelmed by the waves of my troubles; pray that all through I may keep a heart pleasing to God, that I be not numbered with the wicked servants, who thank a master when he gives them good, and refuse to submit when he chastises them by adversity; but let me reap benefit from my very trials, trusting most in God when I need Him most.
LETTER CXXIV. (1): To Theodorus.
IT is sometimes said that slaves to the passion of love, when by some inevitable necessity they are separated from the object of their desire, are able to stay the violence of their passion by indulging the sense of sight, if haply they can look at the picture of the beloved object. Whether this be true or not I cannot say; but what has befallen me in your case, my friend, is not very different. I have felt a disposition towards your godly and guileless soul, somewhat, if I may so say, of the nature of love; but the gratification of my desire, like that of all other blessings, is made difficult to me by the opposition of my sins. However, I have seemed to see a very good likeness of you in the presence of my very reverend brothers. And if it had been my lot to fall in with you when far away from them, I should have fancied that I saw them in you. For the measure of love in each of you is so great, that in both of you there is a plain contest for the superiority. I have thanked God for this. If any longer life be left me, I pray that my life may be made sweet through you, just as now I look on life as a wretched thing to be avoided, because I am separated from the companionship of those I love best. For, in my judgment, there is nothing in which one can be cheerful when cut off from those who truly love us.
LETTER CXXV. (2) A transcript of the faith as dictated by Saint Basil, and subscribed by Eustathius, bishop of Sebasteia. (3)
1. Both men whose minds have been preoccupied by a heterodox creed and now wish to change over to the congregation of the orthodox, and also those who are now for the first time desirous of being instructed in the doctrine of truth, must be taught the creed drawn up by the blessed fathers in the Council which met at Nicaea. The same training would also be exceedingly useful in the case of all who are under suspicion of being in a state of hostility to sound doctrine, and who by ingenious and plausible excuses keep the depravity of their sentiments out of view. For these too this creed is all that is needed. They will either get cured of their concealed unsoundness, or, by continuing to keep it concealed, will themselves bear the load of the sentence due to their dishonesty, and will provide us with an easy defence in the day of judgment, when the Lord will lift the cover from the hidden things of darkness, and "make manifest the counsels of the hearts." (1) It is therefore desirable to receive them with the confession not only that they believe in the words put forth by our fathers at Nicaea, but also according to the sound meaning expressed by those words, For there are men who even in this creed pervert the word of truth, and wrest the meaning of the words in it to suit their own notions. So Marcellus, when expressing impious sentiments concerning the hypostasis of our Lord Jesus Christ, and describing Him as being Logos and nothing more, (2) had the hardihood to profess to find a pretext for his principles in that creed by affixing an improper sense upon the Homoousion. Some, moreover, of the impious following of the Libyan Sabellius, who understand hypostasis and substance to be identical, derive ground for the establishment of their blasphemy from the same source, because of its having been written in the creed "if any one says that the Son is of a different substance or hypostasis, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes him." But they did not there state hypostasis and substance to be identical. Had the words expressed one and the same meaning, what need of both? It is on the contrary clear that while by some it was denied that the Son was of the same substance with the Father, and some asserted that He was not of the substance and was of some other hypostasis, they thus condemned both opinions as outside that held by the Church. When they set forth their own view, they declared the Son to be of the substance of the Father, but they did not add the words "of the hypostasis." The former clause stands for the condemnation of the faulty view; the latter plainly states the dogma of salvation. We are therefore bound to confess the Son to be of one substance with the Father, as it is written; but the Father to exist in His own proper hypostasis, the Son in His, and the Holy Ghost in His, as they themselves have clearly delivered the doctrine. They indeed clearly and satisfactorily declared in the words Light of Light, that the Light which begat and the Light which was begotten, are distinct, and yet Light and Light; so that the definition of the Substance is one and the same.(1) I will now subjoin the actual creed as it was drawn up at Nicaea.(2)
2. pisteu'omen eis he'na Theo`n Pate'ra pantokra'tora, pa'ntwn horatw^n te kai` aora'twn poihth'n: [poihth`n ouranou^ kai` gh^s horatw^n te pa'ntwn kai aora'twn.]
kai eis he'na Ku'rion Ihsou^n Xristo'n, ton huio`n tou^ Theou^ [to`n monogenh^] gennhthe'nta ek tou^ Patro`s monogenh^. [to`n ek tou^ Patro`s gennhthe'nta pro` pa'ntwn tw^n aiw^nwn.]
toute'stin ek th^s ousi'as tou^ Patro's, Theo`n ek Theou^ [omit],(3) Ph^s ek Phwp^tos, Theo`n alhthino`n ek Theou^ alhthinou^, gennhthe'nta ou poihthe'nta, omoou'sion tw^(i) Patri, di' ou ta` pa'nta ege'neto, ta' te en tw^(i) ouranw^(i) kai` ta' en th^(i) gh^(i) [omit].
to`n di' hhma^s tous anthrwpou`s kai` dia` th`n hhme'teran swthri'an, kateltho'nta [ek tw^n ouranw^n] kai` sarkwthe'nta. [ek pneu'matos hagi'ou kai` Mari'as th^s parthe'nou.]
kai` enanthrwph'santa [staurwthe'nta te hupe`r hhmw^n epi` Ponti'ou Pila'tou, kai`], patho'nta [kai` taphe'nta], kai' anasta'nta th^(i) trith^(i) hhme'ra [kata` ta`s grapha`s kai`], aneltho'nta eis tou`s ouranou`s. [kai` kathezo'menon ek dexiw^n tou^ Patro's.]
kai' pa'lin ercho'menon [meta` do'xhs] kri^nai zw^ntas kai` nekrou's: [ou^ th^s basilei'as ouk e'stai te'los:]
kai` eis to` Pneu^ma to` ha'gion. [to` Ku'rion kai` to` zwopoio`n to` ek tou^ Patro`s ekporeuo'menon, to` su`n Patri` kai` Huiw^(i) sumproskunou'menon kai` sundoxazo'menon, to` lalh^san dia` tw^n prophhtw^n: eis mi'an hagi'an katholikhn` kai` apostolikh`n ekklhsi'an, homologou^men he`n ba'ptisma eis a'phesin amartiw^n, prosdokw^men ana'stasin nekrw^n, kai` zwh`n tou^ me'llontos aiw^nos. Amh`n.]
tous de` le'gontas, h^n pote ho'te ouk h^n, kai` pri`n gennhthh^nai ouk h^n, kai` ho'ti ex ouk o'ntwn ege'neto, h` ex ete'ras uposta'sews h` ousi'as pha'skontas ei^nai, h` ktisto`n h` h` trepto`n h` alloiwto`n to`n Huio`n tou^ Theou^, toutou`s anathemati'zei hh katholikh` kai` apostolikh` ekklhsi'a. [Omit all the Anathemas.]
3. Here then all points but one are satisfactorily and exactly defined, some for the correction of what had been corrupted, some as a precaution against errors expected to arise. The doctrine of the Spirit, however, is merely mentioned, as needing no elaboration, because at the time of the Council no question was mooted, and the opinion on this subject in the hearts of the faithful was exposed to no attack. Little by little, however, the growing poison-germs of impiety, first sown by Arius, the champion of the heresy, and then by those who succeeded to his inheritance of mischief, were nurtured to the plague of the Church, and the regular development of the impiety issued in blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Under these circumstances we are under the necessity of putting before the men who have no pity for themselves, and shut their eyes to the inevitable threat directed by our Lord against blasphemers of the Holy Ghost, their bounden duty. They must anathematize all who call the Holy Ghost a creature, and all who so think; all who do not confess that He is holy by nature, as the Father is holy by nature, and the Son is holy by nature, and refuse Him His place in the blessed divine nature. Our not separating Him from Father and Son is a proof of our right mind, for we are bound to be baptized in the terms we have received and to profess belief in the terms in which we are baptized, and as we have professed belief in, so to give glory to Father, on, and Holy Ghost; and to hold aloof from the communion of all who call Him creature, as from open blasphemers. One point must be regarded as settled; and the remark is necessary because of our slanderers; we do not speak of the Holy Ghost as unbegotten, for we recognise one Unbegotten and one Origin of all things,(1) the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: nor do we speak of the Holy Ghost as begotten, for by the tradition of the faith we have been taught one Only-begotten: the Spirit of truth we have been taught to proceed from the Father, and we confess Him to be of God without creation. We are also bound to anathematize all who speak of the Holy Ghost as ministerial,(2) inasmuch as by this term they degrade Him to the rank of a creature. For that the ministering spirits are creatures we are told by Scripture in the words "they are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister."(3) But because of men who make universal confusion, and do not keep the doctrine of the Gospels, it is necessary to add yet this further, that they are to be shunned, as plainly hostile to true religion, who invert the order left us by the Lord, and put the Son before the Father, and the Holy Spirit before the Son. For we must keep unaltered and inviolable that order which we have received from the very words of the Lord, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them m the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."(1)
I, Eustathius, bishop, have read to thee, Basil, and understood; and I assent to what is written above. I have signed in the presence of our Fronto, Severus, the chorepiscopus, and several other clerics.
LETTER CXXVI.(2): To Atarbius.(3)
On arriving at Nicopolis in the double hope of settling the disturbances which had arisen, and applying a remedy, as far as possible, to measures taken in a disorderly manner and in violation of the law of the Church, I was exceedingly disappointed at failing to meet you. I heard that you had hurriedly withdrawn, and actually from the very synod which was being held by you. I am, therefore, under the necessity of having recourse to writing, and by this letter I bid you present yourself before me, that you may in person apply some remedy to the pain which I felt, even unto death, on hearing that you bad ventured on action, in the very middle of the church, of the like of which I hitherto have never heard. All this, although painful and serious, is endurable, as having happened to a man who has committed the punishment due for his sufferings to God, and is wholly devoted to peace and to preventing harm falling from any fault of his on God's people. Since, however, some honourable brethren, worthy of all credit, have told me that you have introduced certain innovations into the faith, and have spoken against sound doctrine, I am under the circumstances the more agitated, and above measure anxious, lest, in addition to the countless wounds which have been inflicted on the Church by traitors to the truth of the Gospel, yet a further calamity should spring up in the renewal of the ancient heresy of Sabellius, the enemy of the Church; for to this the brethren have reported your utterances to be akin. I have, therefore, written to charge you not to shrink from undertaking a short journey to come to me, and, by giving me full assurance in the matter, at once to alleviate my pangs, and to solace the Churches of God, which are now pained to a grave, nay an unendurable extent, at your actions and your reported words.
LETTER CXXVII.(1): To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.(2)
Our merciful God, Who makes comfort match trouble, and consoles the lowly, lest they be drowned unawares in exceeding grief, has sent a consolation, equivalent to the troubles I have suffered in Nicopolis, in seasonably bringing me the God-beloved bishop Jobinus. He must tell you himself how very opportune his visit was. I shrink from a long letter, and will hold my peace. And I am the more inclined to silence, lest I seem as it were to put a mark on men, who have turned round and begun to show regard to me, by mentioning their fall.
God grant that you may come to see me in my own home, so that I may embrace your reverence and tell you everything in detail. For we often find some comfort in telling what is painful in actual experience. However, for all that the very godly bishop has done, fully as far as regards his affection for me, and preeminently and stoutly as regards the exact observance of the canons, commend him. Moreover, thank God that your pupils everywhere exhibit your reverence's character.
LETTER CXXVIII.(3): To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.(4)
1. HITHERTO I have been unable to give any adequate and practical proof of my earnest desire to pacify the Churches of the Lord. But in my heart I affirm that I have so great a longing, that I would gladly give up even my life, if thereby the flame of hatred, kindled by the evil one, could be put out. If it was not for the sake of this longing for peace that I consented to come to Colonia,(5) may my life he unblessed by peace. The peace I seek is the true peace, left us by the Lord Himself; and what I have asked that I may have for my assurance belongs to one who desires nothing but the true peace, although some perversely interpret the truth into another sense. Let them use their tongues as they will, but assuredly they will one day be sorry for their words.
2. Now I beseech your holiness to remember the original propositions, and not to be led away by receiving answers that do not fit the questions, nor yet to give practical weight to the quibbles of men who, without any power of argument, very cleverly pervert the truth, from their own ideas alone. I set out propositions which were perfectly simple, clear and easy to remember; do we decline to receive into communion those who refuse to accept the Nicene Creed? Do we refuse to have part or lot with those who have the hardihood to assert that the Holy Ghost Is a creature? He, however,(1) instead of answering my questions word for word, has concocted the statement which you have sent me:--and this not from simplemindedness, as might be imagined, nor yet from his inability to see the consequences. What he reckons is that, by repudiating my proposition, he will expose his true character to the people; while, if he agrees to it, he will depart from that via media which has hitherto seemed to him preferable to any other position. Let him not try to beguile me, nor, with the rest, deceive your intelligence. Let him send a concise answer to my question, whether he accepts or repudiates communion with the enemies of the faith. If you get him to do this and send me such a distinct answer as I pray for, I own myself in error in all that has gone before; I take all the blame upon myself; then ask from me a proof of humility. But, if nothing of the kind come to pass, pardon me, most God-beloved father, in my inability to approach God's altar with hyprocrisy. Were it not for self this dread, why should I separate my from Euippius, so learned a man, so advanced in age, and bound to me by so many ties of affection? If, however, in this case I acted rightly, it would, I am sure, be absurd to appear united with those who maintain the same views as Euippius, through the media-lion of these amiable and charming persons.
3. Not that I think it is absolutely our duty to cut ourselves off from those who do not receive the faith, but rather to have regard to them in accordance with the old law of love, and to write to them with one consent, giving them all exhortation with pity, and to propose to them the faith of the fathers, and invite them to union. If we succeed we should be united in communion
with them; if we fail we must be content with one another and purge our conduct of this uncertain spirit, restoring the evangelical and simple conversation followed by those who accepted the Word from the beginning. "They," it is said, "were of one heart and of one soul."(1) If they obey you, this will be best; if not, recognise the real authors of the war, and, for the future do riot write me any more letters about reconciliation.
LETTER CXXIX.(2): To Meletius Bishop of Antioch.(3)
1. I KNEW that the charge which had lately sprung up against the loquacious Apollinarius would sound strange in the ears of your excellency. I did not know myself, till now, that he was accused; at the present time, however, the Sebastenes, after search in some quarter or another, have brought these things forward, and they are carrying about a document for which they are specially trying to condemn me on the ground that I hold the same sentiments, It contains the following phrases. "Wherefore it is everywhere necessary to understand the first identity in conjunction with, or rather in union with, the second, and to say that the second and the third are the same. For what the Father is firstly, the Son is secondly, and the Spirit thirdly. And, again, what the Spirit is firstly, the Son is secondly, in so far as the Spirit is the Lord; and the Father thirdly, in so far as the Spirit is God. And, to express the ineffable with greatest force, the Father is Son in a paternal sense, and the Son Father in a filial sense, and so in the case of the Spirit, in so far as the Trinity is one God." This is what is being bruited about. I never can believe it to have been invented by those through whom it has been published, although, after their slanders against me, I can regard nothing as beyond their audacity. For writing to some of their party, they advanced their false accusation against me, and then added the words I have quoted, describing them as the work of heretics, but saying nothing as to the author of the document, in order that it might vulgarly be supposed to have come from my pen. Nevertheless, in my opinion, their intelligence would not have gone far enough in putting the phrases together. On this account, in order to repudiate the growing blasphemy against myself, and shew to all the world that I have nothing in common with those who make such statements, I have been compelled to mention Apollinarius as approximating to the impiety of Sabellius. Of this subject I will say no more.
2. I have received a message from the court that, after the first impulse of the Emperor, to which he was impelled by my calumniators, a second decree has been passed, that I am not to be delivered to my accusers, nor given over to their will, as was ordered at the beginning; but that there has been in the meanwhile some delay. If then this obtains, or any gentler measure is determined on, I will let you know. If the former prevails, it shall not be so, without your knowledge.
3. Our brother Sanctissimus has certainly been with you a long time, and you have learnt the objects he has in view. If, then, the letter to the Westerns seems to you to contain at all what is requisite, be so good as to have it written out and conveyed to me, that I may get it signed by those who think with us, and may keep the subscription ready, and written out on a separate paper, which we can fasten on to the letter which is being carried about by our brother and fellow presbyter. As I did not find in the minute anything conclusive, I was in a difficulty on what point to write to the Westerns. Necessary points are anticipated, and it is useless to write what is superfluous, and on such points would it not be ridiculous to show feeling? One subject, however, did appear to me to be hitherto untouched, and to suggest a reason for writing, and that was an exhortation to them not indiscriminately to accept the communion of men coming from the East; but, after once choosing one side, to receive the rest on the testimony of their fellows, and not to assent to every one writing a form of creed on the pretext of orthodoxy. If they do so, they will be found in communion with men at war with one another, who often put forward the same formulae, and yet battle vehemently against one another, as those who are most widely separated. To the end, then, that the heresy may not be the more widely kindled, while those who are at variance with one another mutually object to their own formulae, they ought to be exhorted to make a distinction between the acts of communion which are brought them by chance comers, and those which are duly drawn up according to the rule of the Church.(1)
LETTER CXXX.(1): To Theodotus bishop of Nicopolis.
1. You have very rightly and properly blamed me, right honourable and well beloved brother, in that ever since I departed from your reverence, conveying to Eustathius those propositions about the faith, I have told you neither much nor little about his business. This neglect is really not due to any contempt on my part for the way in which he has treated me, but simply to the fact that the story is now published abroad in all men's ears, and nobody needs any instructions from me in order to learn what his intentions are. For this he has had good heed, as though he were really afraid that he would have few witnesses of his opinion, and has sent to the ends of the earth the letter which he has written against me. He has therefore severed himself from communion with me. He did not consent to meet me at the appointed spot, and did not bring his disciples, as he had promised. On the contrary, he publicly stigmatized me in the public synods, with the Cilician Theophilus,(2) by the open and undisguised slander of sowing in the souls of the people doctrines at variance with his own teaching. This was quite enough to break up all union between us. Afterwards he came to Cilicia, and, on meeting with a certain Gelasius, showed him the creed which only an Arian, or a thorough disciple of Arius, could subscribe. Then, indeed, I was yet more confirmed in my alienation from him. I felt that the Ethiopian will never change his skin, nor the leopard his spots,(3) nor a man nurtured in doctrines of perversity ever be able to rub off the stain of his heresy.
2. In addition to all this he has bad the impudence to write against me, or rather to compose long discourses full of all kinds of abuse and calumny. To these, up to this time, I have answered nothing, taught as we are by the Apostle, not to avenge ourselves, but to give place unto wrath.(4) Moreover, at the thought of the depth of the hypocrisy with which he has all along approached me, I have, in a way, become speechless with amazement. But, if all this had never happened, who would not feel horror and detestation of the fellow at this fresh piece of audacity? Now, as I hear, if the report is really true and not a slanderous invention, he has ventured to re-ordain certain men; a proceeding on which so far no heretic has ventured. How then can I quietly endure such treatment? How can I look upon the errors of the man as curable? Beware, then, of being led away by lies; do not be moved by the suspicions of men who are prone to look at everything in a bad light, as though I were making little of such things. For, be sure, my very dear and honourable friend, that I have never at any time been so grieved as I am now, on hearing of this confusion of the laws of the Church. Pray only that the Lord grant me to take no step in anger, but to maintain charity, which behaveth itself not unseemly and is not puffed up. Only look how men without charity have been lifted up beyond all human bounds and conduct themselves in an unseemly manner, daring deeds which have no precedent in all the past.
LETTER CXXXI.: To Olympius.
1. TRULY unexpected tidings make both ears tingle. This is my case. These compositions against me, which are being carried about, have fallen upon ears by this time pretty well seasoned, on account of my having formerly received the letter, appropriate enough to my sins, but which I should never have expected to be written by those who sent it. Nevertheless what followed did seem to me so extraordinarily cruel as to blot out all that had gone before. How could I fail to be driven almost out of my senses when I read the letter addressed to the reverend brother Dazinas, full of outrageous insults and calumnies and of attacks against me, as though I had been convicted of much pernicious designs against the Church? Moreover proofs were forthwith offered of the truth of the calumnies against me, from the document of whose authorship I am ignorant. Parts I recognise, I own, as having been written by Apollinarius of Laodicea. These I had purposely not even ever read, but I had heard of them from the report of others. Other portions I found included, which I had never either read or heard of from any one else; of the truth of this there is a faithful witness in heaven. How then can men who shun lies, who have learnt that love is the fulfilling of the law, who profess to bear the burdens of the weak, have consented to bring these calumnies against me and to condemn me out of other men's writings? I have often asked myself this question, but I cannot imagine the reason, unless it be, as I have said from the beginning, that my pain in all this is a part of the punishment which is due to my sins.
2. First of all I sorrowed in soul that truths were lessened by the sons of men; in the second place I feared for my own self, lest in addition to my other sins, I should become a misanthrope, believing no truth and honour to be left in any man; if indeed those whom I have most greatly trusted are proved to be so disposed both to me and to the truth. Be sure then, my brother, and every one who is a friend of the truth, that the composition is not mine; I do not approve of it, for it is not drawn up according to my views. Even if I did write, a good many years ago, to Apollinarius or to any one else, I ought not to be blamed. I find no fault myself if any member of any society has been cut off into heresy (and you know perfectly well whom I mean though I mention nobody by name), because each man will die in his own sin.
This is my reply to the document sent me, that you may know the truth, and make it plain to all who wish not to hold the truth in unrighteousness. If it prove necessary to defend myself more at length on each separate count, I will do so, God being my helper. I, brother Olympius, neither maintain three Gods, nor communicate with Apollinarius.
LETTER CXXXII.: To Abramius, bishop of Batnoe.
EVER since the autumn I have been quite ignorant of the whereabouts of your reverence; for I kept hearing uncertain rumours, some saying that you were stopping at Samosata, and some in the country, while others maintained that they had seen you at Batnae. This is the reason of my not writing frequently. Now, on hearing that you are staying at Antioch, in the house of the honourable Count Saturninus, I have been glad to give this letter to our beloved and reverend brother Sanctissimus, our fellow presbyter, by whom I salute you, and exhort you, whereever you be, to remember firstly God, and secondly myself, whom you determined from the beginning to love and to reckon among your most intimate friends.
LETTER CXXXIII.: To Peter, bishop of Alexandria.
THE sight of the eyes brings about bodily friendship, and long companionship strengthens it, but genuine regard is the gift of the Spirit, Who unites what is separated by long distances, and makes friends known to one another, not by bodily qualities, but by the characteristics of the soul. The grace of the Lord has granted me this favour, by permitting me to see you with the soul's eye, and to embrace you with genuine affection, and as it were, to be drawn very near to you, and to come into close union with you in the communion of faith. I am sure that you, disciple as you are of so great a man, and long associated with him, will walk in the same spirit and follow the same doctrines of true religion. Under these circumstances I address your excellency, and beseech you that among the other things in which you have succeeded that great man, you will succeed him in love to me, that you will frequently write me news of you, and will give heed to the brotherhood all over the world with the same affection and the same zeal which that most blessed man always showed to all that love God in truth.
LETTER CXXXIV.: To the presbyter Poeonius.
YOU may conjecture from what it contains, what pleasure you have given me by your letter. The pureness of heart, from which such expressions sprang, was plainly signified by what you wrote. A streamlet tells of its own spring, and so the manner of speech marks the heart from which it came. I must confess that an extraordinary and improbable thing has happened to me. For deeply anxious as I always was to receive a letter from your excellency, when I had taken your letter into my hand and had read it, I was not so much pleased at what you had written, as annoyed at reckoning up the loss I had suffered in your long silence. Now that you have begun to write, pray do not leave off. You will give me greater pleasure than men can give by sending much money to misers. I have had no writer with me, neither caligraphist, nor short-hand. Of all those whom I happen to employ, some have returned to their former mode of life, and others are unfit for work from long sickness.
LETTER CXXXV.: To Diodorus, presbyter of Antioch.
1. I HAVE read the books sent me by your excellency. With the second I was delighted, not only with its brevity, as was likely to be the case with a reader out of health and inclined to indolence, but, because it is at once full of thought, and so arranged that the objections of opponents, and the answers to them, stand out distinctly. Its simple and natural style seems to me to befit the profession of a Christian who writes less for self-advertisement than for the general good. The former work, which has practically the same force, but is much more elaborately adorned with rich diction, many figures, and niceties of dialogue, seems to me to require considerable time to read, and much mental labour, both to gather its meaning and retain it in the memory. The abuse of our opponents and the support of our own side, which are thrown in, although they may seem to add some charms of dialectic to the treatise, do yet break the continuity of the thought and weaken the strength of the argument, by causing interruption and delay. I know that your intelligence is perfectly well aware that the heathen philosophers who wrote dialogues, Aristotle and Theophrastus, went straight to the point, because they were aware of their not being gifted with the graces of Plato. Plato, on the other hand, with his great power of writing, at the same time attacks opinions and incidentally makes fun of his characters, assailing now the rashness and recklessness of a Thrasymachus, the levity and frivolity of a Hippias, and the arrogance and pomposity of a Protagoras. When, however, he introduces unmarked characters into his dialogues, he uses the interlocutors for making the point clear, but does not admit anything more belonging to the characters into his argument. An instance of this is in the Laws.
2. It is well for us too, who betake ourselves to writing, not from any vain ambition, but from the design of bequeathing counsels of sound doctrine to the brethren, if we introduce some character well known to all the world for presumption of manners, to interweave into the argument some points in accordance with the quality of the character, unless indeed we have no right at all to leave our work and to accuse men. But if the subject of the dialogue be wide and general, digressions against persons interrupt its continuity and tend to no good end. So much I have written to prove that you did not send your work to a flatterer, but have shared your toil with a real brother. And I have spoken not for the correction of what is finished, but as a precaution for the future; for assuredly one who is so accustomed to write, and so diligent in writing, will not hesitate to do so; and the more so that there is no falling off in the number of those who give him subjects. Enough for me to read your books. I am as far from being able to write anything as, I had very nearly said, I am from being well, or from having the least leisure from my work. I have however now sent back the larger and earlier of the two volumes, after perusing it as far as I have been able. The second I have retained, with the wish to transcribe it, but, hitherto, without finding any quick writer. To such a pitch of poverty has come the enviable condition of the Cappadocians!
LETTER CXXXVI.: To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. [Translation of first section by J. H. Newman.]
1. IN what state the good Isaaces has found me, he himself will best explain to you; though his tongue cannot be tragic enough to describe my sufferings, so great was my illness. However, any one who knows me ever so little, will be able to conjecture what it was. For, if when I am called well, I am weaker even than persons who are given over, you may fancy what I was when thus ill. Yet, since disease is my natural state, it would follow (let a fever have its jest) that in this change of habit, my health became especially flourishing. But it is the scourge of the Lord which goes on increasing my pain according to my deserts; therefore I have received illness upon illness, so that now even a child may see that this shell of mine must for certain fail, unless perchance, God's mercy vouchsafe to me, in His long suffering, time for repentance, and now, as often before, extricate me from evils beyond human cure. This shall be, as it is pleasing to Him and good for myself.
2. I need hardly tell you how deplorable and hopeless is the condition of the Churches. Now, for the sake of our own safety, we neglect our neighbour's, and do not even seem able to see that general disaster involves individual ruin. Least of all need I say this to one who, like yourself, foresaw the future from afar, and has foretold and proclaimed it and has been among the first to be roused, and to rouse the rest, writing letters, coming yourself in person, leaving no deed undone, no word unspoken. I remember this in every instance, but yet we are none the better off. Now, indeed, were not my sins in the way, (first of all, my dear brother the reverend deacon Eustathius fell seriously ill and detained me two whole months, looking day by day for his restoration to health; and then all about me fell sick; brother Isaaces will tell you the rest; then last of all I myself was attacked by this complaint) I should long ago have been to see your excellency, not indeed thereby to try to improve the general state of affairs, but to get some good for myself from your society. I had made up my mind to get out of the reach of the ecclesiastical artillery, because I am quite unprepared to meet my enemies' attacks. May God's mighty hand preserve you for all of us, as a noble guardian of the faith, and a vigilant champion of the Churches; and grant me, before I die, to meet you for the comfort of my soul.
LETTER CXXXVII.: To Antipater, on his assuming the governorship of Cappadocia.
I DO now really feel the loss which I suffer from being ill; so that, when such a man succeeds to the government of my country, my having to nurse myself compels me to be absent. For a whole month I have been undergoing the treatment of natural hot springs, in the hope of drawing some benefit from them. But I seem to be troubling myself to no purpose in my solitude, or indeed to be deservedly a laughing stock to mankind, for not heeding the proverb which says "warmth is no good to the dead." Even situated as I am, I am very anxious to put aside everything else, and betake myself to your excellency, that I may enjoy the benefit of all your high qualities, and through your goodness settle all my home affairs here in a proper manner. The house of our reverend mother Palladia is my own, for I am not only nearly related to her, but regard her as a mother on account of her character. Now, as some disturbance has been raised about her house, I ask your excellency to postpone the enquiry for a little while, and to wait till I come; not at all that justice may not be done, for I had rather die ten thousand times than ask a favour of that kind from a judge who is a friend of law and right, but that you may learn from me by word of mouth matters which it would be unbecoming for me to write. If you do so you will in no wise fall in fealty to the truth, and we shall suffer no harm. I beg you then to keep the individual in question in safe custody under the charge of the troops, and not refuse to grant me this harmless favour.
LETTER CXXXVIII.: To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. [Translation of first paragraph (to "medical men") partly by J. H. Newman.]
1. WHAT was my state of mind, think you, when I received your piety's letter? When I thought of the feelings which its language expressed, I was eager to fly straight to Syria; but when I thought of the bodily illness, under which I lay bound, I saw myself unequal, not only to flying, but even to turning on my bed. This day, on which our beloved and excellent brother and deacon, Elpidius, has arrived, is the fiftieth of my illness. I am much reduced by the fever. For lack of what it might feed on, it lingers in this dry flesh as in an expiring wick, and so has brought on a wasting and tedious illness. Next my old plague, the liver, coming upon it, has kept me from taking nourishment, prevented sleep, and held me on the confines of life and death, granting just life enough to feel its inflictions. In consequence I have had recourse to the hot springs, and have availed myself of help from medical men.
But for all these the mischief has proved too strong. Perhaps another man might endure it, but, coining as it did unexpectedly, no one is so stout as to bear it. Long troubled by it as I have been, I have never been so distressed as now at being prevented by it from meeting you and enjoying your true friendship. I know of how much pleasure I am deprived, although last year I did touch With the tip of my finger the sweet honey of your Church.
2. For many urgent reasons I felt bound to meet your reverence, both to discuss many things with you and to learn many things from you. Here it is not possible even to find genuine affection. And, could one even find a true friend, none can give counsel to me in the present emergency with anything like the wisdom and experience which you have acquired in your many labours on the Church's behalf. The rest I must not write. I may, however, safely say what follows. The presbyter Evagrius, son of Pompeianus of Antioch, who set out some time ago to the West with the blessed Eusebius, has now returned from Rome. He demands from me a letter couched in the precise terms dictated by the Westerns. My own he has brought back again to me, and reports that it did not give satisfaction to the more precise authorities there. He also asks that a commission of men of repute may be promptly sent, that they may have a reasonable pretext for visiting me. My sympathisers in Sebasteia have stripped the covering from the secret sore of the unorthodoxy of Eustathius, and demand my ecclesiastical care.
Iconium is a city of Pisidia, anciently the first after the greatest, and now it is capital of a part, consisting of an union of different portions, and allowed the government of a distinct province. Iconium too calls me to visit her and to give her a bishop; for Faustinus  is dead. Whether I ought to shrink from consecrations over the border; what answer I ought to give to the Sebastenes; what attitude I should show to the propositions of Evagrius; all these are questions to which I was anxious to get answers in a personal interview with you, for here in my present weakness I am cut off from everything. If, then, you can find any one soon coming this way, be so good as to give me your answer on them all. If not, pray that what is pleasing to the Lord may come into my mind. In your synod also bid mention to be made of me, and pray for me yourself, and join your people with you in the prayer that it may be permitted me to continue my service through the remaining days or hours of my sojourning here in a manner pleasing to the Lord.
LETTER CXXXIX.: To the Alexandrians.
1. I HAVE already heard of the persecution in Alexandria and the rest of Egypt, and, as might be expected, I am deeply affected. I have observed the ingenuity of the devil's mode of warfare. When he saw that the Church increased under the persecution of enemies and flourished all the more, he changed his plan. He no longer carries on an open warfare, but lays secret snares against us, hiding his hostility under the name which they bear, in order that we may both suffer like our fathers, and, at the same time, seem not to suffer for Christ's sake, because our persecutors too bear the name of Christians. With these thoughts for a long time we sat still, dazed at the news of what had happened, for, in sober earnest, both our ears tingled on hearing of the shameless and inhuman heresy of your persecutors. They have reverenced neither age, nor services to society, nor people's affection. They inflicted torture, ignominy, and exile; they plundered all the property they could find; they were careless alike of human condemnation and of the awful retribution to come at the hands of the righteous Judge. All this has amazed me and all but driven me out of my senses. To my reflections has been added this thought too; can the Lord have wholly abandoned His Churches? Has the last hour come, and is "the falling away" thus coming upon us, that now the lawless one "may be revealed the son of perdition who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God and is worshipped"? But if the temptation is for a season, bear it, ye noble athletes of Christ. If the world is being delivered to complete, and final destruction, let us not lose heart for the present, but let us await the revelation from heaven, and the manifestation of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. If all creation is to be dissolved, and the fashion of this world transformed, why should we be surprised that we, who are a part of creation, should feel the general woe, and be delivered to afflictions which our just God inflicts on us according to the measure of our strength, not letting us "be tempted above that we are able, but with the temptation giving us a way to escape that we may be able to bear it"? Brothers, martyrs' crowns await you. The companies of the confessors are ready to reach out their hands to you and to welcome you into their own ranks. Remember how none of the saints of old won their crowns of patient endurance by living luxuriously and being courted; but all were tested by being put through the fire of great afflictions. "For some had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, and others were sawn asunder and were slain with the sword." These are the glories of saints. Blessed is he who is deemed worthy to suffer for Christ; more blessed is he whose sufferings are greater, since " the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us."
2. Had it but been possible for me to travel to you I should have liked nothing better than to meet you, that I might see and embrace Christ's athletes, and share your prayers and spiritual graces. But now my body is wasted by long sickness, so that I can scarcely even leave my bed, and there are many who are lying in wait for me, like ravening wolves, watching the moment when they may be able to rend Christ's sheep. I have therefore been compelled to visit you by letter; and I exhort you first of all most earnestly to pray for me, that for the rest of my remaining days or hours I may be enabled to serve the Lord, in accordance with the gospel of His kingdom. Next I beg you to pardon me for my absence and for my delay in writing to you. I have only with great difficulty found a man able to carry out my wishes. I speak of my son, the monk Eugenius, by whom I beseech you to pray for me and for the whole Church, and to write back news of you so that, when I hear, I may be more cheerful.
LETTER CXL.: To the Church of Antioch.
1. "OH that I had wings like a dove for then would I fly away" to you, and satisfy my longing to meet you. But now it is not only wings that I want, but a whole body, for mine has suffered from long sickness, and now is quite worn away with continuous affliction. For no one can be so hard of heart, so wholly destitute of sympathy and kindness, as to hear the sigh that strikes my ear from every quarter, as though from some sad choir chanting a symphony of lamentation, without being grieved at heart, being bent to the ground, and wasting away with these irremediable troubles. But the holy God is able to provide a remedy for the irremediable, and to grant you a respite from your long toils. I should like you to feel this comfort and, rejoicing in the hope of consolation, to submit to the present pain of your afflictions. Are we paying the penalty of our sins? Then our plagues are such as to save us for the future from the wrath of God. Are we called upon through these temptations to fight for the truth? Then the righteous Giver of the prizes will not suffer us to be tried above that which we are able to bear, but, in return for our previous struggles, will give us the crown of patience and of hope in Him. Let us, therefore, not flinch from fighting a good fight on behalf of the truth, nor, in despair, fling away the labours we have already achieved. For the strength of the soul is not shewn by one brave deed, nor yet by effort only for a short time; but He Who tests our hearts wishes us to win crowns of righteousness after long and protracted trial. Only let our spirit be kept unbroken, the firmness of our faith in Christ be maintained unshaken, and ere long our Champion will appear; He will come and will not tarry. Expect tribulation after tribulation, hope upon hope; yet a little while yet a little while. Thus the Holy Ghost knows how to comfort His nurslings by a promise of the future. After tribulations comes hope, and what we are hoping for is not far off, for let a man name the whole of human life, it is but a tiny interval compared with the endless age which is laid up in our hopes.
2. Now I accept no newer creed written for me by other men, nor do I venture to propound the outcome of my own intelligence, lest I make the words of true religion merely human words; but what I have been taught by the holy Fathers, that I announce to all who question me. In my Church the creed written by the holy Fathers in synod at Nicaea is in use. I believe that it is also repeated among you; but I do not refuse to write its exact terms in my letter, lest I be accused of taking too little trouble. It is as follows:[1: Nicene Creed with anathemas] This is our faith. But no definition was given about the Holy Ghost, the Pneumatomachi not having at that date appeared. No mention was therefore made of the need of anathematizing those who say that the Holy Ghost is of a created anti ministerial nature. For nothing in the divine and blessed Trinity is created.
LETTER CXLI.: To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.
1. I HAVE now received two letters from your divine and most excellent wisdom, whereof the one told me clearly how I had been expected by the laity under the jurisdiction of your holiness, and what disappointment I had caused by failing to attend the sacred synod. The other, which from the writing I conjecture to be of the earlier date, though it was delivered later, gave me advice, at once honourable to yourself and necessary to me, not to neglect the interests of God's Churches, nor little by little to allow the guidance of affairs to pass to our opponents, whereby their interests must win, and ours lose. I think that I answered both. But, as I am uncertain whether my replies were preserved by those who were entrusted with the duty of conveying them, I will make my defence over again. As to my absence, I can put in an unimpeachable plea, as to which I think intelligence must have reached your holiness, that I have been detained by illness which bus brought me to the very gates of death. Even now as I write about it, the remains of sickness are still upon me. And they are such as to another man might be unendurable.
2. As to the fact of its not being owing to my neglect that the interests of the Churches have been betrayed to our opponents, I wish your reverence to know that the bishops in communion with me, from lack of earnestness, or because they suspect me and are not open with me, or because the devil is always at hand to oppose good works, are unwilling to cooperate with me. Formerly, indeed, the majority of us were united wish one another, including the excellent Bosporius. In reality they give me no aid in what is most essential. The consequence of all this is, that to a great extent my recovery is hindered by my distress, and the sorrow I feel brings back my worst symptoms. What, however, can I do alone and unaided, when the canons, as you yourself know, do not allow points of this kind to be settled by one man? And yet what remedy have I not tried? Of what decision have I failed to remind them, some by letter and some in person? They even came to the city, when they heard a report of my death; when, by God's will, they found me yet alive I made them such a speech as was proper to the occasion. In my presence they respect me, and promise all that is fit, but no sooner have they got back again than they return to their own opinion. In all this I am a sufferer, like the rest, for the Lord has clearly abandoned us, whose love has grown cold because iniquity abounds. For all this may your great and powerful intercession with God be sufficient for me. Perhaps we shall either become of some use, or, even if we fail in our object, we may escape condemnation.
LETTER CXLII.: To the prefects' accountant.
I ASSEMBLED all my brethren the chorepiscopi at the synod of the blessed martyr Eupsychius to introduce them to your excellency. On account of your absence they must be brought before you by letter. Know, therefore, this brother as being worthy to be trusted by your intelligence, because he fears the Lord. As to the matters on behalf of the poor, which he refers to your good-will, deign to believe him as one worthy of credit, and to give the afflicted all the aid in your power. I am sure you will consent to look favourably upon the hospital of the poor which is in his district, and exempt it altogether from taxation. It has already seemed good to your colleague to make the little property of the poor not liable to be rated.
LETTER CXLIII.: To another accountant.
Had it been possible for me to meet your excellency I would have in person brought before you the points about which I am anxious, and would have pleaded the cause of the afflicted, but I am prevented by illness and by press of business. I have therefore sent to you in my stead this chorepiscopus, my brother, begging you to give him your aid and use him and to take him into counsel, for his truthfulness and sagacity qualify him to advise in such matters. If yon are so good as to inspect the hospital for the poor, which is managed by him, (I am sure you will not pass it without a visit, experienced as you are in the work; for I have been told that you support one of the hospitals at Amasea out of the substance wherewith the Lord has blessed you), I am confident that, after seeing it, you will give him all he asks. Your colleague has already promised me some help towards the hospitals. I tell you this, not that you may imitate him, for you are likely to be a leader of others in good works, but that you may know that others have shown regard for me in this matter.
LETTER CXLIV.: To the prefects' officer.
You know the bearer from meeting him in the town. Nevertheless I write to commend him to you, that he may be useful to you in many matters in which you are interested, from his being able to give pious and sensible advice. Now is the thee to carry out what you have said to me in private; I mean when this my brother has told you the state of the poor.
LETTER CXLV.: To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.
I KNOW the countless labours which you have undergone for the Churches of God; I know your press of occupation, while you discharge your responsibilities, not as though they were of mere secondary importance, but in accordance with God's will. I know the man who is, as it were, laying close siege to you and by whom you are forced, like birds crouching in cover under an eagle, not to go far from your shelter. I know all this. But longing is strong, both in hoping for the impracticable and attempting the impossible. Rather I should say, hope in God is the strongest of all things. For it is not from unreasonable desire, but from strength of faith, that I expect a way out, even from the greatest difficulties, and that you will find a way to get over all hindrances, and to come to see the Church that loves you best of all, and to be seen by her. What she values most of all good things is to behold your face and to hear your voice. Beware then of making her hopes vain. When last year, on my return from Syria, I reported the promise which you had given me, you cannot think how elated with her hopes I made her. Do not, my friend, postpone your coming to another time. Even if it may be possible for you to see her one day, you may not see her and me too, for sickness is hurrying me on to quit this painful life.
LETTER CXLVI.: To Antiochus.
I CANNOT accuse you of carelessness and inattention, because, when an opportunity of writing occurred, you said nothing. For I count the greeting which you have sent me in your own honoured hand worth many letters. In return I salute you, and beg you earnestly to give heed to the salvation of your soul, disciplining all the lusts of the flesh by reason, and ever keeping the thought of God built up in your soul, as in a very holy temple. In every deed and every word hold before your eyes the judgment of Christ, so that every individual action, being referred to that exact and awful examination may bring you glory in the day of retribution, when you win praise from all creation. If that great man should be able to pay me a visit, it would be a pleasure to me to see you here with him.
LETTER CXLVII.: To Aburgius.
UP to this thee I used to think Homer a fable, when I read the second part of his poem, in which he narrates the adventures of Ulysses. But the calamity which has befallen the most excellent Maximus has led me to look on what I used to think fabulous and incredible, as exceedingly probable. Maximus was governor of no insignificant people, just as Ulysses was chief of the Cephallenians. Ulysses had great wealth, and returned stripped of everything. To such straits has calamity reduced Maximus, that he may have to present himself at home in borrowed rags. And perhaps he has suffered all this because he has irritated some Laestrygones against him, and has fallen in with some Scylla, hiding a dog's fierceness and fury under a woman's form. Since then he has barely been able to swim out of this inextricable whirlpool. He supplicates you by my means for humanity's sake to grieve for his undeserved misfortunes and not be silent about his needs, but make them known to the authorities. He hopes thus that he may find some aid against the slanders which have been got up against him: and if not, that at all events the intention of the enemy who has shewn such an intoxication of hostility against him may be made public. When a man has been wronged it is a considerable comfort to him if the wickedness of his enemies can be made plain.
LETTER CXLVIII.: To Trajan.
Even the ability to bewail their own calamities brings much comfort to the distressed; and this is specially the case when they meet with others capable, from their lofty character, of sympathizing with their sorrows. So my right honourable brother Maximus, after being prefect of my country, and then suffering what no other man ever yet suffered, stripped of all his belongings both inherited from his forefathers and collected by his own labours, afflicted in body in many and various ways, by his wanderings up and down the world, and not having been able to keep even his civil status free from attack, to preserve which freemen are wont to leave no labour undone, has made many complaints to me about all that has happened to him, and has begged me to give you a short description of the Iliad of woes in which he is involved.
And I, being quite unable to relieve him in any other way in his troubles, have readily done him the favour shortly to relate to your excellency a part of what I have heard from him. He, indeed, seemed to me to blush at the idea of making a plain tale of his own calamity. If what has happened shews that the inflicter of the wrong is a villain, at all events it proves the sufferer to be deserving of great pity; since the very fact of having fallen into troubles inflicted by Divine Providence, seems in a manner to shew that a man has been devoted to suffering. But it would he a sufficient comfort to him if you will only look at him kindly, and extend also to him that abundant favour which all the recipients of it cannot exhaust,--I mean your clemency. We are all of us convinced that before the tribunal your protection will be an immense step towards victory. He who has asked for my letter as likely to be of service is of all men most upright. May it be granted me to see him, with the rest, proclaiming aloud the praises of your lordship with all his power.
LETTER CXLIX.: To Trajan.
YOU yourself have seen with your own eyes the distressing condition of Maximus, once a man of high reputation, but now most of all to be pitied, formerly prefect of my country. Would that he had never been so! Many, I think, would be likely to shun provincial governorships, if their dignities are likely to issue in such an end. To a man, then, from the quickness of his intelligence, able from a few circumstances to conjecture the rest, I need hardly narrate in detail fill that I have seen and all that I have heard. Perhaps, however, I shall not seem to be telling a superfluous story if I mention that, though many and terrible things were audaciously done against him before your coming, what went on afterwards was such as to cause the former proceedings to be reckoned as kindness; to such an excess of outrage and injury and actually of personal cruelty did the proceedings go which were afterwards taken against him by the person in authority. Now he is here with an escort to fill up the measure of his evil deeds unless you are willing to stretch out your strong hand to protect the sufferer. In urging your goodness to an act of kindness I feel that I am undertaking an unnecessary task. Yet since I desire to be serviceable to Maximus I do beg your lordship to add something for my sake to your natural zeal for what is right, to the end that he may clearly perceive that my intervention on his behalf has been of service to him.
LETTER CL.: To Amphilochius in the name of Heraclidas.
1. I REMEMBER our old conversations with one another, and am forgetful neither of what I said, nor of what you said. And now public life has no hold upon me. For although I am the same in heart and have not yet put off the old man, nevertheless, outwardly and by withdrawing myself far from worldly life, I seem already to have begun to tread the way of Christian conversation. I sit apart, like men who are on the point of embarking on the deep, looking out at what is before me. Mariners, indeed, need winds to make their voyage prosperous; I on the other hand want a guide to take me by the hand and conduct me safely through life's bitter waves. I feel that I need first a curb for my young manhood, and then pricks to drive me to the course of piety. Both these seem to be provided by reason, which at one thee disciplines my unruliness of soul, and at another thee my sluggishness. Again I want other remedies that I may wash off the impurity of habit. You know how, long accustomed as I was to the Forum, I am lavish of words, and do not guard myself against the thoughts put into my mind by the evil one. I am the servant too of honour, and cannot easily give up thinking great things of myself. Against all this I feel that I need a great instructor. Then, further, I conclude that it is of no mall importance, nor of benefit only for a little while, that the soul's eye should be so purged that, after being freed from all the darkness of ignorance, as though from some blinding humour, one can gaze intently on the beauty of the glory of God. All this I know very well that your wisdom is aware of; I know that you would wish that I might have some one to give me such help, and if ever God grant me to meet you I am sure that I shall learn more about what I ought to heed. For now, in my great ignorance, I can hardly even form a judgment as to what I lack. Yet I do not repent of my first impulse; my soul does not hang back from the purpose of a godly life as you have feared for me, nobly and becomingly doing everything in your power,' lest, like the woman of whom I have heard the story, I should turn back and become a pillar of salt. I am still, however, under the restraint of external authority; for the magistrates are seeking me like a deserter. But I am chiefly influenced by my own heart, which testifies to itself of all that I have told you.
2. Since you have mentioned our bond, and have announced that you mean to prosecute, you have made me laugh in this my dejection, because you are still an advocate and do not give up your shrewdness. I hold, unless, indeed, like an ignorant man, I am quite missing the truth, that there is only one way to the Lord, and that all who are journeying to Him are travelling together and walking in accordance with ones "bond" of life. If this be so, wherever I go how can I be separated from you? How can I cease to live with you, and with you serve God, to Whom we have both fled for refuge? Our bodies may be separated by distance, but God's eve still doubtless looks upon us both; if indeed a life like mine is fit to be beheld by the divine eyes; for I have read somewhere in the Psalms that the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous. I do indeed pray that with you and with all that are like minded with you, I may be associated, even in body, and that night and day with you and with any other true worshipper of God I may bow my knees to our Father which is in heaven; for I know that communion in prayer brings great gain. If, as often as it is my lot to lie and groan in a different corner, I am always to be accused of lying, I cannot contend against your argument, and already condemn mystic as a liar, if with my own carelessness I have said anything which brings me under such a charge.
3. I was lately at Caesarea, in order to learn what was going on there. I was unwilling to remain in the city itself, and betook myself to the neighbouring hospital, that I might get there what information I wanted. According to his custom the very godly bishop visited it, and I consulted him as to the points which you had urged upon me. It is not possible for me to remember all that he said in reply; it went far beyond the limits of a letter. In sum, however, what he said about poverty was this, that the rule ought to be that every one should limit his possessions to one garment. For one proof of this he quoted the words of John the Baptist "he that hath two coats let him impart to him that hath none;" and for another our Lord's prohibition to His disciples to have two coats. He further added "If thou wilt be perfect go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor." He said too that the parable of the pearl bore on this point, because the merchant, who had found the pearl of great price, went away and sold all that he had and bought it; and he added too that no one ought even to permit himself the distribution of his own property, but should leave it in the hands of the person entrusted with the duty of managing the affairs of the poor; and he proved the point from the acts of the apostles, because they sold their property and brought and laid it at the feet of the apostles, and by them it was distributed to each as every man had need. For he said that experience was needed in order to distinguish between cases of genuine need and of mere greedy begging. For whoever gives to the afflicted gives to the Lord, and from the Lord shall have his reward; but he who gives to every vagabond casts to a dog, a nuisance indeed from his importunity, but deserving no pity on the ground of want.
4. He was moreover the first to speak shortly, as befits the importance of the subject, about some of the daily duties of life. As to this I should wish you to hear from himself, for it would not be right for me to weaken the force of his lessons. I would pray that we might visit him together, that so you might both accurately preserve in your memory what he said, and supply any omissions by your own intelligence. One thing that I do remember, out of the many which I heard, is this; that instruction how to lead the Christian life depends less on words, than on daily example. I know that, if you had not been detained by the duty of succouring your aged father, there is nothing that you would have more greatly esteemed than a meeting with the bishop, and that you would not have advised me to leave him in order to wander in deserts. Caves and rocks are always ready for us, but the help we get from our fellow man is not always at hand. If, then, you will put up with my giving you advice, you will impress on your father the desirability of his allowing you to leave him for a little while in order to meet a man who, alike from his experience of others and from his own wisdom, knows much, and is able to impart it to all who approach him.
LETTER CLI.: To Eustathius the Physician.
IF my letters are of any good, lose no thee in writing to me and in rousing me to write. We are unquestionably made more cheerful when we read the letters of wise men who love the Lord. It is for you to say, who read it, whether you find anything worth attention in what I write. Were it not for the multitude of my engagements, I should not debar myself from the pleasure of writing frequently. Pray do you, whose cares are fewer, soothe me by your letters. Wells, it is said, are the better for being used. The exhortations which you derive from your profession are apparently beside the point, for it is not I who the applying the knife; it is men whose day is done, who are filling upon themselves. The phrase of the Stoics runs, "since things do not happen as we like, we like what happens;" but I cannot make my mind fall in with what is happening. That some men should do what they do not like because they cannot help it, I have no objection. You doctors do not cauterise a sick man, or make him suffer pain in some other way, because you like it; but you often adopt this treatment in obedience to the necessity of he case. Mariners do not willingly throw heir cargo overboard; but in order to escape shipwreck they put up with the loss, preferring a life of penury to death. Be sure that I look with sorrow and with many groans upon the separation of those who are holding themselves aloof. But yet I endure it. To lovers of the truth nothing can be put before God and hope in Him.
LETTER CLII.: To Victor, the Commander.
IF I were to fail to write to any one else I might possibly with justice incur the charge of carelessness or forgetfulness. But it is not possible to forget you, when your name is in all men's mouths. But I cannot be careless about one who is perhaps more distinguished than any one else in the empire. The cause of my silence is evident. I am afraid of troubling so great a man. If, however, to all your other virtues you add that of not only receiving what I send, but of actually asking after what is missing, lo! here I am writing to you with joyous heart, and I shall go on writing for the future, with prayers to God that you may be requited for the honour you pay me. For the Church, you have anticipated my supplications, by doing everything which I should have asked. And you act to please not man but God, Who has honoured you; Who has given you some good things in this life, and will give you others in the life to come, because you have walked with truth in His way, and, from the beginning to the end, have kept your heart fixed in the right faith.
LETTER CLIII.: To Victor the Ex-Consul.
AS often as it falls to my lot to read your lordship's letters, so often do I thank God that you continue to remember me, and that you are not moved by any calumny to lessen the love which once you consented to entertain for me, either from your wise judgment or your kindly intercourse. I pray then the holy God that you may remain in this mind towards me, and that I may be worthy of the honour which you give me.
LETTER CLIV.: To Ascholius, bishop of Thessalonica.
YOU have done well, and in accordance with the law of spiritual love, in writing to me first, and by your good example challenging me to like energy. The friendship of the world, indeed, stands in need of actual sight and intercourse, that thence intimacy may begin. All, however, who know how to love in the spirit do not need the flesh to promote affection, but are led to spiritual communion in the fellowship of the faith. Thanks, then, to the Lord Who has comforted my heart by showing me that love has not grown cold in all, but that there are yet in the world men who show the evidence of the discipleship of Christ. The state of affairs with you seems to be something like that of the stars by night, shining some in one part of the sky and some in another, whereof the brightness is charming, and the more charming because it is unexpected. Such are you, luminaries of the Churches, a few at most and easily counted in this gloomy state of things, shining as in a moonless night, and, besides being welcome for your virtue, being all the more longed for because of its being so seldom that you are found. Your letter has made your disposition quite plain to me. Although small, as far as regards the number of its syllables, in the correctness of its sentiments it was quite enough to give me proof of your mind and purpose. Your zeal for the cause of the blessed Athanasius is plain proof of your being sound as to the most important matters. In return for my joy at your letter I am exceedingly grateful to my honourable son Euphemius, to whom I pray that all help may be given by the Holy One, and I beg you to join in my prayers that we may soon receive him back with his very honourable wife, my daughter in the Lord. As to yourself, I beg that you will not stay our joy at its beginning, but that you will write on every possible opportunity, and increase your good feeling towards me by constant communication. Give me news, I beg you, about your Churches and how. they are situated as regards union. Pray for us here that our Lord may rebuke the winds and the sea, and that with us there may be a great, calm.
LETTER CLV.: Without address. In the case of a trainer.
I AM at a loss how to defend myself against all the complaints contained in the first and only letter which your lordship has been so good as to send me. It is not that there is any lack of right on my side, but because among so many charges it is hard to select the most vital, and fix on the point at which I ought to begin to apply a remedy. Perhaps, if I follow the order of your letter, I shall come upon each in turn. Up to-day I knew nothing about those who are setting out for Scythia; nor had any one told me even of those who came from your house, so that I might greet you by them, although I am anxious to seize every opportunity of greeting your lordship. To forget you in my prayers is impossible, unless first I forget the work to which God has called me, for assuredly, faithful as by God's grace you are, you remember all the prayers of the Church; how we pray also for our brethren when on a journey and offer prayer in the holy church for those who are in the army, and for those who speak for the sake of the Lord's name, and for those who show the fruits of the Spirit. In most, or all of these, I reckon your lordship to be included. How could I ever forget you, as far as I am individually concerned, when I have so many reasons to stir me to recollection, such a sister, such nephews, such kinsfolk, so good, so fond of me, house, household, and friends? By all these, even against my will, I am perforce reminded of your good disposition. As to this, however, our brother has brought me no unpleasant news, nor has any decision been come to by me which could do him any injury. Free, then, the chorepiscopus and myself from all blame, and grieve rather over those who have made false reports. If our learned friend wishes to bring an action against me, he has law courts and laws. In this I beg you not to blame me. In all the good deeds that you do, you are laying up treasure for yourself; you are preparing for yourself in the day of retribution the same refreshment which you are providing for those who are persecuted for the sake of the name of the Lord. If you send the relics of the martyrs home you will do well; as you write that the persecution there is, even now, causing martyrs to the Lord.
LETTER CLVI.: To the Presbyter Evagrius.
1. So far from being impatient at the length of your letter, I assure you I thought it even short, from the pleasure it gave me when reading it. For is there anything more pleasing than the idea of peace? Is anything more suitable to the sacred office. or more acceptable to the Lord, than to take measures for effecting it? May you have the reward of the peace-maker, since so blessed an office has been the object of your good desires and earnest efforts. At the same time, believe me, my revered friend, I will yield to none in my earnest wish and prayer to see the day when those who are one in sentiment shall all fill the same assembly. Indeed it would be monstrous to feel pleasure in the schisms and divisions of the Churches, and not to consider that the greatest of goods consists in the knitting together of the members of Christ's body. But, alas! my inability is as real as my desire. No one knows better than yourself, that time alone is the remedy of ills that time has matured. Besides, a strong and vigorous treatment is necessary to get at the root of the complaint. You will understand this hint, though there is no reason why I should not speak out.
2. Self-importance, when rooted by habit in the mind, cannot be destroyed by one man, by one single letter, or in a short time. Unless there be some arbiter in whom all parties have confidence, suspicions and collisions will never altogether cease. If, indeed, the influence of Divine grace were shed upon me, and I were given power in word and deed and spiritual gifts to prevail with these rival parties, then this daring experiment might be demanded of me; though, perhaps, even then, you would not advise me to attempt this adjustment of things by myself, without the co-operation of the bishop, on whom principally falls the care of the church. But he cannot come hither, nor can I easily undertake a long journey while the winter lasts, or rather I cannot anyhow, for the Armenian mountains will be soon impassable, even to the young and vigorous, to say nothing of my continued bodily ailments. I have no objection to write to tell him of all this; but I have no expectation that writing will lead to anything, for I know his cautious character, and after all written words have little power to convince the mind. There are so many things to urge, and to bear, and to reply to, and to object, that a letter has no soul, and is in fact but waste paper. However, as I have said, I will write. Only give me credit, most religious and dear brother, for having no private feeling in the matter. Thank God. I have no such feeling towards any one. I have not busied myself in the investigation of the supposed or real complaints which are brought against this or that man; so my opinion has a claim on your attention as that of one who really cannot act from partiality or prejudice. I only desire, through the Lord's good will, that all things may be done with ecclesiastical propriety.
3. I was vexed to find from my dear son Dorotheus, our associate in the ministry, that you had been unwilling to communicate with him. This was not the kind of conversation which you had with me, as well as I recollect. As to my sending to the West it is quite out of the question. I have no one fit for the service. Indeed, when I look round, I seem to have no one on my side. I can but pray I may be found in the number of those seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. I know the present persecutors of us all seek my life; yet that shall not diminish ought of the zeal which I owe to the Churches of God.
LETTER CLVII.: To Amiochus.
YOU may well imagine how disappointed I was not to meet you in the summer; not that our meeting in former years was enough to satisfy me, but even to see loved objects in a dream brings those who love some comfort. But you do not even write, so sluggish are you, and I think your absence can be referred to no other cause than that you are slow to undertake journeys for affection's sake. On this point I will say no more. Pray for me, and ask the Lord not to desert me, but as He has brought me out of bygone temptations so also to deliver me from those that I await, for the glory of the name of Him in Whom I put my trust.
LETTER CLVIII.: To Antiochus.
MY sins have prevented me from carrying out the wish to meet you, which I have long entertained. Let me apologist by letter for my absence, and beseech you not to omit to remember me in your prayers, that, if I live, I may be permitted to enjoy your society. If not, by the aid of your prayers may I quit this world with good hope. I commend to you our brother the camel-master.
LETTER CLIX.: To Eupaterius and his daughter.
1. YOU may well imagine what pleasure the letter of your excellencies gave me, if only from its very contents. What, indeed, could give greater gratification to one who prays ever to be in communication with them who fear the Lord, and to share their blessings, than a letter of this kind, wherein questions are asked about the knowledge of God? For if, to me, "to live is Christ," truly my words ought to be about Christ, my every thought and deed ought to depend upon His commandments, and my soul to be fashioned after His. I rejoice, therefore, at being asked about such things, and congratulate the askers. By me, to speak shortly, the faith of the Fathers assembled at Nicaea is honoured before all later inventions. In it the Son is confessed to be con- substantial with the Father and to be naturally of the same nature with Him who begat Him, for He was confessed to be Light of Light, God of God, and Good of Good, and the like. Both by those holy men the same doctrine was declared, and by me now who pray that I may walk in their footsteps.
2. But since the question now raised by those who are always endeavouring to introduce novelties, but passed over in silence by the men of old, because the doctrine was never gainsaid, has remained without full explanation (I mean that which concerns the Holy Ghost) I will add a statement on this subject in conformity with the sense of Scripture. As we were baptized, so we profess our belief. As we profess our belief, so also we offer praise. As then baptism has been given us by the Saviour, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, so, in accordance with our baptism, we make the confession of the creed, and our doxology in accordance with our creed. We glorify the Holy Ghost together with the Father and the Son, from the conviction that He is not separated from the Divine Nature; for that which is foreign by nature does not share in the same honors. All who call the Holy Ghost a creature we pity, on the ground that, by this utterance, they are falling into the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against Him. I need use no argument to prove to those who are even slightly trained in Scripture, that the creature is separated from the Godhead. The creature is a slave; but the Spirit sets free. The creature needs life; the Spirit is the Giver of life. The creature requires teaching. It is the Spirit that teaches. The creature is sanctified; it is the Spirit that sanctifies. Whether you name angels, archangels, or all the heavenly powers, they receive their sanctification through the Spirit, but the Spirit Himself has His holiness by nature, not received by favour, but essentially His; whence He has received the distinctive name of Holy. What then is by nature holy, as the Father is by nature holy, and the Son by nature holy, we do not ourselves allow to be separated and severed from the divine and blessed Trinity, nor accept those who rashly reckon it as part of creation. Let this short summary be sufficient for you, my pious friends. From little seeds, with the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, you will reap the fuller crop of piety. "Give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet wiser." I will put off fuller demonstration till we meet. When we do, it will be possible for me to answer objections, to give you fuller proofs from Scripture, and to confirm all the sound rule of faith. For the present pardon my brevity. I should not have written at all had I not thought it a greater injury to you to refuse your request altogether than to grant it in part.
LETTER CLX.: To Diodorus.
1. I HAVE received the letter which has reeched me under the name of Diodorus, but in what it contains creditable to any one rather than to Diodorus. Some ingenious person seems to have assumed your name, with the intention of getting credit with his hearers. It appears that he was asked by some one if it was lawful to contract marriage with his deceased wife's sister; and, instead of shuddering at such a question, he heard it unmoved, and quite boldly and bravely supported the unseemly desire. Had I his letter by me I would have sent it you, and you would have been able to defend both yourself and the truth. But the person who showed it me took it away again, and carried it about as a kind of trophy of triumph against me who had forbidden it from the beginning, declaring that he had permission in writing. Now I have written to you that I may attack that spurious document with double strength, and leave it no force whereby it may injure its readers.
2. First of all I have to urge, what is of most importance in such matters, our own custom, which has the force of law, because the rules have been handed down to us by holy men. It is as follows: if any one, overcome by impurity, falls into unlawful intercourse with two sisters, this is not to be looked upon as marriage, nor are they to be admitted at all into the Church until they have separated from one another. Wherefore, although it were possible to say nothing further, the custom would be quite enough to safeguard what is right. But, since the writer of the letter has endeavoured to introduce this mischief into our practice by a false argument, I am under the necessity of not omitting the aid of reasoning; although in matters which are perfectly plain every man's instinctive sentiment is stronger than argument.
3. It is written, he says, in Leviticus "Neither shall thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time." From this it is plain, he argues, that it is lawful to take her when the wife is dead. To this my first answer shall be, that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law; otherwise we shall be subject to circumcision, the sabbath, abstinence from meats. For we certainly must not, when we find anything which falls in with our pleasures, subject ourselves to the yoke of slavery to the law; and then, if anything in the law seems hard, have recourse to the freedom which is in Christ. We have been asked if it is written that one may be taken to wife after her sister. Let us say what is safe and true, that it is not written. But to deduce by sequence of argument what is passed over in silence is the part of a legislator, not of one who quotes the articles of the law. Indeed, on these terms, any one who likes will be at liberty to take the sister, even in the lifetime of the wife. The same sophism fits in this case also. It is written, he says, "Thou shall not take a wife to vex her:" so that, apart from vexation, there is no prohibition to take her. The man who wants to indulge his desire will maintain that the relationship of sisters is such that they cannot vex one another. Take away the reason given for the prohibition to live with both, and what is there to prevent a man's taking both sisters? This is not written, we shall say. Neither is the former distinctly stated. The deduction from the argument allows liberty in both cases. But a solution of the difficulty might be found by going a little back to what is behind the enactment. It. appears that the legislator does not include every kind of sin, but particularly prohibits those of the Egyptians, from among whom Israel had gone forth, and of the Canaanites among whom they were going. The words are as follows, "After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances." It is probable that this kind of sin was not practised at that time among the Gentiles. Under these circumstances the lawgiver was, it may be supposed, under no necessity of guarding against it; the unwritten custom sufficed to condemn the crime. How then is it that while forbidding the greater he was silent about the less? Because the example of the patriarch seemed injurious to many who indulged their flesh so far as to live with sisters in their life time. What ought to be my course? To quote the Scriptures, or to work out what they leave unsaid? In these laws it is not written that a father and son ought not to have the same concubine, but, in the prophet, it is thought deserving of the most extreme condemnation, "A man and his father" it is said "will go in unto the same maid." And how many other forms of unclean lust have been found out in the devils' school, while divine scripture is silent about them, not choosing to befoul its dignity with the names of filthy things and condemning their uncleanness in general terms! As the apostle Paul says, "Fornication and all uncleanness ... let it not be once named among you as becometh saints," thus including the unspeakable doings of both males and females under the name of uncleanness. It follows that silence certainly does not give license to voluptuaries.
4. I, however, maintain that this point has not been left in silence, but that the lawgiver has made a distinct prohibition. The words "None of you shall approach to any one that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness," embraces also this form of kinsmanship, for what could be more akin to a man than his own wife, or rather than his own flesh? "For they are no more twain but one flesh." So, through the wife, the sister is made akin to the husband. For as he shall not take his wife's mother, nor yet his wife's daughter, because he may not take his own mother nor his own daughter, so he may not take his wife's sister, because he may not take his own sister. And, on the other hand, it will not be lawful for the wife to be joined with the husband's kin, for the rights of relationship hold good on both sides. But, for my part, to every one who is thinking about marriage I testify that, "the fashion of this world passeth away," and the time is short: "it remaineth that both they that have wives be as though they had none." If he improperly quotes the charge "Increase and multiply," I laugh at him, for not discerning the signs of the times. Second marriage is a remedy against fornication, not a means of lasciviousness. "If they cannot contain," it is said "let them marry;" but if they marry they must not break the law.
5. But they whose souls are blinded by dishonourable lust do not regard even nature, which from old time distinguished the names of the family. For under what relationship will those who contract these unions name their sons? Will they call them brothers or cousins of one another? For, on account of the confusion, both names will apply. O man, do not make the aunt the little one's stepmother; do not arm with implacable jealousy her who ought to cherish them with a mother's love. It is only stepmothers who extend their hatred even beyond death; other enemies make a truce with the dead; stepmothers begin their hatred after death. The sum of what I say is this. If any one wants to contract a lawful marriage, the whole world is open to him: if he is only impelled by lust, let him be the more restricted, "that he may know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, not in the lust of concupiscence." I should like to say more, but the limits of my letter leave me no further room. I pray that my exhortation may prove stronger than lust, or at least that this pollution may not be found in my own province. Where it has been ventured on there let it abide.
LETTER CLXI.: To Amphilochius on his consecration as Bishop.
1. BLESSED be God Who from age to age chooses them that please Him, distinguishes vessels of election, and uses them for the ministry of the Saints. Though you were trying to flee, as you confess, not from me, but from the calling you expected through me, He has netted you in the sure meshes of grace, and has brought you into the midst of Pisidia to catch men for the Lord, and draw the devil's prey from the deep into the light. You, too, may say as the blessed David said, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence." Such is the wonderful work of our loving Master. "Asses are lost" that there may be a king of Israel. David, however, being an Israelite was granted to Israel; but the land which has nursed you and brought you to such a height of virtue, possesses you no longer, and sees her neighbour beautified by her own adornment. But all believers in Christ are one people; all Christ's people, although He is hailed from many regions, are one Church; and so our country is glad and rejoices at the dispensation of the Lord, and instead of thinking that she is one man the poorer, considers that through one man she has become possessed of whole Churches. Only may the Lord grant me both to see you in person, and, so long as I am parted from you, to hear of your progress in the gospel, and of the good order of your Churches.
2. Play the man, then, and be strong, and walk before the people whom the Most High has entrusted to your hand. Like a skilful pilot, rise in mind above every wave lifted by heretical blasts; keep the boat from being whelmed by the salt and bitter billows of false doctrine; and wait for the calm to be made by the Lord so soon as there shall have been found a voice worthy of rousing Him to rebuke the winds and the sea. If you wish to visit me, now hurried by long sickness towards the inevitable end, do not wait for an opportunity, or for the word from me. You know that to a father's heart every time is suitable to embrace a well-loved son, and that affection is stronger than words. Do not lament over a responsibility transcending your strength. If you had been destined to bear the burden unaided, it would have been not merely heavy; it would have been intolerable. But if the Lord shares the load with you, "cast all your care upon the Lord" and He will Himself act. Only be exhorted ever to give heed lest you be carried away by wicked customs. Rather change all previous evil ways into good by the help of the wisdom given you by God. For Christ has sent you not to follow others, but yourself to take the lead of all who are being saved. I charge you to pray for me, that, if I am still in this life, I may be permitted to see yon with your Church. If, however, it is ordained that I now depart, may I see all of you hereafter with the Lord, your Church blooming like a vine with good works, and yourself like a wise husbandman and good servant giving meat in due season to his fellow- servants and receiving the reward of a wise and trusty steward. All who are with me salute your reverence. May you be strong and joyful in the Lord. May you be preserved glorious in the graces of the Spirit and of wisdom.
LETTER CLXII.: To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.
THE same cause seems to make me hesitate to write, and to prove that I must write. When I think of the visit which I owe, and reckon up the gain at meeting you, I cannot help despising letters, as being not even shadows in comparison with the reality. Then, again, when I reckon that my only consolation, deprived as I am of all that is best and most important, is to salute such a man and beg him, as I am wont, not to forget me in his prayers, I bethink me that letters are of no small value. I do not, myself, wish to give up all hope of my visit, nor to despair of seeing you. I should be ashamed not to seem to put so much confidence in your prayers as even to expect to be turned from an old man into a young one, if such a need were to arise, and not merely from a sick and emaciated one, as I am now, into one a little bit stronger. It is not easy to express in words the reason of my not being with you already, because I am not only prevented by actual illness, but have not even force of speech enough at any time to give you an account of such manifold and complex disease. I can only say that, ever since Easter up to now, fever, diarrhoea, and intestinal disturbance, drowning me like waves, do not suffer me to lift my head above them. Brother Barachus may be able to tell you the character of my symptoms, if not as their severity deserves, at least clearly enough to make you understand the reason of my delay. If you join cordially in my prayers, I have no doubt that my troubles will easily pass away.
LETTER CLXIII.: To Count Jovinus.
ONE can see your soul in your letter, for in reality no painter can so exactly catch an outward likeness, as uttered thoughts can image the secrets of the soul. As I read your letter, your words exactly characterized your steadfastness, your real dignity, your unfailing sincerity; in all those things it comforted me greatly though I could not see you. Never fail, then, to seize every opportunity of writing to me, and to give me the pleasure of conversing with you at a distance; for to see you face to face I am now forbidden by the distressing state of my health. How serious this is you will learn from the God-beloved bishop Amphilochius, who is both able to report to you from his having been constantly with me, and fully competent to tell you what he has seen. But the only reason why I wish you to know of my sufferings is, that you will forgive me for the future, and acquit me of lack of energy, if I fail to come and see you, though in truth my loss does not so much need defence from me as comfort from you. Had it been possible for me to come to you, I should have very much preferred a sight of your excellency to all the ends that other men count worth an effort.
LETTER CLXIV.: To Ascholius.
1. IT would not be easy for me to say how very much delighted I am with your holiness's letter. My words are too weak to express all that I feel; you, however, ought to be able to conjecture it, from the beauty of what you have written. For what did not your letter contain? It contained love to God; the marvellous description of the martyrs, which put the manner of their good fight so plainly before me that I seemed actually to see it; love and kindness to myself; words of surpassing beauty. So when I had taken it into my hands, and read it many times, and perceived how abundantly full it was of the grace of the Spirit, I thought that I had gone back to the good old times, when God's Churches flourished, rooted in faith, united in love, all the members being in harmony, as though in one body. Then the persecutors were manifest, and manifest too the persecuted. Then the people grew more numerous by being attacked. Then the blood of the martyrs, watering the Churches, nourished many more champions of true religion, each generation stripping for the struggle with the zeal of those that had gone before. Then we Christians were in peace with one another, the peace which the Lord bequeathed us, of which, so cruelly have we driven it from among us, not a single trace is now left us. Yet my soul did go back to that blessedness of old, when a letter came from a long distance, bright with the beauty of love, and a martyr travelled to me from wild regions beyond the Danube, preaching in his own person the exactitude of the faith which is there observed. Who could tell the delight of my soul at all this? What power of speech could be devised competent to describe all that I felt in the bottom of my heart? However, when I saw the athlete, I blessed his trainer: he, too, before the just Judge, after strengthening many for the conflict on behalf of true religion, shall receive the crown of righteousness.
2. By bringing the blessed Eutyches to my recollection, and honouring my country for having sown the seeds of true religion, you have at once delighted me by your reminder of the past, and distressed me by your conviction of the present. None of us now comes near Eutyches in goodness: so far are we from bringing barbarians under the softening power of the Spirit, and the operation of His graces, that by the greatness of our sins we turn gentle hearted men into barbarians, for to ourselves and to our sins I attribute it that the influence of the heretics is so widely diffused. Peradventure no part of the world has escaped the conflagration of heresy. You tell me of struggles of athletes, bodies lacerated for the truth's sake, savage, fury despised by men of fearless heart, various tortures of persecutors, and constancy of the wrestlers through them all, the block and the water whereby the martyrs died. And what is our condition? Love is grown cold; the teaching of the Fathers is being laid waste; everywhere is shipwreck of the Faith; the mouths of the Faithful are silent; the people, driven flora the houses of prayer, lift up their bands in the open air to their Lord which is in heaven. Our afflictions are heavy, martyrdom is nowhere to be seen, because those who evilly entreat us are called by the same name as ourselves. Wherefore pray to the Lord yourself, and join all Christ's noble athletes wills you in prayer for the Churches, to the end that, if any further time remains for this world, and all things are not being driven to destruction, God may be reconciled to his own Churches and restore them to their ancient peace.
LETTER CLXV.: To Ascholius, bishop of Thessalonica.
GOD has fulfilled my old prayer in deigning to allow me to receive the letter of your veritable holiness. What I most of all desire is to see you and to be seen by you, and to enjoy in actual intercourse all the graces of the Spirit with which you are endowed. This, however, is impossible, both on account of the distance which separates us, and the engrossing occupations of each of us. I therefore pray, in the second place, that my soul may be fed by frequent letters from your love in Christ. This has now been granted me on taking your epistle into my hands. I have been doubly delighted at the enjoyment of your communication. I felt as though I could really see your very soul shining in your words as in some mirror; and I was moved to exceeding joy, not only at your proving to be what all testimony says of you, but that your noble qualities are the ornament of my country. You have filled the country beyond our borders with spiritual fruits, like some vigorous branch sprung from a glorious root. Rightly, then, does our country rejoice in her own offshoots. When you were engaging in conflicts for the Faith she heard that the goodly heritage of the Fathers was preserved in you, and she glorified God. And now what are you about? You have honoured the land that gave you birth by sending her a martyr who has just fought a good fight in the barbarian country on your borders, just as a grateful gardener might send his first fruits to those who had given him the seeds. Verily the gift is worthy of Christ's athlete. a martyr of the truth just crowned with the crown of righteousness, whom we have gladly welcomed, glorifying God who has now fulfilled the gospel of His Christ in all the world. Let me ask you to remember in your prayers me who love you, and for my soul's sake earnestly to beseech the Lord that one day I, too, may be deemed worthy to begin to serve God, according to the way of His commandments which He has given us to salvation.
LETTER CLXVI.: To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. [By Gregory of Nazianzus]
LETTER CLXVII.: To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.
I AM delighted at your remembering me and writing, and, what is yet more important, at your sending me your blessing in your letter. Had I been but worthy of your labours and of your struggles in Christ's cause, I should have been permitted to come to you and embrace you, and to take you as a model of patience. But since I am not worthy of this, and am detained by many afflictions and much occupation, I do what is next best. I salute your excellency, and beseech you not to grow weary of remembering me. For the honour and pleasure of receiving your letters is not only an advantage to me, but it is a ground of boasting and pride before the world that I should be held in honour by one whose virtue is so great, and who is in such close communion with God as to be able, alike by his teaching and example, to unite others with him in it.
LETTER CLXVIII.: To Antiochus.
I MOURN for the Church that is deprived of the guidance of such a shepherd. But I have so much the more ground for congratulating you on being worthy of the privilege of enjoying, at such a moment, the society of one who is fighting such a good fight in the cause of the truth, and I am sure that you, who nobly support and stimulate his zeal, will be thought worthy by the Lord of a lot like his. What a blessing, to enjoy in unbroken quiet the society of the man so rich in learning and experienced in life! Now, at least, you must, I am sure, know how wise he is. In days gone by his mind was necessarily given to many divided cares, and you were too busy a man to give your sole heed to the spiritual fountain which springs from his pure heart. God grant that you may be a comfort to him, and never yourself want consolation from others. I am sure of the disposition of your heart, alike from the experience which I, for a short time, have had of you, and from the exalted teaching your illustrious instructor, with whom to pass one single day is a sufficient provision for the journey to salvation.
LETTER CLXIX.: Basil to Gregory.
YOU have undertaken a kindly and charitable task in getting together the captive troop of the insolent Glycerius (at present I must so write), and, so far as in you lay, covering our common shame. It is only right that your reverence should undo this dishonour with a full knowledge of the facts about him.
This grave and venerable Glycerius of yours was ordained by me deacon of the church of Venesa to serve the presbyter, and look after the work of the Church, for, though the fellow is in other respects intractable, he is naturally clever at manual labour. No sooner was he appointed than he neglected his work, as though there had been absolutely nothing to do. But, of his own private power and authority, he got together some wretched virgins, some of whom came to him of their own accord (you know how young people are prone to anything of this kind), and others were unwillingly forced to accept him as leader of their company. Then he assumed the style and title of patriarch, and began all of a sudden to play the man of dignity. He had not attained to this on any reasonable or pious ground; his only object was to get a means of livelihood, just as some men start one trade and some another. He has all but upset the whole Church, scorning his own presbyter, a man venerable both by character and age; scorning his chorepiscopus, and myself, as of no account at all, continually filling the town and all the clergy with disorder and disturbance. And now, on being mildly rebuked by me and his chorepiscopus, that he may not treat us with contempt (for he was trying to stir the younger men to like insubordination), he is meditating conduct most audacious and inhuman. After robbing as many of the virgins as he could, he has made off by night. I am sure all this will have seemed very sad to you. Think of the time too. The feast was being held there, and, as was natural, large numbers of people were gathered together. He, however, on his side, brought out his own troop, who followed young men and danced round them, causing all well- disposed persons to be most distressed, while loose chatterers laughed aloud. And even this was not enough, enormous as was the scandal. I am told that even the parents of the virgins, finding their bereavement unendurable, wishful to bring home the scattered company, and falling with not unnatural sighs and tears at their daughters' feet, have been insulted and outraged by this excellent young man and his troop of bandits. I am sure your reverence will think all this intolerable. The ridicule of it attaches to us all alike. First of all, order him to come back with the virgins. He might find some mercy, if he were to come back with a letter from you. If you do not adopt this course, at least send the virgins back to their mother the Church. If this cannot be done, at all events do not allow any violence to be done to those that are willing to return, but get them to return to me. Otherwise I call God and man to witness that all this is ill done, and a breach of the law of the Church. The best course would be for Glycerius to come back with a letter, and in a becoming and proper frame of mind; if not, let him be deprived of his ministry.
LETTER CLXX.: To Glycerius.
HOW far will your mad folly go? How long will you counsel mischief against yourself? How long will you go on rousing me to wrath, and bringing shame on the common order of solitaries? Return. Put confidence in God, and in me, who imitate God's loving-kindness. If I rebuked you like a father, like a father I will forgive you. This is the treatment you shall receive from me, for many others are making supplication in your behalf, and before all the rest your own presbyter, for whose grey hairs and compassionate disposition I feel much respect. Continue longer to hold aloof from me and you have quite fallen from your degree. You will also fall away from God, for with your songs and your garb you are leading the young women not to God, but to the pit.
LETTER CLXXI.: To Gregory.
I WROTE to you, not long ago, about Glycerius and the virgins. Even now they have not returned, but are still hesitating, how and why I know not. I should be sorry to charge this against you, as though you were acting thus to bring discredit on me, either because you have some ground of complaint against me, or to gratify others. Let them then come, fearing nothing. Do you be surety for their doing this. For it pains me to have my members cut off, although they have been rightly cut off. If they hold out the burden will rest on others. I wash my hands of it.
LETTER CLXXII.: To Sophronius, the bishop.
THERE is no need for me to say how much I was delighted by your letter. Your own words will enable you to conjecture what I felt on receiving it. You have exhibited to me in your letter, the first fruits of the Spirit, love. Than this what can be more precious to me in the present state of affairs, when, because iniquity abounds, the love of really has waxed cold? Nothing is rarer now than spiritual intercourse with a brother, a word of peace, and such spiritual communion as I have found in you. For this I thank the Lord, beseeching Him that I may have part in the perfect joy that is found in
you. If such be your letter, what must it e to meet you in person? If when you are far away you so affect me, what will you be to me when you are seen face to face? Be sure that if I had not been detained by innumerable occupations, and all the unavoidable anxieties which tie me down, I should have hurried to see your excellency. Although that old complaint of mine is a great hindrance to my moving about, nevertheless in view of the good I expect, I would not have allowed this to stand in my way. To be permitted to meet a man holding the same views and reverencing the faith of the Fathers, as you are said to do by our honourable brethren and fellow presbyters, is in truth to go back to the ancient blessedness of the Churches, when the sufferers from unsound disputation were few, and all lived in peace, "workmen" obeying the commandments and not "needing to be ashamed," serving the Lord with simple and clear confession, and keeping plain and inviolate their faith in Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
LETTER CLXXIII. To Theodora the Canoness.
I SHOULD be more diligent in writing to you but for my belief that my letters do not always, my friend, reach your own hands. I am afraid that through the naughtiness of those on whose service I depend, especially at a time like this when the whole world is in a state of confusion, a great many other people get hold of them. So I wait to be found fault with, and to be eagerly asked for my letters, that so I may have this proof of their delivery. Yet, whether I write or not, one thing I do without failing, and that is to keep in my heart the memory of your excellency, and to pray the Lord to grant that you may complete the course of good living which you have chosen. For in truth it is no light thing for one, who makes a profession, to follow up all that the promise entails. Any out may embrace the gospel life, but only a very few of those who have come within my knowledge have completely carried out their duty in its minutest details, and have overlooked nothing that is contained therein. Only a very few have been consistent in keeping the tongue in check and the eye trader guidance, as the Gospel would have it; in working with the hands according to the mark of doing what is pleasing to God; in moving the feet, and using every member, as the Creator ordained from the beginning. Propriety in dress, watchfulness in the society of men, moderation in eating and drinking, the avoidance of superfluity in the acquisition of necessities; all these things seem small enough when they are thus merely mentioned, but, as I have found by experience, their consistent observance requires no light struggle. Further, such a perfection of humility as not even to remember nobility of family, nor to be elevated by any natural advantage of body or mind which we may have, nor to allow other people's opinion of us to be a ground of pride and exaltation, all this belongs to the evangelic life. There is also sustained self-control, industry in prayer, sympathy in brotherly love, generosity to the poor, lowliness of temper, contrition of heart, soundness of faith, calmness in depression, while we never forget the terrible and inevitable tribunal. To that judgment we are all hastening, bat those who remember it, and are anxious about what is to follow after it, are very few.
LETTER CLXXIV.: To a Widow.
I HAVE been most wishful to write constantly to your excellency, but I have from time to time denied myself, for fear of causing any temptation to beset you, because of those who are ill disposed toward me. As I am told, their hatred has even gone so far that they make a fuss if any one happens to receive a letter from me. But now that you have begun to write yourself, and very good it is of you to do so, sending me needful information about all that is in your mind, I am stirred to write back to you. Let me then set right what has been omitted in the past, and at the same time reply to what your excellency has written. Truly blessed is the soul, which by night and by day has no other anxiety than how, when the great day comes wherein all creation shall stand before the Judge and shall give an account for its deeds, she too may be able easily to get quit of the reckoning of life.
For he who keeps that day and that hour ever before him, and is ever meditating upon the defence to be made before the tribunal where no excuses will avail, will sin not at all, or not seriously, for we begin to sin when there is a lack of the fear of God in us. When men have a clear apprehension of what is threatened them, the awe inherent in them will never allow them to fall into inconsiderate action or thought. Be mindful therefore of God. Keep the fear of Him in your heart, and enlist all men to join with you in your prayers, for great is the aid of them that are able to move God by their importunity. Never cease to do this. Even while we are living this life in the flesh, prayer will be a mighty helper to as, and when we are departing hence it will be a sufficient provision for us on the journey to the world to come.
Anxiety is a good thing; but, on the other hand, despondency, dejection, and despair of our salvation, are injurious to the soul. Trust therefore in the goodness of God, and look for His succour, knowing that if we turn to Him rightly and sincerely, not only will He not cast us off forever, but will say to us, even while we are in the act of uttering the words of our prayer, "Lo! I am with you."
LETTER CLXXV.: To Count Magnenianus.
YOUR excellency lately wrote to me, plainly charging me, besides other matters, to write concerning the Faith. I admire your zeal in the matter, and I pray God that your choice of good things may be persistent, and that, advancing in knowledge and good works, you may be made perfect. But I have no wish to leave behind me a treatise on the Faith, or to write various creeds, and so I have declined to send what you asked. You seem to me to be surrounded by the din of your men there, idle fellows, who say certain things to calumniate me, with the idea that they will improve their own position by lying disgracefully against me. The past shews what they are, trod future experience will shew them in still plainer colours. I, however, call on all who trust in Christ not to busy themselves in opposition to the ancient faith, but, as we believe, so to be baptized, and, as we are baptized, so to offer the doxology. It is enough for us to confess those names which we have received from Holy Scripture. and to shun all innovation about them. Our salvation does not lie in the invention of modes of address, but in the sound confession of the Godhead in which we have professed our faith.
LETTER CLXXVI.: To Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium.
GOD grant that when this letter is put into your hands, it may find you in good health, quite at leisure, and as you would wish to be. For then it will not be in vain that I send you this invitation to be present at our city, to add greater dignity to the annual festival which it is the custom of our Church to hold in honour of the martyrs? For be sure my most honoured and dear friend, that our people here, though they have had experience of many, desire no one's presence so eagerly as they do yours; so affectionate an impression has your short intercourse with them left behind. So, then, that the Lord may be glorified, the people delighted, the martyrs honoured, and that I in my old age may receive the attention due to me from my true son, do not refuse to travel to me with all speed. I will beg you too to anticipate the day of assembly, that so we may converse at leisure and may comfort one another by the interchange of spiritual gifts. The day is the fifth of September. Come then three days beforehand in order that you may also honour with your presence the Church of the Hospital. May you by the grace of the Lord be kept in good health and spirits in the Lord, praying for me and for the Church of God.
LETTER CLXXVII.: To Sophronius the Master.
TO reckon up all those who have received kindness at your excellency's hand, for my sake, is no easy task; so many are there whom I feel that I have benefited through your kind aid, a boon which the Lord has given me to help me in these very serious times. Worthiest of all is he who is now introduced to you by my letter, the reverend brother Eusebius, attacked by a ridiculous calumny which it depends upon you alone in your uprightness, to destroy. I beseech you, therefore, both as respecting the right and as being humanely disposed, to grant me your accustomed favours, by adopting the cause of Eusebius as your own, and championing him, and, at the same time, truth. It is no small thing that he has the right on his side; and this, if he be not stricken down by the present crisis, he will have no difficulty in proving plainly and without possibility of contradiction.
LETTER CLXXVIII.: To Aburgius.
I KNOW that I have often recommended many persons to your excellency, and so in serious emergencies have been very useful to friends in distress. But I do not think that I have ever sent to you one whom I regard with greater respect, or one engaged in contests of greater importance, than my very dear son Eusebius, who now places this letter in your hands. He will himself inform your excellency, if the opportunity is permitted him, in what difficulties he is involved. I ought to say, at least, as much as this. The man ought not to be misjudged, nor, because many have been convicted of disgraceful doings, ought he to come under common suspicion. He ought to have a fair trial, and his life must be enquired into. In this way the untruth of the charges against him will be made plain, and be, after enjoying your righteous protection, will ever proclaim what he owes to your kindness.
LETTER CLXXIX.: To Arinthoeus.
YOUR natural nobility of character and your general accessibility have taught me to regard you as a friend of freedom and of men. I have, therefore, no hesitation in approaching you in behalf of one who is rendered illustrious by a long line of ancestry, but is worthy of greater esteem and honour on his own account, because of his innate goodness of disposition. I beg you, on my entreaty, to give him your support under a legal charge, in reality, indeed, ridiculous, but difficult to meet on account of the seriousness of the accusation. It would be of great importance to his success if you would deign to say a kind word in his behalf. You would, in the first place, be helping the right; but you would further be showing in this your wonted respect and kindness to myself, who am your friend.
LETTER CLXXX.: To the Master Sophronius, on behalf of Eunathius.
I HAVE been much distressed on meeting a worthy man involved in very great trouble. Being human, how could I fail to sympathise with a man of high character afflicted beyond his deserts? On thinking in what way I could be useful to him, I did find one means of helping him out of his difficulties, and that is by making him known to your excellency. It is now for you to extend also to him the same good offices which, as I can testify, you have shown to many. You will learn all the facts of the case from the petition presented by him to the emperors. This document I beg you to take into your hands, and implore you to help him to the utmost of your power. You will be helping a Christian, a gentleman, and one whose deep learning ought to win respect. If I add that in helping him you will confer a great kindness upon me, though, indeed, my interests are matters of small moment, yet, since you are always so good as to make them of importance, your boon to me will be no small one.
LETTER CLXXXI.: To Otreius, bishop of Melitene.
YOUR reverence is, I know, no less distressed than myself at the removal of the very God-beloved bishop Eusebius. We both of us need comfort. Let us try to give it to one another. Do you write to me what you hear from Samosata, and I will report to you anything that I may learn from Thrace.
It is to me no slight alleviation of our present distress to know the constancy of the people. It will be the same to you to have news of our common father. Of course I cannot now tell you this by letter, but I commend to you one who is fully informed, and will report to you in what condition he left him, and how he bears his troubles. Pray, then, for him and for me that the Lord will grant him speedy release from his distress.
LETTER CLXXXII.: To the presbyters of Samosata.
GRIEVED as I am at the desolation of the Church, I none the less congratulate you on having been brought so soon to this extreme limit of your hard struggle. God grant that you may pass through it with patience. to the end that in return for your faithful stewardship, and the noble constancy which you have shewn in Christ's cause, you may receive the great reward.
LETTER CLXXXIII.: To the Senate of Samosata.
SEEING, as I do, that temptation is now spread all over the world, and that the greater cities of Syria have been tried by the same sufferings as yourselves, (though, indeed, nowhere is the Senate so approved and renowned for good works, as your own, noted as you are for your righteous zeal,) I all but thank the troubles which have befallen you.
For had not this affliction come to pass, your proof under trial would never have been known. To all that earnestly strive for any good, the affliction they endure for the sake of their hope in God is like a furnace to gold.
Rouse ye, then, most excellent sirs, that the labours you are about to undertake may not be unworthy of those which you have already sustained, and that on a firm foundation you may be seen putting a yet worthier finish. Rouse ye, that ye may stand round about the shepherd of the Church, when the Lord grants him to be seen on his own throne, telling each of you in his turn. some good deed done for the sake of the Church of God. On the great day of the Lord, each, according to the proportion of his labours, shall receive his recompense from the munificent Lord. By remembering me and writing to me as often as you can, you will be doing justice in sending me a reply, and will moreover give me very great pleasure, by sending me in writing a plain token of a voice which it is delightful to me to hear.
LETTER CLXXXIV.: To Eustathius, bishop of Himmeria.
ORPHANHOOD is, I know, very dismal, and entails a great deal of work, because it deprives us of those who are set over us. Whence I conclude that yon do not write to me, because you are depressed at what has happened to you, and at the same time are now very much occupied in visiting the folds of Christ, because they are attacked on every side by foes. But every, grief finds consolation in communication with sympa- thising friends. Do then, I beg you, as often as you can, write to me. You will both refresh yourself by speaking to me, and you will comfort me by letting me hear from you. I shall endeavour to do the same to you, as often as my work lets me. Pray yourself, and entreat all the brotherhood earnestly to importune the Lord, to grant us one day release from the present distress.
LETTER CLXXXV.: To Theodotus, bishop of Beroea.
ALTHOUGH you do not write to me, I know that there is recollection of me in your heart; and this I infer, not because I am worthy of any favourable recollection, but because your soul is rich in abundance of love. Yet, as far as in you lies, use whatever opportunities you have of writing to me, to the end that I may both be cheered by hearing news of you, and have occasion to send you tidings of myself. This is the only mode of communication for those who live far apart. Do not let us deprive one another of it, so far as our labours will permit. But I pray God that we may meet in person, that our love may be increased, and that we may multiply gratitude to our Master for His greater boons.
LETTER CLXXXVI.: To Antipater, the governor.
PHILOSOPHY is an excellent thing, if only for this, that it even heals its disciples at small cost; for, in philosophy, the same thing is both dainty and healthy fare. I am told that you have recovered your failing appetite by pickled cabbage. Formerly I used to dislike it, both on account of the proverb, and because it reminded me of the poverty that went with it. Now, however, I am driven to change my mind. I laugh at the proverb when I see that cabbage is such a "good nursing mother of men," and has restored our governor to the vigour of youth. For the future I shall think nothing like cabbage, not even Homer's lotus, not even that ambrosia, whatever it was, which fed the Olympians.
Antipater to Basil.
"TWICE cabbage is death," says the unkind proverb. I, however, though I have called for it often, shall die once. Yes: even though I had never called for it at all! If you do die anyhow, don't fear to eat a delicious relish, unjustly reviled by the proverb!
LETTER CLXXXVIII.: (CANONICA PRIMA.) To Amphilochius, concerning the Canons.
"EVEN a fool," it is said, "when he asks questions," is counted wise. But when a wise man asks questions, he makes even a feel wise. And this, thank God, is my case, as often as I receive a letter from your industrious self. For we become more learned and wiser than we were before, merely by asking questions, because we are taught many things which we did not know; and our anxiety to answer them acts as a teacher to us. Assuredly at the present time, though I have never before paid attention to the points you raise, I have been forced to make accurate enquiry, and to turn over in my mind both whatever I have heard from the elders, and all that I have been taught in conformity with their lessons.
1. As to your enquiry about the Cathari, a statement has already been made, and you have properly reminded me that it is right to follow the custom obtaining in each region, because those, who at the time gave decision on these points, held different opinions concerning their baptism. But the baptism of the Pepuzeni seems to me to have no authority; and I am astonished how this can have escaped Dionysius, acquainted as he was with the canons. The old authorities decided to accept that baptism which in nowise errs from the faith. Thus they used the names of heresies, of schisms, and of unlawful congregations. By heresies they meant men who were altogether broken off and alienated in matters relating to the actual faith; by schisms men who had separated for some ecclesiastical reasons and questions capable of mutual solution; by unlawful congregations gatherings held by disorderly presbyters or bishops or by uninstructed laymen. As, for instance, if a man be convicted of crime, and prohibited from discharging ministerial functions, and then refuses to submit to the canons, but arrogates to himself episcopal and ministerial rights, and persons leave the Catholic Church and join him, this is unlawful assembly. To disagree with members of the Church about repentance, is schism. Instances of heresy are those of the Manichaeans, of the Valentinians, of the Marcionites, and of these Pepuzenes; for with them there comes in at once their disagreement concerning the actual faith in God. So it seemed good to the ancient authorities to reject the baptism of heretics altogether, but to admit that of schismatics, on the ground that they still belonged to the Church.
As to those who assembled in unlawful congregations, their decision was to join them again to the Church, after they had been brought to a better state by proper repentance and rebuke, and so, in many cases, when men in orders had rebelled with the disorderly, to receive them on their repentance, into the same rank. Now the Pepuzeni are plainly heretical, for, by unlawfully and shamefully applying to Montanus and Priscilla the title of the Paraclete, they have blasphemed against the Holy Ghost. They are, therefore, to be condemned for ascribing divinity to men; and for outraging the Holy Ghost by comparing Him to men. They are thus also liable to eternal damnation, inasmuch as blasphemy against the Holy Ghost admits of no forgiveness. What ground is there, then, for the acceptance of the baptism of men who baptize into the Father and the Son and Montanus or Priscilla? For those who have not been baptized into the names delivered to us have not been baptized at all. So that, although this escaped the vigilance of the great Dionysius, we must by no means imitate his error. The absurdity of the position is obvious in a moment, and evident to all who are gifted with even a small share of reasoning capacity.
The Cathari are schismatics; but it seemed good to the ancient authorities, I mean Cyprian and our own Firmilianus, to reject all these, Cathari, Encratites, and Hydroparastatae, by one common condemnation, because the origin of separation arose through schism, and those who had apostatized from the Church had no longer on them the grace of the Holy Spirit, for it ceased to be imparted when the continuity was broken. The first separatists had received their ordination from the Fathers, and possessed the spiritual gift by the laying on of their hands. But they who were broken off had become laymen, and, because they are no longer able to confer on others that grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves are fallen away, they had no authority either to baptize or to ordain. And therefore those who were from time to time baptized by them, were ordered, as though baptized by laymen, to come to the church to be purified by the Church's true baptism. Nevertheless, since it has seemed to some of those of Asia that, for the sake of management of the majority, their baptism should be accepted, let it be accepted. We must, however, perceive the iniquitous action of the Encratites; who, in order to shut themselves out from being received back by the Church have endeavoured for the future to anticipate readmission by a peculiar baptism of their own, violating, in this manner even their own special practice. My opinion, therefore, is that nothing being distinctly laid down concerning them, it is our duty to reject their baptism, and that in the case of any one who has received baptism from them, we should, on his coming to the church, baptize him. If, however, there is any likelihood of this being detrimental to general discipline, we must fall back upon custom, and follow the fathers who have ordered what course we are to pursue. For I am under some apprehension lest, in our wish to discourage them from baptizing, we may, through the severity of our decision, be a hindrance to those who are being saved. If they accept our baptism, do not allow this to distress us. We are by no means bound to return them the same favour, but only strictly to obey canons. On every ground let it be enjoined that those who come to us from their baptism be anointed in the presence of the faithful, and only on these terms approach the mysteries. I am aware that I have received into episcopal rank Izois and Saturninus from the Encratite following. I am precluded therefore from separating from the Church those who have been united to their company, inasmuch as, through my acceptance of the bishops, I have promulgate d a kind of canon of communion with them.
II. The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder. With us there is no nice enquiry as to its being formed or unformed. In this case it is not only the being about to be born who is vindicated, but the woman in her attack upon herself; because in most cases women who make such attempts die. The destruction of the embryo is an additional crime, a second murder, at all events if we regard it as done with intent. The punishment, however, of these women should not be for life, but for the term of ten years. And let their treatment depend not on mere lapse of time, but on the character of their repentance.
III. A deacon who commits fornication after his appointment to the diaconate is to be deposed. But, after he has been rejected and ranked among the laity, he is not to be excluded from communion. For there is an ancient canon that those who have fallen from their degree are to be subjected to this kind of punishment alone.
Herein, as I suppose, the ancient authorities followed the old rule "Thou shalt not avenge twice for the same thing." There is this further reason too, that laymen, when expelled from the place of the faithful, are from time to time restored to the rank whence they have fallen; but the deacon undergoes once for all the lasting penalty of deposition. His deacon's orders not being restored to him, they rested at this one punishment. So far is this as regards what depends on law laid down. But generally a truer remedy is the departure from sin. Wherefore that man will give me full proof of his cure who, after rejecting grace for the sake of the indulgence of the flesh, has then, through bruising of the flesh and the enslaving of it by means of self control, abandoned the pleasures whereby he was subdued. We ought therefore to know both what is of exact prescription and what is of custom; and, in cases which do not admit of the highest treatment, to follow the traditional direction.
IV. In the case of trigamy and polygamy they laid down the same rule, in proportion, as in the case of digamy; namely one year for digamy (some authorities say two years); for trigamy men are separated for three and often for four years; but this is no longer described as marriage at all, but as polygamy; nay rather as limited fornication. It is for this reason that the Lord said to the woman of Samaria, who had five husbands, "he whom thou now hast is not thy husband." He does not reckon those who had exceeded the limits of a second marriage as worthy of the title of husband or wife. In cases of trigamy we have accepted a seclusion of five years, not by the canons, but following the precept of our predecessors. Such offenders ought not to be altogether prohibited from the privileges of the Church; they should be considered deserving of hearing after two or three years, and afterwards of being permitted to stand in their place; but they must be kept from the communion of the good gift, and only restored to the place of communion after showing some fruit of repentance.
V. Heretics repenting at death ought to be received; yet to be received, of course, not indiscriminately, but on trial of exhibition of true repentance and of producing fruit in evidence of their zeal for salvation.
VI. The fornication of canonical persons is not to be reckoned as wedlock, and their union is to be completely dissolved, for this is both profitable for the security of the Church and will prevent the heretics from having a ground of attack against us, as though we induced men to join us by the attraction of liberty to sin.
VII. Abusers of themselves with mankind, and with beasts, as also murderers, wizards, adulterers, and idolaters, are deserving of the same punishment. Whatever rule you have in the case of the rest, observe also in their case. There can, however, be no doubt that we ought to receive those who have repented of impurity committed in ignorance for thirty years. In this case there is ground for forgiveness in ignorance, in the spontaneity of confession, and the long extent of time. Perhaps they have been delivered to Satan for a whole age of man that they may learn not to behave unseemly; wherefore order them to be received without delay, specially if they shed tears to move your mercy, and shew a manner of living worthy of compassion.
VIII. The man who in a rage has taken up a hatchet against his own wife is a murderer. But it is what I should have expected from your intelligence that you should very properly remind me to speak on these points more fully, because a wide distinction must be drawn between cases where there is and where there is not intent. A case of an act purely unintentional, and widely removed from the purpose of the agent, is that of a man who throws a stone at a dog or a tree, and hits a man. The object was to drive off the beast or to shake down the fruit. The chance comer falls fortuitously in the way of the blow, and the act is unintentional. Unintentional too is the act of any one who strikes another with a strap or a flexible stick, for the purpose of chastising him, and the man who is being beaten dies. In this case it must be taken into consideration that the object was not to kill, but to improve, the offender. Further, among unintentional acts must be reckoned the case of a man in a fight who when warding off an enemy's attack with cudgel or hand, hits him without mercy in some vital part, so as to injure him, though not quite to kill him. This, however, comes very near to the intentional; for the man who employs such a weapon in self defence, or who strikes without mercy, evidently does not spare his opponent, because he is mastered by passion. In like manner the case of any one who uses a heavy cudgel, or a stone too big for a man to stand, is reckoned among the unintentional, because he does not do what he meant: in his rage he deals such a blow as to kill his victim, yet all he had in his mind was to give him a thrashing, not to do him to death. If, however, a man uses a sword, or anything of the kind, he has no excuse: certainly none if he throws his hatchet. For he does not strike with the hand, so that the force of the blow may be within his own control, but throws, so that from the weight and edge of the iron, and the force of the throw, the wound cannot fail to be fatal.
On the other hand acts done in the attacks of war or robbery are distinctly intentional, and admit of no doubt. Robbers kill for greed, and to avoid conviction. Soldiers who inflict death in war do so with the obvious purpose not of fighting, nor chastising, but of killing their opponents. And if any one has concocted some magic philtre for some other reason, and then causes death, I count this as intentional. Women frequently endeavour to draw men to love them by incantations and magic knots, and give them drugs which dull their intelligence. Such women, when they cause death, though the result of their action may not be what they intended, are nevertheless, on account of their proceedings being magical and prohibited, to be reckoned among intentional homicides. Women also who administer drugs to cause abortion, as well as those who take poisons to destroy unborn children, are murderesses. So much on this subject.
IX. The sentence of the Lord that it is unlawful to withdraw from wedlock, save on account of fornication, applies, according to the argument, to men and women alike. Custom, however, does not so obtain. Yet, in relation with women, very strict expressions are to be found; as, for instance, the words of the apostle "He which is joined to a harlot is one body" and of Jeremiah, If a wife "become another man's shall be return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted?" And again, "He that hath an adulteress is a feel and impious." Yet custom ordains that men who commit adultery and are in fornication be retained by their wives. Consequently I do not know if the woman who lives with the man who has been dismissed can properly be called an adulteress; the charge in this case attaches to the woman who has put away her husband, and depends upon the cause for which she withdrew from wedlock. In the case of her being beaten, and refusing to submit, it would be better for her to endure than to be separated from her husband; in the case of her objecting to pecuniary loss, even here she would not have sufficient ground. If her reason is his living in fornication we do not find this in the custom of the church; but from an unbelieving husband a wife is commanded not to depart, but to remain, on account of the uncertainty of the issue. "For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shall save thy husband?" Here then the wife, if she leaves her husband and goes to another, is an adulteress. But the man who has been abandoned is pardonable, and the woman who lives with such a man is not condemned. But if the man who has deserted his wife goes to another, he is himself an adulterer because he makes her commit adultery; and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has caused another woman's husband to come over to her.
X. Those who swear that they will not receive ordination, declining orders upon oath, must not be driven to perjure themselves, although there does seem to be a canon making concessions to such persons. Yet I have found by experience that perjurers never turn out well. Account must however be taken of the form of the oath, its terms, the frame of mind in which it was taken, and the minutest additions made to the terms, since, if no ground of relief can anywhere be found, such persons must be dismissed. The case, however, of Severus, I mean of the presbyter ordained by him, does seem to me to allow of relief of this kind, if you will permit it. Give directions for the district placed under Mestia, to which the man was appointed, to be reckoned tinder Vasoda. Thus he will not forswear himself by not departing from the place, and Longinus, having Cyriacus with him, will not leave the Church unprovided for, nor himself be guilty of neglect of work. I moreover shall not be held guilty of taking action in contravention of any canons by making a concession to Cyriacus who had sworn that he would remain at Mindana and yet accepted the transfer. His return will be in accordance with his oath, and his obedience to the arrangement will not be reckoned against him as perjury, because it was not added to his oath that he would not go, even a short time, from Mindana, but would remain there for the future. Severus, who pleads forgetfulness, I shall pardon, only telling him that One who knows what is secret will not overlook the ravaging of His Church by a man of such a character; a man who originally appoints uncanonically, then imposes oaths in violation of the Gospel, then tells a man to perjure himself in the matter of his transfer, and last of all lies in pretended forgetfulness. I am no judge of hearts; I only judge by what I hear; let us leave vengeance to the Lord, and ourselves pardon the common human error of forgetfulness, and receive the man without question.
XI. The man who is guilty of unintentional homicide has given sufficient satisfaction in eleven years. We shall, without doubt, observe what is laid down by Moses in the case of wounded men, and shall not hold a murder to have been committed in the case of a man who lies down after he has been struck, and walks again leaning on his staff. If, however, he does not rise again after he has been struck, nevertheless, from there being no intent to kill, the striker is a homicide, but an unintentional homicide.
XII. The canon absolutely excludes digamists from the ministry.
XIII. Homicide in war is not reckoned by our Fathers as homicide; I presume froth their wish to make concession to men fighting on behalf of chastity and true religion. Perhaps, however, it is well to counsel that those whose hands are not clean only abstain from communion for three years.
XIV. A taker of usury, if he consent to spend his unjust gain on the poor, and to be rid for the future of the plague of covetousness, may be received into the ministry.
XV. I am astonished at your requiring exactitude in Scripture, and arguing that there is something forced in the diction of the interpretation which gives the meaning of the original, but does not exactly render what is meant by the Hebrew word. Yet I must not carelessly pass by the question started by an enquiring mind. At the creation of the world, birds of the air and the fishes of the sea had the same origin; for both kinds were produced from the water. The reason is that both have the same characteristics. The latter swim in the water, the former in the air. They are therefore mentioned together. The form of expression is not used without distinction, but of all that lives in the water it is used very properly. The birds of the air and the fishes of the sea are subject to man; and not they alone, but all that passes through the paths of the sea. For every water-creature is not a fish, as for instance the sea monsters, whales, sharks, dolphins, seals, even sea-horses, sea-dogs, saw-fish, sword-fish, and sea-cows; and, if you like, sea nettles, cockles and all hard-shelled creatures of whom none are fish, and all pass through the paths of the sea; so that there are three kinds, birds of the air, fishes of the sea, and all water-creatures which are distinct from fish, and pass through the paths of the sea.
XVI. Naaman was not a great man with the Lord, but with his lord; that is, he was one of the chief princes of the King of the Syrians. Read your Bible carefully, and you will find the answer to your question there.
LETTER CLXXXIX.: To Eustathius the physician. (Now generally considered to be a letter of Gregory of Nyssa against the Pneumatomachi.)
HUMANITY is the regular business of all you who practise as physicians. And, in my opinion, to put your science at the head and front of life's pursuits is to decide reasonably and rightly. This at all events seems to be the case if man's most precious possession, life, is painful and not worth living, unless it be lived in health, and if for health we are dependent on your skill. In your own case medicine is seen, as it were, with two right hands; you enlarge the accepted limits of philanthropy by not confining the application of your skill to men's bodies, but by attending also to the cure of the diseases of their souls. It is not only in accordance with popular report that I thus write. I am moved by the personal experience which I have had on many occasions and to a remarkable degree at the present time, in the midst of the unspeakable wickedness of our enemies, which has flooded our life like a noxious torrent. You have most skilfully dispersed it and by pouring in your soothing words have allayed the inflammation of my heart. Having regard to the successive and diversified attacks of my enemies against me, I thought that I ought to keep silence and to bear their successive assaults without reply, and without attempting to contradict foes armed with a lie, that terrible weapon which too often drives its point through the heart of truth herself. You did well in urging me not to abandon the defence of truth, but rather to convict our calumniators, lest haply, by the success of lies, many be hurt.
2. In adopting an unexpected attitude of hatred against me my opponents seem to be repeating the old story in Aesop. He makes the wolf bring certain charges against the lamb, as being really ashamed to seem to kill a creature who had done him no harm without some reasonable pretext; then when the lamb easily rebuts the slander, the wolf, none the less, continues his attack, and, though defeated in equity, comes off winner in biting. Just so with those who seem to count hatred to me as a virtue. They will perhaps blush to hate me without a cause, and so invent pleas and charges against me, without abiding by any of their allegations, but urging as the ground of their detestation now this, now that, and now something else. In no single case is their malice consistent; but when they are baulked in one charge they cling to another and, foiled in this, have recourse to a third; and if all their accusations are scattered they do not drop their ill-will. They say that I preach three Gods, dinning the charge into the ears of the mob and pressing the calumny plausibly and persistently. Nevertheless, truth is fighting on my side; and both in public to all the world, and in private to all whom I meet, I prove that I anathematize every one who maintains three Gods and do not even allow him to be a Christian. No sooner do they hear this than Sabellius is handy for them to urge against me, and it is noised abroad that my teaching is tainted with his error. Once more I hold out in my defence my wonted weapon of truth, and demonstrate that I shudder at Sabellianism as much as at Judaism.
3. What then? After all these efforts were they tired? Did they leave off? Not at all. They are charging me with innovation, and base their charge on my confession of three hypostases, and blame me for asserting one Goodness, one Power, one Godhead. In this they are not wide of the truth, for I do so assert. Their complaint is that their custom does not accept this, and that Scripture does not agree. What is my reply? I do not consider it fair that the custom which obtains among them should be regarded as a law and rule of orthodoxy. If custom is to be taken in proof of what is right, then it is certainly competent for me to put forward on my side the custom which obtains here. If they reject this, we are clearly not bound to follow them. Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favour of that side will be cast the vote of truth. What then is the charge? Two points are advanced at one and the same time in the accusations levelled against me. I am accused on the one hand of parting the hypostases asunder; on the other of never using in the plural any one of the nouns relating to the Divinity, but of always speaking in the singular number of one Goodness, as I have already said; of one Power; one Godhead; and so on. As to the parting of the hypostases, there ought to be no objection nor opposition on the part of those who assert in the case of the divine nature a distinction of essences. For it is unreasonable to maintain three essences and to object to three hypostases. Nothing, then, is left but the charge of using words of the divine nature in the singulars.
4. I have quite a little difficulty in meeting the second charge. Whoever condemns those who assert that the Godhead is one, must of necessity agree with all who maintain many godheads, or with those who maintain that there is none. No third position is conceivable. The teaching of inspired Scripture does not allow of our speaking of many godheads, but, wherever it mentions the Godhead, speaks of it in the singular number; as, for instance, "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." And again; "for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead." If, then, to multiply godheads is the special mark of the victims of polytheistic error, and to deny the Godhead altogether is to fall into atheism, what sense is there in this charge against me of confessing one Godhead? But they make a plainer disclosure of the end they have in view; namely, in the case of the Father to agree that He is God, and consenting in like manner that the Son be honoured with the attribute of Godhead; but to refuse to comprehend the Spirit, though reckoned with Father and with Son in the idea of Godhead. They allow that the power of the Godhead extends from the Father to the Son, but they divide the nature of the Spirit from the divine glory. Against this view, to the best of my ability, I must enter a brief defence of my own position.
5. What, then, is my argument? In delivering the Faith of Salvation to those who are being made disciples in His doctrine, the Lord conjoins with Father and with Son the Holy Spirit also. That which is conjoined once I maintain to be conjoined everywhere and always. There is no question here of a ranking together in one respect and isolation in others. In the quickening power whereby our nature is transformed from the life of corruption to immortality, the power of the Spirit is comprehended with Father and with Son, and in many other instances, as in the conception of the good, the holy, the eternal, the wise, the right, the supreme, the efficient, and generally in all terms which have the higher meaning, He is inseparably united. Wherefrom I judge it right to hold that the Spirit, thus conjoined with Father and Son in so many sublime and divine senses, is never separated. Indeed I am unaware of any degrees of better or worse in the terms concerning the divine nature, nor can I imagine its being reverent and right to allow the Spirit a participation in those of lesser dignity, while He is judged unworthy of the higher. For all conceptions and terms which regard the divine are of equal dignity one with another, in that they do not vary in regard to the meaning of the subject matter to which they are applied. Our thought is not led to one subject by the attribution of good, and to another by that of wise, powerful, and just; mention any attributes you will, the thing signified is one and the same. And if you name God, you mean the same Being whom you understood by the rest of the terms. Granting, then, that all the terms applied to the divine nature are of equal force one with another in relation to that which they describe, one emphasizing one point and another another, but all bringing our intelligence to the contemplation of the same object; what ground is there for conceding to the Spirit fellowship with Father and Son in all other terms, and isolating Him from the Godhead alone? There is no escape from the position that we must either allow the fellowship here, or refuse it everywhere. If He is worthy in every other respect, He is certainly not unworthy in this. If, as our opponents argue, He is too insignificant to be allowed fellowship with Father and with Son in Godhead, He is not worthy to share any single one of the divine attributes: for when the terms are carefully considered, and compared with one another, by the help of the special meaning contemplated in each, they will be found to involve nothing less than the title of God. A proof of what I say lies in the fact that even many inferior objects are designated by this name. Nay, Holy Scripture does not even shrink from using this term in the case of things of a totally opposite character, as when it applies the title god to idols. "Let the gods," it is written, "who have not made heaven and earth, be taken away, and cast beneath the earth;" and again, "the gods of the nations are idols." And the witch, when she called up the required spirits for Saul, is said to have seen gods. Balsam too, an augur and seer, with the oracles in his hand, as Scripture says, when he had got him the teaching of the demons by his divine ingenuity, is described by Scripture as taking counsel with God. From many similar instances in Holy Scripture it may be proved that the name of God has no pre-eminence over other words which are applied to the divine, since, as has been said, we find it employed without distinction even in the case of things of quite opposite character. On the other hand we are taught by Scripture that the names holy, incorruptible, righteous, and good, are nowhere indiscriminately used of unworthy objects. It follows, then, that if they do not deny that the Holy Spirit is associated with the Son and with the Father, in the names which are specially applied, by the usage of true religion, to the divine nature alone, there is no reasonable ground for refusing to allow the same association in the case of that word alone which, as I have shown, is used as a recognised homonym even of demons and idols.
6. But they contend that this title sets forth the nature of that to which it is applied; that the nature of the Spirit is not a nature shared in common with that of Father and of Son; and that, for this reason, the Spirit ought not to be allowed the common use of the name. It is, therefore, for them to show by what means they have perceived this variation in the nature. If it were indeed possible for the divine nature to be contemplated in itself; could what is proper to it and what is foreign to it be discovered by means of visible things; we should then certainly stand in no need of words or other tokens to lead us to the apprehension of the object of the enquiry. But the divine nature is too exalted to be perceived as objects of enquiry are perceived, and about things which are beyond our knowledge we reason on probable evidence. We are therefore of necessity guided in the investigation of the divine nature by its operations. Suppose we observe the operations of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy Ghost, to be different from one another, we shall then conjecture, from the diversity of the operations that the operating natures are also different. For it is impossible that things which are distinct, as regards their nature, should be associated as regards the form of their operations; fire does not freeze; ice does not warm; difference of natures implies difference of the operations proceeding from them. Grant, then, that we perceive the operation of Father, Son and Holy Ghost to be one and the same, in no respect showing difference or variation; from this identity of operation we necessarily infer the unity of the nature.
7. The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost alike hallow, quicken, enlighten, and comfort. No one will attribute a special and peculiar operation of hallowing to the operation of the Spirit, after hearing the Saviour in the Gospel saying to the Father about His disciples, sanctify them in Thy name. In like manner all other operations are equally performed, in all who are worthy of them, by the Father and by the Son and by the Holy Ghost; every grace and virtue, guidance, life, consolation, change into the immortal, the passage into freedom and all other good things which come down to man. Nay even the dispensation which is above us in relation to the creature considered both in regard to intelligence and sense, if indeed it is possible for any conjecture concerning what lies above us to be formed from what we know, is not constituted apart from the operation and power of the Holy Ghost, every individual sharing His help in proportion to the dignity and need of each. Truly the ordering and administration of beings above our nature is obscure to our perception; nevertheless any one, arguing from what is known to us, would find it more reasonable to conclude that the power of the Spirit operates even in those beings, than that He is excluded from the government of supramundane things. So to assert is to advance a blasphemy bare and unsupported; it is to support absurdity on fallacy. On the other hand to agree that even the world beyond us is governed by the power of the Spirit, as well as by that of the Father and of the Son, is to advance a contention, supported on the plain testimony of what is seen in human life. Identity of operation in the case of Father and of Son and of Holy Ghost clearly proves invariability of nature. It follows that, even if the name of Godhead does signify nature, the community of essence proves that this title is very properly applied to the Holy Spirit.
8. I am, however, at a loss to understand how our opponents with all their ingenuity can adduce the title of Godhead in proof of nature, as though they had never heard from Scripture that nature does not result from institution and appointment. Moses was made a god of the Egyptians when the divine voice said, "See I have made thee a god to Pharaoh. The title therefore does give proof of a certain authority of oversight or of action. The divine nature, on the other hand, in all the words which are contrived, remains always inexplicable, as I always teach. We have learnt that it is beneficent, judicial, righteous, good, and so on; and so have been taught differences of operations. But we are, nevertheless, unable to understand the nature of the operator through our idea of the operations. Let any one give an account of each one of these names, and of the actual nature to which they are applied, and it will be found that the definition will not in both cases be the same. And where the definition is not identical the nature is different. There is, then, a distinction to be observed between the essence, of which no explanatory term has yet been discovered, and the meaning of the names applied to it in reference to some operation or dignity. That there should be no difference in the operations we infer from the community of terms. But, we derive no clear proof of variation in nature, because, as has been said, identity of operations indicates community of nature. If then Godhead be the name of an operation, we say that the Godhead is one, as there is one operation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; if, however, as is popularly supposed, the name of Godhead indicates nature, then, since we find no variation in the nature, we reasonably define the Holy Trinity to be of one Godhead.
LETTER CXC.: To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium.
1. THE interest which you have shewn in the affairs of the Isaurian Church is only what might have been expected from that zeal and propriety of conduct which so continually rouses my admiration of you. The most careless observer must at once perceive that it is in all respects more advantageous for care and anxiety to be divided among several bishops. This has not escaped your observation, and you have done well in noting, and in acquainting me with, the position of affairs. But it is not easy to find fit men. While, then, we are desirous of having the credit that comes of numbers, and cause God's Church to be more effectively administered by more officers, let us be careful lest we unwittingly bring the word into contempt on account of the unsatisfactory character of the men who are called to office, and accustom the laity to indifference. You yourself know well that the conduct of the governed is commonly of a piece with that of those who are set over them. Perhaps therefore it might be better to appoint one well approved man, though even this may not be an easy matter, to the supervision of the whole city, and entrust him with the management of details on his own responsibility. Only let him be a servant of God, "a workman that needeth not to be ashamed," not "looking on his own things," but on the things of the most, "that they be saved." If he finds himself overweighted with responsibility, he will associate other labourers for the harvest with himself. If only we can find such a man, I own that I think the one worth many, and the ordering of the cure of souls in this way likely to be attended at once with more advantage to the Churches and with less risk to us. If, however, this course prove difficult, let us first do our best to appoint superintendents to the small townships or villages which have of old been episcopal sees. Then afterwards we will appoint once more the [bishop] of the city. Unless we take this course the man appointed may prove a hindrance to subsequent administration. and from his wish to rule over a larger diocese, and his refusal to accept the ordination of the bishops, we may find ourselves suddenly involved in a domestic quarrel. If this course is difficult, and time does not allow, see to it that the Isaurian bishop is strictly kept within his own bounds by ordaining some of his immediate neighbours. In the future it will be reserved for us to give to the rest bishops at the proper season, after we have carefully examined those whom we ourselves may judge to be most fit.
2. I have asked George, as you requested. He replies as you reported. In all this we must remain quiet, casting the care of the house on the Lord. For I put my trust in the Holy God that He will by my aid grant to him deliverance from his difficulties in some other way, and to me to live my life without trouble. If this cannot be, be so good as to send me word yourself as to what part I must look after, that I may begin to ask this favour of each of my friends in power, either for nothing, or for some moderate price, as the Lord may prosper me.
I have, in accordance with your request, written to brother Valerius. Matters at Nyssa are going on as they were left by your reverence, and, by the aid of your holiness, are improving. Of those who were then separated from me some have gone off to the court, and some remain waiting for tidings from it. The Lord is able as well to frustrate the expectations of these latter as to make the return of the former useless.
3. Philo, on the authority of some Jewish tradition, explains the manna to have been of such a nature that it changed with the taste of the eater: that of itself it was like millet seed boiled in honey; it served sometimes for bread, sometimes for meat, either of birds or beasts; at other times for vegetables, according to each man's liking; even for fish so that the flavour of each separate kind was exactly reproduced in the eater's mouth.
Scripture recognises chariots containing three riders, because while other chariots contained two, the driver and the man-at-arms, Pharaoh's held three, two men-at-arms. and one to hold the reins.
Sympius has written me a letter expressive of respect and communion. The letter which I have written in reply I am sending to your holiness, that you may send it on to him if you quite approve of it, with the addition of some communication from yourself. May you, by the loving kindness of the Holy One, be preserved for me and for the Church of God, in good health, happy in the Lord, and ever praying for me.
LETTER CXCI.: To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium.
ON reading the letter of your reverence I heartily thanked God. I did so because I found in your expressions traces of ancient affection. You are not like the majority. You did not persist in refusing to begin an affectionate correspondence. You have learned the greatness of the prize promised to the saints for humility, and so you have chosen, by taking the second place, to get before me. Among Christians such are the conditions of victory, and it is he who is content to take the second place who wins a crown. But I must not be behindhand in this virtuous rivalry, and so I thus salute your reverence in return; and inform you as to how I am minded, in that, since agreement in the faith is established among us, there is nothing further to prevent our being one body and one spirit, as we have been called in one hope of our calling. It is for you, then, of your charity to follow up a good beginning to rally men of like mind to stand at your side, and to appoint both time and place for meeting. Thus, by God's grace, through mutual accommodation we may govern the Churches by the ancient kind of love; receiving as our own members brothers coming from the other side, sending as to our kin, and in turn receiving as from our own kin. Such, indeed, was once the boast of the Church. Brothers from each Church, travelling from one end of the world to the other, were provided with little tokens, and found all men fathers and brothers. This is a privilege whereof, like all the rest, the enemy of Christ's Churches has robbed us. We are confined each in his own city, and every one looks at his neighbour with distrust. What more is to be said but that our love has grown cold, whereby alone our Lord has told us that His disciples are distinguished? First of all, if you will, do you become known to one another, that I may know with whom I am to be in agreement. Thus by common consent we will fix on some place convenient to both, and, at a season suitable for travelling, we will hasten to meet one another; the Lord will direct us in the way. Farewell. Be of good cheer. Pray for me. May you be granted to me by the grace of the Holy One?
LETTER CXCII.: To Sophronius the Master.
WITH your extraordinary zeal in good deeds you have written to me to say that you yourself owe me double thanks; first, for getting a letter from me, and secondly, for doing me a service. What thanks, then, must not I owe you, both for reading your most delightful words, and for finding what I hoped for so quickly accomplished! The message was exceedingly gratifying on its own account, but it gave me much greater gratification from the fact that you were the friend to whom I owed the boon. God grant that ere long I may see you, and return you thanks in words, and enjoy the great pleasure of your society.
LETTER CXCIII. : To Meletius the Physician.
I AM not able to flee from the discomforts of winter so well as cranes are, although for foreseeing the future I am quite as clever as a crane. But as to liberty of life the birds are almost as far ahead of me as they are in the being able to fly. In the first place I have been detained by certain worldly business; then I have been so wasted by constant and violent attacks of fever that there does seem something thinner even than I was,--I am thinner than ever. Besides all this, bouts of quartan ague have gone on for more than twenty turns. Now I do seem to be free from fever, but I am in such a feeble state that I am no stronger than a cobweb. Hence the shortest journey is too far for me, and every breath of wind is more dangerous to me than big waves to those at sea. I have no alternative but to hide in my hut and wait for spring, if only I can last out so long, and am not carried off beforehand by the internal malady of which I am never rid. If the Lord saves me with His mighty hand, I shall gladly betake myself to your remote region, and gladly embrace a friend so dear. Only pray that my life may be ordered as may be best for my soul's good.
LETTER CXCIV.: To Zoilus.
WHAT are you about, most excellent sir, in anticipating me in humility? Educated as you are, and able to write such a letter as you have sent, you nevertheless ask for forgiveness at my hands, as though you were engaged in some undertaking rash and beyond your position. But a truce to mockery. Continue to write to me on every occasion. Am I not wholly illiterate? It is delightful to read the letters of an eloquent writer. Have I learned from Scripture how good a thing is love? I count intercourse with a loving friend invaluable. And I do hope that you may tell me of all the good gifts which I pray for you; the best of health, and the prosperity of all your house. Now as to my own affairs, my condition is not more endurable than usual. It is enough to tell you this and you will understand the bad state of my health. It has indeed reached such extreme suffering as to be as difficult to describe as to experience, if indeed your own experience has fallen short of mine. But it is the work of the good God to give me power to bear in patience whatever trials are inflicted on me for my own good at the hands of our merciful Lord.
LETTER CXCV.: To Euphronius, bishop of Colonia Armenioe.
COLONIA, which the Lord has placed under your authority, is far out of the way of ordinary routes. The consequence is that, although I am frequently writing to the rest of the brethren in Armenia Minor, I hesitate to write to your reverence, because I have no expectation of finding any one to convey my letter. Now, however, that I am hoping either for your presence, or that my letter will be sent on to you by some of the bishops to whom I have written, I thus write and salute you by letter. I wish to tell you that I seem to be still alive, and at the same time to exhort you to pray for me, that the Lord may lessen my afflictions, and lift from me the heavy load of pain which now presses like a cloud upon my heart. I shall have this relief if He will only grant a quick restoration to those godly bishops who are now punished for their faithfulness to true religion by being scattered all abroad.
LETTER CXCVI.: To Aburgius.
RUMOUR, messenger of good news, is continually reporting how you dart across, like the stars, appearing now here, now there, in the barbarian regions; now supplying the troops with provisions, now appearing in gorgeous array before the emperor. I pray God that your doings may prosper as they deserve, and that you may achieve eminent success. I pray that, so long as I live and breathe this air, (for my life now is no more than drawing breath), our country may from time to time behold you.