LETTERS OF ST. BASIL THE GREAT, 1-46.
[Translated by the Rev. Blomfield Jackson, M.A., Vicar of Saint Bartholomew's, Moor Lane, and Fellow of King's college, London.]
LETTER I.(2): To Eustathius the Philosopher.(3)
MUCH distressed as I was by the flouts of what is called fortune, who always seems to be hindering my meeting you, I was wonderfully cheered and comforted by your letter, for I had already been turning over in my mind whether what so many people say is really true, that there is a certain Necessity or Fate which rules all the events of our lives both great and small, and that we human beings have control over nothing; or, that at all events, all human life is driven by a kind of luck.(4) You will be very ready to forgive me for these reflexions, when you learn by what causes I was led to make them.
On hearing of your philosophy, I entertained a feeling of contempt for the teachers of Athens, and left it. The city on the Hellespont I passed by, more unmoved than any Ulysses, passing Sirens' songs.(5)
Asia(6) I admired; but I hurried on to the capital of all that is best in it. When I arrived home, and did not find you,--the prize which I had sought so eagerly,--there began many and various unexpected hindrances. First I must miss you because I fell ill; then when you were setting out for the East I could not start with you; then, after endless trouble, I reached Syria, but I missed the philosopher, who had set out for Egypt. Then I must set out for Egypt, a long and weary way, and even there I did not gain my end. But so passionate was my longing that I must either set out for Persia, and proceed with you to the farthest lands of barbarism, (you had got there; what an obstinate devil possessed me!) or settle here at Alexandria. This last I did. I really think that unless, like some tame beast, I had followed a bough held out to me till I was quite worn out, you would have been driven on and on beyond Indian Nyssa,(1) or any more remote region, and wandered about out there. Why say more?
On returning home, I cannot meet you, hindered by lingering ailments. If these do not get better I shall not be able to meet you even in the winter. Is not all this, as you yourself say, due to Fate? Is not this Necessity? Does not my case nearly outdo poets' tales of Tantalus? But, as I said, I feel better after getting your letter, and am now no longer of the same mind. When God gives good things I think we must thank Him, and not be angry with Him while He is controlling their distribution. So if He grant me to join you, I shall think it best and most delightful; if He put me off, I will gently endure the loss. For He always rules our lives better than we could choose for ourselves.
LETTER II.(2): Basil to Gregory. [All except bracketed portions translated by J. H. Newman]
1. [I recognised your letter, as one recognises one's friends' children from their obvious likeness to their parents. Your saying that to describe the kind of place I live in, before letting you hear anything about how I live, would not go far towards persuading you to share my life, was just like you; it was worthy of a soul like yours, which makes nothing of all that concerns this life here, in comparison with the blessedness which is promised us hereafter. What I do myself, day and night, in this remote spot, I am ashamed to write. I have abandoned my life in town, as one sure to lead to countless ills; but I have not yet been able to get quit of myself. I am like travellers at sea, who have never gone a voyage before, and are distressed and seasick, who quarrel with the ship because it is so big and makes such a tossing, and, when they get out of it into the pinnace or dingey, are everywhere and always seasick and distressed. Wherever they go their nausea and misery go with them. My state is something like this. I carry my own troubles with me, and so everywhere I am in the midst of similar discomforts. So in the end I have not got much good out of my solitude. What I ought to have done; what would have enabled me to keep close to the footprints of Him who has led the way to salvation--for He says, "If any one will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me"(1)--is this.]
2. We must strive after a quiet mind. As well might the eye ascertain an object put before it while it is wandering restless up and down and sideways, without fixing a steady gaze upon it, as a mind, distracted by a thousand worldly cares, be able clearly to apprehend the truth. He who is not yet yoked in the bonds of matrimony is harassed by frenzied cravings, and rebellious impulses, and hopeless attachments; he who has found his mate is encompassed with his own tumult of cares; if he is childless, there is desire for children; has he children? anxiety about their education, attention to his wife,(2) care of his house, oversight of his servants,(3) misfortunes in trade, quarrels with his neighbours, lawsuits, the risks of the merchant, the toil of the farmer. Each day, as it comes, darkens the soul in its own way; and night after night takes up the day's anxieties, and cheats the mind with illusions in accordance. Now one way of escaping all this is separation from the whole world; that is, not bodily separation, but the severance of the soul's sympathy with the body, and to live so without city, home, goods, society, possessions, means of life, business, engagements, human learning, that the heart may readily receive every impress of divine doctrine. Preparation of heart is the unlearning the prejudices of evil converse. It is the smoothing the waxen tablet before attempting to write on it.(4)
Now solitude is of the greatest use for this purpose, inasmuch as it stills our passions, and gives room for principle to cut them out of the soul.(5) [For just as animals are more easily controlled when they are stroked, lust and anger, fear and sorrow, the soul's deadly foes, are better brought under the control of reason, after being calmed by inaction, and where there is no continuous stimulation.] Let there then be such a place as ours, separate from intercourse with men, that the tenour of our exercises be not interrupted from without. Pious exercises nourish the soul with divine thoughts. What state can be more blessed than to imitate on earth the choruses of angels? to begin the day with prayer, and honour our Maker with hymns and songs? As the day brightens, to betake ourselves, with prayer attending on it throughout, to our labours, and to sweeten(1) our work with hymns, as if with salt? Soothing hymns compose the mind to a cheerful and calm state. Quiet, then, as I have said, is the first step in our sanctification; the tongue purified from the gossip of the world; the eyes unexcited by fair colour or comely shape; the ear not relaxing the tone or mind by voluptuous songs, nor by that especial mischief, the talk of light men and jesters. Thus the mind, saved from dissipation from without, and not through the senses thrown upon the world, falls back upon itself, and thereby ascends to the contemplation of God. [When(2) that beauty shines about it, it even forgets its very nature; it is dragged down no more by thought of food nor anxiety concerning dress; it keeps holiday from earthly cares, and devotes all its energies to the acquisition of the good things which are eternal, and asks only how may be made to flourish in it self-control and manly courage, righteousness and wisdom, and all the other virtues, which, distributed tinder these heads, properly enable the good man to discharge all the duties of life.]
3. The study of inspired Scripture is the chief way of finding our duty, for in it we find both instruction about conduct and the lives of blessed men, delivered in writing, as some breathing images of godly living, for the imitation of their good works. Hence, in whatever respect each one feels himself deficient, devoting himself to this imitation, he finds, as from some dispensary, the due medicine for his ailment. He who is enamoured of chastity dwells upon the history of Joseph, and from him learns chaste actions, finding him not only possessed of self-command over pleasure, but virtuously- minded in habit. He is taught endurance by Job [who,(3) not only when the circumstances of life began to turn against him, and in one moment he was plunged from wealth into penury, and from being the father of fair children into childlessness, remained the same, keeping the disposition of his soul all through uncrushed, but was not even stirred to anger against the friends who came to comfort him, and trampled on him, and aggravated his troubles.] Or should he be enquiring how to be at once meek and great-hearted, hearty against sin, meek towards men, he will find David noble in warlike exploits, meek and unruffled as regards revenge on enemies. Such, too, was Moses rising up with great heart upon sinners against God, but with meek soul bearing their evil-speaking against himself. [Thus,(1) generally, as painters, when they are painting from other pictures, constantly look at the model, and do their best to transfer its lineaments to their own work, so too must he who is desirous of rendering himself perfect in all branches of excellency, keep his eyes turned to the lives of the saints as though to living and moving statues, and make their virtue his own by imitation.
4. Prayers, too, after reading, find the soul fresher, and more vigorously stirred by love towards God. And that prayer is good which imprints a clear idea of God in the soul; and the having God established in self by means of memory is God's indwelling. Thus we become God's temple, when the continuity of our recollection is not severed by earthly cares; when the mind is harassed by no sudden sensations; when the worshipper rites from all things and retreats to God, drawing away all the feelings that invite him to self-indulgence, and passes his time in the pursuits that lead to virtue.]
5. This, too, is a very important point to attend to,--knowledge how to converse; to interrogate without over-earnestness; to answer without desire of display; not to interrupt a profitable speaker, or to desire ambitiously to put in a word of one's own; to be measured in speaking and hearing; not to be ashamed of receiving, or to be grudging in giving information, nor to pass another's knowledge for one's own, as depraved women their supposititious children, but to refer it candidly to the true parent. The middle tone of voice is best, neither so low as to be inaudible, nor to be ill- bred from its high pitch. One should reflect first what one is going to say, and then give it utterance: be courteous when addressed; amiable in social intercourse; not aiming to be pleasant by facetiousness, but cultivating gentleness in kind admonitions. Harshness is ever to be put aside, even in censuring.(2) [The more you shew modesty and humility yourself, the more. likely are you to be acceptable to the patient who needs your treatment. There are however many occasions when we shall do well to employ the kind of rebuke used by the prophet who did not in his own person utter the sentence of condemnation on David after his sin, but by suggesting an imaginary character made the sinner judge of his own sin, so that, after passing his own sentence, he could not find fault with the seer who had convicted him.(1)
6. From the humble and submissive spirit comes an eye sorrowful and downcast, appearance neglected, hair rough, dress. dirty;(2) so that the appearance which mourners take pains to present may appear our natural condition. The tunic should be fastened to the body by a girdle, the belt not going above the flank, like a woman's, nor left slack, so that the tunic flows loose, like an idler's. The gait ought not to be sluggish, which shews a character without energy, nor on the other hand pushing and pompous, as though our impulses were rash and wild. The one end of dress is that it should be a sufficient covering alike in winter and summer. As to colour, avoid brightness; in material, the soft and delicate. To aim at bright colours in dress is like women's beautifying when they colour cheeks and hair with hues other than their own. The tunic ought to be thick enough not to want other help to keep the wearer warm. The shoes should be cheap but serviceable. In a word, what one has to regard in dress is the necessary. So too as to food; for a man in good health bread will suffice, and water will quench thirst; such dishes of vegetables may be added as conduce to strengthening the body for the discharge of its functions. One ought not to eat with any exhibition of savage gluttony, but in everything that concerns our pleasures to maintain moderation, quiet, and self- control; and, all through, not to let the mind forget to think of God, but to make even the nature of our food, and the constitution of the body that takes it, a ground and means for offering Him the glory, bethinking us how the various kinds of food, suitable to the needs of our bodies, are due to the provision of the great Steward of the Universe. Before meat let grace be said, in recognition alike of the girls which God gives now, and which He keeps in store for time to come. Say grace after meat in gratitude for gifts given and petition for gifts promised. Let there be one fixed hour for taking food, always the same in regular course, that of all the four and twenty of the day and night barely this one may be spent upon the body. The rest the ascetic(1) ought to spend in mental exercise. Let sleep be light and easily interrupted, as naturally happens after a light diet; it should be purposely broken by thoughts about great themes. To be overcome by heavy torpor, with limbs unstrung, so that a way is readily opened to wild fancies, is to be plunged in daily death. What dawn is to some this midnight is to athletes of piety; then the silence of night gives leisure to their soul; no noxious sounds or sights obtrude upon their hearts; the mind is alone with itself and God, correcting itself by the recollection of its sins, giving itself precepts to help it to shun evil, and imploring aid from God for the perfecting of what it longs for.]
LETTER III.(2): To Candidianus.(3)
1. WHEN I took your letter into my hand. I underwent an experience worth telling. I looked at it with the awe due to a document making some state announcement, and as I was breaking the wax, I felt a dread greater than ever guilty Spartan felt at sight of the Laconian scytale.(4)
When, however, I had opened the letter, and read it through, I could not help laughing, partly for joy at finding nothing alarming in it; partly because I likened your state of affairs to that of Demosthenes. Demosthenes, you remember, when he was providing for a certain little company of chorus dancers and musicians, requested to be styled no longer Demosthenes, but "choragus."(5) You are always the same, whether playing the "choragus" or not. "Choragus" you are indeed to soldiers myriads more in number than the individuals to whom Demosthenes supplied necessaries; and yet you do not when you write to me stand on your dignity, but keep up the old style. You do not give up the study of literature, but, as Plato(1) has it, in the midst of the storm and tempest of affairs, you stand aloof, as it were, under some strong wall, and keep your mind clear of all disturbance; nay, more, as far as in you lies, you do not even let others be disturbed. Such is your life; great and wonderful to all who have eyes to see; and yet not wonderful to any one who judges by the whole purpose of your life.
Now let me tell my own story, extraordinary indeed, but only what might have been expected.
2. One of the hinds who live with us here at Annesi,(2) on the death of my servant, without alleging any breach of contract with him, without approaching me, without making any complaint, without asking me to make him any voluntary payment, without any threat of violence should he fail to get it, all on a sudden, with certain mad fellows like himself, attacked my house, brutally assaulted the women who were in charge of it, broke in the doors, and after appropriating some of the contents himself, and promising the rest to any one who liked, carried off everything. I do not wish to be regarded as the ne plus ultra of helplessness, and a suitable object for the violence of any one who likes to attack me. Shew me, then, now, I beg you, that kindly interest which you have always shewn in my affairs. Only on one condition can my tranquillity be secured,--that I be assured of having your energy on my side. It would be quite punishment enough, from my point of view, if the man were apprehended by the district magistrate and locked up for a short period in the gaol. It is not only that I am indignant at the treatment I have suffered, but I want security for the future.
LETTER IV.(3): To Olympius.(4)
WHAT do you mean, my dear Sir, by evicting from our retreat my dear friend and nurse of philosophy, Poverty? Were she but gifted with speech, I take it you would have to appear as defendant in an action for unlawful ejectmeat. She might plead "I chose to live with this man Basil, an admirer of Zeno,(5) who, when he had lost everything in a shipwreck, cried, with great fortitude, 'well done, Fortune! you are reducing me to the old cloak;'(1) a great admirer of Cleanthes, who by drawing water from the well got enough to live on and pay his tutors' fees as well;(2) an immense admirer of Diogenes, who prided himself on requiring no more than was absolutely necessary, and flung away his bowl after he had learned from some lad to stoop down and drink from the hollow of his hand." In some such terms as these you might be chidden by my dear mate Poverty, whom your presents have driven from house and home. She might too add a threat; "if I catch you here again, I shall shew that what went before was Sicilian or Italian luxury: so I shall exactly requite you out of my own store."
But enough of this. I am very glad that you have already begun a course of medicine, and pray that you may be benefited by it. A condition of body fit for painless activity would well become so pious a soul.
LETTER V.(3): To Nectarius.(4)
1. I HEARD of your unendurable loss, and was much distressed. Three or four days went by, and I was still in some doubt because my informant was not able to give me any clear details of the melancholy event. While I was incredulous about what was noised abroad, because I prayed that it might not be true, I received a letter from the Bishop fully confirming the unhappy tidings. I need not tell you how I sighed and wept. Who could be so stonyhearted, so truly inhuman, as to be insensible to what has occurred, or be affected by merely moderate grief? He is gone; heir of a noble house, prop of a family, a father's hope, offspring of pious parents, nursed with innumerable prayers, in the very bloom of manhood, torn from his father's hands. These things are enough to break a heart of adamant and make it feel. It is only natural then that I am deeply touched at this trouble; I who have been intimately connected with you from the beginning and have made your joys and sorrows mine. But yesterday it seemed that you had only little to trouble you, and that your life's stream was flowing prosperously on. In a moment, by a demon's malice,(1) all the happiness of the house, all the brightness of life, is destroyed, and our lives are made a doleful story. If we wish to lament and weep over what has happened, a life time will not be enough and if all mankind mourns with us they will be powerless to make their lamentation match our loss. Yes, if all the streams run tears(2) they will not adequately weep our woe.
2. But we mean,--do we not?--to bring out the gift which God has stored in our hearts; I mean that sober reason which in our happy days is wont to draw lines of limitation round our souls, and when troubles come about us to recall to our minds that we are but men, and to suggest to us, what indeed we have seen and heard, that life is full of similar misfortunes, and that the examples of human sufferings are not a few. Above all, this will tell us that it is God's command that we who trust in Christ should not grieve over them who are fallen asleep, because we hope in the resurrection; and that in reward for great patience great crowns of glory are kept in store by the Master of life's course. Only let us allow our wiser thoughts to speak to us in this strain of music, and we may peradventure discover some slight alleviation of our trouble. Play the man, then, I implore you; the blow is a heavy one, but stand firm; do not fall under the weight of your grief; do not lose heart. Be perfectly assured of this, that though the reasons for what is ordained by God are beyond us, vet always what is arranged for us by Him Who is wise and Who loves us is to be accepted, be it ever so grievous to endure. He Himself knows how He is appointing what is best for each and why the terms of life that He fixes for us are unequal. There exists some reason incomprehensible to man why some are sooner carried far away from us, and some are left a longer while behind to bear the burdens of this painful life. So we ought always to adore His loving kindness, and not to repine, remembering those great and famous words of the great athlete Job, when he bad seen ten children at one table, in one short moment, crushed to death, "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away."(2) As the Lord thought good so it came to pass. Let us adopt those marvellous words. At the hands of the righteous Judge, they who show like good deeds shall receive a like reward. We have not lost the lad; we have restored him to the Lender. His life is not destroyed; it is changed for the better. He whom we love is not hidden in the ground; he is received into heaven. Let us wait a little while, and we shall be once more with him. The time of our separation is not long, for in this life we are all like travellers on a journey, hastening on to the same shelter. While one has reached his rest another arrives, another hurries on, but one and the same end awaits them all. He has outstripped us on the way. but we shall all travel the same road, and the same hostelry awaits us all. God only grant that we through goodness may be likened to his purity, to the end that for the sake of our guilelessness of life we may attain the rest which is granted to them that are children in Christ.
LETTER VI.(1): To the wife of Nectarius.
1. I HESITATED to address your excellency, from the idea that, just as to the eye when inflamed even the mildest of remedies causes pain, so to a soul distressed by heavy sorrow, words offered in the moment of agony, even though they do bring much comfort, seem to be somewhat out of place. But I bethought me that I should be speaking to a Christian woman, who has long ago learned godly lessons, and is not inexperienced in the vicissitudes of human life, and I judged it right not to neglect the duty laid upon me. I know what a mother's heart is,(2) and when I remember how good and gentle yon are to all, I can reckon the probable extent of your misery at this present time. You have lost a son whom, while he was alive, all mothers called happy, with prayers that their own might be like him, and on his death bewailed, as though each bad hidden her own in the grave. His death is a blow to two provinces. both to mine and to Cilicia. With him has fallen a great and illustrious race, dashed to the ground as by the withdrawal of a prop. Alas for the mighty mischief that the contact with an evil demon was able to wreak! Earth, what a calamity thou hast been compelled to sustain! If the sun bad any feeling one would think he might have shuddered at so sad a sight. Who could utter all that the spirit in its helplessness would have said?
2. But our lives are not without a Providence. So we have learnt in the Gospel, for not a sparrow falls to the ground without the will of our Father. Whatever has come to pass has come to pass by the will of our Creator. And who can resist God's will? Let us accept what has befallen us; for if we take it ill we do not mend the past and we work our own ruin. Do not let us arraign the righteous judgment of God. We are all too untaught to assail His ineffable sentences. The Lord is now making trial of your love for Him. Now there is an opportunity for you, through your patience, to take the martyr's lot. The mother of the Maccabees saw the death of seven sons without a sigh, without even shedding one unworthy tear. She gave thanks to God for seeing them freed from the fetters of the flesh by fire and steel and cruel blows, and she won praise from God, and fame among men. The loss is great, as I can say myself; but great too are the rewards laid up by the Lord for the patient. When first you were made a mother, and saw your boy, and thanked God, you knew all the while that, a mortal yourself, you had given birth to a mortal. What is there astonishing in the death of a mortal? But we are grieved at his dying before his time. Are we sure that this was not his time? We do not know how to pick and choose what is good for our souls, or how to fix the limits of the life of man. Look round at all the world in which you live; remember that everything you see is mortal, and all subject to corruption. Look up to heaven; even it shall be dissolved; look at the sun, not even the sun will last for ever. All the stars together, all living things of land and sea, all that is fair on earth, aye, earth itself, all are subject to decay; yet a little while and all shall be no more. Let these considerations be some comfort to you in your trouble. Do not measure your loss by itself; if you do it will seem intolerable; but if you take all human affairs into account you will find that some comfort is to be derived from them. Above all, one thing I would strongly urge; spare your husband. Be a comfort to others. Do not make his trouble harder to bear by wearing yourself away with sorrow. Mere words I know cannot give comfort. Just now what is wanted is prayer; and I do pray the Lord Himself to touch your heart by His unspeakable power. and through good thoughts to cause light to shine upon your soul, that you may have a source of consolation in yourself.
LETTER VII: To Gregory my friend.
WHEN I wrote to you, I was perfectly well aware that no theological term is adequate to the thought of the speaker, or the want of the questioner, because language is of natural necessity too weak to act in the service of objects of thought. If then our thought is weak. and our tongue weaker than our thought, what was to be expected of me in what I said but that I should be charged with poverty of expression? Still, it was not possible to let your question pass unnoticed. It looks like a betrayal, if we do not readily give an answer about God to them that love the Lord. What has been said, however, whether it seems satisfactory, or requires some further and more careful addition, needs a fit season for correction. For the present I implore you, as I have implored you before, to devote yourself entirely to the advocacy of the truth, and to the intellectual energies God gives you for the establishment of what is good. With this be content, and ask nothing more from me. I am really much less capable than is supposed. and am more likely to do harm to the word by my weakness than to add strength to the truth by my advocacy.
LETTER VIII.: To the Caesareans. A defence of his withdrawal, and concerning the faith. (Spurious, by Evagrius Ponticus)
1. I HAVE often been astonished at your feeling towards me as you do, and how it comes about that an individual so small and insignificant, and having, may be, very little that is lovable about him, should have so won your allegiance. You remind me of the claims of friendship and of fatherland, and press me urgently in your attempt to make me come back to you, as though I were a runaway from a father's heart and home. That I am a runaway I confess. I should be sorry to deny it; since you are already regretting me, you shall be told the cause. I was astounded like a man stunned by some sudden noise. I did not crush my thoughts, but dwelt upon them as I fled, and now I have been absent from you a considerable time. Then I began to yearn for the divine doctrines, and the philosophy that is concerned with them. How, said I, could I overcome the mischief dwelling with us? Who is to be my Laban, setting me free from Esau, and leading me to the supreme philosophy? By God's help, I have, so far as in me lies, attained my object; I have found a chosen vessel, a deep well; I mean Gregory, Christ's mouth. Give me, therefore, I beg you, a little time. I am not embracing a city life. I am quite well aware how the evil one by such means devises deceit for mankind, but I do hold the society of the saints most useful. For in the more constant change of ideas about the divine dogmas I am acquiring a lasting habit of contemplation. Such is my present situation.
2. Friends godly and well beloved, do, I implore you, beware of the shepherds of the Philistines; let them not choke your wills unawares; let them not befoul the purity of your knowledge of the faith. This is ever their object, not to teach simple souls lessons drawn from Holy Scripture, but to mar the harmony of the truth by heathen philosophy. Is not he an open Philistine who is introducing the terms "unbegotten" and "begotten" into our faith, and asserts that there was once a time when the Everlasting was not; that He who is by nature and eternally a Father became a Father; that the Holy Ghost is not eternal? He bewitches our Patriarch's sheep that they may not drink "of the well of water springing up everlasting life," but may rather bring upon themselves the words of the prophet, "They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water;" when all the while they ought to confess that the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God, as they have been taught by the divine words, and by those who have understood them in their highest sense. Against those who cast it in our teeth that we are Tritheists, let it be answered that we confess one God not in number but in nature. For everything which is called one in number is not one absolutely, nor yet simple in nature; but God is universally confessed to be simple and not composite. God therefore is not one in number. What I mean is this. We say that the world is one in number, but not one by nature nor yet simple; for we divide it into its constituent elements, fire, water, air, and earth. Again, man is called one in number. We frequently speak of one man, but man who is composed of body and soul is not simple. Similarly we say one angel in number, but not one by nature nor yet simple, for we conceive of the hypostasis of the angel as essence with sanctification. If therefore everything which is one in number is not one in nature, and that which is one and simple in nature is not one in number; and if we call God one in nature how can number be charged against us, when we utterly exclude it from that blessed and spiritual nature? Number relates to quantity; and quantity is conjoined with bodily nature, for number is of bodily nature. We believe our Lord to be Creator of bodies. Wherefore every number indicates those things which have received a material and circumscribed nature. Monad and Unity on the other hand signify the nature which is simple and incomprehensible. Whoever therefore confesses either the Son of God or the Holy Ghost to be number or creature introduces unawares a material and circumscribed nature. And by circumscribed I mean not only locally limited, but a nature which is comprehended in foreknowledge by Him who is about to educe it from the non- existent into the existent and which can be comprehended by science. Every holy thing then of which the nature is circumscribed and of which the holiness is acquired is not insusceptible of evil. But the Son and the Holy Ghost are the source of sanctification by which every reasonable creature is hallowed in proportion to its virtue.
3. We in accordance with the true doctrine speak of the Son as neither like, nor unlike the Father. Each of these terms is equally impossible, for like and unlike are predicated in relation to quality, and the divine is free from quality. We, on the contrary, confess identity of nature and accepting the consubstantiality, and rejecting the composition of the Father, God in substance, Who begat the Son, God in substance. From this the consubstantiality is proved. For God in essence or substance is co- essential or con-substantial with God in essence or substance. But when even man is called "god" as in the words, "I have said ye are gods," and "daemon" as in the words, "The gods of the nations are daemons," in the former case the name is given by favour, in the latter untruly. God alone is substantially and essentially God. When I say "alone" I set forth the holy and uncreated essence and substance of God. For the word "alone" is used in the case of any individual and generally of human nature. In the case of an individual, as for instance of Paul, that he alone was caught into the third heaven and "heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter," and of human nature, as when David says, "as for man his days are as grass," not meaning any particular man, but human nature generally; for every man is short-lived and mortal. So we understand these words to be said of the nature, "who alone hath immortality" and "to God only wise," and "none is good save one, that is God," for here "one" means the same as alone. So also, "which alone spreadest out the heavens," and again "Thou shall worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve." "There is no God beside me." In Scripture "one" and "only" are not predicated of God to mark distinction from the Son and the Holy Ghost, but to except the unreal gods falsely so called. As for instance, "The Lord alone did lead them and there was no strange god with them," and "then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and did serve the Lord only." And so St. Paul, "For as there be gods many and lords many, but to us there is but out god, the Father, of whom are all things; and one Lord Jesus Christ by Whom are all things." Here we enquire why when he had said "one God" he was not content, for we have said that "one" and "only" when applied to God, indicate nature. Why did he add the word Father and make mention of Christ? Paul, a chosen vessel, did not, I imagine, think it sufficient only to preach that the Son is God and the Holy Ghost God, which he had expressed by the phrase "one God." without, by the further addition of "the Father," expressing Him of Whom are all things; and, by mentioning the Lord, signifyings the Word by Whom are all things; and yet further, by adding the words Jesus Christ, announcing the incarnation, setting forth the passion and publishing the resurrection. For the word Jesus Christ suggests all these ideas to us. For this reason too before His passion our Lord deprecates the designation of "Jesus Christ," and charges His disciples to "tell no man that He was Jesus, the Christ." For His purpose was, after the completion of the oeconomy, after His resurrection froth the dead, and His assumption into heaven, to commit to them the preaching of Him as Jesus, the Christ. Such is the force of the words "That they may know Thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent," and again "Ye believe in God, believe also in me." Everywhere the Holy Ghost secures our conception of Him to save us from falling in else direction while we advance in the other, heeding the theology but neglecting the oeconomy, and so by omission falling into impiety.
4. Now let us examine, and to the best of our ability explain, the meaning of the words of Holy Scripture, which our opponents seize and wrest to their own sense, and urge against us for the destruction of the glory of the Only-begotten. First of all take the words "I live because of the Father," for this is one of the shafts hurled heavenward by those who impiously use it. These words I do not understand to refer to the eternal life; for whatever lives because of something else cannot be self-existent, just as that which is warmed by another cannot be warmth itself; but He Who is our Christ and God says, "I am the life." I understand the life lived because of the Father to be this life in the flesh, and in this time. Of His own will He came to live the life of men. He did not say "I have lived because of the Father," but "I live because of the Father," clearly indicating the present time, and the Christ, having the word of God in Himself, is able to call the life which He leads, life, and that this is His meaning we shall learn from what follows. "He that eateth me," He says, "he also shall live because of me;" for we eat His flesh, and drink His blood, being made through His incarnation and His visible life partakers of His Word and of His Wisdom. For all His mystic sojourn among us He called flesh and blood, and set forth the teaching consisting of practical science, of physics, and of theology, whereby out soul is nourished and is meanwhile trained for the contemplation of actual realities. This is perhaps the intended meaning of what He says.
5. And again, "My Father is greater than I." This passage is also employed by the ungrateful creatures, the brood of the evil one. I believe that even from this passage the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father is set forth. For I know that comparisons may properly be made between things which are of the same nature. We speak of angel as greater than angel, of man as juster than man, of bird as fleeter than bird. If then comparisons are made between things of the same species, and the Father by comparison is said to be greater than the Son, then the Son is of the same substance as the Father. But there is another sense underlying the expression. In what is it extraordinary that He who "is the Word and was made flesh" confesses His Father to be greater than Himself, when He was seen in glory inferior to the angels, and in form to men? For "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels," and again "Who was made a little lower than the angels," and "we saw Him and He had neither form nor comeliness, his form was deficient beyond all men." All this He endured on account of His abundant loving kindness towards His work, that He might save the lost sheep and bring it home when He had saved it, and bring back safe and sound to his own land the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and so fell among thieves. Will the heretic cast in His teeth the manger out of which he in his unreasonableness was fed by the Word of reason? Will he, because the carpenter's son had no bed to lie on, complain of His being poor? This is why the Son is less than the Father; for your sakes He was made dead to free you from death and make you sharer in heavenly life. It is just as though any one were to find fault with the physician for stooping to sickness, and breathing its foul breath, that he may heal the sick.
6. It is on thy account that He knows not the hour and the day of judgment. Yet nothing is beyond the ken of the real Wisdom, for "all things were made by Him; " and even among men no one is ignorant of what be has made. But this is His dispensation because of thine own infirmity, that sinners be not plunged into despair by the narrow limits of the appointed period, no opportunity for repentance being left them; and that, on the other hand, those who are waging a long war with the forces of the enemy may not desert their post on account of the protracted time. For both of these classes He arranges by means of His assumed ignorance; for the former cutting the time short for their glorious struggle's sake; for the latter providing an opportunity for repentance because of their sins. In the gospels He numbered Himself among the ignorant, on account, as I have said, of the infirmity of the greater part of mankind. In the Acts of the Apostles, speaking, as it were, to the perfect apart, He says, "It is not for yon to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power." Here He implicitly excepts Himself. So much for a rough statement by way of preliminary attack. Now let us enquire into the meaning of the text from a higher point of view. Let me knock at the door of knowledge, if haply I may wake the Master of the house, Who gives the spiritual bread to them who ask Him, since they whom we are eager to entertain are friends and brothers.
7. Our Saviour's holy disciples, after getting beyond the limits of human thought, and then being purified by the word, are enquiring about the end, and longing to know the ultimate blessedness which our Lord declared to be unknown to His angels and to Himself. He calls all the exact comprehension of the purposes of God, a day; and the contemplation of the One-ness and Unity, knowledge of which He attributes to the Father alone, an hour. I apprehend, therefore, that God is said to know of Himself what is; and not to know what is not God, Who is, of His own nature, very righteousness and wisdom, is said to know righteousness and wisdom; but to be ignorant of unrighteousness and wickedness; for God who created us is not unrighteousness and wickedness. If, then, God is said to know about Himself that which is, and not to know that which is not; and if our Lord, according to the purpose of the Incarnation and the denser doctrine, is not the ultimate object of desire; then our Saviour does not know the end and the ultimate blessedness. But He says the angels do not know; that is to say, not even the contemplation which is in them, nor the methods of their ministries are the ultimate object of desire. For even their knowledge, when compared with the knowledge which is face to face, is dense. Only the Father, He says, knows, since He is Himself the end and the ultimate blessedness, for when we no longer know God in mirrors and not immediately, but approach Him as one and alone, then we shall know even the ultimate end. For all material knowledge is said to be the kingdom of Christ; while immaterial knowledge, and so to say the knowledge of actual Godhead, is that of God the Father. But our Lord is also Himself the end anti the ultimate blessedness according to the purpose of the Word; for what does He say in the Gospel? "I will raise him up at the last day." He calls the transition from material knowledge to immaterial contemplation a resurrection, speaking of that knowledge after which there is no other, as the last day: for our intelligence is raised up and roused to a height of blessedness at the time when it contemplates the One-ness and Unity of the Word. But since our intelligence is made dense and bound to earth, it is both commingled with clay and incapable of gazing intently in pure contemplation, being led through adornments cognate to its own body. It considers the operations of the Creator, and judges of them meanwhile by their effects, to the end that growing little by little it may one day wax strong enough to approach even the actual unveiled Godhead. This is the meaning, I think, of the words "my Father is greater than I," and also of the statement, "It is not mine to give save to those for whom it is prepared by my Father." This too is what is meant by Christ's "delivering up the kingdom to God even the Father;" inasmuch as according to the denser doctrine which, as I said, is regarded relatively to us and not to the Son Himself, He is not the end but the first fruits. It is in accordance with this view that when His disciples asked Him again in the Acts of the Apostles, "When wilt thou restore the kingdom of Israel?" He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power." That is to say, the knowledge of such a kingdom is not for them that are bound in flesh and blood. This contemplation the Father hath put away in His own power, meaning by "power" those that are empowered, and by "His own" those who are not held down by the ignorance of things below. Do not, I beg you, have in mind times and seasons of sense but certain distinctions of knowledge made by the sun apprehended by mental perception. For our Lord's prayer must be carried out. It is Jesus Who prayed "Grant that they may be one in us as I and Thou are one, Father." For when God, Who is one, is in each, He makes all out; and number is lost in the in- dwelling of Unity.
This is my second attempt to attack the text. If any one has a better interpretation to give, and can consistently with true religion amend what I say, let him speak and let him amend, and the Lord will reward him for me. There is no jealousy in my heart. I have not approached this investigation of these passages for strife and vain glory. I have done so to help my brothers, lest the earthen vessels which hold the treasure of God should seem to be deceived by stony-hearted and uncircumcised men, whose weapons are the wisdom of folly.
8. Again, as is said through Solomon the Wise in the Proverbs, "He was created;" and He is named "Beginning of ways" of good news. which lead us to the kingdom of heaven. He is not in essence and substance a creature, but is made a "way" according to the oeconomy. Being made and being created signify the same thing. As He was made a way, so was He made a door, a shepherd, an angel, a sheep, and again a High Priest and an Apostle, the names being used in other senses. What again would the heretics say about God unsubjected, and about His being made sin for us? For it is written "But when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him." Are you not afraid, sir, of God called unsubjected? For He makes thy subjection His own; and because of thy struggling against goodness He calls himself unsubjected. In this sense too He once spoke of Himself as persecuted-- "Saul, Saul," He says, "why persecutest thou me?" on the occasion when Saul was hurrying to Damascus with a desire to imprison the disciples. Again He calls Himself naked, when any one of his brethren is naked. "I was naked," He says, "and ye clothed me;" and so when another is in prison He speaks of Himself as imprisoned, for He Himself took away our sins and bare our sicknesses. Now one of our infirmities is not being subject, and He bare this. So all the things which happen to us to our hurt He makes His own, taking upon Him our sufferings in His fellowship with us.
9. But another passage is also seized by those who are fighting against God to the perversion of their hearers: I mean the words "The Son can do nothing of Himself." To me this saying too seems distinctly declaratory of the Son's being of the same nature as the Father. For if every rational creature is able to do anything of himself, and the inclination which each has to the worse and to the better is in his own power, but the Son can do nothing of Himself, then the Son is not a creature. And if He is not a creature, then He is of one essence and substance with the Father. Again; no creature can do what be likes. But the Son does what He wills in heaven and in earth. Therefore the Son is not a creature. Again; all creatures are either constituted of contraries or receptive of contraries. But the Son is very righteousness, and immaterial. Therefore the Son is not a creature, and if He is not a creature, He is of one essence and substance with the Father.
10. This examination of the passages before us is, so far as my ability goes, sufficient. Now let us turn the discussion on those who attack the Holy Spirit, and cast down every high thing of their intellect that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. You say that the Holy Ghost is a creature. And every creature is a servant of the Creator, for "all are thy servants." If then He is a servant, His holiness is acquired; and everything of which the holiness is acquired is receptive of evil; but the Holy Ghost being holy in essence is called "fount of holiness," Therefore the Holy Ghost is not a creature. If He is not a creature. He is of one essence and substance with the Father. How, tell me, can you give the name of servant to Him Who through your baptism frees you from your servitude? "The law," it is said," of the Spirit of life hath made me free from the law of sin." But you will never venture to call His nature even variable, so long as you have regard to the nature of the opposing power of the enemy, which, like lightning, is fallen from heaven and fell out of the true life because its holiness was acquired, and its evil counsels were followed by its change. So when it had fallen away from the Unity and had cast from it its angelic dignity, it was named after its character" Devil," its former arid blessed condition being extinct and this hostile power being kindled.
Furthermore if he calls the Holy Ghost a creature he describes His nature as limited. How then can the two following passages stand? "The Spirit of the Lord filleth the world;" and "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?" But he does not, it would seem. confess Him to be simple in nature; for he describes Him as one in number. And, as I have already said, everything that is one in number is not simple. And if the Holy Spirit is not simple, He consists of essence and sanctification, and is therefore composite. But who is mad enough to describe the Holy Spirit as composite, and not simple, and consubstantial with the Father and the Son?
11. If we ought to advance our argument yet further, and turn our inspection to higher themes, let us contemplate the divine nature of the Holy Spirit specially flora the following point of view. In Scripture we find mention of three creations. The first is the evolution from non-being into being. The second is change from the worse to the better. The third is the resurrection of the dead. In these you will find the Holy Ghost cooperating with the Father and the Son. There is a bringing into existence of the heavens; and what says David? "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth." Again, man is created through baptism, for "if any man be in Christ he is a new creature." And why does the Saviour say to the disciples, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost"? Here too you see the Holy Ghost present with the Father and the Son. And what would you say also as to the resurrection of the dead when we shall have failed and returned to our dust? Dust we are and unto dust we shall return. And He will send the Holy Ghost and create us and renew the face of the earth. For what the holy Paul calls resurrection David describes as renewal. Let us hear, once more, him who was caught into the third heaven. What does he say? "You are the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you." Now every temple is a temple of God, and if we are a temple of the Holy Ghost, then the Holy Ghost is God. It is also called Solomon's temple, but this is in the sense of his being its builder. And if we are a temple of the Holy Ghost in this sense, then the Holy Ghost is God, for "He that built all things is God." If we are a temple of one who is worshipped, and who dwells in us, let us confess Him to be God, for thou shale worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shall thou serve. Supposing them to object to the word "God," let them learn what this word means. God is called Theo`s either because He placed (tetheike'nai) all things or because He beholds (Thea^sthai) all things. If He is called Theo`s because He "placed" or "beholds" all things, and the Spirit knoweth all the things of God, as the Spirit in us knoweth our things, then the Holy Ghost is God. Again, if the sword of the spirit is the word of God, then the Holy Ghost is God, inasmuch as the sword belongs to Him of whom it is also called the word. Is He named the right hand of the Father? For "the right hand of the Lord bringeth mighty things to pass;" and "thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy." But the Holy Ghost is the finger of God, as it is said "if I by the finger of God cast out devils," of which the version in another Gospel is "if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils." So the Holy Ghost is of the same nature as the Father and the Son.
12. So much must suffice for the present on the subject of the adorable and holy Trinity. It is not now possible to extend the enquiry about it further. Do ye take seeds from a humble person like me, and cultivate the ripe ear for yourselves, for, as you know, in such cases we look for interest. But I trust in God that you, because of your pure lives, will bring forth fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold. For, it is said, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. And, my brethren, entertain no other conception of the kingdom of the heavens than that it is the very contemplation of realities. This the divine Scriptures call blessedness. For "the kingdom of heaven is within you."
The inner man consists of nothing but contemplation. The kingdom of the heavens, then, must be contemplation. Now we behold their shadows as in a glass; hereafter, set free from this earthly body, clad in the incorruptible and the immortal, we shall behold their archetypes, we shall see them, that is, if we have steered our own life's course aright, and if we have heeded the right faith, for otherwise none shall see the Lord. For, it is said, into a malicious soul Wisdom shall not enter, nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin. And let no one urge in objection that, while I am ignoring what is before our eyes, I am philosophizing to them about bodiless and immaterial being. It seems to me perfectly absurd, while the senses are allowed free action in relation to their proper matter, to exclude mind alone from its peculiar operation. Precisely in the same manner in which sense touches sensible objects, so mind apprehends the objects of mental perception. This too must be said that God our Creator has not included natural faculties among things which can be taught. No one teaches sight to apprehend colour or form, nor hearing to apprehend sound and speech, nor smell, pleasant and unpleasant scents, nor taste, flavours and savours, nor touch, soft and hard, hot and cold. Nor would any one teach the mind to reach objects of mental perception; and just as the senses in the case of their being in any way diseased, or injured, require only proper treatment and then readily fulfil their own functions; just so the mind, imprisoned in flesh. and full of the thoughts that arise thence, requires faith anti right conversation which make "its feet like hinds' feet. and set it on its high places." The same advice is given us by Solomon the wise, who in one passage offers us the example of the diligent worker the ant, and recommends her active life; and in another the work of the wise bee in forming its cells, and thereby suggests a natural contemplation wherein also the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is contained, if at least the Creator is considered in proportion to the beauty of the things created.
But with thanks to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost let me make an end to my letter, for, as the proverb has it, pa^n me'tron a'riston.
LETTER IX.: To Maximus the Philosopher.
1. SPEECH is really an image of mind: so I have learned to know you from your letters, just as the proverb tells us we may know "the lion from his claws."
I am delighted to find that your strong inclinations lie in the direction of the first and greatest of good things--love both to God and to your neighbour. Of the latter I find proof in your kindness to myself; of the former, in your zeal for knowledge. It is well known to every disciple of Christ that in these two all is contained.
2. You ask for the writings of Dionysius; they did indeed reach me, and a great many they were; but I have not the books with me, and so have not sent them. My opinion is, however, as follows. I do not admire everything that is written; indeed of some things I totally disapprove. For it may be, that of the impiety of which we are now hearing so much, I mean the Anomoean, it is he, as far as I know, who first gave men the seeds. I do not trace his so doing to any mental depravity, but only to his earnest desire to resist Sabellius. I often compare him to a woodman trying to straighten some ill-grown sapling, pulling so immoderately in the opposite direction as to exceed the mean, and so dragging the plant awry on the other side. This is very much what we find to be the case with Dionysius. While vehemently opposing the impiety of the Libyan, he is carried away unawares by his zeal into the opposite error. It would have been quite sufficient for him to have pointed out that the Father and the Son are not identical in substance, and thus to score against the blasphemer. But, in order to win an unmistakable and superabundant victory, he is not satisfied with laying down a difference of hypostases, but must needs assert also difference of substance, diminution of power, and variableness of glory. So he exchanges one mischief for another, and diverges from the right line of doctrine. In his writings he exhibits a miscellaneous inconsistency, and is at one time to be found disloyal to the homoousion, because of his opponent who made a bad use of it to the destruction of the hypostases, and at another admitting it in his Apology to his namesake. Besides this he uttered very unbecoming words about the Spirit, separating Him from the Godhead, the object of worship, and assigning Him an inferior rank with created and subordinate nature. Such is the man's character.
3. If I must give my own view, it is this. The phrase "like in essence," if it be read with the addition "without any difference," I accept as conveying the same sense as the homoousion, in accordance with the sound meaning of the homoousion. Being of this mind the Fathers at Nicaea spoke of the Only-begotten as "Light of Light," "Very God of very God," and so on, and then consistently added the homoousion. It is impossible for any one to entertain the idea of variableness of light in relation to light, of truth in relation to truth, nor of the essence of the Only begotten in relation to that of the Father. If, then, the phrase be accepted in this sense, I have no objection to it. But if any one cuts off the qualification "without any difference" from the word "like," as was done at Constantinople, then I regard the phrase with suspicion, as derogatory to the dignity of the Only-begotten. We are frequently accustomed to entertain the idea of "likeness" in the case of indistinct resemblances, coming anything but close to the originals. I am myself for the homoousion, as being less open to improper interpretation. But why, my dear sir, should you not pay me a visit, that we may talk of these high topics face to face, instead of committing them to lifeless letters,-- especially when I have determined not to publish my views? And pray do not adopt, to me, the words of Diogenes to Alexander, that "it is as far from you to me as from me to you." I am almost obliged by ill-health to remain like the plants, in one place; moreover I hold "the living unknown" to be one of the chief goods. You, I am told, are in good health; you have made yourself a citizen of the world, and you might consider in coming to see me that you are coming home. It is quite right for you, a man of action, to have crowds and towns in which to show your good deeds. For me, quiet is the best aid for the contemplation and mental exercise whereby I cling to God. This quiet I cultivate in abundance in my retreat, with the aid of its giver, God. Yet if you cannot but court the great, and despise me who lie low upon the ground, then write, and in this way make my life a happier one.
LETTER X.: To a widow.
THE art of snaring pigeons is as follows. When the men who devote themselves to this craft have caught one, they tame it, and make it feed with them. Then they smear its wings with sweet oil, and let it go and join the rest outside. Then the scent of that sweet oil makes the free flock the possession of the owner of the tame bird, for all the rest are attracted by the fragrance, and settle in the house. But why do I begin my letter thus? Because I have taken your son Dionysius, once Diomedes, and anointed the wings of his soul with the sweet all of God, and sent him to you that you may take flight with him, and make for the nest which he has built under my roof. If I live to see this, and you, my honoured friend, translated to our lofty life, I shall require many persons worthy of God to pay Him all the honour that is His due.
LETTER XI.: Without address. To some friends.
AFTER by God's grace I had passed the sacred day with our sons, and had kept a really perfect feast to the Lord because of their exceeding love to God, I sent them in good health to your excellency, with a prayer to our loving God to give them an angel of peace to help and accompany them, and to grant them to find you in good health and assured tranquillity, to the end that wherever your lot may be cast, I to the end of my days, whenever I hear news of you, may be gladdened to think of you as serving and giving thanks to the Lord. If God should grant you to be quickly freed from these cares I beg you to let nothing stand in the way of your coming to stay with me. I think you will find none to love you so well, or to make more of your friendship. So long, then, as the Holy One ordains this separation, be sure that you never lose an opportunity of comforting me by a letter.
LETTER XII.: To Olympius.
BEFORE you did write me a few words: now not even a few. Your brevity will soon become silence. Return to your old ways, and do not let me have to scold you for your laconic behaviour. But I shall be glad even of a little letter in token of your great love. Only write to me.
LETTER XIII.: To Olympius.
As all the fruits of the season come to us in their proper time, flowers in spring, corn in summer, and apples in autumn, so the fruit for winter is talk.
LETTER XIV.: To Gregory his friend. [Translated by J. H. Newman, but for the words in brackets.]
My brother Gregory writes me word that he has long been wishing to be with me, and adds that you are of the same mind; however, I could not wait, partly as being hard of belief, considering I have been so often disappointed, and partly because I find myself pulled all ways by business. I must at once make for Pontus, where, perhaps, God willing, I may make an end of wandering. After renouncing, with trouble, the idle hopes which I once had, [about you] or rather the dreams, (for it is well said that hopes are waking dreams), I departed into Pontus in quest of a place to live in. There God has opened on me a spot exactly answering to my taste, so that I actually see before my eyes what I have often pictured to my mind in idle fancy. There is a lofty mountain covered with thick woods, watered towards the north with cool and transparent streams. A plain lies beneath, enriched by the waters which are ever draining off from it; and skirted by a spontaneous profusion of trees almost thick enough to be a fence; so as even to surpass Calypso's Island, which Homer seems to have considered the most beautiful spot on the earth. Indeed it is like an island, enclosed as it is on all sides; for deep hollows cut off two sides of it; the river, which has lately fallen down a precipice, runs all along the front and is impassable as a wall; while the mountain extending itself behind, and meeting the hollows in a crescent, stops up the path at its roots. There is but one pass, and I am master of it. Behind my abode there is another gorge, rising into a ledge up above, so as to command the extent of the plains and the stream which bounds it, which is not less beautiful, to my taste, than the Strymon as seen from Amphipolis. For while the latter flows leisurely, and swells into a lake almost, and is too still to be a river, the former is the most rapid stream I know, and somewhat turbid, too, from the rocks just above; from which, shooting down, and eddying in a deep pool, it forms a most pleasant scene for myself or any one else; and is an inexhaustible resource to the country people, in the countless fish which its depths contain. What need to tell of the exhalations from the earth, or the breezes from the river? Another might admire the multitude of flowers, and singing birds; but leisure I have none for such thoughts. However, the chief praise of the place is, that being happily disposed for produce of every kind, it nurtures what to me is the sweetest produce of all, quietness; indeed, it is not only rid of the bustle of the city, but is even unfrequented by travellers, except a chance hunter. It abounds indeed in game, as well as other things, but not, I am glad to say, in bears or wolves, such as you have, but in deer, and wild goats, and hares, and the like. Does it not strike you what a foolish mistake I was near making when I was eager to change this spot for your Tiberina, the very pit of the whole earth?
Pardon me, then, if I am now set upon it; for not Alcmaeon himself, I suppose, could endure to wander further when lie had found the Echinades.
LETTER XV.: To Arcadius, Imperial Treasurer.
THE townsmen of our metropolis have conferred on me a greater favour than they have received, in giving me an opportunity of writing to your excellency. The kindness, to win which they have received this letter from me, was assured them even before I wrote, on account of your wonted land inborn courtesy to all. But I have considered it a very great advantage to have the opportunity of addressing your excellency, praying to the holy God that I may, continue to rejoice, and share in the pleasure of the recipients of your bounty, while yon please Him more and more, and while the splendour of your high place continues to increase. I pray that in due time I may with joy once more welcome those who are delivering this my letter into your hands, and send them forth praising, as do many, your considerate treatment of them, and I trust that they will have found my. recommendation of them not without use m approaching your exalted excellency.
LETTER XVI.: Against Eunomius the heretic. (Spurious: an excerpt from Gregory of Nyssa's Contra Eunomium, chap. 10.)
HE who maintains that it is possible to arrive at the discovery of things actually existing, has no doubt by some orderly method advanced his intelligence by means of the knowledge of actually existing things. It is after first training himself by the apprehension of small and easily comprehensible objects, that he brings his apprehensive faculty to bear on what is beyond all intelligence. He makes his boast that he has really arrived at the comprehension of actual existences; let him then explain to us the nature of the least of visible beings; let him tell us all about the ant. Does its life depend on breath and breathing? Has it a skeleton? Is its body connected by sinews and ligaments? Are its sinews surrounded with muscles and glands? Does its marrow go with dorsal vertebrae from brow to tail? Does it give impulse to its moving members by the enveloping nervous membrane? Has it a liver, with a gall bladder near the liver?
Has it kidneys, heart, arteries, veins, membranes, cartilages? Is it hairy or hairless? Has it an uncloven hoof, or are its feet divided? How long does it live? What is its mode of reproduction? What is its period of gestation? How is it that ants neither all walk nor all fly, but some belong to creeping things, and some travel through the air? The man who glories in his knowledge of the really-existing ought to tell us in the meanwhile about the nature of the ant. Next let him give us a similar physiological account of the power that transcends all human intelligence. But if your knowledge has not yet been able to apprehend the nature of the insignificant ant, how can you boast yourself able to form a conception of the power of the incomprehensible God?
LETTER XVII.: To Origenes.
IT is delightful to listen to you, and delightful to read you; and I think you give me the greater pleasure by your writings. All thanks to our good God Who has not suffered the truth to suffer in consequence of its betrayal by the chief powers in the State but by your means has made the defence of the doctrine of true religion full and satisfactory. Like hemlock, monkshood, and other poisonous herbs, after they have bloomed for a little while, they will quickly wither away. But the reward which the Lord will give you in requital of all that you have said in defence of His name blooms afresh for ever. Wherefore I pray God grant you all happiness in your home, and make His blessing descend to your sons. I was delighted to see and embrace those noble boys, express images of your excellent goodness, and my prayers for them ask all that their father can ask.
LETTER XVIII.: To Macarius and John.
THE labours of the field come as no novelty to tillers of the land; sailors are not astonished if they meet a storm at sea; sweats in the summer heat are the common experience of the hired hind; and to them that have chosen to live a holy life the afflictions of this present world cannot come unforeseen. Each and all of these have the known and proper labour of their callings, not chosen for its own sake, but for the sake of the enjoyment of the good things to which they look forward. What in each of these cases acts as a consolation in trouble is that which really forms the bond and link of all human life,--hope. Now of them that labour for the fruits of the earth, or for earthly things, some enjoy only in imagination what they have looked for, and are altogether disappointed; and even in the case of others, where the issue has answered expectation, another hope is soon needed, so quickly has the first fled and faded out of sight. Only of them that labour for holiness and truth are the hopes destroyed by no deception; no issue can destroy their labours, for the kingdom of the heavens that awaits them is firm and sure. So long then as the word of truth is on our side, never be in any wise distressed at the calumny of a lie; let no imperial threats scare you; do not be grieved at the laughter and mockery of your intimates, nor at the condemnation of those who pretend to care for you, and who put forward, as their most attractive bait to deceive, a pretence of giving good advice. Against them all let sound reason do battle, invoking the championship and succour of our Lord Jesus Christ, the teacher of true religion, for Whom to suffer is sweet, and "to die is gain."
LETTER XIX.: To Gregory my friend.
I RECEIVED a letter from You the day before yesterday. It is shewn to be yours not so much by the handwriting as by the peculiar style. Much meaning is expressed in few words. I did not reply on the spot, because I was away from home, and the letter- carrier, after he had delivered the packet to one of my friends, went away. Now, however, I am able to address you through Peter, and at the same time both to return your greeting, and give you an opportunity for another letter. There is certainly no trouble in writing a laconic dispatch like those which reach me from you.
LETTER XX.(1): To Leontius the Sophist.(2)
I Too do not write often to you, but not more seldom than you do to me, though many have travelled hitherward from your part of the world. If you had sent a letter by every one of them, one after the other, there would have been nothing to prevent my seeming to be actually in your company, and enjoying it as though we had been together, so uninterrupted has been the stream of arrivals. But why do you not write? is no trouble to a Sophist to write. Nay, if your hand is tired, you need not even write another will do that for you. Only your tongue is needed. And though it does not speak to me, it may assuredly speak to one of your companions. If nobody is with you, it will talk by itself. Certainly the tongue of a Sophist and of an Athenian is as little likely to be quiet as the nightingales when the spring stirs them to song. In my own case, the mass of business in which I am now engaged may perhaps afford some excuse for my lack of letters. And peradventure the fact of my style having been spoilt by constant familiarity with common speech may make me somewhat hesitate to address Sophists like you, who are certain to be annoyed and unmerciful, unless you hear something worthy of your wisdom. You, on the other hand, ought assuredly to use every opportunity of making your voice heard abroad, for you are the best speaker of all the Hellenes that I know; and I think I know the most renowned among you; so that there really is no excuse for your silence. But enough on this point.
I have sent you my writings against Eunomius. Whether they are to be called child's play, or something a little more serious, I leave you to judge. So far as concerns yourself, I do not think you stand any longer in need of them; but I hope they will be no unworthy weapon against any perverse men with whom you may fall in. I do not say this so much because I have confidence in the force of my treatise, as because I know well that you are a man likely to make a little go a long way. If anything strikes you as weaker than it ought to be, pray have no hesitation in showing me the error. The chief difference between a friend and a flatterer is this; the flatterer speaks to please, the friend will not leave out even what is disagreeable.
LETTER XXI.(1): To Leontius the Sophist.
THE excellent Julianus(2) seems to get some good for his private affairs out of the general condition of things. Everything nowadays is full of taxes demanded and called in, and he too is vehemently dunned and indicted. Only it is a question not of arrears of rates and taxes, but of letters. But how he comes to be a defaulter I do not know. He has always paid a letter, and received a letter--as he has this. But possibly you have a preference for the famous "four-times-as-much."(3) For even the Pythagoreans were not so fond of their Tetractys,(4) as these modern tax- collectors of their "four-times-as- much." Yet perhaps the fairer thing would have been just the opposite, that a Sophist like you, so very well furnished with words, should be bound in pledge to me for "four-times-as- much." But do not suppose for a moment that I am writing all this out of ill-humour. I am only too pleased to get even a scolding from you. The good and beautiful do everything, it is said, with the addition of goodness and beauty.(5) Even grief and anger in them are becoming. At all events any one would rather see his friend angry with him than any one else flattering him. Do not then cease preferring charges like the last! The very charge will mean a letter; and nothing can be more precious or delightful to me.
LETTER XXII.(6): Without address. On the Perfection of the Life of Solitaries.
1. MANY things are set forth by inspired Scripture as binding upon all who are anxious to please God. But, for the present, I have only deemed it necessary to speak by way of brief reminder concerning the questions which have recently been stirred among you, so far as I have learnt from the study of inspired Scripture itself. I shall thus leave behind me detailed evidence, easy of apprehension, for the information of industrious students, who in their turn will be able to inform others. The Christian ought to be so minded as becomes his heavenly calling,(1) and his life and conversation ought to be worthy of the Gospel of Christ.(2) The Christian ought not to be of doubtful mind,(3) nor by anything drawn away from the recollection of God and of His purposes and judgments. The Christian ought in all things to become superior to the righteousness existing under the law, and neither swear nor lie.(4) He ought not to speak evil;(5) to do violence;(6) to fight;(7) to avenge himself;(8) to return evil for evil;(9) to be angry.(10) The Christian ought to be patient,(11) whatever he have to suffer, and to convict the wrong-doer in season,(12) not with the desire of his own vindication, but of his brother's reformation,(13) according to the commandment of the Lord. The Christian ought not to say anything behind his brother's back with the object of calumniating him, for this is slander, even if what is said is true.(14) He ought to turn away from the brother who speaks evil against him;(15) he ought not to indulge in jesting.(16) he ought not to laugh nor even to suffer laugh makers.(17) He must not talk idly, saying things which are of no service to the hearers nor to such usage as is necessary and permitted us by God;(18) so that workers may do their best as far as possible to work in silence; and that good words be suggested to them by those who are entrusted with the duty of carefully dispensing the word to the building up of the faith, lest God's Holy Spirit be grieved. Any one who comes in ought not to be able, of his own tree will, to accost or speak to any of the brothers, before those to whom the responsibility of general discipline is committed have approved of it as pleasing to God, with a view to the common good.(19) The Christian ought not to be enslaved by wine;(1) nor to be eager for flesh meat,(2) and as a general rule ought not to be a lover of pleasure in eating or drinking,(3) "for every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things."(4) The Christian ought to regard all the things that are given him for his use, not as his to hold as his own or to lay up;(5) and, giving careful heed to all things as the Lord's, not to overlook any of the things that are being thrown aside and disregarded, should this be the case. No Christian ought to think of himself as his own master, but each should rather so think and act as though given by God to be slave to his like minded brethren;(6) but "every man in his own order."(7)
2. The Christian ought never to murmur(8) either in scarcity of necessities, or in toil or labour, for the responsibility in these matters; lies with such as have authority in them. There never ought to be any clamour, or any behaviour or agitation by which anger is expressed,(9) or diversion of mind from the full assurance of the presence of God.(10)
The voice should be modulated; no one ought to answer another, or do anything, but in all thing roughly or contemptuously,(11) moderation(12) and respect should be shewn to every one.(13) No wily glances of the eye are to be allowed, nor any behaviour or gestures which grieve a brother and shew contempt.(14) Any display in cloak or shoes is to be avoided; it is idle ostentation.(15) Cheap things ought to be used for bodily necessity; and nothing ought to be spent beyond what is necessary, or for mere extravagance; this is a misuse of our property. The Christian ought not to seek for honour, or claim precedence.(16) Every one ought to put all others before himself.(17) The Christian ought not to be unruly.(18) He who is able to work ought not to cat the bread of idleness,(19) but even he who is busied in deeds well done for the glory of Christ ought to force himself to the active discharge of such work as he can do.(20) Every Christian, with the approval of his superiors, ought so to do everything with reason and assurance, even down to actual eating and drinking, as done to the glory of God.(21) The Christian ought not to change over from one work to another without the approval of those who are appointed for the arrangement of such matters; unless some unavoidable necessity suddenly summon any one to the relief of the helpless. Every one ought to remain in his appointed post, not to go beyond his own bounds and intrude into what is not commanded him, unless the responsible authorities judge any one to be in need of aid. No one ought to be found going from one workshop to another. Nothing ought to be done in rivalry or strife with any one.
3. The Christian ought not to grudge another's reputation, nor rejoice over any man's faults;(1) he ought in Christ's love to grieve and be afflicted at his brother's faults, and rejoice over his brother's good deeds.(2) He ought not to be indifferent or silent before sinners.(3) He who shows another to be wrong ought to do so with all tenderness,(4) in the fear of God, and with the object of converting the sinner.(5) He who is proved wrong or rebuked ought to take it willingly, recognizing his own gain in being set right. When any one is being accused, it is not right for another, before him or any one else, to contradict the accuser; but if at any time the charge seems groundless to any one, he ought privately to enter into discussion with the accuser, and either produce, or acquire, conviction. Every one ought, as far as he is able, to conciliate one who has ground of complaint against him. No one ought to cherish a grudge against the sinner who repents, but heartily to forgive him.(6) He who says that he has repented of a sin ought not only to be pricked with compunction for his sin, but also to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.(7) He who has been corrected in first faults, and received pardon, if he sins again prepares for himself a judgment of wrath worse than the former.(8) He, who after the first and second admonition(9) abides in his fault, ought to be brought before the person in authority,(10) if haply after being rebuked by more he may be ashamed.(11) If even thus he fail to be set right he is to be cut off from the rest as one that maketh to offend, and regarded as a heathen and a publican,(12) for the security of them that are obedient, according to the saving, When the impious fall the righteous tremble.(13) He should be grieved over as a limb cut from the body. The sun ought not to go down upon a brother's wrath,(14) lest haply night come between brother and brother, and make the charge stand in the day of judgment. A Christian ought not to wait for an opportunity for his own amendment,(1) because there is no certainty about the morrow; for many after many devices bare not reached the morrow. He ought not to be beguiled by over eating, whence come dreams in the night. He ought not to be distracted by immoderate toil, nor overstep the bounds of sufficiency, as the apostle says, "Having food and raiment let us be therewith content;"(2) unnecessary abundance gives appearance of covetousness, and covetousness is condemned as idolatry.(3) A Christian ought not to be a lover of money,(4) nor lay up treasure for unprofitable ends. He who comes to God ought to embrace poverty in all things, and to be riveted in the fear of God, according to the words, "Rivet my flesh in thy fear, for I am afraid of thy judgments."(5) The Lord grant that you may receive what I have said with full conviction and shew forth fruits worthy of the Spirit to the glory of God, by God's good pleasure, and the cooperation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
LETTER XXIII.(6): To a Solitary.
A CERTAIN man, as he says, on condemning the vanity of this life, and perceiving that its joys are ended here, since they only provide material for eternal fire and then quickly pass away, has come to me with the desire of separating from this wicked and miserable life, of abandoning the pleasures of the flesh, and of treading for the future a road which leads to the mansions of the Lord. Now if he is sincerely firm in his truly blessed purpose, and has in his soul the glorious and laudable passion, loving the Lord his God with all his heart, with all his strength, and with all his mind, it is necessary for your reverence to show him the difficulties and distresses of the strait and narrow way, and establish him in the hope of the good things which are as yet unseen, but are laid up in promise for all that are worthy of the Lord. I therefore write to entreat your incomparable perfection in Christ, if it be possible to mould his character, and, without me, to bring about his renunciation according to what is pleasing to God, and to see that he receive elementary instruction in accordance with what has been decided by the Holy Fathers, and put forth by them in writing. See too that he have put before him all things that are essential to ascetic discipline, and that so he may be introduced to the life, after having accepted, of his own accord, the labours undergone for religion's sake, subjected himself to the Lord's easy yoke, adopted a conversation in imitation of Him Who for our sakes became poor(1) and took flesh, and may run without fail to the prize of his high calling, and receive the approbation of the Lord. He is wishful to receive here the crown of God's loves but I have put him off, because I wish, in conjunction with your reverence, to anoint him for such struggles, and to appoint over him one of your number whom he may select to be his trainer, training him nobly, and making him by his constant and blessed care a tried wrestler, wounding and overthrowing the prince of the darkness of this world, and the spiritual powers of iniquity, with whom, as the blessed Apostle says, is "our wrestling."(2) What I wish to do in conjunction with you, let your love in Christ do without me.
LETTER XXIV.(3): To Athanasius, father of Athanasius bishop of Ancyra.(4)
THAT one of the things hardest to achieve if indeed it be not impossible, is to rise superior to calumny, I am myself fully persuaded, and so too, I presume, is your excellency. Yet not to give a handle by one's own conduct, either to inquisitive critics of society, or to mischief makers who lie in wait to catch us tripping, is not only possible, but is the special characteristic of all who order their lives wisely and according to the rule of true religion. And do not think me so simple and credulous as to accept depreciatory remarks from any one without due investigation. I bear in mind the admonition of the Spirit, "Thou shall not receive a false report."(5) But you, learned men, yourselves say that "The seen is significant of the unseen." I therefore beg;--(and pray do not take it ill if I seem to be speaking as though I were giving a lesson; for "God has chosen the weak" and "despised things of the world,"(6) and often by their means brings about the salvation of such as are being saved); what I say and urge is this; that by word and deed we act with scrupulous attention to propriety, and, in accordance with the apostolic precept, "give no offence in anything."(1) The life of one who has toiled hard in the acquisition of knowledge, who has governed cities and states, and who is jealous of the high character of his forefathers, ought to be an example of high character itself. You ought not now to be exhibiting your disposition towards your children in word only, as you bare long exhibited its ever since you became a father; you ought not only to shew that natural affection which is shewn by brutes, as you yourself have said, and as experience shews. You ought to make your love go further, and be a love all the more personal and voluntary in that you see your children worthy of a father's prayers. On this point I do not need to be convinced. The evidence of facts is enough. One thing, however, I will say for truth's sake, that it is not our brother Timotheus, the Chorepiscopus, who has brought me word of what is noised abroad. For neither by word of mouth nor by letter has he ever conveyed anything in the shape of slander, be it small or great. That I have heard something I do not deny, but it is not Timotheus who accuses you. Yet while I hear whatever I do, at least I will follow the example of Alexander, and will keep one ear clear for the accused.(2)
LETTER XXV.(3): To Athanasius, bishop Ancyra.(4)
1. I HAVE received intelligence from those who come to me from Ancyra, and they are many and more than I can count, but they all agree in what they say, that you, a man very dear to me, (how can I speak so as to give no offence?) do not mention me in very pleasant terms, nor yet in such as your character would lead me to expect. I, however, learned long ago the weakness of human nature, and its readiness to turn from one extreme to another; and so, be well assured, nothing connected with it can astonish me, nor does any change come quite unexpected. Therefore that my lot should have changed for the worse, and that reproaches and insults should have arisen in the place of former respect, I do not make much ado. But one thing does really strike me as astonishing and monstrous, and that is that it should be you who have this mind about me, and go so far as to feel anger and indignation against me, and, if the report of your hearers is to be believed, have already proceeded to such extremities as to utter threats. At these threats, I will not deny, I really have laughed. Truly I should have been but a boy to be frightened at such bugbears. But it does seem to me alarming and distressing that you, who, as I have trusted, are preserved for the comfort of the churches, a buttress of the truth where many fall away, and a seed of the ancient and true love, should so far fall in with the present course of events as to be more influenced by the calumny of the first man you come across than by your long knowledge of me, and, without any proof, should be seduced into suspecting absurdities.
2. But, as I said, for the present I postpone the case. Would it have been too hard a task, my dear sir, to discuss in a short letter, as between friend and friend, points which you wish to raise; or, if you objected to entrusting such things to writing, to get me to come to you? But if you could not help speaking out, and your uncontrollable anger allowed no time for delay, at least you might have employed one of those about you who are naturally adapted for dealing with confidential matters, as a means of communication with me. But now, of all those who for one reason or another approach you, into whose ears has it not been dinned that I am a writer and composer of certain "pests"? For this is the word which those, who quote you word for word, say that you have used. The more I bring my mind to bear upon the matter the more hopeless is my puzzle. This idea has struck me. Can any heretic have grieved your orthodoxy, and driven you to the utterance of that word by malevolently putting my name to his own writings? For you, a man who has sustained great and famous contests on behalf of the truth, could never have endured to inflict such an outrage on what I am well known to have written against those who dare to say that God the Son is in essence unlike God the Father, or who blasphemously describe the Holy Ghost as created and made. You might relieve me from my difficulty yourself, if you would tell me plainly what it is that has stirred you to be thus offended with me.
LETTER XXVI.(1): To Caesarius, brother of Gregory.(2)
THANKS to God for shewing forth His wonderful power in your person, and for preserving you to your country and to us your friends, from so terrible a death. It remains for us not to be ungrateful, nor unworthy of so great a kindness, but, to the best of our ability, to narrate the marvellous works of God, to celebrate by deed the kindness which we have experienced, and not return thanks by word only. We ought to become in very deed what I, grounding my belief on the miracles wrought in you, am persuaded that you now are. We exhort you still more to serve God, ever increasing your fear more and more, and advancing on to perfection, that we may be made wise stewards of our life, for which the goodness of God has reserved us. For if it is a command to all of us "to yield ourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead,"(3) how much more strongly is not this commanded them who have been lifted up from the gates of death? And this, I believe, would be best effected, did we but desire ever to keep the same mind in which we were at the moment of our perils. For, I ween, the vanity of our life came before us, and we felt that all that belongs to man, exposed as it is to vicissitudes, has about it nothing sure, nothing firm. We felt, as was likely, repentance for the past; and we gave a promise for the future, if we were saved, to serve God and give careful heed to ourselves. If the imminent peril of death gave me any cause for reflection, I think that you must have been moved by the same or nearly the same thoughts. We are therefore bound to pay a binding debt, at once joyous at God's good gift to us, and, at the same time, anxious about the future. I have ventured to make these suggestions to you. It is yours to receive what I say well and kindly, as you were wont to do when we talked together face to face.
LETTER XXVII.(4): To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.(5)
When by God's grace, and the aid of your prayers, I had seemed to be somewhat recovering from my sickness, and had got my strength again, then came winter, keeping me a prisoner at home, and compelling me to remain where I was. True, its severity was much less than usual, but this was quite enough to keep me not merely from travelling while it lasted, but even from so much as venturing to put my head out of doors. But to me it is no slight thing to be permitted, if only by letter, to communicate with your reverence, and to rest tranquil in the hope of your reply. However, should the season permit, and further length of life be allowed me, and should the dearth not prevent me from undertaking the journey,(1) peradventure through the aid of your prayers I may be able to fulfil my earnest wish, may find you at your own fireside, and, with abundant leisure, may take my fill of your vast treasures of wisdom.
LETTER XXVIII.(2): To the Church of Neocoesarea. Consolatory.(3)
1. What has befallen you strongly moved me to visit you, with the double object of joining with you, who are near and dear to me, in paying all respect to the blessed dead, and of being more closely associated with you in your trouble by seeing your sorrow with my own eyes, and so being able to take counsel with you as to what is to be done. But many causes hinder my being able to approach you in person, and it remains for me to communicate with you in writing. The admirable qualities of the departed, on account of which we chiefly estimate the greatness of our loss, are indeed too many to be enumerated in a letter; and it is, besides, no time to be discussing the multitude of his good deeds, when our spirits are thus prostrated with grief. For of all that he did, what can we ever forget? What could we deem deserving of silence? To tell all at once were impossible; to tell a part would, I fear, involve disloyalty to the truth. A man has passed away who surpassed all his contemporaries in all the good things that are within man's reach; a prop of his country; an ornament of the churches; a pillar and support of the truth; a stay of the faith of Christ; a protector of his friends; a stout foe of his opponents; a guardian of the principles of his fathers; an enemy of innovation; exhibiting in himself the ancient, fashion of the Church, and making the state of the Church put under him conform to the ancient constitution, as to a sacred model, so that all who lived with him seemed to live in the society of them that used to shine like lights in the world two hundred years ago and more. So your bishop put forth nothing of his own, no novel invention; but, as the blessing of Moses has it, he knew how to bring out of the secret and good stores of his heart, "old store, and the old because of the new."(1) Thus it came about that in meetings of his fellow bishops he was not ranked according to his age, but, by reason of the old age of his wisdom, he was unanimously conceded precedence over all the rest. And no one who looks at your condition need go far to seek the advantages of such a course of training. For, so far as I know, you alone, or, at all events, you and but very few others, in the midst of such a storm and whirlwind of affairs, were able under his good guidance to live your lives unshaken by the waves. You were never reached by heretics' buffering blasts, which bring shipwreck and drowning on unstable souls; and that you may for ever live beyond their reach I pray the Lord who ruleth over all, and who granted long tranquillity to Gregory His servant, the first founder of your church.(2)
Do not lose that tranquillity now; do not, by extravagant lamentation, and by entirely giving yourself up to grief, put the opportunity for action into the hands of those who are plotting your bane. If lament you must, (which I do not allow, lest you be in this respect like "them which have no hope,")(3) do you, if so it seem good to you, like some wading chorus, choose your leader, and raise with him a chant of tears.
2. And yet, if he whom you mourn had not reached extreme old age, certainly, as regards his government of your church, he was allowed no narrow limit of life. He had as much strength of body as enabled him to show strength of mind in his distresses. Perhaps some of you may suppose that time increases sympathy and adds affection, and is no cause of satiety, so that, the longer you have experienced kind treatment, the more sensible you are of its loss. You may think that of a righteous person the good hold even the shadow in honour. Would that many of yon did feel so! Far be it from me to suggest anything like disregard of our friend! But I do counsel you to bear your pain with manly endurance. I myself am by no means insensible of all that may be said by those who are weeping for their loss. Hushed is a tongue whose words flooded our ears like a mighty stream: a depth of heath never fathomed before, has fled, humanly speaking, like an unsubstantial dream. Whose glance so keen as his to look into the future? Who with like fixity and strength of mind able to dart like lightning into the midst of action? O Neocaearea, already a prey to many troubles, never before smitten with so deadly a loss! Now withered is the bloom of you, beauty; your church is dumb; your assemblies are full of mournful faces; your sacred synod craves for its leader; your holy utterances wait for an expounder; your boys have lost a father, your elders a brother, your nobles one first among them, your people a champion, your poor a supporter. All, calling him by the name that comes most nearly home to each, lift up the wailing cry which to each man's own sorrow seems most appropriate and fit. But whither are my words carried away by my tearful joy? Shall we not watch? Shall we not meet together? Shall we riot look to our common Lord, Who suffers each of his saints to serve his own generation, and summons him back to Himself at His own appointed that? Now in season remember the voice of him who when preaching to you used always to say "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers."(1) The dogs are many. Why do I say dogs? Rather grievous wolves, hiding their grille under the guise of sheep, are, all over the world, tearing Christ's flock. Of these you must beware, trader the protection of some wakeful bishop. Such an one it is yours to ask, purging your souls of all rivalry and ambition: such an one it is the Lord's to show you. That Lord, from the time of Gregory the great champion of your church down to that of the blessed departed, setting over you one after another, and from time to time fitting one to another like gem set close to gem, has bestowed on you glorious ornaments for your church. You have, then, no need to despair of them that are to come. The Lord knoweth who are His. He may bring into our midst those for whom peradventure we are not looking.
3. I meant to have come to an end long before this, but the pain at my heart does not allow me. Now I charge you by the Fathers, by the true faith, by our blessed friend, lift up your souls, each man making what is being done his own immediate business, each reckoning that be will be the first to reap the consequences of the issue, whichever way it turn out, lest your fate be that which so very frequently befalls, every one leaving to his neighbour the common interests of all; and then, while each one makes little in his own mind of what is going on, all of you unwittingly draw your own proper misfortunes on yourselves by your neglect. Take, I beg you, what I say with all kindliness, whether it be regarded as an expression of the sympathy of a neighbour, or as fellowship between fellow believers, or, which is really nearer the truth, of one who obeys the law of love, and shrinks from the risk of silence. I am persuaded that you are my boasting, as I am yours, till the day of the Lord, and that it depends upon the pastor who will be granted you whether I shall be more closely united to you by the bond of love, or wholly severed from you. This latter God forbid. By God's grace it will not so be; and I should be sorry now to say one ungracious word. But this I do wish you to know, that though I had not that blessed man always at my side, in my efforts for the peace of the churches, because, as he himself affirmed, of certain prejudices, yet, nevertheless, at no time did I fail in unity of opinion with him, and I have always invoked Iris aid in my struggles against the heretics. Of this I call to witness God and all who know me best.
LETTER XXIX.(1): To the Church of Ancyra. Consolatory.(2)
My amazement at the most distressing news of the calamity which has befallen you for a long time kept me silent. I felt like a man whose ears are stunned by a loud clap of thunder. Then I somehow recovered a little from my state of speechlessness. Now I have mourned, as none could help mourning, over the event, and, in the midst of my lamentations, have sent you this letter. I write not so much to console you,--for who could find words to cure a calamity so great?--as to signify to you, as well as I can by these means, the agony of my own heart. I need now the lamentations of Jeremiah, or of any other of the Saints who has feelingly lamented a great woe. A man has fallen who was really a pillar and stay of the Church or rather he himself has been taken from us and is gone to the blessed life, and there is no small danger lest many at the removal of this prop from under them fall too, and lest some men's unsoundness be brought to light. A mouth is sealed gushing with righteous eloquence and words of grace to the edification of the brotherhood. Gone are the counsels of a mind which truly moved in God. Ah! how often, for I must accuse myself, was it my lot to feel indignation against him, because, wholly desiring to depart and be with Christ, he did not prefer for our sakes to remain in the flesh!(1) To whom for the future shall I commit the cares of the Churches? Whom shall I take to share my troubles? Whom to participate in my gladness? O loneliness terrible and sad How am I not like to a pelican of the wilderness?(2) Yet of a truth the members of the Church, united by his leadership as by one soul, and fitted together into close union of feeling and fellowship, are both preserved and shall ever be preserved by the bond of peace for spiritual communion. God grants us the boon, that all the works of that blessed soul, which he did nobly in the churches of God, abide firm and immovable. But the struggle is no slight one, lest, once more strifes and divisions arising over the choice of the bishop, all your work be upset by some quarrel.
LETTER XXX.(3): To Eusebius of Samosata.
IF I were to write at length all the causes which, up to the present time, have kept me at home, eager as I have been to set out to see your reverence, I should tell an interminable story. I say nothing of illnesses coming one upon another, hard winter weather, and press of work, for all this has been already made known to you. Now, for my sins, I have lost my Mother,(4) the only comfort I had in life. Do not smile, if, old as I am, I lament my orphanhood. Forgive me if I cannot endure separation from a soul, to compare with whom I see nothing in the future that lies before me. So once more my complaints have come back to me; once more I am confined to my bed, tossing about in my weakness, and every hour all but looking for the end of life; and the Churches are in somewhat the same condition as my body, no good hope shining on them, and their state always changing for the worse. In the meantime Neocaesarea and Ancyra have decided to have successors of the dead, and so far they are at peace. Those who are plotting against me have not yet been permitted to do anything worthy of their bitterness and wrath. This we make no secret of attributing to your prayers on behalf of the Churches. Weary not then in praying for the Churches and in entreating God. Pray give all salutations to those who are privileged to minister to your Holiness.
LETTER XXXI.(1): To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.
THE death is still with us, and I am therefore compelled to remain where I am, partly by the duty of distribution, and partly out of sympathy for the distressed. Even now, therefore, I have not been able to accompany our reverend brother Hypatius,(2) whom I am able to style brother, not in mere conventional language, but on account of relationship, for we are of one blood. You know how ill he is. It distresses me to think that all hope of comfort is cut off for him, as those who have the gifts of healing have not been allowed to apply their usual remedies in his case. Wherefore again he implores the aid of your prayers. Receive my entreaty that you will give him the usual protection alike for your own sake, for you are always kind to the sick, and for mine who am petitioning on his behalf. If possible, summon to your side the very holy brethren that he may be treated under your own eyes. If this be impossible, be so good as to send him on with a letter, and recommend him to friends further on.
LETTER XXXII.(3): To Sophronius the Master.(4)
OUR God--beloved brother, Gregory the bishop,(1) shares the troubles of the times, for he too, like everybody else, is distressed. at successive outrages, and resembles a man buffeted by unexpected blows. For men who have no fear of God, possibly forced by the greatness of their troubles, are reviling him, on the ground that they have lent Caesarius(2) money. It is not indeed the question of any loss which is serious, for he has long learnt to despise riches. The matter rather is that those who have so freely distributed all the effects of Caesarius that were worth anything, after really getting very little, because his property was in the hands of slaves, and of men of no better character than slaves, did not leave much for the executors.(3) This little they supposed to be pledged to no one, and straightway spent it on the poor, not only from their own preference, but because of the injunctions of the dead. For on his death bed Caesarius is declared to have said "I wish my goods to belong to the poor." In obedience then to the wishes of Caesarius they made a proper distribution of them. Now, with the poverty of a Christian, Gregory is immersed in the bustle of a chafferer. So I bethought me of reporting the matter to your excellency, in order that you may state what you think proper about Gregory to the Comes Thesaurorum, and so may honour a man whom you have known for many years, glorify the Lord who takes as done to Himself what is done to His servants, and honour me who am specially bound to you. You will, I hope, of your great sagacity devise a means of relief from these outrageous people and intolerable annoyances.
2. No one is so ignorant of Gregory as to have any unworthy suspicion of his giving an inexact account of the circumstances because he is fond of money. We have not to go far to find a proof of his liberality. What is left of the property of Caesarius he gladly abandons to the Treasury, so that the property may be kept there, and the Treasurer may give answer to those who attack it and demand their proofs; for we are not adapted for such business. Your excellency may be informed that, so long as it was possible, no one went away without getting what he wanted, and each one carried off what he demanded without any difficulty. The consequence indeed was that a good many were sorry that they had not asked for more at first; and this made still more objectors, for with the example of the earlier successful applicants before them, one false claimant starts up after another. I do then entreat your excellency to make a stand against all this and to come in, like some intervening stream, and solve the continuity of these troubles. You know how best you will help matters, and need not wait to be instructed by me. I am inexperienced the affairs of this life, and cannot see my way out of our difficulties. Of your great wisdom discover I some means of help. Be our counsellor. Be our champion.
LETTER XXXIII.(1): To Aburgius.(2)
WHO knows so well as you do how to respect an old friendship, to pay reverence to virtue, and to sympathise with the sick? Now my God-beloved brother Gregory the bishop has become involved in matters which would be under any circumstances disagreeable, and are quite foreign to his bent of mind. I have therefore thought it best to throw myself on your protection, and to endeavour to obtain from you some solution of our difficulties. It is really an intolerable state of things that one who is neither by nature nor inclination adapted for anything of the kind should be compelled to be thus responsible; that demands for money should be made on a poor man; and that one who has long determined to pass his life in retirement should be dragged into publicity. It would depend upon your wise counsel whether yon think it of any use to address the Comes Thesaurorum or any other persons.
LETTER XXXIV.(3): To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.
How could I be silent at the present juncture? And if I cannot be silent, how am I to find utterance adequate to the circumstances, so as to make my voice not like a mere groan but rather a lamentation intelligibly indicating the greatness of the misfortune? Ah me! Tarsus is undone.(1) This is a trouble grievous to be borne, but it does not come alone. It is still harder to think that a city so placed as to be united with Cilicia, Cappadocia, and Assyria, should be lightly thrown away by the madness of two or three individuals, while you are all the while hesitating, settling what to do, and looking at one another's faces. It would have been far better to do like the doctors. (I have been so long an invalid that I have no lack of illustrations of this kind.) When their patients' pain becomes excessive they produce insensibility; so should we pray that our souls may be made insensible to the pain of our troubles, that we be not put under unendurable agony. In these hard straits I do not fail to use one means of consolation. I look to your kindness; I try to make my troubles milder by my thought and recollection of you.(2) When the eyes have looked intently on any brilliant objects it relieves them to turn again to what is blue and green; the recollection of your kindness and attention has just the same effect on my soul; it is a mild treatment that takes away my pain. I feel this the more when I reflect that you individually have done all that man could do. You have satisfactorily shewn us, men, if we judge things fairly, that the catastrophe is in no way due to you personally. The reward which you have won at God's hand for your zeal for right is no small one. May the Lord grant you to me and to His churches to the improvement of life and the guidance of souls, and may He once more allow me the privilege of meeting you.
LETTER XXXV.(3): Without address.
I HAVE written to you about many people as belonging to myself; now I mean to write about more. The poor can never fail, and I can never say, no. There is no one more intimately associated with me, nor better able to do me kindnesses wherever he has the ability, than the reverend brother Leontius. So treat his house as if you had found me, not in that poverty in which now by God's help I am living, but endowed with wealth and landed property. There is no doubt that you would not have made me poor, but would have taken care of what I had, or even added to my possessions. This is the way I ask you to behave in the house of Leontius. You will get your accustomed reward from me; my prayers to the holy God for the trouble you are taking in shewing yourself a good man and true, and in anticipating the supplication of the needy.
LETTER XXXVI.(1): Without address.
IT has, I think, been long known to your excellency that the presbyter of this place is a foster brother of my own. What more can I say to induce you in your kindness, to view him with a friendly eye, and give him help in his affairs? If you love me, as I know you do, I am sure that you will endeavour, to the best of your power, to relieve any one whom I look upon as a second self. What then do I ask? That he do not lose his old rating. Really he takes no little trouble in ministering to my necessities, because I, as you know, have nothing of my own, but depend upon the means of my friends and relatives. Look, then, upon my brother's house as you would on mine, or let me rather say, on your own. In return for your kindness to him God will not cease to help alike yourself, your house, and your family. Be sure that I am specially anxious lest any injury should be done to him by the equalization of rates.
LETTER XXXVII.(2): Without address.
I LOOK with suspicion on the multiplication of letters. Against my will, and because I cannot resist the importunity of petitioners, I am compelled to speak. I write because I can think of no other means of relieving myself than by assenting to the supplications of those who are always asking letters from me. I am really afraid lest, since many are carrying letters off, one of the many be reckoned to be that brother. I have, I own, many friends and relatives in my own country, and I am placed in loco parentis by the position a which the Lord has given me. Among them is this my foster brother, son of my nurse, and I pray that the house in which I was brought up may remain at its old assessment, so that the sojourn among us of your excellency, so beneficial to us all, may turn out no occasion of trouble to him. Now too I am supported from the same house, because I have nothing of my own, but depend upon those who love me. I do then entreat you to spare the house in which I was nursed as though you were keeping up the supply of support for me. May God in return grant you His everlasting rest. One thing however, and it is most true, I think your excellency ought to know, and that is that the greater number of the slaves were given him from the outset by us, as an equivalent for my sustenance, by the gift of my father and mother. At the same time this was not to be regarded as an absolute gift; he was only to have the use for life, so that, if anything serious happen to him on their account, he is at liberty to send them back to me, and I shall thus in another way be responsible for rates and to collectors.
LETTER XXXVIII.(1): To his Brother Gregory, concerning the difference between ousi'a and upo'stasis. (Probably spurious.)
1. MANY persons, in their study of the sacred dogmas, failing to distinguish between what is common in the essence or substance, and the meaning of the hypostases, arrive at the same notions, and think that it makes no difference whether ousi'a or hypostasis be spoken of. The result is that some of those who accept statements on these subjects without any enquiry, are pleased to speak of "one hypostasis," just as they do of one "essence" or "substance;" while on the other hand those who accept three hypostases are under the idea that they are bound in accordance with this confession, to assert also, by numerical analogy, three essences or substances. Under these circumstances, lest you fall into similar error, I have composed a short treatise for you by way of memorandum. The meaning of the words, to put it shortly, is as follows:
2. Of all nouns the sense of some, which are predicated of subjects plural and numerically various, is more general; as for instance man. When we so say, we employ the noun to indicate the common nature, and do not confine our meaning to any one man in particular who is known by that name. Peter, for instance is no more than, than Andrew, John, or James. The predicate therefore being common, and extending to all the individuals ranked under the same name, requires some note of distinction whereby we may understand not man in general, but Peter or John in particular.
Of some nouns on the other hand the denotation is more limited; and by the aid of the limitation we have before our minds not the common nature, but a limitation of anything, having, so far as the peculiarity extends, nothing in common with what is of the same kind; as for instance, Paul or Timothy. For, in a word, of this kind there is no extension to what is common in the nature; there is a separation of certain circumscribed conceptions from the general idea, and expression of them by means of their names. Suppose then that two or more are set together, as, for instance, Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, and that an enquiry is made into the essence or substance of humanity; no one will give one definition of essence or substance in the case of Paul, a second in that of Silvanus, and a third in that of Timothy; but the same words which have been employed in setting forth the essence or substance of Paul will apply to the others also. Those who are described by the same definition of essence or substance are of the same essence or substance(1) when the enquirer has learned what is common, and turns his attention to the differentiating properties whereby one is distinguished from another, the definition by which each is known will no longer tally in all particulars with the definition of another, even though in some points it be found to agree.
3. My statement, then, is this. That which is spoken of in a special and peculiar manner is indicated by the name of the hypostasis. Suppose we say "a man." The indefinite meaning of the word strikes a certain vague sense upon the ears. The nature is indicated, but what subsists and is specially and peculiarly indicated by the name is not made plain. Suppose we say "Paul." We set forth, by what is indicated by the name, the nature subsisting.(2)
This then is the hypostasis, or "understanding;" not the indefinite conception of the essence or substance, which, because what is signified is general, finds no "standing," but the conception which by means of the expressed peculiarities gives standing and circumscription to the general and uncircumscribed. It is customary in Scripture to make a distinction of this kind, as well in many other passages as in the History of Job. When purposing to narrate the events of his life, Job first mentions the common, and says "a man;" then he straightway particularizes by adding "a certain."(1) As to the description of the essence, as having no bearing on the scope of his work, he is silent, but by means of particular notes of identity, mentioning the place and points of character, and such external qualifications as would individualize, and separate from the common and general idea, he specifies the "certain man," in such a way that from name, place, mental qualities, and outside circumstances, the description of the man whose life is being narrated is made in all particulars perfectly clear. If he had been giving an account of the essence, there would not in his explanation of the nature have been any mention of these matters. The same moreover would have been the account that there is in the case of Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, and each of the men there mentioned.(2) Transfer, then, to the divine dogmas the same standard of difference which you recognise in the case both of essence and of hypostasis in human affairs, and you will not go wrong. Whatever your thought suggests to you as to the mode of the existence of the Father, you will think also in the case of the Son, and in like manner too of the Holy Ghost. For it is idle to bait the mind at any detached conception from the conviction that it is beyond all contention.(3) For the account of the uncreate and of the incomprehensible is one and the same in the case of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. For one is not more incomprehensible and uncreate than another. And since it is necessary, by means of the notes of differentiation, in the case of the Trinity, to keep the distinction unconfounded, we shall not take into consideration, in order to estimate that which differentiates, what is contemplated in common, as the uncreate, or what is beyond all comprehension, or any quality of this nature; we shall only direct our attention to the enquiry by what means each particular conception will be lucidly and distinctly separated from that which is conceived of in common.
4. Now the proper way to direct our investigation seems to me to be as follows. We say that every good thing, which by God's providence befalls us, is an operation, of the Grace which worketh in us all things, as the apostle says, "But all these worketh that one and the self same Spirit dividing to every man severally as he will."(1) If we ask, if the supply of good things which thus comes to the saints has its origin in the Holy Ghost alone, we are on the other hand guided by Scripture to the belief that of the supply of the good things which are wrought in us through the Holy Ghost, the Originator and Cause is the Only-begotten God;(2) for we are taught by Holy Scripture that "All things were made by Him,"(3) and "by Him consist."(4) When we are exalted to this conception, again, led by God- inspired guidance, we are taught that by that power all things are brought from non-being into being, but yet not by that power to the exclusion of origination.(5) On the other hand there is a certain power subsisting without generation and without origination,(6) which is the cause of the cause of all things. For the Son, by whom are all things, and with whom the Holy Ghost is inseparably conceived of, is of the Father.(7) For it is not possible for any one to conceive of the Son if he be not previously enlightened by the Spirit. Since, then, the Holy Ghost, from Whom all the supply of good things for creation has its source, is attached to the Son, and with Him is inseparably apprehended, and has Its(8) being attached to the Father, as cause, from Whom also It proceeds; It has this note of Its peculiar hypostatic nature, that It is known after the Son(9) and together with the Son, and that It has Its subsistence of the Father. The Son, Who declares the Spirit proceeding from the Father through Himself and with Himself, shining forth alone and by only-begetting from the unbegotten light, so far as the peculiar notes are concerned, has nothing in common either with the Father or with the Holy Ghost. He alone is known by the stated signs. But God, Who is over all, alone has, as one special mark of His own hypostasis, His being Father, and His deriving His hypostasis(1) from no cause; and through this mark He is peculiarly known. Wherefore in the communion of the substance we maintain that there is no mutual approach or intercommunion of those notes of indication perceived in the Trinity, whereby is set forth the proper peculiarity of the Persons delivered in the faith, each of these being distinctively apprehended by His own notes. Hence, in accordance with the stated signs of indication, discovery is made of the separation of the hypostases; while so far as relates to the infinite, the incomprehensible, the uncreate, the uncircumscribed, and similar attributes, there is no variableness in the life-giving nature; in that, I mean, of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but in Them is seen a certain communion indissoluble and continuous. And by the same considerations, whereby a reflective student could perceive the greatness of any one of the (Persons) believed in in the Holy Trinity, he will proceed without variation. Beholding the glory in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, his mind all the while recognises no void interval wherein it may travel between Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for there is nothing inserted between Them; nor beyond the divine nature is there anything so subsisting as to be able to divide that nature from itself by the interposition of any foreign matter. Neither is there any vacuum of interval, void of subsistence, which can make a break in the mutual harmony of the divine essence, and solve the continuity by the interjection of emptiness. He who perceives the Father, and perceives Him by Himself, has at the same time mental perception of the Son; and he who receives the Son does not divide Him from the Spirit, but, in consecution so far as order is concerned, in conjunction so far as nature is concerned, expresses the faith commingled in himself in the three together. He who makes mention of the Spirit alone, embraces also in this confession Him of whom He is the Spirit. And since the Spirit is Christ's and of God,(2) as says Paul, then just as he who lays hold on one end of the chain pulls the other to him, so he who "draws the Spirit,"(3) as says the prophet, by His means draws to him at the same time both the Son and the Father. And if any one verily receives the Son, he will hold Him on both sides, the Son drawing towards him on the one His own Father, and on the other His own Spirit. For He who eternally exists in the Father can never be cut off from the Father, nor can He who worketh all things by the Spirit ever be disjoined from His own Spirit. Likewise moreover he who receives the Father virtually receives at the same time both the Son and the Spirit; for it is in no wise possible to entertain the idea of severance or division, in such a way as that the Son should be thought of apart from the Father, or the Spirit be disjoined from the Son. But the communion and the distinction apprehended in Them are, in a certain sense, ineffable and inconceivable, the continuity of nature being never rent asunder by the distinction of the hypostases, nor the notes of proper distinction confounded in the community of essence. Marvel not then at my speaking of the name thing as being both conjoined and parted, and thinking as it were darkly in a riddle, of a certain(1) new and strange conjoined separation and separated conjunction. Indeed, even in objects perceptible to the senses, any one who approaches the subject in a candid and uncontentious spirit, may find similar conditions of things.
5. Yet receive what I say as at best a token and reflexion of the truth; not as the actual truth itself. For it is not possible that there should be complete correspondence between what is seen in the tokens and the objects in reference to which the use of tokens is adopted. Why then do I say that an analogy of the separate and the conjoined is found in objects perceptible to the senses? You have before now, in springtime, beheld the brightness of the bow in the cloud; the bow, I mean, which, in our common parlance, is called Iris, and is said by persons skilled in such matters to be formed when a certain moisture is mingled with the air, and the force of the winds expresses what is dense and moist in the vapour, after it has become cloudy, into rain. The bow is said to be formed as follows. When the sunbeam, alter traversing obliquely the dense and darkened portion of the cloud-formation, has directly cast its own orb on some cloud, the radiance is then reflected back from what is moist and shining, and the result is a bending and return, as it were, of the light upon itself. For flame-like flashings are so constituted that if they fall on any smooth surface they are refracted on themselves; and the shape of the sun, which by means of the beam is formed on the moist and smooth part of the air, is round. The necessary consequence therefore is that the air adjacent to the cloud is marked out by means of the radiant brilliance in conformity with the shape of the sun's disc. Now this brilliance is both continuous and divided. It is of many colours; it is of many forms; it is insensibly steeped in the variegated bright tints of its dye; imperceptibly abstracting from our vision the combination of many coloured things, with the result that no space, mixing or paring within itself the difference of colour, can be discerned either between blue and flame-coloured, or between flame- coloured and red, or between red and amber. For all the rays, seen at the same time, are far shining, and while they give no signs of their mutual combination, are incapable of being tested, so that it is impossible to discover the limits of the flame-coloured or of the emerald portion of the light, and at what point each originates before it appears as it does in glory. As then in the token we clearly distinguish the difference of the colours, and yet it is impossible for us to apprehend by our senses any interval between them; so in like manner conclude, I pray you, that you may reason concerning the divine dogmas; that the peculiar properties of the hypostases, like colours seen in the Iris, flash their brightness on each of the Persons Whom we believe to exist in the Holy Trinity; but that of the proper nature no difference can be conceived as existing between one and the other, the peculiar characteristics shining, in community of essence, upon each. Even in our example, the essence emitting the many- coloured radiance, and refracted by the sunbeam, was one essence; it is the colour of the phaenomenon which is multiform. My argument thus teaches us, even by the aid of the visible creation, not to feel distressed at points of doctrine whenever we meet with questions difficult of solution, and when at the though of accepting what is proposed to us, our brains begin to reel. In regard to visible objects experience appears better than theories of causation, and so in matters transcending all knowledge, the apprehension of argument is inferior to the faith which teaches us at once the distinction in hypostasis and the conjunction in essence. Since then our discussion has included both what is common and what is distinctive in the Holy Trinity, the common is to be understood as referring to the essence; the hypostasis on the other hand is the several distinctive sign.(1)
6. It may however be thought that the account here given of the hypostasis does not tally with the sense of the Apostle's words, where he says concerning the Lord that He is "the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person,"(2) for if we have taught hypostasis to be the conflux of the several properties; and if it is confessed that, as in the case of the Father something is contemplated as proper and peculiar, whereby He alone is known, so in the same way is it believed about the Only-begotten; how then does Scripture in this place ascribe the name of the hypostasis to the Father alone, and describes the Son as form of the hypostasis, and designated not by His own proper notes, but by those of the Father? For if the hypostasis is the sign of several existence, and the property of the Father is confined to the unbegotten being, and the Son is fashioned according to His Father's properties, then the term unbegotten can no longer be predicated exclusively of the Father, the existence of the Only-begotten being denoted by the distinctive note of the Father.
7. My opinion is, however, that in this passage the Apostle's argument is directed to a different end; and it is looking to this that he uses the terms "brightness of glory," and "express image of person." Whoever keeps this carefully in view will find nothing that clashes with what I have said, but that the argument is conducted in a special and peculiar sense. For the object of the apostolic argument is not the distinction of the hypostases from one another by means of the apparent notes; it is rather the apprehension of the natural, inseparable, and close relationship of the Son to the Father. He does not say "Who being the glory of the Father" (although in truth He is); he omits this as admitted, and then in the endeavour to teach that we must not think of one form of glory in the case of the Father and of another in that of the Son, He defines the glory of the Only-begotten as the brightness of the glory of the Father, and, by the use of the example of the light, causes the Son to be thought of in indissoluble association with the Father. For just as the brightness is emitted by the flame, and the brightness is not after the flame, but at one and the same moment the flame shines and the light beams brightly, so does the Apostle mean the Son to be thought of as deriving existence from the Father, and yet the Only-begotten not to be divided from the existence of the Father by any intervening extension in space, but the caused to be always conceived of together with the cause. Precisely in the same manner, as though by way of interpretation of the meaning of the preceding cause, and with the object of guiding us to the conception of the invisible by means of material examples, he speaks also of "express image of person." For as the body is wholly in form, and yet tile definition of the body and the definition of the form are distinct, and no one wishing to give the definition of the one would be found in agreement with that of the other; and yet, even if in theory you separate the form from the body, nature does not admit of the distinction, and both are inseparably apprehended; just so the Apostle thinks that even if the doctrine of the faith represents the difference of the hypostases as unconfounded and distinct, he is bound by his language to set forth also the continuous and as it were concrete relation of the Only-begotten to the Father. And this he states, not as though the Only-begotten had not also a hypostatic being, but in that the union does not admit of anything intervening between the Son and the Father, with the result that he, who with his soul's eyes fixes his gaze earnestly on the express image of the Only-begotten, is made perceptive also of the hypostasis of the Father. Yet the proper quality contemplated in them is not subject to change, nor yet to commixture, in such wise as that we should attribute either an origin of generation to the Father or an origin without generation to the Son, but so that if we could compass the impossibility of detaching one from the other, that one might be apprehended severally and alone, for, since the mere name implies the Father, it is not possible that any one should even name the Son without apprehending the Father.(1)
8. Since then, as says the Lord in the Gospels,(2) he that hath seen the Son sees the Father also; on this account he says that the Only- begotten is the express image of His Father's person. That this may be made still plainer I will quote also other passages of the apostle in which he calls the Son "the image of the invisible God,"(1) and again "image of His goodness;"(2) not because the image differs from the Archetype according to the definition of indivisibility and goodness, but that it may be shewn that it is the same as the prototype, even though it be different. For the idea of the image would be lost were it not to preserve throughout the plain and invariable likeness. He therefore that has perception of the beauty of the image is made perceptive of the Archetype. So he, who has, as it were mental apprehension of the form of the Son, prints the express image of the Father's hypostasis, beholding the latter in tile former, not beholding in the reflection tile unbegotten being of the Father (for thus there would be complete identity and no distinction), but gazing at tile unbegotten beauty in the Begotten. Just as he who in a polished mirror beholds the reflection of the form as plain knowledge of the represented face, so he, who has knowledge of the Son, through his knowledge of the Son receives in his heart the express image of the Father's Person. For all things that are the Father's are beheld in the Son, and all things that are the Son's are the Father's; because the whole Son is in the Father and has all the Father in Himself.(3) Thus the hypostasis of the Son becomes as it were form and face of the knowledge of the Father, and the hypostasis of the Father is known in the form of the Son, while the proper quality which is contemplated therein remains for the plain distinction of the hypostases.
LETTER XXXIX.(4): Julian(5) to Basil. [This and the following two have recognized as spurious since Byzantine times.]
THE proverb says "You are not proclaiming war,"(1) and, let me adds out of the comedy, "O messenger of golden words."(2) Come then; prove this in act, and hasten to me. You will come as friend to friend. Conspicuous and unremitting devotion to business seems, to those that treat it as of secondary importance, a heavy burden; yet the diligent are modest, as I persuade myself, sensible, and ready for any emergency. I allow myself relaxations so that even rest may be permitted to one who neglects nothing. Our mode of life is not marked by the court hypocrisy, of which I think you have had some experience, and in accordance with which compliments mean deadlier hatred than is felt to our worst foes; but, with becoming freedom, while we blame and rebuke where blame is due, we love with the love of the dearest friends. I may therefore, let me say, with all sincerity, both be diligent in relaxation and, when at work, not get worn out, and sleep secure; since when awake I do not wake more for myself, than, as is fit, for every one else. I am afraid this is rather silly and trifling, as I feel rather lazy, (I praise myself like Astydamas(3)) but I am writing to prove to you that to have the pleasure of seeing you, wise man as you are, will be more likely to do me good than to cause any difficulty. Therefore, as I have said, lose no time: travel post haste. After you have paid me as long a visit as you likes you shall go on your journey, whithersoever you will, with my best wishes.
LETTER XL.(4): Julian to Basil.
WHILE showing up to the present time the gentleness and benevolence which have been natural to me from my boyhood, I have reduced all who dwell beneath the sun to obedience. For lo! every tribe of barbarians to the shores of ocean has come to lay its gifts before my feet. So too the Sagadares who dwell beyond the Danube, wondrous with their bright tattooing, and hardly like human beings, so wild and strange are they, now grovel at my feet, and pledge themselves to obey all the behests my sovereignty imposes on them. I have a further object. I must as soon as possible march to Persia and rout and make a tributary of that Sapor, descendant of Darius. I mean too to devastate the country of the Indians and the Saracens until they all acknowledge my superiority and become my tributaries. You, however, profess a wisdom above and beyond these things; you call yourself clad with piety, but your clothing is really impudence and everywhere you slander me as one unworthy of the imperial dignity. Do you not know that I am the grandson of the illustrious Constantius?(1) I know this of you, and yet I do not change the old feelings which I had to you, and you to me in the days when we were both young.(2) But of my merciful will I command that a thousand pounds of gold be sent me from you, when I pass by Caesarea; for I am still on the march, and with all possible dispatch am hurrying to the Persian campaign.. If you refuse I am prepared to destroy Caesarea, to overthrow the buildings that have long adorned it; to erect in their place temples and statues; and so to induce all men to submit to the Emperor of the Romans and not exalt themselves. Wherefore I charge you to send me without fail by the hands of some trusty messenger the stipulated gold, after duly counting and weighing it, and sealing it with your ring. In this way I may show mercy to you for your errors, if you acknowledge, however late, that no excuses will avail. I have learned to know, and to condemn, what once I read.(3)
LETTER XLI.(4): Basil to Julian.
1. THE heroic deeds of your present splendour are small, and your grand attack against me, or rather against yourself, is paltry. When I think of you robed in purple, a crown on your dishonoured head, which, so long as true religion is absents, rather disgraces than graces your empire, I tremble. And you yourself who have risen to be so high and great, now that vile and honour-hating demons have brought you to this pass, have begun not only to exalt yourself above all human nature, but even to uplift yourself against God, and insult His Church, mother and nurse of all, by sending to me, most insignificant of men, orders to forward you a thousand pounds of gold. I am not so much astonished at the weight of the gold, although it is very serious; but it has made me shed bitter tears over your so rapid ruin. I bethink me how you and I have learned together the lessons of the best and holiest books. Each of us went through the sacred and God-inspired Scriptures. Then nothing was hid from you. Nowadays you have become lost to proper feeling, beleaguered as you are with pride. Your serene Highness did not find out for the first time yesterday that I do not live in the midst of superabundant wealth. To-day you have demanded a thousand pounds of gold of me. I hope your serenity will deign to spare me. My property amounts to so much, that I really shall not have enough to eat as much as I shall like to-day. Under my roof the art of cookery is dead. My servants' knife never touches blood. The most important viands, in which lies our abundance, are leaves of herbs with very coarse bread and sour wine, so that our senses are not dulled by gluttony, and do not indulge in excess.
2. Your excellent tribune Lausus, trusty minister of your orders, has also reported to me that a certain woman came as a suppliant to your serenity on the occasion of the death of her son by poison; that it has been judged by you that poisoners are not allowed to exist;(1) if any there be, that they are to be destroyed, or, only those are reserved, who are to fight with beasts. And, this rightly decided by you, seems strange to me, for your efforts to cure the pain of great wounds by petty remedies are to the last degree ridiculous. After insulting God, it is useless for you to give heed to widows and orphans. The former is mad and dangerous; the latter the part of a merciful and kindly man. It is a serious thing for a private individual like myself to speak to an emperor; it will be more serious for you to speak to God. No one will appear to mediate between God and man. What you read yon did not understand. If you had understood, you would not have condemned.(2)
LETTER XLII.(1): To Chilo, his disciple.
1. IF, my true brother, you gladly suffer yourself to be advised by me as to what course of action you should pursue, specially in the points in which you have referred to me for advice, you will owe me your salvation. Many men have had the courage to enter upon the solitary life; but to live it out to the end is a task which perhaps has been achieved by few. The end is not necessarily involved in the intention; yet in the end is the guerdon of the toil. No advantage, therefore, accrues to men who fail to press on to the end of what they have in view and only adopt the solitary's life in its inception. Nay, they make their profession ridiculous, and are charged by outsiders with unmanliness and instability of purpose. Of these, moreover, the Lord says, who wishing to build a house "sitteth not down first and counteth the cost whether he have sufficient to finish it? lest haply after he hath laid the foundation and is not able to finish it," the passers-by "begin to mock him saying," this man laid a foundation "and was not able to finish."(2) Let the start, then, mean that you heartily advance in virtue. The right noble athlete Paul, wishing us not to rest in easy security on so much of our life as may have been lived well in the past, but, every day to attain further progress, says "Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling."(3) So truly stands the whole of human life, not contented with what has gone before and fed not so much on the past as on the future. For how is a man the better for having his belly filled yesterday, if his natural hunger fails to find its proper satisfaction in food to-day? In the same way the soul gains nothing by yesterday's virtue unless it be followed by the right conduct of to-day. For it is said "I shall judge thee as I shall find thee."
2. Vain then is the labour of the righteous man, and free from blame is the way of the sinner, if a change befall, and the former turn from the better to the worse, and the latter from the worse to the better. So we hear from Ezekiel teaching as it were in the name of the Lord, when he says, "if the righteous turneth away and committeth iniquity, I will not remember the righteousness which he committed before; in his sin he shall die,"(1) and so too about the sinner; if he turn away from his wickedness, and do that which is right, he shall live. Where were all the labours of God's servant Moses, when the gainsaying of one moment shut him out from entering into the promised land? What became of the companionship of Gehazi with Elissaeus, when he brought leprosy on himself by his covetousness? What availed all Solomon's vast wisdom, and his previous regard for God, when afterwards from his mad love of women he fell into idolatry? Not even the blessed David was blameless, when his thoughts went astray and he sinned against the wife of Uriah. One example were surely enough for keeping safe one who is living a godly life, the fall from the better to the worse of Judas, who, after being so long Christ's disciple, for a mean gain sold his Master and got a halter for himself. Learn then, brother, that it is not he who begins well who is perfect. It is he who ends well who is approved in God's sight. Give then no sleep to your eyes or slumber to your eyelids(2) that you may be delivered "as a roe from the net and a bird from the snare."(3) For, behold, you are passing through the midst of snares; you are treading on the top of a high wall whence a fall is perilous to the fuller; wherefore do not straightway attempt extreme discipline; above all things beware of confidence in yourself, lest you fall from a height of discipline through want of training. It is better to advance a little at a time. Withdraw then by degrees from the pleasures of life, gradually destroying all your wonted habits, lest you bring on yourself a crowd of temptations by irritating all your passions at once. When you have mastered one passion, then begin to wage war against another, and in this manner you will in good time get the better of all. Indulgence, so far as the name goes, is one, but its practical workings are diverse. First then, brother, meet every temptation with patient endurance. And by what various temptations the faithful man is proved; by worldly loss, by accusations, by lies, by opposition, by calumny, by persecution! These and the like are the tests of the faithful. Further, be quiet, not rash in speech, not quarrelsome, not disputatious, not covetous of vain glory, not more anxious to get than to give knowledge,(1) not a man of many words, but always more ready to learn than to teach. Do not trouble yourself about worldly life; from it no good can come to you. It is said, "That my mouth speak not the works of men."(2) The man who is fond of talking about sinners' doings, soon rouses the desire for self indulgence; much better busy yourself about the lives of good men for so you will get some profit for yourself. Do not be anxious to go travelling about(3) from village to village anti house to house; rather avoid them as traps for souls. If any one, for true pity's sake, invite you with many pleas to enter his house, let him be told to follow the faith of the centurion, who, when Jesus was hastening to him to perform an act of healing, besought him not to do so in the words, "Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof, but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed,"(4) and when Jesus had said to him "Go thy way; as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee,"(5) his servant was healed from that hour. Learn then, brother, that it was the faith of the suppliant, not the presence of Christ, which delivered the sick man. So too now, if you pray, in whatever place you be, and the sick man believes that he will be aided by your prayers, all will fall out as he desires.
3. You will not love your kinsfolk more than the Lord. "He that loveth," He says, "father, or mother, or brother, more than me, is not worthy of me."(6) What is the meaning of the Lord's commandment? "He that taketh not up his cross and followeth after me, cannot be my disciple?"(7) If, together with Christ, you died to your kinsfolk according to the flesh, why do you wish to live with them again? If for your kinsfolk's sake you are building up again what you destroyed for Christ's sake, you make yourself a transgressor. Do not then for your kinsfolk's sake abandon your place: if you abandon your place, perhaps you will abandon your mode of life. Love not the crowd, nor the country, nor the town; love the desert, ever abiding by yourself with no wandering mind,(8) regarding prayer anti praise as your life's work. Never neglect reading, especially of the New Testament, because very frequently mischief comes of reading the Old; not because what is written is harmful, but because the minds of the injured are weak. All bread is nutritious, but it may be injurious to the sick. Just so all Scripture is God inspired and profitable,(1) and there is nothing in it unclean: only to him who thinks it is unclean, to him it is unclean. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."(2) "All things are lawful but all things are not expedient."(3) Among all, with whom you come in contact, be in all things a giver of no offence,(4) cheerful, "loving as a brother,"(5) pleasant, humble-minded, never missing the mark of hospitality through extravagance of meats, but always content with what is at hand. Take no more from any one than the daily necessaries of the solitary life. Above all things shun gold as the soul's foe, the father of sin and the agent of the devil. Do not expose yourself to the charge of covetousness on the pretence of ministering to the poor; but, if any one brings you money for the poor and you know of any who are in need, advise the owner himself to convey it to his needy brothers, lest haply your conscience may be defiled by the acceptance of money.
4. Shun pleasures; seek after continence; train your body to hard work; accustom your soul to trials. Regarding the dissolution of soul and body as release from every evil, await that enjoyment of everlasting good things in which all the saints have part. Ever, as it were, holding the balance against every suggestion of the devil throw in a holy thought, and, as the scale inclines do thou go with it. Above all when the evil thought starts up and says, "What is the good of your passing your life in this place? What do you gain by withdrawing yourself from the society of men? Do you not know that those, who are ordained by God to be bishops of God's churches, constantly associate with their fellows, and indefatigably attend spiritual gatherings at which those who are present derive very great advantage? There are to be enjoyed explanations of hard sayings, expositions of the teachings of the apostles, interpretations of the thoughts of the gospels. lessons in theology and the intercourse of spiritual brethren, who do great good to all they meet if only by the sight of their faces. You, however, who have decided to be a stranger to all these good things, are sitting here in a wild state like the beasts. You see round you a wide desert with scarcely a fellow creature in it, lack of all instruction, estrangement from your brothers, and your spirit inactive in carrying out the commandments of God." Now, when the evil thought rises against you, with all these ingenious pretexts and wishes to destroy you, oppose to it in pious reflection Your own practical experience, and say, u tell me that the things in the world are good; the reason why I came here is because I judged myself unfit for the good things of the world. With the world's good things are mingled evil things, and the evil things distinctly have the upper hand. Once when I attended the spiritual assemblies I did with difficulty find one brother, who, so far as I could see, feared God, but he was a victim of the devil, and I heard from him amusing stories and tales made up to deceive those whom he met. After him I fell in with many thieves, plunderers, tyrants. I saw disgraceful drunkards; I saw the blood of the oppressed; I saw women's beauty, which tortured my chastity. From actual fornication I fled, but I defiled my virginity by the thoughts of my heart. I heard many discourses which were good for the soul, but I could not discover in the case of any one of the teachers that his life was worthy of his words. After this, again, I heard a great number of plays, which were made attractive by wanton songs. Then I heard a lyre sweetly played, the applause of tumblers, the talk of clowns, all kinds of jests and follies and all the noises of a crowd. I saw the tears of the robbed, the agony of the victims of tyranny, the shrieks of the tortured. I looked and lo, there was no spiritual assembly, but only a sea, wind-tossed and agitated, and trying to drown every one at once under its waves.(1) Tell me, O evil thought, tell me, daemon of short lived pleasure and vain glory, what is the good of my seeing and hearing all these things, when I am powerless to succour any of those who are thus wronged; when I am allowed neither to defend the helpless nor correct the fallen; when I am perhaps doomed to destroy myself too. For just as a very little fresh water is blown away by a storm of wind and dust, in like manner the good deeds, that we think we do in this life, are overwhelmed by the multitude of evils. Pieces acted for men in this life are driven through joy and merriment, like stakes into their hearts, so that the brightness of their worship is be-dimmed. But the wails and lamentations of men wronged by their fellows are introduced to make a show of the patience of the poor.
5. What good then do I get except the loss of my soul? For this reason I migrate to the hills like a bird. "I am escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers."(1) I am living, O evil thought, in the desert in which the Lord lived. Here is the oak of Mature; here is the ladder going up to heaven, and the stronghold of the angels which Jacob saw; here is the wilderness in which the people purified received the law, and so came into the land of promise and saw God. Here is Mount Carmel where Elias sojourned and pleased God. Here is the plain whither Esdras withdrew, and at God's bidding uttered all the God inspired books.(2) Here is the wilderness in which the blessed John ate locusts and preached repentance to men. Here is the Mount of Olives, whither Christ came and prayed, and taught us to pray. Here is Christ the lover of the wilderness, for He says "Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them."(3) "Here is the strait and narrow way which leadeth unto life."(4) Here are the teachers and prophets "wandering in deserts and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth."(5) Here are apostles and evangelists and solitaries' life remote from cities. This I have embraced with all my heart, that I may win what has been promised to Christ's martyrs and all His other saints, and so I may truly say, "Because of the words of thy lips I have kept hard ways."(6) I have heard of Abraham, God's friend, who obeyed the divine voice and went into the wilderness; of Isaac who submitted to authority; of Jacob, the patriarch, who left his home; of Joseph, the chaste, who was sold; of the three children. who learnt how to fast, and fought with the fire; of Daniel thrown twice into the lion's den;(7) of Jeremiah speaking boldly, and thrown into a pit of mud; of Isaiah, who saw unspeakable things, cut asunder with a saw; of Israel led away captive; of John the rebuker of adultery, beheaded; of Christ's martyrs slain. But why say more? Here our Saviour Himself was crucified for our sakes that by His death He might give us life, and train and attract us all to endurance. To Him I press on, and to the Father and to the Holy Ghost. I strive to be found true, judging myself unworthy of this world's goods. And yet not I because of the world, but the world because of me. Think of all these things in your heart; follow them with zeal; fight, as you have been commanded, for the truth to the death. For Christ was made "obedient" even "unto death."(1) The Apostle says, "Take heed lest there be in any of you an evil heart ... in departing from the living God. But exhort one another ... (and edify one another(2)) while it is called to- day."(3) To-day means the whole time of our life, Thus living, brother, you will save yourself, you will make me glad, and you will glorify God from everlasting to everlasting. Amen.
LETTER XLIII.(4): Admonition to the Young. [Of doubtful authenticity.]
O Faithful man of solitary life, and practiser of true religion, learn the lessons of the evangelic conversation, of mastery over the body, of a meek spirit, of purity of mind, of destruction of pride. Pressed into the service,(5) add to your gifts, for the Lord's sake; robbed, never go to law; hated, love; persecuted, endure; slandered, entreat. Be dead to sin; be crucified to God. Cast all your care upon the Lord, that you may be found where are tens of thousands of angels, assemblies of the first-born, the thrones of prophets, sceptres of patriarchs, crowns of martyrs, praises of righteous men. Earnestly desire to be numbered with those righteous men in Christ Jesus our Lord. To Him be glory for ever. Amen.
LETTER XLIV.(6): To a lapsed Monk.(7)
1. I DO not wish you joy, for there is no joy for the wicked. Even now I cannot believe it; my heart cannot conceive iniquity so great as the crime which you have committed: if, that is, the truth really is what is generally understood. I am at a loss to think how wisdom so deep can have been made to disappear; how such exact discipline can have been undone; whence blindness so profound can have been shed round you; how with utter inconsiderateness you have wrought such destruction of souls. If this be true, you have given over your own soul to the pit, and have slackened the earnestness of all who have heard of your impiety. You have set at nought the faith; you have missed the glorious fight. I grieve over you. What cleric(1) does not lament as he hears? What ecclesiastic does not beat the breast? What layman is not downcast? What ascetic is not sad? Haply, even the sun has grown dark at your fall, and the powers of heaven have been shaken at your destruction. Even senseless stones have shed tears at your madness; even your enemies have wept at the greatness of your iniquity. Oh hardness of heart! Oh cruelty! You did not fear God; you did not reverence men; you cared nothing for your friends you made shipwreck of all at once; at once you were stripped of all. Once more I grieve over you, unhappy man. You were proclaiming to all the power of the kingdom, and you fell from it. You were making all stand in fear of your teaching, and there was no fear of God before your eyes. You were preaching purity, and you are found polluted. You were priding yourself on your poverty, and you are convicted of covetousness; you were demonstrating and explaining the chastisement of God, and you yourself brought! chastisement on your own head. How am I to lament you, flow grieve for you? How is Lucifer that was rising in the morning fallen and dashed on the ground? Both the ears of every hearer will tingle. How is the Nazarite, brighter than gold, become dark above pitch? How has the glorious son of Sion become an unprofitable vessel! Of him, whose memory of the sacred Scriptures was in all men's mouths, the memory to-day has perished with the sound. The man of quick intelligence has quickly perished. The man of manifold wit has wrought manifold iniquity. All who profiled by your teaching have been injured by your fall. All who came to listen to your conversation have stopped their ears at your fall. I, sorrowful and downcast, weakened in every way, eating ashes for breast and with sackcloth on my wound, am thus recounting your praises; or rather, with none to comfort and none to cure, am making an inscription for a tomb. For comfort is hid from my eyes. I have no salve, no oil, no bandage to put on. My wound is sore, how shall I be healed?
2. If you have any hope of salvation; if you have the least thought of God, or any desire for good things to come; if you have any fear of the chastisements reserved for the impenitent, awake without delay, lift up your eyes to heaven, come to your senses, cease from your wickedness, shake off the stupor that enwraps you, make a stand against the foe who has struck you down. Make an effort to rise from the ground. Remember the good Shepherd who will follow and rescue you. Though it be but two legslobe of an ear,(1) spring back from the beast that has wounded you. Remember the mercies of God and how He cures with oil and wine. Do not despair of salvation. Recall your recollection of how it is written in the Scriptures that he who is filling rises and he who turns away returns;(2) the wounded is healed, the prey of beasts escapes; he who owns his sin is not rejected. The Lord willeth not the death of a sinner but rather that he should turn and live.(3) Do not despise, like the wicked in the pit of evil.(4) There is a time of endurance, a time of long suffering, a time of healing, a time of correction. Have you stumbled? Arise. Have you sinned? Cease. Do not stand in the way of sinners,(5) but spring away. When you are converted and groan you shall be saved. Out of labour comes health, out of sweat salvation. Beware lest, from your wish to keep certain obligations, you break the obligations to God which you professed before many witnesses.(6) Pray do not hesitate to come to me for any earthly considerations. When I have recovered my dead I shall lament, I shall tend him, I will weep "because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people."(7) All are ready to welcome you, all will share your efforts. Do not sink back. Remember the days of old. There is salvation; there is amendment. Be of good cheer; do not despair. It is not a law condemning to death without pity, but mercy remitting punishment and awaiting improvement. The doors are not yet shut; the bridegroom hears; sin is not the master. Make another effort, do not hesitate, have pity on yourself and on all of us in Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom be glory and might now and for ever and ever. Amen.
LETTER XLV.(6): To a lapsed Monk.(7)
1. I AM doubly alarmed to the very bottom of my heart, and you are the cause. I am either the victim of some unkindly prepossession, and so am driven to make an unbrotherly charge; or, with every wish to feel for you, and to deal gently with your troubles, I am forced to take a different and an unfriendly attitude. Wherefore, even as I take my pen to write, I have nerved my unwilling hand by reflection; but my face, downcast as it is, because of my sorrow over you, I have had no power to change. I am so covered with shame, for your sake, that my lips are turned to mourning and my mouth straightway falls. Ah me! What am I to write? What shall I think in my perplexity?
If I call to mind your former empty mode of life, when you were rolling in riches and had abundance of petty mundane reputation, I shudder; then you were followed by a mob of flatterers, and had the short enjoyment of luxury, with obvious peril and unfair gain on the one hand, fear of the magistrates scattered your care for your salvation, on the other the agitations of public affairs disturbed your home, and the continuance of troubles directed your mind to Him Who is able to help yon. Then, little by little, you took to seeking for the Saviour, Who brings you fears for your good, Who delivers you and protects you, though you mocked Him in your security. Then you began to train yourself for a change to a worthy life, treating all your perilous property as mere dung, and abandoning the care of your household and the society of your wife. All abroad like a stranger and a vagabond, wandering through town and country, you betook yourself to Jerusalem.(1) There I myself lived with you, and, for the toil of your ascetic discipline, called you blessed, when fasting for weeks you continued in contemplation before God, shunning the society of your fellows, like a routed runaway. Then you arranged for yourself a quiet and solitary life, and refused all the disquiets of society. You pricked your body with rough sackcloth; you tightened a hard belt round your loins; you bravely put wearing pressure on your bones; you made your sides hang loose from front to back, and all hollow with fasting; you would wear no soft bandage, and drawing in your stomach, like a gourd, made it adhere to the parts about your kidneys. You emptied out all fat from your flesh; all the channels below your belly you dried up; your belly itself you folded up for want of food; your ribs, like the caves of a house, you made to overshadow all the parts about your middle, and, with all your body contracted, you spent the long hours of the night in pouring out confession to God, and made your beard wet with channels of tears. Why particularize? Remember how many mouths of saints you saluted with a kiss, how many bodies you embraced, how many held hands as undefiled, how many servants God, as though in worship, ran and clasped you by the knees.
2. And what is the end of all this? My ears are wounded by a charge of adultery, flying swifter than an arrow, and piercing my heart with a sharper sting. What crafty wiliness of wizard has driven you into so deadly a trap? What many-meshed devil's nets have entangled you and disabled all the powers of your virtue? What has become of the story of your labours? Or must we disbelieve them? How can we avoid giving credit to what has long been hid when we see what is plain? What shall we say of your having by tremendous oaths bound souls which fled for refuge to God, when what is there than yea and nay is carefully attributed to the devil?(1) You have made yourself security for fatal perjury; and, by setting the ascetic character at nought, you have cast blame even upon the Apostles and the very Lord Himself. You have shamed the boast of purity. You have disgraced the promise of chastity; we have been made a tragedy of captives, and our story is made a play of be-Jews and Greeks. You have made a in the solitaries' spirit, driving those of exacter discipline into fear and cowardice, while they still wonder at the power of the devil, and seducing the careless into imitation of your incontinence. So far as you have been able, you have destroyed the boast of Christ, Who said, "Be of good cheer I have overcome the world,"(2) and its Prince. You have mixed for your country a bowl of ill repute. Verily you have proved the truth of the proverb, "Like a hart stricken through the liver."(3)
But what now? The tower of strength has not fallen, my brother. The remedies of correction are not mocked; the city of refuge is not shut. Do not abide in the depths of evil. Do not deliver yourself to the slayer of souls. The Lord knows how to set up them that are dashed down. Do not try to flee afar off, but hasten to me. Resume once more the labours of your youth, and by a fresh course of good deeds destroy the indulgence that creeps foully along the ground. Look to the end, that has come so near to our life. See how now the sons of Jews and Greeks are being driven to the worship of God, and do not altogether deny the Saviour of the World. Never let that most awful sentence apply to you, "Depart from me, I never knew you."(1)
LETTER XLVI.(2): To a fallen virgin.
1. Now is the time to quote the words of the prophet and to say, "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people."(3) Though they are wrapped in profound silence and lie stunned by their misfortune, robbed of all sense of feeling by the fatal blow, I at all events must not let such a fall go unlamented. If, to Jeremiah, it seemed that those whose bodies had been wounded in war, were worthy of innumerable lamentations, what shall be said of such a disaster of souls? "My slain men," it is said, "are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle."(4) But I am bewailing the sting of the real death, the grievousness of sin and the fiery darts of the wicked one, which have savagely set on fire souls as well as bodies. Truly God's laws would groan aloud on seeing so great a pollution on the earth. They have pronounced their prohibition of old "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife";(5) and through the holy gospels they say that "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery already with her in his heart."(6) Now they see the bride of the Lord herself, whose head is Christ, boldly committing adultery.(7) So too would groan the companies(8) of the Saints. Phinehas, the zealous, because he can now no more take his spear into his hands and avenge the outrage on the bodies; and John the Baptist, because he cannot quit the realms above, as in his life he left the wilderness, to hasten to convict iniquity, and if he must suffer for the deed, rather lose his head than his freedom to speak. But, peradventure, like the blessed Abel, he too though dead yet speaks to us,(9) and now exclaims, more loudly than John of old concerning Herodias. "It is not lawful for thee to have her."(1) For even if the body of John in obedience to the law of nature has received the sentence of God, and his tongue is silent, yet "the word of God is not bound."(2) John, when he saw the wedlock of a fellow servant set at nought, was bold to rebuke even to the death: how would he feel on seeing such an outrage wreaked on the marriage chamber of the Lord?
2. You have flung away the yoke of that divine union; you have fled from the undefiled chamber of the true King; you have shamefully fallen into this disgraceful and impious corruption; and now that you cannot avoid this painful charge, and have no means or device to conceal your trouble, you rush into insolence. The wicked man after falling into a pit of iniquity always begins to despise, and you are denying your actual covenant with the true bridegroom; you say that you are not a virgin, and made no promise, although you have undertaken and publicly professed many pledges of virginity. Remember the good profession which you witnessed(3) before God, angels, and men. Remember the hallowed intercourse, the sacred company of virgins, the assembly of the Lord, the Church of the holy. Remember your grandmother, grown old in Christ, still youthful and vigorous in virtue; and your mother vying with her in the Lord, and striving to break with ordinary life in strange and unwonted toils; remember your sister, who copies their doings, nay, endeavours to surpass them, and goes beyond the good deeds of her fathers in her virgin graces, and earnestly challenges by word and deed you her sister, as she thinks, to like efforts, while she earnestly prays that your virginity be preserved.(4) All these call to mind, and your holy service of God with them, your life spiritual, though in the flesh; your conversation heavenly, though on earth. Remember days of calm, nights lighted up, spiritual songs, sweet music of psalms, saintly prayers, a bed pure and undefiled, procession of virgins, and moderate fare.(5) What has become of your grave appearance, your gracious demeanour, your plain dress, meet for a virgin, the beautiful blush of modesty, the comely and bright pallor due to temperance and vigils, shining fairer than any brilliance of complexion? How often have you not prayed, perhaps with tears, that you might preserve your virginity without spot! How often have you not written to the holy men, imploring them to offer up prayers in your behalf, not that it should be your lot to marry, still less to be involved in this shameful corruption, but that you should not fall away from the Lord Jesus? How often have you received gifts from the Bridegroom? Why enumerate the honours given you for His sake by them that are His? Why tell of your fellowship with virgins, your progress with them, your being greeted by them with praises on account of virginity, eulogies of virgins, letters written as to a virgin? Now, nevertheless, at a little blast from the spirit of the air, "that now worketh in the children of disobedience,"(1) you have abjured all these; you have changed the honourable treasure, worth fighting for at all costs, for short-lived indulgence which does! for the moment gratify the appetite; one day you will find it more bitter than gall.
3. Who would not grieve over such things and say, "How is the faithful city become an harlot?"(2) How would not the Lord Himself say to some of those who are now walking in the spirit of Jeremiah, "Hast thou seen what the virgin of Israel has done to me?"(3) I betrothed her to me in trust, in purity, in righteousness, in judgment, in pity, and in mercy;(4) as I promised her through Hosea the prophet. But she loved strangers, and while I, her husband. was yet alive, she is called adulteress, and is not afraid to belong to another husband. What then says the conductor of the bride,(5) the divine and blessed Paul, both that one of old, and the later one of to- day under whose mediation and instruction you left your father's house and were united to the Lord? Might not either, in sorrow for such a trouble, say, "The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me."(6) "I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."(7) I was indeed ever afraid "lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your mind should be corrupted;"(8) wherefore by countless counter-charms I strove to control the agitation of your senses, and by countless safeguards to preserve the bride of the Lord. So I continually set forth the life of the unmarried maid, and described how "the unmarried" alone "careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit."(1) I used to describe the high dignity of virginity, and, addressing you as a temple of God, used as it were to give wings to your zeal as I strove to lift you to Jesus. Yet through fear of evil I helped you not to fall by the words "if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy."(2) So by my prayers I tried to make you more secure, if by any means "your body, soul, and spirit might be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."(3) Yet all my toil on your behalf has been in vain. Bitter to me has been the end of those sweet labours. Now I needs must groan again at that over which I ought to have rejoiced. You have been deceived by the serpent more bitterly than Eve; and not only your mind but also your body has been defiled. Even that last horror has come to pass which I shrink from saying, and yet cannot leave unsaid, for it is as a burning and blazing fire in my bones, and I am undone and cannot endure. You have taken the members of Christ and made them the members of a harlot.(4) This is an evil with which no other can be matched. This outrage in life is new. "For pass over the Isles of Chittim and see; and send unto Chedar and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods which are yet no gods."(5) But the virgin has changed her glory, and her glory is in her shame. The heavens are astonished at this, and the earth is horribly afraid, saith the Lord, for the virgin has committed two evils; she has forsaken(6) Me, the true and holy Bridegroom of holy souls, and has betaken herself to an impious and lawless destroyer of body and soul alike. She has revolted from God, her Saviour, and yielded her members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity.(7) She forgot me and went after her lover(8) from whom she will get no good.
4. It were better for him that a mill-stone had been hanged about his neck, and that he had been cast into the sea, than that he should have offended the virgin of the Lord.(9) What slave ever reached such a pitch of mad audacity as to fling himself upon his master's bed? What robber ever attained such a height of folly as to lay hands upon the very offerings of God, not dead vessels, but bodies living and enshrining a soul made after the image of God?(1)
Who was ever known to have the hardihood, in the heart of a city anti at high noon, to mark figures of filthy swine upon a royal statue? He who has set at naught a marriage of man, with no mercy shewn him, in the presence of two or three witnesses, dies.(2) Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and defiled His pledged bride and done despite unto the spirit of virginity?(3) But the woman, he urges, consented, and I did no violence to her against her will. So, that unchaste lady of Egypt raged with love for comely Joseph, but the chaste youth's virtue was not overcome by the frenzy of the wicked woman, and, even when she laid her hand upon him, he was not forced into iniquity. But still, he urges, this was no new thing in her case; she was no longer a maid; if I had been unwilling, she would have been corrupted by some one else. Yes; and it is written, the Son of Man was ordained to be betrayed, but woe unto that man by whom He was betrayed.(4) It must needs be that offences come, but woe to that man by whom they come.(5)
5. In such a state of things as this, "Shall they fall and not arise? Shall he turn away and not return?"(6) Why did the virgin turn shamefully away, though she bad heard Christ her bridegroom saying through the mouth of Jeremiah, "And I said, after she had done all these things (committed all these fornications, LXX.), turn thou unto me, but she returned not?"(7) "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?"(8) You might indeed find many remedies for evil in Scripture, many medicines to save from destruction and lead to health; the mysteries of death and resurrection, the sentences of terrible judgment and everlasting punishment; the doctrines of repentance and of remission of sins; all the countless illustrations of conversion, the piece of money, the sheep, the son who wasted his substance with harlots, who was lost and was found, who was dead and alive again. Let us not use these remedies for ill; by these means let us heal our soul. Bethink you of your last day, for you will surely not, unlike all other women, live for ever. The distress, the gasping for breath, the hour of death, the imminent sentence of God, the angels hastening on their way, the soul fearfully dismayed, and lashed to agony by the consciousness of sin, turning itself piteously to things of this life and to the inevitable necessity of that long life to be lived elsewhere. Picture to me, as it rises in your imagination, the conclusion of all human life, when the Son of God shall come in His glory with His angels, "For he shall come anti shall not keep silence;"(1) when He shall come to judge the quick and dead, to render to every one according to his work; when that terrible trumpet with its mighty voice shall wake those that have slept through the ages, and they that have done good shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.(2) Remember the vision of Daniel, and bow he brings the judgment before us: "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool; ... and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth before Him; thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened,"(3) clearly disclosing in the hearing of all, angels and men, things good and evil, things done openly and in secret, deeds, words, and thoughts all at once. What then must those men be who have lived wicked lives? Where then shall that soul hide which in the sight of all these spectators shall suddenly be revealed in its fulness of shame? With what kind of body shall it sustain those endless and unbearable pangs in the place of fire unquenched, and of the worm that perishes and never dies, and of depth of Hades, dark and horrible; bitter wailings, loud lamenting, weeping and gnashing of teeth and anguish without end? From all these woes there is no release after death; no device, no means of coming forth from the chastisement of pain.
6. We can escape now. While we can, let us lift ourselves from the fall: let us never despair of ourselves, if only we depart from evil. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. "O come, let us worship and fall down; let us weep before Him."(4) The Word Who invited us to repentance calls aloud, "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."(1) There is, then, a way of salvation, if we will. "Death in his might has swallowed up, but again the Lord hath wiped away tears from off all faces"(2) of them that repent. The Lord is faithful in all His words.(3) He does not lie when He says, "Though your sins be scarlet they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool."(4) The great Physician of souls, Who is the ready liberator, not of you alone, but of all who are enslaved by sin, is ready to heal your sickness. From Him come the words, it was His sweet and saving lips that said, "They that be whole need not a physician but they that are sick. ... I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."(5) What excuse have you, what excuse has any one, when He speaks thus? The Lord wishes to cleanse you from the trouble of your sickness and to show you light after darkness. The good Shepherd, Who left them that had not wandered away, is seeking after you. If you give yourself to Him He will not hold back. He, in His love, will not disdain even to carry you on His own shoulders, rejoicing that He has found His sheep which was lost. The Father stands and awaits your return from your wandering. Only come back, and while you are yet afar off, He will run and fall upon your neck, and, now that you are cleansed by repentance, will enwrap you in embraces of love. He will clothe with the chief robe the soul that has put off the old man with all his works; He will put a ring on hands that have washed off the blood of death, and will put shoes on feet that have turned from the evil way to the path of the Gospel of peace. He will announce the day of joy and gladness to them that are His own, both angels and men, and will celebrate your salvation far and wide. For "verily I say unto you," says He, "there is joy in heaven before God over one sinner that repenteth."(6) If any of those who think they stand find fault because of your quick reception, the good Father will Himself make answer for you in the words, "It was meet that we should make merry and be glad for this" my daughter "was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found."(7)