Edited by Archibald Robertson
Under the editorial supervision of Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Semimary, New York, and Henry Wace, D.D., Principal of King's College, London
Published in 1892 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.
Introduction to Ad Episcopos Ægypti Et Libyæ Epistola Encyclica.Written A.D. 356.
This letter was addressed by St. Athanasius to the bishops of his Province after his expulsion by Syrianus (Feb. 8, 356), and when the nomination of George the contractor to the Alexandrian See was already known (§7). But no details of the persecution of the orthodox in Egypt had reached Athanasius when he wrote, in fact he mentions it as only beginning (§5). This points to about the Easter of 356; see Prolegg. ch. ii. §8 (1). The tract thus opens the series of anti-Arian works composed during the `third exile.' It has indeed been inferred (by Baronius and others) from §22 that the letter was written thirty-six years after the Nicene Synod, i.e. in 361. But it was certainly written before the arrival of George, and in the passage referred to it is the first condemnation of Arius by Alexander, and not the Council of Nicæa, that is placed thirty-six years ago. The primary purpose of the letter is to warn the bishops against a formulary which was on the point of being circulated for their acceptance on pain of banishment (§5). The creed in question cannot now be identified,--but it was very possibly the Sirmian Creed of 351 (de Synod. 27), not formally Arian, but evading the Nicene test (§10). He begins, accordingly, after a general warning (1-4) against being imposed upon by mere words, and a statement (5) of the tactics of his opponents, by urging the bishops to hold to the faith of Nicæa, in contrast to the shifting professions of its opponents (6-8), and to be satisfied with nothing short of an explicit repudiation of Arianism (9-11). In the Second Part of the Letter he turns to doctrine. He states (12) the original Arian position, and confronts it (13) with passages from Scripture. He challenges the Arians (14) to state any clear belief as to the nature of the Word, which shall reconcile their premises with the language of Holy Writ (15, 16). He explains Prov. viii. 22 of the Incarnation, and taxes the Arians with denying this truth, like the heathen (17). He next taxes them with dissimulation, especially Arius in his profession to Constantine (18); he describes the death of Arius, and presses the charge of complicity with a man already judged by God (19). He urges the bishops (20, 21) to steadfastness and confessorship, reprobates the coalition of Meletians (22) and Arians, and finally expresses the conviction (23) that the Emperor Constantius will put an end to these outrages when informed of the true facts of the case.
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The place where this Encyclical was written is quite uncertain, but it was most probably in the Libyan desert, or in Cyrenaica (Prolegg. ubi supr. note 10). His language (infr. §5, note 7) would naturally be such as not to give, through so public a document, a clue to his pursuers.
It may be added that in many mss., and in the editions previous to 1698, this tract was counted as the first of the `five' (or in some cases `six') Orationes contra Arianos. For a discussion of this error, see Montfaucon's Monita to this tract and to the four Orationes.
All things whatsoever our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as Luke wrote, `both hath done and taught  ,' He effected after having appeared for our salvation; for He came, as John saith, `not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved  .' And among the rest we have especially to admire this instance of His goodness, that He was not silent concerning those who should fight against us, but plainly told us beforehand, that, when those things should come to pass, we might straightway be found with minds established by His teaching. For He said, `There shall arise false prophets and false Christs, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, the very elect shall be deceived. Behold, I have told you before  .' Manifold indeed and beyond human conception are the instructions and gifts of grace which He has laid up in us; as the pattern of heavenly conversation, power against demons, the adoption of sons, and that exceeding great and singular grace, the knowledge of the Father and of the Word Himself, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. But the mind of man is prone to evil exceedingly; moreover, our adversary the devil, envying us the possession of such great blessings, goeth about seeking to snatch away the seed of the word which is sown within us. Wherefore as if by His prophetic warnings He would seal up His instructions in our hearts as His own peculiar treasure, the Lord said, `Take heed that no man deceive you: for many shall come in My name, saying, I am he; and the time draweth near; and they shall deceive many: go ye not therefore after them  .' This is a great gift which the Word has bestowed upon us, that we should not be deceived by appearances, but that, howsoever these things are concealed, we should all the more distinguish them by the grace of the Spirit. For whereas the inventor of wickedness and great spirit of evil, the devil, is utterly hateful, and as soon as he shews himself is rejected  of all men,--as a serpent, as a dragon, as a lion seeking whom he may seize upon and devour,--therefore he conceals and covers what he really is, and craftily personates that Name which all men desire, so that deceiving by a false appearance, he may thenceforth fix fast in his own chains those whom he has led astray. And as if one that desired to kidnap the children of others during the absence of their parents, should personate their appearance, and so putting a cheat on the affections of the offspring, should carry them far away and destroy them; in like manner this evil and wily spirit the devil, having no confidence in himself, and knowing the love which men bear to the truth, personates its appearance, and so spreads his own poison among those that follow after him.
2. Satan pretending to be holy, is detected by the Christian.
Thus he deceived Eve, not speaking his own, but artfully adopting the words of God, and perverting their meaning. Thus he suggested evil to the wife of Job, persuading her to feign affection for her husband, while he taught her to blaspheme God. Thus does the crafty spirit mock men by false displays, deluding and drawing each into his own pit of wickedness. When of old he deceived the first man Adam, thinking that through him he should have all men subject unto him, he exulted with great boldness and said, `My hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people; and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there is none that shall escape me or speak against me  .' But when the Lord came upon earth, and the enemy made trial of His human Economy, being unable to deceive the flesh which He had taken upon Him, from that time forth he, who promised himself the occupation of the whole world, is for His sake mocked even by children: that proud one is mocked as a sparrow  . For now the infant child lays his hand upon the hole of the asp, and laughs at him that deceived Eve  ; and all that rightly believe in the Lord tread under foot him that said, `I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the Most High  .' Thus he suffers and is dishonoured; and although he still ventures with shameless confidence to disguise himself, yet now, wretched spirit, he is detected the rather by them that bear the Sign on their foreheads  ; yea, more, he is rejected of them, and is humbled, and put to shame. For even if, now that he is a creeping serpent, he shall transform himself into an angel of light, yet his deception will not profit him; for we have been taught that `though an angel from heaven preach unto us any other gospel than that we have received, he is anathema  .'
3. And although, again, he conceal his natural falsehood, and pretend to speak truth with his lips; yet are we `not ignorant of his devices  ,' but are able to answer him in the words spoken by the Spirit against him; `But unto the ungodly, said God, why dost thou preach My laws?' and, `Praise is not seemly in the mouth of a sinner  .' For even though he speak the truth, the deceiver is not worthy of credit. And whereas Scripture shewed this, when relating his wicked artifices against Eve in Paradise, so the Lord also reproved him,--first in the mount, when He laid open `the folds of his breast-plate  ,' and shewed who the crafty spirit was, and proved that it was not one of the saints  , but Satan that was tempting Him. For He said, `Get thee behind Me Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve  .' And again, when He put a curb in the mouths of the demons that cried after Him from the tombs. For although what they said was true, and they lied not then, saying, `Thou art the Son of God,' and `the Holy One of God  ;' yet He would not that the truth should proceed from an unclean mouth, and especially from such as them, lest under pretence thereof they should mingle with it their own malicious devices, and sow these also while men slept. Therefore He suffered them not to speak such words, neither would He have us to suffer such, but hath charged us by His own mouth, saying, `Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheeps' clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves  ;' and by the mouth of His Holy Apostles, `Believe not every spirit  .' Such is the method of our adversary's operations; and of the like nature are all these inventions of heresies, each of which has for the father of its own device the devil, who changed and became a murderer and a liar from the beginning. But being ashamed to profess his hateful name, they usurp the glorious Name of our Saviour `which is above every name  ,' and deck themselves out in the language of Scripture, speaking indeed the words, but stealing away the true meaning thereof; and so disguising by some artifice their false inventions, they also become the murderers of those whom they have led astray.
4. It profits not to receive part of Scripture, and reject part.
For whence do Marcion and Manichæus receive the Gospel while they reject the Law? For the New Testament arose out of the Old, and bears witness to the Old; if then they reject this, how can they receive what proceeds from it? Thus Paul was an Apostle of the Gospel, `which God promised afore by His prophets in the holy Scriptures  :' and our Lord Himself said, `ye search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify of Me  .' How then shall they confess the Lord unless they first search the Scriptures which are written concerning Him? And the disciples say that they have found Him, `of whom Moses and the Prophets did write  .' And what is the Law to the Sadducees if they receive not the Prophets  ? For God who gave the Law, Himself promised in the Law that He would raise up Prophets also, so that the same is Lord both of the Law and of the Prophets, and he that denies the one must of necessity deny the other also. And again, what is the Old Testament to the Jews, unless they acknowledge the Lord whose coming was expected according to it? For had they believed the writings of Moses, they would have believed the words of the Lord; for He said, `He wrote of Me  .' Moreover, what are the Scriptures to him  of Samosata, who denies the Word of God and His incarnate Presence  , which is signified and declared both in the Old and New Testament? And of what use are the Scriptures to the Arians also, and why do they bring them forward, men who say that the Word of God is a creature, and like the Gentiles `serve the creature more than' God `the Creator  ?' Thus each of these heresies, in respect of the peculiar impiety of its invention, has nothing in common with the Scriptures. And their advocates are aware of this, that the Scriptures are very much, or rather altogether, opposed to the doctrines of every one of them; but for the sake of deceiving the more simple sort (such as are those of whom it is written in the Proverbs, `The simple believeth every word  ),' they pretend like their `father the devil  ' to study and to quote the language of Scripture, in order that they may appear by their words to have a right belief, and so may persuade their wretched followers to believe what is contrary to the Scriptures. Assuredly in every one of these heresies the devil has thus disguised himself, and has suggested to them words full of craftiness. The Lord spake concerning them, that `there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, so that they shall deceive many  .' Accordingly the devil has come, speaking by each and saying, `I am Christ, and the truth is with me;' and he has made them, one and all, to be liars like himself. And strange it is, that while all heresies are at variance with one another concerning the mischievous inventions which each has framed, they are united together only by the common purpose of lying  . For they have one and the same father that has sown in them all the seeds, of falsehood. Wherefore the faithful Christian and true disciple of the Gospel, having grace to discern spiritual things, and having built the house of his faith upon a rock, stands continually firm and secure from their deceits. But the simple person, as I said before, that is not thoroughly grounded in knowledge, such an one, considering only the words that are spoken and not perceiving their meaning, is immediately drawn away by their wiles. Wherefore it is good and needful for us to pray that we may receive the gift of discerning spirits, so that every one may know, according to the precept of John, whom he ought to reject, and whom to receive as friends and of the same faith. Now one might write at great length concerning these things, if one desired to go into details respecting them; for the impiety and perverseness of heresies will appear to be manifold and various, and the craft of the deceivers to be very terrible. But since holy Scripture is of all things most sufficient  for us, therefore recommending to those who desire to know more of these matters, to read the Divine word, I now hasten to set before you that which most claims attention, and for the sake of which principally I have written these things.
5. Attempt of Arians to substitute a Creed for the Nicene.
I heard during my sojourn in these parts  (and they were true and orthodox brethren that informed me), that certain professors of Arian opinions had met together, and drawn a confession of faith to their own liking, and that they intend to send word to you, that you must either subscribe to what pleases them, or rather to what the devil has inspired them with, or in case of refusal must suffer banishment. They are indeed already beginning to molest the Bishops of these parts; and thereby are plainly manifesting their disposition. For inasmuch as they frame this document only for the purpose of inflicting banishment or other punishments, what does such conduct prove them to be, but enemies of the Christians, and friends of the devil and his angels? and especially since they spread abroad what they like contrary to the mind of that gracious Prince, our most religious Emperor Constantius  . And this they do with great craftiness, and, as appears to me, chiefly with two ends in view; first, that by obtaining your subscriptions, they may seem to remove the evil repute that rests upon the name of Arius, and may escape notice themselves as if not professing his opinions; and again, that by putting forth these statements they may cast a shade over the Council of Nicæa  , and the confession of faith which was then put forth against the Arian heresy. But this proceeding does but prove the more plainly their own maliciousness and heterodoxy. For had they believed aright, they would have been satisfied with the confession put forth at Nicæa by the whole Ecumenic Council; and had they considered themselves calumniated and falsely called Arians, they ought not to have been so eager to innovate upon what was written against Arius, lest what was directed against him might seem to be aimed at them also. This, however, is not the course they pursue, but they conduct the struggle in their own behalf, just as if they were Arius. Observe how entirely they disregard the truth, and how everything they say and do is for the sake of the Arian heresy. For in that they dare to question those sound definitions of the faith, and take upon themselves to produce others contrary to them, what else do they but accuse the Fathers, and stand up in defence of that heresy which they opposed and protested against? And what they now write proceeds not from any regard for the truth, as I said before, but rather they do it as in mockery and by an artifice, for the purpose of deceiving men; that by sending about their letters they may engage the ears of the people to listen to these notions, and so put off the time when they will be brought to trial; and that by concealing their impiety from observation, they may have room to extend their heresy, which, `like a gangrene  ,' eats its way everywhere.
6. Accordingly they disturb and disorder everything, and yet not even thus are they satisfied with their own proceedings. For every year, as if they were going to draw up a contract, they meet together and pretend to write about the faith, whereby they expose themselves the more to ridicule and disgrace, because their expositions are rejected, not by others, but by themselves. For had they had any confidence in their previous statements, they would not have desired to draw up others; nor again, leaving these last, would they now have set down the one in question, which no doubt true to their custom they will again alter, after a very short interval, and as soon as they shall find a pretence for their customary plotting against certain persons. For when they have a design against any, then it is that they make a great show of writing about the faith; that, as Pilate washed his hands, so they by writing may destroy those who rightly believe in Christ, hoping that, as making definitions about the faith, they may appear, as I have repeatedly said, to be free from the charge of false doctrine. But they will not be able to hide themselves, nor to escape; for they continually become their own accusers even while they defend themselves. Justly so, since instead of answering those who bring proof against them, they do but persuade themselves to believe whatever they wish. And when is an acquittal obtained, upon the criminal becoming his own judge? Hence it is that they are always writing, and always altering their own previous statements, and thus they shew an uncertain faith  ,' or rather a manifest unbelief and perverseness. And this, it appears to me, must needs be the case with them; for since, having fallen away from the truth, and desiring to overthrow that sound confession of faith which was drawn up at Nicæa, they have, in the language of Scripture, `loved to wander, and have not refrained their feet  ;' therefore, like Jerusalem of old, they labour and toil in their changes, sometimes writing one thing, and sometimes another, but only for the sake of gaining time, and that they may continue enemies of Christ, and deceivers of mankind.
7. The party of Acacius really Arians.
Who, then, that has any real regard for truth, will be willing to suffer these men any longer? who will not justly reject their writing? who will not denounce their audacity, that being but few  in number, they would have their decisions to prevail over everything, and as desiring the supremacy of their own meetings, held in corners and suspicious in their circumstances, would forcibly cancel the decrees of an uncorrupt, pure, and Ecumenic Council? Men who have been promoted by Eusebius and his fellows for advocating this Antichristian heresy, venture to define articles of faith, and while they ought to be brought to judgment as criminals, like Caiaphas, they take upon themselves to judge. They compose a Thalia, and would have it received as a standard of faith, while they are not yet themselves determined what they believe. Who does not know that Secundus  of Pentapolis, who was several times degraded long ago, was received by them for the sake of the Arian madness; and that George  , now of Laodicea, and Leontius the Eunuch, and before him Stephanus, and Theodorus of Heraclea  , were promoted by them? Ursacius and Valens also, who from the first were instructed by Arius as young men  , though they had been formerly degraded from the Priesthood, afterwards got the title of Bishops on account of their impiety; as did also Acacius, Patrophilus  , and Narcissus, who have been most forward in all manner of impiety. These were degraded in the great Synod of Sardica; Eustathius also now of Sebastea, Demophilus and Germinius  , Eudoxius, and Basil, who are supporters of that impiety, were advanced in the same manner. Of Cecropius  , and him they called Auxentius, and of Epictetus  the impostor, it were superfluous for me to speak, since it is manifest to all men, in what manner, on what pretexts, and by what enemies of ours these were promoted, that they might bring their false charges against the orthodox Bishops who were the objects of their designs. For although they resided at the distance of eighty posts, and were unknown to the people, yet on the ground of their impiety they purchased for themselves the title of Bishop. For the same reason also they have now  hired one George of Cappadocia, whom they wish to impose upon you. But no respect is due to him any more than to the rest; for there is a report in these parts that he is not even a Christian, but is devoted to the worship of idols; and he has a hangman's temper  . And this person, such as he is described to be, they have taken into their ranks, that they may be able to injure, to plunder, and to slay; for in these things he is a great proficient, but is ignorant of the very principles of the Christian faith.
8. Words are bad, though Scriptural, which proceed from bad men.
Such are the machinations of these men against the truth: but their designs are manifest to all the world, though they attempt in ten thousand ways, like eels, to elude the grasp, and to escape detection as enemies of Christ. Wherefore I beseech you, let no one among you be deceived, no one seduced by them; rather, considering that a sort of judaical impiety is invading the Christian faith, be ye all zealous for the Lord; hold fast, every one, the faith we have received from the Fathers, which they who assembled at Nicæa recorded in writing, and endure not those who endeavour to innovate thereon. And however they may write phrases out of the Scripture, endure not their writings; however they may speak the language of the orthodox, yet attend not to what they say; for they speak not with an upright mind, but putting on such language like sheeps' clothing, in their hearts they think with Arius, after the manner of the devil, who is the author of all heresies. For he too made use of the words of Scripture, but was put to silence by our Saviour. For if he had indeed meant them as he used them, he would not have fallen from heaven; but now having fallen through his pride, he artfully dissembles in his speech, and oftentimes maliciously endeavours to lead men astray by the subtleties and sophistries of the Gentiles. Had these expositions of theirs proceeded from the orthodox, from such as the great Confessor Hosius, and Maximinus  of Gaul, or his successor  , or from such as Philogonius and Eustathius  , Bishops of the East  , or Julius and Liberius of Rome, or Cyriacus of Moesia  , or Pistus and Aristæus of Greece, or Silvester and Protogenes of Dacia, or Leontius and Eupsychius of Cappadocia, or Cæcilianus of Africa, or Eustorgius of Italy, or Capito of Sicily, or Macarius of Jerusalem, or Alexander of Constantinople, or Pæderos of Heraclea, or those great Bishops Meletius, Basil, and Longianus, and the rest from Armenia and Pontus, or Lupus and Amphion from Cilicia, or James  and the rest from Mesopotamia, or our own blessed Alexander, with others of the same opinions as these;--there would then have been nothing to suspect in their statements, for the character of apostolical men is sincere and incapable of fraud.
9. For such words do but serve as their cloak.
But when they proceed from those who are hired to advocate the cause of heresy, and since, according to the divine proverb, `The words of the wicked are to lie in wait,' and `The mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things,' and `The counsels of the wicked are deceit  :' it becomes us to watch and be sober, brethren, as the Lord has said, lest any deception arise from subtlety of speech and craftiness; lest any one come and pretend to say, `I preach Christ,' and after a little while he be found to be Antichrist. These indeed are Antichrists, whosoever come to you in the cause of the Arian madness. For what defect is there among you, that any one need to come to you from without? Or, of what do the Churches of Egypt and Libya and Alexandria stand so much in need, that these men should make a purchase  of the Episcopate instead of wood and goods, and intrude into Churches which do not belong to them? Who is not aware, who does not perceive clearly, that they do all this in order to support their impiety? Wherefore although they should make themselves dumb, or although they should bind on their garments larger borders than the Pharisees, and pour themselves forth in long speeches, and practise the tones of their voice  , they ought not to be believed; for it is not the mode of speaking, but the intentions of the heart and a godly conversation that recommend the faithful Christian. And thus the Sadducees and Herodians, although they have the law in their mouths, were put to rebuke by our Saviour, who said unto them, `Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God  :' and all men witnessed the exposure of those who pretended to quote the words of the Law, as being in their minds heretics and enemies of God  . Others indeed they deceived by these professions, but when our Lord became man they were not able to deceive Him; `for the Word was made Flesh,' who `knoweth the thoughts of men that they are vain.' Thus He exposed the carping of the Jews, saying, `If God were your Father, ye would love Me, for I proceeded forth from the Father, and am come to you  .' In like manner these men seem now to act; for they disguise their real sentiments, and then make use of the language of Scripture for their writings, which they hold forth as a bait for the ignorant, that they may inveigle them into their own wickedness.
10. They ought first to condemn Arius, if they are to be heard.
Consider, whether this be not so. If, when there is no reason for their doing so, they write confessions of faith, it is a superfluous, and perhaps also a mischievous proceeding, because, when there is no enquiry, they offer occasion for controversy of words, and unsettle the simple hearts of the brethren, disseminating among them such notions as have never entered into their minds. And if they are attempting to write a defence of themselves in regard to the Arian heresy, they ought first to have removed the seeds of those evils which have sprung up, and to have proscribed those who produced them, and then in the room of former statements to set forth others which are sound; or else let them openly vindicate the opinions of Arius, that they may no longer covertly but openly shew themselves enemies of Christ, and that all men may fly from them as from the face of a serpent. But now they keep back those opinions, and for a pretence write on other matters; just as if a surgeon, when summoned to attend a person wounded and suffering, should upon coming in to him say not a word concerning his wounds, but proceed to discourse about his sound limbs. Such an one would be chargeable with utter stupidity, for saying nothing on the matter for which he came, but discoursing on those other points in which he was not needed. Yet just in the same manner these men omit those matters which concern their heresy, and take upon themselves to write on other subjects; whereas if they had any regard for the Faith, or any love for Christ, they ought first to have removed out of the way those blasphemous expressions uttered against Him, and then in the room of them to speak and to write the sound words. But this they neither do themselves, nor permit those that desire to do so, whether it be from ignorance, or through craft and artifice.
11. No profit to do right in one way, if we do wrong in another.
If they do this from ignorance they must be charged with rashness, because they affirm positively concerning things that they know not; but if they dissemble knowingly, their condemnation is the greater, because while they overlook nothing in consulting for their own interests, in writing about faith in our Lord they make a mockery, and do anything rather than speak the truth; they keep back those particulars respecting which their heresy is accused, and merely bring forward the language of the Scriptures. Now this is a manifest theft of the truth, and a practice full of all iniquity; and so I am sure your piety will readily perceive it to be from the following illustrations. No person being accused of adultery defends himself as innocent of theft; nor would any one in prosecuting a charge of murder suffer the accused parties to defend themselves by saying, `We have not committed perjury, but have preserved the deposit which was entrusted to us.' This would be mere child's play, instead of a refutation of the charge and a demonstration of the truth. For what has murder to do with a deposit, or adultery with theft? The vices are indeed related to each other as proceeding from the same heart; yet in respect to the refutation of an alleged offence, they have no connection with each other. Accordingly as it is written in the Book of Joshua  the son of Nun, when Achan was charged with theft, he did not excuse himself with the plea of his zeal in the wars; but being convicted of the offence was stoned by all the people. And when Saul was charged with negligence and a breach of the law, he did not benefit his cause by alleging his conduct on other matters  . For a defence on one count will not operate to obtain an acquittal on another count; but if all things should be done according to law and justice, a man must defend himself in those particulars wherein he is accused, and must either disprove the past, or else confess it with the promise that he will desist, and do so no more. But if he is guilty of the crime, and will not confess, but in order to conceal the truth speaks on other points instead of the one in question, he shews plainly that he has acted amiss, nay, and is conscious of his delinquency. But what need of many words, seeing that these persons are themselves accusers of the Arian heresy? For since they have not the boldness to speak out, but conceal their blasphemous expressions, it is plain that they know that this heresy is separate and alien from the truth. But since they themselves conceal it and are afraid to speak, it is necessary for me to strip off the veil from their impiety, and to expose the heresy to public view, knowing as I do the statements which Arius and his fellows formerly made, and how they were cast out of the Church, and degraded from the Clergy. But here first I ask for pardon  of the foul words which I am about to produce, since I use them, not because I thus think, but in order to convict the heretics.
Now the Bishop Alexander of blessed memory cast Arius out of the Church for holding and maintaining the following opinions: `God was not always a Father: The Son was not always: But whereas all things were made out of nothing, the Son of God also was made out of nothing: And since all things are creatures, He also is a creature and a thing made: And since all things once were not, but were afterwards made, there was a time when the Word of God Himself was not; and He was not before He was begotten, but He had a beginning of existence: For He has then originated when God has chosen to produce Him: For He also is one among the rest of His works. And since He is by nature changeable, and only continues good because He chooses by His own free will, He is capable of being changed, as are all other things, whenever He wishes. And therefore God, as foreknowing that He would be good, gave Him by anticipation that glory which He would have obtained afterwards by His virtue; and He is now become good by His works which God foreknew.' Accordingly they say, that Christ is not truly God, but that He is called God on account of His participation in God's nature, as are all other creatures. And they add, that He is not that Word which is by nature in the Father, and is proper to His Essence, nor is He His proper wisdom by which He made this world; but that there is another Word  which is properly in the Father, and another Wisdom which is properly in the Father, by which Wisdom also He made this Word; and that the Lord Himself is called the Word (Reason) conceptually in regard of things endued with reason, and is called Wisdom conceptually in regard of things endued with wisdom. Nay, they say that as all things are in essence separate and alien from the Father, so He also is in all respects separate and alien from the essence of the Father, and properly belongs to things made and created, and is one of them; for He is a creature, and a thing made, and a work. Again, they say  that God did not create us for His sake, but Him for our sakes. For they say, `God was alone, and the Word was not with Him, but afterwards when He would produce us, then He made Him; and from the time He was made, He called Him the Word, and the Son, and the Wisdom, in order that He might create us by Him. And as all things subsisted by the will of God, and did not exist before; so He also was made by the will of God, and did not exist before. For the Word is not the proper and natural Offspring of the Father, but has Himself originated by grace: for God who existed made by His will the Son who did not exist, by which will also He made all things, and produced, and created, and willed them to come into being.' Moreover they say also, that Christ is not the natural and true power of God; but as the locust and the cankerworm are called a power  , so also He is called the power of the Father. Furthermore he said, that the Father is secret from the Son, and that the Son can neither see nor know the Father perfectly and exactly. For having a beginning of existence, He cannot know Him that is without beginning; but what He knows and sees, He knows and sees in a measure proportionate to His own measure, as we also know and see in proportion to our powers. And he added also, that the Son not only does not know His own Father exactly, but that He does not even know His own essence.
13. Arguments from Scripture against Arian statements.
For maintaining these and the like opinions Arius was declared a heretic; for myself, while I have merely been writing them down, I have been cleansing myself by thinking of the contrary doctrines, and by holding fast the sense of the true faith. For the Bishops who all assembled from all parts at the Council of Nicæa, began to hold their ears at these statements, and all with one voice condemned this heresy on account of them, and anathematized it, declaring it to be alien and estranged from the faith of the Church. It was no compulsion which led the judges to this decision, but they all deliberately vindicated the truth  : and they did so justly and rightly. For infidelity is coming in through these men, or rather a Judaism counter to the Scriptures, which has close upon it Gentile superstition, so that he who holds these opinions can no longer be even called a Christian, for they are all contrary to the Scriptures. John, for instance, saith, `In the beginning was the Word  ;' but these men say, `He was not, before He was begotten.' And again he wrote, `And we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ; this is the true God, and eternal life  ;' but these men, as if in contradiction to this, allege that Christ is not the true God, but that He is only called God, as are other creatures, in regard of His participation in the divine nature. And the Apostle blames the Gentiles, because they worship the creatures, saying, `They served the creature more than' God `the Creator  .' But if these men say that the Lord is a creature, and worship Him as a creature, how do they differ from the Gentiles? If they hold this opinion, is not this passage also against them; and does not the blessed Paul write as blaming them? The Lord also says, `I and My Father are One:' and `He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father  ;' and the Apostle who was sent by Him to preach, writes, `Who being the Brightness of His glory, and the express Image of His Person  .' But these men dare to separate them, and to say that He is alien from the essence and eternity of the Father; and impiously to represent Him as changeable, not perceiving, that by speaking thus, they make Him to be, not one with the Father, but one with created things. Who does not see, that the brightness cannot be separated from the light, but that it is by nature proper to it, and co-existent with it, and is not produced after it? Again, when the Father says, `This is My beloved Son  ,' and when the Scriptures say that `He is the Word' of the Father, by whom `the heavens were established  ,' and in short, `All things were made by Him  ;' these inventors of new doctrines and fictions represent that there is another Word, and another Wisdom of the Father, and that He is only called the Word and the Wisdom conceptually on account of things endued with reason, while they perceive not the absurdity of this.
14. Arguments from Scripture against Arian statements.
But if He be styled the Word and the Wisdom by a fiction on our account, what He really is they cannot tell  . For if the Scriptures affirm that the Lord is both these, and yet these men will not allow Him to be so, it is plain that in their godless opposition to the Scriptures they would deny His existence altogether. The faithful are able to conclude this truth both from the voice of the Father Himself, and from the Angels that worshipped Him, and from the Saints that have written concerning Him; but these men, as they have not a pure mind, and cannot bear to hear the words of divine men who teach of God, may be able to learn something even from the devils who resemble them, for they spoke of Him, not as if there were many besides, but, as knowing Him alone, they said, `Thou art the Holy One of God,' and `the Son of God  .' He also who suggested to them this heresy, while tempting Him, in the mount, said not, `If Thou also be a Son of God,' as though there were others besides Him, but, `If Thou be the  Son of God,' as being the only one. But as the Gentiles, having fallen from the notion of one God, have sunk into polytheism, so these wonderful men, not believing that the Word of the Father is one, have come to adopt the idea of many words, and they deny Him that is really God and the true Word, and have dared to conceive of Him as a creature, not perceiving how full of impiety is the thought. For if He be a creature, how is He at the same time the Creator of creatures? or how the Son and the Wisdom and the Word? For the Word is not created, but begotten; and a creature is not a Son, but a production. And if all creatures were made by Him, and He is also a creature, then by whom was He made? Things made must of necessity originate through some one; as in fact they have originated through the Word; because He was not Himself a thing made, but the Word of the Father. And again, if there be another wisdom in the Father beside the Lord, then Wisdom has originated in wisdom: and if the Word of God be the Wisdom of God, then the Word has originated in a word: and if the Son be the Word of God, then the Son must have been made in the Son.
15. Arguments from Scripture against Arian statements.
How is it that the Lord has said, `I am in the Father, and the Father in Me  ,' if there be another in the Father, by whom the Lord Himself also was made? And how is it that John, passing over that other, relates of this One, saying, `All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made  ?' If all things that were made by the will of God were made by Him, how can He be Himself one of the things that were made? And when the Apostle says, `For whom are all things, and by whom are all things  ,' how can these men say, that we were not made for Him, but He for us? If it be so, He ought to have said, `For whom the Word was made;' but He saith not so, but, `For whom are all things, and by whom are all things,' thus proving these men to be heretical and false. But further, as they have had the boldness to say that there is another Word in God, and since they cannot bring any clear proof of this from the Scriptures, let them but shew one work of His, or one work of the Father that was done without this Word; so that they may seem to have some ground at least for their own idea. The works of the true Word are manifest to all, so as for Him to be contemplated by analogy from them. For as, when we see the creation, we conceive of God as the Creator of it; so when we see that nothing is without order therein, but that all things move and continue with order and providence, we infer a Word of God who is over all and governs all. This too the holy Scriptures testify, declaring that He is the Word of God, and that `all things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made  .' But of that other Word, of whom they speak, there is neither word nor work that they have to shew. Nay, even the Father Himself, when He says, `This is My beloved Son  ,' signifies that besides Him there is none other
16. Arians parallel to the Manichees.
It appears then that so far as these doctrines are concerned, these wonderful men have now joined themselves to the Manichees. For these also confess the existence of a good God, so far as the mere name goes, but they are unable to point out any of His works either visible or invisible. But inasmuch as they deny Him who is truly and indeed God, the Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things invisible, they are mere inventors of fables. And this appears to me to be the case with these evil-minded men. They see the works of the true Word who alone is in the Father, and yet they deny Him, and make to themselves another Word  , whose existence they are unable to prove either by His Works or by the testimony of others. Unless it be that they have adopted a fabulous notion of God, that He is a composite being like man, speaking and then changing His words, and as a man exercising understanding and wisdom; not perceiving to what absurdities they are reduced by such an opinion. For if God has a succession of words  , they certainly must consider Him as a man. And if those words proceed from Him and then vanish away, they are guilty of a greater impiety, because they resolve into nothing what proceeds from the self-existent God. If they conceive that God doth at all beget, it were surely better and more religious to say that He is the begetter of One Word, who is the fulness of His Godhead, in whom are hidden the treasures of all knowledge  , and that He is co-existent with His Father, and that all things were made by Him; rather than to suppose God to be the Father of many words which are nowhere to be found, or to represent Him who is simple in His nature as compounded of many  , and as being subject to human passions and variable. Next whereas the Apostle says, `Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God  ,' these men reckon Him but as one among many powers; nay, worse than this, they compare Him, transgressors as they are, with the cankerworm and other irrational creatures which are sent by Him for the punishment of men. Next, whereas the Lord says, `No one knoweth the Father, save the Son  ;' and again, `Not that any man hath seen the Father save He which is of the Father  ;' are not these indeed enemies of God which say that the Father is neither seen nor known of the Son perfectly? If the Lord says, `As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father  ,' and if the Father knows not the Son partially, are they not mad to say idly that the Son knows the Father only partially, and not fully? Next, if the Son has a beginning of existence, and all things likewise have a beginning, let them say, which is prior to the other. But indeed they have nothing to say, neither can they with all their craft prove such a beginning of the Word. For He is the true and proper Offspring of the Father, and `in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God  .' For with regard to their assertion, that the Son knows not His own essence, it is superfluous to reply to it, except only so far as to condemn their madness; for how does not the Word know Himself, when He imparts to all men the knowledge of His Father and of Himself, and blames those who know not themselves?
17. Arguments from Scripture against Arian statements.
But it is written  , say they, `The Lord created me in the beginning of His ways for His works.' O untaught and insensate that ye are! He is called also in the Scriptures, `servant  ,' and `son of a handmaid,' and `lamb,' and `sheep,' and it is said that He suffered toil, and thirst, and was beaten, and has suffered pain. But there is plainly a reasonable ground and cause  , why such representations as these are given of Him in the Scriptures; and it is because He became man and the Son of man, and took upon Him the form of a servant, which is the human flesh: for `the Word,' says John, `was made flesh  .' And since He became man, no one ought to be offended at such expressions; for it is proper to man to be created, and born, and formed, to suffer toil and pain, to die and to rise again from the dead. And as, being Word and Wisdom of the Father, He has all the attributes of the Father, His eternity, and His unchangeableness, and the being like Him in all respects and in all things  , and is neither before nor after, but co-existent with the Father, and is the very form  of the Godhead, and is the Creator, and is not created: (for since He is in essence like  the Father, He cannot be a creature, but must be the Creator, as Himself hath said, `My Father worketh hitherto, and I work  :') so being made man, and bearing our flesh, He is necessarily said to be created and made, and that is proper to all flesh; however, these men, like Jewish vintners, who mix their wine with water  , debase the Word, and subject His Godhead to their notions of created things. Wherefore the Fathers were with reason and justice indignant, and anathematized this most impious heresy; which these persons are now cautious of and keep back, as being easy to be disproved and unsound in every part of it. These that I have set down are but a few of the arguments which go to condemn their doctrines; but if any one desires to enter more at large into the proof against them, he will find that this heresy is not far removed from heathenism, and that it is the lowest and the very dregs of all the other heresies. These last are in error either concerning the body or the incarnation of the Lord, falsifying the truth, some in one way and some in another, or else they deny that the Lord has sojourned here at all, as the Jews erroneously suppose. But this one alone more madly than the rest has dared to assail the very Godhead, and to assert that the Word is not at all, and that the Father was not always a father; so that one might reasonably say that that Psalm was written against them; `The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God  . Corrupt are they, and become abominable in their doings.'
18. If the Arians felt they were right, they would speak openly.
`But,' say they, `we are strong, and are able to defend our heresy by our many devices.' They would have a better answer to give, if they were able to defend it, not by artifice nor by Gentile sophisms, but by the simplicity of their faith. If however they have confidence in it, and know it to be in accordance with the doctrines of the Church, let them openly express their sentiments; for no man when he hath lighted a candle putteth it under the bushel  , but on the candlestick, and so it gives light to all that come in. If therefore they are able to defend it, let them record in writing the opinions above imputed to them, and expose their heresy bare to the view of all men, as they would a candle, and let them openly accuse the Bishop Alexander, of blessed memory, as having unjustly ejected  Arius for professing these opinions; and let them blame the Council of Nicæa for putting forth a written confession of the true faith in place of their impiety. But they will not do this, I am sure, for they are not so ignorant of the evil nature of those notions which they have invented and are ambitious of sowing abroad; but they know well enough, that although they may at first lead astray the simple by vain deceit, yet their imaginations will soon be extinguished, `as the light of the ungodly  ,' and themselves branded everywhere as enemies of the Truth. Therefore although they do all things foolishly, and speak as fools, yet in this at least they have acted wisely, as `children of this world  ,' hiding their candle under the bushel, that it may be supposed to give light, and lest, if it appear, it be condemned and extinguished. Thus when Arius himself, the author of the heresy, and the associate of Eusebius, was summoned through the interest of Eusebius and his fellows to appear before Constantine Augustus of blessed memory  , and was required to present a written declaration of his faith, the wily man wrote one, but kept out of sight the peculiar expressions of his impiety, and pretended, as the Devil did, to quote the simple words of Scripture, just as they are written. And when the blessed Constantine said to him, `If thou holdest no other opinions in thy mind besides these, take the Truth to witness for thee; the Lord is thy avenger if thou swear falsely:' the unfortunate man swore that he held no other, and that he had never either spoken or thought otherwise than as he had now written. But as soon as he went out he dropped down, as if paying the penalty of his crime, and `falling headlong burst asunder in the midst  .'
19. Significance of the death of Arius.
Death, it is true, is the common end of all men, and we ought not to insult the dead, though he be an enemy, for it is uncertain whether the same event may not happen to ourselves before evening. But the end of Arius was not after an ordinary manner, and therefore it deserves to be related. Eusebius and his fellows threatening to bring him into the Church, Alexander, the Bishop of Constantinople, resisted them; but Arius trusted to the violence and menace of Eusebius. It was the Sabbath, and he expected to join communion on the following day. There was therefore a great struggle between them; the others threatening, Alexander praying. But the Lord being judge of the case, decided against the unjust party: for the sun had not set, when the necessities of nature compelled him to that place, where he fell down, and was forthwith deprived of communion with the Church and of his life together. The blessed Constantine hearing of this at once, was struck with wonder to find him thus convicted of perjury. And indeed it was then evident to all that the threats of Eusebius and his fellows had proved of no avail and the hope of Arius had become vain. It was shewn too that the Arian madness was rejected from communion by our Saviour both here and in the Church of the first-born in heaven. Now who will not wonder to see the unrighteous ambition of these men, whom the Lord has condemned;--to see them vindicating the heresy which the Lord has pronounced excommunicate (since He did not suffer its author to enter into the Church), and not fearing that which is written, but attempting impossible things? `For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it  ?' and whom God hath condemned, who shall justify? Let them however in defence of their own imaginations write what they please; but do you, brethren, as `bearing the vessels of the Lord  ,' and vindicating the doctrines of the Church, examine this matter, I beseech you; and if they write in other terms than those above recorded as the language of Arius, then condemn them as hypocrites, who hide the poison of their opinions, and like the serpent flatter with the words of their lips. For, though they thus write, they have associated with them those who were formerly rejected with Arius, such as Secundus of Pentapolis, and the clergy who were convicted at Alexandria; and they write to them in Alexandria. But what is most astonishing, they have caused us and our friends to be persecuted, although the most religious Emperor Constantine sent us back in peace to our country and Church, and shewed his concern for the harmony of the people. But now they have caused the Churches to be given up to these men, thus proving to all that for their sake the whole conspiracy against us and the rest has been carried on from the beginning.
20. While they are friends of Arius, in vain their moderate words.
Now while such is their conduct, how can they claim credit for what they write? Had the opinions they have put in writing been orthodox, they would have expunged from their list of books the Thalia of Arius, and have rejected the scions of the heresy, viz. those disciples of Arius, and the partners of his impiety and his punishment. But since they do not renounce these, it is manifest to all that their sentiments are not orthodox, though they write them over ten thousand times  . Wherefore it becomes us to watch, lest some deception be conveyed under the clothing of their phrases, and they lead away certain from the true faith. And if they venture to advance the opinions of Arius, when they see themselves proceeding in a prosperous course, nothing remains for us but to use great boldness of speech, remembering the predictions of the Apostle, which he wrote to forewarn us of such like heresies, and which it becomes us to repeat. For we know that, as it is written, `in the latter times some shall depart from the sound faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, that turn from the truth  ;' and, `as many as will live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.' But none of these things shall prevail over us, nor `separate us from the love of Christ  ,' though the heretics threaten us with death. For we are Christians, not Arians  ; would that they too, who have written these things, had not embraced the doctrines of Arius! Yea, brethren, there is need now of such boldness of speech; for we have not received `the spirit of bondage again to fear  ,' but God hath called us `to liberty  .' And it were indeed disgraceful to us, most disgraceful, were we, on account of Arius or of those who embrace and advocate his sentiments, to destroy the faith which we have received from our Saviour through His Apostles. Already very many in these parts, perceiving the craftiness of these writers, are ready even unto blood to oppose their wiles, especially since they have heard of your firmness. And seeing that the refutation of the heresy has gone forth from you  , and it has been drawn forth from its concealment, like a serpent from his hole, the Child that Herod sought to destroy is preserved among you, and the Truth lives in you, and the Faith thrives among you.
21. To make a stand for the Faith equivalent to martyrdom.
Wherefore I exhort you, keeping in your hands the confession which was framed by the Fathers at Nicæa, and defending it with great zeal and confidence in the Lord, be ensamples to the brethren everywhere, and shew them that a struggle is now before us in support of the Truth against heresy, and that the wiles of the enemy are various. For the proof of a martyr lies  not only in refusing to burn incense to idols; but to refuse to deny the Faith is also an illustrious testimony of a good conscience. And not only those who turned aside unto idols were condemned as aliens, but those also who betrayed the Truth. Thus Judas was degraded from the Apostolical office, not because he sacrificed to idols, but because he proved a traitor; and Hymenæus and Alexander fell away not by betaking themselves to the service of idols, but because they `made shipwreck concerning the faith  .' On the other hand, the Patriarch Abraham received the crown, not because he suffered death, but because he was faithful unto God; and the other Saints, of whom Paul speaks  , Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephtha, David and Samuel, and the rest, were not made perfect by the shedding of their blood, but by faith they were justified; and to this day they are the objects of our admiration, as being ready even to suffer death for piety towards the Lord. And if one may add an instance from our own country, ye know how the blessed Alexander contended even unto death against this heresy, and what great afflictions and labours, old man as He was, he sustained, until in extreme age he also was gathered to his fathers. And how many beside have undergone great toil, in their teachings against this impiety, and now enjoy in Christ the glorious reward of their confession! Wherefore, let us also, considering that this struggle is for our all, and that the choice is now before us, either to deny or to preserve the faith, let us also make it our earnest care and aim to guard what we have received, taking as our instruction the Confession drawn up at Nicæa, and let us turn away from novelties, and teach our people not to give heed to `seducing spirits  ,' but altogether to withdraw from the impiety of the Arian madmen, and from the coalition which the Meletians have made with them.
22. Coalition of sordid Meletians with insane Arians.
For you perceive how, though they were formerly at variance with one another, they have now, like Herod and Pontius, agreed together in order to blaspheme our Lord Jesus Christ. And for this they truly deserve the hatred of every man, because they were at enmity with one another on private grounds, but have now become friends and join hands, in their hostility to the Truth and their impiety towards God. Nay, they are content to do or suffer anything, however contrary to their principles, for the satisfaction of securing their several aims; the Meletians for the sake of pre-eminence and the mad love of money, and the Arian madmen for their own impiety. And thus by this coalition they are able to assist one another in their malicious designs, while the Meletians put on the impiety of the Arians, and the Arians from their own wickedness concur in their baseness, so that by thus mingling together their respective crimes, like the cup of Babylon  , they may carry on their plots against the orthodox worshippers of our Lord Jesus Christ. The wickedness and falsehood of the Meletians were indeed even before this evident unto all men; so too the impiety and godless heresy of the Arians have long been known everywhere and to all; for the period of their existence has not been a short one. The former became schismatics five and fifty years ago, and it is thirty-six years since the latter were pronounced heretics  , and they were rejected from the Church by the judgment of the whole Ecumenic Council. But by their present proceedings they have proved at length, even to those who seem openly to favour them, that they have carried on their designs against me and the rest of the orthodox Bishops from the very first solely for the sake of advancing their own impious heresy. For observe, that which was long ago the great object of Eusebius and his fellows is now brought about. They have caused the Churches to be snatched out of our hands, they have banished as they pleased, the Bishops and Presbyters who refused to communicate with them; and the people who withdrew from them they have excluded from the Churches, which they have given up into the hands of the Arians who were condemned so long ago, so that with the assistance of the hypocrisy of the Meletians they can without fear pour forth in them their impious language, and make ready, as they think, the way of deceit for Antichrist  , who sowed among them the seeds of this heresy.
Let them however thus dream and imagine vain things. We know that when our gracious Emperor shall hear of it, he will put a stop to their wickedness, and they will not continue long, but according to the words of Scripture, `the hearts of the impious shall quickly fail them  .' But let us, as it is written, `put on the words of holy Scripture  ,' and resist them as apostates who would set up fanaticism in the house of the Lord. And let us not fear the death of the body, nor let us emulate their ways; but let the word of Truth be preferred before all things. We also, as you all know, were formerly required  by Eusebius and his fellows either to put on their impiety, or to expect their hostility; but we would not engage ourselves with them, but chose rather to be persecuted by them, than to imitate the conduct of Judas. And assuredly they have done what they threatened; for after the manner of Jezebel, they engaged the treacherous Meletians to assist them, knowing how the latter resisted the blessed martyr Peter, and after him the great Achillas, and then Alexander, of blessed memory, in order that, as being practised in such matters, the Meletians might pretend against us also whatever might be suggested to them, while Eusebius and his fellows gave them an opening for persecuting and for seeking to kill me. For this is what they thirst after; and they continue to this day to desire to shed my blood. But of these things I have no care; for I know and am persuaded that they who endure shall receive a reward from our Saviour; and that ye also, if ye endure as the Fathers did, and shew yourselves examples to the people, and overthrow these strange and alien devices of impious men, shall be able to glory, and say, We have `kept the Faith  ;' and ye shall receive the `crown of life,' which God `hath promised to them that love Him  .' And God grant that I also together with you may inherit the promises, which, were given, not to Paul only, but also to all them that `have loved the appearing  ' of our Lord, and Saviour, and God, and universal King, Jesus Christ; through whom to the Father be glory and dominion in the Holy Spirit, both now and for ever, world without end  . Amen.
With respect to those ecclesiastical matters, which have been made the ground of a conspiracy against me, it is sufficient to refer your Piety to the testimony of the many Bishops who have written in my behalf  ; enough too is the recantation of Ursacius and Valens  to prove to all men, that none of the charges which they set up against me had any truth in them. For what evidence can others produce so strong, as what they declared in writing? `We lied, we invented these things; all the accusations against Athanasius are full of falsehood.' To this clear proof may be added, if you will vouchsafe to hear it, this circumstance that the accusers brought no evidence against Macarius the presbyter while we were present; but in our absence  , when they were by themselves, they managed the matter as they pleased. Now, the Divine Law first of all, and next our own Laws  , have expressly declared, that such proceedings are of no force whatsoever. From these things your piety, as a lover of God and of the truth, will, I am sure, perceive that we are free from all suspicion, and will pronounce our opponents to be false accusers.
2. The first charge, of setting Constans against Constantius.
But as to the slanderous charge which has been preferred against me before your Grace, respecting correspondence with the most pious Augustus, your brother Constans  , of blessed and everlasting memory (for my enemies report this of me, and have ventured to assert it in writing), the former events  are sufficient to prove this also to be untrue. Had it been alleged by another set of persons, the matter would indeed have been a fit subject of enquiry, but it would have required strong evidence, and open proof in presence of both parties: but when the same persons who invented the former charge, are the authors also of this, is it not reasonable to conclude from the issue of the one, the falsehood of the other? For this cause they again conferred together in private, thinking to be able to deceive your Piety before I was aware. But in this they failed: you would not listen to them as they desired, but patiently gave me an opportunity to make my defence. And, in that you were not immediately moved to demand vengeance, you acted only as was righteous in a Prince, whose duty it is to wait for the defence of the injured party. Which if you will vouchsafe to hear, I am confident that in this matter also you will condemn those reckless men, who have no fear of that God, who has commanded us not to speak falsely before the king  .
3. He never saw Constans alone.
But in truth I am ashamed even to have to defend myself against charges such as these, which I do not suppose that even the accuser himself would venture to make mention of in my presence. For he knows full well that he speaks untruly, and that I was never so mad, so reft of my senses, as even to be open to the suspicion of having conceived any such thing. So that had I been questioned by any other on this subject, I would not even have answered, lest, while I was making my defence, my hearers should for a time have suspended their judgment concerning me. But to your Piety I answer with a loud and clear voice, and stretching forth my hand, as I have learned from the Apostle, `I call God for a record upon my soul  ,' and as it is written in the histories of the Kings (let me be allowed to say the same), `The Lord is witness, and His Anointed is witness  ,' I have never spoken evil of your Piety before your brother Constans, the most religious Augustus of blessed memory. I did not exasperate him against you, as these have falsely accused me. But whenever in my interviews with him he has mentioned your Grace (and he did mention you at the time that Thalassus  came to Pitybion, and I was staying at Aquileia), the Lord is witness, how I spoke of your Piety in terms which I would that God would reveal unto your soul, that you might condemn the falsehood of these my calumniators. Bear with me, most gracious Augustus, and freely grant me your indulgence while I speak of this matter. Your most Christian brother was not a man of so light a temper, nor was I a person of such a character, that we should communicate together on a subject like this, or that I should slander a brother to a brother, or speak evil of an emperor before an emperor. I am not so mad, Sire, nor have I forgotten that divine utterance which says, `Curse not the king, no, not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter  .' If then those things, which are spoken in secret against you that are kings, are not hidden, it is not incredible that I should have spoken against you in the presence of a king, and of so many bystanders? For I never saw your brother by myself, nor did he ever converse with me in private, but I was always introduced in company with the Bishop of the city where I happened to be, and with others that chanced to be there. We entered the presence together, and together we retired. Fortunatian  , Bishop of Aquileia, can testify this, the father Hosius is able to say the same, as also are Crispinus, Bishop of Padua, Lucillus of a Verona, Dionysius of Lëis, and Vincentius of Campania. And although Maximinus of Treveri, and Protasius of Milan, are dead, yet Eugenius, who was Master of the Palace  , can bear witness for me; for he stood before the veil  , and heard what we requested of the Emperor, and what he vouchsafed to reply to us.
4. The movements of Athanasius refute this charge.
This certainly is sufficient for proof, yet suffer me nevertheless to lay before you an account of my travels, which will further lead you to condemn the unfounded calumnies of my opponents. When I left Alexandria  , I did not go to your brother's head-quarters, or to any other persons, but only to Rome; and having laid my case before the Church (for this was my only concern), I spent my time in the public worship. I did not write to your brother, except when Eusebius and his fellows had written to him to accuse me, and I was compelled while yet at Alexandria to defend myself; and again when I sent to him volumes  containing the holy Scriptures, which he had ordered me to prepare for him. It behoves me, while I defend my conduct, to tell the truth to your Piety. When however three years had passed away, he wrote to me in the fourth year  , commanding me to meet him (he was then at Milan); and upon enquiring the cause (for I was ignorant of it, the Lord is my witness), I learnt that certain Bishops  had gone up and requested him to write to your Piety, desiring that a Council might be called. Believe me, Sire, this is the truth of the matter; I lie not. Accordingly I went down to Milan, and met with great kindness from him; for he condescended to see me, and to say that he had despatched letters to you, requesting that a Council might be called. And while I remained in that city, he sent for me again into Gaul (for the father Hosius was going thither), that we might travel from thence to Sardica. And after the Council, he wrote to me while I continued at Naissus  , and I went up, and abode afterwards at Aquileia; where the letters of your Piety found me. And again, being invited thence by your departed brother, I returned into Gaul, and so came at length to your Piety.
5. No possible time or place for the alleged offence.
Now what place and time does my accuser specify, at which I made use of these expressions according to his slanderous imputation? In whose presence was I so mad as to give utterance to the words which he has falsely charged me with speaking? Who is there ready to support the charge, and to testify to the fact? What his own eyes have seen that ought he to speak  , as holy Scripture enjoins. But no; he will find no witnesses of that which never took place. But I take your Piety to witness, together with the Truth, that I lie not. I request you, for I know you to be a person of excellent memory, to call to mind the conversation I had with you, when you condescended to see me, first at Viminacium  , a second time at Cæsarea in Cappadocia, and a third  time at Antioch. Did I speak evil before you even of Eusebius and his fellows who had persecuted me? Did I cast imputations upon any of those that have done me wrong? If then I imputed nothing to any of those against whom I had a right to speak, how could I be so possessed with madness as to slander an Emperor before an Emperor, and to set a brother at variance with a brother? I beseech you, either cause me to appear before you that the thing may be proved, or else condemn these calumnies, and follow the example of David, who says, `Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I destroy  .' As much as in them lies, they have slain me; for `the mouth that belieth, slayeth the soul  .' But your long-suffering has prevailed against them, and given me confidence to defend myself, that they may suffer condemnation, as contentious and slanderous persons. Concerning your most religious brother, of blessed memory, this may suffice: for you will be able, according to the wisdom which God has given you, to gather much from the little I have said, and to recognise the fictitious charge.
6. The second charge, of corresponding with Magnentius.
With regard to the second calumny, that I have written letters to the tyrant  (his name I am unwilling to pronounce), I beseech you investigate and try the matter, in whatever way you please, and by whomsoever you may approve of. The extravagance of the charge so confounds me, that I am in utter uncertainty how to act. Believe me, most religious Prince, many times did I weigh the matter in my mind, but was unable to believe that any one could be so mad as to utter such a falsehood. But when this charge was published abroad by the Arians, as well as the former, and they boasted that they had delivered to you a copy of the letter, I was the more amazed, and I used to pass sleepless nights contending against the charge, as if in the presence of my accusers; and suddenly breaking forth into a loud cry, I would immediately fall to my prayers, desiring with groans and tears that I might obtain a favourable hearing from you. And now that by the grace of the Lord, I have obtained such a hearing, I am again at a loss how I shall begin my defence; for as often as I make an attempt to speak, I am prevented by my horror at the deed. In the case of your departed brother, the slanderers had indeed a plausible pretence for what they alleged; because I had been admitted to see him, and he had condescended to write to your brotherly affection concerning me; and he had often sent for me to come to him, and had honoured me when I came. But for the traitor Magnentius, `the Lord is witness, and His Anointed is witness  ,' I know him not, nor was ever acquainted with him. What correspondence then could there be between persons so entirely unacquainted with each other? What reason was there to induce me to write to such a man? How could I have commenced my letter, had I written to him? Could I have said, `You have done well to murder the man who honoured me, whose kindness I shall never forget?' Or, `I approve of your conduct in destroying our Christian friends, and most faithful brethren?' or, `I approve of your proceedings in butchering those who so kindly entertained me at Rome; for instance, your departed Aunt Eutropia  , whose disposition answered to her name, that worthy man, Abuterius, the most faithful Spirantius, and many other excellent persons?'
7. This charge utterly incredible and absurd.
Is it not mere madness in my accuser even to suspect me of such a thing? What, I ask again, could induce me to place confidence in this man? What trait did I perceive in his character on which I could rely? He had murdered his own master; he had proved faithless to his friends; he had violated his oath; he had blasphemed God, by consulting poisoners and sorcerers  contrary to his Law. And with what conscience could I send greeting to such a man, whose madness and cruelty had afflicted not me only, but all the world around me? To be sure, I was very greatly indebted to him for his conduct, that when your departed brother had filled our churches with sacred offerings, he murdered him. For the wretch was not moved by the sight of these his gifts, nor did he stand in awe of the divine grace which had been given to him in baptism: but like an accursed and devilish spirit, he raged against him, till your blessed brother suffered martyrdom at his hands; while he, henceforth a criminal like Cain, was driven from place to place, `groaning and trembling  ,' to the end that he might follow the example of Judas in his death, by becoming his own executioner, and so bring upon himself a double weight of punishment in the judgment to come.
8. Disproof of It.
With such a man the slanderer thought that I had been on terms of friendship, or rather he did not think so, but like an enemy invented an incredible fiction: for he knows full well that he has lied. I would that, whoever he is, he were present here, that I might put the question to him on the word of Truth itself (for whatever we speak as in the presence of God, we Christians consider as an oath  ); I say, that I might ask him this question, which of us rejoiced most in the well-being of the departed Constans? who prayed for him most earnestly? The facts of the foregoing charge prove this; indeed it is plain to every one how the case stands. But although he himself knows full well, that no one who was so disposed towards the departed Constans, and who truly loved him, could be a friend to his enemy, I fear that being possessed with other feelings towards him than I was, he has falsely attributed to me those sentiments of hatred which were entertained by himself.
9. Athanasius could not write to one who did not even know him.
For myself, I am so surprised at the enormity of the thing, that I am quite uncertain what I ought to say in my defence. I can only declare, that I condemn myself to die ten thousand deaths, if even the least suspicion attaches to me in this matter. And to you, Sire, as a lover of the truth, I confidently make my appeal. I beseech you, as I said before, investigate this affair, and especially with the testimony of those who were once sent by him as ambassadors to you. These are the Bishops Sarvatius  and Maximus and the rest, with Clementius and Valens. Enquire of them, I beseech you, whether they brought letters to me. If they did, this would give me occasion to write to him. But if he did not write to me, if he did not even know me, how could I write to one with whom I had no acquaintance? Ask them whether, when I saw Clementius and his fellows, and spoke of your brother of blessed memory, I did not, in the language of Scripture, wet my garments with tears  , when I remembered his kindness of disposition and his Christian spirit. Learn of them how anxious I was, on hearing of the cruelty of the beast, and finding that Valens and his company had come by way of Libya, lest he should attempt a passage also, and like a robber murder those who held in love and memory the departed Prince, among whom I account myself second to none.
10. His loyalty towards Constantius and his brother.
How with this apprehension of such a design on their part, was there not an additional probability of my praying for your Grace? Should I feel affection for his murderer, and entertain dislike towards you his brother who avenged his death? Should I remember his crime, and forget that kindness of yours which you vouchsafed to assure me by letter  should remain the same towards me after your brother's death of happy memory, as it had been during his lifetime? How could I have borne to look upon the murderer? Must I not have thought that the blessed Prince beheld me, when I prayed for your safety? For brothers are by nature mirrors of each other. Wherefore as seeing you in him, I never should have slandered you before him; and as seeing him in you, never should I have written to his enemy, instead of praying for your safety. Of this my witnesses are, first of all, the Lord who has heard and has given to you entire the kingdom of your forefathers: and next those persons who were present at the time, Felicissimus, who was Duke of Egypt, Rufinus, and Stephanus, the former of whom was Receiver-general, the latter, Master there; Count Asterius, and Palladius Master of the palace, Antiochus and Evagrius Official Agents  . I had only to say, `Let us pray for the safety of the most religious Emperor, Constantius Augustus,' and all the people immediately cried out with one voice, `O Christ send help to Constantius;' and they continued praying thus for some time  .
11. Challenge to the accusers as to the alleged letter.
Now I have already called upon God, and His Word, the Only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, to witness for me, that I have never written to that man, nor received letters from him. And as to my accuser, give me leave to ask him a few short questions concerning this charge also. How did he come to the knowledge of this matter? Will he say that he has got copies of the letter? for this is what the Arians laboured to prove. Now in the first place, even if he can shew writing resembling mine, the thing is not yet certain; for there are forgers, who have often imitated the hand  even of you who are Emperors. And the resemblance will not prove the genuineness of the letter, unless my customary amanuensis shall testify in its favour. I would then again ask my accusers, Who provided you with these copies? and whence were they obtained? I had my writers  , and he his servants, who received his letters from the bearers, and gave them into his hand. My assistants are forthcoming; vouchsafe to summon the others (for they are most probably still living), and enquire concerning these letters. Search into the matter, as though Truth were the partner of your throne. She is the defence of Kings, and especially of Christian Kings; with her you will reign most securely, for holy Scripture says, `Mercy and truth preserve the king, and they will encircle his throne in righteousness  .' And the wise Zorobabel gained a victory over the others by setting forth the power of Truth, and all the people cried out, `Great is the truth, and mighty above all things  .'
12. Truth the defence of Thrones.
Had I been accused before any other, I should have appealed to your Piety; as once the Apostle appealed unto Cæsar, and put an end to the designs of his enemies against him. But since they have had the boldness to lay their charge before you, to whom shall I appeal from you? to the Father of Him who says, `I am the Truth  ,' that He may incline your heart into clemency:--
O Lord Almighty, and King of eternity, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by Thy Word hast given this Kingdom to Thy servant Constantius; do Thou shine into his heart, that he, knowing the falsehood that is set against me, may both favourably receive this my defence; and may make known unto all men, that his ears are firmly set to hearken unto the Truth, according as it is written, `Righteous lips alone are acceptable unto the King  .' For Thou hast caused it to be said by Solomon, that thus the throne of the kingdom shall be established.
Wherefore at least enquire into this matter, and let the accusers understand that your desire is to learn the truth; and see, whether they will not shew their falsehood by their very looks; for the countenance is a test of the conscience as it is written, `A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken  .' Thus they who had conspired against Joseph  were convicted by their own consciences; and the craft of Laban towards Jacob was shewn in his countenance  . And thus you see the suspicious alarm of these persons, for they fly and hide themselves; but on our part frankness in making our defence. And the question between us is not one regarding worldly wealth, but concerning the honour of the Church. He that has been struck by a stone, applies to a physician; but sharper than a stone are the strokes of calumny; for as Solomon has said, `A false witness is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow  ,' and its wounds Truth alone is able to cure; and if Truth be set at nought, they grow worse and worse.
13. This charge rests on forgery.
It is this that has thrown the Churches everywhere into such confusion; for pretences have been devised, and Bishops of great authority, and of advanced age  , have been banished for holding communion with me. And if matters had stopped here, our prospect would be favourable through your gracious interposition. But that the evil may not extend itself, let Truth prevail before you; and leave not every Church under suspicion, as though Christian men, nay even Bishops, could be guilty of plotting and writing in this manner. Or if you are unwilling to investigate the matter, it is but right that we who offer our defence, should be believed, rather than our calumniators. They, like enemies, are occupied in wickedness; we, as earnestly contending for our cause, present to you our proofs. And truly I wonder how it comes to pass, that while we address you with fear and reverence, they are possessed of such an impudent spirit, that they dare even to lie before the Emperor. But I pray you, for the Truth's sake, and as it is written  , `search diligently' in my presence, on what grounds they affirm these things, and whence these letters were obtained. But neither will any of my servants be proved guilty, nor will any of his people be able to tell whence they came; for they are forgeries. And perhaps one had better not enquire further. They do not wish it, lest the writer of the letters should be certain of detection. For the calumniators alone, and none besides, know who he is.
14. The third charge, of using an undedicated Church.
But forasmuch as they have informed against me in the matter of the great Church  , that a communion was holden there before it was completed, I will answer to your Piety on this charge also; for the parties who are hostile towards me constrain me to do so. I confess this did so happen; for, as in what I have hitherto said, I have spoken no lie, I will not now deny this. But the facts are far otherwise than they have represented them. Suffer me to declare to you, most religious Augustus, that we kept no day of dedication (it would certainly have been unlawful to do so, before receiving orders from you), nor were we led to act as we did through premeditation. No Bishop or other Clergyman was invited to join in our proceedings; for much was yet wanting to complete the building. Nay the congregation was not held on a previous notice, which might give them a reason for informing against us. Every one knows how it happened; hear me, however, with your accustomed equity and patience. It was the feast of Easter  , and the multitude assembled together was exceeding great, such as Christian kings would desire to see in all their cities. Now when the Churches were found to be too few to contain them, there was no little stir among the people, who desired that they might be allowed to meet together in the great Church, where they could all offer up their prayers for your safety. And this they did; for although I exhorted them to wait awhile, and to hold service in the other Churches, with whatever inconvenience to themselves, they would not listen to me; but were ready to go out of the city, and meet in desert places in the open air, thinking it better to endure the fatigue of the journey, than to keep the feast in such a state of discomfort.
15. Want of room the cause, precedent the justification.
Believe me, Sire, and let Truth be my witness in this also, when I declare that in the congregations held during the season of Lent, in consequence of the narrow limits of the places, and the vast multitude of people assembled, a great number of children, not a few of the younger and very many of the older women, besides several young men, suffered so much from the pressure of the crowd, that they were obliged to be carried home; though by the Providence of God, no one is dead. All however murmured, and demanded the use of the great Church. And if the pressure was so great during the days which preceded the feast, what would have been the case during the feast itself? Of course matters would have been far worse. It did not therefore become me to change the people's joy into grief, their cheerfulness into sorrow, and to make the festival a season of lamentation.
And that the more, because I had a precedent in the conduct of our Fathers. For the blessed Alexander, when the other places were too small, and he was engaged in the erection of what was then considered a very large one, the Church of Theonas  , held his congregations there on account of the number of the people, while at the same time he proceeded with the building. I have seen the same thing done at Treveri and at Aquileia, in both which places, while the building was proceeding, they assembled there during the feasts, on account of the number of the people and they never found any one to accuse them in this manner. Nay, your brother of blessed memory was present, when a communion was held under these circumstances at Aquileia. I also followed this course. There was no dedication, but only a service of prayer. You, at least I am sure, as a lover of God will approve of the people's zeal, and will pardon me for being unwilling to hinder the prayers of so great a multitude.
16. Better to pray together than separately.
But here again I would ask my accuser, where was it right that the people should pray? in the deserts, or in a place which was in course of building for the purpose of prayer? Where was it becoming and pious that the people should answer, Amen  ? in the deserts, or in what was already called the Lord's house? Where would you, most religious Prince, have wished your people to stretch forth their hands, and to pray for you? Where Greeks, as they passed by, might stop and listen, or in a place named after yourself, which all men have long called the Lord's house, even since the foundations of it were laid? I am sure that you prefer your own place; for you smile, and that tells me so. `But,' says the accuser, `it ought to have been in the Churches. They were all, as I said before, too small and confined to admit the multitude. Then again, in which way was it most becoming that their prayers should be made? Should they meet together in parts and separate companies, with danger from the crowded state of the congregation? or, when there was now a place that would contain them all, should they assemble in it, and speak as with one and the same voice in perfect harmony? This was the better course, for this shewed the unanimity of the multitude: in this way God will readily hear prayer. For if, according to the promise of our Saviour Himself  , where two shall agree together as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them, how shall it be when so great an assembly of people with one voice utter their Amen to God? Who indeed was there that did not marvel at the sight? Who but pronounced you happy when they saw so great a multitude met together in one place? How did the people themselves rejoice to see each other, having been accustomed heretofore to assemble in separate places! The circumstance was a source of pleasure to all; of vexation to the calumniator alone.
17. Better to pray in a building than in the desert.
Now then, I would also meet the other and only remaining objection of my accuser. He says, the building was not completed, and prayer ought not to have been made there. But the Lord said, `But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and shut the door  .' What then will the accuser answer? or rather what will all prudent and true Christians say? Let your Majesty ask the opinion of such: for it is written of the other, `The foolish person will speak foolishness  ;' but of these, `Ask counsel of all that are wise  .' When the Churches were too small, and the people so numerous as they were, and desirous to go forth into the deserts, what ought I to have done? The desert has no doors, and all who choose may pass through it, but the Lord's house is enclosed with walls and doors, and marks the difference between the pious and the profane. Will not every wise person then, as well as your Piety, Sire, give the preference to the latter place? For they know that here prayer is lawfully offered, while a suspicion of irregularity attaches to it there. Unless indeed no place proper for it existed, and the worshippers dwelt only in the desert, as was the case with Israel; although after the tabernacle was built, they also had thenceforth a place set apart for prayer. O Christ, Lord and true King of kings, Only-begotten Son of God, Word and Wisdom of the Father, I am accused because the people prayed Thy gracious favour, and through Thee besought Thy Father, who is God over all, to save Thy servant, the most religious Constantius. But thanks be to Thy goodness, that it is for this that I am blamed, and for the keeping of Thy laws. Heavier had been the blame, and more true had been the charge, had we passed by the place which the Emperor was building, and gone forth into the desert to pray. How would the accuser then have vented his folly! With what apparent reason would he have said, `He despised the place which you are building; he does not approve of your undertaking; he passed it by in derision; he pointed to the desert to supply the want of room; he prevented the people when they wished to offer up their prayers.' This is what he wished to say, and sought an occasion of saying it; and finding none he is vexed, and so forthwith invents a charge against me. Had he been able to say this, he would have confounded me with shame; as now he injures me, copying the accuser's ways, and watching for an occasion against those that pray. Thus has he perverted to a wicked purpose his knowledge of Daniel's  history. But he has been deceived; for he ignorantly imagined, that Babylonian practices were in fashion with you, and knew not that you are a friend of the blessed Daniel, and worship the same God, and do not forbid, but wish all men to pray, knowing that the prayer of all is, that you may continue to reign in perpetual peace and safety.
18. Prayers first do not interfere with dedication afterwards.
This is what I have to complain of on the part of my accuser. But may you, most religious Augustus, live through the course of many years to come, and celebrate the dedication of the Church. Surely the prayers which have been offered for your safety by all men, are no hindrance to this celebration. Let these unlearned persons cease such misrepresentations, but let them learn from the example of the Fathers; and let them read the Scriptures. Or rather let them learn of you, who are so well instructed in such histories, how that Joshua the son of Josedek the priest, and his brethren, and Zorobabel the wise, the son of Salathiel, and Ezra the priest and scribe of the law, when the temple was in course of building after the captivity, the feast of tabernacles being at hand (which was a great feast and time of assembly and prayer in Israel), gathered  the people together with one accord in the great court within the first gate, which is toward the East, and prepared the altar to God, and there offered their gifts, and kept the feast. And so afterwards they brought hither their sacrifices, on the sabbaths and the new moons, and the people offered up their prayers. And yet the Scripture says expressly, that when these things were done, the temple of God was not yet built; but rather while they thus prayed, the building of the house was advancing. So that neither were their prayers deferred in expectation of the dedication, nor was the dedication prevented by the assemblies held for the sake of prayer. But the people thus continued to pray; and when the house was entirely finished, they celebrated the dedication, and brought their gifts for that purpose, and all kept the feast for the completion of the work. And thus also have the blessed Alexander, and the other Fathers done. They continued to assemble their people, and when they had completed the work they gave thanks unto the Lord, and celebrated the dedication. This also it befits you to do, O Prince, most careful in your inquiries. The place is ready, having been already sanctified by the prayers which have been offered in it, and requires only the presence of your Piety. This only is wanting to its perfect beauty. Do you then supply this deficiency, and there make your prayers unto the Lord, for whom you have built this house. That you may do so is the prayer of all men.
19. Fourth charge, of having disobeyed an Imperial order.
And now, if it please you, let us consider the remaining accusation, and permit me to answer it likewise. They have dared to charge me with resisting your commands, and refusing to leave my Church. Truly I wonder they are not weary of uttering their calumnies; I however am not yet weary of answering them, I rather rejoice to do so; for the more abundant my defence is, the more entirely must they be condemned. I did not resist the commands of your Piety, God forbid; I am not a man that would resist even the Quæstor  of the city, much less so great a Prince. On this matter I need not many words, for the whole city will bear witness for me. Nevertheless, permit me again to relate the circumstances from the beginning; for when you hear them, I am sure you will be astonished at the presumption of my enemies. Montanus, the officer of the Palace  , came and brought me a letter, which purported to be an answer to one from me, requesting that I might go into Italy, for the purpose of obtaining a supply of the deficiencies which I thought existed in the condition of our Churches. Now I desire to thank your Piety, which condescended to assent to my request, on the supposition that I had written to you, and has made provision  for me to undertake the journey, and to accomplish it without trouble. But here again I am astonished at those who have spoken falsehood in your ears, that they were not afraid, seeing that lying belongs to the Devil, and that liars are alien from Him who says, `I am the Truth  .' For I never wrote to you, nor will my accuser be able to find any such letter; and though I ought to have written every day, if I might thereby behold your gracious countenance, yet it would neither have been pious to desert the Churches, nor right to be troublesome to your Piety, especially since you are willing to grant our requests in behalf of the Church, although we are not present to make them. Now may it please you to order me to read what Montanus commanded me to do. This is as follows  .***
20. History of his disobeying it.
Now I ask again, whence have my accusers obtained this letter also? I would learn of them who it was that put it into their hands? Do you cause them to answer. By this you may perceive that they have forged this, as they spread abroad also the former letter, which they published against me, with reference to the ill-named Magnentius. And being convicted in this instance also, on what pretence next will they bring me to make my defence? Their only concern is, to throw everything into disorder and confusion; and for this end I perceive they exercise their zeal. Perhaps they think that by frequent repetition of their charges, they will at last exasperate you against me. But you ought to turn away from such persons, and to hate them; for such as themselves are, such also they imagine those to be who listen to them; and they think that their calumnies will prevail even before you. The accusation of Doeg  prevailed of old against the priests of God: but it was the unrighteous Saul, who hearkened unto him. And Jezebel was able to injure the most religious Naboth  by her false accusations; but then it was the wicked and apostate Ahab who hearkened unto her. But the most holy David, whose example it becomes you to follow, as all pray that you may, favours not such men, but was wont to turn away from them and avoid them, as raging dogs. He says, `Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I destroy  .' For he kept the commandment which says, `Thou shalt not receive a false report  .' And false are the reports of these men in your sight. You, like Solomon, have required of the Lord (and you ought to believe yourself to have obtained your desire), that it would seem good unto Him to remove far from you vain and lying words  .
21. Forasmuch then as the letter owed its origin to a false story, and contained no order that I should come to you, I concluded that it was not the wish of your Piety that I should come. For in that you gave me no absolute command, but merely wrote as in answer to a letter from me, requesting that I might be permitted to set in order the things which seemed to be wanting, it was manifest to me (although no one told me this) that the letter which I had received did not express the sentiments of your Clemency. All knew, and I also stated in writing, as Montanus is aware, that I did not refuse to come, but only that I thought it unbecoming to take advantage of the supposition that I had written to you to request this favour, fearing also lest the false accusers should find in this a pretence for saying that I made myself troublesome to your Piety. Nevertheless, I made preparations, as Montanus also knows, in order that, should you condescend to write to me, I might immediately leave home, and readily answer your commands; for I was not so mad as to resist such an order from you. When then in fact your Piety did not write to me, how could I resist a command which I never received? or how can they say that I refused to obey, when no orders were given me? Is not this again the mere fabrication of enemies, pretending that which never took place? I fear that even now, while I am engaged in this defence of myself, they may allege against me that I am doing that which I have never obtained your permission to do. So easily is my conduct made matter of accusation by them, and so ready are they to vent their calumnies in despite of that Scripture, which says, `Love not to slander another, lest thou be cut off  .'
22. Arrivals of Diogenes and of Syrianus.
After a period of six and twenty months, when Montanus had gone away, there came Diogenes the Notary  ; but he brought me no letter, nor did we see each other, nor did he charge me with any commands as from you. Moreover when the General Syrianus entered Alexandria  , seeing that certain reports were spread abroad by the Arians, who declared that matters would now be as they wished, I enquired whether he had brought any letters on the subject of these statements of theirs. I confess that I asked for letters containing your commands. And when he said that he had brought none, I requested that Syrianus himself, or Maximus the Prefect of Egypt, would write to me concerning this matter. Which request I made, because your Grace has written to me, desiring that I would not suffer myself to be alarmed by any one, nor attend to those who wished to frighten me, but that I would continue to reside in the Churches without fear. It was Palladius, the Master of the Palace, and Asterius, formerly Duke of Armenia, who brought me this letter. Permit me to read a copy of it. It is as follows:
23. A copy  of the letter as follows:
Constantius Victor Augustus to Athanasius  . It is not unknown to your Prudence, how constantly I prayed that success might attend my late brother Constans in all his undertakings, and your wisdom will easily judge how greatly I was afflicted, when I learnt that he had been cut off by the treachery of villains. Now forasmuch as certain persons are endeavouring at this time to alarm you, by setting before your eyes that lamentable tragedy, I have thought good to address to your Reverence this present letter, to exhort you, that, as becomes a Bishop, you would teach the people to conform to the established  religion, and, according to your custom, give yourself up to prayer together with them. For this is agreeable to our wishes; and our desire is, that you should at every season be a Bishop in your own place.
And in another hand:--May divine Providence preserve you, beloved Father, many years.
24. Why Athanasius did not obey the Imperial Order.
On the subject of this letter, my opponents conferred with the magistrates. And was it not reasonable that I, having received it, should demand their letters, and refuse to give heed to mere pretences? And were they not acting in direct contradiction to the tenor of your instructions to me, while they failed to shew me the commands of your Piety? I therefore, seeing they produced no letters from you, considered it improbable that a mere verbal communication should be made to them, especially as the letter of your Grace had charged me not to give ear to such persons. I acted rightly then, most religious Augustus, that as I had returned to my country under the authority of your letters, so I should only leave it by your command; and might not render myself liable hereafter to a charge of having deserted the Church, but as receiving your order might have a reason for my retiring. This was demanded for me by all my people, who went to Syrianus together with the Presbyters, and the greatest part, to say the least, of the city with them. Maximus, the Prefect of Egypt, was also there: and their request was that either he would send me a declaration of your wishes in writing, or would forbear to disturb the Churches, while the people themselves were sending a deputation to you respecting the matter. When they persisted in their demand, Syrianus at last perceived the reasonableness of it, and consented, protesting by your safety (Hilary was present and witnessed this) that he would put an end to the disturbance, and refer the case to your Piety. The guards of the Duke, as well as those of the Prefect of Egypt, know that this is true; the Prytanis  of the city also remembers the words; so that you will perceive that neither I, nor any one else, resisted your commands.
25. The irruption of Syrianus.
All demanded that the letters of your Piety should be exhibited. For although the bare word of a King is of equal weight and authority with his written command, especially if he who reports it, boldly affirms in writing that it has been given him; yet when they neither openly declared that they had received any command, nor, as they were requested to do, gave me assurance of it in writing, but acted altogether as by their own authority; I confess, I say it boldly, I was suspicious of them. For there were many Arians about them, who were their companions at table, and their counsellors; and while they attempted nothing openly, they were preparing to assail me by stratagem and treachery. Nor did they act at all as under the authority of a royal command, but, as their conduct betrayed, at the solicitation of enemies. This made me demand more urgently that they should produce letters from you, seeing that all their undertakings and designs were of a suspicious nature; and because it was unseemly that after I had entered the Church, under the authority of so many letters from you, I should retire from it without such a sanction. When however Syrianus gave his promise, all the people assembled together in the Churches with feelings of joyfulness and security. But three and twenty days after  , he burst into the Church with his soldiers, while we were engaged in our usual services, as those who entered in there witnessed; for it was a vigil, preparatory to a communion on the morrow. And such things were done that night as the Arians desired and had beforehand denounced against us. For the General brought them with him; and they were the instigators and advisers of the attack. This is no incredible story of mine, most religious Augustus; for it was not done in secret, but was noised abroad everywhere. When therefore I saw the assault begun, I first exhorted the people to retire, and then withdrew myself after them, God hiding and guiding me, as those who were with me at the time witness. Since then, I have remained by myself, though I have all confidence to answer for my conduct, in the first place before God, and also before your Piety, for that I did not flee and desert my people, but can point to the attack of the General upon us, as a proof of persecution. His proceedings have caused the greatest astonishment among all men; for either he ought not to have made a promise, or not to have broken it after he had made it.
26. How Athanasius acted when this took place.
Now why did they form this plot against me, and treacherously lay an ambush to take me, when it was in their power to enforce the order by a written declaration? The command of an Emperor is wont to give great boldness to those entrusted with it; but their desire to act secretly made the suspicion stronger that they had received no command. And did I require anything so very absurd? Let your Majesty's candour decide. Will not every one say, that such a demand was reasonable for a Bishop to make? You know, for you have read the Scriptures, how great an offence it is for a Bishop to desert his Church, and to neglect the flocks of God. For the absence of the Shepherd gives the wolves an opportunity to attack the sheep. And this was what the Arians and all the other heretics desired, that during my absence they might find an opportunity to entrap the people into impiety. If then I had fled, what defence could I have made before the true Bishops? or rather before Him Who has committed to me His flock? He it is Who judges the whole earth, the true King of all, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Would not every one have rightly charged me with neglect of my people? Would not your Piety have blamed me, and have justly asked, `After you had returned under the authority of our letters, why did you withdraw without such authority, and desert your people?' Would not the people themselves at the day of judgment have reasonably imputed to me this neglect of them, and have said, `He that had the oversight of us fled, and we were neglected, there being no one to put us in mind of our duty?' When they said this, what could I have answered? Such a complaint was made by Ezekiel against the Pastors of old  ; and the blessed Apostle Paul, knowing this, has charged every one of us through his disciple, saying, `Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery  .' Fearing this, I wished not to flee, but to receive your commands, if indeed such was the will of your Piety. But I never obtained what I so reasonably requested, and now I am falsely accused before you; for I resisted no commands of your Piety; nor will I now attempt to return to Alexandria, until your Grace shall desire it. This I say beforehand, lest the slanderers should again make this a pretence for accusing me.
27. Athanasius leaves Alexandria to go to Constantius, but is stopped by the news of the banishment of the Bishops.
Observing these things, I did not give sentence against myself, but hastened to come to your Piety, with this my defence, knowing your goodness, and remembering your faithful promises, and being confident that, as it is written in the divine Proverbs, `Just speeches are acceptable to a gracious king  .' But when I had already entered upon my journey, and had passed through the desert  , a report suddenly reached me  , which at first I thought to be incredible, but which afterwards proved to be true. It was rumoured everywhere that Liberius, Bishop of Rome, the great Hosius of Spain, Paulinus of Gaul, Dionysius and Eusebius of Italy, Lucifer of Sardinia, and certain other Bishops and Presbyters and Deacons, had been banished  because they refused to subscribe to my condemnation. These had been banished: and Vincentius of Capua, Fortunatian of Aquileia, Heremius of Thessalonica, and all the Bishops of the West, were treated with no ordinary force, nay were suffering extreme violence and grievous injuries, until they could be induced to promise that they would not communicate with me. While I was astonished and perplexed at these tidings, behold another report  overtook me, respecting them of Egypt and Libya, that nearly ninety Bishops had been under persecution, and that their Churches were given up to the professors of Arianism; that sixteen had been banished, and of the rest, some had fled, and others were constrained to dissemble. For the persecution was said to be so violent in those parts, that at Alexandria, while the brethren were praying during Easter and on the Lord's days in a desert place near the cemetery, the General came upon them with a force of soldiery, more than three thousand in number, with arms, drawn swords, and spears; whereupon outrages, such as might be expected to follow so unprovoked an attack, were committed against women and children, who were doing nothing more than praying to God. It would perhaps be unseasonable to give an account of them now, lest the mere mention of such enormities should move us all to tears. But such was their cruelty, that virgins were stripped, and even the bodies of those who died from the blows they received were not immediately given up for burial, but were cast out to the dogs, until their relatives, with great risk to themselves, came secretly and stole them away, and much effort was necessary, that no one might know it.
28. The news of the intrusion of George.
The rest of their proceedings will perhaps be thought incredible, and will fill all men with astonishment, by reason of their extreme atrocity. It is necessary however to speak of them, in order that your Christian zeal and piety may perceive that their slanders and calumnies against us are framed for no other end, than that they may drive us out of the Churches, and introduce their own impiety in our place. For when the lawful Bishops, men of advanced age, had some of them been banished, and others forced to fly, heathens and catechumens, those who hold the first places in the senate and men who are notorious for their wealth, were straightway commissioned by the Arians to preach the holy faith instead of Christians  . And enquiry was no longer made, as the Apostle enjoined, `if any be blameless  :' but according to the practice of the impious Jeroboam, he who could give most money was named Bishop; and it made no difference to them, even if the man happened to be a heathen, so long as he furnished them with money. Those who had been Bishops from the time of Alexander, monks and ascetics, were banished: and men practised only in calumny corrupted, as far as in them lay, the Apostolic rule, and polluted the Churches. Truly their false accusations against us have gained them much, that they should be able to commit iniquity, and to do such things as these in your time; so that the words of Scripture may be applied to them, `Woe unto those through whom My name is blasphemed among the Gentiles  .'
29. Athanasius has heard of his own proscription.
Such were the rumours that were noised abroad; and although everything was thus turned upside down, I still did not relinquish my earnest desire of coming to your Piety, but was again setting forward on my journey. And I did so the more eagerly, being confident that these proceedings were contrary to your wishes, and that if your Grace should be informed of what was done, you would prevent it for the time to come. For I could not think that a righteous king could wish Bishops to be banished, and virgins to be stripped, or the Churches to be in any way disturbed. While I thus reasoned and hastened on my journey, behold a third report reached me, to the effect that letters had been written to the Princes of Auxumis, desiring that Frumentius  , Bishop of Auxumis, should be brought from thence, and that search should be made for me even as far as the country of the Barbarians, that I might be handed over to the Commentaries  (as they are called) of the Prefects, and that all the laity and clergy should be compelled to communicate with the Arian heresy, and that such as would not comply with this order should be put to death. To shew that these were not merely idle rumours, but that they were confirmed by facts, since your Grace has given me leave, I produce the letter. My enemies were constantly reading it, and threatening each one with death.
30. A copy of the letter of Constantius against Athanasius.
Victor Constantius Maximus Augustus to the Alexandrians.
Your city, preserving its national character, and remembering the virtue of its founders, has habitually shewn itself obedient unto us, as it does at this day; and we on our part should consider ourselves greatly wanting in our duty, did not our good will eclipse even that of Alexander himself. For as it belongs to a temperate mind, to behave itself orderly in all respects, so it is the part of royalty, on account of virtue, permit me to say, such as yours, to embrace you above all others; you, who rose up as the first teachers of wisdom who were the first to acknowledge  God; who moreover have chosen for yourselves the most consummate masters; and have cordially acquiesced in our opinion, justly abominating that impostor and cheat, and dutifully uniting yourselves to those venerable men who are beyond all admiration. And yet, who is ignorant, even among those who live in the ends of the earth, what violent party spirit was displayed in the late proceedings? with which we know not anything that has ever happened, worthy to be compared. The majority of the citizens had their eyes blinded, and a man who had come forth from the lowest dens of infamy obtained authority among them, entrapping into falsehood, as under cover of darkness, those who were desirous to know the truth;--one who never provided for them any fruitful and edifying discourse, but corrupted their minds with unprofitable subtleties. His flatterers shouted and applauded him; they were astonished at his powers, and they still probably murmur secretly; while the majority of the more simple sort took their cue from them. And thus all went with the stream, as if a flood had broken in, while everything was entirely neglected. One of the multitude was in power;--how can I describe him more truly than by saying, that he was superior in nothing to the meanest of the people, and that the only kindness which he shewed to the city was, that he did not thrust her citizens down into the pit. This noble-minded and illustrious person did not wait for judgment to proceed against him, but sentenced himself to banishment, as he deserved. So that now it is for the interest of the Barbarians to remove him out of the way, lest he lead some of them into impiety, for he will make his complaint, like distressed characters in a play, to those who first fall in with him. To him however we will now bid a long farewell. For yourselves there are few with whom I can compare you: I am bound rather to honour you separately above all others, for the great virtue and wisdom which your actions, that are celebrated almost through the whole world, proclaim you to possess. Go on in this sober course. I would gladly have repeated to me a description of your conduct in such terms of praise as it deserves; O you who have eclipsed your predecessors in the race of glory, and will be a noble example both to those who are now alive, and to all who shall come after, and alone have chosen for yourselves the most perfect of beings as guide for your conduct, both in word and deed, and hesitated not a moment, but manfully transferred your affections, and gave yourselves up to the other side, leaving those grovelling  and earthly teachers, and stretching forth towards heavenly things, under the guidance of the most venerable George  , than whom no man is more perfectly instructed therein. Under him you will continue to have a good hope respecting the future life, and will pass your time in this present world, in rest and quietness. Would that all the citizens together would lay hold on his words, as a sacred anchor, so that we might need neither knife nor cautery for those whose souls are diseased! Such persons we most earnestly advise to renounce their zeal in favour of Athanasius, and not even to remember the foolish things which he spoke so plentifully among them. Otherwise they will bring themselves before they are aware into extreme peril, from which we know not any one who will be skilful enough to deliver such factious persons. For while that pestilent fellow Athanasius is driven from place to place, being convicted of the basest crimes, for which he would only suffer the punishment he deserves, if one were to kill him ten times over, it would be inconsistent in us to suffer those flatterers and juggling ministers of his to exult against us; men of such a character as it is a shame even to speak of, respecting whom orders have long ago been given to the magistrates, that they should be put to death. But even now perhaps they shall not die, if they desist from their former offences, and repent at last. For that most pestilent fellow Athanasius led them on, and corrupted the whole state, and laid his impious and polluted hands upon the most holy things.
31. Letter of Constantius to the Ethiopians against Frumentius.
The following is the letter which was written to the Princes of Auxumis respecting Frumentius, Bishop of that place.
Constantius Victor Maximus Augustus, to Æzanes and Sazanes.
It is altogether a matter of the greatest care and concern to us, to extend the knowledge of the supreme God  ; and I think that the whole race of mankind claims from us equal regard in this respect, in order that they may pass their lives in hope, being brought to a proper knowledge of God, and having no differences with each other in their enquiries concerning justice and truth. Wherefore considering that you are deserving of the same provident care as the Romans, and desiring to shew equal regard for your welfare, we command that the same doctrine be professed in your Churches as in theirs. Send therefore speedily into Egypt the Bishop Frumentius to the most venerable Bishop George, and the rest who are there, who have especial authority to appoint to these offices, and to decide questions concerning them. For of course you know and remember (unless you alone pretend to be ignorant of that which all men are well aware of) that this Frumentius was advanced to his present rank by Athanasius, a man who is guilty of ten thousand crimes; for he has not been able fairly to clear himself of any of the charges brought against him, but was at once deprived of his see, and now wanders about destitute of any fixed abode, and passes from one country to another, as if by this means he could escape his own wickedness. Now if Frumentius shall readily obey our commands, and shall submit to an enquiry into all the circumstances of his appointment, he will shew plainly to all men, that he is in no respect opposed to the laws of the Church and the established  faith. And being brought to trial, when he shall have given proof of his general good conduct, and submitted an account of his life to those who are to judge of these things, he shall receive his appointment from them, if it shall indeed appear that he has any right to be a Bishop. But if he shall delay and avoid the trial, it will surely be very evident, that he has been induced by the persuasions of the wicked Athanasius, thus to indulge impiety against God, choosing to follow the course of him whose wickedness has been made manifest. And our fear is lest he should pass over into Auxumis and corrupt your people, by setting before them accursed and impious statements, and not only unsettle and disturb the Churches, and blaspheme the supreme God, but also thereby cause utter overthrow and destruction to the several nations whom he visits. But I am sure that Frumentius will return home, perfectly acquainted with all matters that concern the Church, having derived much instruction, which will be of great and general utility, from the conversation of the most venerable George, and such other of the Bishops, as are excellently qualified to communicate such knowledge. May God continually preserve you, most honoured brethren.
32. He defends his Flight.
Hearing, nay almost seeing, these things, through the mournful representations of the messengers, I confess I turned back again into the desert, justly concluding, as your Piety will perceive, that if I was sought after, that I might be sent as soon as I was discovered to the Prefects  , I should be prevented from ever coming to your Grace; and that if those who would not subscribe against me, suffered so severely as they did, and the laity who refused to communicate with the Arians were ordered for death, there was no doubt at all but that ten thousand new modes of destruction would be devised by the calumniators against me; and that after my death, they would employ against whomsoever they wished to injure, whatever means they chose, venting their lies against us the more boldly, for that then there would no longer be any one left who could expose them. I fled, not because I feared your Piety (for I know your long-suffering and goodness), but because from what had taken place, I perceived the spirit of my enemies, and considered that they would make use of all possible means to accomplish my destruction, from fear that they would be brought to answer for what they had done contrary to the intentions of your Excellency. For observe, your Grace commanded that the Bishops should be expelled only out of the cities and the province. But these worthy persons presumed to exceed your commands, and banished aged men and Bishops venerable for their years into desert and unfrequented and frightful places, beyond the boundaries of three provinces  . Some of them were sent off from Libya to the great Oasis; others from the Thebais to Ammoniaca in Libya  . Neither was it from fear of death that I fled; let none of them condemn me as guilty of cowardice; but because it is the injunction of our Saviour  that we should flee when we are persecuted, and hide ourselves when we are sought after, and not expose ourselves to certain dangers, nor by appearing before our persecutors inflame still more their rage against us. For to give one's self up to one's enemies to be murdered, is the same thing as to murder one's self; but to flee, as our Saviour has enjoined, is to know our time, and to manifest a real concern for our persecutors, lest if they proceed to the shedding of blood, they become guilty of the transgression of the law, `Thou shalt not kill  .' And yet these men by their calumnies against me, earnestly wish that I should suffer death. What they have again lately done proves that this is their desire and murderous intention. You will be astonished, I am sure, Augustus, most beloved of God, when you hear it; it is indeed an outrage worthy of amazement. What it is, I pray you briefly to hear.
33. Conduct of the Arians towards the consecrated Virgins.
The Son of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, having become man for our sakes, and having destroyed death, and delivered our race from the bondage of corruption  , in addition to all His other benefits bestowed this also upon us, that we should possess upon earth, in the state of virginity  , a picture of the holiness of Angels. Accordingly such as have attained this virtue, the Catholic Church has been accustomed to call the brides of Christ. And the heathen who see them express their admiration of them as the temples of the Word. For indeed this holy and heavenly profession is nowhere  established, but only among us Christians, and it is a very strong argument that with us is to be found the genuine and true religion. Your most religious father Constantine Augustus, of blessed memory, honoured the Virgins above all the rest, and your Piety in several letters has given them the titles of the honourable and holy women. But now these worthy Arians who have slandered me, and by whom conspiracies have been formed against most of the Bishops, having obtained the consent and cooperation of the magistrates, first stripped them, and then caused them to be suspended upon what are called the Hermetaries  , and scourged them on the ribs so severely three several times, that not even real malefactors have ever suffered the like. Pilate, to gratify the Jews of old, pierced one of our Saviour's sides with a spear. These men have exceeded the madness of Pilate, for they have scourged not one but both His sides; for the limbs of the Virgins are in an especial manner the Saviour's own. All men shudder at hearing the bare recital of deeds like these. These men alone not only did not fear to strip and to scourge those undefiled limbs, which the Virgins had dedicated solely to our Saviour Christ; but, what is worse than all, when they were reproached by every one for such extreme cruelty, instead of manifesting any shame, they pretended that it was commanded by your Piety. So utterly presumptuous are they and full of wicked thoughts and purposes. Such a deed as this was never heard of in past persecutions  : or supposing that it ever occurred before, yet surely it was not befitting either that Virginity should suffer such outrage and dishonour, in the time of your Majesty, a Christian, or that these men should impute to your Piety their own cruelty. Such wickedness belongs only to heretics, to blaspheme the Son of God, and to do violence to His holy Virgins.
34. He expostulates with Constantius.
Now when such enormities as these were again perpetrated by the Arians, I surely was not wrong in complying with the direction of Holy Scripture, which says, `Hide thyself for a little moment, until the wrath of the Lord be overpast  .' This was another reason for my withdrawing myself, Augustus, most beloved of God; and I refused not, either to depart into the desert, or, if need were, to be let down from a wall in a basket  . I endured everything, I even dwelt among wild beasts, that your favour might return to me, waiting for an opportunity to offer to you this my defence, confident as I am that they will be condemned, and your goodness manifested unto me. O, Augustus, blessed and most beloved of God, what would you have had me to do? to come to you while my calumniators were inflamed with rage against me, and were seeking to kill me; or, as it is written, to hide myself a little, that in the mean time they might be condemned as heretics, and your goodness might be manifested unto me? or would you have had me, Sire, to appear before your magistrates, in order that though you had written merely in the way of threatening, they not understanding your intention, but being exasperated against me by the Arians, might kill me on the authority of your letters, and on that ground ascribe the murder to you? It would neither have been becoming in me to surrender, and give myself up that my blood might be shed, nor in you, as a Christian King, to have the murder of Christians, and those too Bishops, imputed unto you.
35. It was therefore better for me to hide myself, and to wait for this opportunity. Yes, I am sure that from your knowledge of the sacred Scriptures you will assent and approve of my conduct in this respect. For you will perceive that, now those who exasperated you against us have been silenced, your righteous clemency is apparent, and it is proved to all men that you never persecuted the Christians at all, but that it was they who made the Churches desolate, that they might sow the seeds of their own impiety everywhere; on account of which I also, had I not fled, should long ago have suffered from their treachery. For it is very evident that they who scrupled not to utter such calumnies against me, before the great Augustus, and who so violently assailed Bishops and Virgins, sought also to compass my death. But thanks be to the Lord who has given you the kingdom. All men are confirmed in their opinion of your goodness, and of their wickedness, from which I fled at the first, that I might now make this appeal unto you, and that you might find some one towards whom you may shew kindness. I beseech you, therefore, forasmuch as it written, `A soft answer turneth away wrath,' and `righteous thoughts are acceptable unto the King  ;' receive this my defence, and restore all the Bishops and the rest of the Clergy to their countries and their Churches; so that the wickedness of my accusers may be made manifest, and that you, both now and in the day of judgment, may have boldness to say to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the King of all, `"None of Thine have I lost  ," but these are they who designed the ruin of all, while I was grieved for those who perished, and for the Virgins who were scourged, and for all other things that were committed against the Christians; and I brought back them that were banished, and restored them to their own Churches.'
The Apology was drawn forth by the charge of cowardice circulated against him by the Arianising party, especially by the three bishops named in §1. After a preamble upon the motives of his accusers (1, 2), he shews that his own case is but part of a general system (3-5) of expatriation directed against orthodox bishops. He then refers to the circumstance of the attack upon himself, and dwells at length upon the tyranny of George (6, 7) and the banishment of Egyptian and Libyan bishops. This brings him to the argument (8-22) which gives its name to the tract. After pressing the point that if flight be evil, those who persecute are the responsible cause (8, 9), and hinting at the real motive of their mortification at his escape (10), he defends his flight by the example first (10, 11) of the Scripture Saints, secondly of the Lord Himself (12-15). From the latter, he returns to the conduct of the Saints, who, unlike the Lord (16), were unaware of their appointed time, yet fled or not (17) as circumstances and the direction of the Spirit required them to do. The Saints if they fled were not moved to do so by cowardice, else how could their flight so frequently have been the occasion of divine communications (18-20), and how could such good (21, 22) have resulted from it? As a pendant to this vindication of flight on principle comes a short (23) but weighty rebuke of persecution as inherently devilish to de diokein diabolikon estin epicheirema. From principle, Athanasius now passes to fact. He gives a graphic description (24) of the night attack on the Church of Theonas, and shews (25, 26) how fully his action on that occasion is covered by the examples of the ancient Saints of God. He concludes (26, 27) with a somewhat exasperated denunciation of his opponents, and a prayer for the frustration of their intrigues.
The Apology is a locus classicus on the duty of Christians under persecution. Athanasius was not the first great bishop who felt called upon to defend his conduct in retreating `until the tyranny be overpast' (see Cyprian, Ep. 20. August. Ep. 228). His principles are laid down with regard to the common welfare. Rashness must be avoided, with its tendency to a reaction (17, end), and its presumption in forestalling the time appointed by Providence for our death. But neither must that time be evaded. When our end must come, we must face it quietly. Accordingly (22) it is a duty to escape when we can, and to hide when sought for rather than to follow the exceptional (ib.) action of certain martyrs in courting death.
It is uncertain to whom the `Defence' was addressed: it was perhaps a `memorandum' to be circulated wherever opportunity offered. The tract has always been justly admired for its lucidity, force, and dignity. It is quoted largely by Socrates (ii. 28, iii. 8) and by Theodoret (H. E. ii. 15).
I hear that Leontius  , now at Antioch, and Narcissus  of the city of Nero, and George  , now at Laodicea, and the Arians who are with them, are spreading abroad many slanderous reports concerning me, charging me with cowardice, because forsooth, when I myself was sought by them, I did not surrender myself into their hands. Now as to their imputations and calumnies, although there are many things that I could write, which even they are unable to deny, and which all who have heard of their proceedings know to be true, yet I shall not be prevailed upon to make any reply to them, except only to remind them of the words of our Lord, and of the declaration of the Apostle, that `a lie is of the Devil,' and that, `revilers shall not inherit the kingdom of God  .' For it is sufficient thereby to prove, that neither their thoughts nor their words are according to the Gospel, but that after their own pleasure, whatsoever themselves desire, that they think to be good.
2. Insincerity of this charge.
But forasmuch as they pretend to charge me with cowardice, it is necessary that I should write somewhat concerning this, whereby it shall be proved that they are men of wicked minds, who have not read the sacred Scriptures: or if they have read them, that they do not believe the divine inspiration of the oracles they contain. For had they believed this, they would not dare to act contrary to them, nor imitate the malice of the Jews who slew the Lord. For God having given them a commandment, `Honour thy father and thy mother,' and, `He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death  ;' that people established a contrary law, changing the honour into dishonour, and alienating to other uses the money which was due from the children to their parents. And though they had read what David did, they acted in contradiction to his example, and accused the guiltless for plucking the ears of corn, and rubbing them in their hands on the Sabbath day  . Not that they cared either for the laws, or for the Sabbath, for they were guilty of greater transgressions of the law on that day: but being wicked-minded, they grudged the disciples the way of salvation, and desired that their own private notions should have the sole pre-eminence. They however have received the reward of their iniquity, having ceased to be an holy nation, and being counted henceforth as the rulers of Sodom, and as the people of Gomorrah  . And these men likewise, not less than they, seem to me to have received their punishment already in their ignorance of their own folly. For they understand not what they say, but think that they know things of which they are ignorant; while the only knowledge that is in them is to do evil, and to frame devices more and more wicked day by day. Thus they reproach us with our present flight, not for the sake of virtue, as wishing us to shew manliness by coming forward (how is it possible that such a wish can be entertained by enemies in behalf of those who run not with them in the same career of madness?); but being full of malice, they pretend this, and buzz  all around that such is the case, thinking, foolish as indeed they are, that through fear of their revilings, we shall yet be induced to give ourselves up to them. For this is what they desire: to accomplish this they have recourse to all kinds of schemes: they pretend themselves to be friends, while they search as enemies, to the end that they may glut themselves with our blood, and put us also out of the way, because we have always opposed and do still oppose their impiety, and confute and brand their heresy.
3. Outrages of the Arians against the Bishops.
For whom have they ever persecuted and taken, that they have not insulted and injured as they pleased? Whom have they ever sought after and found, that they have not handled in such a manner, that either he has died a miserable death, or has been ill-treated in every way? Whatever the magistrates appear to do, it is their work; and the others are merely the tools of their will and wickedness. In consequence, where is there a place that has not some memorial of their malice? Who has ever opposed them, without their conspiring against him, inventing pretexts for his ruin after the manner of Jezebel? Where is there a Church that is not at this moment lamenting the success of their plots against her Bishops? Antioch is mourning for the orthodox Confessor Eustathius  ; Balaneæ for the most admirable Euphration  ; Paltus and Antaradus for Kymatius  and Carterius; Adrianople for that lover of Christ, Eutropius, and his successor Lucius, who was often loaded with chains by their means, and so perished; Ancyra mourns for Marcellus, Berrhoea  for Cyrus  , Gaza for Asclepas. Of all these, after inflicting many outrages, they by their intrigues procured the banishment; but for Theodulus and Olympius, Bishops of Thrace, and for us and our Presbyters, they caused diligent search to be made, to the intent that if we were discovered we should suffer capital punishment: and probably we should have so perished, had we not fled at that very time contrary to their intentions. For letters to that effect were delivered to the Proconsul Donatus against Olympius and his fellows, and to Philagrius against me. And having raised a persecution against Paul, Bishop of Constantinople, as soon as they found him, they caused him to be openly strangled  at a place called Cucusus in Cappadocia, employing as their executioner for the purpose Philip, who was Prefect. He was a patron of their heresy, and the tool of their wicked designs.
4. Proceedings after the Council of Milan.
Are they then satisfied with all this, and content to be quiet for the future? By no means; they have not given over yet, but like the horseleach  in the Proverbs, they revel more and more in their wickedness, and fix themselves upon the larger dioceses. Who can adequately describe the enormities they have already perpetrated? who is able to recount all the deeds that they have done? Even very lately, while the Churches were at peace, and the people worshipping in their congregations, Liberius, Bishop of Rome, Paulinus  , Metropolitan of Gaul, Dionysius  , Metropolitan of Italy, Lucifer  , Metropolitan of the Sardinian islands, and Eusebius  of Italy, all of them good Bishops and preachers of the truth, were seized and banished  , on no pretence whatever, except that they would not unite themselves to the Arian heresy, nor subscribe to the false accusations and calumnies which they had invented against me.
5. In praise of Hosius.
Of the great Hosius  , who answers to his name, that confessor of a happy old age, it is superfluous for me to speak, for I suppose it is known unto all men that they caused him also to be banished; for he is not an obscure person, but of all men the most illustrious, and more than this. When was there a Council held, in which he did not take the lead  , and by right counsel convince every one? Where is there a Church that does not possess some glorious monuments of his patronage? Who has ever come to him in sorrow, and has not gone away rejoicing? What needy person ever asked his aid, and did not obtain what he desired? And yet even on this man they made their assault, because knowing the calumnies which they invent in behalf of their iniquity, he would not subscribe to their designs against us. And if afterwards, upon the repeated stripes above measure that were inflicted upon him, and the conspiracies that were formed against his kinsfolk, he yielded  to them for a time  , as being old and infirm in body, yet at least their wickedness is shewn even in this circumstance; so zealously did they endeavour by all means to prove that they were not truly Christians.
6. Outrages of George upon the Alexandrians.
After this they again fastened themselves upon Alexandria, seeking anew to put us to death: and their proceedings were now worse than before. For on a sudden the Church was surrounded by soldiers, and sounds of war took the place of prayers. Then George  of Cappadocia who was sent by them, having arrived during the season of Lent  , brought an increase of evils which they had taught him. For after Easter week, Virgins were thrown into prison; Bishops were led away in chains by soldiers; houses of orphans and widows were plundered, and their loaves taken away; attacks were made upon houses, and Christians thrust forth in the night, and their dwellings sealed up: brothers of clergymen were in danger of their lives on account of their brethren. These outrages were sufficiently dreadful, but more dreadful than these followed. For on the week that succeeded the Holy Pentecost [May 11], when the people after their fast had gone out to the cemetery to pray, because that all refused communion with George, that abandoned person, on learning this, stirred up against them the commander Sebastian, a Manichee; who straightway with a multitude of soldiers with arms, drawn swords, bows, and spears, proceeded to attack the people, though it was the Lord's day  : and finding a few praying (for the greater part had already retired on account of the lateness of the hour), he committed such outrages as became a disciple of these men. Having lighted a pile, he placed certain virgins near the fire, and endeavoured to force them to say that they were of the Arian faith: and when he saw that they were getting the mastery, and cared not for the fire, he immediately stripped them naked, and beat them in the face in such a manner, that for some time they could hardly be recognised.
7. Outrages of George.
And having seized upon forty men, he beat them after a new fashion. Cutting some sticks fresh from the palm tree, with the thorns still upon them  , he scourged them on the back so severely, that some of them were for a long time under surgical treatment on account of the thorns which had broken off in their flesh, and others unable to bear up under their sufferings died. All those whom they had taken, and the virgin, they sent away together into banishment to the great Oasis. And the bodies of those who had perished they would not at first suffer to be given up to their friends, but concealed them in any way they pleased, and cast them out without burial  , in order that they might not appear to have any knowledge of these cruel proceedings. But herein their deluded minds greatly misled them. For the relatives of the dead, both rejoicing at the confession, and grieving for the bodies of their friends, published abroad so much the more this proof of their impiety and cruelty. Moreover they immediately banished out of Egypt and Libya the following Bishops  , Ammonius, Muïus  , Gaïus, Philo  , Hermes, Plenius, Psenosiris, Nilammon, Agathus, Anagamphus, Marcus, Ammonius, another Marcus, Dracontius  , Adelphius  , Athenodorus, and the Presbyters, Hierax  , and Dioscorus; whom they drove forth under such cruel treatment, that some of them died on the way, and others in the place of their banishment. They caused also more than thirty Bishops to take to flight; for their desire was, after the example of Ahab, if it were possible, utterly to root out the truth. Such are the enormities of which these impious men have been guilty.
8. If it is wrong to flee, it is worse to persecute.
But although  they have done all this, yet they are not ashamed of the evils they have already contrived against me, but proceed now to accuse me, because I have been able to escape their murderous hands. Nay, they bitterly bewail themselves, that they have not effectually put me out of the way; and so they pretend to reproach me with cowardice, not perceiving that by thus murmuring against me, they rather turn the blame upon themselves. For if it be a bad thing to flee, it is much worse to persecute; for the one party hides himself to escape death, the other persecutes with a desire to kill; and it is written in the Scriptures that we ought to flee; but he that seeks to destroy transgresses the law, nay, and is himself the occasion of the other's flight. If then they reproach me with my flight, let them be more ashamed of their own persecution  . Let them cease to conspire, and they who flee will forthwith cease to do so. But they, instead of giving over their wickedness, are employing every means to obtain possession of my person, not perceiving that the flight of those who are persecuted is a strong argument against those who persecute. For no man flees from the gentle and the humane, but from the cruel and the evil-minded. `Every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt  ,' fled from Saul, and took refuge with David. But this is the reason why these men desire to cut off those who are in concealment, that there may be no evidence forthcoming of their wickedness. But herein their minds seem to be blinded with their usual error. For the more the flight of their enemies becomes known, so much the more notorious will be the destruction or the banishment which their treachery has brought upon them  ; so that whether they kill them outright, their death will be the more loudly noised abroad against them, or whether they drive them into banishment, they will but be sending forth everywhere monuments of their own iniquity.
9. The accusation shews the mind of the accusers.
Now if they had been of sound mind, they would have seen that they were in this strait, and that they were falling foul of their own arguments. But since they have lost all judgment, they are still led on to persecute, and seek to destroy, and yet perceive not their own impiety. It may be they even venture to accuse Providence itself (for nothing is beyond the reach of their presumption), that it does not deliver up to them those whom they desire; certain as it is, according to the saying of our Saviour, that not even a sparrow can fall into the snare without our Father which is in heaven  . But when these accursed ones obtain possession of any one, they immediately forget not only all other, but even themselves; and raising their brow in very haughtiness, they neither acknowledge times and seasons, nor respect human nature in those whom they injure. Like the tyrant of Babylon  , they attack more furiously; they shew pity to none, but mercilessly `upon the ancient,' as it is written, `they very heavily lay the yoke,' and `they add to the grief of them that are wounded  .' Had they not acted in this manner; had they not driven into banishment those who spoke in my defence against their calumnies, their representations might have appeared to some persons sufficiently plausible. But since they have conspired against so many other Bishops of high character, and have spared neither the great confessor Hosius, nor the Bishop of Rome, nor so many others from the Spains and the Gauls, and Egypt, and Libya, and the other countries, but have committed such cruel outrages against all who have in any way opposed them in my behalf; is it not plain that their designs have been directed rather against me than against any other, and that their desire is miserably to destroy me as they have done others? To accomplish this they vigilantly watch for an opportunity, and think themselves injured, when they see those safe, whom they wished not to live.
10. Their real grievance is not that Athanasius is a coward, but that he is free.
Who then does not perceive their craftiness? Is it not very evident to every one that they do not reproach me with cowardice from regard to virtue, but that being athirst for blood, they employ these their base devices as nets, thinking thereby to catch those whom they seek to destroy? That such is their character is shewn by their actions, which have convicted them of possessing dispositions more savage than wild beasts, and more cruel than Babylonians. But although the proof against them is sufficiently clear from all this, yet since they still dissemble with soft words after the manner of their `father the devil  ,' and pretend to charge me with cowardice, while they are themselves more cowardly than hares; let us consider what is written in the Sacred Scriptures respecting such cases as this. For thus they will be shewn to fight against the Scriptures no less than against me, while they detract from the virtues of the Saints.
For if they reproach men for hiding themselves from those who seek to destroy them, and accuse those who flee from their persecutors, what will they do when they see Jacob fleeing from his brother Esau, and Moses withdrawing into Midian for fear of Pharaoh? What excuse will they make for David, after all this idle talk, for fleeing from his house on account of Saul, when he sent to kill him, and for hiding himself in the cave, and for changing his appearance, until he withdrew from Abimelech  , and escaped his designs against him? What will they say, they who are ready to say anything, when they see the great Elijah, after calling upon God and raising the dead, hiding himself for fear of Ahab, and fleeing from the threats of Jezebel? At which time also the sons of the prophets, when they were sought after, hid themselves with the assistance of Obadiah, and lay concealed in caves  .
11. Examples of Scripture Saints in defence of flight.
Perhaps they have not read these histories; as being out of date; yet have they no recollection of what is written in the Gospel? For the disciples also withdrew and hid themselves for fear of the Jews; and Paul, when he was sought after by the governor at Damascus, was let down from the wall in a basket, and so escaped his hands. As the Scripture then relates these things of the Saints, what excuse will they be able to invent for their wickedness? To reproach them with cowardice would be an act of madness, and to accuse them of acting contrary to the will of God, would be to shew themselves entirely ignorant of the Scriptures. For there was a command under the law  that cities of refuge should be appointed, in order that they who were sought after to be put to death, might at least have some means of saving themselves. And when He Who spake unto Moses, the Word of the Father, appeared in the end of the world, He also gave this commandment, saying, `But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another:' and shortly after He says, `When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand); then let them which be in Judæa flee into the mountains: let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes  .' Knowing these things, the Saints regulated their conduct accordingly. For what our Lord has now commanded, the same also He spoke by His Saints before His coming in the flesh: and this is the rule which is given unto men to lead them to perfection--what God commands, that to do.
12. The Lord an example of timely flight.
Wherefore also the Word Himself, being made man for our sakes, condescended to hide Himself when He was sought after, as we do: and also when He was persecuted, to flee and avoid the designs of His enemies. For it became Him, as by hunger and thirst and suffering, so also by hiding Himself and fleeing, to shew that He had taken our flesh, and was made man. Thus at the very first, as soon as He became man, when He was a little child, He Himself by His Angel commanded Joseph, `Arise, and take the young Child and His Mother, and flee into Egypt; for Herod will seek the young Child's life  .' And when Herod was dead, we find Him withdrawing to Nazareth by reason of Archelaus his son. And when afterwards He was shewing Himself to be God, and made whole the withered hand, the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him; but when Jesus knew it, He withdrew Himself from thence  . So also when He raised Lazarus from the dead, `from that day forth,' says the Scripture, `they took counsel for to put Him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence into the country near to the wilderness  .' Again, when our Saviour said, `Before Abraham was, I am,' `the Jews took up stones to cast at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple  .' And `going through the midst of them, He went His way,' and `so passed by  .'
13. Example of Our Lord.
When they see these things, or rather even hear of them, for see they do not, will they not desire, as it is written, to become `fuel of fire  ,' because their counsels and their words are contrary to what the Lord both did and taught? Also when John was martyred, and his disciples buried his body, `when Jesus heard of it, He departed thence by ship into a desert place apart  .' Thus the Lord acted, and thus He taught. Would that these men were even now ashamed of their conduct, and confined their rashness to man, nor proceeded to such extreme madness as even to charge our Saviour with cowardice! for it is against Him that they now utter their blasphemies. But no one will endure such madness; nay it will be seen that they do not understand the Gospels. The cause must be a reasonable and just one, which the Evangelists represent as weighing with our Saviour to withdraw and to flee; and we ought therefore to assign the same for the conduct of all the Saints. (For whatever is written concerning our Saviour in His human nature, ought to be considered as applying to the whole race of mankind  ; because He took our body, and exhibited in Himself human infirmity.) Now of this cause John has written thus, `They sought to take Him: but no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come  .' And before it came, He Himself said to His Mother, `Mine hour is not yet come  :' and to them who were called His brethren, `My time is not yet come  .' And again, when His time was come, He said to the disciples, `Sleep on now, and take your rest: for behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners  .'
14. An hour and a time for all men.
Now in so far as He was God and the Word of the Father, He had no time; for He is Himself the Creator of times  . But being made man, He shews by speaking in this manner that there is a time allotted to every man; and that not by chance, as some of the Gentiles imagine in their fables, but a time which He, the Creator, has appointed to every one according to the will of the Father. This is written in the Scriptures, and is manifest to all men. For although it be hidden and unknown to all, what period of time is allotted to each, and how it is allotted; yet every one knows this, that as there is a time for spring and for summer, and for autumn and for winter, so, as it is written  , there is a time to die, and a time to live. And so the time of the generation which lived in the days of Noah was cut short, and their years were contracted, because the time of all things was at hand. But to Hezekiah were added fifteen years. And as God promises to them that serve Him truly, `I will fulfil the number of thy days  ,' Abraham dies `full of days,' and David besought God, saying, `Take me not away in the midst of my days  .' And Eliphaz, one of the friends of Job, being assured of this truth, said, `Thou shalt come to thy grave like ripe corn, gathered in due time, and like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season  .' And Solomon confirming his words, says, `The souls of the unrighteous are taken away untimely  .' And therefore he exhorts in the book of Ecclesiastes, saying, `Be not overmuch wicked, neither be thou hard: why shouldest thou die before thy time  ?'
15. The Lord's hour and time.
Now as these things are written in the Scriptures, the case is clear, that the saints know that a certain time is measured to every man, but that no one knows the end of that time is plainly intimated by the words of David, `Declare unto me the shortness of my days  .' What he did not know, that he desired to be informed of. Accordingly the rich man also, while he thought that he had yet a long time to live, heard the words, `Thou fool, this night they are requiring thy soul: then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided  ?' And the Preacher speaks confidently in the Holy Spirit, and says, `Man also knoweth not his time  .' Wherefore the Patriarch Isaac said to his son Esau, `Behold, I am old, and I know not the day of my death  .' Our Lord therefore, although as God, and the Word of the Father, He both knew the time measured out by Him to all, and was conscious of the time for suffering, which He Himself had appointed also to His own body; yet since He was made man for our sakes, He hid Himself when He was sought after before that time came, as we do; when He was persecuted, He fled; and avoiding the designs of His enemies He passed by, and `so went through the midst of them  .' But when He had brought on that time which He Himself had appointed, at which He desired to suffer in the body for all men, He announces it to the Father, saying, `Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son  .' And then He no longer hid Himself from those who sought Him, but stood willing to be taken by them; for the Scripture says, He said to them that came unto Him, `Whom seek ye  ?' and when they answered, `Jesus of Nazareth,' He saith unto them, `I am He whom ye seek.' And this He did even more than once; and so they straightway led Him away to Pilate. He neither suffered Himself to be taken before the time came, nor did He hide Himself when it was come; but gave Himself up to them that conspired against Him, that He might shew to all men that the life and death of man depend upon the divine sentence; and that without our Father which is in heaven, neither a hair of man's head can become white or black, nor a sparrow ever fall into the snare  .
6. The Lord's example followed by the Saints.
Our Lord therefore, as I said before, thus offered Himself for all; and the Saints having received this example from their Saviour (for all of them before His coming, nay always, were under His teaching), in their conflicts with their persecutors acted lawfully in flying, and hiding themselves when they were sought after. And being ignorant, as men, of the end of the time which Providence had appointed unto them, they were unwilling at once to deliver themselves up into the power of those who conspired against them. But knowing on the other hand what is written, that `the portions' of man `are in God's hand  ,' and that `the Lord killeth  ,' and the Lord `maketh alive,' they the rather endured unto the end, `wandering about  ,' as the Apostle has said, `in sheepskins, and goatskins, being destitute, tormented, wandering in deserts,' and hiding themselves `in dens and caves of the earth;' until either the appointed time of death arrived, or God who had appointed their time spake unto them, and stayed the designs of their enemies, or else delivered up the persecuted to their persecutors, according as it seemed to Him to be good. This we may well learn respecting all men from David: for when Joab instigated him to slay Saul, he said, `As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and be delivered to the enemies; the Lord forbid that I should stretch forth my hand against the Lord's anointed  .'
17. A time to flee and a time to stay.
And if ever in their flight they came unto those that sought after them, they did not do so without reason: but when the Spirit spoke unto them, then as righteous men they went and met their enemies; by which they also shewed their obedience and zeal towards God. Such was the conduct of Elijah, when, being commanded by the Spirit, he shewed himself unto Ahab  ; and of Micaiah the prophet when he came to the same Ahab; and of the prophet who cried against the altar in Samaria, and rebuked Rehoboam  ; and of Paul when he appealed unto Cæsar. It was not certainly through cowardice that they fled: God forbid. The flight to which they submitted was rather a conflict and war against death. For with wise caution they guarded against these two things; either that they should offer themselves up without reason (for this would have been to kill themselves, and to become guilty of death, and to transgress the saying of the Lord, `What God hath joined let not man put asunder  '), or that they should willingly subject themselves to the reproach of negligence, as if they were unmoved by the tribulations which they met with in their flight, and which brought with them sufferings greater and more terrible than death. For he that dies, ceases to suffer; but he that flies, while he expects daily the assaults of his enemies, esteems death lighter. They therefore whose course was consummated in their flight did not perish dishonourably, but attained as well as others the glory of martyrdom. Therefore it is that Job was accounted a man of mighty fortitude, because he endured to live under so many and such severe sufferings, of which he would have had no sense, had he come to his end. Wherefore the blessed Fathers thus regulated their conduct also; they shewed no cowardice in fleeing from the persecutor, but rather manifested their fortitude of soul in shutting themselves up in close and dark places, and living a hard life. Yet did they not desire to avoid the time of death when it arrived; for their concern was neither to shrink from it when it came, nor to forestall the sentence determined by Providence, nor to resist His dispensation, for which they knew themselves to be preserved; lest by acting hastily, they should become to themselves the cause of terror: for thus it is written, `He that is hasty, with his lips, shall bring terror upon himself  .'
18. The Saints who fled were no cowards.
Of a truth no one can possibly doubt that they were well furnished with the virtue of fortitude. For the Patriarch Jacob who had before fled from Esau, feared not death when it came, but at that very time blessed the Patriarchs, each according to his deserts. And the great Moses, who previously had hid himself from Pharaoh, and had withdrawn into Midian for fear of him, when he received the commandment, `Return into Egypt  ,' feared not to do so. And again, when he was bidden to go up into the mountain Abarim  and die, he delayed not through cowardice, but even joyfully proceeded thither. And David, who had before fled from Saul, feared not to risk his life in war in defence of his people; but having the choice of death or of flight set before him, when he might have fled and lived, he wisely preferred death. And the great Elijah, who had at a former time hid himself from Jezebel, shewed no cowardice when he was commanded by the Spirit to meet Ahab, and to reprove Ahaziah. And Peter, who had hid himself for fear of the Jews, and the Apostle Paul who was let down in a basket, and fled, when they were told, `Ye must bear witness at Rome  ,' deferred not the journey; yea, rather, they departed rejoicing  ; the one as hastening to meet his friends, received his death with exultation; and the other shrunk not from the time when it came, but gloried in it, saying, `For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand  .'
19. The Saints courageous in their flight, and divinely favoured.
These things both prove that their previous flight was not the effect of cowardice; and testify that their after conduct also was of no ordinary character: and they loudly proclaim that they possessed in a high degree the virtue of fortitude. For neither did they withdraw themselves on account of a slothful timidity, on the contrary, they were at such times under the practice of a severer discipline than at others; nor were they condemned for their flight, or charged with cowardice, by such as are now so fond of criminating others. Nay they were blessed through that declaration of our Lord, `Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake.  ' Nor yet were these their sufferings without profit to themselves; for having tried them as `gold in the furnace,' as Wisdom has said, God found them worthy of Himself  . And then they shone the more `like sparks,' being saved from them that persecuted them, and delivered from the designs of their enemies, and preserved to the end that they might teach the people; so that their flight and escape from the rage of them that sought after them, was according to the dispensation of the Lord. And so they became dear in the sight of God, and had the most glorious testimony to their fortitude.
20. Same Subject Continued.
Thus, for example, the Patriarch Jacob was favoured in his flight with many, even divine visions, and remaining quiet himself, he had the Lord on his side, rebuking Laban, and hindering the designs of Esau; and afterwards he became the Father of Judah, of whom sprang the Lord according to the flesh; and he dispensed the blessings to the Patriarchs. And when Moses the beloved of God was in exile, then it was that he saw that great sight, and being preserved from his persecutors, was sent as a prophet into Egypt, and being made the minister of those mighty wonders and of the Law, he led that great people in the wilderness. And David when he was persecuted wrote the Psalm, `My heart uttered a good word  ;' and, `Our God shall come even visibly, and shall not keep silence  .' And again he speaks more confidently, saying, `Mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies  ;' and again, `In God have I put my trust; I will not be afraid what man can do unto me  .' And when he fled and escaped from the face of Saul `to the cave,' he said, `He hath sent from heaven and hath saved me. He hath given them to reproach that would tread me under their feet. God hath sent His mercy and truth, and hath delivered my soul from the midst of lions  .' Thus he too was saved according to the dispensation of God, and afterwards became king, and received the promise, that from his seed our Lord should issue. And the great Elijah, when he withdrew to mount Carmel, called upon God, and destroyed at once more than four hundred prophets of Baal; and when there were sent to take him two captains of fifty with their hundred men, he said, `Let fire come down from heaven  ,' and thus rebuked them. And he too was preserved, so that he anointed Elisha in his own stead, and became a pattern of discipline for the sons of the prophets. And the blessed Paul, after writing these words, `what persecutions I endured; but out of them all the Lord delivered me, and will deliver  ;' could speak more confidently and say, `But in all these things we are more than conquerors, for nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ  .' For then it was that he was caught up to the third heaven, and admitted into paradise, where he heard `unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter  .' And for this end was he then preserved, that `from Jerusalem even unto Illyricum' he might `fully preach the Gospel  .'
21. The Saints fled for our sakes.
The flight of the saints therefore was neither blameable nor unprofitable. If they had not avoided their persecutors, how would it have come to pass that the Lord should spring from the seed of David? Or who would have preached the glad tidings of the word of truth? It was for this that the persecutors sought after the saints, that there might be no one to teach, as the Jews charged the Apostles; but for this cause they endured all things, that the Gospel might be preached. Behold, therefore, in that they were thus engaged in conflict with their enemies, they passed not the time of their flight unprofitably, nor while they were persecuted, did they forget the welfare of others: but as being ministers of the good word, they grudged not to communicate it to all men; so that even while they fled, they preached the Gospel, and gave warning of the wickedness of those who conspired against them, and confirmed the faithful by their exhortations. Thus the blessed Paul, having found it so by experience, declared beforehand, `As many as will live godly in Christ, shall suffer persecution  .' And so he straightway prepared them that fled for the trial, saying, `Let us run with patience the race that is set before us  ;' for although there be continual tribulations, `yet tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed  .' And the Prophet Isaiah when such-like affliction was expected, exhorted and cried aloud, `Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors; hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast  .' And so also the Preacher, who knew the conspiracies against the righteous, and said, `If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for He that is higher than the highest regardeth, and there be higher than they: moreover there is the profit of the earth  .' He had his own father David for an example, who had himself experienced the sufferings of persecution, and who supports them that suffer by the words, `Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that put your trust in the Lord  ;' for them that so endure, not man, but the Lord Himself (he says), `shall help them, and deliver them, because they put their trust in Him:' for I also `waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined unto me, and heard my calling; He brought me up also out of the lowest pit, and out of the mire and clay  .' Thus is shewn how profitable to the people and productive of good is the flight of the Saints, howsoever the Arians may think otherwise.
22. Same subject concluded.
Thus the Saints, as I said before, were abundantly preserved in their flight by the Providence of God, as physicians for the sake of them that had need. And to all men generally, even to us, is this law given, to flee when persecuted, and to hide when sought after, and not rashly tempt the Lord, but wait, as I said above, until the appointed time of death arrive, or the Judge determine something concerning them, according as it shall seem to Him to be good: that men should be ready, that, when the time calls, or when they are taken, they may contend for the truth even unto death. This rule the blessed Martyrs observed in their several persecutions. When persecuted they fled, while concealing themselves they shewed fortitude, and when discovered they submitted to martyrdom. And if some of them came and presented themselves to their persecutors  , they did not do so without reason; for immediately in that case they were martyred, and thus made it evident to all that their zeal, and this offering up of themselves to their enemies, were from the Spirit.
23. Persecution is from the Devil.
Seeing therefore that such are the commands of our Saviour, and that such is the conduct of the Saints, let these persons, to whom one cannot give a name suitable to their character,--let them, I say, tell us, from whom they learnt to persecute? They cannot say, from the Saints  . No, but from the Devil (that is the only answer which is left to them);--from him who says, `I will persue, I will overtake  .' Our Lord commanded to flee, and the saints fled: but persecution is a device of the Devil, and one which he desires to exercise against all. Let them say then, to which we ought to submit ourselves; to the words of the Lord, or to their fabrications? Whose conduct ought we to imitate, that of the Saints, or that of those whose example these men have adopted? But since it is likely they cannot determine this question (for, as Esaias said, their minds and their consciences are blinded, and they think `bitter to be sweet,' and `light darkness  ') let some one come forth from among us Christians, and put them to rebuke, and cry with a loud voice, `It is better to trust in the Lord, than to attend to the foolish sayings of these men; for the "words" of the Lord have "eternal life  ," but the things which these utter are full of iniquity and blood.'
24. Irruption of Syrianus.
This were sufficient to put a stop to the madness of these impious men, and to prove that their desire is for nothing else, but only through a love of contention to utter revilings and insults. But forasmuch as having once dared to fight against Christ, they have now become officious, let them enquire and learn into the manner of my withdrawal from their own friends. For the Arians were mixed with the soldiers in order to exasperate them against me, and, as they were unacquainted with my person, to point me out to them. And although they are destitute of all feelings of compassion, yet when they hear the circumstances they will surely be quiet for very shame. It was now night  , and some of the people were keeping a vigil preparatory to a communion on the morrow, when the General Syrianus suddenly came upon us with more than five thousand soldiers, having arms and drawn swords, bows, spears, and clubs, as I have related above. With these he surrounded the Church, stationing his soldiers near at hand, in order that no one might be able to leave the Church and pass by them. Now I considered that it would be unreasonable in me to desert the people during such a disturbance, and not to endanger myself in their behalf; therefore I sat down upon my throne, and desired the Deacon to read a Psalm, and the people to answer, `For His mercy endureth for ever  ,' and then all to withdraw and depart home. But the General having now made a forcible entry, and the soldiers having surrounded the sanctuary for the purpose of apprehending us, the Clergy and those of the laity, who were still there, cried out, and demanded that we too should withdraw. But I refused, declaring that I would not do so, until they had retired one and all. Accordingly I stood up, and having bidden prayer, I then made my request of them, that all should depart before me, saying that it was better that my safety should be endangered, than that any of them should receive hurt. So when the greater part had gone forth, and the rest were following, the monks who were there with us and certain of the Clergy came up and dragged us away. And thus (Truth is my witness), while some of the soldiers stood about the sanctuary, and others were going round the Church, we passed through, under the Lord's guidance, and with His protection withdrew without observation, greatly glorifying God that we had not betrayed the people, but had first sent them away, and then had been able to save ourselves, and to escape the hands of them which sought after us.
25. Athanasius's wonderful escape.
Now when Providence had delivered us in such an extraordinary manner, who can justly lay any blame upon me, because we did not give ourselves up into the hands of them that sought after us, nor return and present ourselves before them? This would have been plainly to shew ingratitude to the Lord, and to act against His commandment, and in contradiction to the practice of the Saints. He who censures me in this matter must presume also to blame the great Apostle Peter, because though he was shut up and guarded by soldiers, he followed the angel that summoned him, and when he had gone forth from the prison and escaped in safety, he did not return and surrender himself, although he heard what Herod had done. Let the Arian in his madness censure the Apostle Paul, because when he was let down from the wall and had escaped in safety, he did not change his mind, and return and give himself up; or Moses, because he returned not out of Midian into Egypt, that he might be taken of them that sought after him; or David, because when he was concealed in the cave, he did not discover himself to Saul. As also the sons of the prophets remained in their caves, and did not surrender themselves to Ahab. This would have been to act contrary to the commandment, since the Scripture says, `Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God  .'
26. He acted according to the example of the Saints. Character of his accusers.
Being careful to avoid such an offence, and instructed by these examples, I so ordered my conduct; and I do not undervalue the favour and the help which have been shewn me of the Lord, howsoever these in their madness may gnash their teeth  against us. For since the manner of our retreat was such as we have described, I do not think that any blame whatever can attach to it in the minds of those who are possessed of a sound judgment: seeing that according to holy Scripture, this pattern has been left us by the Saints for our instruction. But there is no atrocity, it would seem, which these men neglect to practise, nor will they leave anything undone which may shew their own wickedness and cruelty. And indeed their lives are only in accordance with their spirit and the follies of their doctrines; for there are no sins that one could charge them with, how heinous soever, that they do not commit without shame. Leontius  for instance being censured for his intimacy with a certain young woman, named Eustolium, and prohibited from living with her, mutilated himself for her sake, in order that he might be able to associate with her freely. He did not however clear himself from suspicion, but rather on this account he was degraded from his rank as Presbyter. [Although the heretic Constantius by violence caused him to be named a Bishop  .] Narcissus  , besides being charged with many other transgressions, was degraded three times by different Councils; and now he is among them, most wicked man. And George  , who was a Presbyter, was deposed for his wickedness, and although he had nominated himself a Bishop, he was nevertheless a second time deposed in the great Council of Sardica. And besides all this, his dissolute life was notorious, for he is condemned even by his own friends, as making the end of existence, and its happiness, to consist in the commission of the most disgraceful crimes.
Thus each surpasses the other in his own peculiar vices. But there is a common blot that attaches to them all, in that through their heresy they are enemies of Christ, and are no longer called Christians  , but Arians. They ought indeed to accuse each other of the sins they are guilty of, for they are contrary to the faith of Christ; but they rather conceal them for their own sakes. And it is no wonder, that being possessed of such a spirit, and implicated in such vices, they persecute and seek after those who follow not the same impious heresy as themselves; that they delight to destroy them, and are grieved if they fail of obtaining their desires, and think themselves injured, as I said before, when they see those alive whom they wish to perish. May they continue to be injured in such sort, that they may lose the power of inflicting injuries, and that those whom they persecute may give thanks unto the Lord, and say in the words of the twenty-sixth Psalm, `The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell  ;' and again the thirtieth Psalm, `Thou hast saved my soul from adversities; thou hast not shut me up into the hands of mine enemies; thou hast set my foot in a large room  ' in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom to the Father in the Holy Spirit be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
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