Writings of Basil - The Letters b

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The Letters

Of Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Cæsaria,

Translated with Notes by

The Rev. Blomfield Jackson, M.A.
Vicar of Saint Bartholomew's, Moor Lane, and Fellow of King's College, London.

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 1895 by T&T Clark, Edinburgh

Letter L. [2172]

To Bishop Innocentius. [2173]

Whom, indeed, could it better befit to encourage the timid, and rouse the slumbering, than you, my godly lord, who have shewn your general excellence in this, too, that you have consented to come down among us, your lowly inferiors, like a true disciple of Him Who said, "I am among you," not as a fellow guest, but "as he that serveth." [2174] For you have condescended to minister to us your spiritual gladness, to refresh our souls by your honoured letter, and, as it were, to fling the arms of your greatness round the infancy of children. We, therefore, implore your good soul to pray, that we may be worthy to receive aid from the great, such as yourself, and to have a mouth and wisdom wherewith to chime in with the strain of all, who like you are led by the Holy Spirit. Of Him I hear that you are a friend and true worshipper, and I am deeply thankful for your strong and unshaken love to God. I pray that my lot may be found with the true worshippers, among whom we are sure your excellency is to be ranked, as well as that great and true bishop who has filled all the world with his wonderful work.


Footnotes

[2172] Placed at the beginning of the Episcopate. [2173] The Benedictine title runs, Basilius gratias agit Episcopo cuidam, and a Ben. note points out that the common addition of "of Rome" to the title must be an error, because Damasus, not Innocent, was Bishop of Rome at the time. Combefis supposed that the letter was written to Innocent, then a presbyter, and that the allusion at the end of the letter is to Damasus; the Ben. note says absurde. Innocent did not become Bishop of Rome till 402, three years after Basil's death. Whatever was the see of the recipient of this letter, it was one of importance. cf. Letter lxxxi. [2174] Luke xxii. 27.

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Letter LI. [2175]

To Bishop Bosporius. [2176]

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How do you think my heart was pained at hearing of the slanders heaped on me by some of those that feel no fear of the Judge, who "shall destroy them that speak leasing"? [2177]I spent nearly the whole night sleepless, thinking of your words of love; so did grief lay hold upon my heart of hearts. For verily, in the words of Solomon, slander humbleth a man. [2178]And no man is so void of feeling as not to be touched at heart, and bowed down to the ground, if he falls in with lips prone to lying. But we must needs put up with all things and endure all things, after committing our vindication to the Lord. He will not despise us; for "he that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker." [2179]They, however, who have patched up this new tragedy of blasphemy seem to have lost all belief in the Lord, Who has declared that we must give account at the day of judgment even for an idle word. [2180]And I, tell me, I anathematized the right blessed Dianius? For this is what they have said against me. Where? When? In whose presence? On what pretext? In mere spoken words, or in writing? Following others, or myself the author and originator of the deed? Alas for the impudence of men who make no difficulty at saying anything! Alas for their contempt of the judgment of God! Unless, indeed, they add this further to their fiction, that they make me out to have been once upon a time so far out of my mind as not to know what I was saying. For so long as I have been in my senses I know that I never did anything of the kind, or had the least wish to do so. What I am, indeed, conscious of is this; that from my earliest childhood I was brought up in love for him, thought as I gazed at him how venerable he looked, how dignified, how truly reverend. Then when I grew older I began to know him by the good qualities of his soul, and took delight in his society, gradually learning to perceive the simplicity, nobility, and liberality of his character, and all his most distinctive qualities, his gentleness of soul, his mingled magnanimity and meekness, the seemliness of his conduct, his control of temper, the beaming cheerfulness and affability which he combined with majesty of demeanour. From all this I counted him among men most illustrious for high character.

However, towards the close of his life (I will not conceal the truth) I, together with many of them that in our country [2181] feared the Lord, sorrowed over him with sorrow unendurable, because he signed the creed brought from Constantinople by George. [2182]Afterwards, full of kindness and gentleness as he was, and willing out of the fulness of his fatherly heart to give satisfaction to everyone, when he had already fallen sick of the disease of which he died, he sent for me, and, calling the Lord to witness, said that in the simplicity of his heart he had agreed to the document sent from Constantinople, but had had no idea of rejecting the creed put forth by the holy Fathers at Nicæa, nor had had any other disposition of heart than from the beginning he had always had. He prayed, moreover, that he might not be cut off from the lot of those blessed three hundred and eighteen bishops who had announced the pious decree [2183] to the world. In consequence of this satisfactory statement I dismissed all anxiety and doubt, and, as you are aware, communicated with him, and gave over grieving. Such have been my relations with Dianius. If anyone avers that he is privy to any vile slander on my part against Dianius, do not let him buzz it slave-wise in a corner; let him come boldly out and convict me in the light of day.


Footnotes

[2175] Placed at the beginning of Basil's episcopate, c. 370. [2176] Bosporius, an intimate friend of Basil and of Gregory of Nazianzus, was bishop of Colonia, in Cappadocia Secunda. Basil left Cæsarea in 360 in distress at hearing that Dianius had subscribed the creed of Ariminum, but was hurt at the charge that he had anathematized his friend and bishop. Dianius died in Basil's arms in 362. [2177] Ps. v. 6. [2178] sukophantia andra tapeinoi, for Eccles. vii. 7, LXX. sukophantia periderei sophon: oppression maketh a wise man mad, A.V.; extortion maketh a wise man foolish, R.V. [2179] Prov. xiv. 31. [2180] Matt. xii. 36. [2181] Here Cæsarea appears to be called patris. cf. Ep. viii. Vide Proleg. [2182] i.e.the Homoean creed of Ariminum, as revised at Nike and accepted at the Acacian Synod of Constantinople in 360. George is presumably the George bp. of Laodicea, who at Seleucia opposed the Acacians, but appears afterwards to have become reconciled to that party, and to have joined them in persecuting the Catholics at Constantinople. cf. Basil, Ep. ccli. [2183] kerugma. cf. p. 41.

Letter LII. [2184]

To the Canonicæ. [2185] 1. I have been very much distressed by a painful report which reached my ears; but I have been equally delighted by my brother, beloved of God, bishop Bosporius, [2186] who has brought a more satisfactory account of you. He avers by God's grace that all those stories spread abroad about you are inventions of men who are not exactly informed as to the truth about you. He added, moreover, that he found among you impious calumnies about me, of a kind likely to be uttered by those who do not expect to have to give the Judge in the day of His righteous retribution an account of even an idle word. I thank God, then, both because I am cured of my damaging opinion of you, an opinion which I have derived from the calumnies of men, and because I have heard of your abandonment of those baseless notions about me, on hearing the assurances of my brother. He, in all that he has said as coming from himself, has also completely expressed my own feeling. For in us both there is one mind about the faith, as being heirs of the same Fathers who once at Nicæa promulgated their great decree [2187] concerning the faith. Of this, some portions are universally accepted without cavil, but the homoousion, ill received in certain quarters, is still rejected by some. These objectors we may very properly blame, and yet on the contrary deem them deserving of pardon. To refuse to follow the Fathers, not holding their declaration of more authority than one's own opinion, is conduct worthy of blame, as being brimful of self-sufficiency. On the other hand the fact that they view with suspicion a phrase which is misrepresented by an opposite party does seem to a small extent to relieve them from blame. Moreover, as a matter of fact, the members of the synods which met to discuss the case of Paul of Samosata [2188] did find fault with the term as an unfortunate one. For they maintained that the homoousion set forth the idea both of essence and of what is derived from it, so that the essence, when divided, confers the title of co-essential on the parts into which it is divided. This explanation has some reason in the case of bronze and coins made therefrom, but in the case of God the Father and God the Son there is no question of substance anterior or even underlying both; the mere thought and utterance of such a thing is the last extravagance of impiety. What can be conceived of as anterior to the Unbegotten? By this blasphemy faith in the Father and the Son is destroyed, for things, constituted out of one, have to one another the relation of brothers. 2. Because even at that time there were men who asserted the Son to have been brought into being out of the non-existent, the term homoousion was adopted, to extirpate this impiety. For the conjunction of the Son with the Father is without time and without interval. The preceding words shew this to have been the intended meaning. For after saying that the Son was light of light, and begotten of the substance of the Father, but was not made, they went on to add the homoousion, thereby showing that whatever proportion of light any one would attribute in the case of the Father will obtain also in that of the Son. For very light in relation to very light, according to the actual sense of light, will have no variation. Since then the Father is light without beginning, and the Son begotten light, but each of Them light and light; they rightly said "of one substance," in order to set forth the equal dignity of the nature. Things, that have a relation of brotherhood, are not, as some persons have supposed, of one substance; but when both the cause and that which derives its natural existence from the cause are of the same nature, then they are called "of one substance." 3. This term also corrects the error of Sabellius, for it removes the idea of the identity of the hypostases, and introduces in perfection the idea of the Persons. For nothing can be of one substance with itself, but one thing is of one substance with another. The word has therefore an excellent and orthodox use, defining as it does both the proper character of the hypostases, and setting forth the invariability of the nature. And when we are taught that the Son is of the substance of the Father, begotten and not made, let us not fall into the material sense of the relations. For the substance was not separated from the Father and bestowed on the Son; neither did the substance engender by fluxion, nor yet by shooting forth [2189] as plants their fruits. The mode of the divine begetting is ineffable and inconceivable by human thought. It is indeed characteristic of poor and carnal intelligence to compare the things that are eternal with the perishing things of time, and to imagine, that as corporeal things beget, so does God in like manner; it is rather our duty to rise to the truth by arguments of the contrary, and to say, that since thus is the mortal, not thus is He who is immortal. We must neither then deny the divine generation, nor contaminate our intelligence with corporeal senses. 4. The Holy Spirit, too, is numbered with the Father and the Son, because He is above creation, and is ranked as we are taught by the words of the Lord in the Gospel, "Go and baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." [2190]He who, on the contrary, places the Spirit before the Son, or alleges Him to be older than the Father, resists the ordinance of God, and is a stranger to the sound faith, since he fails to preserve the form of doxology which he has received, but adopts some new fangled device in order to be pleasing to men. It is written "The Spirit is of God," [2191] and if He is of God, how can He be older than that of which He is? And what folly is it not, when there is one Unbegotten, to speak of something else as superior to the Unbegotten? He is not even anterior, for nothing intervenes between Son and Father. If, however, He is not of God but is through Christ, He does not even exist at all. It follows, that this new invention about the order really involves the destruction of the actual existence, and is a denial of the whole faith. It is equally impious to reduce Him to the level of a creature, and to subordinate Him either to Son or to Father, either in time or in rank. These are the points on which I have heard that you are making enquiry. If the Lord grant that we meet I may possibly have more to say on these subjects, and may myself, concerning points which I am investigating, receive satisfactory information from you.

Footnotes

[2184] Placed at the beginning of St. Basil's episcopate, c. 370. [2185] Canonicæ, in the early church, were women enrolled in a list in the churches, devoted to works of charity, and living apart from men, though not under vows, nor always in a coenobium. In Soc., H.E.i. 17 they are described as the recipients of St. Helena's hospitality. St. Basil is supposed to refuse to recognise marriage with them as legitimate in Ep. cclxxxviii. The word kanonikon may stand for either gender, but the marriage of Canonici was commonly allowed. Letter clxxiii. is addressed to the canonica Theodora. [2186] Vide the Letter li. [2187] kerugma. On Basil's use of this word and of dogma, vide note on p. 41. [2188] i.e.the two remarkable Antiochene synods of 264 and 269, to enforce the ultimate decisions of which against Paul of Samosata appeal was made to the pagan Aurelian. On the explanation of how the Homoousion came to be condemned in one sense by the Origenist bishops at Antioch in 269, and asserted in another by the 318 at Nicæa in 325, see prolegomena to Athanasius in Schaff and Wace's ed. p. xxxi. cf. Ath.,De Syn. § 45, Hil., De Trin. iv. 4, and Basil, Cont. Eunom. i. 19. "Wurde seiner Lehre: `Gott sey mit dem Logos zugleich Eine Person, hen prosopon wie der Mensch mit seiner Vernunft Eines sey,' entgegengehalteh, die Kirchenlehre verlange Einen Gott, aber mehrere prosopa desselben, so sagte er, da auch ihm Christus eine Person (nämlich als Mensch) sey, so habe auch sein Glaube mehrere prosopa, Gott und Christus stehen sich als homoousioi, d. h. wahrscheinlich gleich persönliche gegenüber, Diese veratorische Dialektik konnte zwar nicht täuschen; wohl aber wurde das Wort homoousios, so gebraucht und auf die Person überhaupt bezogen, dadurcheine Weile verdächtig (man fürchtete nach Athan. De Syn. Ar. et Sel. c. 45, eine menschliche Person nach Paul in die Trinität einlassen zu müssen), bis das vierte Jahrhundert jenem Wort bestimmten kirchlichen Stempel gab." Dorner, Christologie. B. i. 513. Vide also Thomasius, Christliche Dogmengeschichte, B. 1, p. 188. [2189] cf. Luke xxi. 30. [2190] Matt. xxviii. 19. [2191] 1 Cor. ii. 12.

Letter LIII. [2192]

To the Chorepiscopi. [2193] 1. My soul is deeply pained at the enormity of the matter on which I write, if for this only, that it has caused general suspicion and talk. But so far it has seemed to me incredible. I hope then that what I am writing about it may be taken by the guilty as medicine, by the innocent as a warning, by the indifferent, in which class I trust none of you may be found, as a testimony. And what is it of which I speak? There is a report that some of you take money from candidates for ordination, [2194] and excuse it on grounds of religion. This is indeed worse. If any one does evil under the guise of good he deserves double punishment; because he not only does what is in itself not good, but, so to say, makes good an accomplice in the commission of sin. If the allegation be true, let it be so no more. Let a better state of things begin. To the recipient of the bribe it must be said, as was said by the Apostles to him who was willing to give money to buy the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, "Thy money perish with thee. [2195]It is a lighter sin to wish in ignorance to buy, than it is to sell, the gift of God. A sale it was; and if you sell what you received as a free gift you will be deprived of the boon, as though you were yourself sold to Satan. You are obtruding the traffic of the huckster into spiritual things and into the Church where we are entrusted with the body and blood of Christ. These things must not be. And I will mention wherein lies an ingenious contrivance. They think that there is no sin because they take the money not before but after the ordination; but to take is to take at whatever time. 2. I exhort you, then, abandon this gain, or, I would rather say, this approach to Hell. Do not, by defiling your hands with such bribes, render yourselves unfit to celebrate holy mysteries. But forgive me. I began by discrediting; and now I am threatening as though I were convinced. If, after this letter of mine, any one do anything of the kind, he will depart from the altars here and will seek a place where he is able to buy and to sell God's gift. We and the Churches of God have no such custom. [2196]One word more, and I have done. These things come of covetousness. Now covetousness is the root of all evil and is called idolatry. [2197]Do not then price idols above Christ for the sake of a little money. Do not imitate Judas and once more betray for a bribe Him who was crucified for us. For alike the lands and the hands of all that make such gain shall be called Aceldama. [2198]

Footnotes

[2192] Placed in the beginning of the episcopate. [2193] "A class of ministers between bishops proper and presbyters, defined in the Arabic version of the Nicene canons to be `loco episcopi super villas et monasteria et sacerdotes villarum;' called into existence in the latter part of the third century, and first in Asia Minor, in order to meet the wants of episcopal supervision in the country parts of the now enlarged dioceses without subdivision: first mentioned in the Councils of Ancyra and Neo-Cæsarea a.d. 314." D.C.A. i. 354. Three mss. give the title "to the bishops under him." The Ben. Ed. remarks: "Liquet Basilium agere de episcopis sibi subditis. Nam qui proprie dicebantur chorepiscopi, manus non ponebant, sed clero inferiores ministros ascribebant, ut videre est in epist. sequenti. Sed tamen ipsi etiam episcopi, qui Ecclesias metropoli subjectas regebant, interdum vocabuntur chorepiscopi. Queritur enim Gregorius Naz. in carmine De vita sua. quod a Basilio, qui quinquaginta chorepiscopos sub se habebat, vilissimi oppiduli constitutus episcopus fuisset. toutois m' ho pentekonta chorepiskopois stenoumenos dedoken Hoc exemplo confirmatur vetustissimorum codicum scriptura quam secuti sumus. [2194] cf. note on Theodoret, iv. 20, p. 125. [2195] Acts viii. 20. [2196] cf. 1 Cor. xi. 16. [2197] cf. Col. iii. 5. [2198] cf. Acts i. 19.

Letter LIV. [2199]

To the Chorepiscopi. I am much distressed that the canons of the Fathers have fallen through, and that the exact discipline of the Church has been banished from among you. I am apprehensive lest, as this indifference grows, the affairs of the Church should, little by little, fall into confusion. According to the ancient custom observed in the Churches of God, ministers in the Church were received after careful examination; the whole of their life was investigated; an enquiry was made as to their being neither railers nor drunkards, not quick to quarrel, keeping their youth in subjection, so as to be able to maintain "the holiness without which no man shall see the Lord." [2200]This examination was made by presbyters and deacons living with them. Then they brought them to the Chorepiscopi; and the Chorepiscopi, after receiving the suffrages of the witnesses as to the truth and giving information to the Bishop, so admitted the minister to the sacerdotal order. [2201]Now, however, you have quite passed me over; you have not even had the grace to refer to me, and have transferred the whole authority to yourselves. Furthermore, with complete indifference, you have allowed presbyters and deacons to introduce unworthy persons into the Church, just any one they choose, without any previous examination of life and character, by mere favoritism, on the score of relationship or some other tie. The consequence is, that in every village, there are reckoned many ministers, but not one single man worthy of the service of the altars. Of this you yourselves supply proof from your difficulty in finding suitable candidates for election. As, then, I perceive that the evil is gradually reaching a point at which it would be incurable, and especially at this moment when a large number of persons are presenting themselves for the ministry through fear of the conscription, I am constrained to have recourse to the restitution of the canons of the Fathers. I thus order you in writing to send me the roll of the ministers in every village, stating by whom each has been introduced, and what is his mode of life. You have the roll in your own keeping, so that your version can be compared with the documents which are in mine, and no one can insert his own name when he likes. So if any have been introduced by presbyters after the first appointment, [2202] let them be rejected, and take their place among the laity. Their examination must then be begun by you over again, and, if they prove worthy, let them be received by your decision. Drive out unworthy men from the Church, and so purge it. For the future, test by examination those who are worthy, and then receive them; but do not reckon them of the number before you have reported to me. Otherwise, distinctly understand that he who is admitted to the ministry without my authority will remain a layman.

Footnotes

[2199] Placed at the same time as the foregoing. [2200] Heb. xii. 14. [2201] The Ben. note runs, "Ministros, sive subdiaconos, sacratorum ordini ascribit Basilius. Synodus Laodicena inferiores clericos sacratorum numero non comprehendit, sed numerat sacratos a presbyteris usque ad diaconos, apo presbuteron heos diakonon, can. 24, distinguit canone 27, hieratikous, e klerikous e laikous, sive sacratos, sive clericos, sive laicos. Et can. 30. ;'Oti hou dei hieratikon e klerikon e asketen en balaneio meta gunaikon apolouesthai, mede panta Christianon e laikon. Non oportet sacratum vel clericum aut ascetam in balneo cum mulieribus lavari. sed nec ullum Christianum aut laïcum. Non sequuntur hujus synodi morem ecclesiastici scriptores. Basilius, epist. 287, excommunicato omne cum sacratis commercium intercludit. Et in epist. 198, hierateion intelligit coetum clericorum, eique ascribit clericos qui epistolas episcopi perferebant. Athanasius ad Rufinianum scribens, rogat eum ut epistolam legat hieratei& 251; et populo. Gregorius Nazianzenus lectores sacri ordinis, hierou tagmatos, partem esse agnoscit in epist. 45. Notandus etiam canon 8 apostolicus, ei tis episkopos e etc. presbuteros e diakonos e ek tou hierarikou katalogon, etc. Si quis episcopus vel presbyter vel diaconus, vel ex sacro ordine. Hæc visa sunt observanda, quia pluribus Basilii locis, quæ deinceps occurrent, non parum afferent lucis." The letter of the Council in Illyricum uses hieratikon tagma in precisely the same way. Theod., Ecc. Hist. iv. 8, where see note on p. 113. So Sozomen, On the Council of Nicæa, i. 23. Ordo, the nearest Latin equivalent to the Greek tagma, was originally used of any estate in the church, e.g. St. Jerome, On Isaiah v. 19, 18. On the testing of qualifications for orders, cf. St. Cyprian, Ep. lxviii. [2202] meta ten proten epinemesin. 'Epinemesis is in later Greek the recognized equivalent for "indictio" in the sense of a period of fifteen years (Cod. Theod. xi. 28. 3). I have had some hesitation as to whether it could possibly in this passage indicate a date. But epinemesis does not appear to have been used in its chronological sense before Evagrius, and his expression (iv. 29) tous periodous ton kuklon kaloumenon epinemeseon looks as though the term were not yet common; epinemesis here I take to refer to the assignment of presbyters to different places on ordination. I am indebted to Mr. J. W. Parker for valuable information and suggestions on this question.

Letter LV. [2203]

To Paregorius, the presbyter. I have given patient attention to your letter, and I am astonished that when you are perfectly well able to furnish me with a short and easy defence by taking action at once, you should choose to persist in what is my ground of complaint, and endeavour to cure the incurable by writing a long story about it. I am not the first, Paregorius, nor the only man, to lay down the law that women are not to live with men. Read the canon put forth by our holy Fathers at the Council of Nicæa, which distinctly forbids subintroducts. Unmarried life is honourably distinguished by its being cut off from all female society. If, then, any one, who is known by the outward profession, in reality follows the example of those who live with wives, it is obvious that he only affects the distinction of virginity in name, and does not hold aloof from unbecoming indulgence. You ought to have been all the more ready to submit yourself without difficulty to my demands, in that you allege that you are free from all bodily appetite. I do not suppose that a man of three score years and ten lives with a woman from any such feelings, and I have not decided, as I have decided, on the ground of any crime having been committed. But we have learnt from the Apostle, not to put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in a brother's way;" [2204] and I know that what is done very properly by some, naturally becomes to others an occasion for sin. I have therefore given my order, in obedience to the injunction of the holy Fathers, that you are to separate from the woman. Why then, do you find fault with the Chorepiscopus? What is the good of mentioning ancient ill-will? Why do you blame me for lending an easy ear to slander? Why do you not rather lay the blame on yourself, for not consenting to break off your connexion with the woman? Expel her from your house, and establish her in a monastery. Let her live with virgins, and do you be served by men, that the name of God be not blasphemed in you. Till you have so done, the innumerable arguments, which you use in your letters, will not do you the slightest service. You will die useless, and you will have to give an account to God for your uselessness. If you persist in clinging to your clerical position without correcting your ways, you will be accursed before all the people, and all, who receive you, will be excommunicate throughout the Church. [2205]

Footnotes

[2203] Placed at the beginning of the Episcopate. [2204] Rom. xiv. 13. [2205] On the subject of the subintroductæ or suneisaktoi, one of the greatest difficulties and scandals of the early church, vide the article of Can. Venables in D.C.A. ii. 1937. The earliest prohibitive canon against the custom is that of the Council of Elvira, a.d. 305. (Labbe i. 973.) The Canon of Nicæa, to which Basil refers, only allowed the introduction of a mother, sister, or aunt. The still more extraordinary and perilous custom of ladies of professed celibacy entertaining male suneisaktoi, referred to by Gregory of Nazianzus in his advice to virgins, arsena pant' aleeine suneisakton de malista, may be traced even so far back as "the Shepherd of Hermas" (iii. Simil. ix. 11). On the charges against Paul of Samosata under this head, vide Eusebius, vii. 30.

Letter LVI. [2206]

To Pergamius. [2207] I naturally forget very easily, and I have had lately many things to do, and so my natural infirmity is increased. I have no doubt, therefore, that you have written to me, although I have no recollection of having received any letter from your excellency; for I am sure you would not state what is not the case. But for there having been no reply, it is not I that am in fault; the guilt lies with him who did not ask for one. Now, however, you have this letter, containing my defence for the past and affording ground for a second greeting. So, when you write to me, do not suppose that you are taking the initiative in another correspondence. You are only discharging your proper obligation in this. For really, although this letter of mine is a return for a previous one of yours, as it is more than twice as bulky, it will fulfil a double purpose. You see to what sophisms my idleness drives me. But, my dear Sir, do not in a few words bring serious charges, indeed the most serious of all. Forgetfulness of one's friends, and neglect of them arising from high place, are faults which involve every kind of wrong. Do we fail to love according to the commandment of the Lord? Then we lose the distinctive mark imprinted on us. Are we puffed to repletion with empty pride and arrogance? Then we fall into the inevitable condemnation of the devil. If, then, you use these words because you held such sentiments about me, pray that I may flee from the wickedness which you have found in my ways; if, however, your tongue shaped itself to these words, in a kind of inconsiderate conventionality, I shall console myself, and ask you to be good enough to adduce some tangible proof of your allegations. Be well assured of this, that my present anxiety is an occasion to me of humility. I shall begin to forget you, when I cease to know myself. Never, then, think that because a man is a very busy man he is a man of faulty character.

Footnotes

[2206] Placed at the beginning of the Episcopate. [2207] A layman, of whom nothing more is known.

Letter LVII. [2208]

To Meletius, Bishop of Antioch. [2209] If your holiness only knew the greatness of the happiness you cause me whenever you write to me, I know that you would never have let slip any opportunity of sending me a letter; nay, you would have written me many letters on each occasion, knowing the reward that is kept in store by our loving Lord for the consolation of the afflicted. Everything here is still in a very painful condition, and the thought of your holiness is the only thing that recalls me from my own troubles; a thought made more distinct to me by my communication with you through that letter of yours which is so full of wisdom and grace. When, therefore, I take your letter into my hand, first of all, I look at its size, and I love it all the more for being so big; then, as I read it, I rejoice over every word I find in it; as I draw near the end I begin to feel sad; so good is every word that I read, in what you write. The overflowing of a good heart is good. Should I, however, be permitted, in answer to your prayers, while I live on this earth, to meet you face to face, and to enjoy the profitable instruction of your living voice, or any aids to help me in the life that now is, or that which is to come, I should count this indeed the best of blessings, a prelude to the mercy of God. I should, ere now, have adhered to this intention, had I not been prevented by true and loving brothers. I have told my brother Theophrastus [2210] to make a detailed report to you of matters, as to which I do not commit my intentions to writing.

Footnotes

[2208] Placed in the year 371. [2209] This letter, the first of six to Meletius of Antioch, is supposed to be assigned to this date, because of Basil's statement that the state of the Church of Cæsarea was still full of pain to him. Basil had not yet overcome the opposition of his suffragans, or won the position secured to him after his famous intercourse with Valens in 372. Meletius had now been for seven years exiled from Antioch, and was suffering for the sake of orthodoxy, while not in full communion with the Catholics, because of the unhappy Eustathian schism. [2210] This Theophrastus may be identified with the deacon Theophrastus who died shortly after Easter a.d. 372. (cf. Letter xcv.) The secret instructions given him "seem to refer to Basil's design for giving peace to the Church, which Basil did not attempt to carry out before his tranquilization of Cappadocia, but may have had in mind long before." Maran, Vit. Bas. chap. xvi.

Letter LVIII. [2211]

To Gregory my brother. [2212] How am I to dispute with you in writing? How can I lay hold of you satisfactorily, with all your simplicity? Tell me; who ever falls a third time into the same nets? Who ever gets a third time into the same snare? Even a brute beast would find it difficult to do so. You forged one letter, and brought it me as though it came from our right reverend uncle the bishop, trying to deceive me, I have no idea why. I received it as a letter written by the bishop and delivered by you. Why should I not? I was delighted; I shewed it to many of my friends; I thanked God. The forgery was found out, on the bishop's repudiating it in person. I was thoroughly ashamed; covered as I was with the disgrace of cunning trickery and lies, I prayed that the earth might open for me. Then they gave me a second letter, as sent by the bishop himself by the hands of your servant Asterius. Even this second had not really been sent by the bishop, as my very reverend brother Anthimus [2213] has told me. Now Adamantius has come bringing me a third. How ought I to receive a letter carried by you or yours? I might have prayed to have a heart of stone, so as neither to remember the past, nor to feel the present; so as to bear every blow, like cattle, with bowed head. But what am I to think, now that, after my first and second experience, I can admit nothing without positive proof? Thus I write attacking your simplicity, which I see plainly to be neither what generally becomes a Christian man, nor is appropriate to the present emergency; I write that, at least for the future, you may take care of yourself and spare me. I must speak to you with all freedom, and I tell you that you are an unworthy minister of things so great. However, whoever be the writer of the letter, I have answered as is fit . Whether, then, you yourself are experimenting on me, or whether really the letter which you have sent is one which you have received from the bishops, you have my answer. At such a time as this you ought to have borne in mind that you are my brother, and have not yet forgotten the ties of nature, and do not regard me in the light of an enemy, for I have entered on a life which is wearing out my strength, and is so far beyond my powers that it is injuring even my soul. Yet for all this, as you have determined to declare war against me, you ought to have come to me and shared my troubles. For it is said, "Brethren and help are against time of trouble." [2214]If the right reverend bishops are really willing to meet me, let them make known to me a place and time, and let them invite me by their own men. I do not refuse to meet my own uncle, but I shall not do so unless the invitation reaches me in due and proper form. [2215]

Footnotes

[2211] Placed in 371. [2212] Three mss. give the title Gregorio episkopo kai adelpho, but, as is pointed out by the Ben. Ed., the letter itself is hardly one which would be written to one with the responsibilities of a bishop. Basil seems to regard his brother as at liberty to come and help him at Cæsarea. Gregory's consecration to the see of Nyssa is placed in 372, when his reluctance had to be overcome by force. cf. Letter ccxxv. On the extraordinary circumstance of his well meant but futile forgery of the name of his namesake and uncle, bishop of an unknown see, vide Prolegom. [2213] Bishop of Tyana, estranged from Basil, cf. Letters cxx., cxxi., cxxii., and ccx. [2214] Eccles. xl. 24. [2215] Negat Basilius se adfuturum, nisi decenter advocetur, id est, nist mittantur qui eum in indictum locum deducant. Erat Basilius, ut in ejus modi officiis exhibendis diligentissimus, ita etiam in reposcendis attentus. Meletius Antiochenus et Theodorus Nicopolitanus, cum Basilium ad celebritatem quamdam obiter advocassent per Hellenium Nazianzi Peræquatorem, nec iterum misissent qui de visdem admoneret aut deduceret; displicuit Basilio perfunctoria invitandi ratio, ac veritus ne suspectus illis esset, adesse noluit." Note by Ben. Ed.

Letter LIX. [2216]

To Gregory, his uncle. [2217] 1. "I have long time holden my peace. Am I to hold my peace for ever? [2218]Shall I still further endure to enforce against myself the hardest punishment of silence, by neither writing myself, nor receiving any statement from another? By holding fast to this stern determination up to the present time I am able to apply to myself the prophet's words, "I endure patiently like travailing woman." [2219] Yet I am ever longing for communication either in person or by letter, and ever, for my own sins' sake, missing it. For I cannot imagine any reason for what is happening, other than what I am convinced is the true one, that by being cut off from your love I am expiating old sins; if indeed I am not wrong in using such a phrase as "cut off" in your case, from any one, much less from me, to whom you have always been as a father. Now my sin, like some dense cloud overshadowing me, has made me forget all this. When I reflect that the only result to me of what is going on is sorrow, how can I attribute it to anything but to my own wickedness? But if events are to be traced to sins, be this the end of my troubles; if there was any intended discipline in it, then your object has been very completely attained, for the punishment has been going on for a long time; so I groan no longer, but am the first to break silence, and beseech you to remember both me and yourself who, to a greater degree than our relationship might have demanded, have shewn me strong affection all my life. Now, I implore you, show kindness to the city for my sake. Do not on my account alienate yourself from it. 2. If, then, there is any consolation in Christ, any fellowship of the Spirit, any mercy and pity, fulfil my prayer. Put a stop to my depression. Let there be a beginning of brighter things for the future. Be yourself a leader to others in the road to all that is best, and follow no one else in the way to what is wrong. Never was any feature so characteristic of any one's body as gentleness and peace are of your soul. It were well becoming such a one as you are to draw all others to yourself, and to cause all who come near you to be permeated with the goodness of your nature, as with the fragrance of myrrh. For though there be a certain amount of opposition now, nevertheless ere long there will be a recognition of the blessings of peace. So long, however, as room is found for the calumnies that are bred of dissension, suspicion is sure to grow from worse to worse. It is most certainly unbecoming for the rest to take no notice of me, but it is especially unbecoming in your excellency. If I am wrong I shall be all the better for being rebuked. This is impossible if we never meet. But, if I am doing no wrong, for what am I disliked? So much I offer in my own defence. 3. As to what the Churches might say in their own behalf, perhaps it is better for me to be silent: they reap the result of our disagreement, and it is not to their gain. I am not speaking to indulge my grief but to put a stop to it. And your intelligence, I am sure, has suffered nothing to escape you. You will yourself be better able to discern and to tell to others points of far greater importance than I can conceive. You saw the mischief done to the Churches before I did; and you are grieving more than I am, for you have long learnt from the Lord not to despise even the least. [2220]And now the mischief is not confined to one or two, but whole cities and peoples are sharers in my calamities. What need to tell what kind of report will spread about me even beyond our borders? It were well for you, large hearted as you are, to leave the love of strife to others; nay rather, if it be possible, to root it from their hearts, while you yourself vanquish what is grievous by endurance. Any angry man can defend himself, but to rise above the actual anger belongs only to you, and any one as good as you, if such there be. One thing I will not say, that he who has a grudge against me is letting his anger fall on the innocent. Do then comfort my soul by coming to me, or by a letter, or by inviting me to come to you, or by some means or other. My prayer is that your piety may be seen in the Church and that you may heal at once me and the people, both by the sight of you and by the words of your good grace. If this be possible it is best; if you determine on any other course I shall willingly accept it. Only accede to my entreaty that you will give me distinct information as to what your wisdom decides.

Footnotes

[2216] Placed in 361, at about the same time as the preceding. [2217] Vide n. on preceding page. [2218] Isa. xlii. 14, LXX. [2219] Isa. xlii. 14, LXX. [2220] cf. Matt. xviii. 10.

Letter LX. [2221]

To Gregory his uncle. Formerly I was glad to see my brother. Why not, since he is my brother and such a brother? Now I have received him on his coming to visit me with the same feelings, and have lost none of my affection. God forbid that I should ever so feel as to forget the ties of nature and be at war with those who are near and dear to me. I have found his presence a comfort in my bodily sickness and the other troubles of my soul, and I have been especially delighted at the letter which he has brought me from your excellency. For a long time I have been hoping that it would come, for this only reason, that I need not add to my life any doleful episode of quarrel between kith and kin, sure to give pleasure to foes and sorrow to friends, and to be displeasing to God, Who has laid down perfect love as the distinctive characteristic of His disciples. So I reply, as I am indeed bound, with an earnest request for your prayers for me, and your care for me in all things, as your relative. Since I, from want of information, cannot clearly understand the meaning of what is going on, I have judged it right to accept the truth of the account which you are so good as to give me. It is for you of your wisdom to settle the rest, our meeting with one another, the fitting time and a convenient place. If your reverence really does not disdain to come down to my lowliness and to have speech with me, whether you wish the interview to take place in the presence of others or in private, I shall make no objection, for I have once for all made up my mind to submit to you in love, and to carry out, without exception, what your reverence enjoins on me for the glory of God. I have not laid my reverend brother under the necessity of reporting anything to you by word of mouth, because on the former occasion what he said was not borne out by facts.

Footnotes

[2221] Of the same time as the preceding.

Letter LXI. [2222]

To Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria. [2223] I have read the letter of your holiness, in which you have expressed your distress at the unhappy governor of Libya. I am grieved that my own country should have given birth to and nurtured such vices. I am grieved too that Libya, a neighbouring country, should suffer from our evils, and should have been delivered to the inhumanity of a man whose life is marked at once by cruelty and crime. This however is only in accordance with the wisdom of the Preacher, "Woe to thee O land when thy King is a child;" [2224] (a still further touch of trouble) and whose "Princes" do not "eat" after night but revel at mid-day, raging after other men's wives with less understanding than brute beasts. This man must surely look for the scourges of the righteous Judge, repaid him in exact requital for those which he himself has previously inflicted on the saints. Notice has been given to my Church in accordance with the letter of your reverence, and he shall be held by all as abominable, cut off from fire, water and shelter, if indeed in the case of men so possessed there is any use in general and unanimous condemnation. Notoriety is enough for him, and your own letter, which has been read in all directions, for I shall not fail to show it to all his friends and relatives. Assuredly, even if retribution does not reach him at once, as it did Pharaoh, certainly it will bring on him hereafter a heavy and hard requital.

Footnotes

[2222] Placed in 370 or 371. [2223] This, the first of Basil's six extant letters to Athanasius, is placed by the Ben. Ed. in 371. It has no certain indication of date. Athanasius, in the few years of comparative calm which preceded his death in May, 373, had excommunicated a vicious governor in Libya, a native of Cappadocia, and announced his act to Basil. The intercourse opened by this official communication led to a more important correspondence. [2224] Eccles. x. 16.

Letter LXII. [2225]

To the Church of Parnassus. [2226] Following an ancient custom, which has obtained for many years, and at the same time shewing you love in God, which is the fruit of the Spirit, I now, my pious friends, address this letter to you. I feel with you at once in your grief at the event which has befallen you, and in your anxiety at the matter which you have in hand. Concerning all these troubles I can only say, that an occasion is given us to look to the injunctions of the Apostle, and not to sorrow "even as others which have no hope." [2227]I do not mean that we should be insensible to the loss we have suffered, but that we should not succumb to our sorrow, while we count the Pastor happy in his end. He has died in a ripe old age, and has found his rest in the great honour given him by his Lord. As to the future I have this recommendation to give you. You must now lay aside all mourning; you must come to yourselves; you must rise to the necessary management of the Church; to the end that the holy God may give heed to His own little flock, and may grant you a shepherd in accordance with His own will, who may wisely feed you.

Footnotes

[2225] Placed about 371. [2226] A town in Northern Cappadocia, on the right bank of the Halys, on or near a hill whence it was named, on the road between Ancyra and Archelais. The letter appears to Maran (Vita S. Bas. xvi.) to have been written before the encouragement given to the Arians by the visit of Valens in 372. The result of Basil's appeal to the Parnassenes was the election of an orthodox bishop, expelled by the Arians in 375, and named Hypsis or Hypsinus. cf. Letter ccxxxvii., where Ecdicius is said to have succeeded Hypsis; and ccxxxviii., where Ecdicius is called Parnassenos. [2227] 1 Thess. iv. 13.

Letter LXIII. [2228]

To the Governor of Neocæsarea. The wise man, even if he dwells far away, even if I never set eyes on him, I count a friend. So says the tragedian Euripides. And so, if, though I have never had the pleasure of meeting your excellency in person, I speak of myself as a familiar friend, pray do not set this down to mere empty compliment. Common report, which loudly proclaims your universal benevolence, is, in this instance, the promoter of friendship. Indeed since I met the highly respectable Elpidius, [2229] I have known you as well, and I have been as completely captured by you, as though I had long lived with you and had practical experience of your excellent qualities. For he did not cease telling me about you, mentioning one by one your magnanimity, your exalted sentiments, your mild manners, your skill in business, intelligence, dignity tempered by cheerfulness, and eloquence. All the other points that he enumerated in his long conversation with me it is impossible for me to write to you, without extending my letter beyond all reasonable bounds. How can I fail to love such a man? How could I put such restraint upon myself as not loudly to proclaim what I feel? Accept then, most excellent Sir, the greeting which I send you, for it is inspired by true and unfeigned friendship. I abhor all servile compliment. Pray keep me enrolled in the list of your friends, and, by frequently writing to me, bring yourself before me and comfort me in your absence.

Footnotes

[2228] Of about the same date as the preceding. [2229] Another reading is Helladius. cf. Letters lxiv., lxxvii., and lxxviii. The identification of these Elpidii is conjectural. The name was common.

Letter LXIV. [2230]

To Hesychius. [2231] From the beginning I have had many points in common with your excellency, your love of letters, everywhere reported by all who have experienced it, and our old friendship with the admirable Terentius. But since that most excellent man, who is to me all that friendship could require, my worthy brother Elpidius, has met me, and told me all your good qualities, (and who more capable than he at once to perceive a man's virtue and to describe it?) he has kindled in me such a desire to see you, that I pray that you may one day visit me in my old home, that I may enjoy your good qualities, not merely by hearing of them, but by actual experience.

Footnotes

[2230] Of about the same date as the preceding. [2231] cf. Letter lxii.

Letter LXV. [2232]

To Atarbius. [2233] If I continue to insist on the privileges to which my superior age entitles me, and wait for you to take the initiative in communication , and if you, my friend, wish to adhere more persistently to your evil counsel of inaction, what end will there be to our silence? However, where friendship is involved, to be defeated is in my opinion to win, and so I am quite ready to gave you precedence, and retire from the contest as to which should maintain his own opinion. I have been the first to betake myself to writing, because I know that "charity beareth all things...endureth all things...seeketh not her own" and so "never faileth." [2234]He who subjects himself to his neighbour in love can never be humiliated. I do beg you, then, at all events for the future, show the first and greatest fruit of the Spirit, Love; [2235] away with the angry man's sullenness which you are showing me by your silence, and recover joy in your heart, peace with the brothers who are of one mind with you, and zeal and anxiety for the continued safety of the Churches of the Lord. If I were not to make as strenuous efforts on behalf of the Churches as the opponents of sound doctrine make to subvert and utterly destroy them, you may be quite sure that there is nothing to prevent the truth from being swept away and destroyed by its enemies, and my being involved in the condemnation, for not shewing all possible anxiety for the unity of the Churches, with all zeal and eagerness in mutual unanimity and godly agreement. I exhort you then, drive out of your mind the idea that you need communion with no one else. To cut one's self off from connexion with the brethren is not the mark of one who is walking by love, nor yet the fulfilling of the commandment of Christ. At the same time I do wish you, with all your good intentions, to take into account that the calamities of the war which are now all round about us [2236] may one day be at our own doors, and if we too, like all the rest, have our share of outrage, we shall not find any even to sympathise with us, because in the hour of our prosperity we refused to give our share of sympathy to the wronged.

Footnotes

[2232] Placed about 371, or, at all events, according to Maran, before the year 373, when the ill will of Atarbius towards Basil was violently manifested. [2233] Atarbius is recognised as bishop of Neocæsarea, partly on the evidence of the Codices Coislinanus and Medicæus, which describe him as of Neocæsarea, partly on a comparison of Letters lxv. and cxxvi., addressed to him, with the circumstances of the unnamed bishop of Neocæsarea referred to in Letter ccx. Moreover (cf. Bp. Lightfoot, D.C.B. i. 179) at the Council of Constantinople he represented the province of Pontus Polemoniacus, of which Neocæsarea was metropolis. On the authority of an allusion in Letter ccx. sec. 4, Atarbius is supposed to be a kinsman of Basil. [2234] 1 Cor. xiii. 7 and 8. [2235] cf. Gal. v. 22. [2236] i.e. the attacks of Valens on the Church.

Letter LXVI. [2237]

To Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria. No one, I feel sure, is more distressed at the present condition, or, rather to speak more truly, ill condition of the Churches than your excellency; for you compare the present with the past, and take into account how great a change has come about. You are well aware that if no check is put to the swift deterioration which we are witnessing, there will soon be nothing to prevent the complete transformation of the Churches. And if the decay of the Churches seems so pitiful to me, what must--so I have often in my lonely musings reflected--be the feelings of one who has known, by experience, the old tranquillity of the Churches of the Lord, and their one mind about the faith? But as your excellency feels most deeply this distress, it seems to me only becoming that your wisdom should be more strongly moved to interest itself in the Church's behalf. I for my part have long been aware, so far as my moderate intelligence has been able to judge of current events, that the one way of safety for the Churches of the East lies in their having the sympathy of the bishops of the West. For if only those bishops liked to show the same energy on behalf of the Christians sojourning in our part of the world [2238] which they have shewn in the case of one or two of the men convicted of breaches of orthodoxy in the West, our common interests would probably reap no small benefit, our sovereigns treating the authority of the people with respect, and the laity in all quarters unhesitatingly following them. [2239]But, to carry out these objects, who has more capacity than yourself, with your intelligence and prudence? Who is keener to see the needful course to be taken? Who has more practical experience in working a profitable policy? Who feels more deeply the troubles of the brethren? What through all the West is more honoured than your venerable gray hairs? [2240]O most honoured father, leave behind you some memorial worthy of your life and character. By this one act crown your innumerable efforts on behalf of true religion. Despatch from the holy Church placed under your care men of ability in sound doctrine to the bishops in the West. Recount to them the troubles whereby we are beset. Suggest some mode of relief. Be a Samuel to the Churches. Share the grief of the beleaguered people. Offer prayers for peace. Ask favour from the Lord, that He will send some memorial of peace to the Churches. I know how weak letters are to move men in matters of such importance; but you yourself no more need exhortation from others than the noblest athletes need the children's cheers. It is not as though I were instructing one in ignorance; I am only giving a new impulse to one whose energies are already roused. For the rest of the affairs of the East perhaps you may need the aid of more, and we must wait for the Westerns. But plainly the discipline of the Church of Antioch depends upon your reverence's being able to control some, to reduce others to silence, and to restore strength to the Church by concord. [2241]No one knows better than you do, that, like all wise physicians, you ought to begin your treatment in the most vital parts, and what part is more vital to the Churches throughout the world than Antioch? Only let Antioch be restored to harmony, and nothing will stand in the way of her supplying, as a healthy head, soundness to all the body. Truly the diseases of that city, which has not only been cut asunder by heretics, but is torn in pieces by men who say that they are of one mind with one another, stand in need of your wisdom and evangelic sympathy. To unite the sundered parts again, and bring about the harmony of one body, belongs to Him alone Who by His ineffable power grants even to the dry bones to come back again to sinews and flesh. But the Lord always works His mighty works by means of them that are worthy of Him. Once again, in this case too, we trust that the ministry of matters so important may beseem your excellency, with the result that you will lay the tempest of the people, do away with the party superiorities, and subject all to one another in love, and give back to the Church her ancient strength.

Footnotes

[2237] Placed in 371. cf. Letter lxii. [2238] huper tes paroikias ton kath' hemas meron. On the use of paroikia in this sense, cf. Bp. Lightfoot, Ap. Fathers I. ii. 5. So Apollon. in Eus., H.E. v. 18. he hidia paroikia, of the Christian society. Thus the meaning passes to parochia and parish. [2239] "Them" is referred by the Ben. Ed. not to the sovereigns (ton kratounton they understand to mean Valens) but to the Western bishops. [2240] A various reading ("Tres mss. et secunda manu Medicoeus," Ben. Ed.) for polias reads politeias "the life and conversation of your Holiness."--Athanasius was now about 75. His death is placed in 373. [2241] To end the schism caused by the refusal of the Eustathian or old Catholic party to recognise Meletius as bishop of the whole orthodox body. The churches of the West and Egypt, on the whole, supported Paulinus, who had been ordained by Lucifer of Cagliari, bishop of the old Catholics. The Ben. Ed. supposes the word oikonomesai, which I have rendered "control," to refer to Paulinus. The East supported Meletius, and if the oikonomia in Basil's mind does refer to Paulinus, the "management" meant may be management to get rid of him.

Letter LXVII. [2242]

To Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria. In my former letter it seemed to me sufficient to point out to your excellency, that all that portion of the people of the holy Church of Antioch who are sound in the faith, ought to be brought to concord and unity. My object was to make it plain that the sections, now divided into several parts, ought to be united under the God-beloved bishop Meletius. Now the same beloved deacon, Dorotheus, has requested a more distinct statement on these subjects, and I am therefore constrained to point out that it is the prayer of the whole East, and the earnest desire of one who, like myself, is so wholly united to him, to see him in authority over the Churches of the Lord. He is a man of unimpeachable faith; his manner of life is incomparably excellent, he stands at the head, so to say, of the whole body of the Church, and all else are mere disjointed members. On every ground, then, it is necessary as well as advantageous, that the rest should be united with him, just as smaller streams with great ones. About the rest, [2243] however, a certain amount of management is needed, befitting their position, and likely to pacify the people. This is in keeping with your own wisdom, and with your famous readiness and energy. It has however by no means escaped your intelligence, that this same course of procedure has already recommended itself to the Westerns who are in agreement with you, as I learn from the letters brought to me by the blessed Silvanus.

Footnotes

[2242] Of the same year as the preceding. [2243] i.e. Paulinus and his adherents.

Letter LXVIII. [2244]

To Meletius, bishop of Antioch. I wished to detain the reverend brother Dorotheus, the deacon, so long at my side, with the object of keeping him until the end of the negociations, and so by him acquainting your excellency with every detail. But day after day went by; the delay was becoming protracted; now, the moment that some plan, so far as is possible in my difficulties, has occurred to me concerning the course to be taken, I send him to approach your holiness, to make a personal report to you on all the circumstances, and show you my memorandum, to the end that, if what has occurred to me seems to you to be likely to be of service, your excellency may urge on its accomplishment. To be brief, the opinion has prevailed that it is best for this our brother Dorotheus to travel to Rome, to move some of the Italians to undertake a voyage by sea to visit us, that they may avoid all who would put difficulties in their way. My reason for this course is that I see that those, who are all powerful with the Emperor, are neither willing nor able to make any suggestion to him about the exiled, but only count it so much to the good that they see no worse thing befalling the Churches. If, then, my plan seems good also to your prudence, you will be good enough both to indite letters and dictate memoranda as to the points on which he must enlarge, and as to whom he had better address himself. And so that your despatches may have weight and authority, you will add all those who share your sentiments, even though they are not on the spot. Here all is uncertain; Euippius [2245] has arrived, but so far has made no sign. However, he and those who think with him from the Armenian Tetrapolis and Cilicia are threatening a tumultuous meeting.

Footnotes

[2244] Of the same time. [2245] cf. Letter ccli.

Letter LXIX. [2246]

To Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria. 1. As time moves on, it continually confirms the opinion which I have long held of your holiness; or rather that opinion is strengthened by the daily course of events. Most men are indeed satisfied with observing, each one, what lies especially within his own province; not thus is it with you, but your anxiety for all the Churches is no less than that which you feel for the Church that has been especially entrusted to you by our common Lord; inasmuch as you leave no interval in speaking, exhorting, writing, and despatching emissaries, who from time to time give the best advice in each emergency as it arises. Now, from the sacred ranks of your clergy, you have sent forth the venerable brother Peter, whom I have welcomed with great joy. I have also approved of the good object of his journey, which he manifests in accordance with the commands of your excellency, in effecting reconciliation where he finds opposition, and bringing about union instead of division. With the object of offering some contribution to the action which is being taken in this matter, I have thought that I could not make a more fitting beginning than by having recourse to your excellency, as to the head and chief of all, and treating you as alike adviser and commander in the enterprise. I have therefore determined to send to your reverence our brother Dorotheus the deacon, of the Church under the right honourable bishop Meletius, being one who at once is an energetic supporter of the orthodox faith, and is earnestly desirous of seeing the peace of the Churches. The results, I hope, will be, that, following your suggestions (which you are able to make with the less likelihood of failure, both from your age and your experience in affairs, and because you have a greater measure than all others of the aid of the Spirit), he may thus attempt the achievement of our objects. You will welcome him, I am sure, and will look upon him with friendly eyes. You will strengthen him by the help of your prayers; you will give him a letter as provision by the way; you will grant him, as companions, some of the good men and true that you have about you; so you will speed him on the road to what is before him. It has seemed to me to be desirable to send a letter to the bishop of Rome, begging him to examine our condition, and since there are difficulties in the way of representatives being sent from the West by a general synodical decree, to advise him to exercise his own personal authority in the matter by choosing suitable persons to sustain the labours of a journey,--suitable, too, by gentleness and firmness of character, to correct the unruly among us here; able to speak with proper reserve and appropriateness, and thoroughly well acquainted with all that has been effected after Ariminum to undo the violent measures adopted there. I should advise that, without any one knowing anything about it, they should travel hither, attracting as little attention as possible, by the sea, with the object of escaping the notice of the enemies of peace. 2. A point also that is insisted upon by some of those in these parts, very necessarily, as is plain even to myself, is that they [2247] should drive away the heresy of Marcellus, [2248] as grievous and injurious and opposed to the sound faith. For up to this time, in all the letters which they write, they are constant in thoroughly anathematizing the ill-famed Arius and in repudiating him from the Churches. But they attach no blame to Marcellus, who propounded a heresy diametrically opposite to that of Arius, and impiously attacked the very existence of the Only begotten Godhead, and erroneously understood the term "Word." [2249]He grants indeed that the Only begotten was called "Word," on coming forth at need and in season, but states that He returned again to Him whence He had come forth, and had no existence before His coming forth, nor hypostasis [2250] after His return. The books in my possession which contain his unrighteous writings exist as a proof of what I say. Nevertheless they nowhere openly condemned him, and are to this extent culpable that, being from the first in ignorance of the truth, they received him into the communion of the Church. The present state of affairs makes it specially necessary that attention should be called to him, so that those who seek for their opportunity, may be prevented from getting it, from the fact of sound men being united to your holiness, and all who are lame in the true faith may be openly known; that so we may know who are on our side, and may not struggle, as in a night battle, without being able to distinguish between friends and foes. Only I do beseech you that the deacon, whom I have mentioned, be despatched by the earliest possible packet, that at least some of the ends which we pray for may be accomplished during the ensuing year. One thing, however, even before I mention it, you quite understand and I am sure will give heed to, that, when they come, if God will, they must not let loose schisms among the Churches; and, even though they find some who have personal reasons for mutual differences, they must leave no means untried to unite all who are of the same way of thinking. For we are bound to regard the interests of peace as paramount, and that first of all attention be paid to the Church at Antioch, lest the sound portion of it grow diseased through division on personal grounds. But you will yourself give more complete attention to all these matters, so soon as, by the blessing of God, you find every one entrusting to you the responsibility of securing the peace of the Church.

Footnotes

[2246] Of the same period as the preceding. [2247] i.e. the Romans; specially the proposed commissioners. It was a sore point with Basil that Marcellus, whom he regarded as a trimmer, should have been "received into communion by Julius and Athanasius, popes of Rome and Alexandria." Jer., De Vir. Illust. c. 86. [2248] On the heretical opinions attributed to Marcellus of Ancyra, cf. Letters cxxv. and cclxiii. [2249] Although he strongly espoused the Catholic cause of Nicæa later in attacking the errors of Asterius, he was supposed to teach that the Son had no real personality, but was merely an external manifestation of the Father. [2250] huphestanai.

Letter LXX. [2251]

Without address. [2252] To renew laws of ancient love, and once again to restore to vigorous life that heavenly and saving gift of Christ which in course of time has withered away, the peace, I mean, of the Fathers, is a labour necessary indeed and profitable to me, but pleasant too, as I am sure it will seem to your Christ-loving disposition. For what could be more delightful than to behold all, who are separated by distances so vast, bound together by the union effected by love into one harmony of members in Christ's body? Nearly all the East (I include under this name all the regions from Illyricum to Egypt) is being agitated, right honourable father, by a terrible storm and tempest. The old heresy, sown by Arius the enemy of the truth, has now boldly and unblushingly reappeared. Like some sour root, it is producing its deadly fruit and is prevailing. The reason of this is, that in every district the champions of right doctrine have been exiled from their Churches by calumny and outrage, and the control of affairs has been handed over to men who are leading captive the souls of the simpler brethren. I have looked upon the visit of your mercifulness as the only possible solution of our difficulties. Ever in the past I have been consoled by your extraordinary affection; and for a short time my heart was cheered by the gratifying report that we shall be visited by you. But, as I was disappointed, I have been constrained to beseech you by letter to be moved to help us, and to send some of those, who are like minded with us, either to conciliate the dissentient and bring back the Churches of God into friendly union, or at all events to make you see more plainly who are responsible for the unsettled state in which we are, that it may be obvious to you for the future with whom it befits you to be in communion. In this I am by no means making any novel request, but am only asking what has been customary in the case of men who, before our own day, were blessed and dear to God, and conspicuously in your own case. For I well remember learning from the answers made by our fathers when asked, and from documents still preserved among us, that the illustrious and blessed bishop Dionysius, conspicuous in your see as well for soundness of faith as for all other virtues, visited by letter my Church of Cæsarea, and by letter exhorted our fathers, and sent men to ransom our brethren from captivity. [2253]But now our condition is yet more painful and gloomy and needs more careful treatment. We are lamenting no mere overthrow of earthly buildings, but the capture of Churches; what we see before us is no mere bodily slavery, but a carrying away of souls into captivity, perpetrated day by day by the champions of heresy. Should you not, even now, be moved to succour us, ere long all will have fallen under the dominion of the heresy, and you will find none left to whom you may hold out your hand.

Footnotes

[2251] Of the same period as the preceding. [2252] "This letter is obviously addressed to Pope Damasus."--Ben. Ed. [2253] The Ben. Ed. points out that what is related by Basil, of the kindness of the bishops of Rome to other churches, is confirmed by the evidence both of Dionysius, bishop of Corinth (cf. Eusebius, Hist. Ecc. iv. 23), of Dionysius of Alexandria (Dionysius to Sixtus II. Apud Euseb., Ecc. Hist. vii. 5), and of Eusebius himself who in his history speaks of the practice having been continued down to the persecution in his own day. The troubles referred to by Basil took place in the time of Gallienus, when the Scythians ravaged Cappadocia and the neighbouring countries. (cf. Sozomen, ii. 6.) Dionysius succeeded Sixtus II. at Rome in 259.

Letter LXXI. [2254]

Basil to Gregory. [2255] 1. I have received the letter of your holiness, by the most reverend brother Helenius, and what you have intimated he has told me in plain terms. How I felt on hearing it, you cannot doubt at all. However, since I have determined that my affection for you shall outweigh my pain, whatever it is, I have accepted it as I ought to do, and I pray the holy God, that my remaining days or hours may be as carefully conducted in their disposition towards you as they have been in past time, during which, my conscience tells me, I have been wanting to you in nothing small or great. [But that the man who boasts that he is now just beginning to take a look at the life of Christians, and thinks he will get some credit by having something to do with me, should invent what he has not heard, and narrate what he has never experienced, is not at all surprising. What is surprising and extraordinary is that he has got my best friends among the brethren at Nazianzus to listen to him; and not only to listen to him, but as it seems, to take in what he says. On most grounds it might be surprising that the slanderer is of such a character, and that I am the victim, but these troublous times have taught us to bear everything with patience. Slights greater than this have, for my sins, long been things of common occurrence with me. I have never yet given this man's brethren any evidence of my sentiments [2256] about God, and I have no answer to make now. Men who are not convinced by long experience are not likely to be convinced by a short letter. If the former is enough let the charges of the slanderers be counted as idle tales. But if I give license to unbridled mouths, and uninstructed hearts, to talk about whom they will, all the while keeping my ears ready to listen, I shall not be alone in hearing what is said by other people; they will have to hear what I have to say.] 2. I know what has led to all this, and have urged every topic to hinder it; but now I am sick of the subject, and will say no more about it, I mean our little intercourse. For had we kept our old promise to each other, and had due regard to the claims which the Churches have on us, we should have been the greater part of the year together; and then there would have been no opening for these calumniators. Pray have nothing to say to them; let me persuade you to come here and assist me in my labours, particularly in my contest with the individual who is now assailing me. Your very appearance will have the effect of stopping him; directly you show these disturbers of our home that you will, by God's blessing, place yourself at the head of our party, you will break up their cabal, and you will shut every unjust mouth that speaketh unrighteousness against God. And thus facts will show who are your followers in good, and who are the halters and cowardly betrayers of the word of truth. If, however, the Church be betrayed, why then I shall care little to set men right about myself, by means of words, who account of me as men would naturally account who have not yet learned to measure themselves. Perhaps, in a short time, by God's grace, I shall be able to refute their slanders by very deed, for it seems likely that I shall have soon to suffer somewhat for the truth's sake more than usual; the best I can expect is banishment, or, if this hope fails, after all Christ's judgment-seat is not far distant. [If then you ask for a meeting for the Churches' sake, I am ready to betake myself whithersoever you invite me. But if it is only a question of refuting these slanders, I really have no time to reply to them.]

Footnotes

[2254] Placed in the same period. [2255] When Gregory, on the elevation of Basil to the Episcopate, was at last induced to visit his old friend, he declined the dignities which Basil pressed upon him (tende tes kathedras timen, i.e. the position of chief presbyter or coadjutor bishop, Orat. xliii. 39), and made no long stay. Some Nazianzene scandal-mongers had charged Basil with heterodoxy. Gregory asked him for explanations, and Basil, somewhat wounded, rejoins that no explanations are needed. The translation in the text with the exception of the passages in brackets, is that of Newman. cf. Proleg. and reff. to Greg. Naz. [2256] proaireseos , as in three mss.

Letter LXXII. [2257]

To Hesychius. [2258] I know your affection for me, and your zeal for all that is good. I am exceedingly anxious to pacify my very dear son Callisthenes, and I thought that if I could associate you with me in this I might more easily achieve my object. Callisthenes is very much annoyed at the conduct of Eustochius, and he has very good ground for being so. He charges the household of Eustochius with impudence and violence against himself. I am begging him to be propitiated, satisfied with the fright which he has given the impudent fellows and their master, and to forgive, and end the quarrel. Thus two results will follow; he will win the respect of men, and praise with God, if only he will combine forbearance with threats. If you have any friendship and intimacy with him, pray ask this favour of him, and, if you know any in the town likely to be able to move him, get them to act with you, and tell them that it will be specially gratifying to me. Send back the deacon so soon as his commission is performed. After men have fled for refuge to me, I should be ashamed not to be able to be of any use to them.

Footnotes

[2257] Placed at about the same period as the preceding. [2258] cf. Letter lxiv. Letters lxxii. and lxxiii. illustrate the efforts made by Basil to mitigate the troubles caused by slavery, and to regulate domestic as well as ecclesiastical matters.

Letter LXXIII. [2259]

To Callisthenes. 1. When I had read your letter I thanked God; first, that I been greeted by a man desirous of doing me honour, for truly I highly estimate any intercourse with persons of high merit; secondly, with pleasure at the thought of being remembered. For a letter is a sign of remembrance; and when I had received yours and learnt its contents I was astonished to find how, as all were agreed, it paid me the respect due to a father from a son. That a man in the heat of anger and indignation, eager to punish those who had annoyed him, should drop more than half his vehemence and give me authority to decide the matter, caused me to feel such joy as I might over a son in the spirit. In return, what remains for me but to pray for all blessings for you? May you be a delight to your friends, a terror to your foes, an object of respect to all, to the end that any who fall short in their duty to you may, when they learn how gentle you are, only blame themselves for having wronged one of such a character as yourself! 2. I should be very glad to know the object which your goodness has in view, in ordering the servants to be conveyed to the spot where they were guilty of their disorderly conduct. If you come yourself, and exact in person the punishment due for the offence, the slaves shall be there. What other course is possible if you have made up your mind? Only that I do not know what further favour I shall have received, if I shall have failed to get the boys off their punishment. But if business detain you on the way, who is to receive the fellows there? Who is to punish them in your stead? But if you have made up your mind to meet them yourself, and this is quite determined on, tell them to halt at Sasima, and there show the extent of your gentleness and magnanimity. After having your assailants in your own power, and so showing them that your dignity is not to be lightly esteemed, let them go scot free, as I urged you in my former letter. So you will confer a favour on me, and will receive the requital of your good deed from God. 3. I speak in this way, not because the business ought so to be ended, but as a concession to your agitated feelings, and in fear lest somewhat of your wrath may remain still raw. When a man's eyes are inflamed the softest application seems painful, and I am afraid lest what I say may rather irritate than calm you. What would really be most becoming, bringing great credit to you, and no little cause of honour to me with my friends and contemporaries, would be for you to leave the punishment to me. And although you have sworn to deliver them to execution as the law enjoins, my rebuke is still of no less value as a punishment, nor is the divine law of less account than the laws current in the world. But it will be possible for them, by being punished here by our laws, wherein too lies your own hope of salvation, both to release you from your oath and to undergo a penalty commensurate with their faults. But once more I am making my letter too long. In the very earnest desire to persuade you I cannot bear to leave unsaid any of the pleas which occur to me, and I am much afraid lest my entreaty should prove ineffectual from my failing to say all that may convey my meaning. Now, true and honoured son of the Church, confirm the hopes which I have of you; prove true all the testimony unanimously given to your placability and gentleness. Give orders to the soldier to leave me without delay; he is now as tiresome and rude as he can well be; he evidently prefers giving no cause of annoyance to you to making all of us here his close friends.

Footnotes

[2259] Of the same date as the preceding.

Letter LXXIV. [2260]

To Martinianus. [2261] 1. How high do you suppose one to prize the pleasure of our meeting one another once again? How delightful to spend longer time with you so as to enjoy all your good qualities! If powerful proof is given of culture in seeing many men's cities and knowing many men's ways, [2262] such I am sure is quickly given in your society. For what is the difference between seeing many men singly or one who has gained experience of all together? I should say that there is an immense superiority in that which gives us the knowledge of good and beautiful things without trouble, and puts within our reach instruction in virtue, pure from all admixture of evil. Is there question of noble deed; of words worth handing down; of institutions of men of superhuman excellence? All are treasured in the store house of your mind. Not then, would I pray, that I might listen to you, like Alcinous to Ulysses, only for a year, but throughout all my life; and to this end I would pray that my life might be long, even though my state were no easy one. Why, then, am I now writing when I ought to be coming to see you? Because my country in her troubles calls me irresistibly to her side. You know, my friend, how she suffers. She is torn in pieces like Pentheus by veritable Mænads, dæmons. They are dividing her, and dividing her again, like bad surgeons who, in their ignorance, make wounds worse. Suffering as she is from this dissection, it remains for me to tend her like a sick patient. So the Cæsareans have urgently appealed to me by letter, and I must go, not as though I could be of any help, but to avoid any blame of neglect. You know how ready men in difficulties are to hope; and ready too, I ween, to find fault, always charging their troubles on what has been left undone. 2. Yet for this very reason I ought to have come to see you, and to have told you my mind, or rather to implore you to bethink you of some strong measure worthy of your wisdom; not to turn aside from my country falling on her knees, but to betake yourself to the Court, and, with the boldness which is all your own, not to let them suppose that they own two provinces instead of one. They have not imported the second from some other part of the world, but have acted somewhat in the same way in which some owner of horse or ox might act, who should cut it in two, and then think that he had two instead of one, instead of failing to make two and destroying the one he had. Tell the Emperor and his ministers that they are not after this fashion increasing the empire, for power lies not in number but in condition. I am sure that now men are neglecting the course of events, some, possibly, from ignorance of the truth, some from their being unwilling to say anything offensive, some because it does not immediately concern them. The course likely to be most beneficial, and worthy of your high principles, would be for you, if possible, to approach the Emperor in person. If this is difficult both on account of the season of the year and of your age, of which, as you say, inactivity is the foster brother, at all events you need have no difficulty in writing. If you thus give our country the aid of a letter, you will first of all have the satisfaction of knowing that you have left nothing undone that was in your power, and further, by showing sympathy, if only in appearance, you will give the patient much comfort. Would only that it were possible for you to come yourself among us and actually see our deplorable condition! Thus, perhaps, stirred by the plain evidence before you, you might have spoken in terms worthy alike of your own magnanimity and of the affliction of Cæsarea. But do not withhold belief from what I am telling you. Verily we want some Simonides, or other like poet, to lament our troubles from actual experience. But why name Simonides? I should rather mention Æschylus, or any other who has set forth a great calamity in words like his, and uttered lamentation with a mighty voice. 3. Now we have no more meetings, no more debates, no more gatherings of wise men in the Forum, nothing more of all that made our city famous. In our Forum nowadays it would be stranger for a learned or eloquent man to put in an appearance, than it would for men, shewing a brand of iniquity or unclean hands, to have presented themselves in Athens of old. Instead of them we have the imported boorishness of Massagetæ and Scythians. And only one noise is heard of drivers of bargains, and losers of bargains, and of fellows under the lash. On either hand the porticoes resound with doleful echoes, as though they were uttering a natural and proper sound in groaning at what is going on. Our distress prevents our paying any attention to locked gymnasia and nights when no torch is lighted. There is no small danger lest, our magistrates being removed, everything crash down together as with fallen props. What words can adequately describe our calamities? Some have fled into exile, a considerable portion of our senate, and that not the least valuable, prefering perpetual banishment to Podandus. [2263]When I mention Podandus, suppose me to mean the Spartan Ceadas [2264] or any natural pit that you may have seen, spots breathing a noxious vapour, to which some have involuntarily given the name Charonian. Picture to yourself that the evils of Podandus are a match for such a place. So, of three parts, some have left their homes and are in exile, wives and hearth and all; some are being led away like captives, the majority of the best men in the city, a piteous spectacle to their friends, fulfilling their enemies' prayers; if, that is, any one has ever been found to call down so dire a curse upon our heads. A third division yet remains: these, unable to endure abandonment by their old companions, and at the same time unable to provide for themselves, have to hate their very lives. This is what I implore you to make known everywhere with an eloquence all your own, and that righteous boldness of speech which your manner of life gives you. One thing distinctly state; that, unless the authorities soon change their counsels, they will find none left on whom to exercise their clemency. You will either prove some help to the state, or at least you will have done as Solon did, who, when he was unable to defend his abandoned fellow citizens on the capture of the Acropolis, put on his armour, and sat down before the gates, thus making it plain by this guise that he was no party to what was going on. [2265]Of one thing I am assured, even though at the present moment there may be some who do not approve of your advice, the day is not far distant when they will give you the greatest credit for benevolence and sagacity, because they see events corresponding with your prediction.

Footnotes

[2260] About the same date as the preceding. [2261] A dignitary of Cappadocia otherwise unknown, whom Basil asks to intercede with the Emperor Valens to prevent that division of Cappadocia which afterward led to so much trouble. Basil had left Cæsarea in the autumn of 371, on a tour of visitation, or to consecrate his brother bishop of Nyssa (Maran, Vit. Bas. Cap. xix.), and returned to Cæsarea at the appeal of his people there. [2262] cf. the opening of the Odyssey, and the imitation of Horace, De Arte Poet. 142: "Qui mores hominum multorum vidit et urbes." [2263] Now Podando, in Southern Cappadocia, made by Valens the chief town of the new division of the province. [2264] So the Spartans named the pit into which condemned criminals were thrown. Pausanias, Book IV. 18, 4. Thucyd., i. 134. Strabo, viii. 367. [2265] i.e. on the seizure of the Acropolis by Pisistratus, Solon, resisting the instance of his friends that he should flee, returned them for answer, when they asked him on what he relied for protection, "on my old age." Plutarch, Solon 30. The senate being of the faction of Pisistratus, said that he was mad. Solon replied: Deixei de manien men emen Baios chronos astois, Deixei aletheies es meson erchomenes. Diog. Laert. 1-49

Letter LXXV. [2266]

To Aburgius. [2267] You have many qualities which raise you above the common run of men, but nothing is more distinctly characteristic of you than your zeal for your country. Thus you, who have risen to such a height as to become illustrious throughout all the world, pay a righteous recompense to the land that gave you birth. Yet she, your mother city, who bore you and nursed you, has fallen into the incredible condition of ancient story; and no one visiting Cæsarea; not even those most familiar with her, would recognise her as she is; to such complete abandonment has she been suddenly transformed, many of her magistrates having been previously removed, and now nearly all of them transferred to Podandus. The remainder, torn from these like mutilated extremities, have themselves fallen into complete despair, and have caused such a general weight of despondency, that the population of the city is now but scanty; the place looks like a desert, a piteous spectacle to all who love it, and a cause for delight and encouragement to all who have long been plotting for our fall. Who then will reach out a hand to help us? Who will drop a tear of pity over our faith? You have sympathised with a stranger city in like distress; will not your kindly excellency feel for her who gave you birth? If you have any influence, show it in our present need. Certainly you have great help from God, Who has never abandoned you, and has given you many proofs of His kindness. Only be willing to exert yourself in our behalf, and use all the influence you have for the succour of your fellow citizens.

Footnotes

[2266] About the same date as the preceding. [2267] cf. Letters xxxiii. cxlvii. clxxviii. cxcvi. and ccciv.

Letter LXXVI. [2268]

To Sophronius the Master. [2269] The greatness of the calamities, which have befallen our native city, did seem likely to compel me to travel in person to the court, and there to relate, both to your excellency and to all those who are most influential in affairs, the dejected state in which Cæsarea is lying. But I am kept here alike by ill-health and by the care of the Churches. In the meantime, therefore, I hasten to tell your lordship our troubles by letter, and to acquaint you that never ship, drowned in sea by furious winds, so suddenly disappeared, never city shattered by earthquake or overwhelmed by flood, so swiftly vanished out of sight, as our city, engulfed by this new constitution, has gone utterly to ruin. Our misfortunes have passed into a tale. Our institutions are a thing of the past; and all our men of high civil rank, in despair at what has happened to our magistrates, have left their homes in the city and are wandering about the country. There is a break therefore in the necessary conduct of affairs, and the city, which ere now gloried both in men of learning and in others who abound in opulent towns, has become a most unseemly spectacle. One only consolation have we left in our troubles, and that is to groan over our misfortunes to your excellency and to implore you, if you can, to reach out the helping hand to Cæsarea who falls on her knees before you. How indeed you may be able to aid us I am not myself able to explain; but I am sure that to you, with all your intelligence, it will be easy to discover the means, and not difficult, through the power given you by God, to use them when they are found.

Footnotes

[2268] Of the same date as the preceding. [2269] i.e. magister officiorum. cf. Letters xxxii., xcvi., clxxvii., clxxx., cxciii., cclxxii.

Letter LXXVII. [2270]

Without inscription: about Therasius. [2271] One good thing we have certainly gained from the government of the great Therasius and that is that you have frequently paid us a visit. Now, alas! we have lost our governor, and we are deprived of this good thing too. But since the boons once given us by God remain immovable, and, although we are parted in body, abide fixed by memory in the souls of each of us, let us constantly write, and communicate our needs to one another. And this we may well do at the present moment, when the storm for a brief space has cried a truce. I trust that you will not part from the admirable Therasius, for I think that it is very becoming to share his great anxieties, and I am delighted at the opportunity given you both of seeing your friends and of being seen by them. [2272]I have much to say about many things, but I put it off till we meet, for it is, I think, hardly safe to entrust matters of such importance to letters.

Footnotes

[2270] Of the same date as the preceding. [2271] Perhaps to Elpidius. Therasius is probably the governor referred to in Letter xcvi. to Sophronius. [2272] The text is here corrupt. The Ben. Ed. say "corruptissimus."

Letter LXXVIII. [2273]

Without inscription, on behalf of Elpidius. I have not failed to observe the interest you have shown in our venerable friend Elpidius; and how with your usual intelligence you have given the prefect an opportunity of showing his kindness. What I am now writing to ask you is to make this favour complete and suggest to the prefect that he should by a particular order set over our city the man who is full of all possible care for the public interests. You will therefore have many admirable reasons to urge upon the prefect for his ordering Elpidius to remain at Cæsarea. There is at all events no need for you to be taught by me, since you yourself know only too well, what is the position of affairs, and how capable Elpidius in administration.

Footnotes

[2273] Of the same date.

Letter LXXIX. [2274]

To Eustathius bishop of Sebastia. [2275] Even before receiving your letter I knew what trouble you are ready to undergo for every one, and specially for my humble self because I am exposed in this struggle. So when I received your letter from the reverend Eleusinius, and saw him actually before my face, I praised God for bestowing on me such a champion and comrade, in my struggles on behalf of true religion by the aid of the Spirit. Be it known to your exalted reverence that I have hitherto sustained some attacks from high magistrates, and these no light ones; while both the prefect and the high chamberlain pleaded with sympathy for my opponents. But, so far, I have sustained every assault unmoved, by that mercy of God which supplies to me the aid of the Spirit, and strengthens my weakness through Him.

Footnotes

[2274] Also of the year 371. [2275] cf. Letter cxix. Sebaste is Siwas on the Halys. On Eustathius to Basil a type at once of the unwashable Ethiopian for persistent heresy (Letter cxxx. 1) and of the wind-driven cloud for shiftiness and time-serving, (Letter ccxliv. 9.) Vide proleg.

Letter LXXX. [2276]

To Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria. The worse the diseases of the Churches grow, the more do we all turn to your excellency, in the belief that your championship is the one consolation left to us in our troubles. By the power of your prayers, and your knowledge of what is the best course to suggest in the emergency, you are believed to be able to save us from this terrible tempest by all alike who know your excellency even to a small extent, whether by hearsay or by personal experience. Wherefore, cease not, I implore, to pray for our souls and to rouse us by your letters. Did you but know of what service these are to us you would never have lost a single opportunity of writing. Could I only, by the aid of your prayers, be deemed worthy of seeing you, and of enjoying your good qualities, and of adding to the story of my life a meeting with your truly great and apostolical soul, then I should indeed believe that I had received from God's mercy a consolation equivalent to all the afflictions of my life.

Footnotes

[2276] Placed in 371 or early in 372.

Letter LXXXI. [2277]

To Bishop Innocent. [2278] I was delighted to receive the letter your affection sent me; but I am equally grieved at your having laid on me the load of a responsibility which is more than I can carry. How can I, so far removed as I am, undertake so great a charge? As long as the Church possesses you, it rests as it were on its proper buttress. Should the Lord be pleased to make some dispensation in the matter of your life, whom, from among us here can I send to take the charge of the brethren, who will be in like esteem with yourself? That is a very wise and proper wish which you express in your letter, that while you are yet alive you may see the successor destined after you to guide the chosen flock of the Lord (like the blessed Moses, who both wished and saw). As the place is great and famous, and your work has great and wide renown, and the times are difficult, needing no insignificant guide on account of the continuous storms and tempests which are attacking the Church, I have not thought it safe for my own soul to treat the matter perfunctorily, specially when I bear in mind the terms in which you write. For you say that, accusing me of disregard of the Churches, you mean to withstand me before the Lord. Not then to be at issue with you, but rather to have you on my side in my defence which I make in the presence of Christ I have, after looking round in the assembly of the presbyters of the city, chosen the very honourable vessel, the offspring [2279] of the blessed Hermogenes, who wrote the great and invincible creed in the great Synod. [2280]He is a presbyter of the Church, of many years standing, of steadfast character, skilled in canons, accurate in the faith, who has lived up to this time in continence and ascetic discipline, although the severity of his austere life has now subdued the flesh; a man of poverty, with no resources in this world, so that he is not even provided with bare bread, but by the labour of his hands gets a living with the brethren who dwell with him. It is my intention to send him. If, then, this is the kind of man you want, and not some younger man fit only to be sent and to discharge the common duties of this world, be so good as to write to me at the first opportunity, that I may send you this man, who is elect of God, adapted for the present work, respected by all who meet him, and who instructs with meekness all who differ from him. I might have sent him at once, but since you yourself had anticipated me in asking for a man of honourable character, and beloved by myself, but far inferior to the one whom I have indicated, I wished my mind in the matter to be made known to you. If therefore this is the kind of man you want, either send one of the brethren to fetch him at the time of the fast, or, if you have no one able to undertake the journey to me, let me know by letter.

Footnotes

[2277] Placed in 372. [2278] cf. Letter l. The see of this Innocent is unknown. cf. Letter lxxxi. and note. To the title of this letter one manuscript adds "of Rome," as the Ben. Ed. note "prorsus absurde." [2279] ekgonos, i.e. the spiritual offspring of Hermogenes, by whom he had been ordained. [2280] Bishop of Cæsarea, in which see he preceded Dianius. cf. Letters ccxliv. 9 and cclxiii. 3. "The great Synod" is Nicæa. Baronius on the year 325 remarks that Basil's memory must have failed him, inasmuch as not Hermogenes but Leontius was present at Nicæa as Bishop of Cæsarea. But Hermogenes may have been present in lower orders. cf. Stanley, East. Ch. pp. 105, 140.

Letter LXXXII. [2281]

To Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria. When I turn my gaze upon the world, and perceive the difficulties by which every effort after good is obstructed, like those of a man walking in fetters, I am brought to despair of myself. But then I direct my gaze in the direction of your reverence; I remember that our Lord has appointed you to be physician of the diseases in the Churches; and I recover my spirits, and rise from the depression of despair to the hope of better things. As your wisdom well knows, the whole Church is undone. And you see everything in all directions in your mind's eye like a man looking from some tall watch tower, [2282] as when at sea many ships sailing together are all dashed one against the other by the violence of the waves, and shipwreck arises in some cases from the sea being furiously agitated from without, in others from the disorder of the sailors hindering and crowding one another. It is enough to present this picture, and to say no more. [2283] Your wisdom requires nothing farther, and the present state of affairs does not allow me freedom of speech. What capable pilot can be found in such a storm? Who is worthy to rouse the Lord to rebuke the wind and the sea? Who but he who from his boyhood [2284] fought a good fight on behalf of true religion? Since now truly all that is sound among us is moving in the direction of fellowship and unity with those who are of the same opinion, we have come confidently to implore you to send us a single letter, advising us what is to be done. In this way they wish that they may have a beginning of communication which may promote unity. They may, peradventure, be suspected by you, when you remember the past, and therefore, most God-beloved Father, do as follows; send me the letters to the bishops, either by the hand of some one in whom you place trust in Alexandria, or by the hand of our brother Dorotheus the deacon: when I have received these letters I will not deliver them till I have got the bishops' answers; if not, let me "bear the blame for ever." [2285]Truly this ought not to have struck more awe into him who first uttered it to his father, than into me who now say it to my spiritual father. If however you altogether renounce this hope, at least free me from all blame in acting as I have, for I have undertaken this message and mediation in all sincerity and simplicity, from desire for peace and the mutual intercourse of all who think alike about the Lord.

Footnotes

[2281] Placed at the end of 371 or the beginning of 372. [2282] The fitness of this figure in a letter to the bishop of Alexandria will not escape notice. At the eastern extremity of the island of Pharos still stood the marble lighthouse erected more than 600 years before by Ptolemy II., and not destroyed till after the thirteenth century. [2283] On Basil's use of this nautical metaphor, cf. De Spirtu Sancto, chap. xxx. It is of course a literary commonplace, but Basil's associations all lay inland. [2284] The story of "the boy bishop" will be remembered, whose serious game of baptism attracted the notice of Alexander and led to the education of Athanasius in the Episcopal palace. Soc., Ecc. Hist. i. 15. Rufinus i. 14. cf. Keble, Lyra Innocentium, "Enacting holy rites." [2285] Gen. xliii. 9.

Letter LXXXIII. [2286]

To a Magistrate. [2287] I have had only a short acquaintance and intercourse with your lordship, but I have no small or contemptible knowledge of you from the reports through which I am brought into communication with many men of position and importance. You yourself are better able to say whether I, by report, am of any account with you. At all events your reputation with me is such as I have said. But since God has called you to an occupation which gives you opportunity of showing kindness, and in the exercise of which it lies in your power to bring about the restoration of my own city, now level with the ground, it is, I think, only my duty to remind your excellency that in the hope of the requital God will give, you should show yourself of such a character as to win a memory that cannot die, and be made an inheritor of everlasting rest, in consequence of your making the afflictions of the distressed hard to bear. I have a property at Chamanene, and I beg you to look after its interests as though they were your own. And pray do not be surprised at my calling my friend's property my own, for among other virtues I have been taught that of friendship, and I remember the author of the wise saying a friend is another self. [2288]I therefore commend to your excellency this property belonging to my friend, as though it were my own. I beg you to consider the misfortunes of the house, and both to grant them consolation for the past, and for the future to make the place more comfortable for them; for it is now left and abandoned on account of the weight of the rates imposed upon it. I will do my best to meet your excellency and converse with you on points of detail.

Footnotes

[2286] Placed in 372. [2287] Censitor, i.e. the magistrate responsible for rating and taxation in the provinces. [2288] cf. Aristotle Eth. Nic. viii. 12, 3; and Cic. Loel. xxi. So, amicus est tanquam alter idem.

Letter LXXXIV. [2289]

To the President. [2290] 1. You will hardly believe what I am about to write, but it must be written for truth's sake. I have been very anxious to communicate as often as possible with your excellency, but when I got this opportunity of writing a letter I did not at once seize the lucky chance. I hesitated and hung back. What is astonishing is, that when I got what I had been praying for, I did not take it. The reason of this is that I am really ashamed to write to you every time, not out of pure friendship, but with the object of getting something. But then I bethought me (and when you consider it, I do hope you will not think that I communicate with you more for the sake of a bargain than of friendship) that there must be a difference between the way in which one approaches a magistrate and a private man. We do not accost a physician as we do any mere nobody; nor a magistrate as we do a private individual. We try to get some advantage from the skill of the one and the position of the other. Walk in the sun, and your shadow will follow you, whether you will or not. Just so intercourse with the great is followed by an inevitable gain, the succour of the distressed. The first object of my letter is fulfilled in my being able to greet your excellency. Really, if I had no other cause for writing at all, this must be regarded as an excellent topic. Be greeted then, my dear Sir; may you be preserved by all the world while you fill office after office, and succour now some now others by your authority. Such greeting I am wont to make; such greeting is only due to you from all who have had the least experience of your goodness in your administration. 2. Now, after this prayer, hear my supplication on behalf of the poor old man whom the imperial order had exempted from serving in any public capacity; though really I might say that old age anticipated the Emperor in giving him his discharge. You have yourself satisfied the boon conferred on him by the higher authority, at once from respect to natural infirmity, and, I think, from regard to the public interest, lest any harm should come to the state from a man growing imbecile through age. But how, my dear Sir, have you unwittingly dragged him into public life, by ordering his grandson, a child not yet four years old, to be on the roll of the senate? You have done the very same thing as to drag the old man, through his descendant, again into public business. But now, I do implore you, have mercy on both ages, and free both on the ground of what in each case is pitiable. The one never saw father or mother, never knew them, but from his very cradle was deprived of both, and has entered into life by the help of strangers: the other has been preserved so long as to have suffered every kind of calamity. He saw a son's untimely death; he saw a house without successors; now, unless you devise some remedy commensurate with your kindness, he will see the very consolation of his bereavement made an occasion of innumerable troubles, for, I suppose, the little lad will never act as senator, collect tribute, or pay troops; but once again the old man's white hairs must be shamed. Concede a favour in accordance with the law and agreeable to nature; order the boy to be allowed to wait till he come to man's estate, and the old man to await death quietly on his bed. Let others, if they will, urge the pretext of press of business and inevitable necessity. But, even if you are under a press of business, it would not be like you to despise the distressed, to slight the law, or to refuse to yield to the prayers of your friends.

Footnotes

[2289] Placed in the year 372. [2290] Probably Elias. cf. Letters xciv. and xcvi. The orphan grandson of the aged man in whose behalf Basil writes had been placed on the Senatorial roll, and the old man in consequence was compelled to serve again.

Letter LXXXV. [2291]

That the oath ought not to be taken. [2292] It is my invariable custom to protest at every synod and to urge privately in conversation, that oaths about the taxes ought not to be imposed on husbandmen by the collectors. It remains for me to bear witness, on the same matters, in writing, before God and men, that it behoves you to cease from inflicting death upon men's souls, and to devise some other means of exaction, while you let men keep their souls unwounded. I write thus to you, not as though you needed any spoken exhortation (for you have your own immediate inducements to fear the Lord), but that all your dependents may learn from you not to provoke the Holy One, nor let a forbidden sin become a matter of indifference, through faulty familiarity. No possible good can be done them by oaths, with a view to their paying what is exacted from them, and they suffer an undeniable wrong to the soul. For when men become practised in perjury, they no longer put any pressure on themselves to pay, but they think that they have discovered in the oath a means of trickery and an opportunity for delay. If, then, the Lord brings a sharp retribution on the perjured, when the debtors are destroyed by punishment there will be none to answer when summoned. If on the other hand the Lord endures with long suffering, then, as I said before, those who have tried the patience of the Lord despise His goodness. Let them not break the law in vain; let them not whet the wrath of God against them. I have said what I ought. The disobedient will see.

Footnotes

[2291] Placed in the year 372. [2292] The distress of the Cappadocians under the load of taxes is described in Letter lxxiv. An objectionable custom arose, or was extended, of putting the country people on oath as to their inability to pay.

Letter LXXXVI. [2293]

To the Governor. [2294] I know that a first and foremost object of your excellency is in every way to support the right; and after that to benefit your friends, and to exert yourself in behalf of those who have fled to your lordship's protection. Both these pleas are combined in the matter before us. The cause is right for which we are pleading; it is dear to me who am numbered among your friends; it is due to those who are invoking the aid of your constancy in their sufferings. The corn, which was all my very, dear brother Dorotheus had for the necessaries of life, has been carried off by some of the authorities at Berisi, entrusted with the management of affairs, driven to this violence of their own accord or by others' instigation. Either way it is an indictable offence. For how does the man whose wickedness is his own do less wrong than he who is the mere minister of other men's wickedness? To the sufferers the loss is the same. I implore you, therefore, that Dorotheus may have his corn returned by the men by whom he has been robbed, and that they may not be allowed to lay the guilt of their outrage on other men's shoulders. If you grant me my request I shall reckon the value of the boon conferred by your excellency in proportion to the necessity of providing one's self with food.

Footnotes

[2293] Of the same date as the preceding. [2294] Probably to Elias. Three manuscripts add "of recommendation on behalf of presbyters about the carrying off of corn."

Letter LXXXVII. [2295]

Without address on the same subject. [2296] I am astonished that, with you to appeal to, so grave an offence should have been committed against the presbyter as that he should have been deprived of his only means of livelihood. The most serious part of the business is that the perpetrators transfer the guilt of their proceedings to you; while all the while it was your duty not only not to suffer such deeds to be done, but to use all your authority to prevent them in the case of any one, but specially in the case of presbyters, and such presbyters as are in agreement with me, and are walking in the same way of true religion. If then you have any care to give me gratification, see that these matters are set right without delay. For, God helping you, you are able to do this, and greater things than this to whom you will. I have written to the governor of my own country, [2297] that, if they refuse to do what is right of their own accord, they may be compelled to do so on pressure from the courts.

Footnotes

[2295] Of the same date as the preceding. [2296] Probably to Elias. [2297] Patris. The Ben. Ed suppose the reference to be here to Annesi. cf. Letters viii. and li.

Letter LXXXVIII. [2298]

Without address on the subject of the exaction of taxes. Your excellency knows better than any one else the difficulty of getting together the gold furnished by contribution. [2299]We have no better witness to our poverty than yourself, for with your great kindness you have felt for us, and, up to the present time, so far as has lain within your power, have borne with us, never departing from your own natural forbearance from any alarm caused by superior authority. Now of the whole sum there is still something wanting, and that must be got in from the contribution which we have recommended to all the town. What I ask is, that you will grant us a little delay, that a reminder may be sent to dwellers in the country, and most of our magistrates are in the country. If it is possible for it to be sent in short of as many pounds as those in which we are still behind-hand, I should be glad if you would so arrange, and the amount shall be sent later. If, however, it is absolutely necessary that the whole sum should be sent in at once, then I repeat my first request that we may be allowed a longer time of grace.

Footnotes

[2298] Of the same date [2299] chrusion pragmateutikon, Lat. aurum comparatitium. The gold collected for the equipment of troops. Cod. Theod. vii. 6. 3. The provinces of the East, with the exception of Osroene and Isauria, contributed gold instead of actual equipment. The Ben. note quotes a law of Valens that this was to be paid between Sept. 1 and April 1, and argues thence that this letter may be definitely dated in March, 372, and not long before Easter, which fell on April 8.

Letter LXXXIX. [2300]

To Meletius, bishop of Antioch. 1. The eagerness of my longing is soothed by the opportunities which the merciful God gives me of saluting your reverence. He Himself is witness of the earnest desire which I have to see your face, and to enjoy your good and soul-refreshing instruction. Now by my reverend and excellent brother Dorotheus, the deacon, who is setting out, first of all I beg you to pray for me that I be no stumbling block to the people, nor hindrance to your petitions to propitiate the Lord. In the second place I would suggest that you would be so good as to make all arrangements through the aforementioned brother; and, if it seems well that a letter should be sent to the Westerns, because it is only right that communication should be made in writing even through our own messenger, that you will dictate the letter. I have met Sabinus the deacon, sent by them, and have written to the bishops in Illyria, Italy, and Gaul, and to some of those who have written privately to myself. For it is right that some one should be sent in the common interests of the Synod, conveying a second letter which I beg you to have written. 2. As to what concerns the right reverend bishop Athanasius, your intelligence is already aware of what I will mention, that it is impossible for anything to be advanced by my letters, or for any desirable objects to be carried out, unless by some means or other he receives communion from you, who at that time postponed it. He is described as being very anxious to unite with me, and to be willing to contribute all he can, but to be sorry that he was sent away without communion, and that the promise still remains unfulfilled. [2301] What is going on in the East cannot have failed to reach your reverence's ears, but the aforementioned brother will give you more accurate information by word of mouth. Be so good as to dispatch him directly after Easter, because of his waiting for the answer from Samosata. Look kindly on his zeal strengthen him by your prayers and so dispatch him on this commission.

Footnotes

[2300] Placed in the year 372. [2301] It is the contention of Tillemont that this cannot apply to the great Athanasius, to whom Meletius is not likely to have refused communion, but is more probably to be referred to some other unknown Athanasius. Maran, however, points out (Vit. Bas. xxii.) not only how the circumstances fit in, but how the statement that communion was refused by Meletius is borne out by Letter cclviii. § 3, q.v. Athanasius was in fact so far committed to the other side in the unhappy Antiochene dispute that it was impossible for him to recognise Meletius. cf. Newman, Church of the Fathers, chap. vii.

Letter XC. [2302]

To the holy brethren the bishops of the West. [2303] 1. The good God Who ever mixes consolation with affliction has, even now in the midst of my pangs, granted me a certain amount of comfort in the letters which our right honourable father bishop Athanasius has received from you and sent on to me. For they contain evidence of sound faith and proof of your inviolable agreement and concord, showing thus that the shepherds are following in the footsteps of the Fathers and feeding the people of the Lord with knowledge. All this has so much gladdened my heart as to dispel my despondency and to create something like a smile in my soul in the midst of the distressing state of affairs in which we are now placed. The Lord has also extended His consolation to me by means of the reverend deacon Sabinus, my son, who has cheered my soul by giving me an exact narrative of your condition; and from personal experience of his own, will give you clear tidings of ours, that you may, in the first place, aid me in my trouble by earnest and constant prayer to God; and next that you may consent to give such consolation as lies in your power to our afflicted Churches. For here, very honourable brethren, all is in a weak state; the Church has given way before the continuous attacks of her foes, like some bark in mid-ocean buffeted by successive blows of the waves; unless haply there be some quick visitation of the divine mercy. As then we reckon your mutual sympathy and unity an important blessing to ourselves, so do we implore you to pity our dissensions; and not, because we are separated by a great extent of country, to part us from you, but to admit us to the concord of one body, because we are united in the fellowship of the Spirit. 2. Our distresses are notorious, even though we leave them untold, for now their sound has gone out into all the world. The doctrines of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set at nought; the devices of innovators are in vogue in the Churches; now men are rather contrivers of cunning systems than theologians; the wisdom of this world wins the highest prizes and has rejected the glory of the cross. Shepherds are banished, and in their places are introduced grievous wolves hurrying the flock of Christ. Houses of prayer have none to assemble in them; desert places are full of lamenting crowds. The elders lament when they compare the present with the past. The younger are yet more to be compassionated, for they do not know of what they have been deprived. All this is enough to stir the pity of men who have learnt the love of Christ; but, compared with the actual state of things, words fall very far short. If then there be any consolation of love, any fellowship of the Spirit, any bowels of mercy, be stirred to help us. Be zealous for true religion, and rescue us from this storm. Ever be spoken among us with boldness that famous dogma [2304] of the Fathers, which destroys the ill-famed heresy of Arius, and builds up the Churches in the sound doctrine wherein the Son is confessed to be of one substance with the Father, and the Holy Ghost is ranked and worshipped as of equal honour, to the end that through your prayers and co-operation the Lord may grant to us that same boldness for the truth and glorying in the confession of the divine and saving Trinity which He has given you. But the aforenamed deacon will tell you every thing in detail. We have welcomed your apostolic zeal for orthodoxy and have agreed to all that has been canonically done by your reverences.

Footnotes

[2302] Placed in 372. [2303] By Newman, who translates the first paragraphs, this letter, as well as xcii., is viewed in close connection with Letter lxx., addressed to Damasus. [2304] kerugma. cf. note on the De Sp. Sancto. p. 41.

Letter XCI. [2305]

To Valerianus, Bishop of Illyricum. [2306] Thanks be to the Lord, Who has permitted me to see in your unstained life the fruit of primitive love. Far apart as you are in body, you have united yourself to me by writing; you have embraced me with spiritual and holy longing; you have implanted unspeakable affection in my soul. Now I have realized the force of the proverb, "As cold water is to a thirsty soul so is good news from a far country." [2307] Honoured brother, I really hunger for affection. The cause is not far to seek, for iniquity is multiplied and the love of many has grown cold. [2308]For this reason your letter is precious to me, and I am replying by our reverend brother Sabinus. By him I make myself known to you, and beseech you to be watchful in prayers on our behalf, that God may one day grant calm and quiet to the Church here, and rebuke this wind and sea, that so we may be freed from the storm and agitation in which we are now every moment expecting to be submerged. But in these our troubles one great boon has God given us in hearing that you are in exact agreement and unity with one another, and that the doctrines of true religion are preached among you without let or hindrance. For at some time or other, unless the period of this world is not already concluded, and if there yet remain days of human life, it must needs be that by your means the faith must be renewed in the East and that in due season you recompense her for the blessings which she has given you. The sound part among us here, which preserves the true religion of the Fathers, is sore stricken, and the devil in his wiliness has shattered it by many and various subtle assaults. But, by the help of the prayers of you who love the Lord, may the wicked and deceitful heresy of the Arian error be quenched; may the good teaching of the Fathers, who met at Nicæa, shine forth; so that the ascription of glory may be rendered to the blessed Trinity in the terms of the baptism of salvation.

Footnotes

[2305] Placed in 372. [2306] Or, in some mss., the Illyrians. Valerianus, bishop of Aquileia, was present at the Synod held in Rome in 371 (Theodoret, Hist. Ecc. ii. 2.) and also at the Synod in the same city in 382. (Theod. Ecc. Hist. v. 9, where see note.) Dorotheus or Sabinus had brought letters from Athanasius and at the same time a letter from Valerianus. Basil takes the opportunity to reply. [2307] Prov. v. 25. [2308] cf. Matt. xxiv. 12.

Letter XCII. [2309]

To the Italians and Gauls. 1. To our right godly and holy brethren who are ministering in Italy and Gaul, bishops of like mind with us, we, Meletius, [2310] Eusebius, [2311] Basil, [2312] Bassus, [2313] Gregory, [2314] Pelagius, [2315] Paul, Anthimus, [2316] Theodotus, [2317] Bithus, [2318] Abraamius, [2319] Jobinus, Zeno, [2320] Theodoretus, Marcianus, Barachus, Abraamius, [2321] Libanius, Thalassius, Joseph, Boethus, Iatrius, [2322] Theodotus, Eustathius, [2323] Barsumas, John, Chosroes, Iosaces, [2324] Narses, Maris, Gregory, [2325] and Daphnus, send greeting in the Lord. Souls in anguish find some consolation in sending sigh after sigh from the bottom of the heart, and even a tear shed breaks the force of affliction. But sighs and tears give us less consolation than the opportunity of telling our troubles to your love. We are moreover cheered by the better hope that, peradventure, if we announce our troubles to you, we may move you to give us that succour which we have long hoped you would give the Churches in the East, but which we have not yet received; God, Who in His wisdom arranges all things, must have ordained according to the hidden judgments of His righteousness, that we should be tried for a longer time in these temptations. The fame of our condition has travelled to the ends of the earth, and you are not ignorant of it; nor are you without sympathy with brethren of like mind with yourselves, for you are disciples of the apostle, who teaches us that love for our neighbour is the fulfilling of the law. [2326]But, as we have said, the just judgment of God, which has ordained that the affliction due to our sins must be fulfilled, has held you back. But when you have learnt all, specially what has not hitherto reached your ears, from our reverend brother the deacon Sabinus, who will be able to narrate in person what is omitted in our letter, we do beseech you to be roused both to zeal for the truth and sympathy for us. We implore you to put on bowels of mercy, to lay aside all hesitation, and to undertake the labour of love, without counting length of way, your own occupations, or any other human interests. 2. It is not only one Church which is in peril, nor yet two or three which have fallen under this terrible storm. The mischief of this heresy spreads almost from the borders of Illyricum to the Thebaid. Its bad seeds were first sown by the infamous Arius; they then took deep root through the labours of many who vigorously cultivated the impiety between his time and ours. Now they have produced their deadly fruit. The doctrines of true religion are overthrown. The laws of the Church are in confusion. The ambition of men, who have no fear of God, rushes into high posts, and exalted office is now publicly known as the prize of impiety. The result is, that the worse a man blasphemes, the fitter the people think him to be a bishop. Clerical dignity is a thing of the past. There is a complete lack of men shepherding the Lord's flock with knowledge. Ambitious men are constantly throwing away the provision for the poor on their own enjoyment and the distribution of gifts. There is no precise knowledge of canons. There is complete immunity in sinning; for when men have been placed in office by the favour of men, they are obliged to return the favour by continually showing indulgence to offenders. Just judgment is a thing of the past; and everyone walks according to his heart's desire. Vice knows no bounds; the people know no restraint. Men in authority are afraid to speak, for those who have reached power by human interest are the slaves of those to whom they owe their advancement. And now the very vindication of orthodoxy is looked upon in some quarters as an opportunity for mutual attack; and men conceal their private ill-will and pretend that their hostility is all for the sake of the truth. Others, afraid of being convicted of disgraceful crimes, madden the people into fratricidal quarrels, that their own doings may be unnoticed in the general distress. Hence the war admits of no truce, for the doers of ill deeds are afraid of a peace, as being likely to lift the veil from their secret infamy. All the while unbelievers laugh; men of weak faith are shaken; faith is uncertain; souls are drenched in ignorance, because adulterators of the word imitate the truth. The mouths of true believers are dumb, while every blasphemous tongue wags free; holy things are trodden under foot; the better laity shun the churches as schools of impiety; and lift their hands in the deserts with sighs and tears to their Lord in heaven. Even you must have heard what is going on in most of our cities, how our people with wives and children and even our old men stream out before the walls, and offer their prayers in the open air, putting up with all the inconvenience of the weather with great patience, and waiting for help from the Lord. 3. What lamentation can match these woes? What springs of tears are sufficient for them? While, then, some men do seem to stand, while yet a trace of the old state of things is left, before utter shipwreck comes upon the Churches, hasten to us, hasten to us now, true brothers, we implore you; on our knees we implore you, hold out a helping hand. May your brotherly bowels be moved toward us; may tears of sympathy flow; do not see, unmoved, half the empire swallowed up by error; do not let the light of the faith be put out in the place where it shone first. By what action you can then help matters, and how you are to show sympathy for the afflicted, you do not want to be told by us; the Holy Ghost will suggest to you. But unquestionably, if the survivors are to be saved, there is need of prompt action, and of the arrival of a considerable number of brethren, that those who visit us may complete the number of the synod, in order that they may have weight in effecting a reform, not merely from the dignity of those whose emissaries they are, but also from their own number: thus they will restore the creed drawn up by our fathers at Nicæa, proscribe the heresy, and, by bringing into agreement all who are of one mind, speak peace to the Churches. For the saddest thing about it all is that the sound part is divided against itself, and the troubles we are suffering are like those which once befel Jerusalem when Vespasian was besieging it. The Jews of that time were at once beset by foes without and consumed by the internal sedition of their own people. In our case, too, in addition to the open attack of the heretics, the Churches are reduced to utter helplessness by the war raging among those who are supposed to be orthodox. For all these reasons we do indeed desire your help, that, for the future all who confess the apostolic faith may put an end to the schisms which they have unhappily devised, and be reduced for the future to the authority of the Church; that so, once more, the body of Christ may be complete, restored to integrity with all its members. Thus we shall not only praise the blessings of others, which is all we can do now, but see our own Churches once more restored to their pristine boast of orthodoxy. For, truly, the boon given you by the Lord is fit subject for the highest congratulation, your power of discernment between the spurious and the genuine and pure, and your preaching the faith of the Fathers without any dissimulation. That faith we have received; that faith we know is stamped with the marks of the Apostles; to that faith we assent, as well as to all that was canonically and lawfully promulgated in the Synodical Letter. [2327]

Footnotes

[2309] Placed in 372. [2310] Of Antioch. [2311] Of Samosata. [2312] Of Cæsarea. [2313] Tillemont conjectures Barses of Edessa. [2314] Of Nazianzus, the elder. [2315] Of Laodicea. [2316] Of Tyana. [2317] Of Nicopolis. [2318] Vitus of Carrhæ. [2319] Of Batnæ. cf. Letter cxxxii. [2320] Of Tyre. [2321] Of Urimi in Syria. [2322] For Iatrius, Maran would read Otreius of Melitine. [2323] Of Sebasteia. [2324] Maran would read Isaaces, and identify him with the Isacoces of Armenia Major. [2325] Probably of Nyssa, lately consecrated. [2326] cf. Rom. xiii. 10. [2327] After noting that the Synodical Letter is to be found in Theodoret and in Sozomen (i.e. is in Theodoret I. viii. and in Socrates I. ix.) the Ben. Ed. express surprise that Basil should indicate concurrence with the Synodical Letter, which defines the Son to be tes auteshupostaseos kai ousias, while he is known to have taught the distinction between hupostasis and ousia. As a matter of fact, it is not in the Synodical Letter, but in the anathemas originally appended to the creed, that it is, not asserted that the Son is of the same, but, denied that He is of a different ousia or hupostasis. On the distinction between ousia and hupostasis see Letters xxxviii., cxxv., and ccxxxvi. and the De Sp. Sancto. § 7. On the difficulty of expressing the terms in Latin, cf. Letter ccxiv. As hupostasis was in 325 understood to be equivalent to ousia, and in 370 had acquired a different connotation, it would be no more difficult for Basil than for the Church now, to assent to what is called the Nicene position, while confessing three hypostases. In Letter cxxv. Basil does indeed try to shew, but apparently without success, that to condemn the statement that He is of a different hypostasis is not equivalent to asserting Him to be of the same hypostasis.

Letter XCIII. [2328]

To the Patrician Cæsaria, [2329] concerning Communion. It is good and beneficial to communicate every day, and to partake of the holy body and blood of Christ. For He distinctly says, "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life." [2330]And who doubts that to share frequently in life, is the same thing as to have manifold life. I, indeed, communicate four times a week, on the Lord's day, on Wednesday, on Friday, and on the Sabbath, and on the other days if there is a commemoration of any Saint. [2331]It is needless to point out that for anyone in times of persecution to be compelled to take the communion in his own hand without the presence of a priest or minister is not a serious offence, as long custom sanctions this practice from the facts themselves. All the solitaries in the desert, where there is no priest, take the communion themselves, keeping communion at home. And at Alexandria and in Egypt, each one of the laity, for the most part, keeps the communion, at his own house, and participates in it when he likes. For when once the priest has completed the offering, and given it, the recipient, participating in it each time as entire, is bound to believe that he properly takes and receives it from the giver. And even in the church, when the priest gives the portion, the recipient takes it with complete power over it, and so lifts it to his lips with his own hand. It has the same validity whether one portion or several portions are received from the priest at the same time. [2332]

Footnotes

[2328] Placed in 372. [2329] Two mss. read Cæsarius. [2330] John vi. 54. [2331] A various reading is "martyr." In Letter cxcvii. to S. Ambrose, S. Basil, states that the same honour was paid to S. Dionysius of Milan in his place of sepulture as to a martyr. So Gregory Thaumaturgus was honoured at Neocæsarea, and Athanasius and Basil received like distinction soon after their death. [2332] The custom of the reservation of the Sacrament is, as is well known, of great antiquity. cf. Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 85; Tertull., De Orat. xix. and Ad Ux. ii. 5; S. Cyprian, De Lapsis cxxxii.; Jerome, Ep. cxxv. Abuses of the practice soon led to prohibition. So an Armenian Canon of the fourth century (Canones Isaaci, in Mai, Script. Vet. Nov. Coll. x. 280) and the Council of Saragossa, 380; though in these cases there seems an idea of surreptitious reservation. On the doctrine of the English Church on this subject reference may be made to the Report of a Committee of the Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury in 1885. The Rubric of 1549 allowed reservation, and it does not seem to have been prohibited until 1661. Bishop A. P. Forbes on Article xxviii. points out that in the Article reservation is not forbidden, but declared not to be of Christ's institution, and consequently not binding on the Church. The distinction will not be forgotten between reservation and worship of the reserved Sacrament.

Letter XCIV. [2333]

To Elias, Governor of the Province. I too have been very anxious to meet your excellency, lest by my failure to do so I might come off worse than my accusers; but bodily sickness has prevented me, attacking me even more seriously than usual, and so I am perforce reduced to address you by letter. When, not long ago, most excellent sir, I had the pleasure of meeting your excellency, I was anxious to communicate with your wisdom about all my affairs; and I was also anxious to address you on behalf of the Churches, that no ground might be left for future calumnies. But I restrained myself, thinking it altogether superfluous and importunate to add troubles outside his own necessary business to a man charged with so many responsibilities. At the same time (for the truth shall be told) I did shrink from being driven to wound your soul by our mutual recriminations, when it ought in pure devotion to God to reap the perfect reward of piety. For really, if I attract your attention to me, I shall leave you but scant leisure for your public duties; shall act something like a man overloading with additional luggage some boatmen managing a new boat in very rough water, when all the while he ought to lessen the cargo and do his best to lighten the craft. For this very reason, I think, our great Emperor, after seeing how fully occupied I am, leaves me to manage the Churches by myself. Now I should like those who are besieging your impartial ears to be asked what harm the government suffers from me? What depreciation is suffered by any public interests, be they small or great, by my administration of the Churches? Still, possibly, it might be urged that I have done damage to the government by erecting a magnificently appointed church to God, and round it a dwelling house, one liberally assigned to the bishop, and others underneath, allotted to the officers of the Church in order, the use of both being open to you of the magistracy and your escort. But to whom do we do any harm by building a place of entertainment for strangers, both for those who are on a journey and for those who require medical treatment on account of sickness, and so establishing a means of giving these men the comfort they want, physicians, doctors, means of conveyance, and escort? [2334]All these men must learn such occupations as are necessary to life and have been found essential to a respectable career; they must also have buildings suitable for their employments, all of which are an honour to the place, and, as their reputation is credited to our governor, confer glory on him. Not indeed that for this reason you were unwillingly induced to accept the responsibility of ruling us, for you alone are sufficient by your high qualities to restore our ruins, to people deserted districts and turn wildernesses into towns. Would it be better to harrass and annoy, or to honour and reverence an associate in the discharge of these duties? Do not think, most excellent sir, that what I say is mere words. We have already, in the meanwhile, begun providing material. So much for our defence, before our ruler. As to what is to be said in answer to the charges of our accusers, to a Christian and to a friend who cares for my opinion, I must now say no more; the subject is too long for a letter, and cannot, besides, be safely committed to writing. But lest, before we have an opportunity of meeting, you are driven by the inducement of some men's calumnies to give up any of your good will towards me, do as Alexander did. The story is, as you remember, that, when one of his friends was being calumniated, he left one ear open to the slanderer, and carefully closed the other with his hand, with the object of showing that he whose duty is to judge ought not to be easily and wholly given over to the first occupants of his attention, but should keep half his hearing open for the defence of the absent. [2335]

Footnotes

[2333] Placed in 372, at the departure of Valens. [2334] Among the honourable functions of the clergy was that of acting as guides and escort, parapempontes. cf. Letters xcviii. and ccxliii. [2335] The church and hospital, of which mention is here made, were built in the suburbs of Cæsarea. Gregory of Nazianzus calls it a new town. cf. Greg. Naz., Or. xx. and Theodoret, Ecc. Hist. iv. 19, and Sozomen, vi. 34. On Alexander's ear, cf. Letter xxiv.

Letter XCV. [2336]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. I had written some while since to your reverence about our meeting one another and other subjects, but I was disappointed at my letter not reaching your excellency, for after the blessed deacon Theophrastus had taken charge of the letter, on my setting out on an unavoidable journey, he did not convey it to your reverence, because he was seized by the sickness of which he died. Hence it happened that I was so late in writing, that, the time being now so exceedingly short, I did not look for there being much use in this letter. The godly bishop Meletius and Theodotus had strongly urged me to visit them, representing that a meeting would be a proof of affection, and being wishful of remedying the troubles which are at present a cause of anxiety. [2337]They had appointed, as a time for our meeting, the middle of the approaching month of June, and for the place, Phargamus, a spot famous for martyr's glory and for the large number of people attending the synod there every year. Directly I returned and heard of the death of the blessed deacon, and that my letter was lying useless at home, I felt that I must not be idle, because thirty-three days were still remaining up to the appointed time, and so I hurriedly sent the letter to the very reverend Eustathius, my fellow minister, with the object of its being sent on by him to your reverence and of getting an answer without delay. If, then, it is possible and agreeable to you to come, I will come too. If not, I, God willing, will pay the debt of meeting due from last year: unless haply some hindrance for my sins comes in the way again, in which case I must put off my meeting with the bishops to another time.

Footnotes

[2336] Placed in 372. [2337] Theodotus of Nicopolis was distressed at Basil's being in communion with Eustathius.

Letter XCVI. [2338]

To Sophronius, the master. [2339] Who ever loved his city, honouring with filial love the place which gave him birth and nurture, as you do; praying for the whole city together, and for every one in it individually, and not merely praying but confirming your prayers by your own means? For this you are able to effect by God's help, and long, good man that you are, may you be able so to do. Nevertheless in your time our city has enjoyed but a brief dream of prosperity, in being committed to the charge of one the like of whom, according to the students of our oldest annals, never sat in the præfectorial chair. But now the city has suddenly lost his services, through the wickedness of men who have found a ground of attack in his very liberality and impartiality, and, without the knowledge of your excellency, have made up calumnies against him. There is therefore universal depression among us at the loss of a governor with unique capacity for raising our dejected community, a true guardian of justice, accessible to the wronged, a terror to law breakers, of like behaviour to rich and poor, and, what is most important, one who has restored the interests of Christians to their old place of honour. That he was, of all men that I know, the most incapable of being bribed, and never did any one an unfair favour, I have passed by as a small point in comparison with his other virtues. I am indeed testifying to all this too late, like men who sing dirges to console themselves when they can get no practical relief. Yet, it is not useless that his memory should remain in your generous heart, and that you should be grateful to him as a benefactor of your native place. Should any of those who feel a grudge against him, for not sacrificing justice to their interests, attack him, it will be well for you to defend and protect him. Thus you will make it clear to all that you count his interests yours, and think it quite a sufficient reason for this your close association with him that his record should be so unimpeachable, and his administration so remarkable in view of the time. For what any other man would not be able to affect in many years has been quickly accomplished by him. It will be a great favour to me, and a comfort under the circumstances, if you will recommend him to the Emperor, and dispel the calumnious charges brought against him. Believe me that I am speaking here not for myself alone, but for the whole community, and that it is our unanimous prayer that he may reap some benefit from your excellency's aid.

Footnotes

[2338] Placed in 372. [2339] On the removal of Elias.

Letter XCVII. [2340]

To the Senate of Tyana. [2341] The Lord, Who reveals hidden things, and makes manifest the counsels of men's hearts, has given even to the lowly knowledge of devices apparently hard to be understood. Nothing has escaped my notice, nor has any single action been unknown. Nevertheless I neither see nor hear anything but the peace of God and all that pertains to it. Others may be great and powerful and self-confident, but I am nothing and worth nothing, and so I could never take upon myself so much as to think myself able to manage matters without support. I know perfectly well that I stand more in need of the succour of each of the brethren than one hand does of the other. Truly, from our own bodily constitution, the Lord has taught us the necessity of fellowship. When I look to these my limbs and see that no out of them is self-sufficient, how can I reckon myself competent to discharge the duties of life? One foot could not walk securely without the support of the other; one eye could not see well, were it not for the alliance of the other and for its being able to look at objects in conjunction with it. Hearing is more exact when sound is received through both channels, and the grasp is made firmer by the fellowship of the fingers. In a word, of all that is done by nature and by the will, I see nothing done without the concord of fellow forces. Even prayer, when it is not united prayer, loses its natural strength and the Lord has told us that He will be in the midst where two or three call on Him in concord. The Lord Himself undertook the economy, [2342] that by the blood of His cross He might make peace between things in earth and things in heaven. For all these reasons then, I pray that I may for my remaining days remain in peace; in peace I ask that it may be my lot to fall asleep. For peace's sake there is no trouble that I will not undertake, no act, no word of humility, that I will shrink from; I will reckon no length of journey, I will undergo any inconvenience, if only I may be rewarded by being able to make peace. If I am followed by any one in this direction, it is well, and my prayers are answered; but if the result is different I shall not recede from my determination. Every one will receive the fruit of his own works in the day of retribution.

Footnotes

[2340] Placed in 372. [2341] On the whole circumstances of the difficulties which arose in consequence of the civil division of Cappadocia, and the claim put forward in consequence by Anthimus, bp. of Tyana, to exercise metropolitan jurisdiction, see the biographical notice in the Prolegomena. [2342] i.e.of the Incarnation. cf. note on p. 7, and on Theodoret, p. 72.

Letter XCVIII. [2343]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. [2344] 1. After receiving the letter of your holiness, in which you said you would not come, I was most anxious to set out for Nicopolis, but I have grown weaker in my wish and have remembered all my infirmity. I bethought me, too, of the lack of seriousness in the conduct of those who invited me. They gave me a casual invitation by the hands of our reverend brother Hellenius, the surveyor of customs at Nazianzus, but they never took the trouble to send a messenger to remind me, or any one to escort me. As, for my sins, I was an object of suspicion to them, I shrank from sullying the brightness of their meeting by my presence. In company with your excellency I do not shrink from stripping for even serious trials of strength; but apart from you I feel myself hardly equal even to looking at every day troubles. Since, then, my meeting with them was intended to be about Church affairs, I let the time of the festival go by, and put off the meeting to a period of rest and freedom from distraction, and have decided to go to Nicopolis to discuss the needs of the Churches with the godly bishop Meletius, in case he should decline to go to Samosata. If he agrees, I shall hasten to meet him, provided this is made clear to me by both of you, by him in reply to me (for I have written), and by your reverence. 2. We were to have met the bishops of Cappadocia Secunda, who, directly they were ranked under another prefecture, suddenly got the idea that they were made foreigners and strangers to me. They ignored me, as though they had never been under my jurisdiction, and had nothing to do with me. I was expecting too a second meeting with the reverend bishop Eustathius, which actually took place. For on account of the cry raised by many against him that he was injuring the faith, I met him, and found, by God's grace, that he was heartily following all orthodoxy. By the fault of the very men who ought to have conveyed my letter, that of the bishop was not transmitted to your excellency, and, harassed as I was by a multitude of cares, it escaped my memory. I, too, was anxious that our brother Gregory [2345] should have the government of a Church commensurate with his abilities; and that would have been the whole Church under the sun gathered into one place. But, as this is impossible, let him be a bishop, not deriving dignity from his see, but conferring dignity on his see by himself. For it is the part of a really great man not only to be sufficient for great things, but by his own influence to make small things great. But what is to be done to Palmatius, [2346] who, after so many exhortations of the brethren, still helps Maximus in his persecutions? Even now they do not hesitate to write to him. They are prevented from coming themselves by bodily weakness and their own occupations. Believe me, very godly Father, our own affairs are much in need of your presence, and yet once more you must put your honourable old age in motion, that you may give your support to Cappadocia, which is now tottering and in danger of falling.

Footnotes

[2343] Placed in 372. [2344] On a proposed meeting of bishops, with an allusion to the consecration of the younger Gregory. [2345] Tillemont supposes the reference to be to Gregory of Nyssa. Maran, however (Vit. Bas. xxiv.), regards this as an error, partly caused by the introduction into the text of the word emon, which he has eliminated; and he points out the Gregory of Nyssa, however unwilling to accept consecration, never objected after it had taken place, and was indeed sent to Nazianzus to console the younger Gregory of that place in his distress under like circumstances. Moreover, Gregory of Nyssa was consecrated in the ordinary manner on the demand of the people and clergy with the assent of the bishops of the province. (cf. Letter ccxxv.) Gregory the younger, however, was consecrated to Sasima without these formalities. [2346] Maran (Vit. Bas. xxiv.) notes that he knows nothing about Palmatius, and supposes that by "persecutions" are meant not persecutions in the ecclesiastical sense, but severities in the exaction of tribute. In Letter cxlvii. Basil calls Maximus "a very good man," praise which he is not likely to have given to a persecutor. Maximus succeeded Elias, and probably inaugurated a new régime of strict exaction.

Letter XCIX. [2347]

To Count Terentius. [2348] I have had every desire and have really done my best to obey, if only in part, the imperial order and the friendly letter of your excellency. I am sure that your every word and every thought are full of good intentions and right sentiments. But I have not been permitted to show my ready concurrence by practical action. The truest cause is my sins, which always rise before me and always hamper my steps. Then, again, there is the alienation of the bishop who had been appointed to cooperate with me, why, I know not; but my right reverend brother Theodotus, who promised from the beginning to act with me, had cordially invited [2349] me from Getasa to Nicopolis. [2350]When however he saw me in the town, he was so shocked at me, and so afraid of my sins, that he could not bear to take me either to morning or evening prayer. In this he acted quite justly so far as my deserts go, and quite as befits my course of life, but not in a manner likely to promote the interests of the Churches. His alleged reason was that I had admitted the very reverend brother Eustathius to communion. What I have done is as follows. When invited to a meeting held by our brother Theodotus, and wishful, for love's sake, to obey the summons, that I might not make the gathering fruitless and vain, I was anxious to hold communication with the aforementioned brother Eustathius. I put before him the accusations concerning the faith, advanced against him by our brother Theodotus, and I asked him, if he followed the right faith, to make it plain to me, that I might communicate with him; if he were of another mind he must know plainly that I should be separated from him. We had much conversation on the subject, and all that day was spent in its examination; when evening came on we separated without arriving at any definite conclusion. On the morrow, we had another sitting in the morning and discussed the same points, with the addition of our brother Poemenius, the presbyter of Sebasteia, who vehemently pressed the argument against me. Point by point I cleared up the questions on which he seemed to be accusing me, and brought them to agree to my propositions. The result was, that, by the grace of the Lord, we were found to be in mutual agreement, even on the most minute particulars. So about the ninth hour, after thanking God for granting us to think and say the same thing, we rose up to go to prayer. In addition to this I ought to have got some written statement from him, so that his assent might be made known to his opponents and the proof of his opinion might be sufficient for the rest. But I was myself anxious, with the desire for great exactitude, to meet my brother Theodotus, to get a written statement of the faith from him, and to propose it to Eustathius; that so both objects might be obtained at once, the confession of the right faith by Eustathius and the complete satisfaction of Theodotus and his friends, and they would have no ground for objection after the acceptance of their own propositions. But Theodotus, before learning why we were met and what had been the result of our intercourse, decided not to allow us to take part in the meeting. So midway on our journey we set out back again, disappointed that our efforts for the peace of the Churches had been counteracted. 3. After this, when I was compelled to undertake a journey into Armenia, knowing the man's character, and with the view both of making my own defence before a competent witness, for what had taken place and of satisfying him, I travelled to Getasa, into the territory of the very godly bishop Meletius, the aforementioned Theodotus being with me; and while there, on being accused by him of my communication with Eustathius, I told him that the result of our intercourse was my finding Eustathius to be in all things in agreement with myself. Then he persisted that Eustathius, after leaving me, had denied this and asseverated to his own disciples that he had never come to any agreement with me about the faith. I, therefore, combated this statement; and see, O most excellent man, if the answer I made was not most fair and most complete. I am convinced, I said, judging from the character of Eustathius, that he cannot thus lightly be turning from one direction to another, now confessing now denying what he said; that a man, shunning a lie, even in any little matter, as an awful sin, is not likely to choose to run counter to the truth in matters of such vast importance and so generally notorious: but if what is reported among you turns out to be true, he must be confronted with a written statement containing the complete exposition of the right faith; then, if I find him ready to agree in writing, I shall continue in communion with him; but, if I find that he shrinks from the test, I shall renounce all intercourse with him. The bishop Meletius agreed to these arguments, and the brother Diodorus the presbyter, who was present, and then the right reverend brother Theodotus, assented, and invited me to go to Nicopolis, both to visit the Church there, and to keep him company as far as Satala. But he left me at Getasa, and, when I reached Nicopolis, forgetting all that he heard from me, and the agreement he had made with me, dismissed me, disgraced by the insults and dishonours which I have mentioned. 4. How, then, right honourable sir, was it possible for me to perform any of the injunctions laid on me, and to provide bishops for Armenia? How could I act, when the sharer of my responsibilities was thus disposed towards me,--the very man by whose aid I was expecting to be able to find suitable persons, because of his having in his district reverend and learned men, skilled in speech, and acquainted with the other peculiarities of the nation? I know their names, but I shall refrain from mentioning them, lest there arise any hindrance to the interests of Armenia being served at some future time. Now, after getting as far as Satala in such a state of health, I seemed to settle the rest by the grace of God. I made peace between the Armenian bishops, and made them a suitable address, urging them to put away their customary indifference, and resume their ancient zeal in the Lord's cause. Moreover, I delivered them rules as to how it behoved them to give heed to iniquities generally practised in Armenia. I further accepted a decision of the Church of Satala, asking that a bishop might be given them through me. I was also careful to inquire into the calumnies promulgated against our brother Cyril, the Armenian bishop, and by God's grace I have found them to be started by the lying slanders of his enemies. This they confessed to me. And I seemed to some extent to reconcile the people to him, so that they avoid communion with him no more. Small achievements these, maybe, and not worth much, but in consequence of the mutual discord caused by the wiles of the devil, it was impossible for me to effect more. Even this much I ought not to have said, so as not to seem to be publishing my own disgrace. But as I could not plead my cause before your excellency in any other way, I was under the necessity of telling you the entire truth.

Footnotes

[2347] Placed in 372. [2348] cf. Letter ccxiv. On Terentius vide Amm. Marcellinus, xxvii. 12 and xxxi. He was an orthodox Christian, though in favour with Valens. In 372 he was in command of twelve legions in Georgia, and Basil communicates with him about providing bishops for the Armenian Church. According to some manuscripts of Letter cv., q.v., his three daughters were deaconesses. [2349] katagagon . So six mss., but the Ben. Ed. seem rightly to point out that the invitation never resulted in actual "conducting." [2350] i.e. The Armenian Nicopolis.


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