Writings of Basil - The Letters c

Advanced Information

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 C. [2351]

To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata.

When I saw your affectionate letter, in the country bordering on Armenia, it was like a lighted torch held up at a distance to mariners at sea, especially if the sea happen to be agitated by the wind. Your reverence's letter was of itself a pleasant one, and full of comfort; but its natural charm was very much enhanced by the time of its arrival, a time so painful to me, that I hardly know how to describe it, after once making up my mind to forget its troubles. However, my deacon will give you a full account. My bodily strength completely failed me, so that I was not even able to bear the slightest movement without pain. Nevertheless I do pray that, by the aid of your prayers, my own longing may be fulfilled; although my journey has caused me great difficulties, in consequence of the affairs of my own Church having been neglected through its occupying such a long time. But if, while I yet live, God grants me to see your reverence in my Church, then truly I shall have good hope, even for the future, that I am not wholly excluded from the gifts of God. If it be possible, I beg that this meeting between us may take place at the Synod which we hold every year, in memory of the blessed martyr Eupsychius, [2352] now about to be held on the 7th of September. I am compassed with anxieties which demand your help and sympathy, both in the matter of the appointment of bishops and in the consideration of the trouble caused me by the simplicity of Gregory of Nyssa, [2353] who is summoning a Synod at Ancyra and leaving nothing undone to counteract me.

Text Font Face
.
Text Size
.
Background
Color
.
(for printing)

Footnotes

[2351] Placed in 372. [2352] cf. Letters clxxvi. and cclii. Eupsychius suffered for the part he took in demolishing the Temple of Fortune at Cæsarea. cf. Sozomen, Ecc. Hist. v. 11. An Eupsychius appears in the Bollandist acts under April 9th. Vide Prolegomena. [2353] The Ben. note, in answer to the suggested unlikelihood of Basil's being plotted against by his brother, calls attention to the fact that this opposition was due not to want of affection but to want of tact, and compares Letter lviii. on Gregory's foolish falsehood about their uncle.

Letter CI. [2354]

Consolatory. [2355]

This is my first letter to you, and I could have prayed that its subject were a brighter one. Had it been so, things would have fallen out as I desire, for it is my wish that the life of all those who are purposed to live in true religion should be happily spent. But the Lord, Who ordains our course in accordance with His ineffable wisdom, has arranged that all these things should come about for the advantage of our souls, whereby He has, on the one hand, made your life sorrowful, and on the other, roused the sympathy of one who, like myself, is united to you in godly love. Therefore on my learning from my brothers what has befallen you it has seemed to me that I could not but give you such comfort as I can. Had it indeed been possible to me to travel to the place in which you are now living I would have made every effort to do so. But my bad health and the present business which occupies me have caused this very journey, which I have undertaken, to be injurious to the interests of my Church. I have, therefore, determined to address your excellency in writing, to remind you that these afflictions are not sent by the Lord, Who rules us, to the servants of God to no purpose, but as a test of the genuineness of our love to the divine Creator. Just as athletes win crowns by their struggles in the arena, so are Christians brought to perfection by the trial of their temptations, if only we learn to accept what is sent us by the Lord with becoming patience, with all thanksgiving. All things are ordained by the Lord's love. We must not accept anything that befalls us as grievous, even if, for the present, it affects our weakness. We are ignorant, peradventure, of the reasons why each thing that happens to us is sent to us as a blessing by the Lord but we ought to be convinced that all that happens to us is for our good, either for the reward of our patience, or for the soul which we have received, lest, by lingering too long in this life, it be filled with the wickedness to be found in this world. If the hope of Christians is limited to this life, it might rightly have been reckoned a bitter lot to be prematurely parted from the body; but if, to them that love God, the sundering of the soul from these bodily fetters is the beginning of our real life, why do we grieve like them which have no hope? [2356]Be comforted then, and do not fall under your troubles, but show that you are superior to them and can rise above them.

BELIEVE
Religious
Information
Source
web-site
BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects
E-mail

Footnotes

[2354] Placed in 372. [2355] To the title has been added "to the wife of Arinthæus," but no manuscript known to the Ben. Ed. contained it. [2356] 1 Thess. iv. 12.

Letter CII. [2357]

To the citizens of Satala. [2358] Moved by your importunity and that of all your people, I have undertaken the charge of your Church, and have promised before the Lord that I will be wanting to you in nothing which is within my power. So I have been compelled, as it is written, to touch as it were the apple of my eye. [2359]Thus the high honour in which I hold you has suffered me to remember neither relationship, nor the intimacy which I have had from my boyhood with the person in question, as making a stronger demand on me than your request. I have forgotten all the private considerations which made him near and dear to me, making no account of the sighs which will be heaved by all my people on being deprived of his rule, none of the tears of all his kindred; nor have I taken to heart the affliction of his aged mother, who is supported by his aid alone. All these considerations, great and many as they are, I have put aside, keeping only in view the one object of giving your Church the blessing of the rule of such a man, and of aiding her, now distressed as she is, at being so long without a head, and needing great and powerful support to be enabled to rise again. So much for what concerns myself. Now, on the other hand, I ask you not to fall short of the hope which I have entertained and of the promises which I have made him, that I have sent him to close friends. I ask every one of you to try to surpass the rest in love and affection to him. I entreat you to show this laudable rivalry, and to comfort his heart by the greatness of your attentions to him, that he may forget his own home, forget his kinsfolk, and forget a people so dependent on his rule, like a child weaned from his mother's breast. I have despatched Nicias beforehand to explain everything to your excellencies, and that you may fix a day to keep the feast and give thanks to the Lord, Who has granted the fulfilment of your prayer. [2360]

Footnotes

[2357] Placed in 372. [2358] On the appointment of a bishop for that see in the North East of Armenia Minor. [2359] cf. Zech. ii. 8. [2360] The relative referred to is Poemenius. cf. Letter cxxii.

Letter CIII. [2361]

To the people of Satala. The Lord has answered the prayer of His people and has given them, by my humble instrumentality, a shepherd worthy of the name; not one making traffic of the word, as many do, but competent to give full satisfaction to you, who love orthodoxy of doctrine, and have accepted a life agreeable to the Lord's commands, in the name of the Lord, Who has filled him with His own spiritual graces.

Footnotes

[2361] Of the same date as the preceding.

Letter CIV. [2362]

To the prefect Modestus. [2363] Merely to write to so great a man, even though there be no other reason, must be esteemed a great honour. For communication with personages of high distinction confers glory upon all to whom it is permitted. My supplication, however, is one which I am driven by necessity to make to your excellency, in my great distress at the condition of my whole country. Bear with me, I beg you, kindly and in accordance with your own characters and reach a helping hand to my country, now beaten to the knee. The immediate object of my entreaty is as follows. By the old census, the clergy of God, presbyters and deacons, [2364] were left exempt. The recent registrars, however, without any authority from your lordship, have enrolled them, except that in some cases a few were granted immunity on the score of age. I ask, then, that you will leave us this memorial of your beneficence, to preserve through all coming time your good fame; that in accordance with the old law the clergy be exempt from contribution. I do not ask the remission to be conceded personally and individually to those who are now included, in which case the grace will pass to their successors, who may not always be worthy of the sacred ministry. I would suggest that some general concession be made to the clergy, according to the form in the open register, so that the exemption may be given in each place to ministers by the rulers of the Church. This boon is sure to bring undying glory to your excellency for your good deeds, and will cause many to pray for the imperial house. It will also really be profitable to the government, if we afford the relief of exemption, not generally to all the clergy, but to those who from time to time are in distress. This, as any one who chooses may know, is the course we actually pursue when we are at liberty.

Footnotes

[2362] Placed in 372. [2363] On the rating of the clergy. [2364] tous tou theou hieromenous, presbuterous kai diakonous. The Ben. note points out that the words priests and deacons probably crept into the mss., in all of which it is found, from the margin, inasmuch as by hieromenous and cognate words Basil means the whole clergy. cf. Letter liv. and note on p. 157.

Letter CV. [2365]

To the deaconesses, the daughters of Count Terentius. [2366] On coming to Samosata I expected to have the pleasure of meeting your excellencies, and when I was disappointed I could not easily bear it. When, I said, will it be possible for me to be in your neighbourhood again? When will it be agreeable to you to come into mine? All this, however, must be left to the Lord's will. As to the present, when I found that my son Sophronius was setting out to you, I gladly delivered him this letter, to convey you my salutation, and to tell you how, by God's grace, I do not cease to remember you, and to thank the Lord on your behalf, in that you are goodly scions of a goodly stock, fruitful in good works, and verily like lilies among thorns. Surrounded as you are by the terrible perversity of them that are corrupting the word of truth, you do not give in to their wiles; you have not abandoned the apostolic proclamation of faith, you have not gone over to the successful novelty of the day. Is not this cause of deep thankfulness to God? Shall not this rightly bring you great renown? You have professed your faith in Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Do not abandon this deposit; the Father--origin of all; the Son--Only begotten, begotten of Him, very God, Perfect of Perfect, living image, shewing the whole Father in Himself; the Holy Ghost, having His subsistence of God, the fount of holiness, power that gives life, grace that maketh perfect, through Whom man is adopted, and the mortal made immortal, conjoined with Father and Son in all things in glory and eternity, in power and kingdom, in sovereignty and godhead; as is testified by the tradition of the baptism of salvation. But all who maintain that either Son or Spirit is a creature, or absolutely reduce the Spirit to ministerial and servile rank, are far removed from the truth. Flee their communion. Turn away from their teaching. They are destructive to souls. If ever the Lord grant us to meet, I will discourse to you further concerning the faith, to the end that you may perceive at once the power of the truth and the rottenness of heresy by Scriptural proof.

Footnotes

[2365] Placed in 372. [2366] cf. Letter xcix. and note.

Letter CVI. [2367]

To a soldier. I have many reasons for thanking God for mercies vouchsafed to me in my journey, but I count no blessing greater than the knowledge of your excellency, which has been permitted me by our good Lord's mercy. I have learnt to know one who proves that even in a soldier's life it is possible to preserve the perfection of love to God, [2368] and that we must mark a Christian not by the style of his dress, but by the disposition of his soul. It was a great delight to me to meet you; and now, whenever I remember you, I feel very glad. Play the man; be strong; strive to nourish and multiply love to God, that there may be given you by Him yet greater boons of blessing. I need no further proof that you remember me; I have evidence in what you have done.

Footnotes

[2367] Placed in 372. [2368] Among others, conspicuous instances of the statement in the text are Cornelius, St. Martin, John de Joinville, Peter du Terreil, Sieur de Bayard, Henry Havelock, and Charles Gordon.

Letter CVII. [2369]

To the Widow Julitta. [2370] I was grieved to find on reading your ladyship's letter that you are involved in the same difficulties. What is to be done to men who show such a shifty character, saying now one thing now another and never abiding in the same pledges? If, after the promises made in my presence, and in that of the ex-prefect, he now tries to shorten the time of grace as though nothing had been said, he does seem to have lost, as far as I am concerned, all sense of shame. Nevertheless I wrote to him, rebuking him, and reminding him of his promises. I wrote also to Helladius, who is of the household of the prefect, that information might be given through him about your affairs. I hesitated myself to make so free with an officer of such importance, on account of my never having yet written to him about my own private affairs and my fearing some adverse decision from him, great men, as you know, being easily annoyed about such matters. If, however, any good is to be done in the matter, it will be through Helladius, an excellent man, well disposed towards me, fearing God, and having perfectly free access to the prefect. The Holy One is able to deliver you from all affliction, if only truly and sincerely we fix all our hope on Him.

Footnotes

[2369] Placed in 372. [2370] On the pressure put upon her by the guardian of her heirs.

Letter CVIII. [2371]

To the guardian of the heirs of Julitta. I am very much astonished to hear that, after the kind promises which you made and which were only such as might be expected from your generous character, you have now forgotten them and are putting violent and stern pressure on our sister. What to think, under the circumstances, I really do not know.I know from many who have experienced your liberality, and bear testimony to it, how great it is; and I remember the promises which you made before me and the ex-prefect. You said that you were naming a shorter time in writing, but that you would grant a longer term of grace, from your wish to meet the necessities of the case, and do a favour to the widow, who is now compelled to pay out of her substance such a large sum of money at once. What is the cause of this change I cannot imagine. However, whatever it is, I beg you to be mindful of your own generous character, and to look to the Lord Who requites good deeds. I beg you to grant the time of remission, which you promised at the outset, that they may be able to sell their property and discharge the debt. I perfectly well remember that you promised, if you received the sum agreed on, to restore to the widow all the stipulated documents, as well those which had been executed before the magistrates as the private papers. I do beg you then, honour me and win great blessing for yourself from the Lord. Remember your own promises, recognizing that you are human and must yourself look for that time when you will need God's help. Do not shut yourself off from that help by your present severity; but, by showing all kindness and clemency to the afflicted, attract God's pity to yourself.

Footnotes

[2371] Placed in 372.

Letter CIX. [2372]

To the Count Helladius. I shrink from troubling your good nature, on account of the greatness of your influence, for fear of seeming to make an unwarrantable use of your friendship; however, the necessity of the case prevents my holding my peace. Our sister, who is a relative of mine, and now in the sorrowful position of a widow, has to look after the affairs of her orphan boy. On seeing her above measure oppressed by intolerable responsibilities, I felt great compassion for her, and, feeling deeply on the subject, I have hastened to invoke your aid, in order that you may, if possible, deign to support the messenger whom she has sent, to the end that when she has paid what she promised in person in my presence, she may be freed from any further pressure. She had agreed that she should be relieved from the interest on payment of the capital. Now, however, those who are looking after the affairs of her heirs are trying to exact the payment of the interest as well as that of the capital. The Lord, you know, makes the care of widows and orphans His own, and so do you strive to use your best endeavours in this matter, in the hope of the recompense which God Himself will give you. I cannot help thinking that, when our admirable and kindly prefect has heard of the discharge of the capital, he will feel for this afflicted and unhappy house now stricken to the knee, and no longer able to cope with the injuries inflicted upon it. Pardon, then, the necessity which compels me to intrude upon you; and give your help in this matter, in proportion to the power which Christ has given you, good and true man as you are, and using your talents for the best.

Footnotes

[2372] Of the same date as the preceding.

Letter CX. [2373]

To the prefect Modestus. [2374] In kindly condescending to come down to me you give me great honour and allow me great freedom; and these in like, aye and in greater, measure, I pray that your lordship may receive from our good Master during the whole of your life. I have long wanted to write to you and to receive honour at your hands, but respect for your great dignity has restrained me, and I have been careful lest I should ever seem to abuse the liberty conceded to me. Now, however, I am forced to take courage, not only by the fact of my having received permission from your incomparable excellency to write, but also by the necessity of the distressed. If, then, prayers of even the small are of any avail with the great, be moved, most excellent sir, of your good will to grant relief to a rural population now in pitiable case, and give orders that the tax of iron, paid by the inhabitants of iron-producing Taurus, may be made such as it is possible to pay. Grant this, lest they be crushed once for all, instead of being of lasting service to the state. I am sure that your admirable benevolence will see that this is done.

Footnotes

[2373] Placed in 372. [2374] On the tribute of iron paid in Mount Taurus.

Letter CXI. [2375]

To Modestus, the prefect. Under any ordinary circumstances I should have lacked courage to intrude upon your excellency, for I know how to gauge my own importance and to recognise dignities. But now that I have seen a friend in a distressing position at having been summoned before you, I have ventured to give him this letter. I hope that by using it, as a kind of propitiatory symbol, he may meet with merciful consideration. Truly, although I am of no account, moderation itself may be able to conciliate the most merciful of prefects, and to win pardon for me. Thus if my friend has done no wrong, he may be saved by the mere force of truth; if he has erred, he may be forgiven through my entreaty. How we are situated here no one knows better than yourself, for you discern the weak parts in each man and rule all with your admirable forethought.

Footnotes

[2375] Placed in 372.

Letter CXII. [2376]

To Andronicus, a general. [2377] 1. Did but my health allow of my being able to undertake a journey without difficulty, and of putting up with the inclemency of the winter, I should, instead of writing, have travelled to your excellency in person, and this for two reasons. First to pay my old debt, for I know that I promised to come to Sebastia and to have the pleasure of seeing your excellency; I did indeed come, but I failed to meet you because I arrived a little later than your lordship; secondly, to be my own ambassador, because I have hitherto shrunk from sending, from the idea that I am too insignificant to win such a boon, and at the same time reckoning that no one by merely writing would be so likely to persuade any one of public or private rank, in behalf of any one, as by a personal interview, in which one might clear up some points in the charges, as to others make entreaty, and for others implore pardon; none of which ends can be easily achieved by a letter. Now against all this I can only set one thing, your most excellent self; and because it will suffice to tell you my mind in the matter, and all that is wanting you will add of yourself, I have ventured to write as I do. 2. But you see how from my hesitation, and because I put off explaining the reasons of my pleading, I write in roundabout phrase. This man Domitianus has been an intimate friend of my own and of my parents from the beginning, and is like a brother to me. Why should I not speak the truth? When I learnt the reasons for his being in his present troubles, I said that he had only got what he deserved. For I hoped that no one who has ever committed any offence be it small or great, will escape punishment. But when I saw him living a life of insecurity and disgrace, and felt that his only hope depends on your decision, I thought that he had been punished enough; and so I implore you to be magnanimous and humane in the view you take of his case. To have one's opponents under one's power is right and proper for a man of spirit and authority; but to be kind and gentle to the fallen is the mark of the man supereminent in greatness of soul, and in inclemency. So, if you will, it is in your power to exhibit your magnanimity in the case of the same man, both in punishing him and in saving him. Let the fear Domitian has of what he suspects, and of what he knows he deserves to suffer, be the extent of his chastisement. I entreat you to add nothing to his punishment, for consider this: many in former times, of whom no record has reached us, have had those who wronged them in their power. But those who surpassed their fellows in philosophy did not persist in their wrath, and of these the memory has been handed down, immortal through all time. Let this glory be added to what history will say of you. Grant to us, who desire to celebrate your praises, to be able to go beyond the instances of kindnesses sung of in days of old. In this manner Croesus, it is said, ceased from his wrath against the slayer of his son, when he gave himself up for punishment, [2378] and the great Cyrus was friendly to this very Croesus after his victory. [2379]We shall number you with these and shall proclaim this your glory, with all our power, unless we be counted too poor heralds of so great a man. 3. Yet another plea that I ought to urge is this, that we do not chastise transgressors for what is past and gone, (for what means can be devised for undoing the past?) but either that they may be reformed for the future, or may be an example of good behaviour to others. Now, no one could say that either of these points is lacking in the present case; for Domitian will remember what has happened till the day of his death; and I think that all the rest, with his example before them, are dead with alarm. Under these circumstances any addition which we make to his punishment will only look like a satisfaction of our own anger. This I should say is far from being true in your case. I could not indeed be induced to speak of such a thing did I not see that a greater blessing comes to him that gives, than to him that receives. Nor will your magnanimity be known only to a few. All Cappadocia is looking to see what is to be done, and I pray that they may be able to number this among the rest of your good deeds. I shrink from concluding my letter for fear any omission may be to my hurt. But one thing I will add. Domitian has letters from many, who plead for him, but he thinks mine the most important of all, because he has learnt, from whom I know not, that I have influence with your excellency. Do not let the hopes he has placed in me be blasted; do not let me lose my credit among my people here; be entreated, illustrious sir, and grant my boon. You have viewed human life as clearly as ever philosopher viewed it, and you know how goodly is the treasure laid up for all those who give their help to the needy.

Footnotes

[2376] Placed in 372. [2377] Asking for the merciful consideration of Domitianus, a friend of Basil. [2378] Herod. i. 45. [2379] Herod. i. 88.

Letter CXIII. [2380]

To the presbyters of Tarsus. [2381] On meeting this man, I heartily thanked God that by means of his visit He had comforted me in many afflictions and had through him shewn me clearly your love. I seem to see in one man's disposition the zeal of all of you for the truth. He will tell you of our discourses with one another. What you ought to learn directly from me is as follows. We live in days when the overthrow of the Churches seems imminent; of this I have long been cognisant. There is no edification of the Church; no correction of error; no sympathy for the weak; no single defence of sound brethren; no remedy is found either to heal the disease which has already seized us, or as a preventive against that which we expect. Altogether the state of the Church (if I may use a plain figure though it may seem too humble an one) is like an old coat, which is always being torn and can never be restored to its original strength. At such a time, then, there is need of great effort and diligence that the Churches may in some way be benefited. It is an advantage that parts hitherto severed should be united. Union would be effected if we were willing to accommodate ourselves to the weaker, where we can do so without injury to souls; since, then, many mouths are open against the Holy Ghost, and many tongues whetted to blasphemy against Him, we implore you, as far as in you lies, to reduce the blasphemers to a small number, and to receive into communion all who do not assert the Holy Ghost to be a creature, that the blasphemers may be left alone, and may either be ashamed and return to the truth, or, if they abide in their error, may cease to have any importance from the smallness of their numbers. Let us then seek no more than this, but propose to all the brethren, who are willing to join us, the Nicene Creed. If they assent to that, let us further require that the Holy Ghost ought not to be called a creature, nor any of those who say so be received into communion. I do not think that we ought to insist upon anything beyond this. For I am convinced that by longer communication and mutual experience without strife, if anything more requires to be added by way of explanation, the Lord Who worketh all things together for good for them that love Him, [2382] will grant it.

Footnotes

[2380] Placed in 372. [2381] That the Nicene Creed alone is to be required of the brethren. [2382] Rom. viii. 28.

Letter CXIV. [2383]

To Cyriacus, at Tarsus. [2384] I need hardly tell the sons of peace how great is the blessing of peace. But now this blessing, great, marvellous, and worthy as it is of being most strenuously sought by all that love the Lord, is in peril of being reduced to the bare name, because iniquity abounds, and the love of most men has waxed cold. [2385]I think then that the one great end of all who are really and truly serving the Lord ought to be to bring back to union the Churches now "at sundry times and in divers manners" [2386] divided from one another. In attempting myself to effect this, I cannot fairly be blamed as a busybody, for nothing is so characteristically Christian as the being a peacemaker, and for this reason our Lord has promised us peacemakers a very high reward. When, therefore, I had met the brethren, and learnt how great was their brotherly love, their regard for you, and yet more their love for Christ, and their exactitude and firmness in all that concerns the faith, and moreover their earnestness in compassing two ends, the not being separated from your love, and the not abandoning their sound faith, I approved of their good disposition; and I now write to your reverence beseeching you with all love to retain them in true union, and associated with you in all your anxiety for the Church. I have moreover pledged myself to them for your orthodoxy, and that you too by God's grace are enrolled to fight with all vigour for the truth, whatever you may have to suffer for the true doctrine. My own opinion is that the following conditions are such as will not run counter to your own feeling and will be quite sufficient to satisfy the above mentioned brethren; namely, that you should confess the faith put forth by our Fathers once assembled at Nicæa, that you should not omit any one of its propositions, but bear in mind that the three hundred and eighteen who met together without strife did not speak without the operation of the Holy Ghost, and not to add to that creed the statement that the Holy Ghost is a creature, nor hold communion with those who so say, to the end that the Church of God may be pure and without any evil admixture of any tare. If this full assurance is given them by your good feeling, they are prepared to offer proper submission to you. And I myself promise for the brethren that they will offer no opposition, but will show themselves entirely subordinate, if only your excellency shall have readily granted this one thing which they ask for.

Footnotes

[2383] Placed in 372. [2384] Like the preceding Letter, on the sufficiency of the Nicene Creed. [2385] cf. Matt. xxiv. 12. [2386] cf. Heb. i. 1.

Letter CXV. [2387]

To the heretic Simplicia. [2388] We often ill advisedly hate our superiors and love our inferiors. So I, for my part, hold my tongue, and keep silence about the disgrace of the insults offered me. I wait for the Judge above, Who knows how to punish all wickedness in the end, even though a man pour out gold like sand; let him trample on the right, he does but hurt his own soul. God always asks for sacrifice, not, I think, because He needs it, but because He accepts a pious and right mind as a precious sacrifice. But when a man by his transgressions tramples on himself God reckons his prayers impure. Bethink thyself, then, of the last day, and pray do not try to teach me. I know more than you do, and am not so choked with thorns within. I do not mind tenfold wickedness with a few good qualities. You have stirred up against me lizards and toads, [2389] beasts, it is true, of Spring time, but nevertheless unclean. But a bird will come from above who will devour them. The account I have to render is not according to your ideas, but as God thinks fit to judge. If witnesses are wanted, there will not stand before the Judge slaves; nor yet a disgraceful and detestable set of eunuchs; neither woman nor man, lustful, envious, ill-bribed, passionate, effeminate, slaves of the belly, mad for gold, ruthless, grumbling about their dinner, inconstant, stingy, greedy, insatiable, savage, jealous. What more need I say? At their very birth they were condemned to the knife. How can their mind be right when their feet are awry? They are chaste because of the knife, and it is no credit to them. They are lecherous to no purpose, of their own natural vileness. These are not the witnesses who shall stand in the judgment, but rather the eyes of the just and the eyesight of the perfect, of all who are then to see with their eyes what they now see with their understanding.

Footnotes

[2387] Placed in 372. [2388] The Ben. E. note that in the imperial codex No. lxvii. appears an argument of this letter wanting in the editions of St. Basil. It is as follows: "Letter of the same to Simplicia about her eunuchs. She was a heretic. The blessed Basil being ill and entering a bath to bathe, Simplicia told her eunuchs and maids to throw his towels out. Straightway the just judgment of God slew some of them, and Simplicia sent money to the blessed Basil to make amends for the injury. Basil refused to receive it, and wrote this Letter." This extraordinary preface seems to have been written by some annotator ignorant of the circumstances, which may be learnt from Greg. Naz. Letter xxxviii. It appears that a certain Cappadocian church, long without a bishop, had elected a slave of Simplicia, a lady wealthy and munificent, but of suspected orthodoxy. Basil and Gregory injudiciously ordained the reluctant slave without waiting for his mistress's consent. The angry lady wrote in indignation, and threatened him with the vengeance of her slaves and eunuchs. After Basil's death she returned to the charge, and pressed Gregory to get the ordination annulled. cf. Maran, Vit. Bas. chap. xxv. [2389] Presumably the slaves and eunuchs mentioned below. If the letter is genuine it is wholly unworthy of the Archbishop of Cæsarea.

Letter CXVI. [2390]

To Firminius. [2391] You write seldom, and your letters are short, either because you shrink from writing or from avoiding the satiety that comes from excess; or perhaps to train yourself to curt speech. I, indeed, am never satisfied and however abundant be your communication, it is less than my desire, because I wish to know every detail about you. How are you as to health? How as to ascetic discipline? Do you persevere in your original purpose? Or have you formed some new plan, changing your mind according to circumstances? Had you remained the same, I should not have wanted a great number of letters. I should have been quite satisfied with "I am quite well and I hope you are quite well." But I hear what I am ashamed to say, that you have deserted the ranks of your blessed forefathers, and deserted to your paternal grandfather, and are anxious to be rather a Brettanius than a Firminius. I am very anxious to hear about this, and to learn the reasons which have induced you to take to this kind of life. You have yourself been silent; ashamed, I suppose, of your intentions, and therefore I must implore you not to entertain any project, which can be associated with shame. If any such idea has entered into your mind, put it from you, come to yourself again, bid a long farewell to soldiering and arms and the toils of the camp. Return home thinking it, as your forefathers thought before you, quite enough for ease of life and all possible distinction to hold a high place in your city. This, I am sure, you will be able to achieve without difficulty, when I consider your natural gifts and the small number of your rivals. If, then, this was not your original intention, or if after forming it you have rejected it, let me know at once. If, on the other hand, which God forbid, you remain in the same mind, let the trouble come self announced. I do not want a letter.

Footnotes

[2390] Placed in 372. [2391] A young soldier whom Basil would win from the army to ascetic life.

Letter CXVII.

Without address. [2392] For many reasons I know that I am a debtor to your reverence, and now the anxiety in which I find myself necessarily puts me in the way of services of this kind, although my advisers are mere chance comers, and not like yourself joined to me by many and different ties. There is no need to bring the past under review. I may say that I was the cause of my own difficulties, by determining to leave that good discipline which alone leads to salvation. The result was that in this trouble I soon fell into temptation. What happened has seemed worthy of mention, so that I may not again fall into similar distress. As to the future, I wish to give full assurance to your reverence, that, by God's grace, all will go well, since the proceeding is lawful, and there is no difficulty about it, as many of my friends about the court are ready to help me. I shall therefore have a petition drawn up, similar to the form presented to the Vicar; and, if no delay intervene, I shall promptly get my discharge, and shall be sure to give you relief by sending you the formal document. I feel sure that in this my own convictions have more force than the imperial orders. If I shew this fixed and firm in the highest life, by God's aid the keeping of my chastity will be inviolable and sure. I have been pleased to see the brother entrusted to me by you, and hold him among my intimate friends. I trust he may prove worthy of God and of your good word.

Footnotes

[2392] Answer of Firminius to the preceding.

Letter CXVIII. [2393]

To Jovinus, Bishop of Perrha. [2394] You owe me a good turn. For I lent you a kindness, which I ought to get back with interest;--a kind of interest, this, which our Lord does not refuse. Pay me, then, my friend, by paying me a visit. So much for the capital; what of the increment? It is the fact of the visit being paid by you, who are a man as much superior to me, as fathers are better than children.

Footnotes

[2393] Placed at the end of 372 or the beginning of 373. [2394] The mss. vary between Jovinus and Jobinus. cf. Theodoret, Ecc. Hist. iv. 13.

Letter CXIX. [2395]

To Eustathius, Bishop of Sebasteia. [2396] I address you by the very honourable and reverend brother Petrus, beseeching you now and ever to pray for me, that I may be changed from ways dangerous and to be shunned, and may be made one day worthy of the name of Christ. Though I say nothing, you will converse together about my affairs, and he will give you an exact account of what has taken place. But you admit without due examination, the vile suspicions against me which will probably be raised by men who have insulted me, in violation of the fear of God and the regard of men. I am ashamed to tell you what treatment I have received from the illustrious Basilius, whom I had accepted at the hands of your reverence as a protection for my life. But, when you have heard what our brother has to say, you will know every detail. I do not thus speak to avenge myself upon him, for I pray that it may not be put to his account by the Lord, but in order that your affection to me may remain firm, and because I am afraid lest it be shaken by the monstrous slanders which these men are pretty sure to make up in defence of their fall. Whatever be the charges they adduce, I hope your intelligence will put these enquiries to them. Have they formally accused me? Have they sought for any correction of the error which they bring against me? Have they made their grievance against me plain? As matters are, by their ignoble flight they have made it evident that under the cheerfulness of their countenance, and their counterfeit expressions of affection, they are all the while hiding in their heart an immense depth of guile and of gall. In all this, whether I narrate it or not, your intelligence knows perfectly well what sorrow they have caused me, and what laughter to those who, always expressing their abomination for the pious life in this wretched city, affirm that the pretence of virtue is practised as a mere trick to get credit, a mere assumption to deceive. So in these days no mode of life is now so suspected of vice by people here as the profession of asceticism. Your intelligence will consider what is the best cure for all this. As to the charges patched up against me by Sophronius, far from being a prelude of blessings, they are a beginning of division and separation, and are likely to lead to even my love growing cold. I implore that by your merciful kindness he may be withheld from his injurious efforts, and that your affection may strive rather to tighten the bonds of what is falling asunder, and not to increase separation by joining with those who are eager for dissent.

Footnotes

[2395] Placed in the end of 372 or beginning of 373. [2396] On the misconduct of Basilius and Sophronius, two disciples of Eustathius.

Letter CXX. [2397]

To Meletius, bishop of Antioch. [2398] I have received a letter from the very God-beloved bishop Eusebius, in which he enjoins that a second letter be written to the Westerns about certain Church matters. He has expressed a wish that the letter should be drawn up by me, and signed by all those who are in communion. Having no means of writing a letter about these wishes of his, I have sent on his minute to your holiness, in order that, when you have read it and can give heed to the information given by the very dear brother Sanctissimus, our fellow presbyter, you may yourself be so good as to indite a letter on these points as seems best to you. We are prepared to agree to it and to lose no time in having it conveyed to those in communion with us, so that, when all have signed it may be carried by the messenger, who is on the point of starting on his journey to visit the bishops of the West. Give orders for the decision of your holiness to be communicated to me as quickly as possible, that I may not be ignorant of your intentions. As to the intrigue which is now being devised, or has already been devised against me, in Antioch, the same brother will convey intimation to your holiness, unless indeed the report of what has been done does not anticipate him and make the position clear. There is ground for hope that the threats are coming to an end. I wish your reverence to know that our brother Anthimus has ordained Faustus, who is living with the pope [2399] as bishop, without having received the votes, and in place of our right reverend brother Cyril. Thus he has filled Armenia with schisms. I have thought it right to tell your reverence this, lest they should lie against me, and I be responsible for these disorderly proceedings. You will of course deem it right to make this known to the rest. I think such irregularity will distress many.

Footnotes

[2397] Placed in 373. [2398] Basil keeps up his support of the claims of Meletius, now in exile in Armenia, to be recognised as Catholic bishop of Antioch, and complains of the irregular ordination of Faustus as bishop of an Armenian see by Basil's opponent, Anthimus of Tyana. Sanctissimus, the bearer of the letter, is supposed by Tillemont (vol. ix. p. 219) to be a Western on account of his Latin name. Maran (Vit. Bas. 26) points out that Orientals not infrequently bore Latin names, and supposes him to be a presbyter of Antioch. [2399] The title was not even at this time confined to bishops, and who this papa is is quite uncertain. The title is not generally limited to the bishop of Rome until the eighth century. So late as 680 Cyrus is called pope of Alexandria at the Sixth Council. (Mansi xi. 214.) It was not till 1073 that Gregory VII. asserted an exclusive right to the name. (Gieseler, vol. 1, 2, 405.)

Letter CXXI. [2400]

To Theodotus, bishop of Nicopolis. [2401] The winter is severe and protracted, so that it is difficult for me even to have the solace of letters. For this reason I have written seldom to your reverence and seldom heard from you, but now my beloved brother Sanctissimus, the co-presbyter, has undertaken a journey as far as your city. By him I salute your lordship, and ask you to pray for me, and to give ear to Sanctissimus, that from him you may learn in what situation the Churches are placed, and may give all possible heed to the points put before you. You must know that Faustus came with letters for me, from the pope, requesting that he might be ordained bishop. When however I asked him for some testimonial from yourself, and the rest of the bishops, he made light of me and betook himself to Anthimus. He came back, ordained by Anthimus, without any communication having been made to me on the subject.

Footnotes

[2400] Of the same date as the preceding. [2401] On the same subject.

Letter CXXII. [2402]

To Poemenius, [2403] bishop of Satala. When the Armenians returned by your way you no doubt asked for a letter from them, and you learnt why I had not given the letter to them. If they spoke as truth lovers should, you forgave me on the spot; if they kept anything back (which I do not suppose), at all events hear it from me. The most illustrious Anthimus, who long ago made peace with me, when he found an opportunity of satisfying his own vain gloriousness, and of causing me some vexation, consecrated Faustus, by his own authority and with his own hand, without waiting for any election from you, and ridiculing my punctiliousness in such matters. Inasmuch, then, as he has confounded ancient order and has made light of you, for whose election I was waiting, and has acted in a manner, as I view it, displeasing to God, for these reasons I felt pained with them, and gave no letter for any of the Armenians, not even for your reverence. Faustus I would not even receive into communion, thereby plainly testifying that, unless he brought me a letter from you, I should be permanently alienated from him, and should influence those of the same mind with me to treat him in the same manner. If there is any remedy for these things, be sure to write to me yourself, giving your testimony to him, if you see that his life is good; and exhort the rest. If on the other hand the mischief is incurable, let me perfectly understand it to be so, that I may no longer take them into account; although really, as they have proved, they have agreed, for the future, to transfer their communion to Anthimus, in contempt of me and of my Church, as though my friendship were no longer worth having.

Footnotes

[2402] Placed in 373. [2403] On the same subject as the preceding. cf. Letters cii., ccxxvii., ccxxviii., ccxxix., and cxxx.

Letter CXXIII. [2404]

To Urbicius, the monk. [2405] You were to have come to see me (and the blessing was drawing near) to cool me, aflame in my temptations, with the tip of your finger. What then? My sins stood in the way and hindered your start, so that I am sick without a remedy. Just as when the waves are round us, one sinks and another rises, and another looms black and dreadful, so of my troubles: some have ceased, some are with me, some are before me. As is generally the case, the one remedy for these troubles is to yield to the crisis and withdraw from my persecutors. Yet come to me, to console, to advise, or even to travel with me; in any case you will make me better for the mere sight of you. Above all, pray, and pray again, that my reason be not whelmed by the waves of my troubles; pray that all through I may keep a heart pleasing to God, that I be not numbered with the wicked servants, who thank a master when he gives them good, and refuse to submit when he chastises them by adversity; but let me reap benefit from my very trials, trusting most in God when I need Him most.

Footnotes

[2404] Written in 373. [2405] cf. Letter cclxii.

Letter CXXIV. [2406]

To Theodorus. It is sometimes said that slaves to the passion of love, when by some inevitable necessity they are separated from the object of their desire, are able to stay the violence of their passion by indulging the sense of sight, if haply they can look at the picture of the beloved object. Whether this be true or not I cannot say; but what has befallen me in your case, my friend, is not very different. I have felt a disposition towards your godly and guileless soul, somewhat, if I may so say, of the nature of love; but the gratification of my desire, like that of all other blessings, is made difficult to me by the opposition of my sins. However, I have seemed to see a very good likeness of you in the presence of my very reverend brothers. And if it had been my lot to fall in with you when far away from them, I should have fancied that I saw them in you. For the measure of love in each of you is so great, that in both of you there is a plain contest for the superiority. I have thanked God for this. If any longer life be left me, I pray that my life may be made sweet through you, just as now I look on life as a wretched thing to be avoided, because I am separated from the companionship of those I love best. For, in my judgment, there is nothing in which one can be cheerful when cut off from those who truly love us.

Footnotes

[2406] Placed in 373.

Letter CXXV. [2407]

A transcript of the faith as dictated by Saint Basil, and subscribed by Eustathius, bishop of Sebasteia. [2408] 1. Both men whose minds have been preoccupied by a heterodox creed and now wish to change over to the congregation of the orthodox, and also those who are now for the first time desirous of being instructed in the doctrine of truth, must be taught the creed drawn up by the blessed fathers in the Council which met at Nicæa. The same training would also be exceedingly useful in the case of all who are under suspicion of being in a state of hostility to sound doctrine, and who by ingenious and plausible excuses keep the depravity of their sentiments out of view. For these too this creed is all that is needed. They will either get cured of their concealed unsoundness, or, by continuing to keep it concealed, will themselves bear the load of the sentence due to their dishonesty, and will provide us with an easy defence in the day of judgment, when the Lord will lift the cover from the hidden things of darkness, and "make manifest the counsels of the hearts." [2409]It is therefore desirable to receive them with the confession not only that they believe in the words put forth by our fathers at Nicæa, but also according to the sound meaning expressed by those words. For there are men who even in this creed pervert the word of truth, and wrest the meaning of the words in it to suit their own notions. So Marcellus, when expressing impious sentiments concerning the hypostasis of our Lord Jesus Christ, and describing Him as being Logos and nothing more, [2410] had the hardihood to profess to find a pretext for his principles in that creed by affixing an improper sense upon the Homoousion. Some, moreover, of the impious following of the Libyan Sabellius, who understand hypostasis and substance to be identical, derive ground for the establishment of their blasphemy from the same source, because of its having been written in the creed "if any one says that the Son is of a different substance or hypostasis, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes him." But they did not there state hypostasis and substance to be identical. Had the words expressed one and the same meaning, what need of both? It is on the contrary clear that while by some it was denied that the Son was of the same substance with the Father, and some asserted that He was not of the substance and was of some other hypostasis, they thus condemned both opinions as outside that held by the Church. When they set forth their own view, they declared the Son to be of the substance of the Father, but they did not add the words "of the hypostasis." The former clause stands for the condemnation of the faulty view; the latter plainly states the dogma of salvation. We are therefore bound to confess the Son to be of one substance with the Father, as it is written; but the Father to exist in His own proper hypostasis, the Son in His, and the Holy Ghost in His, as they themselves have clearly delivered the doctrine. They indeed clearly and satisfactorily declared in the words Light of Light, that the Light which begat and the Light which was begotten, are distinct, and yet Light and Light; so that the definition of the Substance is one and the same. [2411]I will now subjoin the actual creed as it was drawn up at Nicæa. [2412] 2. pisteuomen eis hena Theon Patera pantokratora, panton horaton te kai aoraton poieten; [poieten ouranou kai ges horaton te panton kai aoraton;] kai eis hena Kurion Iesoun Christon, ton hui& 232;n tou Theou [ton monogene] gennethenta ek tou Patros monogene. [ton ek tou Patros gennethenta pro panton ton ai& 240;non.] toutestin ek tes ousias tou Patros, Theon ek Theou [omit], [2413] Phos ek Photos, Theon alethinon ek Theou alethinou, gennethenta ou poiethenta, homoousion to Patri, di' hoi ta panta egeneto, ta te en to ourano kai ta en te ge [omit]. ton di' hemas tous anthropous kai dia ten hemeteran soterian, katelthonta [ek ton ouranon] kai sarkothenta. [hek pneumatos hagiou kai Marias tes parthenou.] kai enanthropesanta [staurothenta te huper emon epi Pontiou Pilatou, kai], pathonta [kai taphenta], kai anastanta te trite hemera [kata tas graphas kai], anelthonta eis tous ouranous. [kai kathezomenon ek dexion tou Patros.] kai palin erchomenon [meta doxes] krinai zontas kai nekrous; [hou tes basileias ouk estai telos;] kai eis to Pneuma to hagion. [to Kurion kai to zoopoion to ek tou Patros ekporeuomenon, to sun Patri kai Hui& 254; sumproskunoumenon kai sundoxazomenon, to lalesan dia ton propheton; eis mian hagian katholiken kai apostoliken ekklesian, homologoumen hen baptisma eis aphesin hamartion, prosdokomen anastasin nekron, kai zoen tou mellontos ai& 242;nos. 'Amen.] tous de legontas, en pote hote ouk en, kai prin gennethenai ouk en, kai hoti ex ouk onton egeneto, e ex heteras hupostaseos e ousias phaskontas einai, e ktiston e trepton e alloioton ton Hui& 232;n tou Theou, toutous anathematizei he katholike kai apostolike ekklesia. [Omit all the Anathemas.] 3. Here then all points but one are satisfactorily and exactly defined, some for the correction of what had been corrupted, some as a precaution against errors expected to arise. The doctrine of the Spirit, however, is merely mentioned, as needing no elaboration, because at the time of the Council no question was mooted, and the opinion on this subject in the hearts of the faithful was exposed to no attack. Little by little, however, the growing poison-germs of impiety, first sown by Arius, the champion of the heresy, and then by those who succeeded to his inheritance of mischief, were nurtured to the plague of the Church, and the regular development of the impiety issued in blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Under these circumstances we are under the necessity of putting before the men who have no pity for themselves, and shut their eyes to the inevitable threat directed by our Lord against blasphemers of the Holy Ghost, their bounden duty. They must anathematize all who call the Holy Ghost a creature, and all who so think; all who do not confess that He is holy by nature, as the Father is holy by nature, and the Son is holy by nature, and refuse Him His place in the blessed divine nature. Our not separating Him from Father and Son is a proof of our right mind, for we are bound to be baptized in the terms we have received and to profess belief in the terms in which we are baptized, and as we have professed belief in, so to give glory to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to hold aloof from the communion of all who call Him creature, as from open blasphemers. One point must be regarded as settled; and the remark is necessary because of our slanderers; we do not speak of the Holy Ghost as unbegotten, for we recognise one Unbegotten and one Origin of all things, [2414] the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: nor do we speak of the Holy Ghost as begotten, for by the tradition of the faith we have been taught one Only-begotten: the Spirit of truth we have been taught to proceed from the Father, and we confess Him to be of God without creation. We are also bound to anathematize all who speak of the Holy Ghost as ministerial, [2415] inasmuch as by this term they degrade Him to the rank of a creature. For that the ministering spirits are creatures we are told by Scripture in the words "they are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister." [2416]But because of men who make universal confusion, and do not keep the doctrine of the Gospels, it is necessary to add yet this further, that they are to be shunned, as plainly hostile to true religion, who invert the order left us by the Lord, and put the Son before the Father, and the Holy Spirit before the Son. For we must keep unaltered and inviolable that order which we have received from the very words of the Lord, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." [2417] I, Eustathius, bishop, have read to thee, Basil, and understood; and I assent to what is written above. I have signed in the presence of our Fronto, Severus, the chorepiscopus, and several other clerics.

Footnotes

[2407] Placed in 373. [2408] On Basil's relations with Eustathius of Sebasteia (Siwas in Armenia Minor), the Vicar of Bray of the Arian controversies, who probably subscribed more creeds than any other prominent bishop of his age, see Letters cxxx. and ccxliv., and p. 171, n. [2409] 1 Cor. i. 5. [2410] Marcellus of Ancyra (Angora) was represented to teach that the Son had no real personality, but was only the outward manifestation (Porphorikos Logos) of the Father, but he could always defend himself on the ground that he was in communion with Julius and Athanasius, popes of Rome and Alexandria. cf. Jer., De Vir. Ill. chap. lxxxvi. [2411] cf. Letters xxxviii. and xcii. Basil is anxious to show that his own view is identical with the Nicene, and does not admit a development and variation in the meaning of the word hypostasis; but on comparing such a passage as that in Athan. c. Afros, "hypostasis is substance, and means nothing else but very being" (he de hupostasis ousia esti kai ouden allo semainomenon echei e auto to on) with St. Basil's words in the text it appears plain that hypostasis is not used throughout in the same sense. An erroneous sense of "three hypostases" was understood to be condemned at Nicæa, though Athanasius, e.g. "In illud omnia," etc., Schaff and Wace's ed., p. 90, does himself use the phrase, writing probably about ten years after Nicæa; but he more commonly treats ousia and hupostasis as identical. See specially the Tomus ad Antiochenos of a.d. 362 on the possible use of either "three hypostases" or "one hypostasis." cf. also n. on p. 179. [2412] I give the creed in the original Greek. The passages in brackets indicate the alterations of the Constantinopolitan revision according to the text of Chalcedon. [2413] "Deum de Deo" is inserted in the Sarum Breviary. [2414] cf. pp. 27 and 39, notes. [2415] cf. De Sp. S. 25, p. 17. On those who described the Spirit as merely a ministering spirit, vide Athan., Ad Serap. i. (legonton auto me monon ktisma, alla kai ton leitourgikon pneumaton hen auto einai). This new party arose in the Delta about 362, and was first known as "Tropici." They were condemned at the synod held at Alexandria on the return of Athanasius from his third exile. Its Synodical Letter is the Tomus ad Antiochenos. [2416] Heb. i. 14. [2417] Matt. xxviii. 14.

Letter CXXVI. [2418]

To Atarbius. [2419] On arriving at Nicopolis in the double hope of settling the disturbances which had arisen, and applying a remedy, as far as possible, to measures taken in a disorderly manner and in violation of the law of the Church, I was exceedingly disappointed at failing to meet you. I heard that you had hurriedly withdrawn, and actually from the very synod which was being held by you. I am, therefore, under the necessity of having recourse to writing, and by this letter I bid you present yourself before me, that you may in person apply some remedy to the pain which I felt, even unto death, on hearing that you had ventured on action, in the very middle of the church, of the like of which I hitherto have never heard. All this, although painful and serious, is endurable, as having happened to a man who has committed the punishment due for his sufferings to God, and is wholly devoted to peace and to preventing harm falling from any fault of his on God's people. Since, however, some honourable brethren, worthy of all credit, have told me that you have introduced certain innovations into the faith, and have spoken against sound doctrine, I am under the circumstances the more agitated, and above measure anxious, lest, in addition to the countless wounds which have been inflicted on the Church by traitors to the truth of the Gospel, yet a further calamity should spring up in the renewal of the ancient heresy of Sabellius, the enemy of the Church; for to this the brethren have reported your utterances to be akin. I have, therefore, written to charge you not to shrink from undertaking a short journey to come to me, and, by giving me full assurance in the matter, at once to alleviate my pangs, and to solace the Churches of God, which are now pained to a grave, nay an unendurable extent, at your actions and your reported words.

Footnotes

[2418] Placed in 373. [2419] Bishop of Neocæsarea. VideLetter lxv.

Letter CXXVII. [2420]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. [2421] Our merciful God, Who makes comfort match trouble, and consoles the lowly, lest they be drowned unawares in exceeding grief, has sent a consolation, equivalent to the troubles I have suffered in Nicopolis, in seasonably bringing me the God-beloved bishop Jobinus. He must tell you himself how very opportune his visit was. I shrink from a long letter, and will hold my peace. And I am the more inclined to silence, lest I seem as it were to put a mark on men, who have turned round and begun to show regard to me, by mentioning their fall. God grant that you may come to see me in my own home, so that I may embrace your reverence and tell you everything in detail. For we often find some comfort in telling what is painful in actual experience. However, for all that the very godly bishop has done, fully as far as regards his affection for me, and preeminently and stoutly as regards the exact observance of the canons, commend him. Moreover, thank God that your pupils everywhere exhibit your reverence's character.

Footnotes

[2420] Placed in 373. [2421] On Basil's difficulties while at Nicopolis, with a request for the sympathy of Eusebius.

Letter CXXVIII. [2422]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. [2423] 1. Hitherto I have been unable to give any adequate and practical proof of my earnest desire to pacify the Churches of the Lord. But in my heart I affirm that I have so great a longing, that I would gladly give up even my life, if thereby the flame of hatred, kindled by the evil one, could be put out. If it was not for the sake of this longing for peace that I consented to come to Colonia, [2424] may my life be unblessed by peace. The peace I seek is the true peace, left us by the Lord Himself; and what I have asked that I may have for my assurance belongs to one who desires nothing but the true peace, although some perversely interpret the truth into another sense. Let them use their tongues as they will, but assuredly they will one day be sorry for their words. 2. Now I beseech your holiness to remember the original propositions, and not to be led away by receiving answers that do not fit the questions, nor yet to give practical weight to the quibbles of men who, without any power of argument, very cleverly pervert the truth, from their own ideas alone. I set out propositions which were perfectly simple, clear and easy to remember; do we decline to receive into communion those who refuse to accept the Nicene Creed? Do we refuse to have part or lot with those who have the hardihood to assert that the Holy Ghost is a creature? He, however, [2425] instead of answering my questions word for word, has concocted the statement which you have sent me:--and this not from simplemindedness, as might be imagined, nor yet from his inability to see the consequences. What he reckons is that, by repudiating my proposition, he will expose his true character to the people; while, if he agrees to it, he will depart from that via media which has hitherto seemed to him preferable to any other position. Let him not try to beguile me, nor, with the rest, deceive your intelligence. Let him send a concise answer to my question, whether he accepts or repudiates communion with the enemies of the faith. If you get him to do this and send me such a distinct answer as I pray for, I own myself in error in all that has gone before; I take all the blame upon myself; then ask from me a proof of humility. But, if nothing of the kind come to pass, pardon me, most God-beloved father, in my inability to approach God's altar with hypocrisy. Were it not for this dread, why should I separate myself from Euippius, so learned a man, so advanced in age, and bound to me by so many ties of affection? If, however, in this case I acted rightly, it would, I am sure, be absurd to appear united with those who maintain the same views as Euippius, through the mediation of these amiable and charming persons. 3. Not that I think it is absolutely our duty to cut ourselves off from those who do not receive the faith, but rather to have regard to them in accordance with the old law of love, and to write to them with one consent, giving them all exhortation with pity, and to propose to them the faith of the fathers, and invite them to union. If we succeed we should be united in communion with them; if we fail we must be content with one another and purge our conduct of this uncertain spirit, restoring the evangelical and simple conversation followed by those who accepted the Word from the beginning. "They," it is said, "were of one heart and of one soul." [2426]If they obey you, this will be best; if not, recognise the real authors of the war, and, for the future do not write me any more letters about reconciliation.

Footnotes

[2422] Placed in 373. [2423] On the difficulty of reconciliation with Eustathius. [2424] Maran supposes this to be the place referred to in Letter ccxliv. 2. [2425] i.e. Eustathius. [2426] Acts iv. 32.

Letter CXXIX. [2427]

To Meletius Bishop of Antioch. [2428] 1. I knew that the charge which had lately sprung up against the loquacious Apollinarius would sound strange in the ears of your excellency. I did not know myself, till now, that he was accused; at the present time, however, the Sebastenes, after search in some quarter or another, have brought these things forward, and they are carrying about a document for which they are specially trying to condemn me on the ground that I hold the same sentiments. It contains the following phrases. "Wherefore it is everywhere necessary to understand the first identity in conjunction with, or rather in union with, the second, and to say that the second and the third are the same. For what the Father is firstly, the Son is secondly, and the Spirit thirdly. And, again, what the Spirit is firstly, the Son is secondly, in so far as the Spirit is the Lord; and the Father thirdly, in so far as the Spirit is God. And, to express the ineffable with greatest force, the Father is Son in a paternal sense, and the Son Father in a filial sense, and so in the case of the Spirit, in so far as the Trinity is one God." This is what is being bruited about. I never can believe it to have been invented by those through whom it has been published, although, after their slanders against me, I can regard nothing as beyond their audacity. For writing to some of their party, they advanced their false accusation against me, and then added the words I have quoted, describing them as the work of heretics, but saying nothing as to the author of the document, in order that it might vulgarly be supposed to have come from my pen. Nevertheless, in my opinion, their intelligence would not have gone far enough in putting the phrases together. On this account, in order to repudiate the growing blasphemy against myself, and shew to all the world that I have nothing in common with those who make such statements, I have been compelled to mention Apollinarius as approximating to the impiety of Sabellius. Of this subject I will say no more. 2. I have received a message from the court that, after the first impulse of the Emperor, to which he was impelled by my calumniators, a second decree has been passed, that I am not to be delivered to my accusers, nor given over to their will, as was ordered at the beginning; but that there has been in the meanwhile some delay. If then this obtains, or any gentler measure is determined on, I will let you know. If the former prevails, it shall not be so, without your knowledge. 3. Our brother Sanctissimus has certainly been with you a long time, and you have learnt the objects he has in view. If, then, the letter to the Westerns seems to you to contain at all what is requisite, be so good as to have it written out and conveyed to me, that I may get it signed by those who think with us, and may keep the subscription ready, and written out on a separate paper, which we can fasten on to the letter which is being carried about by our brother and fellow presbyter. As I did not find in the minute anything conclusive, I was in a difficulty on what point to write to the Westerns. Necessary points are anticipated, and it is useless to write what is superfluous, and on such points would it not be ridiculous to show feeling? One subject, however, did appear to me to be hitherto untouched, and to suggest a reason for writing, and that was an exhortation to them not indiscriminately to accept the communion of men coming from the East; but, after once choosing one side, to receive the rest on the testimony of their fellows, and not to assent to every one writing a form of creed on the pretext of orthodoxy. If they do so, they will be found in communion with men at war with one another, who often put forward the same formulæ, and yet battle vehemently against one another, as those who are most widely separated. To the end, then, that the heresy may not be the more widely kindled, while those who are at variance with one another mutually object to their own formulæ, they ought to be exhorted to make a distinction between the acts of communion which are brought them by chance comers, and those which are duly drawn up according to the rule of the Church. [2429]

Footnotes

[2427] Placed in 373. [2428] A refutation of a charge that he was the author of an Apollinarian document. [2429] The Ben. note adduces this letter and Letter ccxxiv. as shewing two kinds of communion, (1) Personal in the Eucharist and prayer, and (2) by letter.

Letter CXXX. [2430]

To Theodotus bishop of Nicopolis. 1. You have very rightly and properly blamed me, right honourable and well beloved brother, in that ever since I departed from your reverence, conveying to Eustathius those propositions about the faith, I have told you neither much nor little about his business. This neglect is really not due to any contempt on my part for the way in which he has treated me, but simply to the fact that the story is now published abroad in all men's ears, and nobody needs any instructions from me in order to learn what his intentions are. For this he has had good heed, as though he were really afraid that he would have few witnesses of his opinion, and has sent to the ends of the earth the letter which he has written against me. He has therefore severed himself from communion with me. He did not consent to meet me at the appointed spot, and did not bring his disciples, as he had promised. On the contrary, he publicly stigmatized me in the public synods, with the Cilician Theophilus, [2431] by the open and undisguised slander of sowing in the souls of the people doctrines at variance with his own teaching. This was quite enough to break up all union between us. Afterwards he came to Cilicia, and, on meeting with a certain Gelasius, showed him the creed which only an Arian, or a thorough disciple of Arius, could subscribe. Then, indeed, I was yet more confirmed in my alienation from him. I felt that the Ethiopian will never change his skin, nor the leopard his spots, [2432] nor a man nurtured in doctrines of perversity ever be able to rub off the stain of his heresy. 2. In addition to all this he has had the impudence to write against me, or rather to compose long discourses full of all kinds of abuse and calumny. To these, up to this time, I have answered nothing, taught as we are by the Apostle, not to avenge ourselves, but to give place unto wrath. [2433]Moreover, at the thought of the depth of the hypocrisy with which he has all along approached me, I have, in a way, become speechless with amazement. But, if all this had never happened, who would not feel horror and detestation of the fellow at this fresh piece of audacity? Now, as I hear, if the report is really true and not a slanderous invention, he has ventured to re-ordain certain men; a proceeding on which so far no heretic has ventured. How then can I quietly endure such treatment? How can I look upon the errors of the man as curable? Beware, then, of being led away by lies; do not be moved by the suspicions of men who are prone to look at everything in a bad light, as though I were making little of such things. For, be sure, my very dear and honourable friend, that I have never at any time been so grieved as I am now, on hearing of this confusion of the laws of the Church. Pray only that the Lord grant me to take no step in anger, but to maintain charity, which behaveth itself not unseemly and is not puffed up. [2434]Only look how men without charity have been lifted up beyond all human bounds and conduct themselves in an unseemly manner, daring deeds which have no precedent in all the past. [2435]

Footnotes

[2430] Placed in 373. [2431] Bishop of Castabala, whither he was translated from Eleutheropolis. cf. Letters ccxliv. and ccxlv. [2432] cf. Jer. xiii. 23. [2433] Rom. xii. 19. [2434] 1 Cor. xiii. 5 and 4. [2435] There is no other mention in Basil's letters of Eustathius being guilty of re-ordination. The Ben. note, however, states that Basil is not accurate in saying that there was no heretical precedent for such proceedings. The Arians are charged with it in the Book of Prayers of Faustus and Marcellinus, Bib. Patr.v. 655. cf. also the letter of Constantius to the Ethiopians against Frumentius. Athan., Apol. ad Const. 31.

Letter CXXXI. [2436]

To Olympius. [2437] 1. Truly unexpected tidings make both ears tingle. This is my case. These compositions against me, which are being carried about, have fallen upon ears by this time pretty well seasoned, on account of my having formerly received the letter, appropriate enough to my sins, but which I should never have expected to be written by those who sent it. Nevertheless what followed did seem to me so extraordinarily cruel as to blot out all that had gone before. How could I fail to be driven almost out of my senses when I read the letter addressed to the reverend brother Dazinas, full of outrageous insults and calumnies and of attacks against me, as though I had been convicted of much pernicious designs against the Church? Moreover proofs were forthwith offered of the truth of the calumnies against me, from the document of whose authorship I am ignorant. Parts I recognise, I own, as having been written by Apollinarius of Laodicea. These I had purposely not even ever read, but I had heard of them from the report of others. Other portions I found included, which I had never either read or heard of from any one else; of the truth of this there is a faithful witness in heaven. How then can men who shun lies, who have learnt that love is the fulfilling of the law, who profess to bear the burdens of the weak, have consented to bring these calumnies against me and to condemn me out of other men's writings? I have often asked myself this question, but I cannot imagine the reason, unless it be, as I have said from the beginning, that my pain in all this is a part of the punishment which is due to my sins. 2. First of all I sorrowed in soul that truths were lessened by the sons of men; in the second place I feared for my own self, lest in addition to my other sins, I should become a misanthrope, believing no truth and honour to be left in any man; if indeed those whom I have most greatly trusted are proved to be so disposed both to me and to the truth. Be sure then, my brother, and every one who is a friend of the truth, that the composition is not mine; I do not approve of it, for it is not drawn up according to my views. Even if I did write, a good many years ago, to Apollinarius or to any one else, I ought not to be blamed. I find no fault myself if any member of any society has been cut off into heresy (and you know perfectly well whom I mean though I mention nobody by name), because each man will die in his own sin. This is my reply to the document sent me, that you may know the truth, and make it plain to all who wish not to hold the truth in unrighteousness. If it prove necessary to defend myself more at length on each separate count, I will do so, God being my helper. I, brother Olympius, neither maintain three Gods, nor communicate with Apollinarius. [2438]

Footnotes

[2436] Placed in 373. [2437] cf. Letters xii. and xiii. [2438] cf. Letter cxxv. and Greg. Naz., Orat. i. and xxix.

Letter CXXXII. [2439]

To Abramius, bishop of Batnæ. [2440] Ever since the autumn I have been quite ignorant of the whereabouts of your reverence; for I kept hearing uncertain rumours, some saying that you were stopping at Samosata, and some in the country, while others maintained that they had seen you at Batnæ. This is the reason of my not writing frequently. Now, on hearing that you are staying at Antioch, in the house of the honourable Count Saturninus, I have been glad to give this letter to our beloved and reverend brother Sanctissimus, our fellow presbyter, by whom I salute you, and exhort you, whereever you be, to remember firstly God, and secondly myself, whom you determined from the beginning to love and to reckon among your most intimate friends.

Footnotes

[2439] Placed in 373. [2440] cf. Letter xcii. He was present at the Council of Constantinople.

Letter CXXXIII.

To Peter, bishop of Alexandria. [2441] The sight of the eyes brings about bodily friendship, and long companionship strengthens it, but genuine regard is the gift of the Spirit, Who unites what is separated by long distances, and makes friends known to one another, not by bodily qualities, but by the characteristics of the soul. The grace of the Lord has granted me this favour, by permitting me to see you with the soul's eye, and to embrace you with genuine affection, and as it were, to be drawn very near to you, and to come into close union with you in the communion of faith. I am sure that you, disciple as you are of so great a man, and long associated with him, will walk in the same spirit and follow the same doctrines of true religion. Under these circumstances I address your excellency, and beseech you that among the other things in which you have succeeded that great man, you will succeed him in love to me, that you will frequently write me news of you, and will give heed to the brotherhood all over the world with the same affection and the same zeal which that most blessed man always showed to all that love God in truth.

Footnotes

[2441] Peter II. succeeded Athanasius in May, 373. Athanasius died May 2.

Letter CXXXIV. [2442]

To the presbyter Poeonius. You may conjecture from what it contains, what pleasure you have given me by your letter. The pureness of heart, from which such expressions sprang, was plainly signified by what you wrote. A streamlet tells of its own spring, and so the manner of speech marks the heart from which it came. I must confess that an extraordinary and improbable thing has happened to me. For deeply anxious as I always was to receive a letter from your excellency, when I had taken your letter into my hand and had read it, I was not so much pleased at what you had written, as annoyed at reckoning up the loss I had suffered in your long silence. Now that you have begun to write, pray do not leave off. You will give me greater pleasure than men can give by sending much money to misers. I have had no writer with me, neither caligraphist, nor short-hand. Of all those whom I happen to employ, some have returned to their former mode of life, and others are unfit for work from long sickness.

Footnotes

[2442] Placed in 373.

Letter CXXXV. [2443]

To Diodorus, presbyter of Antioch. [2444] 1. I have read the books sent me by your excellency. With the second I was delighted, not only with its brevity, as was likely to be the case with a reader out of health and inclined to indolence, but, because it is at once full of thought, and so arranged that the objections of opponents, and the answers to them, stand out distinctly. Its simple and natural style seems to me to befit the profession of a Christian who writes less for self-advertisement than for the general good. The former work, which has practically the same force, but is much more elaborately adorned with rich diction, many figures, and niceties of dialogue, seems to me to require considerable time to read, and much mental labour, both to gather its meaning and retain it in the memory. The abuse of our opponents and the support of our own side, which are thrown in, although they may seem to add some charms of dialectic to the treatise, do yet break the continuity of the thought and weaken the strength of the argument, by causing interruption and delay. I know that your intelligence is perfectly well aware that the heathen philosophers who wrote dialogues, Aristotle and Theophrastus, went straight to the point, because they were aware of their not being gifted with the graces of Plato. Plato, on the other hand, with his great power of writing, at the same time attacks opinions and incidentally makes fun of his characters, assailing now the rashness and recklessness of a Thrasymachus, the levity and frivolity of a Hippias, and the arrogance and pomposity of a Protagoras. When, however, he introduces unmarked characters into his dialogues, he uses the interlocutors for making the point clear, but does not admit anything more belonging to the characters into his argument. An instance of this is in the Laws. 2. It is well for us too, who betake ourselves to writing, not from any vain ambition, but from the design of bequeathing counsels of sound doctrine to the brethren, if we introduce some character well known to all the world for presumption of manners, to interweave into the argument some points in accordance with the quality of the character, unless indeed we have no right at all to leave our work and to accuse men. But if the subject of the dialogue be wide and general, digressions against persons interrupt its continuity and tend to no good end. So much I have written to prove that you did not send your work to a flatterer, but have shared your toil with a real brother. And I have spoken not for the correction of what is finished, but as a precaution for the future; for assuredly one who is so accustomed to write, and so diligent in writing, will not hesitate to do so; and the more so that there is no falling off in the number of those who give him subjects. Enough for me to read your books. I am as far from being able to write anything as, I had very nearly said, I am from being well, or from having the least leisure from my work. I have however now sent back the larger and earlier of the two volumes, after perusing it as far as I have been able. The second I have retained, with the wish to transcribe it, but, hitherto, without finding any quick writer. To such a pitch of poverty has come the enviable condition of the Cappadocians!

Footnotes

[2443] Placed in 373. [2444] cf. Letter clx. Theodoret, Hist. Ecc. iv. 24. He was a pupil of Silvanus, bishop of Tarsus. Letter ccxliv. Theodoret, Ep. xvi., refers to his obligations to him as a teacher. In 378 he became bishop of Tarsus. Only some fragments of his works remain, the bulk having been destroyed, it is said, by the Arians.

Letter CXXXVI. [2445]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. [2446] 1. In what state the good Isaaces has found me, he himself will best explain to you; though his tongue cannot be tragic enough to describe my sufferings, so great was my illness. However, any one who knows me ever so little, will be able to conjecture what it was. For, if when I am called well, I am weaker even than persons who are given over, you may fancy what I was when thus ill. Yet, since disease is my natural state, it would follow (let a fever have its jest) that in this change of habit, my health became especially flourishing. But it is the scourge of the Lord which goes on increasing my pain according to my deserts; therefore I have received illness upon illness, so that now even a child may see that this shell of mine must for certain fail, unless perchance, God's mercy vouchsafe to me, in His long suffering, time for repentance, and now, as often before, extricate me from evils beyond human cure. This shall be, as it is pleasing to Him and good for myself. 2. I need hardly tell you how deplorable and hopeless is the condition of the Churches. Now, for the sake of our own safety, we neglect our neighbour's, and do not even seem able to see that general disaster involves individual ruin. Least of all need I say this to one who, like yourself, foresaw the future from afar, and has foretold and proclaimed it and has been among the first to be roused, and to rouse the rest, writing letters, coming yourself in person, leaving no deed undone, no word unspoken. I remember this in every instance, but yet we are none the better off. Now, indeed, were not my sins in the way, (first of all, my dear brother the reverend deacon Eustathius fell seriously ill and detained me two whole months, looking day by day for his restoration to health; and then all about me fell sick; brother Isaaces will tell you the rest; then last of all I myself was attacked by this complaint) I should long ago have been to see your excellency, not indeed thereby to try to improve the general state of affairs, but to get some good for myself from your society. I had made up my mind to get out of the reach of the ecclesiastical artillery, because I am quite unprepared to meet my enemies' attacks. May God's mighty hand preserve you for all of us, as a noble guardian of the faith, and a vigilant champion of the Churches; and grant me, before I die, to meet you for the comfort of my soul.

Footnotes

[2445] Placed in 373. [2446] On his own sickness and the troubles of the Church. On his bad health, cf. Letters ix., xxvii., cxcviii., ccii., cciii., and ccxvi. The translation of the first section is Newman's.

Letter CXXXVII. [2447]

To Antipater, on his assuming the governorship of Cappadocia. [2448] I do now really feel the loss which I suffer from being ill; so that, when such a man succeeds to the government of my country, my having to nurse myself compels me to be absent. For a whole month I have been undergoing the treatment of natural hot springs, in the hope of drawing some benefit from them. But I seem to be troubling myself to no purpose in my solitude, or indeed to be deservedly a laughing stock to mankind, for not heeding the proverb which says "warmth is no good to the dead." Even situated as I am, I am very anxious to put aside everything else, and betake myself to your excellency, that I may enjoy the benefit of all your high qualities, and through your goodness settle all my home affairs here in a proper manner. The house of our reverend mother Palladia is my own, for I am not only nearly related to her, but regard her as a mother on account of her character. Now, as some disturbance has been raised about her house, I ask your excellency to postpone the enquiry for a little while, and to wait till I come; not at all that justice may not be done, for I had rather die ten thousand times than ask a favour of that kind from a judge who is a friend of law and right, but that you may learn from me by word of mouth matters which it would be unbecoming for me to write. If you do so you will in no wise fail in fealty to the truth, and we shall suffer no harm. I beg you then to keep the individual in question [2449] in safe custody under the charge of the troops, and not refuse to grant me this harmless favour.

Footnotes

[2447] Placed in 373. [2448] Compare Letters clxxxvi. and clxxxvii. [2449] Possibly the person to whom the disturbance at Palladia's house was due.

Letter CXXXVIII. [2450]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. [2451] 1. What was my state of mind, think you, when I received your piety's letter? When I thought of the feelings which its language expressed, I was eager to fly straight to Syria; but when I thought of the bodily illness, under which I lay bound, I saw myself unequal, not only to flying, but even to turning on my bed. This day, on which our beloved and excellent brother and deacon, Elpidius, has arrived, is the fiftieth of my illness. I am much reduced by the fever. For lack of what it might feed on, it lingers in this dry flesh as in an expiring wick, and so has brought on a wasting and tedious illness. Next my old plague, the liver, coming upon it, has kept me from taking nourishment, prevented sleep, and held me on the confines of life and death, granting just life enough to feel its inflictions. In consequence I have had recourse to the hot springs, and have availed myself of help from medical men. But for all these the mischief has proved too strong. Perhaps another man might endure it, but, coming as it did unexpectedly, no one is so stout as to bear it. Long troubled by it as I have been, I have never been so distressed as now at being prevented by it from meeting you and enjoying your true friendship. I know of how much pleasure I am deprived, although last year I did touch with the tip of my finger the sweet honey of your Church. 2. For many urgent reasons I felt bound to meet your reverence, both to discuss many things with you and to learn many things from you. Here it is not possible even to find genuine affection. And, could one even find a true friend, none can give counsel to me in the present emergency with anything like the wisdom and experience which you have acquired in your many labours on the Church's behalf. The rest I must not write. I may, however, safely say what follows. The presbyter Evagrius, [2452] son of Pompeianus of Antioch, who set out some time ago to the West with the blessed Eusebius, has now returned from Rome. He demands from me a letter couched in the precise terms dictated by the Westerns. My own he has brought back again to me, and reports that it did not give satisfaction to the more precise authorities there. He also asks that a commission of men of repute may be promptly sent, that they may have a reasonable pretext for visiting me. My sympathisers in Sebasteia have stripped the covering from the secret sore of the unorthodoxy of Eustathius, and demand my ecclesiastical care. [2453] Iconium is a city of Pisidia, anciently the first after the greatest, [2454] and now it is capital of a part, consisting of an union of different portions, and allowed the government of a distinct province. Iconium too calls me to visit her and to give her a bishop; for Faustinus [2455] is dead. Whether I ought to shrink from consecrations over the border; what answer I ought to give to the Sebastenes; what attitude I should show to the propositions of Evagrius; all these are questions to which I was anxious to get answers in a personal interview with you, for here in my present weakness I am cut off from everything. If, then, you can find any one soon coming this way, be so good as to give me your answer on them all. If not, pray that what is pleasing to the Lord may come into my mind. In your synod also bid mention to be made of me, and pray for me yourself, and join your people with you in the prayer that it may be permitted me to continue my service through the remaining days or hours of my sojourning here in a manner pleasing to the Lord.

Footnotes

[2450] Placed in 373. [2451] The translation of Sec. 1, down to "medical men," is partly Newman's. [2452] On Evagrius, known generally as Evagrius of Antioch, to distinguish him from Evagrius the historian, see especially Theodoret, Ecc. Hist. v. 23. He had travelled to Italy with Eusebius of Vercellæ. His communication to Basil from the Western bishops must have been disappointing and unsatisfactory. On his correspondence with Basil, after his return to Antioch, see Letter clvi. His consecration by the dying Paulinus in 388 inevitably prolonged the disastrous Meletian schism at Antioch. [2453] i.e. that Basil, as primate, should either consecrate them an orthodox bishop, or, if this was impossible under Valens, should take them under his own immediate episcopal protection. [2454] i.e. Antioch. [2455] He was succeeded by John I. cf. Letter clxi. and note.

Letter CXXXIX. [2456]

To the Alexandrians. [2457] 1. I have already heard of the persecution in Alexandria and the rest of Egypt, and, as might be expected, I am deeply affected. I have observed the ingenuity of the devil's mode of warfare. When he saw that the Church increased under the persecution of enemies and flourished all the more, he changed his plan. He no longer carries on an open warfare, but lays secret snares against us, hiding his hostility under the name which they bear, in order that we may both suffer like our fathers, and, at the same time, seem not to suffer for Christ's sake, because our persecutors too bear the name of Christians. With these thoughts for a long time we sat still, dazed at the news of what had happened, for, in sober earnest, both our ears tingled on hearing of the shameless and inhuman heresy of your persecutors. They have reverenced neither age, nor services to society, [2458] nor people's affection. They inflicted torture, ignominy, and exile; they plundered all the property they could find; they were careless alike of human condemnation and of the awful retribution to come at the hands of the righteous Judge. All this has amazed me and all but driven me out of my senses. To my reflections has been added this thought too; can the Lord have wholly abandoned His Churches? Has the last hour come, and is "the falling away" thus coming upon us, that now the lawless one "may be revealed, the son of perdition who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God and is worshipped"? [2459]But if the temptation is for a season, bear it, ye noble athletes of Christ. If the world is being delivered to complete, and final destruction, let us not lose heart for the present, but let us await the revelation from heaven, and the manifestation of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. If all creation is to be dissolved, and the fashion of this world transformed, why should we be surprised that we, who are apart of creation, should feel the general woe, and be delivered to afflictions which our just God inflicts on us according to the measure of our strength, not letting us "be tempted above that we are able, but with the temptation giving us a way to escape that we may be able to bear it"? [2460]Brothers, martyrs' crowns await you. The companies of the confessors are ready to reach out their hands to you and to welcome you into their own ranks. Remember how none of the saints of old won their crowns of patient endurance by living luxuriously and being courted; but all were tested by being put through the fire of great afflictions. "For some had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, and others were sawn asunder and were slain with the sword." [2461]These are the glories of saints. Blessed is he who is deemed worthy to suffer for Christ; more blessed is he whose sufferings are greater, since "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." [2462] 2. Had it but been possible for me to travel to you I should have liked nothing better than to meet you, that I might see and embrace Christ's athletes, and share your prayers and spiritual graces. But now my body is wasted by long sickness, so that I can scarcely even leave my bed, and there are many who are lying in wait for me, like ravening wolves, watching the moment when they may be able to rend Christ's sheep. I have therefore been compelled to visit you by letter; and I exhort you first of all most earnestly to pray for me, that for the rest of my remaining days or hours I may be enabled to serve the Lord, in accordance with the gospel of His kingdom. Next I beg you to pardon me for my absence and for my delay in writing to you. I have only with great difficulty found a man able to carry out my wishes. I speak of my son, the monk Eugenius, by whom I beseech you to pray for me and for the whole Church, and to write back news of you so that, when I hear, I may be more cheerful.

Footnotes

[2456] Placed in 373. [2457] On the cruel persecution roused by Valens in Alexandria shortly after the death of Athanasius in 373, and the horrors perpetrated there, see the letter of Peter, Athanasius' successor, in Theod. iv. 19. [2458] en te politei& 139; kamatous; or, possibly, labours in life, i.e. ascetic life. The Ben. ed. prefer the latter. [2459] 2 Thess. ii. 4. [2460] 1 Cor. x. 13. [2461] cf. Heb. xi. 36, 37. [2462] Rom. viii. 18.

Letter CXL. [2463]

To the Church of Antioch. 1. "Oh that I had wings like a dove for then would I fly away" [2464] to you, and satisfy my longing to meet you. But now it is not only wings that I want, but a whole body, for mine has suffered from long sickness, and now is quite worn away with continuous affliction. For no one can be so hard of heart, so wholly destitute of sympathy and kindness, as to hear the sigh that strikes my ear from every quarter, as though from some sad choir chanting a symphony of lamentation, without being grieved at heart, being bent to the ground, and wasting away with these irremediable troubles. But the holy God is able to provide a remedy for the irremediable, and to grant you a respite from your long toils. I should like you to feel this comfort and, rejoicing in the hope of consolation, to submit to the present pain of your afflictions. Are we paying the penalty of our sins? Then our plagues are such as to save us for the future from the wrath of God. Are we called upon through these temptations to fight for the truth? Then the righteous Giver of the prizes will not suffer us to be tried above that which we are able to bear, but, in return for our previous struggles, will give us the crown of patience and of hope in Him. Let us, therefore, not flinch from fighting a good fight on behalf of the truth, nor, in despair, fling away the labours we have already achieved. For the strength of the soul is not shewn by one brave deed, nor yet by effort only for a short time; but He Who tests our hearts wishes us to win crowns of righteousness after long and protracted trial. Only let our spirit be kept unbroken, the firmness of our faith in Christ be maintained unshaken, and ere long our Champion will appear; He will come and will not tarry. Expect tribulation after tribulation, hope upon hope; yet a little while; yet a little while. Thus the Holy Ghost knows how to comfort His nurslings by a promise of the future. After tribulations comes hope, and what we are hoping for is not far off, for let a man name the whole of human life, it is but a tiny interval compared with the endless age which is laid up in our hopes. 2. Now I accept no newer creed written for me by other men, nor do I venture to propound the outcome of my own intelligence, lest I make the words of true religion merely human words; but what I have been taught by the holy Fathers, that I announce to all who question me. In my Church the creed written by the holy Fathers in synod at Nicæa is in use. I believe that it is also repeated among you; but I do not refuse to write its exact terms in my letter, lest I be accused of taking too little trouble. It is as follows: [2465]This is our faith. But no definition was given about the Holy Ghost, the Pneumatomachi not having at that date appeared. No mention was therefore made of the need of anathematizing those who say that the Holy Ghost is of a created and ministerial nature. For nothing in the divine and blessed Trinity is created.

Footnotes

[2463] Placed in 373. [2464] Ps. lv. 6. [2465] Here follows in the text the Nicene Creed with the anathemas. The Ben. note points out that the Nicene Creed was brought to Cæsarea by St. Leontius, and was vigorously defended by his successor Hermogenes. cf. Letter lxxxi. Dianius, who next followed in the see, signed several Arian formulæ. The Nicene Creed, however, had been maintained at Cæsarea, and in Letter li. Dianius is described as supporting it.

Letter CXLI. [2466]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. [2467] 1. I have now received two letters from your divine and most excellent wisdom, whereof the one told me clearly how I had been expected by the laity under the jurisdiction of your holiness, and what disappointment I had caused by failing to attend the sacred synod. The other, which from the writing I conjecture to be of the earlier date, though it was delivered later, gave me advice, at once honourable to yourself and necessary to me, not to neglect the interests of God's Churches, nor little by little to allow the guidance of affairs to pass to our opponents, whereby their interests must win, and ours lose. I think that I answered both. But, as I am uncertain whether my replies were preserved by those who were entrusted with the duty of conveying them, I will make my defence over again. As to my absence, I can put in an unimpeachable plea, as to which I think intelligence must have reached your holiness, that I have been detained by illness which has brought me to the very gates of death. Even now as I write about it, the remains of sickness are still upon me. And they are such as to another man might be unendurable. 2. As to the fact of its not being owing to my neglect that the interests of the Churches have been betrayed to our opponents, I wish your reverence to know that the bishops in communion with me, from lack of earnestness, or because they suspect me and are not open with me, or because the devil is always at hand to oppose good works, are unwilling to cooperate with me. Formerly, indeed, the majority of us were united with one another, including the excellent Bosporius. [2468]In reality they give me no aid in what is most essential. The consequence of all this is, that to a great extent my recovery is hindered by my distress, and the sorrow I feel brings back my worst symptoms. What, however, can I do alone and unaided, when the canons, as you yourself know, do not allow points of this kind to be settled by one man? [2469]And yet what remedy have I not tried? Of what decision have I failed to remind them, some by letter and some in person? They even came to the city, when they heard a report of my death; when, by God's will, they found me yet alive I made them such a speech as was proper to the occasion. In my presence they respect me, and promise all that is fit, but no sooner have they got back again than they return to their own opinion. In all this I am a sufferer, like the rest, for the Lord has clearly abandoned us, whose love has grown cold because iniquity abounds. For all this may your great and powerful intercession with God be sufficient for me. Perhaps we shall either become of some use, or, even if we fail in our object, we may escape condemnation.

Footnotes

[2466] Placed in 373. [2467] On his being hindered from traveling by ill health, and on his difficulties with the bishops in communion with him. [2468] cf. Letter li. [2469] The Ben. note is: "Canones illos qui apostolis afficti fuere, nonnunquam citat Basilius in Epistolis canonicis. Videtur hoc loco respicere ad vigesimum (?xxxvii.) septimum, ubi præscribitur, ut in unaquaque provincia episcopi nihil majoris rei incipiant sine sententia illius, qui inter eos primus, ac unus quisque iis contentus sit, quæ ad paroeciam suam pertinent: sed nec ille absque omnium voluntate quidquam faciat. Erat Basilius hujus canonis observandi studiosus, et quamvis nominis fama et sedis dignitate plurimum posset, nunquam ab eo communionis restitutionem impetrare potuerunt Marcelli discipuli, antequam Petri Alexandrini auctoritates accessisset: et cum ab Episcopis in Palæstina Exsulantibus non ex spectato aliorum Episcoporum consensu restituti fuissent, factum moleste tulit et libere reprehendit." Epist. cclxv.

Letter CXLII. [2470]

To the prefects' accountant. [2471] I assembled all my brethren the chorepiscopi at the synod of the blessed martyr Eupsychius [2472] to introduce them to your excellency. On account of your absence they must be brought before you by letter. Know, therefore, this brother as being worthy to be trusted by your intelligence, because he fears the Lord. As to the matters on behalf of the poor, which he refers to your good-will, deign to believe him as one worthy of credit, and to give the afflicted all the aid in your power. I am sure you will consent to look favourably upon the hospital of the poor which is in his district, and exempt it altogether from taxation. It has already seemed good to your colleague to make the little property of the poor not liable to be rated.

Footnotes

[2470] Placed in 373. [2471] On the exemption of hospitals from taxation. [2472] cf. Letters c. and cclii., and note on p. 184.

Letter CXLIII. [2473]

To another accountant. [2474] Had it been possible for me to meet your excellency I would have in person brought before you the points about which I am anxious, and would have pleaded the cause of the afflicted, but I am prevented by illness and by press of business. I have therefore sent to you in my stead this chorepiscopus, my brother, begging you to give him your aid and use him and to take him into counsel, for his truthfulness and sagacity qualify him to advise in such matters. If you are so good as to inspect the hospital for the poor, which is managed by him, (I am sure you will not pass it without a visit, experienced as you are in the work; for I have been told that you support one of the hospitals at Amasea out of the substance wherewith the Lord has blessed you), I am confident that, after seeing it, you will give him all he asks. Your colleague has already promised me some help towards the hospitals. I tell you this, not that you may imitate him, for you are likely to be a leader of others in good works, but that you may know that others have shown regard for me in this matter.

Footnotes

[2473] Of the same date as the preceding. [2474] On the same subject.

Letter CXLIV. [2475]

To the prefects' officer. [2476] You know the bearer from meeting him in the town. Nevertheless I write to commend him to you, that he may be useful to you in many matters in which you are interested, from his being able to give pious and sensible advice. Now is the time to carry out what you have said to me in private; I mean when this my brother has told you the state of the poor.

Footnotes

[2475] Placed in 373. [2476] On the same subject.

Letter CXLV. [2477]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. [2478] I know the countless labours which you have undergone for the Churches of God; I know your press of occupation, while you discharge your responsibilities, not as though they were of mere secondary importance, but in accordance with God's will. I know the man [2479] who is, as it were, laying close siege to you and by whom you are forced, like birds crouching in cover under an eagle, not to go far from your shelter. I know all this. But longing is strong, both in hoping for the impracticable and attempting the impossible. Rather I should say, hope in God is the strongest of all things. [2480]For it is not from unreasonable desire, but from strength of faith, that I expect a way out, even from the greatest difficulties, and that you will find a way to get over all hindrances, and to come to see the Church that loves you best of all, and to be seen by her. What she values most of all good things is to behold your face and to hear your voice. Beware then of making her hopes vain. When last year, on my return from Syria, I reported the promise which you had given me, you cannot think how elated with her hopes I made her. Do not, my friend, postpone your coming to another time. Even if it may be possible for you to see her one day, you may not see her and me too, for sickness is hurrying me on to quit this painful life.

Footnotes

[2477] Placed in 373. [2478] On a possible visit of Eusebius to Cæsarea. [2479] i.e. Valens. [2480] "Vita vere mortalis spes est vitæ immortalis." St. Augustine in Ps. iii. "Spes æternitatem animum erigit, et idcirco nulla mala sentit." St. Greg., Moral. cf. Ovid. i. Pont. 7: Quamvis est igitur meritis indebita nostris, Magna tamen spes est in bonitate Dei.

Letter CXLVI. [2481]

To Antiochus. [2482] I cannot accuse you of carelessness and inattention, because, when an opportunity of writing occurred, you said nothing. For I count the greeting which you have sent me in your own honoured hand worth many letters. In return I salute you, and beg you earnestly to give heed to the salvation of your soul, disciplining all the lusts of the flesh by reason, and ever keeping the thought of God built up in your soul, as in a very holy temple. In every deed and every word hold before your eyes the judgment of Christ, so that every individual action, being referred to that exact and awful examination may bring you glory in the day of retribution, when you win praise from all creation. If that great man [2483] should be able to pay me a visit, it would be a pleasure to me to see you here with him.

Footnotes

[2481] Placed in 373. [2482] Nephew of Eusebius, who had written a salutation in his uncle's letter. cf. Letter clxviii. [2483] i.e. his uncle Eusebius.

Letter CXLVII. [2484]

To Aburgius. [2485] Up to this time I used to think Homer a fable, when I read the second part of his poem, in which he narrates the adventures of Ulysses. But the calamity which has befallen the most excellent Maximus has led me to look on what I used to think fabulous and incredible, as exceedingly probable. Maximus was governor of no insignificant people, just as Ulysses was chief of the Cephallenians. Ulysses had great wealth, and returned stripped of everything. To such straits has calamity reduced Maximus, that he may have to present himself at home in borrowed rags. And perhaps he has suffered all this because he has irritated some Læstrygones against him, and has fallen in with some Scylla, hiding a dog's fierceness and fury under a woman's form. Since then he has barely been able to swim out of this inextricable whirlpool. He supplicates you by my means for humanity's sake to grieve for his undeserved misfortunes and not be silent about his needs, but make them known to the authorities. He hopes thus that he may find some aid against the slanders which have been got up against him: and if not, that at all events the intention of the enemy who has shewn such an intoxication of hostility against him may be made public. When a man has been wronged it is a considerable comfort to him if the wickedness of his enemies can be made plain.

Footnotes

[2484] Placed in 373. [2485] To commend Maximus, late prefect of Cappadocia and in great distress.

Letter CXLVIII. [2486]

To Trajan. [2487] Even the ability to bewail their own calamities brings much comfort to the distressed; and this is specially the case when they meet with others capable, from their lofty character, of sympathizing with their sorrows. So my right honourable brother Maximus, after being prefect of my country, and then suffering what no other man ever yet suffered, stripped of all his belongings both inherited from his forefathers and collected by his own labours, afflicted in body in many and various ways, by his wanderings up and down the world, and not having been able to keep even his civil status free from attack, to preserve which freemen are wont to leave no labour undone, has made many complaints to me about all that has happened to him, and has begged me to give you a short description of the Iliad of woes in which he is involved. And I, being quite unable to relieve him in any other way in his troubles, have readily done him the favour shortly to relate to your excellency a part of what I have heard from him. He, indeed, seemed to me to blush at the idea of making a plain tale of his own calamity. If what has happened shews that the inflicter of the wrong is a villain, at all events it proves the sufferer to be deserving of great pity; since the very fact of having fallen into troubles inflicted by Divine Providence, seems in a manner to shew that a man has been devoted to suffering. But it would be a sufficient comfort to him if you will only look at him kindly, and extend also to him that abundant favour which all the recipients of it cannot exhaust,--I mean your clemency. We are all of us convinced that before the tribunal your protection will be an immense step towards victory. He who has asked for my letter as likely to be of service is of all men most upright. May it be granted me to see him, with the rest, proclaiming aloud the praises of your lordship with all his power.

Footnotes

[2486] Placed in 373. [2487] A Trajan was commander-in-chief under Valens. cf. Theod. iv. 30 and Amm. Marcellinus xxxi. He was killed at the battle of Adrianople in 378. This may have been the same officer.

Letter CXLIX. [2488]

To Trajan. [2489] You yourself have seen with your own eyes the distressing condition of Maximus, once a man of high reputation, but now most of all to be pitied, formerly prefect of my country. Would that he had never been so! Many, I think, would be likely to shun provincial governorships, if their dignities are likely to issue in such an end. To a man, then, from the quickness of his intelligence, able from a few circumstances to conjecture the rest, I need hardly narrate in detail all that I have seen and all that I have heard. Perhaps, however, I shall not seem to be telling a superfluous story if I mention that, though many and terrible things were audaciously done against him before your coming, what went on afterwards was such as to cause the former proceedings to be reckoned as kindness; to such an excess of outrage and injury and actually of personal cruelty did the proceedings go which were afterwards taken against him by the person in authority. Now he is here with an escort to fill up the measure of his evil deeds unless you are willing to stretch out your strong hand to protect the sufferer. In urging your goodness to an act of kindness I feel that I am undertaking an unnecessary task. Yet since I desire to be serviceable to Maximus I do beg your lordship to add something for my sake to your natural zeal for what is right, to the end that he may clearly perceive that my intervention on his behalf has been of service to him.

Footnotes

[2488] Placed in 373. [2489] The Ben. note points out that though in all the mss. the inscription is to auto, to the same, that is to Trajan, the internal evidence points to its having been written to some one else. Trajan had had no personal knowledge of the troubles of Maximus.


Also, see links to 3500 other Manuscripts:
/believe/txv/earlychy.htm


E-mail to: BELIEVE




The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at: BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet http://mb-soft.com/believe/indexaz.html