Writings of Basil - The Letters d

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The Letters

Of Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Cæsaria,

Translated with Notes by

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

Under the editorial supervision of Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Semimary, New York, and Henry Wace, D.D., Principal of King's College, London

Published in 1895 by T&T Clark, Edinburgh

Letter CL. [2490]

To Amphilochius in the name of Heraclidas. [2491]

1. I remember our old conversations with one another, and am forgetful neither of what I said, nor of what you said. And now public life has no hold upon me. For although I am the same in heart and have not yet put off the old man, nevertheless, outwardly and by withdrawing myself far from worldly life, I seem already to have begun to tread the way of Christian conversation. I sit apart, like men who are on the point of embarking on the deep, looking out at what is before me. Mariners, indeed, need winds to make their voyage prosperous; I on the other hand want a guide to take me by the hand and conduct me safely through life's bitter waves. I feel that I need first a curb for my young manhood, and then pricks to drive me to the course of piety. Both these seem to be provided by reason, which at one time disciplines my unruliness of soul, and at another time my sluggishness. Again I want other remedies that I may wash off the impurity of habit. You know how, long accustomed as I was to the Forum, I am lavish of words, and do not guard myself against the thoughts put into my mind by the evil one. I am the servant too of honour, and cannot easily give up thinking great things of myself. Against all this I feel that I need a great instructor. Then, further, I conclude that it is of no small importance, nor of benefit only for a little while, that the soul's eye should be so purged that, after being freed from all the darkness of ignorance, as though from some blinding humour, one can gaze intently on the beauty of the glory of God. All this I know very well that your wisdom is aware of; I know that you would wish that I might have some one to give me such help, and if ever God grant me to meet you I am sure that I shall learn more about what I ought to heed. For now, in my great ignorance, I can hardly even form a judgment as to what I lack. Yet I do not repent of my first impulse; my soul does not hang back from the purpose of a godly life as you have feared for me, nobly and becomingly doing everything in your power, lest, like the woman of whom I have heard the story, I should turn back and become a pillar of salt. [2492]I am still, however, under the restraint of external authority; for the magistrates are seeking me like a deserter. But I am chiefly influenced by my own heart, which testifies to itself of all that I have told you.

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2. Since you have mentioned our bond, and have announced that you mean to prosecute, you have made me laugh in this my dejection, because you are still an advocate and do not give up your shrewdness. I hold, unless, indeed, like an ignorant man, I am quite missing the truth, that there is only one way to the Lord, and that all who are journeying to Him are travelling together and walking in accordance with one "bond" of life. If this be so, wherever I go how can I be separated from you? How can I cease to live with you, and with you serve God, to Whom we have both fled for refuge? Our bodies may be separated by distance, but God's eye still doubtless looks upon us both; if indeed a life like mine is fit to be beheld by the divine eyes; for I have read somewhere in the Psalms that the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous. [2493]I do indeed pray that with you and with all that are like minded with you, I may be associated, even in body, and that night and day with you and with any other true worshipper of God I may bow my knees to our Father which is in heaven; for I know that communion in prayer brings great gain. If, as often as it is my lot to lie and groan in a different corner, I am always to be accused of lying, I cannot contend against your argument, and already condemn myself as a liar, if with my own carelessness I have said anything which brings me under such a charge.

3. I was lately at Cæsarea, in order to learn what was going on there. I was unwilling to remain in the city itself, and betook myself to the neighbouring hospital, that I might get there what information I wanted. According to his custom the very godly bishop visited it, and I consulted him as to the points which you had urged upon me. It is not possible for me to remember all that he said in reply; it went far beyond the limits of a letter. In sum, however, what he said about poverty was this, that the rule ought to be that every one should limit his possessions to one garment. For one proof of this he quoted the words of John the Baptist "he that hath two coats let him impart to him that hath none;" [2494] and for another our Lord's prohibition to His disciples to have two coats. [2495]He further added "If thou wilt be perfect go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor." [2496]He said too that the parable of the pearl bore on this point, because the merchant, who had found the pearl of great price, went away and sold all that he had and bought it; and he added too that no one ought even to permit himself the distribution of his own property, but should leave it in the hands of the person entrusted with the duty of managing the affairs of the poor; and he proved the point from the acts of the apostles, [2497] because they sold their property and brought and laid it at the feet of the apostles, and by them it was distributed to each as every man had need. [2498]For he said that experience was needed in order to distinguish between cases of genuine need and of mere greedy begging. For whoever gives to the afflicted gives to the Lord, and from the Lord shall have his reward; but he who gives to every vagabond casts to a dog, a nuisance indeed from his importunity, but deserving no pity on the ground of want. 4. He was moreover the first to speak shortly, as befits the importance of the subject, about some of the daily duties of life. As to this I should wish you to hear from himself, for it would not be right for me to weaken the force of his lessons. I would pray that we might visit him together, that so you might both accurately preserve in your memory what he said, and supply any omissions by your own intelligence. One thing that I do remember, out of the many which I heard, is this; that instruction how to lead the Christian life depends less on words, than on daily example. I know that, if you had not been detained by the duty of succouring your aged father, there is nothing that you would have more greatly esteemed than a meeting with the bishop, and that you would not have advised me to leave him in order to wander in deserts. Caves and rocks are always ready for us, but the help we get from our fellow man is not always at hand. If, then, you will put up with my giving you advice, you will impress on your father the desirability of his allowing you to leave him for a little while in order to meet a man who, alike from his experience of others and from his own wisdom, knows much, and is able to impart it to all who approach him.


Footnotes

[2490] Placed in 373. [2491] Amphilochius, not yet consecrated to Iconium, had abandoned his profession as an advocate, and was living in retirement at Ozizala, a place not far from Nazianzus, the see of his uncle Gregory, devoted to the care of his aged father, whose name he bore. Heraclidas, it appears, had also renounced the bar, and devoted himself to religious life; but did not join Amphilochius on the ground that he was living in Basil's hospital at Cæsarea. cf. the letters of Gregory, first cousin of Amphilochius. On the relationship, see Bp. Lightfoot in D.C.B. i. p. 104, and pedigree in prolegomena. [2492] cf. Gen. xix. 26. [2493] Ps. xxxiv. 15. [2494] Luke iii. 11. [2495] Matt. x. 10. [2496] Matt. xix. 21. [2497] Acts iv. 35. [2498] It will be observed that St. Basil's quotation here does not quite bear out his point. There is no "by them" in Acts iv. 35. "Distribution was made unto every man according as he had need." In Acts ii. 45 the primitive communists are said themselves to have "parted to all men as every man had need," the responsibility of distribution being apparently retained.

Letter CLI. [2499]

To Eustathius the Physician. [2500] If my letters are of any good, lose no time in writing to me and in rousing me to write. We are unquestionably made more cheerful when we read the letters of wise men who love the Lord. It is for you to say, who read it, whether you find anything worth attention in what I write. Were it not for the multitude of my engagements, I should not debar myself from the pleasure of writing frequently. Pray do you, whose cares are fewer, soothe me by your letters. Wells, it is said, are the better for being used. The exhortations which you derive from your profession are apparently beside the point, for it is not I who am applying the knife; it is men whose day is done, who are falling upon themselves. [2501]The phrase of the Stoics runs, "since things do not happen as we like, we like what happens;" but I cannot make my mind fall in with what is happening. That some men should do what they do not like because they cannot help it, I have no objection. You doctors do not cauterise a sick man, or make him suffer pain in some other way, because you like it; but you often adopt this treatment in obedience to the necessity of the case. Mariners do not willingly throw their cargo overboard; but in order to escape shipwreck they put up with the loss, preferring a life of penury to death. Be sure that I look with sorrow and with many groans upon the separation of those who are holding themselves aloof. But yet I endure it. To lovers of the truth nothing can be put before God and hope in Him. [2502]

Footnotes

[2499] Placed in 373. [2500] cf. Letter clxxxix. On those who had renounced communion with Eustathius the bishop. [2501] i.e. Eustathius, the bishop, is rushing upon the knife. [2502] The view of the Ben. Ed. is that the bales thrown overboard represent the loss of unity incurred by the Sebastenes by leaving the communion of Eustathius for his own. cf. Letter ccxxxvii.

Letter CLII. [2503]

To Victor, the Commander. [2504] If I were to fail to write to any one else I might possibly with justice incur the charge of carelessness or forgetfulness. But it is not possible to forget you, when your name is in all men's mouths. But I cannot be careless about one who is perhaps more distinguished than any one else in the empire. The cause of my silence is evident. I am afraid of troubling so great a man. If, however, to all your other virtues you add that of not only receiving what I send, but of actually asking after what is missing, lo! here I am writing to you with joyous heart, and I shall go on writing for the future, with prayers to God that you may be requited for the honour you pay me. For the Church, you have anticipated my supplications, by doing everything which I should have asked. And you act to please not man but God, Who has honoured you; Who has given you some good things in this life, and will give you others in the life to come, because you have walked with truth in His way, and, from the beginning to the end, have kept your heart fixed in the right faith.

Footnotes

[2503] Placed in 373. [2504] cf. Greg. Naz., Letters cxxxiii. and cxxxiv. and Theodoret, Ecc. Hist. iv. 30. and Amm. Marc. xxxi. 7.

Letter CLIII. [2505]

To Victor the Ex-Consul. As often as it falls to my lot to read your lordship's letters, so often do I thank God that you continue to remember me, and that you are not moved by any calumny to lessen the love which once you consented to entertain for me, either from your wise judgment or your kindly intercourse. I pray then the holy God that you may remain in this mind towards me, and that I may be worthy of the honour which you give me.

Footnotes

[2505] Placed in 373.

Letter CLIV. [2506]

To Ascholius, bishop of Thessalonica. [2507] You have done well, and in accordance with the law of spiritual love, in writing to me first, and by your good example challenging me to like energy. The friendship of the world, indeed, stands in need of actual sight and intercourse, that thence intimacy may begin. All, however, who know how to love in the spirit do not need the flesh to promote affection, but are led to spiritual communion in the fellowship of the faith. Thanks, then, to the Lord Who has comforted my heart by showing me that love has not grown cold in all, but that there are yet in the world men who show the evidence of the discipleship of Christ. The state of affairs with you seems to be something like that of the stars by night, shining some in one part of the sky and some in another, whereof the brightness is charming, and the more charming because it is unexpected. Such are you, luminaries of the Churches, a few at most and easily counted in this gloomy state of things, shining as in a moonless night, and, besides being welcome for your virtue, being all the more longed for because of its being so seldom that you are found. Your letter has made your disposition quite plain to me. Although small, as far as regards the number of its syllables, in the correctness of its sentiments it was quite enough to give me proof of your mind and purpose. Your zeal for the cause of the blessed Athanasius is plain proof of your being sound as to the most important matters. In return for my joy at your letter I am exceedingly grateful to my honourable son Euphemius, to whom I pray that all help may be given by the Holy One, and I beg you to join in my prayers that we may soon receive him back with his very honourable wife, my daughter in the Lord. As to yourself, I beg that you will not stay our joy at its beginning, but that you will write on every possible opportunity, and increase your good feeling towards me by constant communication. Give me news, I beg you, about your Churches and how they are situated as regards union. Pray for us here that our Lord may rebuke the winds and the sea, and that with us there may be a great, calm.

Footnotes

[2506] Placed in 373. [2507] cf. Letters clxiv. and clxv. Ascholius baptized Theodosius at Thessalonica in 380, and was present at the Council of Constantinople in 381. Soc., Ecc. Hist. v. 6 and 8.

Letter CLV. [2508]

Without address. [2509]In the case of a trainer. I am at a loss how to defend myself against all the complaints contained in the first and only letter which your lordship has been so good as to send me. It is not that there is any lack of right on my side, but because among so many charges it is hard to select the most vital, and fix on the point at which I ought to begin to apply a remedy. Perhaps, if I follow the order of your letter, I shall come upon each in turn. Up to to-day I knew nothing about those who are setting out for Scythia; nor had any one told me even of those who came from your house, so that I might greet you by them, although I am anxious to seize every opportunity of greeting your lordship. To forget you in my prayers is impossible, unless first I forget the work to which God has called me, for assuredly, faithful as by God's grace you are, you remember all the prayers [2510] of the Church; how we pray also for our brethren when on a journey and offer prayer in the holy church for those who are in the army, and for those who speak for the sake of the Lord's name, and for those who show the fruits of the Spirit. In most, or all of these, I reckon your lordship to be included. How could I ever forget you, as far as I am individually concerned, when I have so many reasons to stir me to recollection, such a sister, such nephews, such kinsfolk, so good, so fond of me, house, household, and friends? By all these, even against my will, I am perforce reminded of your good disposition. As to this, however, our brother has brought me no unpleasant news, nor has any decision been come to by me which could do him any injury. Free, then, the chorepiscopus and myself from all blame, and grieve rather over those who have made false reports. If our learned friend wishes to bring an action against me, he has law courts and laws. In this I beg you not to blame me. In all the good deeds that you do, you are laying up treasure for yourself; you are preparing for yourself in the day of retribution the same refreshment which you are providing for those who are persecuted for the sake of the name of the Lord. If you send the relics of the martyrs home you will do well; as you write that the persecution there is, even now, causing martyrs to the Lord. [2511]

Footnotes

[2508] Placed in 373. [2509] Supposed by Maran (Vit. Bas.) to be Julius Soranus, a relative of Basil, and dux of Scythia. Maran supposes that a copyist added these words to the title because Soranus was "a trainer" (aleiptes) and encourager of martyrs; in Letter clxiv. Basil calls Ascholius "a trainer" of the martyr Sabas. [2510] kerugmata. On St. Basil's use of this word for decree, vide De Sp. S.c. 66. Here it seems to have the force of an appointed liturgy. cf. the letter of Firmilianus to Cyprian. (Ep. Cyp. 75.) [2511] This is one of the earliest references to the preservation of relics. So late as the case of St. Fructuosus (Acta SS. Fructuosi, etc.), who died at Tarragona in 259, the friends are forbidden to keep the relics. On St. Basil's views on the subject, cf. Hom. in Mart. Jul. 2 and Hom. de SS. xl. MM. 8. So Gregory of Nyssa, Hom. i. in xl. Mar. ii. 935. As early as the time of St. Augustine (/-430) a thriving trade in forged relics had already begun. (Aug., De Opere Monach. 28.) cf. Littledale's Plain Reasons, p. 51.

Letter CLVI. [2512]

To the Presbyter Evagrius. [2513] 1. So far from being impatient at the length of your letter, I assure you I thought it even short, from the pleasure it gave me when reading it. For is there anything more pleasing than the idea of peace? Is anything more suitable to the sacred office, or more acceptable to the Lord, than to take measures for effecting it? May you have the reward of the peace-maker, since so blessed an office has been the object of your good desires and earnest efforts. At the same time, believe me, my revered friend, I will yield to none in my earnest wish and prayer to see the day when those who are one in sentiment shall all fill the same assembly. Indeed it would be monstrous to feel pleasure in the schisms and divisions of the Churches, and not to consider that the greatest of goods consists in the knitting together of the members of Christ's body. But, alas! my inability is as real as my desire. No one knows better than yourself, that time alone is the remedy of ills that time has matured. Besides, a strong and vigorous treatment is necessary to get at the root of the complaint. You will understand this hint, though there is no reason why I should not speak out. 2. Self-importance, when rooted by habit in the mind, cannot be destroyed by one man, by one single letter, or in a short time. Unless there be some arbiter in whom all parties have confidence, suspicions and collisions will never altogether cease. If, indeed, the influence of Divine grace were shed upon me, and I were given power in word and deed and spiritual gifts to prevail with these rival parties, then this daring experiment might be demanded of me; though, perhaps, even then, you would not advise me to attempt this adjustment of things by myself, without the co-operation of the bishop, [2514] on whom principally falls the care of the church. But he cannot come hither, nor can I easily undertake a long journey while the winter lasts, or rather I cannot anyhow, for the Armenian mountains will be soon impassable, even to the young and vigorous, to say nothing of my continued bodily ailments. I have no objection to write to tell him of all this; but I have no expectation that writing will lead to anything, for I know his cautious character, and after all written words have little power to convince the mind. There are so many things to urge, and to bear, and to reply to, and to object, that a letter has no soul, and is in fact but waste paper. However, as I have said, I will write. Only give me credit, most religious and dear brother, for having no private feeling in the matter. Thank God. I have no such feeling towards any one. I have not busied myself in the investigation of the supposed or real complaints which are brought against this or that man; so my opinion has a claim on your attention as that of one who really cannot act from partiality or prejudice. I only desire, through the Lord's good will, that all things may be done with ecclesiastical propriety. 3. I was vexed to find from my dear son Dorotheus, our associate in the ministry, that you had been unwilling to communicate with him. This was not the kind of conversation which you had with me, as well as I recollect. As to my sending to the West it is quite out of the question. I have no one fit for the service. Indeed, when I look round, I seem to have no one on my side. I can but pray I may be found in the number of those seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. I know the present persecutors of us all seek my life; yet that shall not diminish ought of the zeal which I owe to the Churches of God.

Footnotes

[2512] Placed in 373. [2513] cf. Letter cxxxviii. [2514] Meletius of Antioch.

Letter CLVII. [2515]

To Amiochus. [2516] You may well imagine how disappointed I was not to meet you in the summer; not that our meeting in former years was enough to satisfy me, but even to see loved objects in a dream brings those who love some comfort. But you do not even write, so sluggish are you, and I think your absence can be referred to no other cause than that you are slow to undertake journeys for affection's sake. On this point I will say no more. Pray for me, and ask the Lord not to desert me, but as He has brought me out of bygone temptations so also to deliver me from those that I await, for the glory of the name of Him in Whom I put my trust.

Footnotes

[2515] Placed in 373. [2516] cf. Letters cxlvi. and ccxxxix. Maran. (Vit. Bas). is of opinion that as these two letters, clvii. and clviii., written at the same time, are very much in the same terms, they cannot be to the same person, and thinks that the sluggishness, which Basil complains of, fits with Eusebius much better than with Antiochus, who could not travel without his uncle's permission.

Letter CLVIII. [2517]

To Antiochus. My sins have prevented me from carrying out the wish to meet you, which I have long entertained. Let me apologise by letter for my absence, and beseech you not to omit to remember me in your prayers, that, if I live, I may be permitted to enjoy your society. If not, by the aid of your prayers may I quit this world with good hope. I commend to you our brother the camel-master.

Footnotes

[2517] Placed in 373.

Letter CLIX. [2518]

To Eupaterius and his daughter. [2519] 1. You may well imagine what pleasure the letter of your excellencies gave me, if only from its very contents. What, indeed, could give greater gratification to one who prays ever to be in communication with them who fear the Lord, and to share their blessings, than a letter of this kind, wherein questions are asked about the knowledge of God? For if, to me, "to live is Christ," [2520] truly my words ought to be about Christ, my every thought and deed ought to depend upon His commandments, and my soul to be fashioned after His. I rejoice, therefore, at being asked about such things, and congratulate the askers. By me, to speak shortly, the faith of the Fathers assembled at Nicæa is honoured before all later inventions. In it the Son is confessed to be con-substantial with the Father and to be naturally of the same nature with Him who begat Him, for He was confessed to be Light of Light, God of God, and Good of Good, and the like. Both by those holy men the same doctrine was declared, and by me now who pray that I may walk in their footsteps. 2. But since the question now raised by those who are always endeavouring to introduce novelties, but passed over in silence by the men of old, because the doctrine was never gainsaid, has remained without full explanation (I mean that which concerns the Holy Ghost) I will add a statement on this subject in conformity with the sense of Scripture. As we were baptized, so we profess our belief. As we profess our belief, so also we offer praise. As then baptism has been given us by the Saviour, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, so, in accordance with our baptism, we make the confession of the creed, and our doxology in accordance with our creed. We glorify the Holy Ghost together with the Father and the Son, from the conviction that He is not separated from the Divine Nature; for that which is foreign by nature does not share in the same honors. All who call the Holy Ghost a creature we pity, on the ground that, by this utterance, they are falling into the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against Him. I need use no argument to prove to those who are even slightly trained in Scripture, that the creature is separated from the Godhead. The creature is a slave; but the Spirit sets free. [2521]The creature needs life; the Spirit is the Giver of life. [2522]The creature requires teaching. It is the Spirit that teaches. [2523]The creature is sanctified; it is the Spirit that sanctifies. [2524]Whether you name angels, archangels, or all the heavenly powers, they receive their sanctification through the Spirit, but the Spirit Himself has His holiness by nature, not received by favour, but essentially His; whence He has received the distinctive name of Holy. What then is by nature holy, as the Father is by nature holy, and the Son by nature holy, we do not ourselves allow to be separated and severed from the divine and blessed Trinity, nor accept those who rashly reckon it as part of creation. Let this short summary be sufficient for you, my pious friends. From little seeds, with the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, you will reap the fuller crop of piety. "Give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet wiser." [2525]I will put off fuller demonstration till we meet. When we do, it will be possible for me to answer objections, to give you fuller proofs from Scripture, and to confirm all the sound rule of faith. For the present pardon my brevity. I should not have written at all had I not thought it a greater injury to you to refuse your request altogether than to grant it in part.

Footnotes

[2518] Placed about 373. [2519] On the Nicene Creed and the Holy Ghost. [2520] Phil. i. 21. [2521] cf. Rom. viii. 2. [2522] John vi. 63. [2523] John xiv. 26. [2524] Rom. xv. 16. [2525] Prov. ix. 9.

Letter CLX. [2526]

To Diodorus. [2527] 1. I have received the letter which has reached me under the name of Diodorus, but in what it contains creditable to any one rather than to Diodorus. Some ingenious person seems to have assumed your name, with the intention of getting credit with his hearers. It appears that he was asked by some one if it was lawful to contract marriage with his deceased wife's sister; and, instead of shuddering at such a question, he heard it unmoved, and quite boldly and bravely supported the unseemly desire. Had I his letter by me I would have sent it you, and you would have been able to defend both yourself and the truth. But the person who showed it me took it away again, and carried it about as a kind of trophy of triumph against me who had forbidden it from the beginning, declaring that he had permission in writing. Now I have written to you that I may attack that spurious document with double strength, and leave it no force whereby it may injure its readers. 2. First of all I have to urge, what is of most importance in such matters, our own custom, which has the force of law, because the rules have been handed down to us by holy men. It is as follows: if any one, overcome by impurity, falls into unlawful intercourse with two sisters, this is not to be looked upon as marriage, nor are they to be admitted at all into the Church until they have separated from one another. Wherefore, although it were possible to say nothing further, the custom would be quite enough to safeguard what is right. But, since the writer of the letter has endeavoured to introduce this mischief into our practice by a false argument, I am under the necessity of not omitting the aid of reasoning; although in matters which are perfectly plain every man's instinctive sentiment is stronger than argument. 3. It is written, he says, in Leviticus "Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time." [2528]From this it is plain, he argues, that it is lawful to take her when the wife is dead. To this my first answer shall be, that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law; otherwise we shall be subject to circumcision, the sabbath, abstinence from meats. For we certainly must not, when we find anything which falls in with our pleasures, subject ourselves to the yoke of slavery to the law; and then, if anything in the law seems hard, have recourse to the freedom which is in Christ. We have been asked if it is written that one may be taken to wife after her sister. Let us say what is safe and true, that it is not written. But to deduce by sequence of argument what is passed over in silence is the part of a legislator, not of one who quotes the articles of the law. Indeed, on these terms, any one who likes will be at liberty to take the sister, even in the lifetime of the wife. The same sophism fits in this case also. It is written, he says, "Thou shalt not take a wife to vex her:" so that, apart from vexation, there is no prohibition to take her. The man who wants to indulge his desire will maintain that the relationship of sisters is such that they cannot vex one another. Take away the reason given for the prohibition to live with both, and what is there to prevent a man's taking both sisters? This is not written, we shall say. Neither is the former distinctly stated. The deduction from the argument allows liberty in both cases. But a solution of the difficulty might be found by going a little back to what is behind the enactment. It appears that the legislator does not include every kind of sin, but particularly prohibits those of the Egyptians, from among whom Israel had gone forth, and of the Canaanites among whom they were going. The words are as follows, "After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances." [2529]It is probable that this kind of sin was not practised at that time among the Gentiles. Under these circumstances the lawgiver was, it may be supposed, under no necessity of guarding against it; the unwritten custom sufficed to condemn the crime. How then is it that while forbidding the greater he was silent about the less? Because the example of the patriarch seemed injurious to many who indulged their flesh so far as to live with sisters in their life time. What ought to be my course? To quote the Scriptures, or to work out what they leave unsaid? In these laws it is not written that a father and son ought not to have the same concubine, but, in the prophet, it is thought deserving of the most extreme condemnation, "A man and his father" it is said "will go in unto the same maid." [2530] And how many other forms of unclean lust have been found out in the devils' school, while divine scripture is silent about them, not choosing to befoul its dignity with the names of filthy things and condemning their uncleanness in general terms! As the apostle Paul says, "Fornication and all uncleanness...let it not be once named among you as becometh saints," [2531] thus including the unspeakable doings of both males and females under the name of uncleanness. It follows that silence certainly does not give license to voluptuaries. 4. I, however, maintain that this point has not been left in silence, but that the lawgiver has made a distinct prohibition. The words "None of you shall approach to any one that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness," [2532] embraces also this form of kinsmanship, for what could be more akin to a man than his own wife, or rather than his own flesh? "For they are no more twain but one flesh." [2533]So, through the wife, the sister is made akin to the husband. For as he shall not take his wife's mother, nor yet his wife's daughter, because he may not take his own mother nor his own daughter, so he may not take his wife's sister, because he may not take his own sister. And, on the other hand, it will not be lawful for the wife to be joined with the husband's kin, for the rights of relationship hold good on both sides. But, for my part, to every one who is thinking about marriage I testify that, "the fashion of this world passeth away," [2534] and the time is short: "it remaineth that both they that have wives be as though they had none." [2535]If he improperly quotes the charge "Increase and multiply," [2536] I laugh at him, for not discerning the signs of the times. Second marriage is a remedy against fornication, not a means of lasciviousness. "If they cannot contain," it is said "let them marry;" [2537] but if they marry they must not break the law. 5. But they whose souls are blinded by dishonourable lust do not regard even nature, which from old time distinguished the names of the family. For under what relationship will those who contract these unions name their sons? Will they call them brothers or cousins of one another? For, on account of the confusion, both names will apply. O man, do not make the aunt the little one's stepmother; do not arm with implacable jealousy her who ought to cherish them with a mother's love. It is only stepmothers who extend their hatred even beyond death; other enemies make a truce with the dead; stepmothers begin their hatred after death. [2538]The sum of what I say is this. If any one wants to contract a lawful marriage, the whole world is open to him: if he is only impelled by lust, let him be the more restricted, "that he may know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, not in the lust of concupiscence." [2539] I should like to say more, but the limits of my letter leave me no further room. I pray that my exhortation may prove stronger than lust, or at least that this pollution may not be found in my own province. Where it has been ventured on there let it abide.

Footnotes

[2526] Placed in 373 or 374. [2527] On the marriage with a deceased wife's sister. cf. Letter cxxxv. [2528] Lev. xviii. 18. [2529] Lev. xviii. 3. [2530] Amos ii. 7. [2531] Eph. v. 3. [2532] Lev. xviii. 6. [2533] St. Matt. xix. 6. [2534] 1 Cor. vii. 31. [2535] 1 Cor. vii. 29. [2536] Gen. i. 28. [2537] 1 Cor. vii. 9. [2538] On the ancient dislike of stepmothers, cf. Herod. iv. 154, and Eurip., Alcestis 309, where they are said to be as dangerous to the children as vipers. Menander writes deinoteron ouden allo metruias kakon. [2539] 1 Thess. iv. 4. So A.V., apparently taking skeuos for body with Chrys., Theodoret, and others. The Greek is, most simply, not "possess," but get, and is in favour of the interpretation of Theod. of Mops., Augustine, and others, "get his wife." See Ellicott, Thess. p. 53.

Letter CLXI. [2540]

To Amphilochius on his consecration as Bishop. 1. Blessed be God Who from age to age chooses them that please Him, distinguishes vessels of election, and uses them for the ministry of the Saints. Though you were trying to flee, as you confess, not from me, but from the calling you expected through me, He has netted you in the sure meshes of grace, and has brought you into the midst of Pisidia to catch men for the Lord, and draw the devil's prey from the deep into the light. You, too, may say as the blessed David said, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence." [2541]Such is the wonderful work of our loving Master. "Asses are lost" [2542] that there may be a king of Israel. David, however, being an Israelite was granted to Israel; but the land which has nursed you and brought you to such a height of virtue, possesses you no longer, and sees her neighbour beautified by her own adornment. But all believers in Christ are one people; all Christ's people, although He is hailed from many regions, are one Church; and so our country is glad and rejoices at the dispensation of the Lord, and instead of thinking that she is one man the poorer, considers that through one man she has become possessed of whole Churches. Only may the Lord grant me both to see you in person, and, so long as I am parted from you, to hear of your progress in the gospel, and of the good order of your Churches. 2. Play the man, then, and be strong, and walk before the people whom the Most High has entrusted to your hand. Like a skilful pilot, rise in mind above every wave lifted by heretical blasts; keep the boat from being whelmed by the salt and bitter billows of false doctrine; and wait for the calm to be made by the Lord so soon as there shall have been found a voice worthy of rousing Him to rebuke the winds and the sea. If you wish to visit me, now hurried by long sickness towards the inevitable end, do not wait for an opportunity, or for the word from me. You know that to a father's heart every time is suitable to embrace a well-loved son, and that affection is stronger than words. Do not lament over a responsibility transcending your strength. If you had been destined to bear the burden unaided, it would have been not merely heavy; it would have been intolerable. But if the Lord shares the load with you, "cast all your care upon the Lord" [2543] and He will Himself act. Only be exhorted ever to give heed lest you be carried away by wicked customs. Rather change all previous evil ways into good by the help of the wisdom given you by God. For Christ has sent you not to follow others, but yourself to take the lead of all who are being saved. I charge you to pray for me, that, if I am still in this life, I may be permitted to see you with your Church. If, however, it is ordained that I now depart, may I see all of you hereafter with the Lord, your Church blooming like a vine with good works, and yourself like a wise husbandman and good servant giving meat in due season to his fellow-servants and receiving the reward of a wise and trusty steward. All who are with me salute your reverence. May you be strong and joyful in the Lord. May you be preserved glorious in the graces of the Spirit and of wisdom.

Footnotes

[2540] Placed in 374. [2541] Ps. cxxxix. 7. [2542] 1 Sam. ix. 3. So six mss. Editors have substituted "enemies." The letter does not exist in the Codex Harlæanus. ,'Onoi is supposed to mean that Faustinus and John, the predecessors of Amphilochius in the see of Iconium, were not very wise bishops. echthroimight mean that they were Arian. cf. Letter cxxxviii. [2543] cf. Ps. lv. 22 and 1 Pet. v. 7.

Letter CLXII. [2544]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. [2545] The same cause seems to make me hesitate to write, and to prove that I must write. When I think of the visit which I owe, and reckon up the gain at meeting you, I cannot help despising letters, as being not even shadows in comparison with the reality. Then, again, when I reckon that my only consolation, deprived as I am of all that is best and most important, is to salute such a man and beg him, as I am wont, not to forget me in his prayers, I bethink me that letters are of no small value. I do not, myself, wish to give up all hope of my visit, nor to despair of seeing you. I should be ashamed not to seem to put so much confidence in your prayers as even to expect to be turned from an old man into a young one, if such a need were to arise, and not merely from a sick and emaciated one, as I am now, into one a little bit stronger. It is not easy to express in words the reason of my not being with you already, because I am not only prevented by actual illness, but have not even force of speech enough at any time to give you an account of such manifold and complex disease. I can only say that, ever since Easter up to now, fever, diarrhoea, and intestinal disturbance, drowning me like waves, do not suffer me to lift my head above them. Brother Barachus may be able to tell you the character of my symptoms, if not as their severity deserves, at least clearly enough to make you understand the reason of my delay. If you join cordially in my prayers, I have no doubt that my troubles will easily pass away.

Footnotes

[2544] Placed in 374. [2545] On Basil's hopes of visiting Eusebius.

Letter CLXIII. [2546]

To Count Jovinus. One can see your soul in your letter, for in reality no painter can so exactly catch an outward likeness, as uttered thoughts can image the secrets of the soul. As I read your letter, your words exactly characterized your steadfastness, your real dignity, your unfailing sincerity; in all those things it comforted me greatly though I could not see you. Never fail, then, to seize every opportunity of writing to me, and to give me the pleasure of conversing with you at a distance; for to see you face to face I am now forbidden by the distressing state of my health. How serious this is you will learn from the God-beloved bishop Amphilochius, who is both able to report to you from his having been constantly with me, and fully competent to tell you what he has seen. But the only reason why I wish you to know of my sufferings is, that you will forgive me for the future, and acquit me of lack of energy, if I fail to come and see you, though in truth my loss does not so much need defence from me as comfort from you. Had it been possible for me to come to you, I should have very much preferred a sight of your excellency to all the ends that other men count worth an effort.

Footnotes

[2546] Placed in 374.

Letter CLXIV. [2547]

To Ascholius. [2548] 1. It would not be easy for me to say how very much delighted I am with your holiness's letter. My words are too weak to express all that I feel; you, however, ought to be able to conjecture it, from the beauty of what you have written. For what did not your letter contain? It contained love to God; the marvellous description of the martyrs, which put the manner of their good fight so plainly before me that I seemed actually to see it; love and kindness to myself; words of surpassing beauty. So when I had taken it into my hands, and read it many times, and perceived how abundantly full it was of the grace of the Spirit, I thought that I had gone back to the good old times, when God's Churches flourished, rooted in faith, united in love, all the members being in harmony, as though in one body. Then the persecutors were manifest, and manifest too the persecuted. Then the people grew more numerous by being attacked. Then the blood of the martyrs, watering the Churches, nourished many more champions of true religion, each generation stripping for the struggle with the zeal of those that had gone before. Then we Christians were in peace with one another, the peace which the Lord bequeathed us, of which, so cruelly have we driven it from among us, not a single trace is now left us. Yet my soul did go back to that blessedness of old, when a letter came from a long distance, bright with the beauty of love, and a martyr travelled to me from wild regions beyond the Danube, preaching in his own person the exactitude of the faith which is there observed. Who could tell the delight of my soul at all this? What power of speech could be devised competent to describe all that I felt in the bottom of my heart? However, when I saw the athlete, I blessed his trainer: he, too, before the just Judge, after strengthening many for the conflict on behalf of true religion, shall receive the crown of righteousness. 2. By bringing the blessed Eutyches [2549] to my recollection, and honouring my country for having sown the seeds of true religion, you have at once delighted me by your reminder of the past, and distressed me by your conviction of the present. None of us now comes near Eutyches in goodness: so far are we from bringing barbarians under the softening power of the Spirit, and the operation of His graces, that by the greatness of our sins we turn gentle hearted men into barbarians, for to ourselves and to our sins I attribute it that the influence of the heretics is so widely diffused. Peradventure no part of the world has escaped the conflagration of heresy. You tell me of struggles of athletes, bodies lacerated for the truth's sake, savage fury despised by men of fearless heart, various tortures of persecutors, and constancy of the wrestlers through them all, the block and the water whereby the martyrs died. [2550]And what is our condition? Love is grown cold; the teaching of the Fathers is being laid waste; everywhere is shipwreck of the Faith; the mouths of the Faithful are silent; the people, driven from the houses of prayer, lift up their hands in the open air to their Lord which is in heaven. Our afflictions are heavy, martyrdom is nowhere to be seen, because those who evilly entreat us are called by the same name as ourselves. Wherefore pray to the Lord yourself, and join all Christ's noble athletes with you in prayer for the Churches, to the end that, if any further time remains for this world, and all things are not being driven to destruction, God may be reconciled to his own Churches and restore them to their ancient peace.

Footnotes

[2547] Placed in 374. [2548] cf. Letter liv. [2549] Eutyches was a Cappadocian, who was taken prisoner by the Goths, in the reign of Gallienus, in a raid into Cappadocia. It was through the teaching of these captives that the ancestors of Ulphilas became Christians. cf. Philost., H.E. ii. 5. [2550] The Ben. note illustrates these modes of martyrdom from the letter of the Gothic Church, supposed to have been written by Ascholius, sent to Cæsarea with the body of Saint Sabas, who suffered under Athanaricus, king of the Goths, in the end of the fourth century. "They bring him down to the water, giving thanks and glorifying God; then they flung him down, and put a block about his neck, and plunged him into the depth. So slain by wood and water, he kept the symbol of salvation undefiled, being 38 years old." cf. Ruinart., Act. Sinc. p. 670.

Letter CLXV. [2551]

To Ascholius, bishop of Thessalonica. [2552] God has fulfilled my old prayer in deigning to allow me to receive the letter of your veritable holiness. What I most of all desire is to see you and to be seen by you, and to enjoy in actual intercourse all the graces of the Spirit with which you are endowed. This, however, is impossible, both on account of the distance which separates us, and the engrossing occupations of each of us. I therefore pray, in the second place, that my soul may be fed by frequent letters from your love in Christ. This has now been granted me on taking your epistle into my hands. I have been doubly delighted at the enjoyment of your communication. I felt as though I could really see your very soul shining in your words as in some mirror; and I was moved to exceeding joy, not only at your proving to be what all testimony says of you, but that your noble qualities are the ornament of my country. You have filled the country beyond our borders with spiritual fruits, like some vigorous branch sprung from a glorious root. Rightly, then, does our country rejoice in her own offshoots. When you were engaging in conflicts for the Faith she heard that the goodly heritage of the Fathers was preserved in you, and she glorified God. And now what are you about? You have honoured the land that gave you birth by sending her a martyr who has just fought a good fight in the barbarian country on your borders, just as a grateful gardener might send his first fruits to those who had given him the seeds. Verily the gift is worthy of Christ's athlete, a martyr of the truth just crowned with the crown of righteousness, whom we have gladly welcomed, glorifying God who has now fulfilled the gospel of His Christ in all the world. Let me ask you to remember in your prayers me who love you, and for my soul's sake earnestly to beseech the Lord that one day I, too, may be deemed worthy to begin to serve God, according to the way of His commandments which He has given us to salvation.

Footnotes

[2551] Placed in 374. [2552] So all the mss. But it is the opinion of Maran that there can be no doubt of the letter being addressed, not to Ascholius, but to Soranus, duke of Scythia. We have seen in letter 255 that Basil requested his relative Julius Soranus to send him some relics of the Gothic martyrs. This letter appears to refer to his prompt compliance with the request by sending relics of Saint Sabas.

Letter CLXVI. [2553]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. [2554]

Footnotes

[2553] Placed in 374. [2554] This letter is numbered lxv. among those of Gregory of Nazianzus, to whom it is to be attributed. It is only found in one ms. of the letters of Basil (Coisl. i.)

Letter CLXVII. [2555]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. I am delighted at your remembering me and writing, and, what is yet more important, at your sending me your blessing in your letter. Had I been but worthy of your labours and of your struggles in Christ's cause, I should have been permitted to come to you and embrace you, and to take you as a model of patience. But since I am not worthy of this, and am detained by many afflictions and much occupation, I do what is next best. I salute your excellency, and beseech you not to grow weary of remembering me. For the honour and pleasure of receiving your letters is not only an advantage to me, but it is a ground of boasting and pride before the world that I should be held in honour by one whose virtue is so great, and who is in such close communion with God as to be able, alike by his teaching and example, to unite others with him in it.

Footnotes

[2555] Placed in 374.

Letter CLXVIII. [2556]

To Antiochus. [2557] I mourn for the Church that is deprived of the guidance of such a shepherd. [2558]But I have so much the more ground for congratulating you on being worthy of the privilege of enjoying, at such a moment, the society of one who is fighting such a good fight in the cause of the truth, and I am sure that you, who nobly support and stimulate his zeal, will be thought worthy by the Lord of a lot like his. What a blessing, to enjoy in unbroken quiet the society of the man so rich in learning and experienced in life! Now, at least, you must, I am sure, know how wise he is. In days gone by his mind was necessarily given to many divided cares, and you were too busy a man to give your sole heed to the spiritual fountain which springs from his pure heart. God grant that you may be a comfort to him, and never yourself want consolation from others. I am sure of the disposition of your heart, alike from the experience which I, for a short time, have had of you, and from the exalted teaching your illustrious instructor, with whom to pass one single day is a sufficient provision for the journey to salvation.

Footnotes

[2556] Placed in 374. [2557] Nephew of Eusebius. cf. Letters cxlvi, clvii., and clviii. [2558] Eusebius was now in exile in Thrace. On this picturesque scene of his forced departure from his diocese, the agony of his flock at losing him, and his calm submission to the tyranny of Valens, see Theodoret iv. 12 and 13, pp. 115, 116, of this edition.

Letter CLXIX. [2559]

Basil to Gregory. [2560] You have undertaken a kindly and charitable task in getting together the captive troop of the insolent Glycerius (at present I must so write), and, so far as in you lay, covering our common shame. It is only right that your reverence should undo this dishonour with a full knowledge of the facts about him. This grave and venerable Glycerius of yours was ordained by me deacon of the church of Venesa [2561] to serve the presbyter, and look after the work of the Church, for, though the fellow is in other respects intractable, he is naturally clever at manual labour. No sooner was he appointed than he neglected his work, as though there had been absolutely nothing to do. But, of his own private power and authority, he got together some wretched virgins, some of whom came to him of their own accord (you know how young people are prone to anything of this kind), and others were unwillingly forced to accept him as leader of their company. Then he assumed the style and title of patriarch, and began all of a sudden to play the man of dignity. He had not attained to this on any reasonable or pious ground; his only object was to get a means of livelihood, just as some men start one trade and some another. He has all but upset the whole Church, scorning his own presbyter, a man venerable both by character and age; scorning his chorepiscopus, and myself, as of no account at all, continually filling the town and all the clergy with disorder and disturbance. And now, on being mildly rebuked by me and his chorepiscopus, that he may not treat us with contempt (for he was trying to stir the younger men to like insubordination), he is meditating conduct most audacious and inhuman. After robbing as many of the virgins as he could, he has made off by night. I am sure all this will have seemed very sad to you. Think of the time too. The feast was being held there, and, as was natural, large numbers of people were gathered together. He, however, on his side, brought out his own troop, who followed young men and danced round them, causing all well-disposed persons to be most distressed, while loose chatterers laughed aloud. And even this was not enough, enormous as was the scandal. I am told that even the parents of the virgins, finding their bereavement unendurable, wishful to bring home the scattered company, and falling with not unnatural sighs and tears at their daughters' feet, have been insulted and outraged by this excellent young man and his troop of bandits. I am sure your reverence will think all this intolerable. The ridicule of it attaches to us all alike. First of all, order him to come back with the virgins. He might find some mercy, if he were to come back with a letter from you. If you do not adopt this course, at least send the virgins back to their mother the Church. If this cannot be done, at all events do not allow any violence to be done to those that are willing to return, but get them to return to me. Otherwise I call God and man to witness that all this is ill done, and a breach of the law of the Church. The best course would be for Glycerius to come back with a letter, [2562] and in a becoming and proper frame of mind; if not, let him be deprived of his ministry. [2563]

Footnotes

[2559] Placed in 374, on the misconduct of Glycerius, a deacon. [2560] Tillemont says either of Nyssa or Nazianzus. In the ms. Coisl. I. it is preceded by lxxi., unquestionably addressed to Gregory of Nazianzus, and inscribed "to the same." In the Codex Harl. it is inscribed Gregori& 251; hetairo. Garnier, however (Vit. S. Bas. xxxi. iv.) allows that there are arguments in favor of Gregory of Nyssa. Probably it is the elder Gregory who is addressed. See Prolegomena. [2561] Or Vesa, or Synnasa; the mss. vary. [2562] epistoles is read in the version of this letter appearing in the works of Greg. Naz., and Combefis is no doubt right in thinking that it makes better sense than epistemes, the reading of the chief mss. here. [2563] cf. Prolegomena, and Ramsay's Church and Roman Empire, Cap. xviii.

Letter CLXX. [2564]

To Glycerius. How far will your mad folly go? How long will you counsel mischief against yourself? How long will you go on rousing me to wrath, and bringing shame on the common order of solitaries? Return. Put confidence in God, and in me, who imitate God's loving-kindness. If I rebuked you like a father, like a father I will forgive you. This is the treatment you shall receive from me, for many others are making supplication in your behalf, and before all the rest your own presbyter, for whose grey hairs and compassionate disposition I feel much respect. Continue longer to hold aloof from me and you have quite fallen from your degree. [2565]You will also fall away from God, for with your songs and your garb [2566] you are leading the young women not to God, but to the pit.

Footnotes

[2564] Placed with the preceding. [2565] tou bathmou. cf. 1 Tim. iii. 13. hoi kalos diakonesantes bathmon heautois kalon peripoiountai. There seems an evident allusion to this passage, but not such as to enable Basil to be positively ranked with Chrysostom in his apparent interpretation of bathmos objectively of preferment, or with Theodoret in his subjective idea of honour with God. Apparently the "degree" is the Diaconate. [2566] stole. The technical use of this word for a "stole" is not earlier than the ninth century. It was indeed used for a sacred vestment, e.g. the sacred robe which Constantine presented to Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem. (Theodoret ii. 27.) In Latin "stola" designated the distinctive dress of the matron, and it seems to be used with a suggestion of effeminacy.

Letter CLXXI. [2567]

To Gregory. I wrote to you, not long ago, about Glycerius and the virgins. Even now they have not returned, but are still hesitating, how and why I know not. I should be sorry to charge this against you, as though you were acting thus to bring discredit on me, either because you have some ground of complaint against me, or to gratify others. Let them then come, fearing nothing. Do you be surety for their doing this. For it pains me to have my members cut off, although they have been rightly cut off. If they hold out the burden will rest on others. I wash my hands of it.

Footnotes

[2567] Placed with the preceding.

Letter CLXXII. [2568]

To Sophronius, the bishop. [2569] There is no need for me to say how much I was delighted by your letter. Your own words will enable you to conjecture what I felt on receiving it. You have exhibited to me in your letter, the first fruits of the Spirit, love. Than this what can be more precious to me in the present state of affairs, when, because iniquity abounds, the love of many has waxed cold? [2570]Nothing is rarer now than spiritual intercourse with a brother, a word of peace, and such spiritual communion as I have found in you. For this I thank the Lord, beseeching Him that I may have part in the perfect joy that is found in you. If such be your letter, what must it be to meet you in person? If when you are far away you so affect me, what will you be to me when you are seen face to face? Be sure that if I had not been detained by innumerable occupations, and all the unavoidable anxieties which tie me down, I should have hurried to see your excellency. Although that old complaint of mine is a great hindrance to my moving about, nevertheless in view of the good I expect, I would not have allowed this to stand in my way. To be permitted to meet a man holding the same views and reverencing the faith of the Fathers, as you are said to do by our honourable brethren and fellow presbyters, is in truth to go back to the ancient blessedness of the Churches, when the sufferers from unsound disputation were few, and all lived in peace, "workmen" obeying the commandments and not "needing to be ashamed," [2571] serving the Lord with simple and clear confession, and keeping plain and inviolate their faith in Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Footnotes

[2568] Placed in 374. [2569] This Sophronius is distinguished by Maran from the Sophronius, magister officiorum, to whom Letters xxxii., lxxvi., and xcvi. have already been addressed, and who is also the recipient of clxxvi., clxxx., cxcii., cclxii. Nothing else is known of him. [2570] Matt. xxiv. 12. [2571] 2 Tim. ii. 15.

Letter CLXXIII. [2572]

To Theodora the Canoness. [2573] I should be more diligent in writing to you but for my belief that my letters do not always, my friend, reach your own hands. I am afraid that through the naughtiness of those on whose service I depend, especially at a time like this when the whole world is in a state of confusion, a great many other people get hold of them. So I wait to be found fault with, and to be eagerly asked for my letters, that so I may have this proof of their delivery. Yet, whether I write or not, one thing I do without failing, and that is to keep in my heart the memory of your excellency, and to pray the Lord to grant that you may complete the course of good living which you have chosen. For in truth it is no light thing for one, who makes a profession, to follow up all that the promise entails. Any one may embrace the gospel life, but only a very few of those who have come within my knowledge have completely carried out their duty in its minutest details, and have overlooked nothing that is contained therein. Only a very few have been consistent in keeping the tongue in check and the eye under guidance, as the Gospel would have it; in working with the hands according to the mark of doing what is pleasing to God; in moving the feet, and using every member, as the Creator ordained from the beginning. Propriety in dress, watchfulness in the society of men, moderation in eating and drinking, the avoidance of superfluity in the acquisition of necessities; all these things seem small enough when they are thus merely mentioned, but, as I have found by experience, their consistent observance requires no light struggle. Further, such a perfection of humility as not even to remember nobility of family, nor to be elevated by any natural advantage of body or mind which we may have, nor to allow other people's opinion of us to be a ground of pride and exaltation, all this belongs to the evangelic life. There is also sustained self-control, industry in prayer, sympathy in brotherly love, generosity to the poor, lowliness of temper, contrition of heart, soundness of faith, calmness in depression, while we never forget the terrible and inevitable tribunal. To that judgment we are all hastening, but those who remember it, and are anxious about what is to follow after it, are very few.

Footnotes

[2572] Placed in 374. [2573] On the Canonicæ, pious women who devoted themselves to education, district visiting, funerals, and various charitable works, and living in a community apart from men, cf. Soc. i. 17, "virgins in the register," and Sozomen viii. 23, on Nicarete. They were distinguished from nuns as not being bound by vows, and from deaconesses as not so distinctly discharging ministerial duties.

Letter CLXXIV. [2574]

To a Widow. I have been most wishful to write constantly to your excellency, but I have from time to time denied myself, for fear of causing any temptation to beset you, because of those who are ill disposed toward me. As I am told, their hatred has even gone so far that they make a fuss if any one happens to receive a letter from me. But now that you have begun to write yourself, and very good it is of you to do so, sending me needful information about all that is in your mind, I am stirred to write back to you. Let me then set right what has been omitted in the past, and at the same time reply to what your excellency has written. Truly blessed is the soul, which by night and by day has no other anxiety than how, when the great day comes wherein all creation shall stand before the Judge and shall give an account for its deeds, she too may be able easily to get quit of the reckoning of life. For he who keeps that day and that hour ever before him, and is ever meditating upon the defence to be made before the tribunal where no excuses will avail, will sin not at all, or not seriously, for we begin to sin when there is a lack of the fear of God in us. When men have a clear apprehension of what is threatened them, the awe inherent in them will never allow them to fall into inconsiderate action or thought. Be mindful therefore of God. Keep the fear of Him in your heart, and enlist all men to join with you in your prayers, for great is the aid of them that are able to move God by their importunity. Never cease to do this. Even while we are living this life in the flesh, prayer will be a mighty helper to us, and when we are departing hence it will be a sufficient provision for us on the journey to the world to come. [2575] Anxiety is a good thing; but, on the other hand, despondency, dejection, and despair of our salvation, are injurious to the soul. Trust therefore in the goodness of God, and look for His succour, knowing that if we turn to Him rightly and sincerely, not only will He not cast us off forever, but will say to us, even while we are in the act of uttering the words of our prayer, "Lo! I am with you."

Footnotes

[2574] Placed in 374. [2575] "Prayer ardent opens heaven." Young, N.T. viii., 721.

Letter CLXXV. [2576]

To Count Magnenianus. [2577] Your excellency lately wrote to me, plainly charging me, besides other matters, to write concerning the Faith. I admire your zeal in the matter, and I pray God that your choice of good things may be persistent, and that, advancing in knowledge and good works, you may be made perfect. But I have no wish to leave behind me a treatise on the Faith, or to write various creeds, and so I have declined to send what you asked. [2578]You seem to me to be surrounded by the din of your men there, idle fellows, who say certain things to calumniate me, with the idea that they will improve their own position by lying disgracefully against me. [2579]The past shews what they are, and future experience will shew them in still plainer colours. I, however, call on all who trust in Christ not to busy themselves in opposition to the ancient faith, but, as we believe, so to be baptized, and, as we are baptized, so to offer the doxology. [2580] It is enough for us to confess those names which we have received from Holy Scripture, and to shun all innovation about them. Our salvation does not lie in the invention of modes of address, but in the sound confession of the Godhead in which we have professed our faith.

Footnotes

[2576] Written probably early in 374. [2577] One ms. reads Magninianus. On the identification of this officer with the recipient of cccxxv., see that letter. [2578] But what Basil declined to do at the prompting of Magnenianus, he shortly afterwards did for Amphilochius, and wrote the De Spiritu Sancto. [2579] Maran (V. Basilxxx.) thinks that the allusion is to Atarbuis of Neocæsarea and to some of his presbyters. cf. Letter ccx. [2580] cf. De Sp. Scto. p. 17.

Letter CLXXVI. [2581]

To Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium. [2582] God grant that when this letter is put into your hands, it may find you in good health, quite at leisure, and as you would wish to be. For then it will not be in vain that I send you this invitation to be present at our city, to add greater dignity to the annual festival which it is the custom of our Church to hold in honour of the martyrs. [2583]For be sure my most honoured and dear friend, that our people here, though they have had experience of many, desire no one's presence so eagerly as they do yours; so affectionate an impression has your short intercourse with them left behind. So, then, that the Lord may be glorified, the people delighted, the martyrs honoured, and that I in my old age may receive the attention due to me from my true son, do not refuse to travel to me with all speed. I will beg you too to anticipate the day of assembly, that so we may converse at leisure and may comfort one another by the interchange of spiritual gifts. The day is the fifth of September. [2584]Come then three days beforehand in order that you may also honour with your presence the Church [2585] of the Hospital. May you by the grace of the Lord be kept in good health and spirits in the Lord, praying for me and for the Church of God.

Footnotes

[2581] Placed in 374. [2582] An invitation to feast of St. Eupsychius, with a request to arrive three days before the actual day of the festival, which was observed on the 7th of September. (cf. Letter c. and note, and the invitation to the Pontic bishops in cclii.) [2583] i.e. Damas and Eupsychius. [2584] So the date stands in eight mss. However it arose, 5th is a mistake for 7th, the day of St. Eupsychius in the Greek Kalendar. [2585] Mneme. The Ben. Ed. understand by this word the church erected by Basil in his hospital (cf. Letter xciv.) at Cæsarea. In illustration of the use of mneme in this sense Du Cange cites Act. Conc. Chalced. i. 144, and explains it as being equivalent to "memoria," i.e. "ædes sacra in qua extat sancti alicujus sepulcrum." cf. Nomocan. Photii v. 1. For the similar use of "memoria," in Latin, cf. Aug., De Civ. Dei. xxii. 10: "Nos autem martyribus nostris non templa sicut diis sedmemoriassicut hominibus mortuis fabricamus."

Letter CLXXVII. [2586]

To Saphronius the Master. To reckon up all those who have received kindness at your excellency's hand, for my sake, is no easy task; so many are there whom I feel that I have benefited through your kind aid, a boon which the Lord has given me to help me in these very serious times. Worthiest of all is he who is now introduced to you by my letter, the reverend brother Eusebius, attacked by a ridiculous calumny which it depends upon you alone in your uprightness, to destroy. I beseech you, therefore, both as respecting the right and as being humanely disposed, to grant me your accustomed favours, by adopting the cause of Eusebius as your own, and championing him, and, at the same time, truth. It is no small thing that he has the right on his side; and this, if he be not stricken down by the present crisis, he will have no difficulty in proving plainly and without possibility of contradiction.

Footnotes

[2586] Placed in 374.

Letter CLXXVIII. [2587]

To Aburgius. [2588] I know that I have often recommended many persons to your excellency, and so in serious emergencies have been very useful to friends in distress. But I do not think that I have ever sent to you one whom I regard with greater respect, or one engaged in contests of greater importance, than my very dear son Eusebius, who now places this letter in your hands. He will himself inform your excellency, if the opportunity is permitted him, in what difficulties he is involved. I ought to say, at least, as much as this. The man ought not to be misjudged, nor, because many have been convicted of disgraceful doings, ought he to come under common suspicion. He ought to have a fair trial, and his life must be enquired into. In this way the untruth of the charges against him will be made plain, and he, after enjoying your righteous protection, will ever proclaim what he owes to your kindness. [2589]

Footnotes

[2587] Placed with the preceding. [2588] Also recommending the interests of Eusebius. [2589] The Ben. note considers the circumstances referred to are the cruelties of Valens to those who were accused of enquiring by divination as to who should succeed him on the throne. cf. Ammianus Marcellinus xxix. 1, 2.

Letter CLXXIX. [2590]

To Arinthæus. [2591] Your natural nobility of character and your general accessibility have taught me to regard you as a friend of freedom and of men. I have, therefore, no hesitation in approaching you in behalf of one who is rendered illustrious by a long line of ancestry, but is worthy of greater esteem and honour on his own account, because of his innate goodness of disposition. I beg you, on my entreaty, to give him your support under a legal charge, in reality, indeed, ridiculous, but difficult to meet on account of the seriousness of the accusation. It would be of great importance to his success if you would deign to say a kind word in his behalf. You would, in the first place, be helping the right; but you would further be showing in this your wonted respect and kindness to myself, who am your friend.

Footnotes

[2590] Placed in 374. [2591] Possibly commendatory of the same Eusebius.

Letter CLXXX. [2592]

To the Master Sophronius, on behalf of Eunathius. I have been much distressed on meeting a worthy man involved in very great trouble. Being human, how could I fail to sympathise with a man of high character afflicted beyond his deserts? On thinking in what way I could be useful to him, I did find one means of helping him out of his difficulties, and that is by making him known to your excellency. It is now for you to extend also to him the same good offices which, as I can testify, you have shown to many. You will learn all the facts of the case from the petition presented by him to the emperors. This document I beg you to take into your hands, and implore you to help him to the utmost of your power. You will be helping a Christian, a gentleman, and one whose deep learning ought to win respect. If I add that in helping him you will confer a great kindness upon me, though, indeed, my interests are matters of small moment, yet, since you are always so good as to make them of importance, your boon to me will be no small one.

Footnotes

[2592] Of the same date.

Letter CLXXXI. [2593]

To Otreius, bishop of Melitene. [2594] Your reverence is, I know, no less distressed than myself at the removal of the very God-beloved bishop Eusebius. We both of us need comfort. Let us try to give it to one another. Do you write to me what you hear from Samosata, and I will report to you anything that I may learn from Thrace. [2595] It is to me no slight alleviation of our present distress to know the constancy of the people. It will be the same to you to have news of our common father. Of course I cannot now tell you this by letter, but I commend to you one who is fully informed, and will report to you in what condition he left him, and how he bears his troubles. Pray, then, for him and for me that the Lord will grant him speedy release from his distress.

Footnotes

[2593] Placed in 374. [2594] In Armenia Minor, now Malatia. Basil asks him for and offers sympathy in the exile of Eusebius. Otreius was at Tyana in 367, and at Constantinople in 381 (Labbe ii. 99 and 955). [2595] Where Eusebius was in exile.

Letter CLXXXII. [2596]

To the presbyters of Samosata. Grieved as I am at the desolation of the Church, [2597] I none the less congratulate you on having been brought so soon to this extreme limit of your hard struggle. God grant that you may pass through it with patience, to the end that in return for your faithful stewardship, and the noble constancy which you have shewn in Christ's cause, you may receive the great reward.

Footnotes

[2596] Placed in 374. [2597] Specially the exile of Eusebius.

Letter CLXXXIII. [2598]

To the Senate of Samosata. Seeing, as I do, that temptation is now spread all over the world, and that the greater cities of Syria have been tried by the same sufferings as yourselves, (though, indeed, nowhere is the Senate so approved and renowned for good works, as your own, noted as you are for your righteous zeal,) I all but thank the troubles which have befallen you. [2599] For had not this affliction come to pass, your proof under trial would never have been known. To all that earnestly strive for any good, the affliction they endure for the sake of their hope in God is like a furnace to gold. [2600] Rouse ye, then, most excellent sirs, that the labours you are about to undertake may not be unworthy of those which you have already sustained, and that on a firm foundation you may be seen putting a yet worthier finish. Rouse ye, that ye may stand round about the shepherd of the Church, when the Lord grants him to be seen on his own throne, telling each of you in his turn. some good deed done for the sake of the Church of God. On the great day of the Lord, each, according to the proportion of his labours, shall receive his recompense from the munificent Lord. By remembering me and writing to me as often as you can, you will be doing justice in sending me a reply, and will moreover give me very great pleasure, by sending me in writing a plain token of a voice which it is delightful to me to hear.

Footnotes

[2598] Of the same date. [2599] charin echein tois oikonometheisin, with the Cod. Med., instead of epi tois hoikonometheisin. The Ben. note points out that this expression of gratitude to the troubles themselves is of a piece with the expression of gratitude to enemies in the De. Sp. S. vi. 13. (p. 8), and concludes: "Sic etiam Machabæorum mater apud Gregorium Nazianzenum orat. xxii. ait se tyranno pene gratias agere. [2600] cf. Prov. xvii. 3 and xxvii. 21.

Letter CLXXXIV. [2601]

To Eustathius, bishop of Himmeria. [2602] Orphanhood is, I know, very dismal, and entails a great deal of work, because it deprives us of those who are set over us. Whence I conclude that you do not write to me, because you are depressed at what has happened to you, and at the same time are now very much occupied in visiting the folds of Christ, because they are attacked on every side by foes. But every grief finds consolation in communication with sympathising friends. Do then, I beg you, as often as you can, write to me. You will both refresh yourself by speaking to me, and you will comfort me by letting me hear from you. I shall endeavour to do the same to you, as often as my work lets me. Pray yourself, and entreat all the brotherhood earnestly to importune the Lord, to grant us one day release from the present distress.

Footnotes

[2601] Placed in 374. [2602] Nothing more is known of this Eustathius. Himmeria is in Osrhoene.

Letter CLXXXV. [2603]

To Theodotus, bishop of Beræa. [2604] Although you do not write to me, I know that there is recollection of me in your heart; and this I infer, not because I am worthy of any favourable recollection, but because your soul is rich in abundance of love. Yet, as far as in you lies, use whatever opportunities you have of writing to me, to the end that I may both be cheered by hearing news of you, and have occasion to send you tidings of myself. This is the only mode of communication for those who live far apart. Do not let us deprive one another of it, so far as our labours will permit. But I pray God that we may meet in person, that our love may be increased, and that we may multiply gratitude to our Master for His greater boons.

Footnotes

[2603] Placed in 374. [2604] Nothing more is known of this Theodotus.

Letter CLXXXVI. [2605]

To Antipater, the governor. [2606] Philosophy is an excellent thing, if only for this, that it even heals its disciples at small cost; for, in philosophy, the same thing is both dainty and healthy fare. I am told that you have recovered your failing appetite by pickled cabbage. Formerly I used to dislike it, both on account of the proverb, [2607] and because it reminded me of the poverty that went with it. Now, however, I am driven to change my mind. I laugh at the proverb when I see that cabbage is such a "good nursing mother of men," [2608] and has restored our governor to the vigour of youth. For the future I shall think nothing like cabbage, not even Homer's lotus, [2609] not even that ambrosia, [2610] whatever it was, which fed the Olympians.

Footnotes

[2605] Placed in 374. [2606] cf. Letter cxxxvii. [2607] The Greek proverb was dis krambe thanatos, vide Politian. Miscel. 33. cf. "Occidit miseros crambe repetita magistros." Juv. vii. 154. [2608] kourotrophos. Ithaca is agathe kourotrophos, because it bore and bred hardy men. Od. ix. 27. [2609] Od. ix. 93. [2610] Od. v. 93.

Letter CLXXXVII.

Antipater to Basil. "Twice cabbage is death," says the unkind proverb. I, however, though I have called for it often, shall die once. Yes: even though I had never called for it at all! If you do die anyhow, don't fear to eat a delicious relish, unjustly reviled by the proverb!

Letter CLXXXVIII. [2611]

(Canonica Prima.) To Amphilochius, concerning the Canons. [2612] "Even a fool," it is said, "when he asks questions," is counted wise. [2613]But when a wise man asks questions, he makes even a fool wise. And this, thank God, is my case, as often as I receive a letter from your industrious self. For we become more learned and wiser than we were before, merely by asking questions, because we are taught many things which we did not know; and our anxiety to answer them acts as a teacher to us. Assuredly at the present time, though I have never before paid attention to the points you raise, I have been forced to make accurate enquiry, and to turn over in my mind both whatever I have heard from the elders, and all that I have been taught in conformity with their lessons. I. As to your enquiry about the Cathari, [2614] a statement has already been made, and you have properly reminded me that it is right to follow the custom obtaining in each region, because those, who at the time gave decision on these points, held different opinions concerning their baptism. But the baptism of the Pepuzeni [2615] seems to me to have no authority; and I am astonished how this can have escaped Dionysius, [2616] acquainted as he was with the canons. The old authorities decided to accept that baptism which in nowise errs from the faith. Thus they used the names of heresies, of schisms, and of unlawful congregations. [2617]By heresies they meant men who were altogether broken off and alienated in matters relating to the actual faith; by schisms [2618] men who had separated for some ecclesiastical reasons and questions capable of mutual solution; by unlawful congregations gatherings held by disorderly presbyters or bishops or by uninstructed laymen. As, for instance, if a man be convicted of crime, and prohibited from discharging ministerial functions, and then refuses to submit to the canons, but arrogates to himself episcopal and ministerial rights, and persons leave the Catholic Church and join him, this is unlawful assembly. To disagree with members of the Church about repentance, is schism. Instances of heresy are those of the Manichæans, of the Valentinians, of the Marcionites, and of these Pepuzenes; for with them there comes in at once their disagreement concerning the actual faith in God. So it seemed good to the ancient authorities to reject the baptism of heretics altogether, but to admit that of schismatics, [2619] on the ground that they still belonged to the Church. As to those who assembled in unlawful congregations, their decision was to join them again to the Church, after they had been brought to a better state by proper repentance and rebuke, and so, in many cases, when men in orders [2620] had rebelled with the disorderly, to receive them on their repentance, into the same rank. Now the Pepuzeni are plainly heretical, for, by unlawfully and shamefully applying to Montanus and Priscilla the title of the Paraclete, they have blasphemed against the Holy Ghost. They are, therefore, to be condemned for ascribing divinity to men; and for outraging the Holy Ghost by comparing Him to men. They are thus also liable to eternal damnation, inasmuch as blasphemy against the Holy Ghost admits of no forgiveness. What ground is there, then, for the acceptance of the baptism of men who baptize into the Father and the Son and Montanus or Priscilla? For those who have not been baptized into the names delivered to us have not been baptized at all. So that, although this escaped the vigilance of the great Dionysius, we must by no means imitate his error. The absurdity of the position is obvious in a moment, and evident to all who are gifted with even a small share of reasoning capacity. The Cathari are schismatics; but it seemed good to the ancient authorities, I mean Cyprian and our own [2621] Firmilianus, to reject all these, Cathari, Encratites, [2622] and Hydroparastatæ, [2623] by one common condemnation, because the origin of separation arose through schism, and those who had apostatized from the Church had no longer on them the grace of the Holy Spirit, for it ceased to be imparted when the continuity was broken. The first separatists had received their ordination from the Fathers, and possessed the spiritual gift by the laying on of their hands. But they who were broken off had become laymen, and, because they are no longer able to confer on others that grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves are fallen away, they had no authority either to baptize or to ordain. And therefore those who were from time to time baptized by them, were ordered, as though baptized by laymen, to come to the church to be purified by the Church's true baptism. Nevertheless, since it has seemed to some of those of Asia that, for the sake of management of the majority, their baptism should be accepted, let it be accepted. We must, however, perceive the iniquitous action of the Encratites; who, in order to shut themselves out from being received back by the Church have endeavoured for the future to anticipate readmission by a peculiar baptism of their own, violating, in this manner even their own special practice. [2624]My opinion, therefore, is that nothing being distinctly laid down concerning them, it is our duty to reject their baptism, and that in the case of any one who has received baptism from them, we should, on his coming to the church, baptize him. If, however, there is any likelihood of this being detrimental to general discipline, we must fall back upon custom, and follow the fathers who have ordered what course we are to pursue. For I am under some apprehension lest, in our wish to discourage them from baptizing, we may, through the severity of our decision, be a hindrance to those who are being saved. If they accept our baptism, do not allow this to distress us. We are by no means bound to return them the same favour, but only strictly to obey canons. On every ground let it be enjoined that those who come to us from their baptism be anointed [2625] in the presence of the faithful, and only on these terms approach the mysteries. I am aware that I have received into episcopal rank Izois and Saturninus from the Encratite following. [2626]I am precluded therefore from separating from the Church those who have been united to their company, inasmuch as, through my acceptance of the bishops, I have promulgated a kind of canon of communion with them. II. The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder. With us there is no nice enquiry as to its being formed or unformed. In this case it is not only the being about to be born who is vindicated, but the woman in her attack upon herself; because in most cases women who make such attempts die. The destruction of the embryo is an additional crime, a second murder, at all events if we regard it as done with intent. The punishment, however, of these women should not be for life, but for the term of ten years. And let their treatment depend not on mere lapse of time, but on the character of their repentance. III. A deacon who commits fornication after his appointment to the diaconate is to be deposed. But, after he has been rejected and ranked among the laity, he is not to be excluded from communion. For there is an ancient canon that those who have fallen from their degree are to be subjected to this kind of punishment alone. [2627] Herein, as I suppose, the ancient authorities followed the old rule "Thou shalt not avenge twice for the same thing." [2628]There is this further reason too, that laymen, when expelled from the place of the faithful, are from time to time restored to the rank whence they have fallen; but the deacon undergoes once for all the lasting penalty of deposition. His deacon's orders not being restored to him, they rested at this one punishment. So far is this as regards what depends on law laid down. But generally a truer remedy is the departure from sin. Wherefore that man will give me full proof of his cure who, after rejecting grace for the sake of the indulgence of the flesh, has then, through bruising of the flesh [2629] and the enslaving of it [2630] by means of self control, abandoned the pleasures whereby he was subdued. We ought therefore to know both what is of exact prescription and what is of custom; and, in cases which do not admit of the highest treatment, to follow the traditional direction. IV. In the case of trigamy and polygamy they laid down the same rule, in proportion, as in the case of digamy; namely one year for digamy (some authorities say two years); for trigamy men are separated for three and often for four years; but this is no longer described as marriage at all, but as polygamy; nay rather as limited fornication. It is for this reason that the Lord said to the woman of Samaria, who had five husbands, "he whom thou now hast is not thy husband." [2631] He does not reckon those who had exceeded the limits of a second marriage as worthy of the title of husband or wife. In cases of trigamy we have accepted a seclusion of five years, not by the canons, but following the precept of our predecessors. Such offenders ought not to be altogether prohibited from the privileges of the Church; they should be considered deserving of hearing after two or three years, and afterwards of being permitted to stand in their place; but they must be kept from the communion of the good gift, and only restored to the place of communion after showing some fruit of repentance. V. Heretics repenting at death ought to be received; yet to be received, of course, not indiscriminately, but on trial of exhibition of true repentance and of producing fruit in evidence of their zeal for salvation. [2632] VI. The fornication of canonical persons is not to be reckoned as wedlock, and their union is to be completely dissolved, for this is both profitable for the security of the Church and will prevent the heretics from having a ground of attack against us, as though we induced men to join us by the attraction of liberty to sin. VII. Abusers of themselves with mankind, and with beasts, as also murderers, wizards, adulterers, and idolaters, are deserving of the same punishment. Whatever rule you have in the case of the rest, observe also in their case. There can, however, be no doubt that we ought to receive those who have repented of impurity committed in ignorance for thirty years. [2633]In this case there is ground for forgiveness in ignorance, in the spontaneity of confession, and the long extent of time. Perhaps they have been delivered to Satan for a whole age of man that they may learn not to behave unseemly; [2634] wherefore order them to be received without delay, specially if they shed tears to move your mercy, and shew a manner of living worthy of compassion. [2635] VIII. The man who in a rage has taken up a hatchet against his own wife is a murderer. But it is what I should have expected from your intelligence that you should very properly remind me to speak on these points more fully, because a wide distinction must be drawn between cases where there is and where there is not intent. A case of an act purely unintentional, and widely removed from the purpose of the agent, is that of a man who throws a stone at a dog or a tree, and hits a man. The object was to drive off the beast or to shake down the fruit. The chance comer falls fortuitously in the way of the blow, and the act is unintentional. Unintentional too is the act of any one who strikes another with a strap or a flexible stick, for the purpose of chastising him, and the man who is being beaten dies. In this case it must be taken into consideration that the object was not to kill, but to improve, the offender. Further, among unintentional acts must be reckoned the case of a man in a fight who when warding off an enemy's attack with cudgel or hand, hits him without mercy in some vital part, so as to injure him, though not quite to kill him. This, however, comes very near to the intentional; for the man who employs such a weapon in self defence, or who strikes without mercy, evidently does not spare his opponent, because he is mastered by passion. In like manner the case of any one who uses a heavy cudgel, or a stone too big for a man to stand, is reckoned among the unintentional, because he does not do what he meant: in his rage he deals such a blow as to kill his victim, yet all he had in his mind was to give him a thrashing, not to do him to death. If, however, a man uses a sword, or anything of the kind, he has no excuse: certainly none if he throws his hatchet. For he does not strike with the hand, so that the force of the blow may be within his own control, but throws, so that from the weight and edge of the iron, and the force of the throw, the wound cannot fail to be fatal. On the other hand acts done in the attacks of war or robbery are distinctly intentional, and admit of no doubt. Robbers kill for greed, and to avoid conviction. Soldiers who inflict death in war do so with the obvious purpose not of fighting, nor chastising, but of killing their opponents. And if any one has concocted some magic philtre for some other reason, and then causes death, I count this as intentional. Women frequently endeavour to draw men to love them by incantations and magic knots, and give them drugs which dull their intelligence. Such women, when they cause death, though the result of their action may not be what they intended, are nevertheless, on account of their proceedings being magical and prohibited, to be reckoned among intentional homicides. Women also who administer drugs to cause abortion, as well as those who take poisons to destroy unborn children, are murderesses. So much on this subject. IX. The sentence of the Lord that it is unlawful to withdraw from wedlock, save on account of fornication, [2636] applies, according to the argument, to men and women alike. Custom, however, does not so obtain. Yet, in relation with women, very strict expressions are to be found; as, for instance, the words of the apostle "He which is joined to a harlot is one body" [2637] and of Jeremiah, If a wife "become another man's shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted?" [2638]And again, "He that hath an adulteress is a fool and impious." [2639]Yet custom ordains that men who commit adultery and are in fornication be retained by their wives. Consequently I do not know if the woman who lives with the man who has been dismissed can properly be called an adulteress; the charge in this case attaches to the woman who has put away her husband, and depends upon the cause for which she withdrew from wedlock. [2640]In the case of her being beaten, and refusing to submit, it would be better for her to endure than to be separated from her husband; in the case of her objecting to pecuniary loss, even here she would not have sufficient ground. If her reason is his living in fornication we do not find this in the custom of the church; but from an unbelieving husband a wife is commanded not to depart, but to remain, on account of the uncertainty of the issue. "For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband?" [2641]Here then the wife, if she leaves her husband and goes to another, is an adulteress. But the man who has been abandoned is pardonable, and the woman who lives with such a man is not condemned. But if the man who has deserted his wife goes to another, he is himself an adulterer because he makes her commit adultery; and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has caused another woman's husband to come over to her. X. Those who swear that they will not receive ordination, declining orders upon oath, must not be driven to perjure themselves, although there does seem to be a canon making concessions to such persons. Yet I have found by experience that perjurers never turn out well. [2642] Account must however be taken of the form of the oath, its terms, the frame of mind in which it was taken, and the minutest additions made to the terms, since, if no ground of relief can anywhere be found, such persons must be dismissed. The case, however, of Severus, I mean of the presbyter ordained by him, does seem to me to allow of relief of this kind, if you will permit it. Give directions for the district placed under Mestia, to which the man was appointed, to be reckoned under Vasoda. Thus he will not forswear himself by not departing from the place, and Longinus, having Cyriacus with him, will not leave the Church unprovided for, nor himself be guilty of neglect of work. [2643]I moreover shall not be held guilty of taking action in contravention of any canons by making a concession to Cyriacus who had sworn that he would remain at Mindana and yet accepted the transfer. His return will be in accordance with his oath, and his obedience to the arrangement will not be reckoned against him as perjury, because it was not added to his oath that he would not go, even a short time, from Mindana, but would remain there for the future. Severus, who pleads forgetfulness, I shall pardon, only telling him that One who knows what is secret will not overlook the ravaging of His Church by a man of such a character; a man who originally appoints uncanonically, then imposes oaths in violation of the Gospel, then tells a man to perjure himself in the matter of his transfer, and last of all lies in pretended forgetfulness. I am no judge of hearts; I only judge by what I hear; let us leave vengeance to the Lord, and ourselves pardon the common human error of forgetfulness, and receive the man without question. XI. The man who is guilty of unintentional homicide has given sufficient satisfaction in eleven years. We shall, without doubt, observe what is laid down by Moses in the case of wounded men, and shall not hold a murder to have been committed in the case of a man who lies down after he has been struck, and walks again leaning on his staff. [2644]If, however, he does not rise again after he has been struck, nevertheless, from there being no intent to kill, the striker is a homicide, but an unintentional homicide. XII. The canon absolutely excludes digamists from the ministry. [2645] XIII. Homicide in war is not reckoned by our Fathers as homicide; I presume from their wish to make concession to men fighting on behalf of chastity and true religion. Perhaps, however, it is well to counsel that those whose hands are not clean only abstain from communion for three years. [2646] XIV. A taker of usury, if he consent to spend his unjust gain on the poor, and to be rid for the future of the plague of covetousness, may be received into the ministry. [2647] XV. I am astonished at your requiring exactitude in Scripture, and arguing that there is something forced in the diction of the interpretation which gives the meaning of the original, but does not exactly render what is meant by the Hebrew word. Yet I must not carelessly pass by the question started by an enquiring mind. At the creation of the world, birds of the air and the fishes of the sea had the same origin; [2648] for both kinds were produced from the water. [2649]The reason is that both have the same characteristics. The latter swim in the water, the former in the air. They are therefore mentioned together. The form of expression is not used without distinction, but of all that lives in the water it is used very properly. The birds of the air and the fishes of the sea are subject to man; and not they alone, but all that passes through the paths of the sea. For every water-creature is not a fish, as for instance the sea monsters, whales, sharks, dolphins, seals, even sea-horses, sea-dogs, saw-fish, sword-fish, and sea-cows; and, if you like, sea nettles, cockles and all hard-shelled creatures of whom none are fish, and all pass through the paths of the sea; so that there are three kinds, birds of the air, fishes of the sea, and all water-creatures which are distinct from fish, and pass through the paths of the sea. XVI. Naaman was not a great man with the Lord, but with his lord; that is, he was one of the chief princes of the King of the Syrians. [2650]Read your Bible carefully, and you will find the answer to your question there.

Footnotes

[2611] Placed in 347. [2612] In this letter Basil replies to several questions of Amphilochius concerning the Canons, and also concerning the interpretation of some passages of Holy Scripture. Maran dates it at the end of 374. [2613] Prov. xvii. 28, lxx. [2614] i.e.the followers of Novatian. cf. Eusebius vi. 43. cf. De. Sp. Scto. ch. x. p. 17 and note. [2615] Or Pepuziani, another name for the Montanists. "Epiphanius may safely be disregarded, who, treating of the Montanists, in the 48th section of his work on heresies, treats of the Pepuziani, in the 49th, as a kindred, but distinct, sect." Dr. Salmon in D.C.B. iv. 303. The name is derived from Pepuza in Western Phrygia, the Montanist, or Cataphrygian, "Jerusalem." (Eus. H.E. v. 18.) [2616] i.e. of Alexandria. Jerome (Vir. illust. lxix.) says that he agreed with Cyprian and the African Synod on the rebaptizing of heretics. The Ben. note says: "Videtur hac in re major auctoritas Basilio attribuenda quam Hieronymo. Plus operæ insumpserat Basilius in ea re examinanda." [2617] parasunagoge. [2618] Archbp. Trench (N.T. Syn. 330) quotes Augustine (Con. Crescon. Don. ii. 7): "Schisma est recens congregationis ex aliquâ sententiarum diversitate dissensio; hæresis autem schisma inveteratum;" and Jerome (Ep. ad Tit. iii. 10): "Inter hæresim et schisma hoc esse arbitrantur, quod hæresis perversum dogma habeat; schisma propter episcopalem dissensionem ab ecclesiâ separetur; quod quidem in principio aliquâ ex parte intelligi queat. Cæterum nullum schisma non sibi aliquam confingit hæresim, ut recte ab ecclesia recessisse videatur." To these may be added Aug. (Quæst. in Matt. xi. 2): "Solet autem etiam quæri schismatici quid ab hæreticis distent, et hoc inveniri quod schismaticos non fides diversa faciat sed communionis disrupta societas. Sed utrum inter zizania numerandi sint dubitari potest, magis autem videntur spicis corruptis esse similiores, vel paleis aristarum fractis, vel scissis et de segete abruptis." [2619] ton aposchisanton, hos eti ek tes ekklesias onton. The Ben. note is "Quod autem addit Basilius, ut adhuc ex Ecclesia exsistentium, non idcirco addit quod schismaticos in Ecclesiæ membris numeraret. Illius verba si quis in deteriorem partem rapiat, facilis et expedita responsio, Nam sub finem hujus, canonis de Encratitis ipsis, id est, de hæreticis incarnationem et Dei singularitatem negantibus, ait sibi non jam integrum esse eos qui huic sectæ conjuncti sunt ab Ecclesia separare, quia duos eorum episcopos sine baptismo ac sine nova ordinatione receperat. Nemo autem suspicabitur Basilium ejusmodi hæreticos ab Ecclesia alienissimos non judicasse. Quare quidquid schismaticis tribuit, in sola baptismi societate positum est. Nam cum Cyprianus et Firmilianus schismaticos et hæreticos ita ab Ecclesia distractos crederent, ut nihil prosus ad eos ex fontibus Ecclesiæ perflueret; Basilius huic sententiæ non assentitur, et in schismaticis quia fidem Ecclesiæ retinent, vestigium quoddam agnoscit necessitudinis et societatis cum Ecclesia, ita ut valida sacramentorum administratio ab Ecclesia ad illos permanare possit. Hinc sibi integrum negat detestandos hæreticos ab Ecclesia separare, quorum baptisma ratum habuerat. Idem docent duo præstantissimi unitatis defensores. Optatus et Augustinus. Quod enim scissum est, inquit Optatus lib. iii. n. 9, ex parte divisum est, non ex toto: cum constet merito, quia nobis et vobis ecclesiastica una est conversatio, et si hominum litigant mentes, non litigant sacramenta. Vid. lib. iv. n. 2. Sic etiam Augustinus lib. i. De baptismo n. 3: Itaque isti (hæretici et schismatici) in quibusdam rebus nobiscum sunt: in quibus autem nobiscum non sunt, ut veniendo accipiant, vel redeundo recipiant, adhortamur. Vid. lib. iii. n. 26. Sic ex Basilio hæretici nobiscum sunt quoad baptisma." [2620] tous en bathmo. cf. note on p. 218. [2621] As being one of Basil's predecessors in the see of Cæsarea. [2622] "Hoc Encratitarum facinore non corrupta essentialis baptismi forma. Sed novæ quædam adjectæ cærimoniæ." Ben. Ed. [2623] i.e.those who used water instead of wine in the Eucharist, as Tatian and his followers. cf. Clem. Al., Strom. i. 19 and Cyprian. Ep. lxiii. [2624] The Ben. note points out that the improper proceeding of the Encratites consisted not in any corruption of the baptismal formula, but in the addition of certain novel ceremonies, and proceeds: "Nam in canone 47 sic eos loquentes inducit. In Patrem et Filium et Spiritum baptizati sumus. Hinc eorum baptisma ratum habet, si qua inciderit magni momenti causa. Quod autem ait hoc facinus eos incipere, ut reditum sibi in Ecclesiam intercludant, videtur id prima specie in eam sententiam accipiendum, quasi Encratitæ baptisma suum ea mente immutassent, ut Catholicos ad illud rejiciendum incitarent, sicque plures in secta contineret odium et fuga novi baptismatis. Abhorrebat enim ab omnium animis iteratus baptismus, ut pluribus exemplis probat Augustinus, lib. v. De baptismo, n. 6. Videtur ergo prima specie Encratitis, ea, quam dixi, exstitisse causa, cur baptismum immutarent. Atque ita hunc locum interpretatur Tillemontius, tom. iv. p. 628. Sic etiam illius exemplo interpretatus sum in Præf. novæ Cypriani operum editioni præmissa cap. 4. p. 12. Sed huic interpretationi non convenit cum his quæ addit Basilius. Vereri enim se significat ne Catholici, dum Encratitas ab hac baptismi immutatione deterrere volunt, nimium restricti sint et severi in eorum baptismo rejiciendo. Sperabant ergo Catholici tardiores ad ejus modi baptisma Encratitas futuros, si illud Catholici ratum habere nollent; nedum ipsi Encratitæ baptismatis immutationem eo consilio induxerint, ut ejusmodi baptisma a Catholicis rejiceretur. Quamobrem hæc verba, ut reditum sibi in Ecclesiam intercludant, non consilium et propositum Encratitarum designant, sed incommodum quod ex eorum facinore consequebatur; velut si dicamus aliquem scelus admittere, ut æternam sibi damnationem accersat." [2625] cf. note on p. 42. St. Cyprian (Ep. lxx.) says that heretics who have no true altar cannot have oil sanctified by the altar. "Gregory of Nazianzus, Orat. (xlviii in Jul.) speaks of oil sanctified or consecrated on the spiritual or divine table; Optatus of Milevis (c. Don. vii. 102) says that this ointment is compounded (conditur) in the name of Christ; and the Pseudo-Dionysius (De Hierarch. Eccles. c. 4) mentions the use of the sign of the cross in the consecration of it." D.C.A. i. 355. [2626] This is the only known reference to these two bishops. [2627] "Respicit, ni falor, ad canonem 25 apostolorum, ad quem Balsamon et Zonaras observant nonnulla esse peccata, quibus excommunicatio, non solum depositio, infligitur; velut si quis pecunia, vel magistratus potentia, sacerdotium assequatur, ut sancitur Can. 29 et 30." Ben. note. [2628] Nahum i. 9, LXX. [2629] "Duo veteres libri suntrimmou tes kardias." Ben. note. [2630] cf. 1 Cor. ix. 27. [2631] John iv. 18. For the more usual modern interpretation that the sixth union was an unlawful one, cf. Bengel. Matrimonium hoc sextum non erat legitimum, vel non consummatum, aut desertio aliudve impedimentum intercesserat, ex altera utra parte. [2632] ton kanonikon. The Greek is of either gender. The Ben. note is: Clericos sive eos qui in canone recensentur hac voce designari hactenus existimarunt Basilii interpretes, ac ipsi etiam Zonares et Balsamon. Sed ut canonicas sive sacras virgines interpreter, plurimis rationum momentis adducor: 1. Basilius hoc nomine clericos appellare non solet, sed sacras virgines, ut persici potest ex epistolis 52 et 175; 2. præscriptum Basilii non convenit in clericos, quorum nonnullis, nempe lectoribus et aliis ejus modi venia dabatur ineundi matrimonii, quamvis in canone recenserentur; 3. prohibet Basilius ejusmodi stupra quæ honesto matrimonii nomine prætexi solebant. At id non inconcessum erat matrimonium, alios vero matrimonium post ordinationem inire nulla prorsus Ecclesia patiebatur, aut certe matrimonii pretium erat depositio. Contra virginibus nubentibus non longior poena pluribus in locis imponebatur, quam digamis, ut perspicitur ex canone 18, ubi Basilius hance consuetudinem abrogat, ac virginum matrimonia instar adulterii existimat. [2633] So the mss. But the Ben. note points out that there must be some error, if a sin knowingly committed was punished by excommunication for fifteen years (Canons lviii., lxii., lxiii.), and one unwittingly committed by a punishment of twice the duration. [2634] cf. 1 Tim. i. 20. [2635] The Ben. note continues: "Deinde vero testatur Basilius eos fere hominis ætatem satanæ traditos fuisse. At ætas hominis (genea) sæpe annorum viginti spatio existimatur; velut cum ait Dionysius Alexandrinus Alexandrinus apud Eusebium, lib. vii. cap. 21. Israelitas in deserto fuisse duabus ætatibus. Ipse Basilius in Epistola 201, quæ scripta est anno 375, Neocæsarienses incusat quod sibi jam totam fere hominis ætatem succenseant; quos tamen non ita pridem amicos habuerat; ac anno 568, Musonii morte affictos litteris amicissimis consolatus fuerat. Sæculum apud Latinos non semper stricte sumitur; velut cum ait Hieronymus in Epist. 27 ad Marcellum, in Christi verbis explicandis per tanta jam sæcula tantorum ingenia sudasse; vel cum auctor libri De rebaptismate in Cyprianum tacito nomine invehitur, quod adversus prisca consulta post tot sæculorum tantam seriem nunc primum repente sine ratione insurgat, p. 357. De hoc ergo triginta annorum numero non paucos deducendos esse crediderim. [2636] Matt. v. 32. [2637] 1 Cor. vi. 16. [2638] Jer. iii. 1. [2639] Prov. xviii. 22, LXX. [2640] The Ben. note is, Sequitur in hoc canone Basilius Romanas leges, quas tamen fatetur cum evangelio minus consentire. Lex Constantini jubet in repudio mittendo a femina hæc sola crimina inquiri, si homicidam, vel medicamentarium, vel sepulcrorum dissolutorem maritum suum esse probaverit. At eadem lege viris conceditur, ut adulteras uxores dimittant. Aliud discrimen hoc in canone uxores inter et maritos ponitur, quod uxor injuste dimissa, si ab alia ducatur, adulterii notam non effugiat; dimissus autem injuste maritus nec adulter sit, si aliam ducat, nec quæ ab eo ducitur, adultera. Cæterum Basilius ante episcopatum eodem jure uxorem ac maritum esse censebat. Nam in Moral. reg. 73statuit virum ab uxore, aut uxorem a viro non debere separari, nisi quis deprehendatur in adulterio. Utrique pariter interdicit novis nuptiis, sive repudient, sive repudientur. [2641] 1 Cor. vii. 16. [2642] The Ben. note refers to the case of Dracontius, who had sworn that he would escape if he were ordained bishop, and so did; but was urged by Athanasius to discharge the duties of his diocese, notwithstanding his oath. [2643] On this obscure passage the Ben. note is: Longinus presbyter erat in agro Mestiæ subjecto. Sed cum is depositus essit ob aliquod delictum, ac forte honorem sacerdotii retineret, ut nonnumquam fiebat, Severus episcopus in ejus locum transtulit Cyriacum, quem antea Mindanis ordinaverat, ac jurare coegerat se Mindanis mansurum. Nihil hac in re statui posse videbatur, quod non in magnam aliquam diffcultatem incurreret. Nam si in agro Mestiæ subjecto Cyriacus remaneret, perjurii culpam sustinebat. Si rediret Mindana, ager Mestiæ subjectus presbytero carebat, atque hujus incommodi culpa redundabat in caput Longini, qui ob delictum depositus fuerat. Quid igitur Basilius? Utrique occurrit incommodo; jubet agrum, qui Mastiæ subjectus erat Vasodis subjici, id est loco, cui subjecta erant Mindana. Hoc ex remedio duo consequebatur Basilius, ut et ager ille presbytero non careret, et Cyriacus ibi remanens Mindana tamen redire censeretur, cum jam hic locus eidem ac Mindana chorepiscopo pareret. [2644] Exod. xxi. 19. [2645] Ap. Can. xiii. 14: "It is clear from the Philosophumena of Hippolytus (ix. 12) that by the beginning of the 3d century the rule of monogamy for the clergy was well established, since he complains that in the days of Callistus `digamist and trigamist bishops, and priests and deacons, began to be admitted into the clergy.' Tertullian recognises the rule as to the clergy. Thus in his De Exhortatione Castitatis (c. 7) he asks scornfully; `Being a digamist, dost thou baptize? Dost thou make the offering?'" Dict. C. A. i. 552. Vide also Canon Bright, Notes on the Canons of the first four General Councils. On Can. Nic. viii. p. 27. [2646] The Ben. note quotes Balsamon, Zonaras, and Alexius Aristenus as remarking on this that Basil gives advice, not direction, and regards the hands, not the hearts, of soldiers as defiled; and as recalling that this canon was quoted in opposition to the Emperor Phocas when he wished to reckon soldiers as martyrs. The canon was little regarded, as being contrary to general Christian sentiment. cf. Athan. Ep. xlviii. p. 557 of this edition: "In war it is lawful and praiseworthy to destroy the enemy; accordingly not only are they who have distinguished themselves in the field held worthy of great honours, but monuments are put up proclaiming their achievements." [2647] cf. Can. Nic. xvii. Canon Bright (On the Canons, etc., p. 56) remarks: "It must be remembered that interest, called tokos and fenus, as the product of the principal, was associated in the early stages of society,--in Greece and Rome as well as in Palestine,--with the notion of undue profit extorted by a rich lender from the needy borrower (see Grote, Hist. Gr. ii. 311 H.; Arnold, Hist. Rome i. 282; Mommsen, Hist. R. i. 291). Hence Tacitus says, `sane vetus urbi fenebre malcum, et seditionum discordiarumque creberrima causa' (Ann. vi. 16), and Gibbon calls usury `the inveterate grievance of the city, abolished by the clamours of the people, revived by their wants and idleness.'" (v. 314.) [2648] Ps. viii. 8. [2649] Gen. i. 20 and 21. [2650] 2 Kings v. 1.

Letter CLXXXIX. [2651]

To Eustathius the physician. [2652] Humanity is the regular business of all you who practise as physicians. And, in my opinion, to put your science at the head and front of life's pursuits is to decide reasonably and rightly. This at all events seems to be the case if man's most precious possession, life, is painful and not worth living, unless it be lived in health, and if for health we are dependent on your skill. In your own case medicine is seen, as it were, with two right hands; you enlarge the accepted limits of philanthropy by not confining the application of your skill to men's bodies, but by attending also to the cure of the diseases of their souls. It is not only in accordance with popular report that I thus write. I am moved by the personal experience which I have had on many occasions and to a remarkable degree at the present time, in the midst of the unspeakable wickedness of our enemies, which has flooded our life like a noxious torrent. You have most skilfully dispersed it and by pouring in your soothing words have allayed the inflammation of my heart. Having regard to the successive and diversified attacks of my enemies against me, I thought that I ought to keep silence and to bear their successive assaults without reply, and without attempting to contradict foes armed with a lie, that terrible weapon which too often drives its point through the heart of truth herself. You did well in urging me not to abandon the defence of truth, but rather to convict our calumniators, lest haply, by the success of lies, many be hurt. 2. In adopting an unexpected attitude of hatred against me my opponents seem to be repeating the old story in sop. He makes the wolf bring certain charges against the lamb, as being really ashamed to seem to kill a creature who had done him no harm without some reasonable pretext; then when the lamb easily rebuts the slander, the wolf, none the less, continues his attack, and, though defeated in equity, comes off winner in biting. Just so with those who seem to count hatred to me as a virtue. They will perhaps blush to hate me without a cause, and so invent pleas and charges against me, without abiding by any of their allegations, but urging as the ground of their detestation now this, now that, and now something else. In no single case is their malice consistent; but when they are baulked in one charge they cling to another and, foiled in this, have recourse to a third; and if all their accusations are scattered they do not drop their ill-will. They say that I preach three Gods, dinning the charge into the ears of the mob and pressing the calumny plausibly and persistently. Nevertheless, truth is fighting on my side; and both in public to all the world, and in private to all whom I meet, I prove that I anathematize every one who maintains three Gods and do not even allow him to be a Christian. No sooner do they hear this than Sabellius is handy for them to urge against me, and it is noised abroad that my teaching is tainted with his error. Once more I hold out in my defence my wonted weapon of truth, and demonstrate that I shudder at Sabellianism as much as at Judaism. 3. What then? After all these efforts were they tired? Did they leave off? Not at all. They are charging me with innovation, and base their charge on my confession of three hypostases, and blame me for asserting one Goodness, one Power, one Godhead. In this they are not wide of the truth, for I do so assert. Their complaint is that their custom does not accept this, and that Scripture does not agree. What is my reply? I do not consider it fair that the custom which obtains among them should be regarded as a law and rule of orthodoxy. If custom is to be taken in proof of what is right, then it is certainly competent for me to put forward on my side the custom which obtains here. If they reject this, we are clearly not bound to follow them. Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favour of that side will be cast the vote of truth. What then is the charge? Two points are advanced at one and the same time in the accusations levelled against me. I am accused on the one hand of parting the hypostases asunder; on the other of never using in the plural any one of the nouns relating to the Divinity, but of always speaking in the singular number of one Goodness, as I have already said; of one Power; one Godhead; and so on. As to the parting of the hypostases, there ought to be no objection nor opposition on the part of those who assert in the case of the divine nature a distinction of essences. For it is unreasonable to maintain three essences and to object to three hypostases. Nothing, then, is left but the charge of using words of the divine nature in the singulars. 4. I have quite a little difficulty in meeting the second charge. Whoever condemns those who assert that the Godhead is one, must of necessity agree with all who maintain many godheads, or with those who maintain that there is none. No third position is conceivable. The teaching of inspired Scripture does not allow of our speaking of many godheads, but, wherever it mentions the Godhead, speaks of it in the singular number; as, for instance, "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." [2653]And again; "for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead." [2654]If, then, to multiply godheads is the special mark of the victims of polytheistic error, and to deny the Godhead altogether is to fall into atheism, what sense is there in this charge against me of confessing one Godhead? But they make a plainer disclosure of the end they have in view; namely, in the case of the Father to agree that He is God, and consenting in like manner that the Son be honoured with the attribute of Godhead; but to refuse to comprehend the Spirit, though reckoned with Father and with Son in the idea of Godhead. They allow that the power of the Godhead extends from the Father to the Son, but they divide the nature of the Spirit from the divine glory. Against this view, to the best of my ability, I must enter a brief defence of my own position. 5. What, then, is my argument? In delivering the Faith of Salvation to those who are being made disciples in His doctrine, the Lord conjoins with Father and with Son the Holy Spirit also. That which is conjoined once I maintain to be conjoined everywhere and always. There is no question here of a ranking together in one respect and isolation in others. In the quickening power whereby our nature is transformed from the life of corruption to immortality, the power of the Spirit is comprehended with Father and with Son, and in many other instances, as in the conception of the good, the holy, the eternal, the wise, the right, the supreme, the efficient, and generally in all terms which have the higher meaning, He is inseparably united. Wherefrom I judge it right to hold that the Spirit, thus conjoined with Father and Son in so many sublime and divine senses, is never separated. Indeed I am unaware of any degrees of better or worse in the terms concerning the divine nature, nor can I imagine its being reverent and right to allow the Spirit a participation in those of lesser dignity, while He is judged unworthy of the higher. For all conceptions and terms which regard the divine are of equal dignity one with another, in that they do not vary in regard to the meaning of the subject matter to which they are applied. Our thought is not led to one subject by the attribution of good, and to another by that of wise, powerful, and just; mention any attributes you will, the thing signified is one and the same. And if you name God, you mean the same Being whom you understood by the rest of the terms. Granting, then, that all the terms applied to the divine nature are of equal force one with another in relation to that which they describe, one emphasizing one point and another another, but all bringing our intelligence to the contemplation of the same object; what ground is there for conceding to the Spirit fellowship with Father and Son in all other terms, and isolating Him from the Godhead alone? There is no escape from the position that we must either allow the fellowship here, or refuse it everywhere. If He is worthy in every other respect, He is certainly not unworthy in this. If, as our opponents argue, He is too insignificant to be allowed fellowship with Father and with Son in Godhead, He is not worthy to share any single one of the divine attributes: for when the terms are carefully considered, and compared with one another, by the help of the special meaning contemplated in each, they will be found to involve nothing less than the title of God. A proof of what I say lies in the fact that even many inferior objects are designated by this name. Nay, Holy Scripture does not even shrink from using this term in the case of things of a totally opposite character, as when it applies the title god to idols. "Let the gods," it is written, "who have not made heaven and earth, be taken away, and cast beneath the earth;" [2655] and again, "the gods of the nations are idols." [2656]And the witch, when she called up the required spirits for Saul, is said to have seen gods. [2657] Balaam too, an augur and seer, with the oracles in his hand, as Scripture says, when he had got him the teaching of the demons by his divine ingenuity, is described by Scripture as taking counsel with God. [2658]From many similar instances in Holy Scripture it may be proved that the name of God has no pre-eminence over other words which are applied to the divine, since, as has been said, we find it employed without distinction even in the case of things of quite opposite character. On the other hand we are taught by Scripture that the names holy, incorruptible, righteous, and good, are nowhere indiscriminately used of unworthy objects. It follows, then, that if they do not deny that the Holy Spirit is associated with the Son and with the Father, in the names which are specially applied, by the usage of true religion, to the divine nature alone, there is no reasonable ground for refusing to allow the same association in the case of that word alone which, as I have shown, is used as a recognised homonym even of demons and idols. 6. But they contend that this title sets forth the nature of that to which it is applied; that the nature of the Spirit is not a nature shared in common with that of Father and of Son; and that, for this reason, the Spirit ought not to be allowed the common use of the name. It is, therefore, for them to show by what means they have perceived this variation in the nature. If it were indeed possible for the divine nature to be contemplated in itself; could what is proper to it and what is foreign to it be discovered by means of visible things; we should then certainly stand in no need of words or other tokens to lead us to the apprehension of the object of the enquiry. But the divine nature is too exalted to be perceived as objects of enquiry are perceived, and about things which are beyond our knowledge we reason on probable evidence. We are therefore of necessity guided in the investigation of the divine nature by its operations. Suppose we observe the operations of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy Ghost, to be different from one another, we shall then conjecture, from the diversity of the operations that the operating natures are also different. For it is impossible that things which are distinct, as regards their nature, should be associated as regards the form of their operations; fire does not freeze; ice does not warm; difference of natures implies difference of the operations proceeding from them. Grant, then, that we perceive the operation of Father, Son and Holy Ghost to be one and the same, in no respect showing difference or variation; from this identity of operation we necessarily infer the unity of the nature. 7. The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost alike hallow, quicken, enlighten, and comfort. No one will attribute a special and peculiar operation of hallowing to the operation of the Spirit, after hearing the Saviour in the Gospel saying to the Father about His disciples, sanctify them in Thy name. [2659]In like manner all other operations are equally performed, in all who are worthy of them, by the Father and by the Son and by the Holy Ghost; every grace and virtue, guidance, life, consolation, change into the immortal, the passage into freedom and all other good things which come down to man. Nay even the dispensation which is above us in relation to the creature considered both in regard to intelligence and sense, if indeed it is possible for any conjecture concerning what lies above us to be formed from what we know, is not constituted apart from the operation and power of the Holy Ghost, every individual sharing His help in proportion to the dignity and need of each. Truly the ordering and administration of beings above our nature is obscure to our perception; nevertheless any one, arguing from what is known to us, would find it more reasonable to conclude that the power of the Spirit operates even in those beings, than that He is excluded from the government of supramundane things. So to assert is to advance a blasphemy bare and unsupported; it is to support absurdity on fallacy. On the other hand to agree that even the world beyond us is governed by the power of the Spirit, as well as by that of the Father and of the Son, is to advance a contention, supported on the plain testimony of what is seen in human life. Identity of operation in the case of Father and of Son and of Holy Ghost clearly proves invariability of nature. It follows that, even if the name of Godhead does signify nature, the community of essence proves that this title is very properly applied to the Holy Spirit. 8. I am, however, at a loss to understand how our opponents with all their ingenuity can adduce the title of Godhead in proof of nature, as though they had never heard from Scripture that nature does not result from institution and appointment. [2660]Moses was made [2661] a god of the Egyptians when the divine voice said, "See I have made thee a god to Pharaoh. [2662]The title therefore does give proof of a certain authority of oversight or of action. The divine nature, on the other hand, in all the words which are contrived, remains always inexplicable, as I always teach. We have learnt that it is beneficent, judicial, righteous, good, and so on; and so have been taught differences of operations. But we are, nevertheless, unable to understand the nature of the operator through our idea of the operations. Let any one give an account of each one of these names, and of the actual nature to which they are applied, and it will be found that the definition will not in both cases be the same. And where the definition is not identical the nature is different. There is, then, a distinction to be observed between the essence, of which no explanatory term has yet been discovered, and the meaning of the names applied to it in reference to some operation or dignity. That there should be no difference in the operations we infer from the community of terms. But, we derive no clear proof of variation in nature, because, as has been said, identity of operations indicates community of nature. If then Godhead be the name of an operation, we say that the Godhead is one, as there is one operation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; if, however, as is popularly supposed, the name of Godhead indicates nature, then, since we find no variation in the nature, we reasonably define the Holy Trinity to be of one Godhead.

Footnotes

[2651] Placed in 374 or the beginning of 375. [2652] cf. Letter cli. This doctrinal statement is also found among the works of Gregory of Nyssa; but is more probably to be attributed to Basil. Vide Tillem. Mm. Ecc. ix. 678. [2653] Col. ii. 9. [2654] Rom. i. 20. [2655] Jer. x. 11, LXX. [2656] Ps. xcvi. 5. [2657] 1 Sam. xxviii. 13. [2658] Num. xxii. 20. Contrast Bp. Butler, Serm. vii. [2659] cf. St. John xvii. 11 and 17. [2660] cheirotonete. [2661] echeirotonethe. [2662] Ex. vii. 1.

Letter CXC. [2663]

To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium. [2664] 1. The interest which you have shewn in the affairs of the Isaurian Church is only what might have been expected from that zeal and propriety of conduct which so continually rouses my admiration of you. The most careless observer must at once perceive that it is in all respects more advantageous for care and anxiety to be divided among several bishops. This has not escaped your observation, and you have done well in noting, and in acquainting me with, the position of affairs. But it is not easy to find fit men. While, then, we are desirous of having the credit that comes of numbers, and cause God's Church to be more effectively administered by more officers, let us be careful lest we unwittingly bring the word into contempt on account of the unsatisfactory character of the men who are called to office, and accustom the laity to indifference. You yourself know well that the conduct of the governed is commonly of a piece with that of those who are set over them. Perhaps therefore it might be better to appoint one well approved man, though even this may not be an easy matter, to the supervision of the whole city, and entrust him with the management of details on his own responsibility. Only let him be a servant of God, "a workman that needeth not to be ashamed," [2665] not "looking on his own things," [2666] but on the things of the most, "that they be saved." [2667]If he finds himself overweighted with responsibility, he will associate other labourers for the harvest with himself. If only we can find such a man, I own that I think the one worth many, and the ordering of the cure of souls in this way likely to be attended at once with more advantage to the Churches and with less risk to us. If, however, this course prove difficult, let us first do our best to appoint superintendents [2668] to the small townships or villages which have of old been episcopal sees. Then afterwards we will appoint once more the [bishop] of the city. Unless we take this course the man appointed may prove a hindrance to subsequent administration, and from his wish to rule over a larger diocese, and his refusal to accept the ordination of the bishops, we may find ourselves suddenly involved in a domestic quarrel. If this course is difficult, and time does not allow, see to it that the Isaurian bishop is strictly kept within his own bounds by ordaining some of his immediate neighbours. In the future it will be reserved for us to give to the rest bishops at the proper season, after we have carefully examined those whom we ourselves may judge to be most fit. 2. I have asked George, as you requested. He replies as you reported. In all this we must remain quiet, casting the care of the house on the Lord. For I put my trust in the Holy God that He will by my aid [2669] grant to him deliverance from his difficulties in some other way, and to me to live my life without trouble. If this cannot be, be so good as to send me word yourself as to what part I must look after, that I may begin to ask this favour of each of my friends in power, either for nothing, or for some moderate price, as the Lord may prosper me. [2670] I have, in accordance with your request, written to brother Valerius. Matters at Nyssa are going on as they were left by your reverence, and, by the aid of your holiness, are improving. Of those who were then separated from me some have gone off to the court, and some remain waiting for tidings from it. The Lord is able as well to frustrate the expectations of these latter as to make the return of the former useless. 3. Philo, on the authority of some Jewish tradition, explains the manna to have been of such a nature that it changed with the taste of the eater: that of itself it was like millet seed boiled in honey; it served sometimes for bread, sometimes for meat, either of birds or beasts; at other times for vegetables, according to each man's liking; even for fish so that the flavour of each separate kind was exactly reproduced in the eater's mouth. Scripture recognises chariots containing three riders, because while other chariots contained two, the driver and the man-at-arms, Pharaoh's held three, two men-at-arms, and one to hold the reins. Sympius has written me a letter expressive of respect and communion. The letter which I have written in reply I am sending to your holiness, that you may send it on to him if you quite approve of it, with the addition of some communication from yourself. May you, by the loving kindness of the Holy One, be preserved for me and for the Church of God, in good health, happy in the Lord, and ever praying for me.

Footnotes

[2663] Placed by Maran in 374. After Easter 375 by Tillemont. [2664] Isauria, the district of Pisidia, forming the S. W. corner of the modern Karamania, was under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Iconium. "In the heart of the Roman monarchy, the Isaurians long continued a nation of wild barbarians. Succeeding powers, unable to reduce them to obedience either by arms or policy, were compelled to acknowledge their weakness by surrounding the hostile and independent spot with a strong chain of fortifications (Hist. Aug. 197) which often proved insufficient to restrain the invasions of these domestic foes." Gibbon. chap. X. Raids and Arian persecution had disorganised the Isaurian Episcopate. (Maran, Vit. Bas.) [2665] 2 Tim. ii. 15. [2666] Phil. ii. 4. [2667] 1 Thess. ii. 16. [2668] proistamenous. [2669] Here the mss. vary, and the sense is obscure. Ben. Ed. sun hemin. al. sunesin. [2670] "Videtur illa dignitas, quam se amici causa alicujus petiturum promittit Basilius, non administratio aliqua fuisse, sed tantum codicillaria dignitas. Hoc enim consilio hanc dignitatem petere statuerat, ut amici domus magnum aliquod incommodum effugeret. Porro in hunc usum impetrari solebant codicilli, ut curia, vel saltem duumviratus et civitatis cura vitarentur. Pretio autem impetratos non modo nulla immunitas, sed etiam multa sequebatur ut perspictur ex Cod. Theod. vi. 22. Sic enim habet lex secunda imperatoris Constantii: `Ab honoribus mercandis per suffragia, vel qualibet ambitione quærendis, certa multa prohibuit: cui addimus et quicunque, fugientes obsequia curiarum, umbras et nomina affectaverint dignitatem, tricenas libras argenti inferre cogantur, manente illa præterita inlatione auri qua perpetua lege constructi sunt.' Unde miror Basilium ab hac via tentanda non omnino alienum fuisse. Sed forte hæ leges non admodum accurate servabuntur sub Valente." Ben. note.

Letter CXCI. [2671]

To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium. [2672] On reading the letter of your reverence I heartily thanked God. I did so because I found in your expressions traces of ancient affection. You are not like the majority. You did not persist in refusing to begin an affectionate correspondence. You have learned the greatness of the prize promised to the saints for humility, and so you have chosen, by taking the second place, to get before me. Among Christians such are the conditions of victory, and it is he who is content to take the second place who wins a crown. But I must not be behindhand in this virtuous rivalry, and so I thus salute your reverence in return; and inform you as to how I am minded, in that, since agreement in the faith is established among us, [2673] there is nothing further to prevent our being one body and one spirit, as we have been called in one hope of our calling. [2674]It is for you, then, of your charity to follow up a good beginning to rally men of like mind to stand at your side, and to appoint both time and place for meeting. Thus, by God's grace, through mutual accommodation we may govern the Churches by the ancient kind of love; receiving as our own members brothers coming from the other side, sending as to our kin, and in turn receiving as from our own kin. Such, indeed, was once the boast of the Church. Brothers from each Church, travelling from one end of the world to the other, were provided with little tokens, and found all men fathers and brothers. This is a privilege whereof, like all the rest, the enemy of Christ's Churches has robbed us. We are confined each in his own city, and every one looks at his neighbour with distrust. What more is to be said but that our love has grown cold, [2675] whereby alone our Lord has told us that His disciples are distinguished? [2676]First of all, if you will, do you become known to one another, that I may know with whom I am to be in agreement. Thus by common consent we will fix on some place convenient to both, and, at a season suitable for travelling, we will hasten to meet one another; the Lord will direct us in the way. Farewell. Be of good cheer. Pray for me. May you be granted to me by the grace of the Holy One? [2677]

Footnotes

[2671] Placed in 374. [2672] So the mss. and Editors. The Ben. note would have it addressed to the recipient of the preceding. Tillemont thinks it written to one of the Lycian bishops referred to in Letter ccxviii. [2673] hemin. Some mss. have humin. [2674] cf. Eph. iv. 4. [2675] Matt. xxiv. 12. [2676] John xiii. 35. [2677] Whether the proposed meeting took place, and, indeed, what meeting is referred to, cannot be determined. Basil met Amphilochius and some neighbouring bishops in Pisidia in 375. But before this he counts the Isaurians as already in communion with him (Letter cciv.). Perhaps all that the meeting was desired to bring about was effected by correspondence. This is the explanation of the Ben. Ed.

Letter CXCII. [2678]

To Sophronius the Master. With your extraordinary zeal in good deeds you have written to me to say that you yourself owe me double thanks; first, for getting a letter from me, and secondly, for doing me a service. What thanks, then, must not I owe you, both for reading your most delightful words, and for finding what I hoped for so quickly accomplished! The message was exceedingly gratifying on its own account, but it gave me much greater gratification from the fact that you were the friend to whom I owed the boon. God grant that ere long I may see you, and return you thanks in words, and enjoy the great pleasure of your society.

Footnotes

[2678] Placed in 374.

Letter CXCIII. [2679]

To Meletius the Physician. I am not able to flee from the discomforts of winter so well as cranes are, although for foreseeing the future I am quite as clever as a crane. But as to liberty of life the birds are almost as far ahead of me as they are in the being able to fly. In the first place I have been detained by certain worldly business; then I have been so wasted by constant and violent attacks of fever that there does seem something thinner even than I was,--I am thinner than ever. Besides all this, bouts of quartan ague have gone on for more than twenty turns. Now I do seem to be free from fever, but I am in such a feeble state that I am no stronger than a cobweb. Hence the shortest journey is too far for me, and every breath of wind is more dangerous to me than big waves to those at sea. I have no alternative but to hide in my hut and wait for spring, if only I can last out so long, and am not carried off beforehand [2680] by the internal malady of which I am never rid. If the Lord saves me with His mighty hand, I shall gladly betake myself to your remote region, and gladly embrace a friend so dear. Only pray that my life may be ordered as may be best for my soul's good.

Footnotes

[2679] Placed in 375. [2680] prodiarpasthomen with two mss. prodiamartoimen has better authority, but is bad Greek, and makes worse sense.

Letter CXCIV. [2681]

To Zoilus. What are you about, most excellent sir, in anticipating me in humility? Educated as you are, and able to write such a letter as you have sent, you nevertheless ask for forgiveness at my hands, as though you were engaged in some undertaking rash and beyond your position. But a truce to mockery. Continue to write to me on every occasion. Am I not wholly illiterate? It is delightful to read the letters of an eloquent writer. Have I learned from Scripture how good a thing is love? I count intercourse with a loving friend invaluable. And I do hope that you may tell me of all the good gifts which I pray for you; the best of health, and the prosperity of all your house. Now as to my own affairs, my condition is not more endurable than usual. It is enough to tell you this and you will understand the bad state of my health. It has indeed reached such extreme suffering as to be as difficult to describe as to experience, if indeed your own experience has fallen short of mine. But it is the work of the good God to give me power to bear in patience whatever trials are inflicted on me for my own good at the hands of our merciful Lord.

Footnotes

[2681] Placed in 375.

Letter CXCV. [2682]

To Euphronius, bishop of Colonia Armeniæ. Colonia, which the Lord has placed under your authority, is far out of the way of ordinary routes. The consequence is that, although I am frequently writing to the rest of the brethren in Armenia Minor, I hesitate to write to your reverence, because I have no expectation of finding any one to convey my letter. Now, however, that I am hoping either for your presence, or that my letter will be sent on to you by some of the bishops to whom I have written, I thus write and salute you by letter. I wish to tell you that I seem to be still alive, and at the same time to exhort you to pray for me, that the Lord may lessen my afflictions, and lift from me the heavy load of pain which now presses like a cloud upon my heart. I shall have this relief if He will only grant a quick restoration to those godly bishops who are now punished for their faithfulness to true religion by being scattered all abroad.

Footnotes

[2682] Placed in 375.

Letter CXCVI. [2683]

To Aburgius. Rumour, messenger of good news, is continually reporting how you dart across, like the stars, appearing now here, now there, in the barbarian regions; now supplying the troops with provisions, now appearing in gorgeous array before the emperor. I pray God that your doings may prosper as they deserve, and that you may achieve eminent success. I pray that, so long as I live and breathe this air, (for my life now is no more than drawing breath), our country may from time to time behold you.

Footnotes

[2683] Placed in 375.

Letter CXCVII. [2684]

To Ambrose, bishop of Milan. [2685] 1. The gifts of the Lord are ever great and many; in greatness beyond measure, in number incalculable. To those who are not insensible of His mercy one of the greatest of these gifts is that of which I am now availing myself, the opportunity allowed us, far apart in place though we be, of addressing one another by letter. He grants us two means of becoming acquainted; one by personal intercourse, another by epistolary correspondence. Now I have become acquainted with you through what you have said. I do not mean that my memory is impressed with your outward appearance, but that the beauty of the inner man has been brought home to me by the rich variety of your utterances, for each of us "speaketh out of the abundance of the heart." [2686]I have given glory to God, Who in every generation selects those who are well-pleasing to Him; Who of old indeed chose from the sheepfold a prince for His people; [2687] Who through the Spirit gifted Amos the herdman with power and raised him up to be a prophet; Who now has drawn forth for the care of Christ's flock a man from the imperial city, entrusted with the government of a whole nation, exalted in character, in lineage, in position, in eloquence, in all that this world admires. This same man has flung away all the advantages of the world, counting them all loss that he may gain Christ, [2688] and has taken in his hand the helm of the ship, great and famous for its faith in God, the Church of Christ. Come, then, O man of God; not from men have you received or been taught the Gospel of Christ; it is the Lord Himself who has transferred you from the judges of the earth to the throne of the Apostles; fight the good fight; heal the infirmity of the people, if any are infected by the disease of Arian madness; renew the ancient footprints of the Fathers. You have laid the foundation of affection towards me; strive to build upon it by the frequency of your salutations. Thus shall we be able to be near one another in spirit, although our earthly homes are far apart. 2. By your earnestness and zeal in the matter of the blessed bishop Dionysius you testify all your love to the Lord, your honour for your predecessors, and your zeal for the faith. For our disposition towards our faithful fellow-servants is referred to the Lord Whom they have served. Whoever honours men that have contended for the faith proves that he has like zeal for it. One single action is proof of much virtue. I wish to acquaint your love in Christ that the very zealous brethren who have been commissioned by your reverence to act for you in this good work have won praise for all the clergy by the amiability of their manners; for by their individual modesty and conciliatoriness they have shewn the sound condition of all. Moreover, with all zeal and diligence they have braved an inclement season; and with unbroken perseverance have persuaded the faithful guardians of the blessed body to transmit to them the custody of what they have regarded as the safeguard of their lives. And you must understand that they are men who would never have been forced by any human authority or sovereignty, had not the perseverance of these brethren moved them to compliance. No doubt a great aid to the attainment of the object desired was the presence of our well beloved and reverend son Therasius the presbyter. He voluntarily undertook all the toil of the journey; he moderated the energy of the faithful on the spot; he persuaded opponents by his arguments; in the presence of priests and deacons, and of many others who fear the Lord, he took up the relics with all becoming reverence, and has aided the brethren in their preservation. These relics do you receive with a joy equivalent to the distress with which their custodians have parted with them and sent them to you. Let none dispute; let none doubt. Here you have that unconquered athlete. These bones, which shared in the conflict with the blessed soul, are known to the Lord. These bones He will crown, together with that soul, in the righteous day of His requital, as it is written, "we must stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that each may give an account of the deeds he has done in the body." [2689]One coffin held that honoured corpse. None other lay by his side. The burial was a noble one; the honours of a martyr were paid him. Christians who had welcomed him as a guest and then with their own hands laid him in the grave, have now disinterred him. They have wept as men bereaved of a father and a champion. But they have sent him to you, for they put your joy before their own consolation. Pious were the hands that gave; scrupulously careful were the hands that received. There has been no room for deceit; no room for guile. I bear witness to this. Let the untainted truth be accepted by you.

Footnotes

[2684] Placed in 375. [2685] Ambrose was placed in the archiepiscopate of Milan in 374. The letter of Basil is in reply to a request for the restoration to his native city of the relics of St. Dionysius of Milan, who died in Cappadocia in 374. cf. Ath., Ep. ad Sol.; Amb. iii. 920. [2686] Matt. xii. 34. [2687] Ps. lxxviii. 70. [2688] Phil. iii. 8. [2689] cf. Rom. xiv. 10 and 2 Cor. v. 10.

Letter CXCVIII. [2690]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. After the letter conveyed to me by the officiales [2691] I have received one other despatched to me later. I have not sent many myself, for I have not found any one travelling in your direction. But I have sent more than the four, among which also were those conveyed to me from Samosata after the first epistle of your holiness. These I have sealed and sent to our honourable brother Leontius, peræquator of Nicæa, urging that by his agency they may be delivered to the steward of the household of our honourable brother Sophronius, that he may see to their transmission to you. As my letters are going through many hands, it is likely enough that because one man is very busy or very careless, your reverence may never get them. Pardon me, then, I beseech you, if my letters are few. With your usual intelligence you have properly found fault with me for not sending, as I ought, a courier of my own when there was occasion for doing so; but you must understand that we have had a winter of such severity that all the roads were blocked till Easter, and I had no one disposed to brave the difficulties of the journey. For although our clergy do seem very numerous, they are men inexperienced in travelling because they never traffic, and prefer not to live far away from home, the majority of them plying sedentary crafts, whereby they get their daily bread. The brother whom I have now sent to your reverence I have summoned from the country, and employed in the conveyance of my letter to your holiness, that he may both give you clear intelligence as to me and my affairs, and, moreover, by God's grace, bring me back plain and prompt information about you and yours. Our dear brother Eusebius the reader has for some time been anxious to hasten to your holiness, but I have kept him here for the weather to improve. Even now I am under no little anxiety lest his inexperience in travelling may cause him trouble, and bring on some illness; for he is not robust. 2. I need say nothing to you by letter about the innovations of the East, for the brothers can themselves give you accurate information. You must know, my honoured friend, that, when I was writing these words, I was so ill that I had lost all hope of life. It is impossible for me to enumerate all my painful symptoms, my weakness, the violence of my attacks of fever, and my bad health in general. One point only may be selected. I have now completed the time of my sojourn in this miserable and painful life.

Footnotes

[2690] Placed in 375. [2691] Clergy engaged in crafts.

Letter CXCIX. [2692]

Canonica Secunda. To Amphilochius, concerning the Canons. I wrote some time ago in reply to the questions of your reverence, but I did not send the letter, partly because from my long and dangerous illness I had not time to do so; partly because I had no one to send with it. I have but few men with me who are experienced in travelling and fit for service of this kind. When you thus learn the causes of my delay, forgive me. I have been quite astonished at your readiness to learn and at your humility. You are entrusted with the office of a teacher, and yet you condescend to learn, and to learn of me, who pretend to no great knowledge. Nevertheless, since you consent, on account of your fear of God, to do what another man might hesitate to do, I am bound for my part to go even beyond my strength in aiding your readiness and righteous zeal. XVII. You asked me about the presbyter Bianor--can he be admitted among the clergy, because of his oath? I know that I have already given the clergy of Antioch a general sentence in the case of all those who had sworn with him; namely, that they should abstain from the public congregations, but might perform priestly functions in private. [2693]Moreover, he has the further liberty for the performance of his ministerial functions, from the fact that his sacred duties lie not at Antioch, but at Iconium; for, as you have written to me yourself, he has chosen to live rather at the latter than at the former place. The man in question may, therefore, be received; but your reverence must require him to shew repentance for the rash readiness of the oath which he took before the unbeliever, [2694] being unable to bear the trouble of that small peril. XVIII. Concerning fallen virgins, who, after professing a chaste life before the Lord, make their vows vain, because they have fallen under the lusts of the flesh, our fathers, tenderly [2695] and meekly making allowance for the infirmities of them that fall, laid down that they might be received after a year, ranking them with the digamists. Since, however, by God's grace the Church grows mightier as she advances, and the order of virgins is becoming more numerous, it is my judgment that careful heed should be given both to the act as it appears upon consideration, and to the mind of Scripture, which may be discovered from the context. Widowhood is inferior to virginity; consequently the sin of the widows comes far behind that of the virgins. Let us see what Paul writes to Timothy. "The young widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation because they have cast off their first faith." [2696]If, therefore, a widow lies under a very heavy charge, as setting at naught her faith in Christ, what must we think of the virgin, who is the bride of Christ, and a chosen vessel dedicated to the Lord? It is a grave fault even on the part of a slave to give herself away in secret wedlock and fill the house with impurity, and, by her wicked life, to wrong her owner; but it is forsooth far more shocking for the bride to become an adulteress, and, dishonouring her union with the bridegroom, to yield herself to unchaste indulgence. The widow, as being a corrupted slave, is indeed condemned; but the virgin comes under the charge of adultery. We call the man who lives with another man's wife an adulterer, and do not receive him into communion until he has ceased from his sin; and so we shall ordain in the case of him who has the virgin. One point, however, must be determined beforehand, that the name virgin is given to a woman who voluntarily devotes herself to the Lord, renounces marriage, and embraces a life of holiness. And we admit professions dating from the age of full intelligence. [2697]For it is not right in such cases to admit the words of mere children. But a girl of sixteen or seventeen years of age, in full possession of her faculties, who has been submitted to strict examination, and is then constant, and persists in her entreaty to be admitted, may then be ranked among the virgins, her profession ratified, and its violation rigorously punished. Many girls are brought forward by their parents and brothers, and other kinsfolk, before they are of full age, and have no inner impulse towards a celibate life. The object of the friends is simply to provide for themselves. Such women as these must not be readily received, before we have made public investigation of their own sentiments. XIX. I do not recognise the profession of men, except in the case of those who have enrolled themselves in the order of monks, and seem to have secretly adopted the celibate life. Yet in their case I think it becoming that there should be a previous examination, and that a distinct profession should be received from them, so that whenever they may revert to the life of the pleasures of the flesh, they may be subjected to the punishment of fornicators. XX. I do not think that any condemnation ought to be passed on women who professed virginity while in heresy, and then afterwards preferred marriage. "What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law." [2698]Those who have not yet put on Christ's yoke do not recognise the laws of the Lord. They are therefore to be received in the church, as having remission in the case of these sins too, as of all, from their faith in Christ. As a general rule, all sins formerly committed in the catechumenical state are not taken into account. [2699]The Church does not receive these persons without baptism; and it is very necessary that in such cases the birthrights should be observed. XXI. If a man living with a wife is not satisfied with his marriage and falls into fornication, I account him a fornicator, and prolong his period of punishment. Nevertheless, we have no canon subjecting him to the charge of adultery, if the sin be committed against an unmarried woman. For the adulteress, it is said, "being polluted shall be polluted," [2700] and she shall not return to her husband: and "He that keepeth an adulteress is a fool and impious." [2701] He, however, who has committed fornication is not to be cut off from the society of his own wife. So the wife will receive the husband on his return from fornication, but the husband will expel the polluted woman from his house. The argument here is not easy, but the custom has so obtained. [2702] XXII. Men who keep women carried off by violence, if they carried them off when betrothed to other men, must not be received before removal of the women and their restoration to those to whom they were first contracted, whether they wish to receive them, or to separate from them. In the case of a girl who has been taken when not betrothed, she ought first to be removed, and restored to her own people, and handed over to the will of her own people whether parents, or brothers, or any one having authority over her. If they choose to give her up, the cohabitation may stand; but, if they refuse, no violence should be used. In the case of a man having a wife by seduction, be it secret or by violence, he must be held guilty of fornication. The punishment of fornicators is fixed at four years. In the first year they must be expelled from prayer, and weep at the door of the church; in the second they may be received to sermon; in the third to penance; in the fourth to standing with the people, while they are withheld from the oblation. Finally, they may be admitted to the communion of the good gift. XXIII. Concerning men who marry two sisters, or women who marry two brothers a short letter of mine has been published, of which I have sent a copy to your reverence. [2703]The man who has taken his own brother's wife is not to be received until he have separated from her. XXIV. A widow whose name is in the list of widows, that is, who is supported [2704] by the Church, is ordered by the Apostle to be supported no longer when she marries. [2705] There is no special rule for a widower. The punishment appointed for digamy may suffice. If a widow who is sixty years of age chooses again to live with a husband, she shall be held unworthy of the communion of the good gift until she be moved no longer by her impure desire. If we reckon her before sixty years, the blame rests with us, and not with the woman. XXV. The man who retains as his wife the woman whom he has violated, shall be liable to the penalty of rape, but it shall be lawful for him to have her to wife. XXVI. Fornication is not wedlock, nor yet the beginning of wedlock. Wherefore it is best, if possible, to put asunder those who are united in fornication. If they are set on cohabitation, let them admit the penalty of fornication. Let them be allowed to live together, lest a worse thing happen. XXVII. As to the priest ignorantly involved in an illegal marriage, [2706] I have made the fitting regulation, that he may hold his seat, but must abstain from other functions. For such a case pardon is enough. It is unreasonable that the man who has to treat his own wounds should be blessing another, for benediction is the imparting of holiness. How can he who through his fault, committed in ignorance, is without holiness, impart it to another? Let him bless neither in public nor in private, nor distribute the body of Christ to others, nor perform any other sacred function, but, content with his seat of honour, let him beseech the Lord with weeping, that his sin, committed in ignorance, may be forgiven. XXVIII. It has seemed to me ridiculous that any one should make a vow to abstain from swine's flesh. Be so good as to teach men to abstain from foolish vows and promises. Represent the use to be quite indifferent. No creature of God, received with thanksgiving, is to be rejected. [2707]The vow is ridiculous; the abstinence unnecessary. XXIX. It is especially desirable that attention should be given to the case of persons in power who threaten on oath to do some hurt to those under their authority. The remedy is twofold. In the first place, let them be taught not to take oaths at random: secondly, not to persist in their wicked determinations. Any one who is arrested in the design of fulfilling an oath to injure another ought to shew repentance for the rashness of his oath, and must not confirm his wickedness under the pretext of piety. Herod was none the better for fulfilling his oath, when, of course only to save himself from perjury, he became the prophet's murderer. [2708]Swearing is absolutely forbidden, [2709] and it is only reasonable that the oath which tends to evil should be condemned. The swearer must therefore change his mind, and not persist in confirming his impiety. Consider the absurdity of the thing a little further. Suppose a man to swear that he will put his brother's eyes out: is it well for him to carry his oath into action? Or to commit murder? or to break any other commandment? "I have sworn, and I will perform it," [2710] not to sin, but to "keep thy righteous judgments." It is no less our duty to undo and destroy sin, than it is to confirm the commandment by immutable counsels. XXX. As to those guilty of abduction we have no ancient rule, but I have expressed my own judgment. The period is three years; [2711] the culprits and their accomplices to be excluded from service. The act committed without violence is not liable to punishment, whenever it has not been preceded by violation or robbery. The widow is independent, and to follow or not is in her own power. We must, therefore, pay no heed to excuses. XXXI. A woman whose husband has gone away and disappeared, and who marries another, before she has evidence of his death, commits adultery. Clerics who are guilty of the sin unto death [2712] are degraded from their order, but not excluded from the communion of the laity. Thou shalt not punish twice for the same fault. [2713] XXXIII. Let an indictment for murder be preferred against the woman who gives birth to a child on the road and pays no attention to it. XXXIV. Women who had committed adultery, and confessed their fault through piety, or were in any way convicted, were not allowed by our fathers to be publicly exposed, that we might not cause their death after conviction. But they ordered that they should be excluded from communion till they had fulfilled their term of penance. XXXV. In the case of a man deserted by his wife, the cause of the desertion must be taken into account. If she appear to have abandoned him without reason, he is deserving of pardon, but the wife of punishment. Pardon will be given to him that he may communicate with the Church. XXXVI. Soldiers' wives who have married in their husbands' absence will come under the same principle as wives who, when their husbands have been on a journey, have not waited their return. Their case, however, does admit of some concession on the ground of there being greater reason to suspect death. XXXVII. The man who marries after abducting another man's wife will incur the charge of adultery for the first case; but for the second will go free. XXXVIII. Girls who follow against their fathers' will commit fornication; but if their fathers are reconciled to them, the act seems to admit of a remedy. They are not however immediately restored to communion, but are to be punished for three years. XXXIX. The woman who lives with an adulterer is an adulteress the whole time. [2714] XL. The woman who yields to a man against her master's will commits fornication; but if afterwards she accepts free marriage, she marries. The former case is fornication; the latter marriage. The covenants of persons who are not independent have no validity. XLI. The woman in widowhood, who is independent, may dwell with a husband without blame, if there is no one to prevent their cohabitation; for the Apostle says; "but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." [2715] XLII. Marriages contracted without the permission of those in authority, are fornication. If neither father nor master be living the contracting parties are free from blame; just as if the authorities assent to the cohabitation, it assumes the fixity of marriage. XLIII. He who smites his neighbour to death is a murderer, whether he struck first or in self defence. XLIV. The deaconess who commits fornication with a heathen may be received into repentance and will be admitted to the oblation in the seventh year; of course if she be living in chastity. The heathen who, after he has believed, takes to idolatry, returns to his vomit. We do not, however, give up the body of the deaconess to the use of the flesh, as being consecrated. XLV. If any one, after taking the name of Christianity, insults Christ, he gets no good from the name. XLVI. The woman who unwillingly marries a man deserted at the time by his wife, and is afterwards repudiated, because of the return of the former to him, commits fornication, but involuntarily. She will, therefore, not be prohibited from marriage; but it is better if she remain as she is. [2716] XLVII. Encratitæ, [2717] Saccophori, [2718] and Apotactitæ [2719] are not regarded in the same manner as Novatians, since in their case a canon has been pronounced, although different; while of the former nothing has been said. All these I re-baptize on the same principle. If among you their re-baptism is forbidden, for the sake of some arrangement, nevertheless let my principle prevail. Their heresy is, as it were, an offshoot of the Marcionites, abominating, as they do, marriage, refusing wine, and calling God's creature polluted. We do not therefore receive them into the Church, unless they be baptized into our baptism. Let them not say that they have been baptized into Father, Son and Holy Ghost, inasmuch as they make God the author of evil, after the example of Marcion and the rest of the heresies. Wherefore, if this be determined on, more bishops ought to meet together in one place and publish the canon in these terms, that action may be taken without peril, and authority given to answers to questions of this kind. XLVIII. The woman who has been abandoned by her husband, ought, in my judgment, to remain as she is. The Lord said, "If any one leave [2720] his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, he causeth her to commit adultery;" [2721] thus, by calling her adulteress, He excludes her from intercourse with another man. For how can the man being guilty, as having caused adultery, and the woman, go without blame, when she is called adulteress by the Lord for having intercourse with another man? XLIX. Suffering violation should not be a cause of condemnation. So the slave girl, if she has been forced by her own master, is free from blame. L. There is no law as to trigamy: a third marriage is not contracted by law. We look upon such things as the defilements of the Church. But we do not subject them to public condemnation, as being better than unrestrained fornication. [2722]

Footnotes

[2692] Placed in 375. [2693] The Ben. Ed. note: "Sæpe vituperantur apud sanctos Patres, qui sacra in privatis ædibus sive domesticis oratoriis celebrant. Hinc Irenæus, lib. iv. cap. 26, oportere ait eos, qui absistunt a principali successione et quocunque loco colligunt, suspectos habere, vel quasi hæreticos et malæ sententiæ, vel quasi scindentes et elatos et sibi placentes; aut rursus ut hypocritas quæstus gratia et vanæ gloriæ hoc operantes. Basilius, in Psalm xxvii. n. 3: Non igitur extra sanctam hanc aulam adorare oporet, sed intra ipsam, etc. Similia habet Eusebius in eundem psalmum, p. 313. Sic etiam Cyrillus Alexandrinus in libro adversus Anthropomorphitas, cap. 12, et in libro decimo De adorat., p. 356. Sed his in locis perspicuum est hæreticorum aut schismaticorum synagogas notari, vel quas vocat Basilius, can. 1. parasunagogas, sive illicitos conventus a presbyteris aut episcopis rebellibus habitos, aut a populis disciplinæ expertibus. At interdum graves causæ suberant, cur sacra in privatis ædibus impermissa non essent. Ipsa persecutio necessitatem hujus rei sæpe afferebat, cum catholici episcoporum hæreticorum communionem fugerent, ut Sebastiæ ecclesiarum aditu prohiberentur. Minime ergo mirum, si presbyteris Antiochenis eam sacerdotii perfunctionem Basilius reliquit, quæ et ad jurisjurandi religionem et ad temporum molestias accommodata videbatur. Synodus Laodicena vetat, can. 58, in domibus fieri oblationem ab episcopis vel presbyteris. Canon 31. Trullanus id clericis non interdicit, modo accedat episcopi consenus. Non inusitata fuisse ejusmodi sacra in domesticis oratoriis confirmat canon Basilii 27, ubi vetatur, ne presbyter illicitis nuptiis implicantus privatim aut publice sacerdotii munere fungatur. Eustathius Sebastenus Ancyræ cum Arianis in domibus communicavit, ut ex pluribus Basilii epistolis discimus, cum apertam ab eis communionem impetrare non posset." [2694] Videtur infidelis ille vir unus aliquis fuisse ex potentioribus Arianis ejusque furor idcirco in presbyteros Antiochenos incitatus quod hi ecclesiam absente Meletio regerent, ac maximam civium partem in illius fide et communione retinerent. [2695] hapalos, with four mss., al. haplos. [2696] 1 Tim. v. 11, 12. [2697] "Hoc Basilii decretum de professionis ætate citatur in canone quadragesimo synodi in Trullo" (a.d. 691) "et decem et septem anni quos Basilius requirit, ad decem rediguntur." [2698] Rom. iii. 19. [2699] "Male Angli in Pandectis et alit interpretes reddunt, quæ in catechumenica vita fiunt. Non enim dicit Basilius ea non puniri quæ in hoc statu peccantur, sed tantum peccata ante baptismum commissa baptismo expiari, nec jam esse judicio ecclesiastico obnoxia. Hinc observat Zonaras non pugnare hunc canonem cum canone quinto Neocæsariensi, in quo poenæ catechumenis peccantibus decernuntur." [2700] Jer. iii. 1. [2701] Prov. xviii. 22, LXX. [2702] "Non solus Basilius hanc consuetudinem secutus. Auctor constitutionum apostolicarum sic loquitur lib. vi. cap. 14: Qui corruptam retinet, naturæ legem violat: quando quidem qui retinet adulteram, stultus est et impius. Abscinde enim eam, inquit, a carnibus tuis. Nam adjutrix non est, sed insidiatrix, quæ mentem ad alium declinarit. Canon 8, Neocæsariensis laicis, quorum uxores adulterii convictæ, aditum ad ministerium ecclesiasticum claudit; clericis depositionis poenam irrogat, si adulteram nolint dimittere. Canon 65 Eliberitanus sic habet: Si cujus clerici uxor fuerit mæchata, et scierit eam maritus suus mæchari, et non eam statim projecerit, nec in fine accipiat communionem. Hermas lib. i, c. 2, adulteram ejici jubet, sed tamen poenitentem recipi. S. Augustinus adulterium legitimam esse dimittendi causam pronuntiat, sed non necessariam, lib. ii. De Adulter. nuptiis, cap. 5, n. 13." [2703] Probably Letter clx. to Diodorus is referred to. [2704] Diakonoumenen. So the Ben. Ed. Another possible rendering is "received into the order of deaconesses." [2705] 1 Tim. v. 11, 12. [2706] "'Athesmo gamo." Illicitas nuptias. [2707] 1 Tim. iv. 4. [2708] Matt. xiv. 10. [2709] Matt. v. 34. [2710] Ps. cxix. 106. [2711] The Ben. Ed. point out that in Canon xxii. four years is the allotted period, as in the case of fornicators. [2712] St. Basil on Isaiah iv. calls sins wilfully committed after full knowledge "sins unto death." But in the same commentary he applies the same designation to sins which lead to hell. The sense to be applied to the phrase in Canon xxxii. is to be learnt, according to the Ben. note, from Canons lxix. and lxx., where a less punishment is assigned to mere wilful sins unto death than in Canon xxxii. [2713] Nahum i. 9, LXX. [2714] Or, according to another reading, in every way. [2715] 1 Cor. vii. 39. [2716] This is Can. xciii. of the Council in Trullo. [2717] Generally reckoned rather as Manichæans than as here by Basil as Marcionites, but dualism was common to both systems. [2718] A Manichæan sect, who led a solitary life. Death is threatened against them in a law of Theodosius dated a.d. 322 (Cod. Theod. lib. xvi. tit. 5, leg. 9), identified by the Ben. Ed. with the Hydroparastatæ. [2719] A Manichæan sect. cf. Epiphanius ii. 18. In the work of Macarius Magnes, published in Paris 1876, they are identified with the Encratites. [2720] katalipe for apoluse. [2721] Matt. v. 22. [2722] cf. however Canon iv., where trigamy is called polygamy or at best a limited fornication, and those guilty of it subjected to exclusion from the Eucharist.


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