Writings of Basil - The Letters e

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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 CC. [2723]

To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium.

I am attacked by sickness after sickness, and all the work given me, not only by the affairs of the Church, but by those who are troubling the Church, has detained me during the whole winter, and up to the present time. It has been therefore quite impossible for me to send any one to you or to pay you a visit. I conjecture that you are similarly situated; not, indeed, as to sickness, God forbid; may the Lord grant you continued health for carrying out His commandments. But I know that the care of the Churches gives you the same distress as it does me. I was now about to send some one to get me accurate information about your condition. But when my well beloved son Meletius, who is moving the newly enlisted troops, reminded me of the opportunity of my saluting you by him, I gladly accepted the occasion to write and had recourse to the kind services of the conveyor of my letter. He is one who may himself serve instead of a letter, both because of his amiable disposition, and of his being well acquainted with all which concerns me. By him, then, I beseech your reverence especially to pray for me, that the Lord may grant to me a riddance from this troublesome body of mine; to His Churches, peace; and to you, rest; and, whenever you have settled the affairs of Lycaonia in apostolic fashion, as you have began, an opportunity to visit also this place. Whether I be sojourning in the flesh, or shall have been already bidden to take my departure to the Lord, I hope that you will interest yourself in our part of the world, as your own, as indeed it is, strengthening all that is weak, rousing all that is slothful and, by the help of the Spirit Which abides in you, transforming everything into a condition well pleasing to the Lord. My very honourable sons, Meletius and Melitius, whom you have known for some time, and know to be devoted to yourself, keep in your good care and pray for them. This is enough to keep them in safety. Salute in my name, I beg you, all who are with your holiness, both all the clergy, and all the laity under your pastoral care, and my very religious brothers and fellow ministers. Bear in mind the memory of the blessed martyr Eupsychius, and do not wait for me to mention him again. Do not take pains to come on the exact day, but anticipate it, and so give me joy, if I be yet living on this earth. Till then may you, by the grace of the Holy One, be preserved for me and for God's Churches, enjoying health and wealth in the Lord, and praying for me.

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Footnotes

[2723] Placed in 375.

Letter CCI. [2724]

To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium.

I long to meet you for many reasons, that I may have the benefit of your advice in the matters I had in hand, and that on beholding you after a long interval I may have some comfort for your absence. But since both of us are prevented by the same reasons, you by the illness which has befallen you, and I by the malady of longer standing which has not yet left me, let us, if you will, each forgive the other, that both may free ourselves from blame.


Footnotes

[2724] Placed in 375.

Letter CCII. [2725]

To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium. Under other circumstances I should think it a special privilege to meet with your reverence, but above all now, when the business which brings us together is of such great importance. But so much of my illness as still clings to me is enough to prevent my stirring ever so short a distance. I tried to drive as far as the martyrs [2726] and had a relapse almost into my old state. You must therefore forgive me. If the matter can be put off for a few days, I will, by God's grace join you, and share your anxieties. If the business presses, do, by God's help, what has to be done; but reckon me as present with you and as participating in your worthy deeds. May you, by the grace of the Holy One, be preserved to God's Church, strong and joyous in the Lord, and praying for me.

Footnotes

[2725] Placed in 375. [2726] Tillemont conjectures that the drive was to St. Eupsychius, but the day of St. Eupsychius fell in September, which the Ben. note thinks too late for the date of this letter. The memorials of St. Julitta and St. Gordius were also near Cæsarea, but their days fell in January, which the same note thinks too early. Gregory of Nyssa (Migne iii. p. 653) says that there were more altars in Cappadocia than in all the world, so that we need have no difficulty in supposing some saint whose date would synchronize with the letter. Basil, however, may have tried to drive to the shrine of some martyr on some other day than the anniversary of his death.

Letter CCIII. [2727]

To the bishops of the sea coast. [2728] I have had a strong desire to meet you, but from time to time some hindrance has supervened and prevented my fulfilling my purpose. I have either been hindered by sickness, and you know well how, from my early manhood to my present old age, this ailment has been my constant companion, brought up with me, and chastising me, by the righteous judgment of God, Who ordains all things in wisdom; or by the cares of the Church, or by struggles with the opponents of the doctrines of truth. [Up to this day I live in much affliction and grief, having the feeling present before me, that you are wanting to me. For when God tells me, who took on Him His sojourn in the flesh for the very purpose that, by patterns of duty, He might regulate our life, and might by His own voice announce to us the Gospel of the kingdom,--when He says, `By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another,' and whereas the Lord left His own peace to His disciples as a farewell gift, [2729] when about to complete the dispensation in the flesh, saying, `Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you,' I cannot persuade myself that without love to others, and without, as far as rests with me, peaceableness towards all, I can be called a worthy servant of Jesus Christ. I have waited a long while for the chance of your love paying us a visit. For ye are not ignorant that we, being exposed to all, as rocks running out in the sea, sustain the fury of the heretical waves, which, in that they break around us, do not cover the district behind. I say "we" in order to refer it, not to human power, but to the grace of God, Who, by the weakness of men shows His power, as says the prophet in the person of the Lord, `Will ye not fear Me, who have placed the sand as a boundary to the sea?' for by the weakest and most contemptible of all things, the sand, the Mighty One has bounded the great and full sea. Since, then, this is our position, it became your love to be frequent in sending true brothers to visit us who labour with the storm, and more frequently letters of love, partly to confirm our courage, partly to correct any mistake of ours. For we confess that we are liable to numberless mistakes, being men, and living in the flesh.] 2. But hitherto, very honourable brethren, you have not given me my due; and this for two reasons. Either you failed to perceive the proper course; or else, under the influence of some of the calumnies spread abroad about me, you did not think me deserving of being visited by you in love. Now, therefore, I myself take the initiative. I beg to state that I am perfectly ready to rid myself, in your presence, of the charges urged against me, but only on condition that my revilers are admitted to stand face to face with me before your reverences. If I am convicted, I shall not deny my error. You, after the conviction, will receive pardon from the Lord for withdrawing yourselves from the communion of me a sinner. The successful accusers, too, will have their reward in the publication of my secret wickedness. If, however, you condemn me before you have the evidence before you, I shall be none the worse, barring the loss I shall sustain of a possession I hold most dear--your love: while you, for your part, will suffer the same loss in losing me, and will seem to be running counter to the words of the Gospel: "Doth our law judge any man before it hear him?" [2730]The reviler, moreover, if he adduce no proof of what he says, will be shewn to have got nothing from his wicked language but a bad name for himself. For what name can be properly applied to the slanderer [2731] except that which he professes to bear by the very conduct of which he is guilty? Let the reviler, therefore, appear not as slanderer, [2732] but as accuser; nay, I will not call him accuser, I will rather regard him as a brother, admonishing in love, and producing conviction for my amendment. And you must not be hearers of calumny, but triers of proof. Nor must I be left uncured, because my sin is not being made manifest. [3. Let not this consideration influence you. `We dwell on the sea, we are exempt from the sufferings of the generality, we need no succour from others; so what is the good to us of foreign communion?' For the same Lord Who divided the islands from the continent by the sea, bound the island Christians to those of the continent by love. Nothing, brethren, separates us from each other, but deliberate estrangement. We have one Lord, one faith, the same hope. The hands need each other; the feet steady each other. The eyes possess their clear apprehension from agreement. We, for our part, confess our own weakness, and we seek your fellow feeling. For we are assured, that though ye are not present in body, yet by the aid of prayer, ye will do us much benefit in these most critical times. It is neither decorous before men, nor pleasing to God, that you should make avowals which not even the Gentiles adopt, which know not God. Even they, as we hear, though the country they live in be sufficient for all things, yet, on account of the uncertainty of the future, make much of alliances with each other, and seek mutual intercourse as being advantageous to them. Yet we, the sons of fathers who have laid down the law that by brief notes the proofs of communion should be carried about from one end of the earth to the other, and that all should be citizens and familiars with all, now sever ourselves from the whole world, and are neither ashamed at our solitariness, nor shudder that on us is fallen the fearful prophecy of the Lord, `Because of lawlessness abounding, the love of the many shall wax cold.'] 4. Do not, most honourable brethren, do not suffer this. Rather, by letters of peace and by salutations of love, comfort me for the past. You have made a wound in my heart by your former neglect. Soothe its anguish, as it were, by a tender touch. Whether you wish to come to me, and examine for yourselves into the truth of what you hear of my infirmities, or whether by the addition of more lies my sins are reported to you to be yet more grievous, I must accept even this. I am ready to welcome you with open hands and to offer myself to the strictest test, only let love preside over the proceedings. Or if you prefer to indicate any spot in your own district to which I may come and pay you the visit which is due, submitting myself, as far as may be, to examination, for the healing of the past, and the prevention of slander for the future, I accept this. Although my flesh is weak, yet, as long as I breathe, I am responsible for the due discharge of every duty which may tend to the edification of the Churches of Christ. Do not, I beseech you, make light of my entreaty. Do not force me to disclose my distress to others. Hitherto, brethren, as you are well aware, I have kept my grief to myself, for I blush to speak of your alienation from me to those of our communion who are at a distance. I shrink at once from paining them and from gratifying those who hate me. I alone am writing this now; but I send in the name of all the brethren in Cappadocia, who have charged me not to employ any chance messenger, but some one who, in case I should, from my anxiety not to be too prolix, leave out any points of importance, might supply them with the intelligence wherewith God has gifted him. I refer to my beloved and reverend fellow presbyter Petrus. Welcome him in love, and send him forth to me in peace, that he may be a messenger to me of good things.

Footnotes

[2727] Placed in 375. [2728] On this letter Newman notes that Eustathius brought about a separation of a portion of the coast of Pontus from the Church of Cæsarea, which for a time caused Basil great despondency, as if he were being left solitary in all Christendom, without communion with other places. With the advice of the bishops of Cappadocia, he addressed an expostulation with these separatists for not coming to him. (Ch. of the Fathers, p. 95.) The portion of the translation of this letter enclosed in brackets is Newman's. [2729] hexiterion doron. cf. note on p. 46. [2730] John vii. 51. [2731] ton diaballonta. [2732] diabolos.

Letter CCIV. [2733]

To the Neocæsareans. [2734] 1. [There has been a long silence on both sides, revered and well-beloved brethren, just as if there were angry feelings between us. Yet who is there so sullen and implacable towards the party which has injured him, as to lengthen out the resentment which has begun in disgust through almost a whole life of man?] This [is happening in our case, no just occasion of estrangement existing, as far as I myself know, but on the contrary, there being, from the first, many strong reasons for the closest friendship and unity. The greatest and first is this, our Lord's command, pointedly saying, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another." [2735] ] Again, the apostle clearly sets before us the good of charity where he tells us that love is the fulfilling of the law; [2736] and again where he says that charity is a good thing to be preferred to all great and good things, in the words, "Though I speak with tongues of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burnt and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." [2737]Not that each of the points enumerated could be performed without love, but that the Holy One wishes, as He Himself has said, to attribute to the commandment super-eminent excellency by the figure of hyperbole. [2738] 2. [Next, if it tend much towards intimacy to have the same teachers, there are to you and to me the same teachers of God's mysteries, and spiritual Fathers, who from the beginning were the founders of your Church. I mean the great Gregory, and all who succeeding in order to the throne of your episcopate, like stars rising one after another, have tracked the same course, so as to leave the tokens of the heavenly polity most clear to all who desire them.] And if natural relationships are not to be despised, but are greatly conducive to unbroken union and fellowship, these rights also exist naturally for you and me. [Why is it, then, O venerable among cities, for through you I address the whole city, that no civil writing comes from you, no welcome voice, but your ears are open to those who aim at slander?] I am therefore the more bound to groan, the more I perceive the end they have in view. There is no doubt as to who is the originator of the slander. [2739]He is known by many evil deeds, but is best distinguished by this particular wickedness, and it is for this reason that the sin is made his name. [2740]But you must put up with my plain speaking. You have opened both ears to my slanderers. You heartily welcome all you hear without any enquiry. Not one of you distinguishes between lies and truth. Who ever suffered for lack of wicked accusations when struggling all alone? Who was ever convicted of lying in the absence of his victim? What plea does not sound plausible to the hearers when the reviler persists that such and such is the case, and the reviled is neither present nor hears what is urged against him? Does not even the accepted custom of this world teach you, in reference to these matters, that if any one is to be a fair and impartial hearer, he must not be entirely led away by the first speaker, but must wait for the defence of the accused, that so truth may be demonstrated by a comparison of the arguments on both sides? "Judge righteous judgment." [2741]This precept is one of those most necessary for salvation. 3. When I say this I am not forgetful of the words of the Apostle, who fled from human tribunals and reserved the defence of all his life for the unerring judgment seat, when he said, "With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you or of man's judgment." [2742]Your ears have been preoccupied by lying slanders, slanders that have touched my conduct, slanders that have touched my faith in God. Nevertheless, knowing, as I do, that three persons at once are injured by the slanderer, his victim, his hearer, and himself; as to my own wrong, I would have held my tongue, be sure; not because I despise your good opinion, (how could I, writing now as I do and earnestly pleading as I do that I may not lose it?) but because I see that of the three sufferers the one who is least injured is myself. It is true that I shall be robbed of you, but you are being robbed of the truth, and he who is at the bottom of all this is parting me from you, but he is alienating himself from the Lord, inasmuch as no one can be brought near to the Lord by doing what is forbidden. Rather then for your sakes than for mine, rather to rescue you from unendurable wrong am I pleading. For who could suffer a worse calamity than the loss of the most precious of all things, the truth? 4. [What say I, brethren? Not that I am a sinless person; not that my life is not full of numberless faults. I know myself; and indeed I cease not my tears for my sins, if by any means I may be able to appease my God, and to escape the punishment threatened against them. But this I say: let him who judges me, hunt for motes in my eye, if he can say that his own is clear.] I own, brethren, that I need the care of the sound and healthy, and need much of it. If he cannot say that it is clear, and the clearer it is the less will he say so--(for it is the part of the perfect not to exalt themselves; if they do they will certainly come under the charge of the pride of the Pharisee, who, while justifying himself, condemned the publican) let him come with me to the physician; let him not "judge before the time until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts." [2743]Let him remember the words, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged;" [2744] and "Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned." [2745][In a word, brethren, if my offences admit of cure, why does not such an one obey the teacher of the Churches, "Reprove, exhort, rebuke"? [2746]If, on the other hand, my iniquity be past cure, why does he not withstand me to the face, and, by publishing my transgressions, deliver the Churches from the mischief which I bring on them?] Do not put up with the calumny uttered against me within the teeth. [2747]This is the abuse which any slave-girl from the grindstone might utter; this is the kind of fine shewing-off you might expect from any street vagabond; their tongues are whetted for any slander. But [there are bishops; let appeal be made to them. There is a clergy in each of God's dioceses; [2748] let the most eminent be assembled. Let whoso will, speak freely, that I may have to deal with a charge, not a slander.] Let my secret wickedness be brought into full view; let me no longer be hated, but admonished as a brother. It is more just that we sinners should be pitied by the blessed and the sinless, than that we should be treated angrily. 5. [If the fault be a point of faith, let the document be pointed out to me. Again, let a fair and impartial inquiry be appointed. Let the accusation be read; let it be brought to the test, whether it does not arise from ignorance in the accuser, not from blame in the matter of the writing. For right things often do not seem such to those who are deficient in accurate judgment. Equal weights seem unequal when the arms of the balance are of different sizes.] Men whose sense of taste is destroyed by sickness, sometimes think honey sour. A diseased eye does not see many things which do exist, and notes many things which do not exist. The same thing frequently takes place with regard to the force of words, when the critic is inferior to the writer. The critic ought really to set out with much the same training and equipment as the author. A man ignorant of agriculture is quite incapable of criticising husbandry, and the distinctions between harmony and discord can only be adequately judged by a trained musician. But any one who chooses will set up for a literary critic, though he cannot tell us where he went to school, or how much time was spent in his education, and knows nothing about letters at all. I see clearly that, even in the case of the words [2749] of the Holy Spirit, the investigation of the terms is to be attempted not by every one, but by him who has the spirit of discernment, as the Apostle has taught us, in the differences of gifts;--"For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gift of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits." [2750]If, therefore, my gifts are spiritual, he who wishes to judge them must shew proof of his own possession of the gift of "discerning of spirits." If, on the contrary, as he calumniously contends, my gifts are of the wisdom of this world, let him shew that he is an adept in this world's wisdom, and I will submit myself to his verdict. And [let no one suppose that I am making excuses to evade the charge. I put it into your hands, dearest brethren, to investigate for yourselves the points alleged against me. Are you so slow of intelligence as to be wholly dependent upon advocates for the discovery of the truth? If the points in question seem to you to be quite plain of themselves, persuade the jesters to drop the dispute. [If there be anything you do not understand, put questions to me, through appointed persons who will do justice to me; or ask of me explanations in writing. And take all kinds of pains that nothing may be left unsifted. 6. What clearer evidence can there be of my faith, than that I was brought up by my grandmother, blessed woman, who came from you? I mean the celebrated Macrina who taught me the words of the blessed Gregory; which, as far as memory had preserved down to her day, she cherished herself, while she fashioned and formed me, while yet a child, upon the doctrines of piety. And when I gained the capacity of thought, my reason being matured by full age, I travelled over much sea and land, and whomsoever I found walking in the rule of godliness delivered, those I set down as fathers,] and made them my soul's guides in my journey to God. And up to this day, by the grace of Him who has called me in His holy calling to the knowledge of Himself, I know of no doctrine opposed to the sound teaching having sunk into my heart; nor was my soul ever polluted by the ill-famed blasphemy of Arius. If I have ever received into communion any who have come from that teacher, hiding their unsoundness deep within them, or speaking words of piety, or, at any rate, not opposing what has been said by me, it is on these terms that I have admitted them; and I have not allowed my judgment concerning them to rest wholly with myself, but have followed the decisions given about them by our Fathers. For after receiving the letter of the very blessed Father Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, which I hold in my hand, and shew to any one who asks, wherein he has distinctly declared that any one expressing a wish to come over from the heresy of the Arians and accepting the Nicene Creed, is to be received without hesitation and difficulty, citing in support of his opinion the unanimous assent of the bishops of Macedonia and of Asia; I, considering myself bound to follow the high authority of such a man and of those who made the rule, and with every desire on my own part to win the reward promised to peacemakers, did enroll in the lists of communicants all who accepted that creed. 7. [The fair thing would be to judge of me, not from one or two who do not walk uprightly in the truth, but from the multitude of bishops throughout the world, connected with me by the grace of the Lord. Make enquiries of Pisidians, Lycaonians, Isaurians, Phrygians of both provinces, Armenians your neighbours, Macedonians, Achæans, Illyrians, Gauls, Spaniards, the whole of Italy, Sicilians, Africans, the healthy part of Egypt, whatever is left of Syria; all of whom send letters to me, and in turn receive them from me.] From these letters, alike from all which are despatched from them. and from all which go out from us to them, you may learn that we are all of one mind, and of one opinion. [Whoso shuns communion with me, it cannot escape your accuracy, cuts himself off from the whole Church. Look round about, brethren, with whom do you hold communion? If you will not receive it from me, who remains to acknowledge you? Do not reduce me to the necessity of counselling anything unpleasant concerning a Church so dear to me.] There are things now which I hide in the bottom of my heart, in secret groaning over and bewailing the evil days in which we live, in that the greatest Churches which have long been united to one another in brotherly love, now, without any reason, are in mutual opposition. Do not, oh! do not, drive me to complain of these things to all who are in communion with me. Do not force me to give utterance to words which hitherto I have kept in check by reflection and have hidden in my heart. Better were it for me to be removed and the Churches to be at one, than that God's people should suffer such evil through our childish ill-will. [Ask your fathers, and they will tell you that though our districts were divided in position, yet in mind they were one, and were governed by one sentiment. Intercourse of the people was frequent; frequent the visits of the clergy; the pastors, too, had such mutual affection, that each used the other as teacher and guide in things pertaining to the Lord.]

Footnotes

[2733] Placed in 375. [2734] Newman introduces his extracts from the following letter with the prefatory remark: "If Basil's Semi-Arian connexions brought suspicion upon himself in the eyes of Catholic believers, much more would they be obnoxious to persons attached, as certain Neocæsareans were, to the Sabellian party, who were in the opposite extreme to the Semi-Arians and their especial enemies in those times. It is not wonderful, then, that he had to write to the church in question in a strain like the following." (Ch. of the Fathers. p. 98.) The passages in brackets are Newman's version. The prime agent in the slandering of Basil was presumably Atarbius, bishop of Neocæsarea. [2735] John xiii. 35. [2736] Rom. xiii. 10. [2737] 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3. [2738] The allusion may be to Mark xi. 23, but St. Paul would probably reply to Basil that each of the points enumerated might proceed not from love, but from vanity, ambition, or fanaticism. [2739] tes diaboles. [2740] i.e. ho diabolos. The little paronomasia is untranslatable. [2741] John vii. 24. [2742] 1 Cor. iv. [2743] 1 Cor. iv. 5. [2744] Matt. vii. 1. [2745] Luke vi. 37. [2746] 2 Tim. iv. 2. [2747] up' odonta. Ben. Lat., intra dentes. [2748] The Greek is paroikia which is used both for what is meant by the modern "diocese" and by the modern "parish." Of the sense of diocese instances are quoted among others in D.C.A. s.v. "Parish," from Iren. ad Florin. apud Euseb. H.E. v. 20; and Alexand. Alexandrin. Ep. apud Theodoret, H.E. i. 3. [2749] tois logois pneumatos hagiou, the reading of the mss. Bas. Sec. and Paris. The commoner reading is logiois. [2750] 1 Cor. xii. 8-10.

Letter CCV. [2751]

To Elpidius the bishop. [2752] Once again I have started the well-beloved presbyter Meletius to carry my greeting to you. I had positively determined to spare him, on account of the weakness which he has voluntarily brought upon himself, by bringing his body into subjection for the sake of the gospel of Christ. But I have judged it fitting to salute you by the ministry of such men as he is, able to supply of themselves all the shortcomings of my letter, and to become, alike to writer and recipient, a kind of living epistle. I am also carrying out the very strong wish, which he has always had, to see your excellency, ever since he has had experience of the high qualities you possess. So now I have besought him to travel to you, and through him I discharge the debt of the visit I owe you, and beseech you to pray for me and for the Church of God, that the Lord may grant me deliverance from the injuries of the enemies of the Gospel, and to pass my life in peace and quiet. Nevertheless, if you in your wisdom, think it needful that we should travel to the same spot, and meet the rest of our right honourable brother bishops of the sea board regions, do you yourself point out a suitable place and time where and when this meeting may take place. Write to our brethren to the end that each and all may, at the appointed time, leave the business they may have in hand, and may be able to effect something for the edification of the Churches of God, do away with the pain which we now suffer from our mutual suspicions, and establish love, without which the Lord Himself has ordained that obedience to every commandment must be of none effect.

Footnotes

[2751] Placed in 375. [2752] Of what see is uncertain. He was in friendly relations with Basil, and therefore was not in communion with Eustathius of Sebaste. (Letter ccli.)

Letter CCVI. [2753]

To Elpidius the bishop. Consolatory. Now, most of all, do I feel my bodily infirmity, when I see how it stands in the way of my soul's good. Had matters gone as I hoped, I should not now be speaking to you by letter or by messenger, but should in my own person have been paying the debt of affection and enjoying spiritual advantage face to face. Now, however, I am so situated that I am only too glad if I am able even to move about in my own country in the necessary visitation of parishes in my district. But may the Lord grant to you both strength and a ready will, and to me, in addition to my eager desire, ability to enjoy your society when I am in the country of Comana. I am afraid lest your domestic trouble may be some hindrance to you. For I have learnt of your affliction in the loss of your little boy. To a grandfather his death cannot but be grievous. On the other hand to a man who has attained to so high a degree of virtue, and alike from his experience of this world and his spiritual training knows what human nature is, it is natural that the removal of those who are near and dear should not be wholly intolerable. The Lord requires from us what He does not require from every one. The common mass of mankind lives by habit, but the Christian's rule of life is the commandment of the Lord, and the example of holy men of old, whose greatness of soul was, above all, exhibited in adversity. To the end, then, that you may yourself leave to them that come after you an example of fortitude and of genuine trust in what we hope for, show that you are not vanquished by your grief, but are rising above your sorrows, patient in affliction, and rejoicing in hope. Pray let none of these things be a hindrance to our hoped for meeting. Children, indeed, are held blameless on account of their tender age; but you and I are under the responsibility of serving the Lord, as He commands us, and in all things to be ready for the administration of the affairs of the Churches. For the due discharge of that duty the Lord has reserved great rewards for faithful and wise stewards.

Footnotes

[2753] Placed in 375.

Letter CCVII. [2754]

To the clergy of Neocæsarea. You all concur in hating me. To a man you have followed the leader of the war against me. [2755]I was therefore minded to say not a word to any one. I determined that I would write no friendly letter; that I would start no communication, but keep my sorrow in silence to myself. Yet it is wrong to keep silence in the face of calumny; not that by contradiction we may vindicate ourselves, but that we may not allow a lie to travel further and its victims to be harmed. I have therefore thought it necessary to put this matter also before you all, and to write a letter to you, although, when I recently wrote to all the presbyterate in common, you did not do me the honour to send me a reply. Do not, my brethren, gratify the vanity of those who are filling your minds with pernicious opinions. Do not consent to look lightly on, when, to your knowledge, God's people are being subverted by impious teaching. None but Sabellius the Libyan [2756] and Marcellus the Galatian [2757] have dared to teach and write what the leaders of your people are attempting to bring forward among you as their own private discovery. They are making a great talk about it, but they are perfectly powerless to give their sophisms and fallacies even any colour of truth. In their harangues against me they shrink from no wickedness, and persistently refuse to meet me. Why? Is it not because they are afraid of being convicted for their own wicked opinions? Yes; and in their attacks upon me they have become so lost to all sense of shame as to invent certain dreams to my discredit while they falsely accuse my teaching of being pernicious. Let them take upon their own heads all the visions of the autumn months; they can fix no blasphemy on me, for in every Church there are many to testify to the truth. 2. When they are asked the reason for this furious and truceless war, they allege psalms and a kind of music varying from the custom which has obtained among you, and similar pretexts of which they ought to be ashamed. We are, moreover, accused because we maintain men in the practice of true religion who have renounced the world and all those cares of this life, which the Lord likens to thorns that do not allow the word to bring forth fruit. Men of this kind carry about in the body the deadness of Jesus; they have taken up their own cross, and are followers of God. I would gladly give my life if these really were my faults, and if I had men with me owning me as teacher who had chosen this ascetic life. I hear that virtue of this kind is to be found now in Egypt, and there are, peradventure, some men in Palestine whose conversation follows the precepts of the Gospel. I am told too that some perfect and blessed men are to be found in Mesopotamia. We, in comparison with the perfect, are children. But if women also have chosen to live the Gospel life, preferring virginity to wedlock, leading captive the lust of the flesh, and living in the mourning which is called blessed, they are blessed in their profession wherever they are to be found. We, however, have few instances of this to show, for with us people are still in an elementary stage and are being gradually brought. to piety. If any charges of disorder are brought against the life of our women I do not undertake to defend them. One thing, however, I do say and that is, that these bold hearts, these unbridled mouths are ever fearlessly uttering what Satan, the father of lies, has hitherto been unable to say. I wish you to know that we rejoice to have assemblies of both men and women, whose conversation is in heaven and who have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof; they take no thought for food and raiment, but remain undisturbed beside their Lord, continuing night and day in prayer. Their lips speak not of the deeds of men: they sing hymns to God continually, working with their own hands that they may have to distribute to them that need. 3. Now as to the charge relating to the singing of psalms, whereby my calumniators specially scare the simpler folk, my reply is this. The customs which now obtain are agreeable to those of all the Churches of God. Among us the people go at night to the house of prayer, and, in distress, affliction, and continual tears, making confession to God, at last rise from their prayers and begin to sing psalms. And now, divided into two parts, they sing antiphonally with one another, thus at once confirming their study of the Gospels, [2758] and at the same time producing for themselves a heedful temper and a heart free from distraction. Afterwards they again commit the prelude of the strain to one, and the rest take it up; and so after passing the night in various psalmody, praying at intervals as the day begins to dawn, all together, as with one voice and one heart, raise the psalm of confession to the Lord, each forming for himself his own expressions of penitence. If it is for these reasons that you renounce me, you will renounce the Egyptians; you will renounce both Libyans, Thebans, Palestinians, Arabians, Phoenicians, Syrians, the dwellers by the Euphrates; in a word all those among whom vigils, prayers, and common psalmody have been held in honour. 4. But, it is alleged, these practices were not observed in the time of the great Gregory. My rejoinder is that even the Litanies [2759] which you now use were not used in his time. I do not say this to find fault with you; for my prayer would be that every one of you should live in tears and continual penitence. We, for our part, are always offering supplication for our sins, but we propitiate our God not as you do, in the words of mere man, but in the oracles of the Spirit. And what evidence have you that this custom was not followed in the time of the great Gregory? You have kept none of his customs up to the present time. [2760]Gregory did not cover his head at prayer. How could he? He was a true disciple of the Apostle who says, "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head." [2761]And "a man indeed ought not to cover his head forasmuch as he is the image of God." [2762]Oaths were shunned by Gregory, that pure soul, worthy of the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, content with yea and nay, in accordance with the commandment of the Lord Who said, "I say unto you swear not at all." [2763]Gregory could not bear to call his brother a fool, [2764] for he stood in awe of the threat of the Lord. Passion, wrath, and bitterness never proceeded out of his mouth. Railing he hated, because it leads not to the kingdom of heaven. Envy and arrogance had been shut out of that guiltless soul. He would never have stood at the altar before being reconciled to his brother. A lie, or any word designed to slander any one, he abominated, as one who knew that lies come from the devil, and that the Lord will destroy all that utter a lie. [2765]If you have none of these things, and are clear of all, then are you verily disciples of the disciple of the Lord; if not, beware lest, in your disputes about the mode of singing psalms, you are straining at the gnat and setting at naught the greatest of the commandments. I have been driven to use these expressions by the urgency of my defence, that you may be taught to cast the beam out of your own eyes before you try to remove other men's motes. Nevertheless, I am conceding all, although there is nothing that is not searched into before God. Only let great matters prevail, and do not allow innovations in the faith to make themselves heard. Do not disregard the hypostases. Do not deny the name of Christ. Do not put a wrong meaning on the words of Gregory. If you do so, as long as I breathe and have the power of utterance, I cannot keep silence, when I see souls being thus destroyed.

Footnotes

[2754] Placed in 375. [2755] i.e. Atarbius of Neocæsarea. [2756] Basil is described as the earliest authority for making Sabellius an African by birth. (D.C.B. iv. 569) There is no contemporary authority for the statement. [2757] i.e. of Ancyra. [2758] ton logion. cf. note on Theodoret, p. 155. [2759] The Ben. note observes that in this passage Litanies do not mean processions or supplications, but penitential prayers. The intercessory prayers which occur in the liturgy of St. Basil, as in the introductory part of other Greek liturgies, are not confined to quotations from Scripture. [2760] This reproach appears to be in contradiction with the statement in De Spiritu Sancto, § 74 (page 47), that the Church of Neocæsarea had rigidly preserved the traditions of Gregory. The Ben. note would remove the discrepancy by confining the rigid conservatism to matters of importance. In these the Neocæsareans would tolerate no change, and allowed no monasteries and no enrichment of their liturgies with new rites. "Litanies," however, are regarded as comparatively unimportant innovations. The note concludes: Neque enim secum ipse pugnat Basilius, cum Neocæsarienses laudat in libro De Spiritu Sancto, quod Gregorii instituta arctissime teneant. hic autem vituperat quod ea omnino reliquerint. Illic enim respicit ad exteriora instituta, hic autem ad virtutum exemplar, convicii et iracundiæ fugam, odium juris jurandi et mendacii. [2761] 1 Cor. xi. 4. [2762] 1 Cor. xi. 7. [2763] Matt. v. 34. [2764] cf. Matt. v. 22. [2765] Ps. v. 6, LXX.

Letter CCVIII. [2766]

To Eulancius. You have been long silent, though you have very great power of speech, and are well trained in the art of conversation and of exhibiting yourself by your eloquence. Possibly it is Neocæsarea which is the cause of your not writing to me. I suppose I must take it as a kindness if those who are there do not remember me, for, as I am informed by those who report what they hear, the mention made of me is not kind. You, however, used to be one of those who were disliked for my sake, not one of those who dislike me for the sake of others. I hope this description will continue to fit you, that wherever you are you will write to me, and will have kindly thoughts of me, if you care at all for what is fair and right. It is certainly fair that those who have been first to show affection should be paid in their own coin.

Footnotes

[2766] Placed in 375.

Letter CCIX. [2767]

Without address. It is your lot to share my distress, and to do battle on my behalf. Herein is proof of your manliness. God, who ordains our lives, grants to those who are capable of sustaining great fights greater opportunity of winning renown. You truly have risked your own life as a test of your valour in your friend's behalf, like gold in the furnace. I pray God that other men may be made better; that you may remain what you are, and that you will not cease to find fault with me, as you do, and to charge me with not writing often to you, as a wrong on my part which does you very great injury. This is an accusation only made by a friend. Persist in demanding the payment of such debts. I am not so very unreasonable in paying the claims of affection.

Footnotes

[2767] Placed in 375.

Letter CCX. [2768]

To the notables of Neocæsarea. I am really under no obligation to publish my own mind to you, or to state the reasons for my present sojourn where I am; it is not my custom to indulge in self advertisement, nor is the matter worth publicity. I am not, I think, following my own inclinations; I am answering the challenge of your leaders. I have always striven to be ignored more earnestly than popularity hunters strive after notoriety. But, I am told, the ears of everybody in your town are set a thrilling, while certain tale-mongers, creators of lies, hired for this very work, are giving you a history of me and my doings. I therefore do not think that I ought to overlook your being exposed to the teaching of vile intention and foul tongue; I think that I am bound to tell you myself in what position I am placed. From my childhood I have been familiar with this spot, for here I was brought up by my grandmother; [2769] hither I have often retreated, and here I have spent many years, when endeavouring to escape from the hubbub of public affairs, for experience has taught me that the quiet and solitude of the spot are favourable to serious thought. Moreover as my brothers [2770] are now living here, I have gladly retired to this retreat, and have taken a brief breathing time from the press of the labours that beset me, not as a centre from which I might give trouble to others, but to indulge my own longing. 2. Where then is the need of having recourse to dreams and of hiring their interpreters, and making me matter for talk over the cups at public entertainments? Had slander been launched against me in any other quarter, I should have called you to witness to prove what I think, and now I ask every one of you to remember those old days when I was invited by your city to take charge of the education of the young, and a deputation of the first men among you came to see me. [2771]Afterwards, when you all crowded round me, what were you not ready to give? what not to promise? Nevertheless you were not able to keep me. How then could I, who at that time would not listen when you invited me, now attempt to thrust myself on you uninvited? How could I, who when you complimented and admired me, avoided you, have been intending to court you now that you calumniate me? Nothing of the kind, sirs; I am not quite so cheap. No man in his senses would go on board a boat without a steersman, or get alongside a Church where the men sitting at the helm are themselves stirring up tempest and storm. Whose fault was it that the town was all full of tumult, when some were running away with no one after them, and others stealing off when no invader was near, and all the wizards and dream-tellers were flourishing their bogeys? Whose fault was it else? Does not every child know that it was the mob-leaders'? The reasons of their hatred to me it would be bad taste on my part to recount; but they are quite easy for you to apprehend. When bitterness and division have come to the last pitch of savagery, and the explanation of the cause is altogether groundless and ridiculous, then the mental disease is plain, dangerous indeed to other people's comfort, but greatly and personally calamitous to the patient. And there is one charming point about them. Torn and racked with inward agony as they are, they cannot yet for very shame speak out about it. The state they are in may be known not only from their behaviour to me, but from the rest of their conduct. If it were unknown, it would not much matter. But the veritable cause of their shunning communication with me may be unperceived by the majority among you. Listen; and I will tell you. 3. There is going on among you a movement ruinous to the faith, disloyal to the apostolical and evangelical dogmas, disloyal too to the tradition of Gregory the truly great, [2772] and of his successors up to the blessed Musonius, whose teaching is still ringing in your ears. [2773]For those men, who, from fear of confutation, are forging figments against me, are endeavouring to renew the old mischief of Sabellius, started long ago, and extinguished by the tradition of the great Gregory. But do you bid goodbye to those wine-laden heads, bemuddled by the swelling fumes that mount from their debauch, and from me who am wide awake and from fear of God cannot keep silence, hear what plague is rife among you. Sabellianism is Judaism [2774] imported into the preaching of the Gospel under the guise of Christianity. For if a man calls Father Son and Holy Ghost one thing of many faces, [2775] and makes the hypostasis of the three one, [2776] what is this but to deny the everlasting pre-existence of the Only begotten? He denies too the Lord's sojourn among men in the incarnation, [2777] the going down into hell, the resurrection, the judgment; he denies also the proper operations of the Spirit. And I hear that even rasher innovations than those of the foolish Sabellius are now ventured on among you. It is said, and that on the evidence of ear witnesses, that your clever men go to such an extreme as to say that there is no tradition of the name of the Only-begotten, while of the name of the adversary there is; and at this they are highly delighted and elated, as though it were a discovery of their own. For it is said, "I came in my Father's name and ye received me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." [2778]And because it is said, "Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," [2779] it is obvious, they urge, that the name is one, for it is not "in the names," but "in the name." 4. I blush so to write to you, for the men thus guilty are of my own blood; [2780] and I groan for my own soul, in that, like boxers fighting two men at once, I can only give the truth its proper force by hitting with my proofs, and knocking down, the errors of doctrine on the right and on the left. On one side I am attacked by the Anomoean: on the other by the Sabellian. Do not, I implore you, pay any attention to these abominable and impotent sophisms. Know that the name of Christ which is above every name is His being called Son of God, as Peter says, "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." [2781]And as to the words "I came in my Father's name," it is to be understood that He so says describing His Father as origin and cause of Himself. [2782]And if it is said "Go and baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost," we must not suppose that here one name is delivered to us. For just as he who said Paul and Silvanus and Timothy mentioned three names, and coupled them one to the other by the word "and," so He who spoke of the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, mentioned three, and united them by the conjunction, teaching that with each name must be understood its own proper meaning; for the names mean things. And no one gifted with even the smallest particle of intelligence doubts that the existence belonging to the things is peculiar and complete in itself. For of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost there is the same nature and one Godhead; but these are different names, setting forth to a us the circumscription and exactitude of the meanings. For unless the meaning of the distinctive qualities of each be unconfounded, it is impossible for the doxology to be adequately offered to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. If, however, they deny that they so say, and so teach, my object is attained. Yet I see that this denial is no easy matter, because of our having many witnesses who heard these things said. But let bygones be bygones; let them only be sound now. If they persist in the same old error I must proclaim your calamity even to other Churches, and get letters written to you from more bishops. In my efforts to break down this huge mass of impiety now gradually and secretly growing, I shall either effect something towards the object I have in view; or at least my present testimony will clear me of guilt in the judgment day. 5. They have already inserted these expressions in their own writings. They sent them first to the man of God, Meletius, [2783] bishop, and after receiving from him a suitable reply, like mothers of monsters, ashamed of their natural deformities, these men themselves brought forth and bring up their disgusting offspring in appropriate darkness. They made an attempt too by letter on my dear friend Anthimus, bishop of Tyana, [2784] on the ground that Gregory had said in his exposition of the faith [2785] that Father and Son are in thought two, but in hypostasis one. [2786]The men who congratulate themselves on the subtilty of their intelligence could not perceive that this is said not in reference to dogmatic opinion, but in controversy with Ælian. And in this dispute there are not a few copyists' blunders, as, please God, I shall shew in the case of the actual expressions used. But in his endeavour to convince the heathen, he deemed it needless to be nice about the words he employed; he judged it wiser sometimes to make concessions to the character of the subject who was being persuaded, so as not to run counter to the opportunity given him. This explains how it is that you may find there many expressions which now give great support to the heretics, as for instance "creature" [2787] and "thing made" [2788] and the like. But those who ignorantly criticise these writings refer to the question of the Godhead much that is said in reference to the conjunction with man; as is the case with this passage which they are hawking about. For it is indispensable to have clear understanding that, as he who fails to confess the community of the essence or substance falls into polytheism, so he who refuses to grant the distinction of the hypostases is carried away into Judaism. For we must keep our mind stayed, so to say, on certain underlying subject matter, and, by forming a clear impression of its distinguishing lines, so arrive at the end desired. For suppose we do not bethink us of the Fatherhood, nor bear in mind Him of whom this distinctive quality is marked off, how can we take in the idea of God the Father? For merely to enumerate the differences of Persons [2789] is insufficient; we must confess each Person [2790] to have a natural existence in real hypostasis. Now Sabellius did not even deprecate the formation of the persons without hypostasis, saying as he did that the same God, being one in matter, [2791] was metamorphosed as the need of the moment required, and spoken of now as Father, now as Son, and now as Holy Ghost. The inventors of this unnamed heresy are renewing the old long extinguished error; those, I mean, who are repudiating the hypostases, and denying the name of the Son of God. They must give over uttering iniquity against God, [2792] or they will have to wail with them that deny the Christ. 6. I have felt compelled to write to you in these terms, that you may be on your guard against the mischief arising from bad teaching. If we may indeed liken pernicious teachings to poisonous drugs, as your dream-tellers have it, these doctrines are hemlock and monkshood, or any other deadly to man. It is these that destroy souls; not my words, as this shrieking drunken scum, full of the fancies of their condition, make out. If they had any sense they ought to know that in souls, pure and cleansed from all defilement, the prophetic gift shines clear. In a foul mirror you cannot see what the reflexion is, neither can a soul preoccupied with cares of this life, and darkened with the passions of the lust of the flesh, receive the rays of the Holy Ghost. Every dream is not a prophecy, as says Zechariah, "The Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain,...for the idols have spoken vanity and the diviners have told false dreams." [2793]Those who, as Isaiah says, dream and love to sleep in their bed [2794] forget that an operation of error is sent to "the children of disobedience." [2795]And there is a lying spirit, which arose in false prophecies, and deceived Ahab. [2796]Knowing this they ought not to have been so lifted up as to ascribe the gift of prophecy to themselves. They are shewn to fall far short even of the case of the seer Balaam; for Balaam when invited by the king of Moab with mighty bribes brooked not to utter a word beyond the will of God, nor to curse Israel whom the Lord cursed not. [2797]If then their sleep-fancies do not tally with the commandments of the Lord, let them be content with the Gospels. The Gospels need no dreams to add to their credit. The Lord has sent His peace to us, and left us a new commandment, to love one another, but dreams bring strife and division and destruction of love. Let them therefore not give occasion to the devil to attack their souls in sleep; nor make their imaginations of more authority than the instruction of salvation.

Footnotes

[2768] Placed in 375, the year after the composition of the De Spiritu Sancto. It apparently synchronizes with Letter ccxxiii., in which Basil more directly repels those calumnies of the versatile Eustathius of Sebaste which he had borne in silence for three years. On Annesi, from which he writes, and the occasion of the visit, see Prolegomena. [2769] Macrina, at her residence at Annesi. [2770] cf. Ep. ccxvi., where he speaks of going to the house of his brother Peter near Neocæsarea. One of the five brothers apparently died young, as the property of the elder Basil was at his death, before 340, divided into nine portions, i.e. among the five daughters and four surviving sons, the youngest, Peter, being then an infant. (Greg. Nyss. Vita Mac. 186.) Naucratius, the second son, was killed by an accident while hunting, c. 357. Gregory of Nyssa must, therefore, be referred to in the text, if by "brothers" is meant brothers in blood. Was it to Peter's "cottage" or some neighbouring dwelling that Gregory fled when he escaped from the police of the Vicar Demosthenes, in order not to obey the summons of Valens to his synod at Ancrya? Is the cottage of Peter "some quiet spot" of Ep. ccxxv.? The plural adelphon might be used conventionally, or understood to include Peter and a sister or sisters. [2771] i.e. when he was resident at Cæsarea in his earlier manhood. If Letter ccclviii. (from Libanius to Basil refers to this period, it would seem that for a time Basil did undertake school work. [2772] i.e.Gregory Thaumaturgus. cf. note on p. 247. [2773] Musonius, bp. of Neocæsarea, who died in 368. cf. Ep. xxviii. [2774] cf. De Sp. S. § 77, p. 49and Ep. clxxxix. p. 229. [2775] hen pragma poluprosopon . Another ms. reading is poluonumon, "of many names." [2776] cf. note on p. 195. [2777] oikonomiken. [2778] John v. 43. Slightly varied. [2779] Matt. xxviii. 19. [2780] The allusion is supposed to be to Atarbius. cf. Letter lxv. [2781] Acts iv. 12. [2782] cf. De Sp. S. § 44, p. 27. [2783] Meletius of Antioch. [2784] Tyana, at the north of Mount Taurus, is the city which gave a distinctive name to Apollonius the Thaumaturge. That Basil should speak in kindly and complimentary terms of Anthimus is remarkable, for from few contemporaries did he suffer more. It was the quarrel in which Anthimus attacked and plundered a train of Basil's sumpter mules, and Gregory of Nazianzus fought stoutly for his friend, that led to Basil's erecting Sasima into a bishopric, as a kind of buffer see against his rival metropolitan. (Greg. Naz., Or. xliii. 356, Ep. xxxi. and Carm. i. 8.) See Prolegomena. [2785] The ekthesis tes pisteos of Gregory Thaumaturgus. cf. Ep. cciv. and the De Sp. Scto. § 74. On the genuineness of the ekthesis, vide D. C. Biog. i. 733. cf. Dorner's Christologie i. 737. It is given at length in the Life of Greg. Thaumat. by Gregory of Nyssa, and is found in the Latin Psalter, written in gold, which Charlemagne gave to Adrian I. Bp. Bull's translation is as follows: "There is one God, Father of Him who is the living Word, subsisting Wisdom and Power and Eternal Impress, Perfect begotten of the Perfect, Father of the only begotten Son. There is one Lord, Alone of the Alone, God of God, Impress and Image of the Godhead, the operative Word; Wisdom comprehensive of the system of the universe, and Power productive of the whole creation; true Son of true Father, Invisible of Invisible and Incorruptible of Incorruptible, and Immortal of Immortal, and Eternal of Eternal. And there is one Holy Ghost, who hath His being of God, who hath appeared through the Son, Image of the Son, Perfect of the Perfect; Life, the cause of all them that live; Holy Fountain, Holiness, the Bestower of Sanctification, in whom is manifested God the Father, who is over all and in all, and God the Son, who is through all. A Perfect Trinity, not divided nor alien in glory and eternity and dominion." [2786] The Ben. note refused to believe that so Sabellian an expression can have been used by Gregory. Basil's explanation is that it was used in controversy with a heathen on another subject, loosely and not dogmatically. The words are said not to be found in any extant document attributed to Gregory, whether genuine or doubtful. But they may be matched in some of the expressions of Athanasius. cf. p. 195. Ath., Tom. ad Af. § 4 and Hom. in Terem. viii. 96. [2787] ktisma. [2788] poiema. [2789] prosopon. [2790] prosopon. [2791] to hupokeimeno. [2792] Ps. lxxv. 5, LXX. [2793] Zech. x. 1, 2. [2794] cf. Is. lvi. 10. [2795] Eph. ii. 2. [2796] 1 Kings xxii. 22. [2797] Num. xxii. 11.

Letter CCXI. [2798]

To Olympius. [2799] Truly when I read your excellency's letter I felt unwonted pleasure and cheerfulness; and when I met your well-beloved sons, I seemed to behold yourself. They found me in the deepest affliction, but they so behaved as to make me forget the hemlock, which your dreamers and dream mongers are carrying about to my hurt, to please the people who have hired them. Some letters I have already sent; others, if you like, shall follow. I only hope that they may be of some advantage to the recipients.

Footnotes

[2798] Placed in 375. [2799] cf. Letters iv., xii., xiii., cxxxi.

Letter CCXII. [2800]

To Hilarius. [2801] 1. You can imagine what I felt, and in what state of mind I was, when I came to Dazimon and found that you had left a few days before my arrival. From my boyhood I have held you in admiration, and, therefore, ever since our old school days, have placed a high value on intercourse with you. But another reason for my doing so is that nothing is so precious now as a soul that loves the truth, and is gifted with a sound judgment in practical affairs. This, I think, is to be found in you. I see most men, as in the hippodrome, divided into factions, some for one side and some for another, and shouting with their parties. But you are above fear, flattery, and every ignoble sentiment, and so naturally look at truth with an unprejudiced eye. And I see that you are deeply interested in the affairs of the Churches, about which you have sent me a letter, as you have said in your last. I should like to know who took charge of the conveyance of this earlier epistle, that I may know who has wronged me by its loss. No letter from you on this subject has yet reached me. 2. How much, then, would I not have given to meet you, that I might tell you all my troubles? When one is in pain it is, as you know, some alleviation, even to describe it. How gladly would I have answered your questions, not trusting to lifeless letters, but in my own person, narrating each particular. The persuasive force of living words is more efficient and they are not so susceptible as letters to attack and to misrepresentation. For now no one has left anything untried, and the very men in whom I put the greatest confidence, men, who when I saw them among others, I used to think something more than human, have received documents written by some one, and have sent them on, whatever they are, as mine, and on their account are calumniating me to the brethren as though there is nothing now that pious and faithful men ought to hold in greater abhorrence than my name. From the beginning it has been my object to live unknown, to a degree not reached by anyone who has considered human infirmity; but now, just as though on the other hand it had been my purpose to make myself notorious to the world, I have been talked about all over the earth, and I may add all over the sea too. For men, who go to the last limit of impiety, and are introducing into the Churches the godless opinion of Unlikeness, [2802] are waging war against me. Those too who hold the via media, [2803] as they think, and, though they start from the same principles, do not follow out their logical consequences, because they are so opposed to the view of the majority, are equally hostile to me, overwhelming me to the utmost of their ability with their reproaches, and abstaining from no insidious attacks against me. But the Lord has made their endeavours vain. Is not this a grievous state of things? Must it not make my life painful? I have at all events one consolation in my troubles, my bodily infirmity. This I am sure will not suffer me to remain much longer in this miserable life. No more on this point. You too I exhort, in your bodily infirmity, to bear yourself bravely and worthy of the God Who has called us. If He sees us accepting our present circumstances with thanksgiving, He will either put away our troubles as He did Job's, or will requite us with the glorious crowns of patience in the life to come.

Footnotes

[2800] Placed in 375. [2801] An old schoolfellow of Basil's, of whom nothing seems to be known but what is gathered from this letter. [2802] i.e.the Anomoeans. On the use of the word dogma for an heretical tenet, cf. note on p. 41. [2803] The Ben. note remarks that at first sight Eustathius of Sebasteia seems to be pointed at, for in Letter cxxviii. Basil speaks of him as occupying a contemptible half-and-half position. But, continues the note: Si res attentius consideretur, non Eustathium proprie hoc loco, sed generatim eosdem hæreticos, quos contra liber De Spiritu Sancto scriptus est, perspicuum erit notari. Nam medius ille Eustathii status in eo positus erat, quod nec catholicus potentioribus Arianis catholicis videri vellet. Nondum aperti cum Arianis conjunctus, nec probare quæ ipsi a Basilio proponebantur. At quos hic commemorat Basilius, hi catholicæ doctrinæ bellum apertum in dixerant, et quamvis dissimilitudinis impietatem fugere viderentur, iisdem tamen, ac Anomoei, principiis stabant. Hoc eis exprobat Basilius in libro De Spiritu Sancto, cap. 2, ubi impias eorum de Filio ac Spiritu sancto nugas ex principiis Aetii deductas esse demonstrat, idem hæretici non desierunt nefaria Basillii expellendi consilia inire. Eorum convicia in Basilium, insidias et nefarias molitiones, furorem ac bellum inexpiabile, vide in libro De Spiritu Sancto, num. 13, 25, 34, 52, 60, 69, 75.

Letter CCXIII. [2804]

Without address. 1. May the Lord, Who has brought me prompt help in my afflictions, grant you the help of the refreshment wherewith you have refreshed me by writing to me, rewarding you for your consolation of my humble self with the real and great gladness of the Spirit. For I was indeed downcast in soul when I saw in a great multitude the almost brutish and unreasonable insensibility of the people, and the inveterate and ineradicable unsatisfactoriness of their leaders. But I saw your letter; I saw the treasure of love which it contained; then I knew that He Who ordains all our lives had made some sweet consolation shine on me in the bitterness of my life. I therefore salute your holiness in return, and exhort you, as is my wont, not to cease to pray for my unhappy life, that I may never, drowned in the unrealities of this world, forget God, "who raiseth up the poor out of the dust;" [2805] that I may never be lifted up with pride and fall into the condemnation of the devil; [2806] that I may never be found by the Lord neglectful of my stewardship and asleep; never discharging it amiss, and wounding the conscience of my fellow-servants; [2807] and, never companying with the drunken, suffer the pains threatened in God's just judgment against wicked stewards. I beseech you, therefore, in all your prayers to pray God that I may be watchful in all things; that I may be no shame or disgrace to the name of Christ, in the revelation of the secrets of my heart, in the great day of the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ. 2. Know then that I am expecting to be summoned by the wickedness of the heretics to the court, in the name of peace. Learn too that on being so informed, this bishop [2808] wrote to me to hasten to Mesopotamia, and, after assembling together those who in that country are of like sentiments with us, and are strengthening the state of the Church, to travel in their company to the emperor. But perhaps my health will not be good enough to allow me to undertake a journey in the winter. Indeed, hitherto I have not thought the matter pressing, unless you advise it. I shall therefore await your counsel that my mind may be made up. Lose no time then, I beg you, in making known to me, by means of one of our trusty brethren, what course seems best to the divinely guided intelligence of your excellency.

Footnotes

[2804] Placed in 375. [2805] Ps. cxiii. 7. [2806] cf. 1 Tim. iii. 6. [2807] cf. 1 Cor. viii. 12. [2808] Maran (Vit. Bas. vi) conjectures this bishop to be Meletius, and refers to the beginning of Letter ccxvi. with an expression of astonishment that Tillemont should refer this letter to the year 373.

Letter CCXIV. [2809]

To Count Terentius. [2810] 1. When I heard that your excellency had again been compelled to take part in public affairs, I was straightway distressed (for the truth must be told) at the thought of how contrary to your mind it must be that you after once giving up the anxieties of official life, and allowing yourself leisure for the care of your soul, should again be forced back into your old career. But then I bethought me that peradventure the Lord has ordained that your lordship should again appear in public from this wish to grant the boon of one alleviation for the countless pains which now beset the Church in our part of the world. I am, moreover, cheered by the thought that I am about to meet your excellency once again before I depart this life. 2. But a further rumour has reached me that you are in Antioch, and are transacting the business in hand with the chief authorities. And, besides this, I have heard that the brethren who are of the party of Paulinus are entering on some discussion with your excellency on the subject of union with us; and by "us" I mean those who are supporters of the blessed man of God, Meletius. [2811]I hear, moreover, that the Paulinians are carrying about a letter of the Westerns, [2812] assigning to them the episcopate of the Church in Antioch, but speaking under a false impression of Meletius, the admirable bishop of the true Church of God. I am not astonished at this. They [2813] are totally ignorant of what is going on here; the others, though they might be supposed to know, give an account to them in which party is put before truth; and it is only what one might expect that they should either be ignorant of the truth, or should even endeavour to conceal the reasons which led the blessed Bishop Athanasius to write to Paulinus. But your excellency has on the spot those who are able to tell you accurately what passed between the bishops in the reign of Jovian, and from them I beseech you to get information. [2814]I accuse no one; I pray that I may have love to all, and "especially unto them who are of the household of faith;" [2815] and therefore I congratulate those who have received the letter from Rome. And, although it is a grand testimony in their favour, I only hope it is true and confirmed by facts. But I shall never be able to persuade myself on these grounds to ignore Meletius, or to forget the Church which is under him, or to treat as small, and of little importance to the true religion, the questions which originated the division. I shall never consent to give in, merely because somebody is very much elated at receiving a letter from men. [2816]Even if it had come down from heaven itself, but he does not agree with the sound doctrine of the faith, I cannot look upon him as in communion with the saints. 3. Consider well, my excellent friend, that the falsifiers of the truth, who have introduced the Arian schism as an innovation on the sound faith of the Fathers, advance no other reason for refusing to accept the pious opinion of the Fathers than the meaning of the homoousion which they hold in their wickedness, and to the slander of the whole faith, alleging our contention to be that the Son is consubstantial in hypostasis. If we give them any opportunity by our being carried away by men who propound these sentiments and their like, rather from simplicity than from malevolence, there is nothing to prevent our giving them an unanswerable ground of argument against ourselves and confirming the heresy of those whose one end is in all their utterances about the Church, not so much to establish their own position as to calumniate mine. What more serious calumny could there be? What better calculated to disturb the faith of the majority than that some of us could be shewn to assert that there is one hypostasis of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? We distinctly lay down that there is a difference of Persons; but this statement was anticipated by Sabellius, who affirms that God is one by hypostasis, but is described by Scripture in different Persons, according to the requirements of each individual case; sometimes under the name of Father, when there is occasion for this Person; sometimes under the name of Son when there is a descent to human interests or any of the operations of the oeconomy; [2817] and sometimes under the Person of Spirit when the occasion demands such phraseology. If, then, any among us are shewn to assert that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one in substance, [2818] while we maintain the three perfect Persons, how shall we escape giving clear and incontrovertible proof of the truth of what is being asserted about us? 4. The non-identity of hypostasis and ousia is, I take it, suggested even by our western brethren, where, from a suspicion of the inadequacy of their own language, they have given the word ousia in the Greek, to the end that any possible difference of meaning might be preserved in the clear and unconfounded distinction of terms. If you ask me to state shortly my own view, I shall state that ousia has the same relation to hypostasis as the common has to the particular. Every one of us both shares in existence by the common term of essence (ousia) and by his own properties is such an one and such an one. In the same manner, in the matter in question, the term ousia is common, like goodness, or Godhead, or any similar attribute; while hypostasis is contemplated in the special property of Fatherhood, Sonship, or the power to sanctify. If then they describe the Persons as being without hypostasis, [2819] the statement is per se absurd; but if they concede that the Persons exist in real hypostasis, as they acknowledge, let them so reckon them that the principle of the homoousion may be preserved in the unity of the Godhead, and that the doctrine preached may be the recognition of true religion, of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the perfect and complete hypostasis of each of the Persons named. Nevertheless, there is one point which I should like to have pressed on your excellency, that you and all who like you care for the truth, and honour the combatant in the cause of true religion, ought to wait for the lead to be taken in bringing about this union and peace by the foremost authorities in the Church, whom I count as pillars and foundations of the truth and of the Church, and reverence all the more because they have been sent away for punishment, and have been exiled far from home. Keep yourself, I implore you, clear of prejudice, that in you, whom God has given me as a staff and support in all things, I may be able to find rest. [2820]

Footnotes

[2809] Placed in 375. [2810] cf. Letters xcix. and cv. [2811] On the divisions of Antioch, cf. Theod., H.E. iii. 2. Basil was no doubt taking the wise course in supporting Meletius, whose personal orthodoxy was unimpeachable. But the irreconcilable Eustathians could not forgive him his Arian nomination. [2812] This description might apply to either of the two letters written by Damasus to Paulinus on the subject of the admission to communion of Vitalius, bishop of the Apollinarian schism at Antioch. (Labbe. Conc. ii. 864 and 900, and Theod. H.E. v. ii.) The dates may necessitate its being referred to the former. [2813] i.e. the Westerns. [2814] cf. Letter cclviii. and the Prolegomena to Athanasius in this edition, p. lxi. The events referred to took place in the winter of 363, when Athanasius was at Antioch, and in the early part of 364 on his return to Alexandria. [2815] Gal. vi. 10. [2816] St. Basil seems quite unaware of any paramount authority in a letter from Rome. cf. Prolegomena. [2817] Vide notes, pp. 7 and 12. On Sabellius, cf. note on Letter ccxxxvi. [2818] to hupokeimenon. [2819] anupostata [2820] On the point treated of in this letter, cf. note on p. 5 and Letter xxxviii. p. 137. But in the De S.S. cap. 38 (p. 23) St. Basil himself repudiates the assertion of three "original hypostases," when he is apparently using hupostasis in the Nicene sense.

Letter CCXV. [2821]

To the Presbyter Dorotheus. I took the earliest opportunity of writing to the most admirable Count Terentius, thinking it better to write to him on the subject in hand by means of strangers, and being anxious that our very dear brother Acacius shall not be inconvenienced by any delay. I have therefore given my letter to the government treasurer, who is travelling by the imperial post, and I have charged him to shew the letter to you first. I cannot understand how it is that no one has told you that the road to Rome is wholly impracticable in winter, the country between Constantinople and our own regions being full of enemies. If the route by sea must be taken, the season will be favourable; if indeed my God-beloved brother Gregory [2822] consents to the voyage and to the commission concerning these matters. For my own part, I do not know who can go with him, and am aware that he is quite inexperienced in ecclesiastical affairs. With a man of kindly character he may get on very well, and be treated with respect, but what possible good could accrue to the cause by communication between a man proud and exalted, and therefore quite unable to hear those who preach the truth to him from a lower standpoint, and a man like my brother, to whom anything like mean servility is unknown?

Footnotes

[2821] Placed in 375. [2822] i.e. of Nyssa, an unsuitable envoy to Damascus.

Letter CCXVI. [2823]

To Meletius, bishop of Antioch. Many other [2824] journeys have taken me from home. I have been as far as Pisidia to settle the matters concerning the brethren in Isauria in concert with the Pisidian bishops. Thence I journeyed into Pontus, for Eustathius had caused no small disturbance at Dazimon, and had caused there a considerable secession from our church. I even went as far as the home of my brother Peter, [2825] and, as this is not far from Neocæsarea, there was occasion of considerable trouble to the Neocæsareans, and of much rudeness to myself. Some men fled when no one was in pursuit. And I was supposed to be intruding uninvited, simply to get compliments from the folk there. As soon as I got home, after contracting a severe illness from the bad weather and my anxieties, I straightway received a letter from the East to tell me that Paulinus had had certain letters from the West addressed to him, in acknowledgement of a sort of higher claim; and that the Antiochene rebels were vastly elated by them, and were next preparing a form of creed, and offering to make its terms a condition of union with our Church. Besides all this it was reported to me that they had seduced to their faction that most excellent man Terentius. I wrote to him at once as forcibly as I could, to induce him to pause; and I tried to point out their disingenuousness.

Footnotes

[2823] Placed in 375. [2824] On this word other the Ben. note grounds the argument that Meletius had proposed a journey which Basil had not undertaken, and hence that the unnamed bishop of Letter ccxiii. is Meletius; and further that the fact of the bishop not being named in ccxiii., and the obscurity of this and of other letters, may indicate the writer's hesitation to put particulars in his letters which might be more discreetly left to be conveyed by word of mouth. [2825] i.e. the settlement on the Iris, where Peter had succeeded Basil as Head.

Letter CCXVII.

To Amphilochius, the Canons. [2826] On my return from a long journey (for I have been into Pontus on ecclesiastical business, and to visit my relations) with my body weak and ill, and my spirits considerably broken, I took your reverence's letter into my hand. No sooner did I receive the tokens of that voice which to me is of all voices the sweetest, and of that hand that I love so well, than I forgot all my troubles. And if I was made so much more cheerful by the receipt of your letter, you ought to be able to conjecture at what value I price your actual presence. May this be granted me by the Holy One, whenever it may be convenient to you and you yourself send me an invitation. And if you were to come to the house at Euphemias it would indeed be pleasant for me to meet you, escaping from my vexations here, and hastening to your unfeigned affection. Possibly also for other reasons I may be compelled to go as far as Nazianzus by the sudden departure of the very God-beloved bishop Gregory. How or why this has come to pass, so far I have no information. [2827]The man about whom I had spoken to your excellency, and whom you expected to be ready by this time, has, you must know, fallen ill of a lingering disease, and is moreover now suffering from an affection of the eyes, arising from his old complaint and from the illness which has now befallen him, and he is quite unfit to do any work. I have no one else with me. It is consequently better, although the matter was left by them to me, for some one to be put forward by them. And indeed one cannot but think that the expressions were used merely as a necessary form, and that what they really wished was what they originally requested, that the person selected for the leadership should be one of themselves. If there is any one of the lately baptized, [2828] whether Macedonius approve or not, let him be appointed. You will instruct him in his duties, the Lord, Who in all things cooperates with you, granting you His grace for this work also. LI. As to the clergy, the Canons have enjoined without making any distinction that one penalty is assigned for the lapsed,--ejection from the ministry, whether they be in orders [2829] or remain in the ministry which is conferred without imposition of hands. LII. The woman who has given birth to a child and abandoned it in the road, if she was able to save it and neglected it, or thought by this means to hide her sin, or was moved by some brutal and inhuman motive, is to be judged as in a case of murder. If, on the other hand, she was unable to provide for it. and the child perish from exposure and want of the necessities of life, the mother is to be pardoned. LIII. The widowed slave is not guilty of a serious fall if she adopts a second marriage under colour of rape. She is not on this ground open to accusation. It is rather the object than the pretext which must be taken into account, but it is clear that she is exposed to the punishment of digamy. [2830] LIV. I know that I have already written to your reverence, so far as I can, on the distinctions to be observed in cases of involuntary homicide, [2831] and on this point I can say no more. It rests with your intelligence to increase or lessen the severity of the punishment as each individual case may require. LV. Assailants of robbers, if they are outside, are prohibited from the communion of the good thing. [2832]If they are clerics they are degraded from their orders. For, it is said, "All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." [2833] LVI. The intentional homicide, who has afterwards repented, will be excommunicated from the sacrament [2834] for twenty years. The twenty years will be appointed for him as follows: for four he ought to weep, standing outside the door of the house of prayer, beseeching the faithful as they enter in to offer prayer in his behalf, and confessing his own sin. After four years he will be admitted among the hearers, and during five years will go out with them. During seven years he will go out with the kneelers, [2835] praying. During four years he will only stand with the faithful, and will not take part in the oblation. On the completion of this period he will be admitted to participation of the sacrament. LVII. The unintentional homicide will be excluded for ten years from the sacrament. The ten years will be arranged as follows: For two years he will weep, for three years he will continue among the hearers; for four he will be a kneeler; and for one he will only stand. Then he will be admitted to the holy rites. LVIII. The adulterer will be excluded from the sacrament for fifteen years. During four he will be a weeper, and during five a hearer, during four a kneeler, and for two a slander without communion. LIX. The fornicator will not be admitted to participation in the sacrament for seven years; [2836] weeping two, hearing two, kneeling two, and standing one: in the eighth he will be received into communion. LX. The woman who has professed virginity and broken her promise will complete the time appointed in the case of adultery in her continence. [2837]The same rule will be observed in the case of men who have professed a solitary life and who lapse. LXI. The thief, if he have repented of his own accord and charged himself, shall only be prohibited from partaking of the sacrament for a year; if he be convicted, for two years. The period shall be divided between kneeling and standing. Then let him be held worthy of communion. LXII. He who is guilty of unseemliness with males will be under discipline for the same time as adulterers. LXIII. He who confesses his iniquity in the case of brutes shall observe the same time in penance. LXIV. Perjurers shall be excommunicated for ten years; weeping for two, hearing for three, kneeling for four, and standing only during one year; then they shall be held worthy of communion. LXV. He who confesses magic or sorcery shall do penance for the time of murder, and shall be treated in the same manner as he who convicts himself of this sin. LXVI. The tomb breaker shall be excommunicated for ten years, weeping for two, hearing for three, kneeling for four, standing for one, then he shall be admitted. LXVII. Incest with a sister shall incur penance for the same time as murder. LXVIII. The union of kindred within the prohibited degrees of marriage, if detected as having taken place in acts of sin, shall receive the punishment of adultery. [2838] LXIX. The Reader who has intercourse with his betrothed before marriage, shall be allowed to read after a year's suspension, remaining without advancement. If he has had secret intercourse without betrothal, he shall be deposed from his ministry. So too the minister. [2839] LXX. The deacon who has been polluted in lips, and has confessed his commission of this sin, shall be removed from his ministry. But he shall be permitted to partake of the sacrament together with the deacons. The same holds good in the case of a priest. If any one be detected in a more serious sin, whatever be his degree, he shall be deposed. [2840] LXXI. Whoever is aware of the commission of any one of the aforementioned sins, and is convicted without having confessed, shall be under punishment for the same space of time as the actual perpetrator. LXXII. He who has entrusted himself [2841] to soothsayers, or any such persons, shall be under discipline for the same time as the homicide. LXXIII. He who has denied Christ, and sinned against the mystery of salvation, ought to weep all his life long, and is bound to remain in penitence, being deemed worthy of the sacrament in the hour of death, through faith in the mercy of God. LXXIV. If, however, each man who has committed the former sins is made good, through penitence, [2842] he to whom is committed by the loving-kindness of God the power of loosing and binding [2843] will not be deserving of condemnation, if he become less severe, as he beholds the exceeding greatness of the penitence of the sinner, so as to lessen the period of punishment, for the history in the Scriptures informs us that all who exercise penitence [2844] with greater zeal quickly receive the loving-kindness of God. [2845] LXXV. The man who has been polluted with his own sister, either on the father's or the mother's side, must not be allowed to enter the house of prayer, until he has given up his iniquitous and unlawful conduct. And, after he has come to a sense of that fearful sin, let him weep for three years standing at the door of the house of prayer, and entreating the people as they go in to prayer that each and all will mercifully offer on his behalf their prayers with earnestness to the Lord. After this let him be received for another period of three years to hearing alone, and while hearing the Scriptures and the instruction, let him be expelled and not be admitted to prayer. Afterwards, if he has asked it with tears and has fallen before the Lord with contrition of heart and great humiliation, let kneeling be accorded to him during other three years. Thus, when he shall have worthily shown the fruits of repentance, let him be received in the tenth year to the prayer of the faithful without oblation; and after standing with the faithful in prayer for two years, then, and not till then, let him be held worthy of the communion of the good thing. LXXVI. The same rule applies to those who take their own daughters in law. LXXVII. He who abandons the wife, lawfully united to him, is subject by the sentence of the Lord to the penalty of adultery. But it has been laid down as a canon by our Fathers that such sinners should weep for a year, be hearers for two years, in kneeling for three years, stand with the faithful in the seventh; and thus be deemed worthy of the oblation, if they have repented with tears. [2846] LXXVIII. Let the same rule hold good in the case of those who marry two sisters, although at different times. [2847] LXXIX. Men who rage after their stepmothers are subject to the same canon as those who rage after their sisters. [2848] LXXX. On polygamy the Fathers are silent, as being brutish and altogether inhuman. The sin seems to me worse than fornication. It is therefore reasonable that such sinners should be subject to the canons; namely a year's weeping, three years kneeling and then reception. [2849] LXXXI. During the invasion of the barbarians many men have sworn heathen oaths, tasted things unlawfully offered them in magic temples and so have broken their faith in God. Let regulations be made in the case of these men in accordance with the canons laid down by our Fathers. [2850]Those who have endured grievous tortures and have been forced to denial, through inability to sustain the anguish, may be excluded for three years, hearers for two, kneelers for three, and so be received into communion. Those who have abandoned their faith in God, laying hands on the tables of the demons and swearing heathen oaths, without under going great violence, should be excluded for three years, hearers for two. When they have prayed for three years as kneelers, and have stood other three with the faithful in supplication, then let them be received into the communion of the good thing. LXXXII. As to perjurers, if they have broken their oaths under violent compulsion, they are under lighter penalties and may therefore be received after six years. If they break their faith without compulsion, let them be weepers for two years, hearers for three, pray as kneelers for five, during two be received into the communion of prayer, without oblation, and so at last, after giving proof of due repentance, they shall be restored to the communion of the body of Christ. LXXXIII. Consulters of soothsayers and they who follow heathen customs, or bring persons into their houses to discover remedies and to effect purification, should fall under the canon of six years. After weeping a year, hearing a year, kneeling for three years and standing with the faithful for a year so let them be received. LXXXIV. I write all this with a view to testing the fruits of repentance. [2851]I do not decide such matters absolutely by time, but I give heed to the manner of penance. If men are in a state in which they find it hard to be weaned from their own ways and choose rather to serve the pleasures of the flesh than to serve the Lord, and refuse to accept the Gospel life, there is no common ground between me and them. In the midst of a disobedient and gainsaying people I have been taught to hear the words "Save thy own soul." [2852]Do not then let us consent to perish together with such sinners. Let us fear the awful judgment. Let us keep before our eyes the terrible day of the retribution of the Lord. Let us not consent to perish in other men's sins, for if the terrors of the Lord have not taught us, if so great calamities have not brought us to feel that it is because of our iniquity that the Lord has abandoned us, and given us into the hands of barbarians, that the people have been led captive before our foes and given over to dispersion, because the bearers of Christ's name have dared such deeds; if they have not known nor understood that it is for these reasons that the wrath of God has come upon us, what common ground of argument have I with them? But we ought to testify to them day and night, alike in public and in private. Let us not consent to be drawn away with them in their wickedness. Let us above all pray that we may do them good, and rescue them from the snare of the evil one. If we cannot do this, let us at all events do our best to save our own souls from everlasting damnation.

Footnotes

[2826] The third canonical letter, written on Basil's return from Pontus, in 375. [2827] This is the sudden disappearance of Gregory from Nazianzus at the end of 375, which was due at once to his craving for retirement and his anxiety not to complicate the appointment of a successor to his father (who died early in 374) in the see of Nazianzus. He found a refuge in the monastery of Thecla at the Isaurian Seleucia. (Carm. xi. 549.) [2828] The Ben. note appositely points out that any astonishment, such as expressed by Tillemont, at the consecration of a neophyte, is quite out of place, in view of the exigencies of the times and the practice of postponing baptism. St. Ambrose at Milan and Nectarius at Constantinople were not even "neophytes," but were actually unbaptized at the time of their appointment to their respective sees. "If there is any one among the lately baptized," argues the Ben. note, is tantamount to saying "If there is any one fit to be bishop." [2829] eite en bathuo. This is understood by Balsamon and Zonaras to include Presbyters, Deacons, and sub-deacons; while the ministry conferred without imposition of hands refers to Readers, Singers, Sacristans, and the like. Alexius Aristenus ranks Singers and Readers with the higher orders, and understands by the lower, keepers of the sacred vessels, candle-lighters, and chancel door keepers. The Ben. note inclines to the latter view on the ground that the word "remain" indicates a category where there was no advance to a higher grade, as was the case with Readers and Singers. [2830] cf. Can. xxx. p. 239. [2831] i.e. in Canon viii. p. 226 and Canon xi. p. 228. [2832] Here reading, punctuation, and sense are obscure. The Ben. Ed. have exo men ontes, tes koinonias eirgontai, and render "Si sint quidem laici, a boni communione arcentur." But exo ontes, standing alone, more naturally means non-Christians. Balsamon and Zonaras in Pandects have exo men ontes tes 'Ekklesias eirgontai tes koinonias tou agathou. [2833] Matt. xxvi. 52. [2834] hagiasmasi. The Ben. Ed. render Sacramento. In the Sept. (e.g. Amos vii. 13) the word=sanctuary. In patristic usage both S. and P. are found for the Lord's Supper, or the consecrated elements; e.g. hagiasma in Greg. Nyss., Ep. Canon. Can. v. The plural as in this place "frequentius." (Suicer s.v.) [2835] meta ton en hupoptosei. The hupopiptontes or substrati constituted the third and chief station in the oriental system of penance, the first and second being the prosklaiontes, flentes or weepers, and the akroomenos, audientes, or hearers. In the Western Church it is the substrati who are commonly referred to as being in penitence, and the Latin versions of the Canons of Ancyra by Dionysius Exiguus and Martin of Braga render hupopiptontes and hupoptosis by poenitentis and poenitentia. In Basil's Canon xxii. p. 238, this station is specially styled metanoia. cf. D.C.A. ii. 1593. "Metanoia notat poenitentiam eorum qui ob delicta sua in ecclesia epitimiois esophronizonto (Zonaras, Ad. Can. v. Conc. Antioch, p. 327), quique dicebantur oi en metanoia ontes. Chrysostom, Hom. iii. in Epist. ad Eph. in S. Coenæ communione clamabat kerux, hosoi en metanoi& 139; apelthete pantes." Suicer s.v. [2836] cf. Can. xxii. p. 228. The Ben. note is "Laborant Balsamon et Zonaras in hoc canone conciliando cum vicesimo secundo, atque id causæ afferunt, cur in vicesimo secundo quatuor anni, septem in altero decernantur, quod Basilius in vicesimo secundo antiqua Patrum placita sequatur, suam in altero propriam sententiam exponat. Eundem hunc canonem Alexius Aristenus, ut clarum et perspicuum, negat explicatione indigere. Videbat nimirum doctissimus scriptor duplicem a Basilio distingui fornicationem, leviorem alteram, alteram graviorem levior dicitur, quæ inter personas matrimonio solutas committitur: gravior, cum conjugati hominis libido in mulierem solutam erumpit. Priori anni quatuor, septem alteri imponuntur. Manifesta res est ex canone 21, ubi conjugati peccatum cum soluta fornicationem appellat Basilius, ac longioribus poenis coerceri, non tamen instar adulterii, testatur. In canone autem 77 eum qui legitiman uxorem dimittit, et aliam ducit, adulterum quidem esse ex Domini sententia testatur, sed tamen ex canonibus Patrum annos septem decernit, non quindecim, ut in adulterio cum aliena uxore commisso. Secum ergo non pugnat cum fornicationi nunc annos quatuor, nunc septem, adulterio nunc septem, nunc quindecim indicit. Eamdem in sententiam videtur accipiendus canon quartus epistolæ Sancti Gregorii Nysseni ad Letoium. Nam cum fornicationi novem annos, adulterio decem et octo imponit, gravior illa intelligenda fornicatio, quam conjugatur cum soluta committit. Hinc ilium adulterium videri fatetur his qui accuratius examinant. [2837] cf. Can. xviii. Augustine (De Bono Viduitatis, n. 14) represents breaches of the vows of chastity as graver offenses than breaches of the vows of wedlock. The rendering of te oikonomi& 139; tes kath' heauten zoes by continency is illustrated in the Ben. note by Hermas ii. 4 as well as by Basil, Canon xiv and xliv. [2838] This Canon is thus interpreted by Aristenus, Matrimonium cum propinqua legibus prohibitum eadem ac adulterium poena castigatur: et cum diversæ sint adulterorum poenoe sic etiam pro ratione propinquitatis tota res temperabitur. Hinc duas sorores ducenti vii. anni poenitentioe irrogantur, ut in adulterio cum muliere libera commisso. non xv. ut in graviore adulterio, or does it mean that incestuous fornication shall be treated as adultery? [2839] By minister Balsamon and Zonaras understand the subdeacon. Aristenus understands all the clergy appointed without imposition of hands. The Ben. ed. approve the latter. cf. n. on Canon li. p. 256, and Letter liv. p. 157. [2840] On the earlier part of the canon the Ben. note says: "Balsamon, Zonaras, et Aristenus varia commentantur in hunc canonem, sed a mente Basilii multum abludentia. Liquet enim hoc labiorum peccatum, cui remissior poena infligitur ipsa actione, quam Basilius minime ignoscendam esse judicat, levius existimari debere. Simili ratione sanctus Pater in cap. vi. Isaiæ n. 185, p. 516, labiorum peccata actionibus, ut leviora, opponit, ac prophetæ delecta non ad actionem et operationem erupisse, sed labiis tenus constitisse observat. In eodem commentario n. 170, p. 501, impuritatis peccatum variis gradibus constare demonstrat, inter quos enumerat rhemata phthoropoia, verba ad corruptelam apta, homilias machras, longas confabulationes, quibus ad stuprum pervenitur. Ex his perspici arbitror peccatum aliquod in hoc canone designari, quod ipsa actione levius sit: nedum ea suspicari liceat, quæ Basilii interpretibus in mentem venerunt. Sed tamen cum dico Basilium in puniendis labiorum peccatis leniorem esse, non quodlibet turpium sermonum genus, non immunda colloquia (quomodo enim presbyteris hoc vitio pollutis honorem cathedræ reliquisset?), sed ejusmodi intelligenda est peccandi voluntas, quæ foras quidem aliquo sermone prodit, sed tamen quominus in actum erumpat, subeunte meliori cogitatione, reprimitur. Quemadmodum enim peccata, quæ sola cogitatione committuntur, idcirca leviora esse pronuntiat Basilius, comment. in Isaiam n. 115, p. 459, et n. 243, p. 564, qui repressa est actionis turpitudo; ita hoc loco non quælibet labiorum peccata; non calumnias, non blasphemias, sed ea tantum lenius tractat, quæ adeo gravia non erant, vel etiam ob declinatam actionis turpitudinem, ut patet ex his verbis, seque eo usque peccasse confessus est, aliquid indulgentiæ merere videbantur." On the word kathairethesetai it is remarked: "In his canonibus quos de clericorum peccatis edidit Basilius, duo videntur silentio prætermissa. Quæri enim possit o cur suspensionis poenam soli lectori ac ministro, sive subdiacono, imponat, diaconis autem et presbyteris depositionem absque ulla prorsus exceptione infligat, nisi quod eis communionem cum diaconis et presbyteris relinquit, si peccatum non ita grave fuerit. Erat tamen suspensionis poena in ipsos presbyteros non inusitata, ut patet ex plurimis apostolicis canonibus, in quibus presbyteri ac etiam ipsi episcopi segregantur, ac postea, si sese non emendaverint, deponuntur. Forte hæc reliquit Basilius episcopo dijudicanda quemadmodum ejusdem arbitrio permittet in canonibus 74 et 84, ut poenitentiæ tempus imminuat, si bonus evasint is qui peccavit. o Hæc etiam possit institui quæstio, utrumne in gravissimis quidem criminibus poenitentiam publicam depositioni adjercerit. Adhibita ratio in Canone 3, cur aliquid discriminis clericos inter et laicos ponendum sit, non solum ad gravia peccata, sed etiam ad gravissima pertinet. Ait enim æquum esse ut, cum laici post poenitentiam in eumdem locum restituantur, clerici vero non restituantur, liberalius et mitius cum clericis agatur. Nolebat ergo clericos lapsos quadruplicem poenitentiæ gradum percurrere. Sed quemadmodum lapso in fornicationem diacono non statim communionem reddit, sed ejus conversionem et morum emendationem probandam esse censit, ut ad eumdem canonem tertium observavimus, ita dubium esse non potest quin ad criminis magnitudinem probandi modum et tempus accommodaverit. [2841] The Ben. ed. suppose for the purpose of learning sorcery. cf. Can. lxxxiii., where a lighter punishment is assigned to consulters of wizards. [2842] exomologoumenos. "The verb in St. Matt. xi. 25 expresses thanksgiving and praise, and in this sense was used by many Christian writers (Suicer, s.v.). But more generally in the early Fathers it signifies the whole course of penitential discipline, the outward act and performance of penance. From this it came to mean that public acknowledgment of sin which formed so important a part of penitence. Irenæus (c. Hær. i. 13, § 5) speaks of an adulterer who, having been converted, passed her whole life in a state of penitence (exomologoumene, in exomologesi); and (ib. iii. 4) of Cerdon often coming into the church and confessing his errors (exomologoumenos)." D.C.A. i. 644. [2843] Here we see "binding and loosing" passing from the Scriptural sense of declaring what acts are forbidden and committed (Matt. xvi. 19 and xxiii. 4. See note of Rev. A. Carr in Cambridge Bible for Schools) into the later ecclesiastical sense of imposing and remitting penalties for sin. The first regards rather moral obligation, and, as is implied in the force of the tenses alike in the passages of St. Matthew cited and in St. John xx. 23, the recognition and announcement of the divine judgment already passed on sins and sinners; the later regards the imposition of disciplinary penalties. [2844] tous exomologmoumenous. [2845] e.g. according to the Ben. note, Manasseh and Hezekiah. [2846] The Ben. note points out the St. Basil refers to the repudiation of a lawful wife from some other cause than adultery. It remarks that though Basil does not order it to be punished as severely as adultery there is no doubt that he would not allow communion before the dismissal of the unlawful wife. It proceeds "illud autem difficilius est statuere, quid de matrimonio post ejectam uxorem adulteram contracto senserit. Ratum a Basilio habitum fuisse ejusmodi matrimonium pronuntiat Aristentus. Atque id quidem Basilius, conceptis verbis non declarat; sed tamen videtur hac in re a saniori ac meliori sententia discessisse. Nam o maritum injuste dimissum ab alio matrimonio non excludit, ut vidimus in canonibus 9 et 35. Porro non videtur jure dimittenti denegasse, quod injuste dimisso concedebat. o Cum jubeat uxorem adulteram ejici, vix dubium est quin matrimonium adulterio uxoris fuisset mariti, ac multo durior, quam uxoris conditio, si nec adulteram retinere, necaliam ducere integrum fuisset. [2847] cf. Letter clx. p. 212. [2848] The Ben. note is Prima specie non omnino perspicuum est utrum sorores ex utroque parente intelligat, an tantum ex alterutro. Nam cum in canone 79 eos qui suas nurus accipiunt non severius puniat, quam cui cum sorore ex matre vel ex patre rem habent, forte videri posset idem statuere de iis qui in novercas insaniunt. Sed tamen multo probabilius est eamdem illis poenam imponi, ac iis qui cum sorore ex utroque parente contaminantur. Non enim distinctione utitur Basilius ut in canone 75; nec mirum si peccatum cum noverca gravius quam cum nuru, ob factam patri injuriam, judicavit. [2849] i.e.probably only into the place of standers. Zonaras and Balsamon understand by polygamy a fourth marriage; trigamy being permitted (cf. Canon l. p. 240) though discouraged. The Ben. annotator dissents, pointing out that in Canon iv. Basil calls trigamy, polygamy, and quoting Gregory of Nazianzus (Orat. 31) as calling a third marriage paranomia . Maran confirms this opinion by the comparison of the imposition on polygamy of the same number of years of penance as are assigned to trigamy in Canon iv. "Theodore of Canterbury a.d. 687 imposes a penance of seven years on trigamists but pronounces the marriages valid (Penitential, lib. 1. c. xiv. § 3). Nicephorus of Constantinople, a.d. 814, suspends trigamists for five years. (Hard. Concil. tom. iv. p. 1052.) Herard of Tours, a.d. 858 declares any greater number of wives than two to be unlawful (Cap cxi. ibid. tom.v. p. 557). Leo the Wise, Emperor of Constantinople, was allowed to marry three wives without public remonstrance, but was suspended from communion by the patriarch Nicholas when he married a fourth. This led to a council being held at Constantinople, a.d. 920, which finally settled the Greek discipline on the subject of third and fourth marriages. It ruled that the penalty for a fourth marriage was to be excommunication and exclusion from the church; for a third marriage, if a man were forty years old, suspension for five years, and admission to communion thereafter only on Easter day. If he were thirty years old, suspension for four years, and admission to communion thereafter only three times a year." Dict. Christ. Ant. ii. p. 1104. [2850] The Ben. n. thinks that the Fathers of Ancyra are meant, whose authority seems to have been great in Cappadocia and the adjacent provinces. [2851] metanoias. cf. note on p. 256; here the word seems to include both repentance and penance. [2852] Gen. xix. 17, lxx.

Letter CCXVIII. [2853]

To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium. Brother Ælianus has himself completed the business concerning which he came, and has stood in need of no aid from me. I owe him, however, double thanks, both for bringing me a letter from your reverence and for affording me an opportunity of writing to you. By him, therefore, I salute your true and unfeigned love, and beseech you to pray for me more than ever now, when I stand in such need of the aid of your prayers. My health has suffered terribly from the journey to Pontus and my sickness is unendurable. One thing I have long been anxious to make known to you. I do not mean to say that I have been so affected by any other cause as to forget it, but now I wish to put you in mind to send some good man into Lycia, to enquire who are of the right faith, for peradventure they ought not to be neglected, if indeed the report is true, which has been brought to me by a pious traveller from thence, that they have become altogether alienated from the opinion of the Asiani [2854] and wish to embrace communion with us. If any one is to go let him enquire at Corydala [2855] for Alexander, the late monk, the bishop; at Limyra [2856] for Diotimus, and at Myra [2857] for Tatianus, Polemo, [2858] and Macarius presbyters; at Patara [2859] for Eudemus, [2860] the bishop; at Telmessus [2861] for Hilarius, the bishop; at Phelus for Lallianus, the bishop. Of these and of more besides I have been informed that they are sound in the faith, and I have been grateful to God that even any in the Asian region should be clear of the heretic's pest. If, then, it be possible, let us in the meanwhile make personal enquiry about them. When we have obtained information I am for writing a letter, and am anxious to invite one of them to meet me. God grant that all may go well with that Church at Iconium, which is so dear to me. Through you I salute all the honourable clergy and all who are associated with your reverence.

Footnotes

[2853] Placed in 375. [2854] i.e.the inhabitants of the Roman province of Asia. cf. Acts xx. 4. Asianoi de Tuchikos kai Trophimos. [2855] Corydalla, now Hadginella, is on the road between Lystra and Patara. There are ruins of a theatre. cf. Plin. v. 25. [2856] Now Phineka. [2857] So the Ben. ed. Other readings are en Kurois and en Nurois On Myra cf. Acts xxvii. 5, on which Conybeare and Howson refer to Fellows' Asia Minor, p. 194 and Spratt and Forbes's Lycia. [2858] Afterwards bishop of Myra, and as such at Constantinople 381, Labbe 1, 665. [2859] cf. Acts xxi. 1. [2860] At Constantinople in 381. [2861] Now Macri, where the ruins are remarkable.

Letter CCXIX. [2862]

To the clergy of Samosata. The Lord ordereth "all things in measure and weight," [2863] and brings on us the temptations which do not exceed our power to endure them, [2864] but tests all that fight in the cause of true religion by affliction, not suffering them to be tempted above that they are able to bear. [2865]He gives tears to drink in great measure [2866] to all who ought to show whether in their affections they are preserving their gratitude to Him. Especially in His dispensation concerning you has He shown His loving-kindness, not suffering such a persecution to be brought on you by your enemies as might turn some of you aside, or cause you to swerve from the faith of Christ. He has matched you with adversaries who are of small importance and easy to be repelled, and has prepared the prize for your patience in your victory over them. But the common enemy of our life, who, in his wiles, strives against the goodness of God, because he has seen that, like a strong wall, you are despising attack from without, has devised, as I hear, that there should arise among yourselves mutual offences and quarrels. These indeed, at the outset, are insignificant and easy of cure; as time goes on, however, they are increased by contention and are wont to result in irremediable mischief. [2867]I have, therefore, undertaken to exhort you by this letter. Had it been possible, I would have come myself and supplicated you in person. But this is prevented by present circumstances, and so, in lieu of supplication, I hold out this letter to you, that you may respect my entreaty, may put a stop to your mutual rivalries, and may soon send me the good news that all cause of offence among you is at an end. 2. I am very anxious that you should know that he is great before God who humbly submits to his neighbour and submits to charges against himself, without having cause for shame, even though they are not true, that he may bring the great blessing of peace upon God's Church. I hope that there will arise among you a friendly rivalry, as to who shall first be worthy of being called God's son, after winning this rank for himself because of his being a peacemaker. A letter has also been written to you by your very God-beloved bishop as to the course which you ought to pursue. He will write again what it belongs to him to say. But I too, because of its having been already allowed me to be near you, cannot disregard your position. So on the arrival of the very devout brother Theodorus the sub-deacon, and his report that your Church is in distress and disturbance, being deeply grieved and much pained at heart, I could not endure to keep silence. I implore you to fling away all controversy with one another, and to make peace, that you may avoid giving pleasure to you opponents and destroying the boast of the Church, which is now noised abroad throughout the world, that you all, as you are ruled by one soul and heart, so live in one body. Through your reverences I salute all the people of God, both those in rank and office and the rest of the clergy. I exhort you to keep your old character. I can ask for nothing more than this because by the exhibition of your good works you have anticipated and made impossible any improvement on them.

Footnotes

[2862] Placed in 375. [2863] Wisd. xi. 20. [2864] cf. Matt. vi. 13. [2865] cf. 1 Cor. x. 13. [2866] cf. Ps. lxxx. 5. [2867] cf. Homer of ,'Eris, Il. iv. 442: he t' olige men prota korussetai, autar epeita ourano esterixe kare kai epi chthoni bainei

Letter CCXX. [2868]

To the Beræans. [2869] The Lord has given great consolation to all who are deprived of personal intercourse in allowing them to communicate by letter. By this means, it is true, we cannot learn the express image of the body, but we can learn the disposition of the very soul. Thus on the present occasion, when I had received the letter of your reverences, I at the same moment recognised you, and took your love towards me into my heart, and needed no long time to create intimacy with you. The disposition shewn in your letter was quite enough to enkindle in me affection for the beauty of your soul. And, besides your letter, excellent as it was, I had a yet plainer proof of how things are with you from the amiability of the brethren who have been the means of communication between us. The well-beloved and reverend presbyter Acacius, has told me much in addition to what you have written, and has brought before my eyes the conflict you have to keep up day by day, and the stoutness of the stand you are making for the true religion. He has thus so moved my admiration, and roused in me so earnest a desire of enjoying the good qualities in you, that I do pray the Lord that a time may come when I may know you and yours by personal experience. He has told me of the exactitude of those of you who are entrusted with the ministry of the altar, and moreover of the harmonious agreement of all the people, and the generous character and genuine love towards God of the magistrates and chief men of your city. I consequently congratulate the Church on consisting of such members, and pray that spiritual peace may be given to you in yet greater abundance, to the end that in quieter times you may derive enjoyment from your labours in the day of affliction. For sufferings that are painful while they are being experienced are naturally often remembered with pleasure. For the present I beseech you not to faint. Do not despair because your troubles follow so closely one upon another. Your crowns are near: the help of the Lord is near. Do not let all you have hitherto undergone go for nothing; do not nullify a struggle which has been famous over all the world. Human life is but of brief duration. "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field....The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand for ever." [2870]Let us hold fast to the commandment that abideth, and despise the unreality that passeth away. Many Churches have been cheered by your example. In calling new champions into the field you have won for yourselves a great reward, though you knew it not. The Giver of the prize is rich, and is able to reward you not unworthily for your brave deeds.

Footnotes

[2868] Placed in 375. [2869] The Syrian Beræa, Aleppo, or Haleb. cf. Letter clxxxv. p. 222. [2870] Is. xl. 6, 8.

Letter CCXXI. [2871]

To the Beræans. You were previously known to me, my dear friends, by your far-famed piety, and by the crown won by your confession in Christ. Peradventure one of you may ask in reply who can have carried these tidings of us so far? The Lord Himself; for He puts His worshippers like a lamp on a lamp-stand, and makes them shine throughout the whole world. Are not winners in the games wont to be made famous by the prize of victory, and craftsmen by the skilful design of their work? Shall the memory of these and others like them abide for ever unforgotten, and shall not Christ's worshippers concerning whom the Lord says Himself, Them that honour me I will honour, be made famous and glorious by Him before all? Shall He not display the brightness of their radiant splendour as He does the beams of the sun? But I have been moved to greater longing for you by the letter which you have been good enough to send me, a letter in which, above and beyond your former efforts on behalf of the truth, you have been yet more lavish of your abounding and vigorous zeal for the true faith. In all this I rejoice with you, and I pray with you that the God of the universe, Whose is the struggle and the arena, and Who gives the crown, may fill you with enthusiasm, may make your souls strong, and make your work such as to meet with His divine approval.

Footnotes

[2871] Placed in 375.

Letter CCXXII. [2872]

To the people of Chalcis. [2873] The letter of your reverences came upon me in an hour of affliction like water poured into the mouths of racehorses, inhaling dust with each eager breath at high noontide in the middle of the course. Beset by trial after trial, I breathed again, at once cheered by your words and invigorated by the thought of your struggles to meet that which is before me with unflinching courage. For the conflagration which has devoured a great part of the East is already advancing by slow degrees into our own neighbourhood, and after burning everything round about us is trying to reach even the Churches in Cappadocia, already moved to tears by the smoke that rises from the ruins of our neighbours' homes. [2874]The flames have almost reached me. May the Lord divert them by the breath of His mouth, and stay this wicked fire. Who is such a coward, so unmanly, so untried in the athlete's struggles, as not to be nerved to the fight by your cheers, and pray to be hailed victor at your side? You have been the first to step into the arena of true religion; you have beaten off many an attack in bouts with the heretics; you have borne the strong hot wind [2875] of trial, both you who are leaders of the Church, to whom has been the ministry of the altar, and every individual of the laity, including those of higher rank. For this in you is specially admirable and worthy of all praise, that you are all one in the Lord, some of you leaders in the march to what is good, others willingly following. It is for this reason that you are too strong for the attack of your assailants, and allow no hold to your antagonists in any one of your members, wherefore day and night I pray the King of the ages to preserve the people in the integrity of their faith, and for them to preserve the clergy, like a head unharmed at the top, exercising its own watchful forethought for every portion of the body underneath. For while the eyes discharge their functions, the hands can do their work as they ought, the feet can move without tripping, and no part of the body is deprived of due care. I beseech you, then, to cling to one another, as you are doing and as you will do. I beseech you who are entrusted with the care of souls to keep each and all together, and to cherish them like beloved children. I beseech the people to continue to show you the respect and honour due to fathers, that in the goodly order of your Church you may keep your strength and the foundation of your faith in Christ; that God's name may be glorified and the good gift of love increase and abound. May I, as I hear of you, rejoice in your progress in God. If I am still bidden to sojourn in the flesh in this world, may I one day see you in the peace of God. If I be now summoned to depart this life, may I see you in the radiant glory of the saints, together with all them who are accounted worthy through patience and showing forth of good works, with crowns upon your heads.

Footnotes

[2872] Placed in 375. [2873] The Syrian Chaecis, now Kinesrin. Maran Vit. Bas. Chap. xxxiii. supposes this letter to have been probably carried with Letter ccxxi. by Acacius. [2874] Maran Vit. Bas. l. c. says that these words cannot refer to the persecution of Valens in Cappadocia in 371, for that persecution went on between Constantinople and Cappadocia, and did not start from the East. There need be no surprise, he thinks, at the two preceding letters containing no mention of this persecution, because Acacius, who was a native of Bera, would be sure to report all that he had observed in Cappadocia. I am not sure that the reference to a kind of prairie fire spreading from the East does not rather imply a prevalence of heresy than what is commonly meant by persecution. Meletius, however, was banished from Antioch in 374 and Eusebius from Samosata in the same year, as graphically described by Theodoret H.E. iv. 13. [2875] kausona. cf. Matt. xx. 12, Luke xii. 55, and James i. 11.

Letter CCXXIII. [2876]

Against Eustathius of Sebasteia. [2877] 1. There is a time to keep silence and a time to speak, [2878] is the saying of the Preacher. Time enough has been given to silence, and now the time has come to open my mouth for the publication of the truth concerning matters that are, up to now, unknown. The illustrious Job bore his calamities for a long time in silence, and ever showed his courage by holding out under the most intolerable sufferings, but when he had struggled long enough in silence, and had persisted in covering his anguish in the bottom of his heart, at last he opened his mouth and uttered his well-known words. [2879]In my own case this is now the third year of my silence, and my boast has become like that of the Psalmist, "I was as a man that heareth not and in whose mouth are no reproofs." [2880]Thus I shut up in the bottom of my heart the pangs which I suffered on account of the calumnies directed against me, for calumny humbles a man, and calumny makes a poor man giddy. [2881]If, therefore, the mischief of calumny is so great as to cast down even the perfect man from his height, for this is what Scripture indicates by the word man, and by the poor man is meant he who lacks the great doctrines, as is the view also of the prophet when he says, "These are poor, therefore they shall not hear;...I will get me unto the great men," [2882] he means by poor those who are lacking in understanding; and here, too, he plainly means those who are not yet furnished in the inner man, and have not even come to the full measure of their age; it is these who are said by the proverb to be made giddy and tossed about. Nevertheless I thought that I ought to bear my troubles in silence, waiting for some indication to come out of them. I did not even think that what was said against me proceeded from ill will; I thought it was the result of ignorance of the truth. But now I see that hostility increases with time, and that my slanderers are not sorry for what they said at the beginning, and do not take any trouble to make amends for the past, but go on and on and rally themselves together to attain their original object. This was to make my life miserable and to devise means for sullying my reputation among the brethren. I, therefore, no longer see safety in silence. I have bethought me of the words of Isaiah: "I have long time holden my peace, shall I always be still and refrain myself? I have been patient like a travailing woman." [2883]God grant that I may both receive the reward of silence, and gain some strength to confute my opponents, and that thus, by confuting them, I may dry up the bitter torrent of falsehood that has gushed out against me. So might I say, "My soul has passed over the torrent;" [2884] and, "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when men rose up against us,...then they had swallowed us up quick, the water had drowned us." [2885] 2. Much time had I spent in vanity, and had wasted nearly all my youth in the vain labour which I underwent in acquiring the wisdom made foolish by God. Then once upon a time, like a man roused from deep sleep, I turned my eyes to the marvellous light of the truth of the Gospel, and I perceived the uselessness of "the wisdom of the princes of this world, that come to naught." [2886]I wept many tears over my miserable life and I prayed that guidance might be vouchsafed me to admit me to the doctrines of true religion. First of all was I minded to make some mending of my ways, long perverted as they were by my intimacy with wicked men. Then I read the Gospel, and I saw there that a great means of reaching perfection was the selling of one's goods, the sharing them with the poor, the giving up of all care for this life, and the refusal to allow the soul to be turned by any sympathy to things of earth. And I prayed that I might find some one of the brethren who had chosen this way of life, that with him I might cross life's short [2887] and troubled strait. And many did I find in Alexandria, and many in the rest of Egypt, and others in Palestine, and in Coele Syria, and in Mesopotamia. I admired their continence in living, and their endurance in toil; I was amazed at their persistency in prayer, and at their triumphing over sleep; subdued by no natural necessity, ever keeping their souls' purpose high and free, in hunger, in thirst, in cold, in nakedness, [2888] they never yielded to the body; they were never willing to waste attention on it; always, as though living in a flesh that was not theirs, they shewed in very deed what it is to sojourn for a while in this life, [2889] and what to have one's citizenship and home in heaven. [2890]All this moved my admiration. I called these men's lives blessed, in that they did in deed shew that they "bear about in their body the dying of Jesus." [2891]And I prayed that I, too, as far as in me lay, might imitate them. 3. So when I beheld certain men in my own country striving to copy their ways, I felt that I had found a help to my own salvation, and I took the things seen for proof of things unseen. And since the secrets in the hearts of each of us are unknown, I held lowliness of dress to be a sufficient indication of lowliness of spirit; and there was enough to convince me in the coarse cloak, the girdle, and the shoes of untanned hide. [2892]And though many were for withdrawing me from their society, I would not allow it, because I saw that they put a life of endurance before a life of pleasure; and, because of the extraordinary excellence of their lives, I became an eager supporter of them. And so it came about that I would not hear of any fault being found with their doctrines, although many maintained that their conceptions about God were erroneous, and that they had become disciples of the champion of the present heresy, and were secretly propagating his teaching. But, as I had never at any time heard these things with my own ears, I concluded that those who reported them were calumniators. Then I was called to preside over the Church. Of the watchmen and spies, who were given me under the pretence of assistance and loving communion, I say nothing, lest I seem to injure my own cause by telling an incredible tale, or give believers an occasion for hating their fellows, if I am believed. This had almost been my own case, had I not been prevented by the mercy of God. For almost every one became an object of suspicion to me, and smitten at heart as I was by wounds treacherously inflicted, I seemed to find nothing in any man that I could trust. But so far there was, nevertheless, a kind of intimacy kept up between us. Once and again we held discussions on doctrinal points. and apparently we seemed to agree and keep together. But they began to find out that I made the same statements concerning my faith in God which they had always heard from me. For, if other things in me may move a sigh, this one boast at least I dare make in the Lord, that never for one moment have I held erroneous conceptions about God, or entertained heterodox opinions, which I have learnt later to change. The teaching about God which I had received as a boy from my blessed mother and my grandmother Macrina, I have ever held with increased conviction. On my coming to ripe years of reason I did not shift my opinions from one to another, but carried out the principles delivered to me by my parents. Just as the seed when it grows is first tiny and then gets bigger but always preserves its identity, not changed in kind though gradually perfected in growth, so I reckon the same doctrine to have grown in my case through gradually advancing stages. What I hold now has not replaced what I held at the beginning. Let them search their own consciences. Let these men who have now made me the common talk on the charge of false doctrine, and deafened all men's ears with the defamatory letters which they have written against me, so that I am compelled thus to defend myself, ask themselves if they have ever heard anything from me, differing from what I now say, and let them remember the judgment seat of Christ. 4. I am charged with blasphemy against God. Yet it is impossible for me to be convicted on the ground of any treatise concerning the Faith, which they urge against me, nor can I be charged on the ground of the utterances which I have from time to time delivered by word of mouth, without their being committed to writing, in the churches of God. Not a single witness has been found to say that he has ever heard from me, when speaking in private, anything contrary to true religion. If then I am not an unorthodox writer, if no fault can be found with my preaching, if I do not lead astray those who converse with me in my own home, on what ground am I being judged? But there is a new invention! Somebody, [2893] runs the charge, in Syria has written something inconsistent with true religion; and twenty years or more ago you wrote him a letter: so you are an accomplice of the fellow, and what is urged against him is urged against you. O truth-loving sir, I reply, you who have been taught that lies are the offspring of the devil; what has proved to you that I wrote that letter? You never sent; you never asked; you were never informed by me, who might have told you the truth. But if the letter was mine, how do you know that the document that has come into your hands now is of the same date as my letter? Who told you that it is twenty years old? How do you know that it is a composition of the man to whom my letter was sent? And if he was the composer, and I wrote to him, and my letter and his composition belong to the same date, what proof is there that I accepted it in my judgment, and that I hold those views? 5. Ask yourself. How often did you visit me in my monastery on the Iris, when my very God-beloved brother Gregory was with me, following the same course of life as myself? Did you ever hear anything of the kind? Was there any appearance of such a thing, small or great? How many days did we spend in the opposite village, at my mother's, living as friend with friend, and discoursing together night and day? Did you ever find me holding any opinion of the kind? And when we went together to visit the blessed Silvanus, [2894] did we not talk of these things on the way? And at Eusinoe, [2895] when you were about to set out with other bishops for Lampsacus, [2896] was not our discourse about the faith? Were not your shorthand writers at my side the whole time while I was dictating my objections to the heresy? Were not your most faithful disciples there too? When I was visiting the brotherhood, and passing the night with them in their prayers, continually speaking and hearing of the things pertaining to God without dispute, was not the evidence which I gave of my sentiments exact and definite? How came you then to reckon this rotten and slender suspicion as of more importance than the experience of such a length of time? What evidence of my frame of mind ought you to have preferred to your own? Has there been the slightest want of harmony in my utterances about the faith at Chalcedon, again and again at Heraclea, and at an earlier period in the suburb of Cæsarea? Are they not all mutually consistent? I only except the increase in force of which I spoke just now, resulting from advance, and which is not to be regarded as a change from worse to better, but rather as a filling up of what was wanting in the addition of knowledge. How can you fail to bear in mind that the father shall not bear the iniquity of the son, nor the son bear the iniquity of the father, but each shall die in his own sin? [2897]I have neither father nor son slandered by you; I have had neither teacher nor disciple. But if the sins of the parents must be made charges against their children, it is far fairer for the sins of Arius to be charged against his disciples; and, whoever begat the heretic Aetius, [2898] for the charges against the son to be applied to the father. If on the other hand it is unjust for any one to be accused for their sakes, it is far more unjust that I should be held responsible for the sake of men with whom I have nothing to do, even if they were in every respect sinners, and something worthy of condemnation has been written by them. I must be pardoned if I do not believe all that is urged against them. since my own experience shows me how very easy it is for accusers to slip into slander. 6. Even if they did come forward to accuse me, because they had been deceived, and thought that I was associated with the writers of those words of Sabellius which they are carrying about, they were guilty of unpardonable conduct in straightway attacking and wounding me, when I had done them no wrong, before they had obtained plain proof. I do not like to speak of myself as bound to them in the closest intimacy; or of them as being evidently not led by the Holy Spirit, because of their cherishing false suspicions. Much anxious thought must be taken, and many sleepless nights must be passed, and with many tears must the truth be sought from God, by him who is on the point of cutting himself off from a brother's friendship. Even the rulers of this world, when they are on the point of sentencing some evil doer to death, draw the veil aside, [2899] and call in experts for the examination of the case, and consume considerable time in weighing the severity of the law against the common fault of humanity, and with many a sigh and many a lament for the stern necessity of the case, proclaim before all the people that they are obeying the law from necessity, and not passing sentence to gratify their own wishes. [2900]How much greater care and diligence, how much more counsel, ought to be taken by one who is on the point of breaking off from long established friendship with a brother! In this case there is only a single letter and that of doubtful genuineness. It would be quite impossible to argue that it is known by the signature, for they possess not the original, but only a copy. They depend on one single document and that an old one. It is now twenty years since anything has been written to that person. [2901]Of my opinions and conduct in the intervening time I can adduce no better witnesses than the very men who attack and accuse me. 7. But the real reason of separation is not this letter. There is another cause of alienation. I am ashamed to mention it; and I would have been for ever silent about it had not recent events compelled me to publish all their mind for the sake of the good of the mass of the people. Good men have thought that communion with me was a bar to the recovery of their authority. Some have been influenced by the signature of a certain creed which I proposed to them, not that I distrusted their sentiments, I confess, but because I wished to do away with the suspicions which the more part of the brethren who agree with me entertained of them. Accordingly, to avoid anything arising from that confession to prevent their being accepted by the present authorities, [2902] they have renounced communion with me. This letter was devised by an after-thought as a pretext for the separation. A very plain proof of what I say is, that after they had denounced me, and composed such complaints against me as suited them, they sent round their letters in all directions before communicating with me. Their letter was in the possession of others who had received it in the course of transmission and who were on the point of sending it on seven days before it had reached my hands. The idea was that it would be handed from one to another and so would be quickly distributed over the whole country. This was reported to me at the time by those who were giving me clear information of all their proceedings. But I determined to hold my tongue until the Revealer of all secrets should publish their doings by plain and incontrovertible demonstration.

Footnotes

[2876] Placed in 375. [2877] On the mutual relations of Basil and Eustathius up to this time, cf. Prolegomena. [2878] Eccles. iii. 7. [2879] Job iii. 1, seqq. [2880] Ps. xxxviii. 14. [2881] cf. he sukophantia peripherei sophon. Eccles. vii. 8, LXX. Calumnia conturbat sapientem et perdet robur cordis illius. Vulg. [2882] Jer. iv. 5, LXX. [2883] Isa. xlii. 14, LXX. [2884] Ps. cxxiv. 5, LXX. [2885] Ps. cxxiv. 3, 4, LXX. [2886] 1 Cor. ii. 6. [2887] Al. deep. [2888] 2 Cor. xi. 27. [2889] cf. Heb. xi. 13. [2890] cf. Phil. iii. 20. [2891] 2 Cor. iv. 10. [2892] With St. Basil's too great readiness to believe in Eustathius because of his mean garb contrast Augustine De Serm. Dom. "Animadvertendum est non in solo rerum corporearum nitore atque pompa, sed etiam in ipsis sordibus lutosis esse posse jactantiam, et eo periculosiorem quo sub nomine servitutis Dei decipit." [2893] i.e.Apollinarius. cf. Letters cxxx. p. 198, and ccxxiv. [2894] i.e.Silvanus of Tarsus. cf. Letters xxxiv. p. 136, and lxvii. p. 164. [2895] I have not been able to identify Eusinoe. There was an Eusene on the north coast of Pontus. [2896] i.e. in 364, the year after St. Basil's ordination as presbyter, and the publication of his work against Eunomius. The Council of Lampsacus, at which Basil was not present, repudiated the Creeds of Ariminum and Constantinople (359 and 360), and reasserted the 2d Dedication Creed of Antioch of 341. Maran dates it 364 (Vit. Bas. x.). [2897] cf. Ezek. xviii. 20. [2898] cf. p. 3, n. [2899] aphelkontai . So the Harl. ms. for ephelkontai. On the sense which may be applied to either verb cf. Valesius on Am. Marcellinus xviii. 2, whom the Ben. Ed. point out to be in error in thinking that Basil's idea is of drawing a curtain or veil over the proceedings, and Chrysostom Hom. liv. in Matt. 'Epi tois dikastais, hotan demosi& 139; krinosi, ta parapetasmata sunelkusantes hoi parestotes pasin autous deiknuousi. This meaning of drawing so as to disclose is confirmed by Basil's pandemoi pasi gignontai in this passage and in Hom. in Ps. xxxii. [2900] The Ben. note compares the praise bestowed on Candidianus by Gregory of Nazianzus for trying cases in the light of day (Ep. cxciv) and Am. Marcellinus xvii. 1, who says of Julian, Numerium Narconensis paulo ante rectorem, accusatum ut furem, inusitato censorio vigore pro tribunali palam admissis volentibus audiebat. [2901] i.e. Apollinarius. [2902] Though this phrase commonly means the reigning emperor, as in Letter lxvi., the Ben. note has no doubt that in this instance the reference is to Euzoius. In Letter ccxxvi. § 3. q.v., Basil mentions reconciliation with Euzoius as the real object of Eustathius's hostility. Euzoius was now in high favour with Valens.

Letter CCXXIV. [2903]

To the presbyter Genethlius. 1. I have received your reverence's letter and I am delighted at the title which you have felicitously applied to the writing which they have composed in calling it "a writing of divorcement." [2904]What defence the writers will be able to make before the tribunal of Christ, where no excuse will avail, I am quite unable to conceive. After accusing me, violently running me down, and telling tales in accordance not with the truth but with what they wished to be true, they have assumed a great show of humility, and have accused me of haughtiness for refusing to receive their envoys. They have written, as they have, what is all--or nearly all--for I do not wish to exaggerate,--lies, in the endeavour to persuade men rather than God, and to please men rather than God, with Whom nothing is more precious than truth. Moreover into the letter written against me they have introduced heretical expressions, and have concealed the author of the impiety, in order that most of the more unsophisticated might be deceived by the calumny got up against me, and suppose the portion introduced to be mine. For nothing is said by my ingenious slanderers as to the name of the author of these vile doctrines, and it is left for the simple to suspect that these inventions, if not their expression in writing, is due to me. Now that you know all this, I exhort you not to be perturbed yourselves, and to calm the excitement of those who are agitated. I say this although I know that it will not be easy for my defence to be received, because I have been anticipated by the vile calumnies uttered against me by persons of influence. 2. Now as to the point that the writings going the round as mine are not mine at all, the angry feeling felt against me so confuses their reason that they cannot see what is profitable. Nevertheless, if the question were put to them by yourselves, I do think that they would not reach such a pitch of obstinate perversity as to dare to utter the lie with their own lips, and allege the document in question to be mine. And if it is not mine, why am I being judged for other men's writings? But they will urge that I am in communion with Apollinarius, and cherish in my heart perverse doctrines of this kind. Let them be asked for proof. If they are able to search into a man's heart, let them say so; and do you admit the truth of all that they say about everything. If on the other hand, they are trying to prove my being in communion on plain and open grounds, let them produce either a canonical letter written by me to him, or by him to me. Let them shew that I have held intercourse with his clergy, or have ever received any one of them into the communion of prayer. If they adduce the letter written now five and twenty years ago, written by layman to layman, and not even this as I wrote it, but altered (God knows by whom), then recognise their unfairness. No bishop is accused if, while he was a layman, he wrote something somewhat incautiously on an indifferent matter; not anything concerning the Faith, but a mere word of friendly greeting. Possibly even my opponents are known to have written to Jews and to Pagans, without incurring any blame. Hitherto no one has ever been judged for any such conduct as that on which I am being condemned by these strainers-out of gnats. [2905] God, who knows men's hearts, knows that I never wrote these things, nor sanctioned them, but that I anathematize all who hold the vile opinion of the confusion of the hypostases, on which point the most impious heresy of Sabellius has been revived. And all the brethren who have been personally acquainted with my insignificant self know it equally well. Let those very men who now vehemently accuse me, search their own consciences, and they will own that from my boyhood I have been far removed from any doctrine of the kind. 3. If any one enquires what my opinion is, he will learn it from the actual little document, to which is appended their own autograph signature. This they wish to destroy, and they are anxious to conceal their own change of position in slandering me. For they do not like to own that they have repented of their subscription to the tract I gave them; while they charge me with impiety from the idea that no one perceives that their disruption from me is only a pretext, while in reality they have departed from that faith which they have over and over again owned in writing, before many witnesses, and have lastly received and subscribed when delivered to them by me. It is open to any one to read the signatures and to learn the truth from the document itself. Their intention will be obvious, if, after reading the subscription which they gave me, any one reads the creed which they gave Gelasius, [2906] and observes what a vast difference there is between the two confessions. It would be better for men who so easily shift their own position, not to examine other men's motes but to cast out the beam in their own eye. [2907]I am making a more complete defence on every point in another letter; [2908] this will satisfy readers who want fuller assurance. Do you, now that you have received this letter, put away all despondency, and confirm the love to me, [2909] which makes me eagerly long for union with you. Verily it is a great sorrow to me, and a pain in my heart that cannot be assuaged, if the slanders uttered against me so far prevail as to chill your love and to alienate us from one another. Farewell.

Footnotes

[2903] Placed in 375. [2904] Matt. xix. 7. [2905] cf. Matt. xxiii. 24. [2906] cf. Letter cxxx. p. 198. [2907] cf. Matt. vii. 4. [2908] i.e. Letter ccxxiii. [2909] cf. 2 Cor. ii. 8.

Letter CCXXV. [2910]

To Demosthenes, [2911] as from the synod of bishops. I am always very thankful to God and to the emperor, under whose rule we live, when I see the government of my country put into the hands of one who is not only a Christian, but is moreover correct in life and a careful guardian of the laws according to which our life in this world is ordered. I have had special reason for offering this gratitude to God and to our God-beloved emperor on the occasion of your coming among us. I have been aware that some of the enemies of peace have been about to stir your august tribunal against me, and have been waiting to be summoned by your excellency that you might learn the truth from me; if indeed your high wisdom condescends to consider the examination of ecclesiastical matters to be within your province. [2912]The tribunal overlooked me, but your excellency, moved by the reproaches of Philochares, ordered my brother and fellow-minister Gregory to be haled before your judgment seat. He obeyed your summons; how could he do otherwise? But he was attacked by pain in the side, and at the same time, in consequence of a chill, was attacked by his old kidney complaint. He has therefore been compelled, forcibly detained by your soldiers as he was, to be conveyed to some quiet spot, where he could have his maladies attended to, and get some comfort in his intolerable agony. Under these circumstances we have combined to approach your lordship with the entreaty that you will feel no anger at the postponement of the trial. The public interests have not in any way suffered through our delay, nor have those of the Church been injured. If there is any question of the wasteful expenditure of money, the treasurers of the Church funds are there, ready to give an account to any one who likes, and to exhibit the injustice of the charges advanced by men who have braved the careful hearing of the case before you. For they can have no difficulty in making the truth clear to any one who seeks it from the actual writings of the blessed bishop himself. If there is any other point of canonical order which requires investigation, and your excellency deigns to undertake to hear and to judge it, it will be necessary for us all to be present, because, if there has been a failure in any point of canonical order, the responsibility lies with the consecrators and not with him who is forcibly compelled to undertake the ministry. We therefore petition you to reserve the hearing of the case for us in our own country, and not to compel us to travel beyond its borders, nor force us to a meeting with bishops with whom we have not yet come to agreement on ecclesiastical questions. [2913]I beg you also to be merciful to my own old age and ill health. You will learn by actual investigation, if it please God, that no canonical rule be it small or great was omitted in the appointment of the bishop. I pray that under your administration unity and peace may be brought about with my brethren; but so long as this does not exist it is difficult for us even to meet, because many of our simpler brethren suffer from our mutual disputes.

Footnotes

[2910] Placed in 375. [2911] Vicar of Pontus. It is doubtful whether he is the same Demosthenes who was at Cæsarea with Valens in 371, of whom the amusing story is told in Theodoret Hist. Ecc. iv. 16, on which see note. If he is, it is not difficult to understand his looking with no friendly eye on Basil and his brother Gregory. He summoned a synod to Ancyra in the close of 375 to examine into alleged irregularities in Gregory's consecration and accusations of embezzlement. The above letter is to apologize for Gregory's failing to put in an appearance at Ancyra, and to rebut the charges made against him. Tillemont would refer Letter xxxiii. to this period. Maran Vit. Bas. xii. 5 connects it with the troubles following on the death of Cæsarius in 369. [2912] Sæpe vicario Basilius in hac epistola leniter insinuat, res ecclesiasticas illius judicii non esse." Ben. Note. [2913] From Letter ccxxxvii. it would appear that Demosthenes was now in Galatia, where he had summoned a heretical synod. The Ben. note quotes a law of Valens of the year 373 (Cod. Theod. ix. tit. i. 10): Ultra provinciæ terminos accusandi licentia non progrediatur. Opertet enim illic criminum judicia agitari ubi facinus dicatur admissum. Peregrina autem judicia præsentibus legibus coercemus.

Letter CCXXVI. [2914]

To the ascetics under him. It may be that the holy God will grant me the joy of a meeting with you, for I am ever longing to see you and hear about you, because in no other thing do I find rest for my soul than in your progress and perfection in the commandments of Christ. But so long as this hope remains unrealized I feel bound to visit you through the instrumentality of our dear and God-fearing brethren, and to address you, my beloved friends, by letter. Wherefore I have sent my reverend and dear brother and fellow-worker in the Gospel, Meletius the presbyter. He will tell you my yearning affection for you, and the anxiety of my soul, in that, night and day, I beseech the Lord in your behalf, that I may have boldness in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ through your salvation, and that when your work is tried by the just judgment of God you may shine forth in the brightness of the saints. At the same time the difficulties of the day cause me deep anxiety, for all Churches have been tossed to and fro, and all souls are being sifted. Some have even opened their mouths without any reserve against their fellow servants. Lies are boldly uttered, and the truth has been hidden. The accused are being condemned without a trial, and the accusers are believed without evidence. I had heard that many letters are being carried about against myself, stinging, gibbeting, and attacking me for matters about which I have my defence ready for the tribunal of truth; and I had intended to keep silence, as indeed I have done; for now for three years I have been bearing the blows of calumny and the whips of accusation, content to think that I have the Lord, Who knows all secrets, as witness of its falsehood. But I see now that many men have silence as a corroboration of these slanders, and have formed the idea that my silence was due, not to my longsuffering, but to my inability to open my lips in opposition to the truth. For these reasons I have attempted to write to you, beseeching your love in Christ not to accept these partial calumnies as true, because, as it is written, the law judges no man unless it have heard and known his actions. [2915] 2. Nevertheless before a fair judge the facts themselves are a sufficient demonstration of the truth. Wherefore, even if I be silent, you can look at events. The very men who are now indicting me for heterodoxy have been seen openly numbered with the heretical faction. The very accusers who condemn me for other men's writings, are plainly contravening their own confessions, given to me by them in writing. Look at the conduct of the exhibitors of this audacity. It is their invariable custom to go over to the party in power, to trample on their weaker friends, and to court the strong. The writers of those famous letters against Eudoxius and all his faction, the senders of them to all the brotherhood, the protesters that they shun their communion as fatal to souls, and would not accept the votes given for their deposition, because they were given by heretics, as they persuaded me then,--these very men, completely forgetful of all this, have joined their faction. [2916]No room for denial is left them. They laid their mind bare when they embraced private communion with them at Ancyra, when they had not yet been publicly received by them. Ask them, then, if Basilides, who gave communion to Ecdicius, is now orthodox, why when returning from Dardania, did they overthrow his altars in the territory of Gangra, and set up their own tables? [2917]Why have they comparatively recently [2918] attacked the churches of Amasea and Zela and appointed presbyters and deacons there themselves? If they communicate with them as orthodox, why do they attack them as heretical? If they hold them to be heretical, how is it that they do not shun communion with them? Is it not, my honourable brethren, plain even to the intelligence of a child, that it is always with a view to some personal advantage that they endeavour to calumniate or to give support? So they have stood off from me, not because I did not write in reply (which is alleged to be the main ground of offence), nor because I did not receive the chorepiscopi whom they assert they sent. Those who are trumping up the tale will render an account to the Lord. One man, Eustathius, [2919] was sent and gave a letter to the court of the vicar, and spent three days in the city. When he was on the point of going home, it is said that he came to my house late in the evening, when I was asleep. On hearing that I was asleep, he went away; he did not come near me on the next day, and after thus going through the mere form of discharging his duty to me, departed. This is the charge under which I am guilty. This is the sin against which these long-suffering people have neglected to weigh the previous service wherein I served them in love. For this error they have made their wrath against me so severe that they have caused me to be denounced in all the Churches throughout the world--at least, that is, wherever they could. 3. But of course this is not the real cause of our separation. It was when they found that they would recommend themselves to Euzoius [2920] if they were alienated from me, that they devised these pretences. The object was to find some ground of recommendation with the authorities for their attack upon me. Now they are beginning to run down even the Nicene Creed, and nickname me Homoousiast, because in that creed the Only begotten Son is said to be homoousios with God the Father. Not that one essence is divided into two kindred parts; God forbid! This was not the meaning of that holy and God-beloved synod; their meaning was that what the Father is in essence, such is the Son. And thus they themselves have explained it to us, in the phrase Light of Light. Now it is the Nicene Creed, brought by themselves from the west, which they presented to the Synod at Tyana, by which they were received. [2921]But they have an ingenious theory as to changes of this kind; they use the words of the creed as physicians use a remedy for the particular moment, and substitute now one and now another to suit particular diseases. The unsoundness of such a sophism it is rather for you to consider than for me to prove. For "the Lord will give you understanding" [2922] to know what is the right doctrine, and what the crooked and perverse. If indeed we are to subscribe one creed to-day and another tomorrow, and shift with the seasons, then is the declaration false of him who said, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." [2923]But if it is true, then "Let no man deceive you with [these] vain words." They falsely accuse me of introducing novelties about the Holy Spirit. Ask what the novelty is. I confess what I have received, that the Paraclete is ranked with Father and Son, and not numbered with created beings. We have made profession of our faith in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and we are baptized in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Wherefore we never separate the Spirit from conjunction [2924] with the Father and the Son. For our mind, enlightened by the Spirit, looks at the Son, and in Him, as in an image, beholds the Father. And I do not invent names of myself, but call the Holy Ghost Paraclete; nor do I consent to destroy His due glory. These are truly my doctrines. If any one wishes to accuse me for them, let him accuse me; let my persecutor persecute me. Let him who believes in the slanders against me be ready for the judgment. "The Lord is at hand." "I am careful for nothing." [2925] 4. If any one in Syria is writing, this is nothing to me. For it is said "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." [2926]Let my own words judge me. Let no one condemn me for other men's errors nor adduce letters written twenty years ago in proof that I would allow communion to the writers of such things. Before these things were written, and before any suspicion of this kind had been stirred against them, I did write as layman to layman. I wrote nothing about the faith in any way like that which they are now carrying about to calumniate me. I sent nothing but a mere greeting to return a friendly communication, for I shun and anathematize as impious alike all who are affected with the unsoundness of Sabellius, and all who maintain the opinions of Arius. If any one says that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are the same, and supposes one thing under several names, and one hypostasis described by three persons, I rank such an one as belonging to the faction of the Jews. [2927]Similarly, if any one says that the Son is in essence unlike the Father, or degrades the Holy Ghost into a creature, I anathematize him, and say that he is coming near to the heathen error. But it is impossible for the mouths of my accusers to be restrained by my letter; rather is it likely that they are being irritated at my defence, and are getting up new and more violent attacks against me. But it is not difficult for your ears to be guarded. Wherefore, as far as in you lies, do as I bid you. Keep your heart clear and unprejudiced by their calumnies; and insist on my rendering an account to meet the charges laid against me. If you find that truth is on my side do not yield to lies; if on the other hand you feel that I am feeble in defending myself, then believe my accusers as being worthy of credit. They pass sleepless nights to do me mischief. I do not ask this of you. They are taking to a commercial career, and turning their slanders against me into a means of profit. I implore you on the other hand to stop at home, and to lead a decorous life, quietly doing Christ's work. [2928]I advise you to avoid communication with them, for it always tends to the perversion of their hearers. I say this that you may keep your affection for the uncontaminated, may preserve the faith of the Fathers in its integrity, and may appear approved before the Lord as friends of the truth.

Footnotes

[2914] Placed in 375. [2915] cf. John vii. 51. [2916] The events referred to happened ten years before the date assigned for this letter, when the Semi-Arians summoned Eudoxius to Lampsacus, and sentenced him to deprivation in his absence. (Soc. H.E. iv. 2-4; Soz. H.E. vi. 7.) On the refusal of Valens to ratify the deposition and ultimate banishment of the Anti-Eudoxians, Eustathius went to Rome to seek communion with Liberius, subscribed the Nicene Confession, and received commendatory letters from Liberius to the Easterns. Soc. H.E. iv. 12. Eudoxius died in 370. [2917] On the action of Eustathius on this occasion, cf. Letter ccli. Basilides is described as a Paphlagonian. On Ecdicius, intruded by Demosthenes into the see of Paranassus, cf. Letter ccxxxvii. [2918] So the Ben. ed. for mechri nun, with the idea that the action of Eusthathius in currying favour with the Catholics of Amasea and Zela by opposing the Arian bishops occupying those sees, must have taken place before he had quite broken with Basil. Tillemont (ix. 236) takes nun to mean 375. Amasea and Zela (in Migne erroneously Zeli. On the name, see Ramsay's Hist. Geog. Asia M. 260) are both on the Iris. [2919] A chorepiscopus; not of course to be confounded with Eustathius of Sebaste. [2920] cf. note on p. 265. [2921] i.e. after their return from Rome, and another Synod in Sicily, in 367. [2922] 2 Tim. ii. 7. [2923] Eph. iv. 5. [2924] sunapheia. cf. note on p. 16. [2925] Phil. iv. 5 and 6. [2926] Matt. xii. 37. [2927] cf. Letter ccx. p. 249. [2928] cf. 1 Thess. iv. 11.

Letter CCXXVII. [2929]

Consolatory, to the clergy of Colonia. [2930] What is so goodly and honourable before God and men as perfect love, which, as we are told by the wise teacher, is the fulfilling of the law? [2931]I therefore approve of your warm affection for your bishop, for, as to an affectionate son the loss of a good father is unendurable, so Christ's Church cannot bear the departure of a pastor and teacher. Thus, in your exceeding affection for your bishop, you are giving proof of a good and noble disposition. But this your good will towards your spiritual father is to be approved so long as it is shewn in reason and moderation; once let it begin to overstep this line, and it is no longer descrying of the same commendation. In the case of your very God-beloved brother, our fellow-minister Euphronius, good government has been shewn by those to whom has been committed the administration of the Church; they have acted as the occasion compelled them, to the gain alike of the Church to which he has been removed and of yourselves from whom he has been taken. Do not look at this as merely of man's ordaining, nor as having been originated by the calculations of men who regard earthly things. Believe that those to whom the anxious care of the Churches belongs have acted, as they have, with the aid of the Holy Spirit; impress this inception of the proceedings on your hearts and do your best to perfect it. Accept quietly and thankfully what has happened, with the conviction that all, who refuse to accept what is ordered in God's Churches by the Churches, are resisting the ordinance of God. [2932]Do not enter into a dispute with your Mother Church at Nicopolis. Do not exasperate yourselves against those who have taken the anxious responsibility of your souls. In the firm establishment of things at Nicopolis your part in them may also be preserved; but if some disturbance affects them, though you have protectors beyond number, with the head the heart will be destroyed. It is like men who live on the riverside; when they see some one far up the stream making a strong dam against the current, they know that, in stopping the inrush of the current, he is providing for their safety. Just so those who have now undertaken the weight of the care of the Churches, by protecting the rest, are proving for your own security. You will be sheltered from every storm, while others have to bear the brunt of the attack. But you ought also to consider this; he has not cast you off; he has taken others into his charge. I am not so invidious as to compel the man, who is able to give a share of his good gifts to others, also to confine his favour to you, and to limit it to your own city. A man who puts a fence round a spring, and spoils the outpour of the waters, is not free from the disease of envy, and it is just the same with him who tries to prevent the further flow of abundant teaching. Let him have some care for Nicopolis too, and let your interests be added to his anxieties there. He has received an addition of labour, but there is no diminution in his diligence on your behalf. I am really distressed at one thing that you have said, which seems to me quite extravagant, namely, that if you cannot obtain your object, you will betake yourselves to the tribunals, and put the matter into the hands of men, the great object of whose prayers is the overthrow of the Churches. Take heed lest men, carried away by unwise passions, persuade you, to your hurt, to put in any plea before the courts, and so some catastrophe may ensue, and the weight of the result fall upon the heads of those who have occasioned it. Take my advice. It is offered you in a fatherly spirit. Consent to the arrangement with the very God-beloved bishops, which has been made in accordance with God's will. Wait for my arrival. When I am with you, with God's help, I will give you in person all the exhortations which it has been impossible for me to express in my letter, and will do my utmost to give you all possible consolation, not by word but in deed.

Footnotes

[2929] Placed in 375. [2930] i.e.in Armenia. cf. Letter cxcv. p. 234. The removal of Euphronius to Nicopolis was occasioned by the death of Theodotus and the consecration of Fronto by the Eustathians, to whom the orthodox Colonians would not submit. [2931] Rom. xiii. 10. [2932] cf. Rom. xiii. 2.

Letter CCXXVIII. [2933]

To the magistrates of Colonia. I have received your lordships' letter, and offered thanks to God most holy, that you, occupied as you are with affairs of state, should not put those of the Church in the second place. I am grateful to think that every one of you has shewn anxiety as though he were acting in his own private interest, nay, in defence of his own life, and that you have written to me in your distress at the removal of your very God-beloved bishop Euphronius. Nicopolis has not really stolen him from you; were she pleading her cause before a judge she might say that she was recovering what is her own. If honourably treated she will tell you, as becomes an affectionate mother, that she will share with you the Father who will give a portion of his grace to each of you: he will not suffer the one to be in any way harmed by the invasion of their adversaries, and at the same time will not deprive you, the other, of the care to which you have been accustomed. Bethink you then of the emergency of the time; apply your best intelligence to understand how good government necessitates a certain course of action; and then pardon the bishops who have adopted this course for the establishment of the Churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. Suggest to yourselves what is becoming you. Your own intelligence needs no instruction. You know how to adopt the counsels of those who love you. It is only natural that you should be unaware of many of the questions that are being agitated, because of our being situated far away in Armenia; but we who are in the midst of affairs and have our ears dinned every day on all sides with news of Churches that are being overthrown, are in deep anxiety lest the common enemy, in envy at the protracted peace of our life, should be able to sow his tares in your ground too, and Armenia, as well as other places, be given over to our adversaries to devour. For the present be still, as not refusing to allow your neighbours to share with you the use of a goodly vessel. Ere long, if the Lord allow me to come to you, you shall, if it seem necessary to you, receive yet greater consolation for what has come to pass.

Footnotes

[2933] Of the same date as the preceding.

Letter CCXXIX. [2934]

To the clergy of Nicopolis. I am sure that a work done by one or two pious men is not done without the cooperation of the Holy Spirit. For when nothing merely human is put before us, when holy men are moved to action with no thought of their own personal gratification, and with the sole object of pleasing God, it is plain that it is the Lord Who is directing their hearts. When spiritually-minded men take the lead in counsel, and the Lord's people follow them with consentient hearts, there can be no doubt that their decisions are arrived at with the participation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who poured out His blood for the Churches' sake. You are therefore right in supposing that our very God-beloved brother and fellow minister Poemenius, [2935] who arrived among you at an opportune moment, and discovered this means of consoling you, has been divinely moved. I not only praise his discovery of the right course to take; I much admire the firmness with which, without allowing any delay to intervene, so as to slacken the energy of the petitioners, or to give the opposite party an opportunity of taking precautions, and to set in motion the counterplots of secret foes, he at once crowned his happy course with a successful conclusion. The Lord of His especial grace keep him and his, so that the Church, as becomes her, may remain in a succession in no way degenerate, and not give place to the evil one, who now, if ever, is vexed at the firm establishment of the Churches. 2. I have also written at length to exhort our brethren at Colonia. You, moreover, are bound rather to put up with their frame of mind than to increase their irritation, as though you despised them for their insignificance, or provoked them to a quarrel by your contempt. It is only natural for disputants to act without due counsel, and to manage their own affairs ill with the object of vexing their opponents. And no one is so small as not to be now able to give an occasion, to those who want an occasion, for great troubles. I do not speak at random. I speak from my own experience of my own troubles. From these may God keep you in answer to your prayers. Pray also for me, that I may have a successful journey, and, on my arrival, may share your joy in your present pastor, and with you may find consolation at the departure of our common father. [2936]

Footnotes

[2934] Placed in 375. [2935] On Poemenius, bishop of Satala in Armenia, cf. p. 185. [2936] i.e.Theodotus. cf. Letter cxxi. and cxxx. pp. 193 and 198.

Letter CCXXX. [2937]

To the magistrates of Nicopolis. The government of the Churches is carried on by those to whom the chief offices in them have been entrusted, but their hands are strengthened by the laity. The measures which lay with the God-beloved bishops have been taken. The rest concerns you, if you deign to accord a hearty reception to the bishop who has been given you, and to make a vigorous resistance to attacks from outside. For nothing is so likely to cause discouragement to all, whether rulers or the rest who envy your peaceful position, as agreement in affection to the appointed bishop, and firmness in maintaining your ground. They are likely to despair of every evil attempt, if they see that their counsels are accepted neither by clergy nor by laity. Bring it about then that your own sentiments as to the right [2938] may be shared by all the city, and so speak to the citizens, and to all the inhabitants of the district, in confirmation of their good sentiments, that the genuineness of your love to God may be everywhere known. I trust that it may be permitted me one day to visit and inspect a Church which is the nursing mother of true religion, honoured by me as a metropolis of orthodoxy, because it has from of old been under the government of men right honourable and the elect of God, who have held fast to "the faithful word as we have been taught." [2939]You have approved him who has just been appointed as worthy of these predecessors, and I have agreed. May you be preserved by God's grace. May He scatter the evil counsels of our enemies, and fix in your souls strength and constancy to preserve what has been rightly determined on.

Footnotes

[2937] Of the same date as the preceding. [2938] tou kalou, or "the good man:" i.e. Euphronius. [2939] Tit. i. 9. cf. 1 Tim. i. 15; 1 Tim. iii. 1; 2 Tim. ii. 11; and Tit. iii. 8.

Letter CCXXXI. [2940]

To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium. I find few opportunities of writing to your reverence, and this causes me no little trouble. It is just the same as if, when it was in my power to see you and enjoy your society very often, I did so but seldom. But it is impossible for me to write to you because so few travel hence to you, otherwise there is no reason why my letter should not be a kind of journal of my life, to tell you, my dear friend, everything that happens to me day by day. It is a comfort to me to tell you my affairs, and I know that you care for nothing more than for what concerns me. Now, however, Elpidius [2941] is going home to his own master, to refute the calumnies falsely got up against him by certain enemies, and he has asked me for a letter. I therefore salute your reverence by him and commend to you a man who deserves your protection, at once for the sake of justice and for my own sake. Although I could say nothing else in his favour, yet, because he has made it of very great importance to be the bearer of my letter, reckon him among our friends, and remember me and pray for the Church. You must know that my very God-beloved brother is in exile, for he could not endure the annoyance caused him by shameless persons. [2942] Doara [2943] is in a state of agitation, for the fat sea monster [2944] is throwing everything into confusion. My enemies, as I am informed by those who know, are plotting against me at court. But hitherto the hand of the Lord has been over me. Only pray that I be not abandoned in the end. My brother is taking things quietly. Doara has received the old muleteer. [2945]She can do no more. The Lord will scatter the counsels of my enemies. The one cure for all my troubles present and to come is to set eyes on you. If you possibly can, while I am still alive, do come to see me. The book on the Spirit has been written by me, and is finished, as you know. My brethren here have prevented me from sending it to you written on paper, and have told me that they had your excellency's orders to engross it on parchment. [2946]Not, then, to appear to do anything against your injunctions, I have delayed now, but I will send it a little later, if only I find any suitable person to convey it. May you be granted to me and to God's Church by the kindness of the Holy One, in all health and happiness, and praying for me to the Lord.

Footnotes

[2940] Placed in 375. [2941] It is doubtful whether this Elpidius is to be identified with any other of the same name mentioned in the letters. [2942] On the withdrawal of Gregory of Nyssa, cf. note, p. 267. [2943] Doara was one of the bishoprics in Cappadocia Secunda under Tyana; now Hadji Bektash. Ramsay, Hist. Geog. Asia Minor, p. 287. [2944] i.e.Demosthenes. Such language may seem inconsistent with the tone of Letter ccxxv., but that, it will be remembered, was an official and formal document, while the present letter is addressed to an intimate friend. [2945] Possibly another hit at Demosthenes. The name might be thought to fit Anthimus, but with him Basil had made peace. cf. Letter ccx. [2946] en somati& 251;, i.e. in a volume, not on leaves of papyrus, but in book form, as e.g. the Cod. Alexandrinus in the B.M.

Letter CCXXXII. [2947]

To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium. Every day that brings me a letter from you is a feast day, the very greatest of feast days. And when symbols of the feast are brought, what can I call it but a feast of feasts, as the old law used to speak of Sabbath of Sabbaths? I thank the Lord that you are quite well, and that you have celebrated the commemoration of the economy of salvation [2948] in a Church at peace. I have been disturbed by some troubles; and have not been without distress from the fact of my God-beloved brother being in exile. Pray for him that God may one day grant him to see his Church healed from the wounds of heretical bites. Do come to see me while I am yet upon this earth. Act in accordance with your own wishes and with my most earnest prayers. I may be allowed to be astonished at the meaning of your blessings, inasmuch as you have mysteriously wished me a vigorous old age. By your lamps [2949] you rouse me to nightly toil; and by your sweet meats you seem to pledge yourself securely that all my body is in good case. But there is no munching for me at my time of life, for my teeth have long ago been worn away by time and bad health. As to what you have asked me there are some replies in the document I send you, written to the best of my ability, and as opportunity has allowed.

Footnotes

[2947] Placed in 376. Maran, Vit. Bas. xxxv., thinks that this letter is to be placed either in the last days of 375, if the Nativity was celebrated on December 25, or in the beginning of 376, if it followed after the Epiphany. The Oriental usage up to the end of the fourth century, was to celebrate the Nativity and Baptism on January 6. St. Chrysostom, in the homily on the birthday of our Saviour, delivered c. 386, speaks of the separation of the celebration of the Nativity from that of the Epiphany as comparatively recent. cf. D.C.A., 1, pp. 361, 617. [2948] i.e.the incarnation. cf. pp. 7 and 12, n. [2949] The reading of the Ben. ed. is lampenon. The only meaning of lampene in Class. Greek is a kind of covered carriage, and the cognate adj. lampenikos is used for the covered waggons of Numb. vii. 3 in the LXX. But the context necessitates some such meaning as lamp or candle. Ducange s.v. quotes John de Janua "Lampenæ sunt stellæ fulgentes." cf. Italian Lampana, i.e. lamp.

Letter CCXXXIII. [2950]

To Amphilochius, in reply to certain questions. I. I know that I have myself heard of this, and I am aware of the constitution of mankind. What shall I say? The mind is a wonderful thing, and therein we possess that which is after the image of the Creator. And the operation of the mind is wonderful; in that, in its perpetual motion, it frequently forms imaginations about things non-existent as though they were existent, and is frequently carried straight to the truth. But there are in it two faculties; in accordance with the view of us who believe in God, the one evil, that of the dæmons which draws us on to their own apostasy; and the divine and the good, which brings us to the likeness of God. When, therefore, the mind remains alone and unaided, it contemplates small things, commensurate with itself. When it yields to those who deceive it, it nullifies its proper judgment, and is concerned with monstrous fancies. Then it considers wood to be no longer wood, but a god; then it looks on gold no longer as money, but as an object of worship. [2951]If on the other hand it assents to its diviner part, and accepts the boons of the Spirit, then, so far as its nature admits, it becomes perceptive of the divine. There are, as it were, three conditions of life, and three operations of the mind. Our ways may be wicked, and the movements of our mind wicked; such as adulteries, thefts, idolatries, slanders, strife, passion, sedition, vain-glory, and all that the apostle Paul enumerates among the works of the flesh. [2952]Or the soul's operation is, as it were, in a mean, and has nothing about it either damnable or laudable, as the perception of such mechanical crafts as we commonly speak of as indifferent, and, of their own character, inclining neither towards virtue nor towards vice. For what vice is there in the craft of the helmsman or the physician? Neither are these operations in themselves virtues, but they incline in one direction or the other in accordance with the will of those who use them. But the mind which is impregnated with the Godhead of the Spirit is at once capable of viewing great objects; it beholds the divine beauty, though only so far as grace imparts and its nature receives. 2. Let them dismiss, therefore, these questions of dialectics and examine the truth, not with mischievous exactness but with reverence. The judgment of our mind is given us for the understanding of the truth. Now our God is the very truth. [2953]So the primary function of our mind is to know one God, but to know Him so far as the infinitely great can be known by the very small. When our eyes are first brought to the perception of visible objects, all visible objects are not at once brought into sight. The hemisphere of heaven is not beheld with one glance, but we are surrounded by a certain appearance, though in reality many things, not to say all things, in it are unperceived;--the nature of the stars, their greatness, their distances, their movements, their conjunctions, their intervals, their other conditions, the actual essence of the firmament, the distance of depth from the concave circumference to the convex surface. Nevertheless, no one would allege the heaven to be invisible because of what is unknown; it would be said to be visible on account of our limited perception of it. It is just the same in the case of God. If the mind has been injured by devils it will be guilty of idolatry, or will be perverted to some other form of impiety. But if it has yielded to the aid of the Spirit, it will have understanding of the truth, and will know God. But it will know Him, as the Apostle says, in part; and in the life to come more perfectly. For "when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." [2954]The judgment of the mind is, therefore, good and given us for a good end--the perception of God; but it operates only so far as it can.

Footnotes

[2950] Placed in 376. [2951] St. Basil's word may point either at the worshippers of a golden image in a shrine in the ordinary sense, or at the state of things where, as A. H. Clough has it, "no golden images may be worshipped except the currency." [2952] cf. Gal. v. 19, 20, 21. [2953] he autoaletheia. [2954] 1 Cor. xiii. 10.

Letter CCXXXIV. [2955]

To the same, in answer to another question. Do you worship what you know or what you do not know? If I answer, I worship what I know, they immediately reply, What is the essence of the object of worship? Then, if I confess that I am ignorant of the essence, they turn on me again and say, So you worship you know not what. I answer that the word to know has many meanings. We say that we know the greatness of God, His power, His wisdom, His goodness, His providence over us, and the justness of His judgment; but not His very essence. The question is, therefore, only put for the sake of dispute. For he who denies that he knows the essence does not confess himself to be ignorant of God, because our idea of God is gathered from all the attributes which I have enumerated. But God, he says, is simple, and whatever attribute of Him you have reckoned as knowable is of His essence. But the absurdities involved in this sophism are innumerable. When all these high attributes have been enumerated, are they all names of one essence? And is there the same mutual force in His awfulness and His loving-kindness, His justice and His creative power, His providence and His foreknowledge, and His bestowal of rewards and punishments, His majesty and His providence? In mentioning any one of these do we declare His essence? If they say, yes, let them not ask if we know the essence of God, but let them enquire of us whether we know God to be awful, or just, or merciful. These we confess that we know. If they say that essence is something distinct, let them not put us in the wrong on the score of simplicity. For they confess themselves that there is a distinction between the essence and each one of the attributes enumerated. The operations are various, and the essence simple, but we say that we know our God from His operations, but do not undertake to approach near to His essence. His operations come down to us, but His essence remains beyond our reach. 2. But, it is replied, if you are ignorant of the essence, you are ignorant of Himself. Retort, If you say that you know His essence, you are ignorant of Himself. A man who has been bitten by a mad dog, and sees a dog in a dish, does not really see any more than is seen by people in good health; he is to be pitied because he thinks he sees what he does not see. Do not then admire him for his announcement, but pity him for his insanity. Recognise that the voice is the voice of mockers, when they say, if you are ignorant of the essence of God, you worship what you do not know. I do know that He exists; what His essence is, I look at as beyond intelligence. How then am I saved? Through faith. It is faith sufficient to know that God exists, without knowing what He is; and "He is a rewarder of them that seek Him." [2956]So knowledge of the divine essence involves perception of His incomprehensibility, and the object of our worship is not that of which we comprehend the essence, but of which we comprehend that the essence exists. 3. And the following counter question may also be put to them. "No man hath seen God at any time, the Only-begotten which is in the bosom hath declared him." [2957]What of the Father did the Only-begotten Son declare? His essence or His power? If His power, we know so much as He declared to us. If His essence, tell me where He said that His essence was the being unbegotten? [2958]When did Abraham worship? Was it not when he believed? And when did he believe? Was it not when he was called? Where in this place is there any testimony in Scripture to Abraham's comprehending? When did the disciples worship Him? Was it not when they saw creation subject to Him? It was from the obedience of sea and winds to Him that they recognised His Godhead. Therefore the knowledge came from the operations, and the worship from the knowledge. "Believest thou that I am able to do this?" "I believe, Lord;" [2959] and he worshipped Him. So worship follows faith, and faith is confirmed by power. But if you say that the believer also knows, he knows from what he believes; and vice versa he believes from what he knows. We know God from His power. We, therefore, believe in Him who is known, and we worship Him who is believed in.

Footnotes

[2955] Placed in 376. [2956] Heb. xi. 6. [2957] John i. 18. [2958] agennesia. cf. Prolegomena on the Books against Eunomius, and p. 39 n. [2959] cf. Matt. ix. 28.

Letter CCXXXV. [2960]

To the same, in answer to another question. 1. Which is first in order, knowledge or faith? I reply that generally, in the case of disciples, faith precedes knowledge. But, in our teaching, if any one asserts knowledge to come before faith, I make no objection; understanding knowledge so far as is within the bounds of human comprehension. In our lessons we must first believe that the letter a is said to us; then we learn the characters and their pronunciation, and last of all we get the distinct idea of the force of the letter. But in our belief about God, first comes the idea that God is. This we gather from His works. For, as we perceive His wisdom, His goodness, and all His invisible things from the creation of the world, [2961] so we know Him. So, too, we accept Him as our Lord. For since God is the Creator of the whole world, and we are a part of the world, God is our Creator. This knowledge is followed by faith, and this faith by worship. 2. But the word knowledge has many meanings, and so those who make sport of simpler minds, and like to make themselves remarkable by astounding statements (just like jugglers who get the balls out of sight before men's very eyes), hastily included everything in their general enquiry. Knowledge, I say, has a very wide application, and knowledge may be got of what a thing is, by number, by bulk, by force, by its mode of existence, by the period of its generation, by its essence. When then our opponents include the whole in their question, if they catch us in the confession that we know, they straightway demand from us knowledge of the essence; if, on the contrary, they see us cautious as to making any assertion on the subject, they affix on us the stigma of impiety. I, however, confess that I know what is knowable of God, and that I know what it is which is beyond my comprehension. [2962]So if you ask me if I know what sand is, and I reply that I do, you will obviously be slandering me, if you straightway ask me the number of the sand; inasmuch as your first enquiry bore only on the form of sand, while your second unfair objection bore upon its number. The quibble is just as though any one were to say, Do you know Timothy? Oh, if you know Timothy you know his nature. Since you have acknowledged that you know Timothy, give me an account of Timothy's nature. Yes; but I at the same time both know and do not know Timothy, though not in the same way and in the same degree. It is not that I do not know in the same way in which I do know; but I know in one way and am ignorant in one way. I know him according to his form and other properties; but I am ignorant of his essence. Indeed, in this way too, I both know, and am ignorant of, myself. I know indeed who I am, but, so far as I am ignorant of my essence I do not know myself. 3. Let them tell me in what sense Paul says, "Now we know in part"; [2963] do we know His essence in part, as knowing parts of His essence? No. This is absurd; for God is without parts. But do we know the whole essence? How then "When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." [2964]Why are idolaters found fault with? Is it not because they knew God and did not honour Him as God? Why are the "foolish Galatians" [2965] reproached by Paul in the words, "After that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements?" [2966]How was God known in Jewry? Was it because in Jewry it was known what His essence is? "The ox," it is said, "knoweth his owner." [2967]According to your argument the ox knows his lord's essence. "And the ass his master's crib." [2968]So the ass knows the essence of the crib, but "Israel doth not know me." So, according to you, Israel is found fault with for not knowing what the essence of God is. "Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee," [2969] that is, who have not comprehended thy essence. But, I repeat, knowledge is manifold--it involves perception of our Creator, recognition of His wonderful works, observance of His commandments and intimate communion with Him. All this they thrust on one side and force knowledge into one single meaning, the contemplation of God's essence. Thou shalt put them, it is said, before the testimony and I shall be known of thee thence. [2970]Is the term, "I shall be known of thee," instead of, "I will reveal my essence"? "The Lord knoweth them that are his." [2971]Does He know the essence of them that are His, but is ignorant of the essence of those who disobey Him? "Adam knew his wife." [2972]Did he know her essence? It is said of Rebekah "She was a virgin, neither had any man known her," [2973] and "How shall this be seeing I know not a man?" [2974]Did no man know Rebekah's essence? Does Mary mean "I do not know the essence of any man"? Is it not the custom of Scripture to use the word "know" of nuptial embraces? The statement that God shall be known from the mercy seat means that He will be known to His worshippers. And the Lord knoweth them that are His, means that on account of their good works He receives them into intimate communion with Him.

Footnotes

[2960] Placed in 376. [2961] cf. Rom. i. 20. [2962] A various reading gives the sense "but do not know what is beyond my comprehension." [2963] 1 Cor. xiii. 9. [2964] 1 Cor. xiii. 10. [2965] Gal. iii. 1. [2966] Gal. iv. 9. [2967] Is. i. 3. [2968] Is. i. 3. [2969] Ps. lxxix. 6. [2970] Referred by the Ben. Ed. to Ex. xxv. 21 and 22. The first clause is apparently introduced from Ex. xvi. 34. [2971] 2 Tim. ii. 19. [2972] Gen. iv. 1. [2973] Gen. xxiv. 16. [2974] Luke i. 34.

Letter CCXXXVI. [2975]

To the same Amphilochius. 1. Enquiry has already frequently been made concerning the saying of the gospels as to our Lord Jesus Christ's ignorance of the day and of the hour of the end; [2976] an objection constantly put forward by the Anomoeans to the destruction of the glory of the Only-Begotten, in order to show Him to be unlike in essence and subordinate in dignity; inasmuch as, if He know not all things, He cannot possess the same nature nor be regarded as of one likeness with Him, who by His own prescience and faculty of forecasting the future has knowledge coextensive with the universe. This question has now been proposed to me by your intelligence as a new one. I can give in reply the answer which I heard from our fathers when I was a boy, and which on account of my love for what is good, I have received without question. I do not expect that it can undo the shamelessness of them that fight against Christ, for where is the reasoning strong enough to stand their attack? It may, however, suffice to convince all that love the Lord, and in whom the previous assurance supplied them by faith is stronger than any demonstration of reason. Now "no man" seems to be a general expression, so that not even one person is excepted by it, but this is not its use in Scripture, as I have observed in the passage "there is none good but one, that is, God." [2977]For even in this passage the Son does not so speak to the exclusion of Himself from the good nature. But, since the Father is the first good, we believe the words "no man" to have been uttered with the understood addition of "first." [2978]So with the passage "No man knoweth the Son but the Father;" [2979] even here there is no charge of ignorance against the Spirit, but only a testimony that knowledge of His own nature naturally belongs to the Father first. Thus also we understand "No man knoweth," [2980] to refer to the Father the first knowledge of things, both present and to be, and generally to exhibit to men the first cause. Otherwise how can this passage fall in with the rest of the evidence of Scripture, or agree with the common notions of us who believe that the Only-Begotten is the image of the invisible God, and image not of the bodily figure, but of the very Godhead and of the mighty qualities attributed to the essence of God, image of power, image of wisdom, as Christ is called "the power of God and the wisdom of God"? [2981]Now of wisdom knowledge is plainly a part; and if in any part He falls short, He is not an image of the whole; and how can we understand the Father not to have shewn that day and that hour--the smallest portion of the ages--to Him through Whom He made the ages? How can the Creator of the universe fall short of the knowledge of the smallest portion of the things created by Him? How can He who says, when the end is near, that such and such signs shall appear in heaven and in earth, be ignorant of the end itself? When He says, "The end is not yet." [2982]He makes a definite statement, as though with knowledge and not in doubt. Then further, it is plain to the fair enquirer that our Lord says many things to men, in the character of man; as for instance, "give me to drink" [2983] is a saying of our Lord, expressive of His bodily necessity; and yet the asker was not soulless flesh, but Godhead using flesh endued with soul. [2984]So in the present instance no one will be carried beyond the bounds of the interpretation of true religion, who understands the ignorance of him who had received all things according to the oeconomy, [2985] and was advancing with God and man in favour and wisdom. [2986] 2. It would be worthy of your diligence to set the phrases of the Gospel side by side, and compare together those of Matthew and those of Mark, for these two alone are found in concurrence in this passage. The wording of Matthew is "of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." [2987]That of Mark runs, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." [2988]What is noticeable in these passages is this; that Matthew says nothing about the ignorance of the Son, and seems to agree with Mark as to sense in saying "but my Father only." Now I understand the word "only" to have been used in contradistinction to the angels, but that the Son is not included with His own servants in ignorance. He could not say what is false Who said "All things that the Father hath are Mine," [2989] but one of the things which the Father hath is knowledge of that day and of that hour. In the passage in Matthew, then, the Lord made no mention of His own Person, as a matter beyond controversy, and said that the angels knew not and that His Father alone knew, tacitly asserting the knowledge of His Father to be His own knowledge too, because of what He had said elsewhere, "as the Father knoweth me even so know I the Father," [2990] and if the Father has complete knowledge of the Son, nothing excepted, so that He knows all knowledge to dwell in Him, He will clearly be known as fully by the Son with all His inherent wisdom and all His knowledge of things to come. This modification, I think, may be given to the words of Matthew, "but my Father only." Now as to the words of Mark, who appears distinctly to exclude the Son from the knowledge, my opinion is this. No man knoweth, neither the angels of God; nor yet the Son would have known unless the Father had known: that is, the cause of the Son's knowing comes from the Father. To a fair hearer there is no violence in this interpretation, because the word "only" is not added as it is in Matthew. Mark's sense, then, is as follows: of that day and of that hour knoweth no man, nor the angels of God; but even the Son would not have known if the Father had not known, for the knowledge naturally His was given by the Father. This is very decorous and becoming the divine nature to say of the Son, because He has, His knowledge and His being, beheld in all the wisdom and glory which become His Godhead, from Him with Whom He is consubstantial. 3. As to Jeconias, whom the prophet Jeremiah declares in these words to have been rejected from the land of Judah, "Jeconias was dishonoured like a vessel for which there is no more use; and because he was cast out he and his seed; and none shall rise from his seed sitting upon the throne of David and ruling in Judah," [2991] the matter is plain and clear. On the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the kingdom had been destroyed, and there was no longer an hereditary succession of reigns as before. Nevertheless, at that time, the deposed descendants of David were living in captivity. On the return of Salathiel and Zerubbabel the supreme government rested to a greater degree with the people, and the sovereignty was afterwards transferred to the priesthood, on account of the intermingling of the priestly and royal tribes; whence the Lord, in things pertaining to God, is both King and High Priest. Moreover, the royal tribe did not fail until the coming of the Christ; nevertheless, the seed of Jeconias sat no longer upon the throne of David. Plainly it is the royal dignity which is described by the term "throne." You remember the history, how all Judæa, Idumæa, Moab, both the neighbouring regions of Syria and the further countries up to Mesopotamia, and the country on the other side as far as the river of Egypt, were all tributary to David. If then none of his descendants appeared with a sovereignty so wide, how is not the word of the prophet true that no one of the seed of Jeconias should any longer sit upon the throne of David, for none of his descendants appears to have attained this dignity. Nevertheless, the tribe of Judah did not fail, until He for whom it was destined came. But even He did not sit upon the material throne. The kingdom of Judæa was transferred to Herod, the son of Antipater the Ascalonite, and his sons who divided Judæa into four principalities, when Pilate was Procurator and Tiberius was Master of the Roman Empire. It is the indestructible kingdom which he calls the throne of David on which the Lord sat. He is the expectation of the Gentiles [2992] and not of the smallest division of the world, for it is written, "In that day there shall be a root of Jesse which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek." [2993]"I have called thee...for a covenant of the people for a light of the Gentiles"; [2994] and thus then God remained a priest although He did not receive the sceptre of Judah, and King of all the earth; so the blessing of Jacob was fulfilled, and in Him [2995] "shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," and all the nations shall call the Christ blessed. 4. And as to the tremendous question put by the facetious Encratites, why we do not eat everything? Let this answer be given, that we turn with disgust from our excrements. As far as dignity goes, to us flesh is grass; but as to distinction between what is and what is not serviceable, just as in vegetables, we separate the unwholesome from the wholesome, so in flesh we distinguish between that which is good and that which is bad for food. Hemlock is a vegetable, just as vulture's flesh is flesh; yet no one in his senses would eat henbane nor dog's flesh unless he were in very great straits. If he did, however, he would not sin. 5. Next as to those who maintain that human affairs are governed by fate, do not ask information from me, but stab them with their own shafts of rhetoric. The question is too long for my present infirmity. With regard to emerging in baptism--I do not know how it came into your mind to ask such a question, if indeed you understood immersion to fulfil the figure of the three days. It is impossible for any one to be immersed three times, without emerging three times. We write the word phagos paroxytone. [2996] 6. The distinction between ousia and hupostasis is the same as that between the general and the particular; as, for instance, between the animal and the particular man. Wherefore, in the case of the Godhead, we confess one essence or substance so as not to give a variant definition of existence, but we confess a particular hypostasis, in order that our conception of Father, Son and Holy Spirit may be without confusion and clear. [2997]If we have no distinct perception of the separate characteristics, namely, fatherhood, sonship, and sanctification, but form our conception of God from the general idea of existence, we cannot possibly give a sound account of our faith. We must, therefore, confess the faith by adding the particular to the common. The Godhead is common; the fatherhood particular. We must therefore combine the two and say, "I believe in God the Father." The like course must be pursued in the confession of the Son; we must combine the particular with the common and say "I believe in God the Son," so in the case of the Holy Ghost we must make our utterance conform to the appellation and say "in God [2998] the Holy Ghost." Hence it results that there is a satisfactory preservation of the unity by the confession of the one Godhead, while in the distinction of the individual properties regarded in each there is the confession of the peculiar properties of the Persons. On the other hand those who identify essence or substance and hypostasis are compelled to confess only three Persons, [2999] and, in their hesitation to speak of three hypostases, are convicted of failure to avoid the error of Sabellius, for even Sabellius himself, who in many places confuses the conception, yet, by asserting that the same hypostasis changed its form [3000] to meet the needs of the moment, does endeavour to distinguish persons. 7. Lastly as to your enquiry in what manner things neutral and indifferent are ordained for us, whether by some chance working by its own accord, or by the righteous providence of God, my answer is this: Health and sickness, riches and poverty, credit and discredit, inasmuch as they do not render their possessors good, are not in the category of things naturally good, but, in so far as in any way they make life's current flow more easily, in each case the former is to be preferred to its contrary, and has a certain kind of value. To some men these things are given by God for stewardship's sake, [3001] as for instance to Abraham, to Job and such like. To inferior characters they are a challenge to improvement. For the man who persists in unrighteousness, after so goodly a token of love from God, subjects himself to condemnation without defence. The good man, however, neither turns his heart to wealth when he has it, nor seeks after it if he has it not. He treats what is given him as given him not for his selfish enjoyment, but for wise administration. No one in his senses runs after the trouble of distributing other people's property, unless he is trying to get the praise of the world, which admires and envies anybody in authority. Good men take sickness as athletes take their contest, waiting for the crowns that are to reward their endurance. To ascribe the dispensation of these things to any one else is as inconsistent with true religion as it is with common sense.

Footnotes

[2975] This letter is also dated in 376, and treats of further subjects not immediately raised by the De Spiritu Sancto: How Christ can be said to be ignorant of the day and the hour; Of the prediction of Jeremiah concerning Jeconiah; Of an objection of the Encratites; Of fate; Of emerging in baptism; Of the accentuation of the word phagos; Of essence and hypostasis; Of the ordaining of things neutral and indifferent. [2976] Mark xiii. 32. [2977] Mark x. 18. i.e. in Adv. Eumon. iv. vide Proleg. [2978] The manuscripts at this point are corrupt and divergent. [2979] Matt. xi. 27. [2980] Matt. xxiv. 36. [2981] 1 Cor. i. 24. [2982] Matt. xxiv. 6. [2983] John iv. 7. [2984] cf. Ep. cclxi. 2. The reference is to the system of Apollinarius, which denied to the Son a psuche logike or reasonable soul. [2985] oikonomikos, i.e. according to the oeconomy of the incarnation. cf. note on p. 7. [2986] cf. Luke ii. 52. [2987] Matt. xxiv. 36. R.V. in this passage inserts "Neither the Son," on the authority of #, B. D. Plainly St. Basil knew no such difference of reading. On the general view taken by the Fathers on the self-limitation of the Saviour, cf. C. Gore's Bampton Lectures (vi. p. 163, and notes 48 and 49, p. 267). [2988] Mark xiii. 32. [2989] John xvi. 15. [2990] John x. 15. [2991] Jer. xxii. 28-30, LXX. [2992] Gen. xlix. 10. [2993] Is. xi. 10. The LXX. is kai ho anistamenos archein ethnon. [2994] Is. xlii. 6, and 2 Kings vii. 13. [2995] Gen. xxii. 18. [2996] Amphilochius's doubt may have arisen from the fact that phagos, the Doric form of phegos, the esculent oak of Homer, is oxytone. [2997] "asunchutos," unconfounded, or without confusion, is the title of Dialogue II. of Theodoret. cf. p. 195. n. [2998] The Benedictine note is Videtur in Harlæano codice scriptum prima manu eis ton theon. Their reading is eis to theion pneuma to hagion. cf. Ep. viii., § 2, where no variation of mss. is noted and Ep. cxli, both written before he was bishop. cf. Proleg. Gregory of Nazianzus, Or. xliii., explains the rationale of St. Basil's use of the word "God," of the Holy Ghost; alike in his public and private teaching he never shrank from using it, whenever he could with impunity, and his opinions were perfectly well known, but he sought to avoid the sentence of exile at the hands of the Arians by its unnecessary obtrusion. He never uses it in his homily De Fide, and the whole treatise De Spiritu Sancto, while it exhaustively vindicates the doctrine, ingeniously steers clear of the phrase. [2999] prosopa. [3000] The Ben. Edd. note "Existimat Combefisius verbum metaschematizesthai sic reddendum esse, in various formas mutari. Sed id non dicebat Sabellius. Hoc tantum dicebat, ut legimus in Epist. ccxiv. Unum quidem hypostasi Deum esse, sed sub diversis personis a Scripturare præsentari. According to Dante the minds of the heresiarchs were to Scripture as bad mirrors, reflecting distorted images; and, in this sense, metaschematizein might be applied rather to them. "Si fe Sabellio ed Arrio e quegli stolti, Che furon come spade alle scritture In render torti li diritti volti." Par. xiii. 123 (see Cary's note). [3001] ex oikonomias. In Ep. xxxi. Basil begins a letter to Eusebius of Samosata: "The dearth has not yet left us, we are therefore compelled still to remain in the town, either for stewardship's sake or for sympathy with the afflicted." Here the Benedictines' note is Sæpe apud Basilium oikonomia dicitur id quod pauperibus distribuitur. Vituperat in Comment. in Isa. præsules qui male partam pecuniam accipiunt vel ad suos usus, e epi logo tes ton ptocheuonton en te 'Ekklesi& 139; oikonomias, vel per causam distribuendi pauperibus Ecclesiæ. In Epistola 92 Orientales inter mala Ecclesiæ illud etiam deplorant quod ambitiosi præsules oikonom as ptochon, pecunias pauperibus destinatas in suos usus convertant.

Letter CCXXXVII. [3002]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. 1. I both wrote to your reverence by the vicar of Thrace, and sent other letters by one of the officers of the treasury of Philippopolis, who was starting from our country into Thrace, and begged him to take them on his departure. But the vicar never received my letter, for while I was visiting my diocese, [3003] he came into town in the evening and started early in the morning, so that the church officers did not know of his coming, and the letter remained at my house. The treasurer, too, on account of some unexpected and urgent business, set out without seeing me or taking my letters. No one else could be found; so I remained, sorry at not being able to write to you and at not receiving any letter from your reverence. Yet I was wishful, were it possible, to tell you all that happens to me day by day. So many astonishing things happen as to need a daily narrative, and you may be sure that I would have written one, unless my mind had been diverted from its purpose by the pressure of events. 2. The first and greatest of my troubles was the visit of the Vicar. As to whether he is a man really heretically minded I do not know; for I think that he is quite unversed in doctrine, and has not the slightest interest or experience in such things, for I see him day and night busy, both in body and soul, in other things. But he is certainly a friend of heretics; and he is not more friendly to them than he is ill-disposed to me. He has summoned a synod of wicked men in mid-winter in Galatia. [3004]He has deposed Hypsinus and set up Ecdicius in his place. [3005]He has ordered the removal of my brother on the accusation of one man, and that one quite insignificant. Then, after being occupied for some little time about the army, he came to us again breathing rage and slaughter, [3006] and, in one sentence, delivered all the Church of Cæsarea to the Senate. He settled for several days at Sebaste, separating friends from foes, [3007] calling those in communion with me senators, and condemning them to the public service, while he advanced the adherents of Eustathius. He has ordered a second synod of bishops of Galatia and Pontus to be assembled at Nyssa. [3008]They have submitted, have met, and have sent to the Churches a man of whose character I do not like to speak; but your reverence can well understand what sort of a man he must be who would put himself at the disposal of such counsels of men. [3009]Now, while I am thus writing, the same gang have hurried to Sebaste to unite with Eustathius, and, with him, to upset the Church of Nicopolis. For the blessed Theodotus has fallen asleep. Hitherto the Nicopolitans have bravely and stoutly resisted the vicar's first assault; for he tried to persuade them to receive Eustathius, and to accept their bishop on his appointment. But, on seeing them unwilling to yield, he is now trying, by yet more violent action, to effect the establishment of the bishop whom it has been attempted to give them. [3010]There is, moreover, said to be some rumoured expectation of a synod, by which means they mean to summon me to receive them into communion, or to be friendly with them. Such is the position of the Churches. As to my own health, I think it better to say nothing. I cannot bear not to tell the truth, and by telling the truth I shall only grieve you.

Footnotes

[3002] Placed in 376. [3003] paroikia. cf. p. 163, n. [3004] i.e. at Ancyra. [3005] i.e.at Parnassus. Parnassus is placed by Ramsay at a ford a few miles higher up the Halys than Tchikin Aghyl. (Hist Geog. of Asia Minor, p. 255.) [3006] cf. Acts ix. 1. [3007] phulokrinon. The word occurs also in the De Sp. S. § 74, and in Letter cciv. § 2. Another reading in this place is philokrinon, "picking out his friends." [3008] Mansi iii. 502. The fruitlessness of Ancyra necessitated a second. On Gregory's deposition and banishment, see Greg. Nyss., De Vit Macr. ii. 192, and Ep. xviii. and xxii. Also Greg. Naz., Ep. cxlii. [3009] Tillemont supposes this to refer to some one sent on a visitation to the Churches. The Ben. note prefers to apply it to the unknown intruder into the see of Nyssa, of whom Basil speaks with yet greater contempt in Letter ccxxxix. [3010] i.e. Fronto.

Letter CCXXXVIII. [3011]

To the presbyters of Nicopolis. [3012] I have received your letter, my reverend brethren, but it told me nothing that I did not already know, for the whole country round about was already full of the report announcing the disgrace of that one among you who has fallen, and through lust of vain glory has brought on himself very shameful dishonour, and has through his self-love lost the rewards promised to faith. Nay, through the just hatred of them that fear the Lord he misses even that contemptible little glory for lust of which he has been sold to impiety. By the character he has now shown he has very plainly proved, concerning all his life, that he has never at any time lived in hope of the promises laid up for us by the Lord, but, in all his transactions of human affairs, has used words of faith and mockery of piety, all to deceive every one whom he met. But how are you injured? Are you any worse off for this than you were before? One of your number has fallen away, and if one or two others have gone with him, they are to be pitied for their fall, but, by God's grace, your body is whole. The useless part has gone, and what is left has not suffered mutilation. You are haply distressed that you are driven without the walls, but you shall dwell under the protection of the God of Heaven, [3013] and the angel who watches over the Church has gone out with you. So they lie down in empty places day by day, bringing upon themselves heavy judgment through the dispersion of the people. And, if in all this there is sorrow to be borne, I trust in the Lord that it will not be without its use to you. Therefore, the more have been your trials, look for a more perfect reward from your just Judge. Do not take your present troubles ill. Do not lose hope. Yet a little while and your Helper will come to you and will not tarry. [3014]

Footnotes

[3011] Placed in 376. [3012] On the appointment of Fronto to succeed Theodotus. [3013] Ps. xci. 1, LXX. [3014] Hab. ii. 3.

Letter CCXXXIX. [3015]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. 1. The Lord has granted me the privilege of now saluting your holiness by our beloved and very reverend brother, the presbyter Antiochus, of exhorting you to pray for me as you are wont, and offering in our communication by letter some consolation for our long separation. And, when you pray, I ask you to beg from the Lord this as the first and greatest boon, that I may be delivered from vile and wicked men, who have gained such power over the people that now I seem to see, indeed, a repetition of the events of the taking of Jerusalem. [3016]For the weaker grow the Churches the more does men's lust for power increase. And now the very title of bishop has been conferred on wretched slaves, for no servant of God would choose to come forward in opposition to claim the see;--no one but miserable fellows like the emissaries of Anysius the creature of Euippius, and of Ecdicius of Parnassus: whoever has appointed him [3017] has sent into the Churches a poor means of aiding his own entry into the life to come. They have expelled my brother from Nyssa, and into his place have introduced hardly a man--a mere scamp [3018] worth only an obol or two, but, so far as regards the ruin of the faith, a match for those who have put him where he is. At the town of Doara they have brought shame upon the poor name of bishop, and have sent there a wretch, an orphans' domestic, a runaway from his own masters, to flatter a godless woman, who formerly used George as she liked, and now has got this fellow to succeed him. And who could properly lament the occurrences at Nicopolis? That unhappy Fronto did, indeed, for a while pretend to be on the side of the truth, but now he has shamefully betrayed both the faith and himself, and for the price of his betrayal has got a name of disgrace. He imagines that he has obtained from these men the rank of bishop; in reality he has become, by God's grace, the abomination of all Armenia. But there is nothing that they will not dare; nothing wherein they are at a loss for worthy accomplices. But the rest of the news of Syria my brother knows better, and can tell you better, than I. 2. The news of the West you know already, on the recital of brother Dorotheus. What sort of letters are to be given him on his departure? Perhaps he will travel with the excellent Sanctissimus, who is full of enthusiasm, journeying through the East, and collecting letters and signatures from all the men of mark. [3019]What ought to be written by them, or how I can come to an agreement with those who are writing, I do not know. If you hear of any one soon travelling my way, be so good as to let me know. I am moved to say, as Diomede said, "Would God, Atrides, thy request were yet to undertake; ...he's proud enough." [3020] Really lofty souls, when they are courted, get haughtier than ever. If the Lord be propitious to us, what other thing do we need? If the anger of the Lord lasts on, what help can come to us from the frown of the West? Men who do not know the truth, and do not wish to learn it, but are prejudiced by false suspicions, are doing now as they did in the case of Marcellus, [3021] when they quarrelled with men who told them the truth, and by their own action strengthened the cause of heresy. Apart from the common document, I should like to have written to their Coryphæus--nothing, indeed, about ecclesiastical affairs except gently to suggest that they know nothing of what is going on here, and will not accept the only means whereby they might learn it. I would say, generally, that they ought not to press hard on men who are crushed by trials. They must not take dignity for pride. Sin only avails to produce enmity against God.

Footnotes

[3015] Placed in 376. [3016] 'Ioudaikes haloseos, which the Ben. note is no doubt right in referring to the events of 70. [3017] The sudden change from the vaguer plural marks the strong contempt of the writer for the individual pointed at. [3018] The paronomasia in andra and andrapodon is untranslatable. [3019] Sanctissimus, the envoy of Damasus, seems to have paid two visits to the East. For letters of introduction given him by Basil, see Letters cxx., ccxxi., ccxxv., ccliv., cxxxii., and ccliii. [3020] Homer, Il. ix. 694-5 (Chapman). [3021] cf. Letter lxix. p. 165.

Letter CCXL. [3022]

To the Presbyters of Nicopolis. 1. You have done quite right in sending me a letter, and in sending it by the hands of one who, even if you had not written, would have been perfectly competent to give me considerable comfort in all my anxieties, and an authentic report as to the position of affairs. Many vague rumours were continually reaching me, and therefore I was desirous of getting information on many points from some one able to give it through accurate knowledge. Touching all these I have received a satisfactory and intelligent narrative from our well-beloved and honourable brother Theodosius the presbyter. I now write to your reverences the advice which I give myself, for in many respects our positions are identical; and that not only at the present moment, but in times gone by too, as many instances may prove. Of some of these we possess records in writing; others we have received through unwritten recollection from persons acquainted with the facts. We know how, for the sake of the name of the Lord, trials have beset alike individuals and cities that have put their trust in Him. Nevertheless, one and all have passed away, and the distress caused by the days of darkness has not been everlasting. For just as when hail-storm and flood, and all natural calamities, at once injure and destroy things that have no strength, while they are only themselves affected by falling on the strong, so the terrible trials set in action against the Church have been proved feebler than the firm foundation of our faith in Christ. The hail-storm has passed away; the torrent has rushed over its bed; clear sky has taken the place of the former, and the latter has left the course without water and dry, over which it travelled, and has disappeared in the deep. So, too, in a little while the storm, now bursting upon us, will cease to be. But this will be on the condition of our being willing not to look to the present, but to gaze in hope at the future somewhat further off. 2. Is the trial heavy, my brethren? Let us endure the toil. No one who shuns the blows and the dust of battle wins a crown. Are those mockeries of the devil, and the enemies sent to attack us, insignificant? They are troublesome because they are his ministers, but contemptible because God has in them combined wickedness with weakness. Let us beware of being condemned for crying out too loud over a little pain. Only one thing is worth anguish, the loss of one's own self, when for the sake of the credit of the moment, if one can really call making a public disgrace of one's self credit, one has deprived one's self of the everlasting reward of the just. You are children of confessors; you are children of martyrs; you have resisted sin unto blood. [3023]Use, each one of you, the examples of those near and dear to you to make you brave for true religion's sake. No one of us has been torn by lashes; [3024] no one of us has suffered confiscation of his house; we have not been driven into exile; we have not suffered imprisonment. What great suffering have we undergone, unless peradventure it is grievous that we have suffered nothing, and have not been reckoned worthy of the sufferings of Christ? [3025] But if you are grieved because one whom I need not name occupies the house of prayer, and you worship the Lord of heaven and earth in the open air, remember that the eleven disciples were shut up in the upper chamber, when they that had crucified the Lord were worshipping in the Jews' far-famed temple. Peradventure, Judas, who preferred death by hanging to life in disgrace, proved himself a better man than those who now meet universal condemnation without a blush. 3. Only do not be deceived by their lies when they claim to be of the right faith. They are not Christians, but traffickers in Christ, [3026] always preferring their profit in this life to living in accordance with the truth. When they thought that they should get this empty dignity, they joined the enemies of Christ: now that they have seen the indignation of the people, they are once more for pretending orthodoxy. I do not recognise as bishop--I would not count among Christ's clergy [3027] --a man who has been promoted to a chief post by polluted hands, to the destruction of the faith. This is my decision. If you have any part with me, you will doubtless think as I do. If you take counsel on your own responsibility, every man is master of his own mind, and I am innocent of this blood. [3028]I have written thus, not because I distrust you, but that by declaring my own mind I may strengthen some men's hesitation, and prevent any one from being prematurely received into communion, or after receiving the laying on of hands of our enemies, when peace is made, later on, trying to force me to enroll them in the ranks of the sacred ministry. Through you I salute the clergy of the city and diocese, and all the laity who fear the Lord.

Footnotes

[3022] Placed in 376. [3023] cf. Heb. xii. 4. [3024] katexanthe. cf. the use of kataxaino (=card or comb) in the Letter of the Smyrneans on the Martyrdom of Polycarp, § 2, "They were so torn by lashes that the mechanism of their flesh was visible, even as far as the veins and arteries." cf. note, p. 2, on the difference between the persecution of the Catholics by Valens and that of the earlier Christians by earlier emperors, though exile and confiscation were suffered in Basil's time. [3025] cf. Acts v. 41. [3026] christemporoi. cf. the use of the cognate subst. christem poria in the letter of Alexander of Alexandria in Theodoret, Ecc. Hist. i. 3. christemporos occurs in the Didache, § 12, and in the Pseud. Ig., e.g., ad Mag. ix. [3027] hiereusi. cf. note in Letter liv. p. 157. [3028] cf. Matt. iv. 24.

Letter CCXLI. [3029]

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata. It is not to increase your distress that I am so lavish of painful topics in my letters to your excellency. My object is to get some comfort for myself in the lamentations which are a kind of natural means of dispersing deep-seated pain whenever they are produced, and further to rouse you, my great-hearted friend, to more earnest prayer on behalf of the Churches. We know that Moses prayed continually for the people; yet, when his battle with Amalek had begun, he did not let down his hands from morning to evening, and the uplifting of the hands of the saint only ended with the end of the fight.

Footnotes

[3029] Placed in 376.

Letter CCXLII. [3030]

To the Westerns. [3031] 1. The Holy God has promised a happy of issue out of all their infirmities to those that trust in Him. We, therefore, though we have been cut off in a mid-ocean of troubles, though we are tossed by the great waves raised up against us by the spirits of wickedness, nevertheless hold out in Christ Who strengthens us. We have not slackened the strength of our zeal for the Churches, nor, as though despairing of our salvation, while the billows in the tempest rise above our heads, do we look to be destroyed. On the contrary, we are still holding out with all possible earnestness, remembering how even he who was swallowed by the sea monster, because he did not despair of his life, but cried to the Lord, was saved. Thus too we, though we have reached the last pitch of peril, do not give up our hope in God. On every side we see His succour round about us. For these reasons now we turn our eyes to you, right honourable brethren. In many an hour of our affliction we have expected that you would be at our side; and disappointed in that hope we have said to ourselves, "I looked for some to take pity and there was none; and for comforters but I found none." [3032]Our sufferings are such as to have reached the confines of the empire; and since, when one member suffers, all the members suffer, [3033] it is doubtless right that your pity should be shown to us who have been so long in trouble. For that sympathy, which we have hoped you of your charity feel for us, is caused less by nearness of place than by union of spirit. 2. How comes it to pass then that we have received nothing of what is due to us by the law of love; no letter of consolation, no visit from brethren? This is now the thirteenth year since the war of heresy began against us. [3034]In this the Churches have suffered more tribulations than all those which are on record since Christ's gospel was first preached. [3035]I am unwilling to describe these one by one, lest the feebleness of my narrative should make the evidence of the calamities less convincing. It is moreover the less necessary for me to tell you of them, because you have long known what has happened from the reports which will have reached you. The sum and substance of our troubles is this: the people have left the houses of prayer and are holding congregations in the wildernesses. It is a sad sight. Women, boys, old men, and those who are in other ways infirm, remain in the open air, in heavy rain, in the snow, the gales and the frost of winter as well as in summer under the blazing heat of the sun. All this they are suffering because they refuse to have anything to do with the wicked leaven of Arius. 3. How could mere words give you any clear idea of all this without your being stirred to sympathy by personal experience and the evidence of eyewitnesses? We implore you, therefore, to stretch out a helping hand to those that have already been stricken to the ground, and to send messengers to remind us of the prizes in store for the reward of all who patiently suffer for Christ. A voice that we are used to is naturally less able to comfort us than one which sounds from afar, and that one coming from men who over all the world are known by God's grace to be among the noblest; for common report everywhere represents you as having remained steadfast, without suffering a wound in your faith, and as having kept the deposit of the apostles inviolate. This is not our case. There are among us some who, through lust of glory and that puffing up which is especially wont to destroy the souls of Christian men, have audaciously uttered certain novelties of expression with the result that the Churches have become like cracked pots and pans and have let in the inrush of heretical impurity. But do you, whom we love and long for, be to us as surgeons for the wounded, as trainers for the whole, healing the limb that is diseased, and anointing the limb that is sound for the service of the true religion.

Footnotes

[3030] Placed in 376. [3031] This and the following letter refer to the earlier of two missions of Dorotheus to the West. In the latter he carried Letter cclxiii. The earlier was successful at least to the extent of winning sympathy. Maran (Vit. Bas. cap. xxxv.) places it not earlier than the Easter of 376, and objects to the earlier date assigned by Tillemont. [3032] Ps. lxix. 20. [3033] 1 Cor. xii. 26. [3034] Valens began the thirteenth year of his reign in the March of 376, and this fact is one of Maran's reasons for placing this letter where he does. Tillemont reckons the thirteen years from 361 to 374, but Maran points out that if the Easterns had wanted to include the persecution of Constantius they might have gone farther back, while even then the lull under Julian would have broken the continuity of the attack. Vit. Bas. xxxv. cf. note on p. 48. [3035] A rhetorical expression not to be taken literally. Some of the enormities committed under Valens, e.g. the alleged massacre of the Orthodox delegates off Bithynia in 370 (Soz. vi. 14, Theod. iv. 21), would stand out even when matched with the cruelties perpetrated under Nero and Diocletian, if the evidence for them were satisfactory. cf. Milman, Hist. Christ. iii. 45. The main difference between the earlier persecutions, conventionally reckoned as ten, and the persecution of the Catholics by Valens, seems to be this, that while the former were a putting in force of the law against a religio non licita, the latter was but the occasional result of the personal spite and partizanship of the imperial heretic and his courtiers. Valens would feel bitterly towards a Catholic who thwarted him. Basil could under Diocletian hardly have died in his bed as archbishop of Cæsarea.

Letter CCXLIII. [3036]

To the bishops of Italy and Gaul concerning the condition and confusion of the Churches. 1. To his brethren truly God-beloved and very dear, and fellow ministers of like mind, the bishops of Gaul and Italy, Basil, bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia. Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has deigned to style the universal Church of God His body, and has made us individually members one of another, has moreover granted to all of us to live in intimate association with one another, as befits the agreement of the members. Wherefore, although we dwell far away from one another, yet, as regards our close conjunction, we are very near. Since, then, the head cannot say to the feet, I have no need of you, [3037] you will not, I am sure, endure to reject us; you will, on the contrary, sympathize with us in the troubles to which, for our sins, we have been given over, in proportion as we rejoice together with you in your glorying in the peace which the Lord has bestowed on you. Ere now we have also at another time invoked your charity to send us succour and sympathy; but our punishment was not full, and you were not suffered to rise up to succour us. One chief object of our desire is that through you the state of confusion in which we are situated should be made known to the emperor of your part of the world. [3038] If this is difficult, we beseech you to send envoys to visit and comfort us in our affliction, that you may have the evidence of eyewitnesses of those sufferings of the East which cannot be told by word of mouth, because language is inadequate to give a clear report of our condition. 2. Persecution has come upon us, right honourable brethren, and persecution in the severest form. Shepherds are persecuted that their flocks may be scattered. And the worst of all is that those who are being treated ill cannot accept their sufferings in proof of their testimony, nor can the people reverence the athletes as in the army of martyrs, because the name of Christians is applied to the persecutors. The one charge which is now sure to secure severe punishment is the careful keeping of the traditions of the Fathers. For this the pious are exiled from their homes, and are sent away to dwell in distant regions. No reverence is shown by the judges of iniquity to the hoary head, to practical piety, to the life lived from boyhood to old age according to the Gospel. No malefactor is doomed without proof, but bishops have been convicted on calumny alone, and are consigned to penalties on charges wholly unsupported by evidence. Some have not even known who has accused them, nor been brought before any tribunal, nor even been falsely accused at all. They have been apprehended with violence late at night, have been exiled to distant places, and, through the hardships of these remote wastes, have been given over to death. [3039]The rest is notorious, though I make no mention of it--the flight of priests; the flight of deacons; the foraying of all the clergy. Either the image must be worshipped, or we are delivered to the wicked flame of whips. [3040]The laity groan; tears are falling without ceasing in public and in private; all are mutually lamenting their woes. No one's heart is so hard as to lose a father, and bear the bereavement meekly. There is a sound of them that mourn in the city--a sound in the fields, in the roads, in the deserts. But one voice is heard from all that utter sad and piteous words. Joy and spiritual gladness are taken away. Our feasts are turned into mourning. [3041]Our houses of prayer are shut. The altars of the spiritual service are lying idle. Christians no longer assemble together; teachers no longer preside. The doctrines of salvation are no longer taught. We have no more solemn assemblies, no more evening hymns, no more of that blessed joy of souls which arises in the souls of all that believe in the Lord at communions, and the imparting of spiritual boons. [3042]We may well say, "Neither is there at this time prince, or prophet, or reader, or offering, or incense, or place to sacrifice before thee, and to find mercy." [3043] 3. We are writing to those who know these things, for there is not a region of the world which is ignorant of our calamities. Do not suppose that we are using these words as though to give information, or to recall ourselves to your recollection. We know that you could no more forget us than a mother forget the sons of her womb. [3044] But all who are crushed by any weight of agony find some natural alleviation for their pain in uttering groans of distress, and it is for this that we are doing as we do. We get rid of the load of our grief in telling you of our manifold misfortunes, and in expressing the hope that you may haply be the more moved to pray for us, and may prevail on the Lord to be reconciled to us. And if these afflictions had been confined to ourselves, we might even have determined to keep silence, and to rejoice in our sufferings for Christ's sake, since "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." [3045]But at the present time we are alarmed, lest the mischief growing day by day, like a flame spreading through some burning wood, when it has consumed what is close at hand, may catch distant objects too. The plague of heresy is spreading, and there is ground of apprehension lest, when it has devoured our Churches, it may afterwards creep on even so far as to the sound portion of your district. [3046]Peradventure it is because with us iniquity has abounded that we have been first delivered to be devoured by the cruel teeth of the enemies of God. But the gospel of the kingdom began in our regions, and then went forth over all the world. So, peradventure--and this is most probable--the common enemy of our souls, is striving to bring it about that the seeds of apostasy, originating in the same quarter, should be distributed throughout the world. For the darkness of impiety plots to come upon the very hearts whereon the "light of the knowledge" of Christ has shone. [3047] 4. Reckon then, as true disciples of the Lord, that our sufferings are yours. We are not being attacked for the sake of riches, or glory, or any temporal advantages. We stand in the arena to fight for our common heritage, for the treasure of the sound faith, derived from our Fathers. Grieve with us, all ye who love the brethren, at the shutting of the mouths of our men of true religion, and at the opening of the bold and blasphemous lips of all that utter unrighteousness against God. [3048]The pillars and foundation of the truth are scattered abroad. We, whose insignificance has allowed of our being overlooked, are deprived of our right of free speech. Do ye enter into the struggle, for the people's sake. Do not think only of your being yourselves moored in a safe haven, where the grace of God gives you shelter from the tempest of the winds of wickedness. Reach out a helping hand to the Churches that are being buffeted by the storm, lest, if they be abandoned, they suffer complete shipwreck of the faith. Lament for us, in that the Only-begotten is being blasphemed, and there is none to offer contradiction. The Holy Ghost is being set at nought and he who is able to confute the error has been sent into exile. Polytheism has prevailed. Our opponents own a great God and a small God. "Son" is no longer a name of nature, but is looked upon as a title of some kind of honour. The Holy Ghost is regarded not as complemental of the Holy Trinity, nor as participating in the divine and blessed Nature, but as in some sort one of the number of created beings, and attached to Father and Son, at mere haphazard and as occasion may require. "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears," [3049] and I will weep many days for the people who are being driven to destruction by these vile doctrines. The ears of the simple are being led astray, and have now got used to heretical impiety. The nurslings of the Church are being brought up in the doctrines of iniquity. What are they to do? Our opponents have the command of baptisms; they speed the dying on their way; [3050] they visit the sick; they console the sorrowful; they aid the distressed; they give succour of various kinds; they communicate the mysteries. All these things, as long as the performance of them is in their hands, are so many ties to bind the people to their views. The result will be that in a little time, even if some liberty be conceded to us, there is small hope that they who have been long under the influence of error will be recalled to recognition of the truth. 5. Under these circumstances it would have been well for many of us to have travelled to your reverences, and to have individually reported each his own position. You may now take as a proof of the sore straits in which we are placed the fact that we are not even free to travel abroad. For if any one leaves his Church, even for a very brief space, he will leave his people at the mercy of those who are plotting their ruin. By God's mercy instead of many we have sent one, our very reverend and beloved brother the presbyter Dorotheus. He is fully able to supply by his personal report whatever has been omitted in our letter, for he has carefully followed all that has occurred, and is jealous of the right faith. Receive him in peace, and speedily send him back to us, bringing us good news of your readiness to succour the brotherhood.

Footnotes

[3036] Placed in 376. [3037] 1 Cor. xii. 21. [3038] i.e. Gratian, who succeeded Valentinian I. in 375. [3039] For the midnight banishment, cf. the story of the expulsion of Eusebius from Samosata in Theod. iv. 13. Of death following on exile Basil did not live to see the most signal instance--that of Chrysostom in 407. [3040] cf. Dan. iii. 10. The whips seem as rhetorical as the image and the flame. [3041] Amos viii. 10. [3042] epi tais sunaxesi kai te koinoni& 139; ton pneumatikon charismaton. [3043] Song of the Three Children, 14. [3044] Is. xlix. 15. [3045] Rom. viii. 18. [3046] paroikia. The word seems here to have a wider sense even than that of "diocese." [3047] cf. 2 Cor. iv. 6. [3048] cf. Ps. lxxiii. 8, LXX. [3049] Jer. ix. 1. [3050] I suggest this rendering of propompai ton exodeuonton with hesitation, and feel no certainty about the passage except that the Ben. tr., "deductiones proficiscentium," and its defence in the Ben. note, is questionable. The escort of a bishop on a journey is quite on a different plane from the ministrations which Basil has in mind. propompai is used by Chrysostom of funerals, and Combefis explains "excedentium deductæ funebres, deducta funera;" but the association of ideas seems to necessitate some reference to the effect of vicious teaching on the living. There may be an indirect allusion to the effect on the friends at a funeral, but to take exodeuonton to mean "the dying" seems the simplest. exodeutheis is used of Sisera in Judges v. 27, LXX. cf. p. 180 n., where perhaps this rendering might be substituted, and Canon Bright on Canon xiii. of Nicæa.

Letter CCXLIV. [3051]

To Patrophilus, bishop of Ægæ. [3052] 1. I have read, and read with pleasure, the letter which you have sent by Strategius the presbyter. How should I not so read it, written as it is by a wise man, and dictated by a heart which has learned to observe the universal love taught by the commandment of the Lord? Possibly I am not unaware of the reasons which have hitherto kept you silent. You have been, as it were, amazed and astounded, at the idea of the change in the notorious Basil. Why, ever since he was a boy he did such and such service to such an one; at such and such times he did such and such things; he waged war against foes innumerable for the sake of his allegiance to one man; now he has become a totally different character; he has exchanged love for war; he is all that you have written; so you naturally shew considerable astonishment at the very unexpected turn of affairs. And if you have found some fault, I do not take it ill. I am not so beyond correction as to be amazed at the affectionate rebukes of my brothers. Indeed so far was I from being vexed at your letter that it really almost made me laugh to think that when there were, as I thought, so many strong causes already existing to cement our friendship, you should have expressed such very great astonishment at the trifles which have been reported to you. So truly have you suffered the fate of all those who omit to enquire into the nature of circumstances, and give heed to the men who are being discussed; of all who do not examine into the truth, but judge by the distinction of persons, in forgetfulness of the exhortion "Ye shall not respect persons in judgment." [3053] 2. Nevertheless, since God in judgment of man does not accept persons, I will not refuse to make known to you the defence which I have prepared for the great tribunal. On my side, from the beginning, there has been no cause of quarrel, either small or great; but men who hate me, for what reason is best known to themselves (I must not say a word about them), incessantly calumniated me. I cleared myself again and again of slanders. There seemed no end to the matter, and no good came of my continual defence, because I was far away, and the authors of the false statements, being on the spot, were able by their calumnies against me to wound a susceptible heart, and one which has never learnt to keep one ear open for the absent. When the Nicopolitans, as you yourself are partly aware, were asking for some proof of faith, I determined to have recourse to the written document. [3054]I thought that I should fulfil two objects at once; I expected both to persuade the Nicopolitans not to think ill of the man, [3055] and to shut the mouths of my calumniators, because agreement in faith would exclude slander on both sides. Indeed the creed had been drawn up, and it was brought from me, and signed. After it had been signed, a place was appointed for a second meeting, and another date fixed, so that my brethren in the diocese might come together and be united with one another, and our communion for the future be genuine and sincere. I, for my part, arrived at the appointed time, and, of the brethren who act with me, some were on the spot, and others were hurrying thither, all joyous and eager as though on the high road to peace. [3056]Couriers and a letter from myself announced my arrival; for the spot appointed for the reception of those who were assembling was mine. But nobody appeared on the other side; no one came in advance; no one to announce the approach of the expected bishops. So those who had been sent by me returned with the report of the deep dejection and the complaints of those who were assembled, as though a new creed had been promulgated by me. They were moreover said to be for deciding, that they certainly would not suffer their bishop to go over to me. Then came a messenger bringing me a letter hastily drawn up, and containing no mention of the points originally agreed on. My brother Theophilus, [3057] a man worthy of all respect and honour at my hands, sent one of his adherents, and made certain announcements, which he thought it not improper for him to utter, nor unbecoming in me to hear. He did not condescend to write, not so much because he was afraid of being convicted on written evidence, as because he was anxious not to be compelled to address me as bishop. Assuredly his language was violent, and came from a heart a vehemently agitated. Under these circumstances I departed abashed and depressed, not knowing what to answer to my questioners. Then, without any long interval of time, there was the journey into Cilicia, [3058] the return thence, and forthwith a letter repudiating communion with me. [3059] 3. The cause of the rupture was the allegation that I wrote to Apollinarius and was in communion with the presbyter Diodorus. I never regarded Apollinarius as an enemy, and for some reasons I even respect him. But I never so far united myself to him as to take upon me the charges against him; indeed I have myself some accusations to bring against him after reading some of his books. I do not know that I ever asked him for a book on the Holy Spirit, or received it on his sending: I am told that he has become a most copious writer, but I have read very few of his works. [3060]I have not even time to investigate such matters. Indeed I shrink from admitting any of the more recent works, for my health does not even allow of my reading the inspired Scriptures with diligence and as I ought. What, then, is it to me, if some one has written something displeasing to somebody else? Yet if one man is to render an account on behalf of another, let him who accuses me for Apollinarius' sake defend himself to me for the sake of Arius his own master and of Aetius his own disciple. I never learnt anything from, nor taught anything to this man whose guilt is laid at my door. Diodorus, as a nursling of the blessed Silvanus, I did receive from the beginning: I love him now and respect him on account of his grace of speech, whereby many who meet him are made the better men. [3061] 4. At this letter I was affected in such a manner as might be expected, and astounded at so sudden and pleasant a change. I felt quite unable to reply. My heart could hardly beat; my tongue failed me, and my hand grew numb. I felt like a poor creature (for the truth shall be told; yet it is pardonable); I all but fell into a state of misanthropy; I looked on every one with suspicion and thought that there was no charity to be found in mankind. Charity seemed a mere specious word, serving as a kind of decoration to those who use it, while no such sentiment was really to be found in the heart of man. Could it really be that one who seemed to have disciplined himself from boyhood to old age, could be so easily brutalized on such grounds, without a thought for me, without any idea that his experience of bygone years ought to have more weight than this wretched slander? Could he really, like an unbroken colt as yet untaught to carry his rider properly, on some petty suspicion rear and unseat his rider and fling to the ground what was once his pride? If so, what must be thought of the rest with whom I had no such strong ties of friendship, and who had given no such proofs of a well trained life? All this I turned over in my soul and continually revolved in my heart, or, shall I rather say my heart was turned over by these things fighting and pricking me at the recollection of them? I wrote no answer; not that I kept silence from contempt; do not think it of me my brother, for I am not defending myself to men but I speak before God in Christ. I kept silence from utter inability to say a word commensurate with my grief. 5. While I was in this position another letter came to me, addressed to a certain Dazizas, but in reality written to all the world. This is obvious from its very rapid distribution, for in a few days it was delivered all over Pontus, and was travelling about Galatia; indeed it is said that the carriers of this good news traversed Bithynia, and reached the Hellespont itself. What was written against me to Dazizas [3062] you are very well aware, for they do not reckon you as so far beyond the bounds of their friendship as to have left you alone undistinguished by this honour. However, if the letter has not reached you, I will send it to you. In it you will find me charged with craft and treachery, with corruption of Churches and with ruin of souls. The charge which they think the truest of all is, that I made that exposition of the faith for secret and dishonest reasons, not to do service to the Nicopolitans, but with the design of disingenously extracting a confession from them. Of all this the Lord is Judge. What clear evidence can there be of the thoughts of the heart? One thing I do wonder at in them, that after signing the document presented by me, they show so much disagreement, that they confuse truth and falsehood to satisfy those who are accusing them, quite forgetful that their written confession of the Nicene Creed is preserved at Rome, and that they with their own hand delivered to the council at Tyana the document brought from Rome which is in my hands, and contains the same creed. They forgot their own address, when they came forward and bewailed the deceit by which they had been tricked into giving their adhesion to the document drawn up by the faction of Eudoxius, [3063] and so bethought them of the defence for that error, that they should go to Rome [3064] and there accept the creed of the Fathers, that so they might make amends, for the mischief they had done the Church by their agreement in evil, by their introduction of something better. Now the very men who undertook long journeys for the faith's sake, and made all these fine speeches, are reviling me for walking craftily, and for playing the plotter under the cloke of love. It is plain from the Letter, now being carried about, that they have condemned the faith of Nicæa. They saw Cyzicus, and came home with another creed. [3065] 6. But why say anything of mere verbal inconsistency? The practical proofs of their change of position afforded by their conduct are far stronger. They refused to yield to the sentence of fifty bishops passed against them. [3066]They declined to resign the government of their Churches although the number of bishops assenting to the decree for their deposition was so many, on the alleged ground that they were not partakers of the Holy Ghost, and were not governing their Churches by the grace of God, but had clutched their dignity by the aid of human power, and through lust of vain glory. Now they are for receiving the men consecrated by these same persons as bishops. I should like you to ask them in my stead, (although they despise all mankind, as bereft of eyes, ears, and common sense), to perceive the inconsistency of their conduct, what sentiments they do really entertain in their own hearts. How can there be two bishops, one deposed by Euippius, [3067] and the other consecrated by him? Both are the actions of the same man. Had he not been endowed with the grace bestowed upon Jeremiah to pull down and build again, to root out and to plant, [3068] he certainly would not have rooted the one out and planted the other. Grant him the one and you must grant him the other. Their one object, as it seems, is everywhere to look to their own advantage, and to regard every one who acts in accordance with their own wishes as a friend, while they treat any one who opposes them as an enemy, and spare no calumny to run him down. [3069] 7. What measures are they now taking against the Church? For the shiftiness of their originators, shocking; for the apathy of all who are affected by them, pitiable. By a respectable commission the children and grandchildren of Euippius have been summoned from distant regions to Sebasteia, and to them the people have been entrusted. [3070]They have taken possession of the altar. They have been made the leaven of that Church. I am persecuted by them as a Homoousiast. Eustathius, who brought the Homoousion in the script from Rome to Tyana, although he was not able to get admitted into their much to be coveted communion, either because they feared, or respected the authority of, the large number of persons who had agreed in condemning him, is now in intimate alliance with them. I only hope that I may never have time enough on my hands to tell of all their doings--who were gathered together, how each one had been ordained, and from what kind of earlier life each arrived at his present dignity. I have been taught to pray "that my mouth may not utter the works of the men." [3071]If you enquire you will learn these things for yourself, and, if they are hidden from you, they will not assuredly continue hidden from the judges. 8. I will not, however, omit to tell you, my dear friend, in what a state I have been. Last year I suffered from a very violent fever, and came near to the gates of death. When, by God's mercy, I was restored, I was distressed at coming back to life, as I bethought me of all the troubles before me. I considered with myself for what reason, hidden in the depths of the wisdom of God, yet further days of life in the flesh had been allowed me. But when I heard of these matters I concluded that the Lord wished me to see the Churches at rest after the storm which they had previously suffered from the alienation of the men in whom, on account of their fictitious gravity of character, every confidence had been placed. Or peradventure the Lord designed to invigorate my soul, and to render it more vigilant for the future, to the end that, instead of giving heed to men, it might be made perfect through those precepts of the Gospel which do not share in the changes and chances of human seasons and circumstances, but abide for ever the same, as they were uttered by the blessed lips that cannot lie. [3072] 9. Men are like clouds, shifting hither and thither in the sky with the change of the winds. [3073]And of all men who have ever come within my experience these of whom I am speaking are the most unstable. As to the other business of life, those who have lived with them may give evidence; but as to what is within my own knowledge, their inconsistency as regards the faith, I do not know that I have ever myself observed it or heard from any one else, of anything like it. Originally they were followers of Arius; then they went over to Hermogenes, who was diametrically opposed to the errors of Arius, as is evinced by the Creed originally recited by him at Nicæa. [3074] Hermogenes, fell asleep, and then they went over to Eusebius, the Coryphæus, as we know on personal evidence, of the Arian ring. Leaving this, for whatever reasons, they came home again, and once more concealed their Arian sentiments. After reaching the episcopate, to pass by what occurred in the interval, how many creeds did they put forth? One at Ancyra; [3075] another at Seleucia; [3076] another at Constantinople, [3077] the famous one; another at Lampsacus, [3078] then that of Nike in Thrace; [3079] and now again the creed of Cyzicus. [3080]Of this last I know nothing, except that I am told that they have suppressed the homoousion, and are supporting the like in essence, while they subscribe with Eunomius the blasphemies against the Holy Spirit. Although all of the creeds which I have enumerated may not be opposed to one another, yet they alike exhibit the inconsistency of the men's minds, from their never standing by the same words. I have said nothing as to countless other points, but this that I do say is true. Now that they have gone over to you, I beg you to write back by the same man, I mean our fellow presbyter Strategius, whether you have remained in the same mind towards me, or whether you have been alienated in consequence of your meeting them. For it was not likely that they would be silent, nor that you yourself, after writing to me as you have, would not use free speaking to them too. If you remain in communion with me, it is well; it is what I would most earnestly pray for. If they have drawn you over to them, it is sad. How should separation from such a brother not be sad? If in nothing else, at least in bearing losses like this, we have been considerably tried at their hands.

Footnotes

[3051] Placed in 376. [3052] "Aigaiai is the more correct form." Ramsay, Hist. Geog. A.M. 116. In the gulf of Issus, now Ayas. St. Julianus, son of a senator of Anazarbus, is said to have suffered there. (Basil, Menol. and, possibly, Chrysost., Hom. in Jul. Mart.) [3053] Deut. i. 17. [3054] i.e.the formula proposed to Eustathius by Basil, and signed in 373 by him with Fronto, Severus, and others, and appearing as Letter cxxv. [3055] i.e. Eustathius. [3056] cf. Letter cxxx. [3057] Theophilus of Castabala. [3058] cf. Letter cxxx. The journey of Eustathius to Cilicia was the occasion of his presenting an Arian creed to a certain Gelasius. [3059] cf. Letter ccxxvi. The letter of repudiation was conveyed by Eustathius the chorepiscopus. [3060] Fragments of Apollinarius are extant in the works of Theodoret and Gregory of Nyssa, and in Mai's Script. Vet. Nov. col. vii., and Spicil. Rom.x. 2. cf. Thomasius, Christ. Dogm. 451. cf. Ep. cclxiii. p. 302. [3061] Diodorus now presbyter of Antioch, did not become bishop of Tarsus till about the time of Basil's death. On his services to the Church at Antioch, cf. Theod., H.E. ii. 19. and Soc., H.E.vi. 8. The controversy as to his alleged Nestorianism belongs to a later date. On the relations between Diodorus and Apollinarius, cf. Dorner, Christ. i. pp. 976 and 1022. [3062] In Letter cxxxi. the name appears as Dazinas, or Dexinas. In this place the mss. agree in the form Dazizas. [3063] ? The Creed of Arminum. [3064] Eustathius, Silvanus, and Theophilus went to Rome after the Lampsacene Council of 365. [3065] The Synod of Tyana had been ready to recognise the Eustathians as Catholics in 374. The Semi-Arian Council of Cyzicus was held in 375 or 376 (Mansi iii. 469). [3066] i.e. at Constantinople in 360. [3067] cf. Letter ccxxviii. [3068] cf. Jer. i. 10. [3069] The Ben. note on this passage suggests that the reference to Jeremiah is an argument supposed to be put forward by Eustathius, and immediately answered by Basil, but there seems no necessity of this. Basil says nothing for or against the powers of the bishops who condemned Eustathius; he only points out the inconsistency of Eustathius in accepting their powers to ordain when it suited his purpose, while he refused to admit their authority to depose. It is enough for Basil's argument that Eustathius treated him as having authority. On Basil's own views as to the validity of heretical ordination, cf. Canon i., Letter clxxxviii. [3070] i.e. bishops and presbyters whose spiritual descent is to be traced to Euippius, viz.: Eustathius and his clergy. Over what see Euippius presided is unknown. [3071] Ps. xvii. 3 and 4, LXX. [3072] Contrast the famous appeal of Antigone in Soph., Ant. 454 to the eternal principles of right and wrong; ou gar ti nun ge kachthes, all' aei pote ze tauta koudeis oiden ex hotou 'phane. The Christian saint can make the more personal reference to the apseudes stoma. [3073] cf. Jude 12. [3074] cf. Letter lxxxi. p. 172. Hermogenes was bishop of Cæsarea, in which see he preceded Dianius. He acted as secretary at Nicæa, when yet a deacon. "The actual creed was written out and read, perhaps in consideration of Hosius' ignorance of Greek, by Hermogenes." (Stanley, Eastern Church, p. 140, ed. 1862.) [3075] In 358, when the homoiousion was accepted. [3076] In 359, when the Semiarians supported the Antiochene Dedication Creed of 341. [3077] In 360, when the Acacians triumphed, and Eustathius with other Semiarians were deposed. The Creed of Ariminum, as revised at Nike, was accepted. [3078] In 364, when the Creeds of Ariminum and Constantinople were condemned by the Semiarians, and the Dedication Creed was reaffirmed. [3079] The Creed of Nike in Thrace was the Creed of Arminum revised, and it seems out of order to mention it after Lampsacus. [3080] In 375 or 6. This is the formula referred to in Letter ccli. 4, as the latest. On the variety of Creeds, cf. p. 48, n.

Letter CCXLV. [3081]

To Theophilus the Bishop. [3082] It is some time since I received your letter, but I waited to be able to reply by some fit person; that so the bearer of my answer might supply whatever might be wanting in it. Now there has arrived our much beloved and very reverend brother Strategius, and I have judged it well to make use of his services, both as knowing my mind and able to convey [3083] news of me with due propriety and reverence. Know, therefore, my beloved and honoured friend, that I highly value my affection for you, and am not conscious so far as the disposition of my heart goes, of having at any time failed in it, although I have had many serious causes of reasonable complaint. But I have decided to weigh the good against the bad, as in a balance, and to add my own mind where the better inclines. Now changes have been made by those who should least of all have allowed anything of the kind. Pardon me, therefore, for I have not changed my mind, if I have shifted any side, or rather I should say, I shall still be on the same side, but there are others who are continually changing it, and are now openly deserting to the foe. You yourself know what a value I put on their communion, so long as they were of the sound party. If now I refuse to follow these, and shun all who think with them, I ought fairly to be forgiven. I put truth and my own salvation before everything.

Footnotes

[3081] Placed in 376. [3082] i.e.of Castabala, who had accompanied Eustathius to Rome, and was closely associated with him. cf. p. 198. [3083] diakomisai . Two mss. have diakonesai.

Letter CCXLVI. [3084]

To the Nicopolitans. I am filled with distress at seeing evil on the high road to success, while you, my reverend friends, are faint and failing under continuous calamity. But when again I bethink me of the mighty hand of God, and reflect that He knows how to raise up them that are broken down, to love the just, to crush the proud and to put down the mighty from their seats, then again my heart grows lighter by hope, and I know that through your prayers the calm that the Lord will show us will come soon. Only grow not weary in prayer, but in the present emergency strive to give to all a plain example by deed of whatever you teach by word.

Footnotes

[3084] Placed in 376.

Letter CCXLVII. [3085]

To the Nicopolitans. When I had read the letter of your holinesses, how did I not groan and lament that I had heard of these further troubles, of blows and insults inflicted on yourselves, of destruction of homes, devastation of the city, ruin of your whole country, persecution of the Church, banishment; of priests, invasion of wolves, and scattering of flocks. But I have looked to the Lord in heaven, and have ceased to groan and weep, because I am perfectly well assured, as I hope you know too, that help will speedily come and that you will not be for ever forsaken. What we have suffered, we have suffered for our sins. But our loving Lord will show us His own aid for the sake of His love and pity for the Churches. Nevertheless, I have not omitted to beseech men in authority in person. I have written to those at court, who love us, that the wrath of our ravening enemy may be stayed. I think, moreover, that from many quarters condemnation may fall upon his head, unless indeed these troublous times allow our public men no leisure for these matters. [3086]

Footnotes

[3085] Placed in 376. [3086] It is rare to find in Basil's letters even so slight an allusion as this to the general affairs of the empire. At or about the date of this letter the Goths, hitherto kept in subjection by the legions of Valens, were being driven south by the Huns and becoming a danger to the empire. Amm. Marc. xxxi. 4. Turbido instantium studio, orbis Romani pernicies ducebatur.

Letter CCXLVIII. [3087]

To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium. So far as my own wishes are concerned I am grieved at living at such a distance from your reverence. But, as regards the peace of your own life, I thank the Lord Who has kept you out of this conflagration which has specially ravaged my diocese. For the just Judge has sent me, in accordance with my works, a messenger of Satan, [3088] who is buffeting me [3089] severely enough, and is vigorously defending the heresy. Indeed to such a pitch has he carried the war against us, that he does not shrink even from shedding the blood of those who trust in God. You cannot fail to have heard that a man of the name of Asclepius, [3090] because he would not consent to communion with Doeg, [3091] has died under the blows inflicted on him by them, or rather, by their blows has been translated into life. You may suppose that the rest of their doings are of a piece with this; the persecutions of presbyters and teachers, and all that might be expected to be done by men abusing the imperial authority at their own caprice. But, in answer to your prayers, the Lord will give us release from these things, and patience to bear the weight of our trials worthily of our hope in Him. Pray write frequently to me of all that concerns yourself. If you find any one who can be trusted to carry you the book that I have finished, be so kind as to send for it, that so, when I have been cheered by your approval, I may send it on to others also. By the grace of the Holy One may you be granted to me and to the Church of the Lord in good health rejoicing in the Lord, and praying for me.

Footnotes

[3087] Placed in 376. [3088] cf. 2 Cor. xii. 7. [3089] The word katakondulizo here used (it occurs in Æschines) is a synonym, slightly strengthened, for the kolaphizo of St. Paul. St. Basil seems plainly to have the passage quoted in his mind. [3090] I have failed to find further mention of this Asclepius. An Asclepius of Cologne is commemorated on June 30. [3091] cf. 1 Sam. xxi. 18.

Letter CCXLIX. [3092]

Without address. Commendatory. I congratulate this my brother, in being delivered from our troubles here and in approaching your reverence. In choosing a good life with them that fear the Lord he has chosen a good provision for the life to come. I commend him to your excellency and by him I beseech you to pray for my wretched life, to the end that I may be delivered from these trials and begin to serve the Lord according to the Gospel.

Footnotes

[3092] Placed in 376.


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