Writings of Leo the Great. Letters and Sermons

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The Letters and Sermons of Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome

Translated, with Introduction, Notes, and Indices,

by the Rev. Charles Lett Feltoe, M.A.,
Late Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge.

Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.

Letter XV.

To Turribius, Bishop of Asturia [137] , upon the errors of the Priscillianists.

Leo, bishop, to Turribius, bishop, greeting.

I. Introductory.

Your laudable zeal for the truth of the catholic Faith, and the painstaking devotion you expend in the exercise of your pastoral office upon the Lord's flock is proved by your letter, brother, which your deacon has handed to us, in which you have taken care to bring to our knowledge the nature of the disease which has burst forth in your district from the remnants of an ancient plague. For the language of your letter, and your detailed statement, and the text of your pamphlet [138] , explains clearly that the filthy puddle of the Priscillianists again teems with life amongst you [139] . For there is no dirt which has not flowed into this dogma from the notions of all sorts of heretics: since they have scraped together the motley dregs from the mire of earthly opinions and made for themselves a mixture [140] which they alone may swallow whole, though others have tasted little portions of it.

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In fact, if all the heresies which have arisen before the time of Priscillian were to be studied carefully, hardly any mistake will be discovered with which this impiety has not been infected: for not satisfied with accepting the falsehoods of those who have departed from the Gospel under the name of Christ, it has plunged itself also in the shades of heathendom, so as to rest their religious faith and their moral conduct upon the power of demons and the influences of the stars through the blasphemous secrets of the magic arts and the empty lies of astrologers. But if this may be believed and taught, no reward will be due for virtues, no punishment for faults, and all the injunctions not only of human laws but also of the Divine constitutions will be broken down: because there will be no criterion of good or bad actions possible, if a fatal necessity drives the impulses of the mind to either side, and all that men do is through the agency not of men but of stars. To this madness belongs that monstrous division of the whole human body among the twelve signs of the zodiac, so that each part is ruled by a different power: and the creature, whom God made in His own image, is as much under the domination of the stars as his limbs are connected one with the other. Rightly then our fathers, in whose times this abominable heresy sprung up, promptly pursued it throughout the world, that the blasphemous error might everywhere be driven from the Church: for even the leaders of the world so abhorred this profane folly that they laid low its originator, with most of his disciples, by the sword of the public laws. For they saw that all desire for honourable conduct was removed, all marriage-ties undone, and the Divine and the human law simultaneously undermined, if it were allowed for men of this kind to live anywhere under such a creed. And this rigourous treatment was for long a help to the Church's law of gentleness which, although it relies upon the priestly judgment, and shuns blood-stained vengeance, yet is assisted by the stern decrees of Christian princes at times when men, who dread bodily punishment, have recourse to merely spiritual correction. But since many provinces have been taken up with the invasions of the enemy [141] , the carrying out of the laws also has been suspended by these stormy wars. And since intercourse came to be difficult among God's priests and meetings rare, secret treachery was free to act through the general disorder, and was roused to the upsetting of many minds by those very ills which ought to have counteracted it. But which of the peoples and how many of them are free from the contagion of this plague in a district where, as you point out, dear brother, the minds even of certain priests have sickened of this deadly disease: and they who were believed the necessary quellers of falsehood and champions of the Truth are the very ones through whom the Gospel of God is enthralled to the teaching of Priscillian: so that the fidelity of the holy volumes being distorted to profane meanings, under the names of prophets and apostles, is proclaimed not that which the Holy Spirit has taught, but what the devil's servant has inserted. Therefore as you, beloved, with all the faithful diligence in your power, have dealt under 16 heads with these already condemned opinions [142] , we also subject them once more to a strict examination; lest any of these blasphemies should be thought either bearable or doubtful.

II. (1) The Priscillianists' denial of the Trinity refuted.

And so under the first head is shown what unholy views they hold about the Divine Trinity: they affirm that the person of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost is one and the same, as if the same God were named now Father, now Son, and now Holy Ghost: and as if He who begot were not one, He who was begotten, another, and He who proceeded from both, yet another; but an undivided unity must be understood, spoken of under three names, indeed, but not consisting of three persons. This species of blasphemy they borrowed from Sabellius, whose followers were rightly called Patripassians also: because if the Son is identical with the Father, the Son's cross is the Father's passion (patris-passio): and the Father took on Himself all that the Son took in the form of a slave, and in obedience to the Father. Which without doubt is contrary to the catholic faith, which acknowledges the Trinity of the Godhead to be of one essence (homoousion) in such a way that it believes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost indivisible without confusion, eternal without time, equal without difference: because it is not the same person but the same essence which fills the Unity in Trinity.

III. (2) Their fancy about virtues proceeding from God refuted.

Under the second head is displayed their foolish and empty fancy about the issue of certain virtues from God which he began to possess, and which were posterior to God Himself in His own essence. In this again they support the Arians' mistake, who say that the Father is prior to the Son, because there was a time when He was without the Son: and became the Father then when He begot the Son. But as the catholic Church abhors them, so also does it abhor these who think that what is of the same essence was ever wanting to God. For it is as wicked to speak of Him as progressing as it is to call Him changeable. For increase implies change as much as does decrease.

IV. (3) Their account of the epithet "Only Begotten" refuted.

Again the third head is concerned with these same folk's impious assertion that the Son of God is called "only-begotten" for this reason that He alone was born of a virgin. To be sure they would not have dared to say this, had they not drunk the poison of Paul of Samosata and Photinus: who said that our Lord Jesus Christ did not exist till He was born of the virgin Mary. But if they wish something else to be understood by their tenet, and do not date Christ's beginning from His mother's womb, they must necessarily assert that there is not one Son of God, but others also were begotten of the most High Father, of whom this one is born of a woman, and therefore called only-begotten, because no other of God's sons underwent this condition of being born. Therefore, whithersoever they betake themselves, they fall into an abyss of great impiety, if they either maintain that Christ the Lord took His beginning from His mother, or do not believe Him to be the only-begotten of God the Father: since He who was God was born of a mother, and no one was born of the Father except the Word.

V. (4) Their fasting on the Nativity and Sunday disapproved of.

The fourth head deals with the fact that the Birth-day of Christ, which the catholic Church thinks highly of as the occasion of His taking on Him true man, because "the Word became flesh and dwelt in us [143] ," is not truly honoured by these men, though they make a show of honouring it, for they fast on that day, as they do also on the Lord's day, which is the day of Christ's resurrection. No doubt they do this, because they do not believe that Christ the Lord was born in true man's nature, but maintain that by a sort of illusion there was an appearance of what was not a reality, following the views of Cerdo and Marcion, and being in complete agreement with their kinsfolk, the Manichæans. For as our examination has disclosed and brought home to them, they [144] drag out in mournful fasting the Lord's day which for us is hallowed by the resurrection of our Saviour: devoting this abstinence, as the explanation goes, to the worship of the sun: so that they are throughout out of harmony with the unity of our faith, and the day which by us is spent in gladness is past in self-affliction by them. Whence it is fitting that these enemies of Christ's cross and resurrection should accept an opinion (like this) which tallies with the doctrine they have selected.

VI. (5) Their view that the soul is part of the Divine being refuted.

The fifth head refers to their assertion that man's soul is part of the Divine being [145] , and that the nature of our human state does not differ from its Creator's nature. This impious view has its source in the opinions of certain philosophers, and the Manichæans and the catholic Faith condemns it: knowing that nothing that is made is so sublime and so supreme as that its nature should be itself God. For that which is part of Himself is Himself, and none other than the Son and Holy Spirit. And besides this one consubstantial, eternal, and unchangeable Godhead of the most high Trinity there is nothing in all creation which, in its origin, is not created out of nothing. Besides anything that surpasses its fellow-creatures is not ipso facto God, nor, if a thing is great and wonderful, is it identical with Him "who alone doeth great wonders [146] ." No man is truth, wisdom, justice; but many are partakers of truth, wisdom, and justice. But God alone is exempt from any participating: and anything which is in any degree worthily predicated of Him is not an attribute, but His very essence. For in the Unchangeable there is nothing added, there is nothing lost: because "to be [147] " is ever His peculiar property, and that is eternity. Whence abiding in Himself He renews all things [148] , and receives nothing which He did not Himself give. Accordingly they are over-proud and stone-blind who, when they say the soul is part of the Divine Being, do not understand that they merely assert that God is changeable, and Himself suffers anything that may be inflicted upon His nature.

VII. (6) Their view that the devil was never good, and is therefore not God's creation, refuted.

The sixth notice points out that they say the devil never was good, and that his nature is not God's handiwork, but he came forth out of chaos and darkness: because I suppose he has no instigator, but is himself the source and substance of all evil: whereas the true Faith, which is the catholic, acknowledges that the substance of all creatures spiritual or corporeal is good, and that evil has no positive existence [149] ; because God, who is the Maker of the Universe, made nothing that was not good. Whence the devil also would be good, if he had remained as he was made. But because he made a bad use of his natural excellence, and "stood not in the truth [150] ," he did not pass into the opposite substance, but revolted from the highest good to which he owed adherence: just as they themselves who make such assertions run headlong from truth into falsehood, and accuse nature of their own spontaneous delinquencies, and are condemned for their voluntary perversity: though of course this evil is in them, but is itself not a substance but a penalty inflicted on substance.

VIII. (7) Their rejection of marriage condemned.

In the seventh place follows their condemnation of marriages and their horror of begetting children: in which, as in almost all points, they agree with the Manichæans' impiety. But it is for this reason, as their own practices prove, that they detest the marriage tie, because there is no liberty for lewdness where the chastity of wedlock and of offspring is preserved.

IX. (8) Their disbelief in the resurrection of the body has been already condemned by the Church.

Their eighth point is that the formation [151] of men's bodies is the device of the devil, and that the seed of conception is shaped by the aid of demons in the wombs of women: and that for this reason the resurrection of the flesh is not to be believed because the stuff of which the body is made is not consistent with the dignity of the soul. This falsehood is without doubt the devil's work, and such monstrous opinions are the devices of demons who do not mould men in women's bellies, but concoct such errors in heretics' hearts. This unclean poison which flows especially from the fount of the Manichæan wickedness has been already [152] arraigned and condemned by the catholic Faith.

X. (9) Their notion that "the children of promise" are conceived by the Holy Ghost is utterly unscriptural and uncatholic.

The ninth notice declares that they say the sons of promise are born indeed of women but conceived by the Holy Spirit: lest that offspring which is born of carnal seed should seem to share in God's estate. This is repugnant and contrary to the catholic Faith which acknowledges every man to be formed by the Maker of the Universe in the substance of his body and soul, and to receive the breath of life within his mother's womb: though that taint of sin and liability to die remains which passed from the first parent into his descendants; until the sacrament of Regeneration comes to succour him, whereby through the Holy Spirit we are re-born the sons of promise, not in the fleshly womb, but in the power of baptism. Whence David also, who certainly was a son of promise, says to God: "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me [153] ." And to Jeremiah says the Lord, "Before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee, and in thy mother's belly I sanctified thee [154] ."

XI. (10) Their theory that souls have a previous existence before entering man refuted.

Under the tenth head they are reported as asserting that the souls which are placed in men's bodies have previously been without body and have sinned in their heavenly habitation, and for this reason having fallen from their high estate to a lower one alight upon ruling spirits [155] of divers qualities, and after passing through a succession of powers of the air and stars, some fiercer, some milder, are enclosed in bodies of different sorts and conditions, so that whatever variety and inequality is meted out to us in this life, seems the result of previous causes. This blasphemous fable they have woven for themselves out of many persons' errors [156] : but all of them the catholic Faith cuts off from union with its body, persistently and truthfully proclaiming that men's souls did not exist until they were breathed into their bodies, and that they were not there implanted by any other than God, who is the creator both of the souls and of the bodies. And because through the transgression of the first man the whole stock of the human race was tainted, no one can be set free from the state of the old Adam save through Christ's sacrament of baptism, in which there are no distinctions between the re-born, as says the Apostle: "For as many of you as were baptized in Christ did put on Christ: there is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus [157] ." What then have the course of the stars to do with it, or the devices of destiny? what the changing state of mundane things and their restless diversity? Behold how the grace of God makes all these unequals equal, who, whatever their labours in this life, if they abide faithful, cannot be wretched, for they can say with the Apostle in every trial: "who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, `For thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' (Ps. xliv. 22.) But in all these things we overcome through Him that loved us [158] ." And therefore the Church, which is the body of Christ, has no fear about the inequalities of the world, because she has no desire for temporal goods: nor does she dread being overwhelmed by the empty threats of destiny, for she knows she is strengthened by patience in tribulations.

XII. (11) Their astrological notions condemned.

Their eleventh blasphemy is that in which they suppose that both the souls and bodies of men are under the influence of fatal stars: this folly compels them to become entangled in all the errors of the heathen, and to strive to attract stars that are as they think favourable to them, and to soften those that are against them. But for those who follow such pursuits there is no place in the catholic Church; a man who gives himself up to such convictions separates himself from the body of Christ altogether.

XIII. (12) Their belief that certain powers rule the soul and the stars the body, is unscriptural and preposterous.

The twelfth of these points is this, that they map out the parts of the soul under certain powers, and the limbs of the body under others: and they suggest the characters of the inner powers that rule the soul by giving them the names of the patriarchs, and on the contrary they attribute the signs of the stars to those under which they put the body. And in all these things they entangle themselves in an inextricable maze, not listening to the Apostle when he says, "See that no one deceive you through philosophy and vain deceit after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ; for in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and in Him ye are made full, who is the head of every principality and power [159] ." And again: "let no man beguile you by a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, treading on things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by the senses of his flesh, not holding fast the Head from whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and bands, increaseth with the increase of God [160] ." What then is the use of admitting into the heart what the law has not taught, prophecy has not sung, the truth of the Gospel has not proclaimed, the Apostles' teaching has not handed down? But these things are suited to the minds of those of whom the Apostle speaks, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts: and will turn away indeed their hearing from the truth, and turn aside unto fables [161] ." And so we can have nothing in common with men who dare to teach or believe such things, and strive by any means in their power to persuade men that the substance of flesh is foreign to the hope of resurrection, and so break down the whole mystery of Christ's incarnation: because it was wrong for Christ to take upon Him complete manhood if it was wrong for Him to emancipate complete manhood.

XIV. (13) Their fanciful division of the Scriptures rejected.

In the thirteenth place comes their assertion that the whole body of the canonical Scriptures is to be accepted, under the names of the patriarchs [162] : because those twelve virtues which work the reformation of the inner man are pointed out in their names, and without this knowledge no soul can effect its reformation, and return to that substance from which it came forth. But this wicked delusion the Christian wisdom holds in disdain, for it knows that the nature of the true Godhead is inviolable and immutable: but the soul, whether living in the body or separated from the body, is subject to many passions: whereas, of course, if it were part of the divine essence, no adversity could happen to it. And therefore there is no comparison between them: One is the Creator, the other is the creature. For He is always the same, and suffers no change: but the soul is changeable, even if not changed, because its power of not changing is a gift, and not a property.

XV. (14) Their idea that the Scriptures countenance their subjecting of the body to the starry influences denied.

Under the fourteenth heading their sentiments upon the state of the body are stated, viz., that it is, on account of its earthly properties, held under the power of stars and constellations, and that many things are found in the holy books which have reference to the outer man with this object, that in the Scriptures themselves a certain opposition may be seen at work between the divine and the earthly nature: and that which the powers that rule the soul claim for themselves may be distinguished from that which the fashioners of the body claim. These stories are invented that the soul may be maintained to be part of the divine substance, and the flesh believed to belong to the bad nature: since the world itself, with its elements, they hold to be not the work of the good God, but the outcome of an evil author: and that they might disguise these sacrilegious lies under a fair cloak, they have polluted almost all the divine utterances with the colouring of their unholy notions.

XVI. (15) Their falsified copies of the Scriptures, and their apocryphal books prohibited.

And on this subject your remarks under the fifteenth head make a complaint, and express a well-deserved abhorrence of their devilish presumption, for we too have ascertained this from the accounts of trustworthy witnesses, and have found many of their copies most corrupt, though they are entitled canonical. For how could they deceive the simple-minded unless they sweetened their poisoned cups with a little honey, lest what was meant to be deadly should be detected by its over-nastiness? Therefore care must be taken, and the priestly diligence exercised to the uttermost, to prevent falsified copies that are out of harmony with the pure Truth being used in reading. And the apocryphal scriptures, which, under the names of Apostles [163] , form a nursery-ground for many falsehoods, are not only to be proscribed, but also taken away altogether and burnt to ashes in the fire. For although there are certain things in them which seem to have a show of piety, yet they are never free from poison, and through the allurements of their stories they have the secret effect of first beguiling men with miraculous narratives, and then catching them in the noose of some error. Wherefore if any bishop has either not forbidden the possession of apocryphal writings in men's houses, or under the name of being canonical has suffered those copies to be read in church which are vitiated with the spurious alterations of Priscillian, let him know that he is to be accounted heretic, since he who does not reclaim others from error shows that he himself has gone astray.

XVII. (16) About the writings of Dictinius [164] .

Under the last head a just complaint was made that the treatises of Dictinius which he wrote in agreement with Priscillian's tenets were read by many with veneration: for if they think any respect is due to Dictinius' memory, they ought to admire his restoration rather than his fall. Accordingly it is not Dictinius but Priscillian that they read: and they approve of what he wrote in error, not what he preferred after recantation. But let no one venture to do this with impunity, nor let any one be reckoned among catholics who makes use of writings that have been condemned not by the catholic Church alone but by the author himself as well. Let not those who have gone astray be allowed to make a fictitious show, and under the veil of the Christian name shirk the provisions of the imperial decrees. For they attach themselves to the catholic Church with all this difference of opinion in their heart, with the object of both making such converts as they can, and escaping the rigour of the law by passing themselves off as ours. This is done by Priscillianists and Manichæans alike; for there is such a close bond of union between the two that they are distinct only in name, but in their blasphemies are found at one: because although the Manichæans reject the Old Testament which the others pretend to accept, yet the purpose of both tends to the same end, seeing that the one side corrupts while receiving what the other assails and rejects.

But in their abominable mysteries, which the more unclean they are, are so much the more carefully concealed, their crime is but one, their filthy-mindedness one, and their foul conduct similar. And although we blush to speak so plainly, yet we have tracked it out with the most painful searches, and exposed it by the confession of Manichæans who have been arrested, and thus brought it to the public knowledge: lest by any means it might seem matter of doubt, although it has been disclosed by the mouth of the men themselves, who had performed the crime, in our court, which was attended not only by a large gathering of priests, but also by men of repute and dignity, and a certain number of the senate and the people, even as the missive which we have addressed to you, beloved, shows to have been done. And there has been found out and widely published about the immoral practices of the Priscillianists just what was also found out about the foul wickedness of the Manichæans. For they who are throughout on a level of depravity in their ideas, cannot be unlike in their religious matters.

So having run through all that the detailed refutation contains, with which the contents of the memorial of their views does not disagree, we have, I think, satisfactorily shown what our opinion on the matters which you, brother, have referred to us, and how unbearable it is if such blasphemous errors find acceptance in the hearts even of some priests, or to put it more mildly, are not actively opposed by them. With what conscience can they maintain the honourable position which has been given them, who do not labour for the souls entrusted to them? Beasts rush in, and they do not close the fold. Robbers lay wait, and they set no watch. Diseases multiply, and they seek out no remedies. But when in addition they refuse assent to those who act more warily, and shrink from anathematizing by their written confession blasphemies which the whole world has already condemned, what do they wish men to understand except that they are not of the number of the brethren, but on the enemy's side?

XVIII. The body of Christ really rested in the tomb, and really rose again.

Furthermore in the matter which you placed last in your confidential letter, I am surprised that any intelligent Christian should be in difficulty as to whether when Christ descended to the realms below, his flesh rested in the tomb: for as it truly died and was buried, so it was truly raised the third day. For this the Lord Himself also had announced, saying to the Jews, "destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up [165] ." Where the evangelist adds this comment: "but this He spake of the temple of His body." The truth of which the prophet David also had predicted, speaking in the person of the Lord and Saviour, and saying: "Moreover my flesh also shall rest in hope; because Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, nor give Thy Holy One to see corruption. [166] " From these words surely it is clear that the Lord's flesh being buried, both truly rested and did not undergo corruption: because it was quickly revived by the return of the soul, and rose again. Not to believe this is blasphemous enough, and is undoubtedly of a piece with the doctrine of Manichæus and Priscillian, who with their blasphemous conceptions pretend to confess Christ, but only in such a way as to destroy the reality of His incarnation, and death, and resurrection.

Therefore let a council of bishops be held among you, and let the priests of neighbouring provinces meet at a place suitable to all: that, on the lines of our reply to your request for advice, a full inquiry may be made as to whether here are any of the bishops who are tainted with the contagion of this heresy: for they must without doubt be cut off from communion, if they refuse to condemn this most unrighteous sect with all its wrongful conceptions. For it can nohow be permitted that one who has undertaken the duty of preaching the Faith should dare to maintain opinions contrary to Christ's gospel and the creed of the universal Church. What kind of disciples will there be in a place where such masters teach? What will the people's religion, or the salvation of the laity be, where against the interests of human society the holiness of chastity is uprooted, the marriage-bond overthrown, the propagation of children forbidden, the nature of the flesh condemned, and, in opposition to the true worship of the true God, the Trinity of the Godhead is denied, the individuality of the persons confounded, man's soul declared to be the Divine essence, and enclosed in flesh at the Devil's will, the Son of God proclaimed only-begotten in right of being born of a Virgin, not begotten of the Father, and at the same time maintained to be neither true offspring of God, nor true child of the virgin: so that after a false passion and an unreal death, even the resurrection of the flesh reassumed out of the tomb should be considered fictitious? But it is vain for them to adopt the name of catholic, as they do not oppose these blasphemies: they must believe them, if they can listen so patiently to such words. And so we have sent a letter to our brethren and fellow-bishops of the provinces of Tarraco, Carthago, Lusitania and Gallicia, enjoining a meeting of the general synod. It will be yours, beloved, to take order that our authoritative instructions be conveyed to the bishops of the aforesaid provinces. But should anything, which God forbid, hinder the coming together of a general council of Gallicia [167] , at least let the priests come together, the assembling of whom our brothers Idacius and Ceponius shall look to, assisted by your own strenuous efforts to hasten the applying of remedies to these serious wounds by a provincial synod also. Dated July 21, in the consulship of the illustrious Calipius and Ardaburis (447).


[137] This Turribius was a man of learning and zeal, Bishop of Astoria (Astorga) in Spain (province of Gallicia): canonized by the Roman Church and commemorated on April 16 (Hurter). The date of the letter is given as 21 Jul., 447. [138] Hurter distinguishes these three documents thus: (1) epistola, the private letter of Turribius to Leo; (2) commonitorium, the detailed statement (under 16 heads) of the Priscillianist errors; and (3) libellus, Turribius' refutation of each head. This heresy was of Spanish origin, having been broached by Priscillian about 380. Their views will be seen in the sequel. [139] Priscillianistarum foetidissimam apud vos recaluisse sentinam. [140] Multiplicem sibi foeculentiam miscuerunt. [141] He alludes to the invasion of Spain by the German tribes (Perthel, p. 38). [142] See above n. 6. Quesnel draws attention to the fact that Leo's refutation of the Priscillianist heresy, which here follows, was adopted (almost) word for word by the first council of Bracara (Braga, in Portugal), held in 563, as a sufficient exposition of their own position. [143] S. John i. 14. [144] Viz. the Manichæans. [145] This Pantheistic view was not, of course, a new one, nor pseudo-Christian in its origin, as Leo himself shows. Cf. Virg., Georg. IV. 219-227, and Æn. vi. 724-727. The philosophi quidam to which he makes reference are the Pythagoreans, and following them with modifications the Platonists and the Stoics. [146] Ps. cxxxvi. 4. [147] The reader need hardly be reminded of the recorded revelation of the great "I am" (Jehovah) to Moses (Ex. iii.). [148] Cf. Rev. xxi. 5. [149] i.e., that evil is not anything positive, but only the negation or absence of good which is positive, just as black is not itself a colour, but only the absence of colour, whereas white is the presence (in due proportion) of all the colours of the spectrum. [150] S. John viii. 24. [151] Plasmationem, a vile hybrid, being the Greek plasma, with a Latin ending (-atio); for which apparently the Low Latin of the Vulgate is responsible. Cf. Ps. cxix. 73, "et plasmaverunt me" (quoted below, chap. x.). [152] OlimPerhaps Leo refers to his own action mentioned in Lett. vii. 1. [153] Ps. cxix. 73. [154] Jer. i. 5. [155] In diversæ qualitatis principes incidisse, cf. Rom. viii. 38; Eph. iii. 10; Col. ii. 10, &c. [156] The Pythagorean doctrine of metempsuosis (transmigration of souls) which was in a modified form accepted by Plato (Phædr. et alibi), would seem to have been the original source of this view of the soul's origin. It would naturally be palatable doctrine to the Gnostics and other philosophizing sects. In Lett. XXXV., chap. iii., it is attributed to Origen. For a modem exposition the reader cannot do better than refer to Wordsworth's ode on the intimations of Immortality in childhood. [157] Gal. iii. 27, 28. [158] Rom. viii. 35-37. [159] Col. ii. 8-10. [160] Ibid. 18, 19. [161] 2 Tim. iv. 3, 4. [162] Leo's commentary on this obscure fancy of the Priscillianist is disappointing, as it is merely a repetition or continuation of his remarks on the 12th head. They seem to have divided the scriptures in some mystic fashion into portions corresponding to the qualitates interiorum præsulum in patriarcharum nominibus (statutæ) of chap. xiii., and to have insisted on knowledge of the Scriptures as necessary to the proper action of those "ruling principles" on the soul. Cf. S. Aug. Letter CCXXXVII., chap. iii. (Hurter). [163] Viz., such writings as the Actus of Thomas, Andrew and John, and the Memoria apostolorum, qui totam destruit legem veteris Testamenti, according to Turribius's letter to Idacius and Ceponius, chap. v., subjoined to this letter in the Leonine series. [164] Dictinius was a bishop who had turned Priscillianist, and afterwards, at the synod of Toledo (400), had returned to the fold of the Church (Perthel, p. 41) [165] S. John ii. 19. [166] Ps. xvi. 10. [167] The whole district over which Turribius was Vicar is here called Gallicia, though, as just above, we find it included the provinces of Tarraco, Carthago, and Lusitania, as well as Gallicia.


Letter XVI.

To the Bishops of Sicily.

Leo the bishop to all the bishops throughout Sicily greeting in the Lord.

I. Introductory.

By God's precepts and the Apostle's admonitions we are incited to keep a careful watch over the state of all the churches: and, if anywhere ought is found that needs rebuke, to recall men with speedy care either from the stupidity of ignorance or from forwardness and presumption. For inasmuch as we are warned by the Lord's own command whereby the blessed Apostle Peter had the thrice repeated mystical injunction pressed upon him, that he who loves Christ should feed Christ's sheep, we are compelled by reverence for that see which, by the abundance of the Divine Grace, we hold, to shun the danger of sloth as much as possible: lest the confession of the chief Apostle whereby he testified that he loved God be not found in us: because if he (through us) carelessly feed the flock so often commended to him he is proved not to love the chief Shepherd.

II. Baptism is to be administered at Easter-tide and not on the Epiphany.

Accordingly when it reached my ears on reliable testimony (and I already felt a brother's affectionate anxiety about your acts, beloved) that in what is one of the chief sacraments of the Church you depart from the practice of the Apostles' constitution [168] by administering the sacrament of baptism to greater numbers on the feast of the Epiphany than at Easter-tide, I was surprised that you or your predecessors could have introduced so unreasonable an innovation as to confound the mysteries of the two festivals and believe there was no difference between the day on which Christ was worshipped by the wise men and that on which He rose again from the dead. You could never have fallen into this fault, if you had taken the whole of your observances from the source whence you derive your consecration to the episcopate; and if the see of the blessed Apostle Peter, which is the mother of your priestly dignity, were the recognized teacher of church-method. We could indeed have endured your departure from its rules with less equanimity, if you had received any previous rebuke by way of warning from us. But now as we do not despair of correcting you, we must show gentleness. And although an excuse which affects ignorance is scarce tolerable in priests, yet we prefer to moderate our needful rebuke and to instruct you plainly in the true method of the Church.

III. One must distinguish one festival from another in respect of dignity and occasion.

The restoration of mankind has indeed ever remained immutably fore-ordained in God's eternal counsel: but the series of events which had to be accomplished in time through Jesus Christ our Lord was begun at the Incarnation of the Word. Hence there is one time when at the angel's announcement the blessed Virgin Mary believed she was to be with child through the Holy Ghost and conceived: another, when without loss of her virgin purity the Boy was born and shown to the shepherds by the exulting joy of the heavenly attendants: another, when the Babe was circumcised: another, when the victim required by the Law is offered for him: another, when the three wise men attracted by the brightness of the new star [169] arrive at Bethlehem from the East and worship the Infant with the mystic offering of Gifts.

And again the days are not the same on which by the divinely appointed passage into Egypt He was withdrawn from wicked Herod, and on which He was recalled from Egypt into Galilee on His pursuer's death. Among these varieties of circumstance must be included His growth of body: the Lord increases, as the evangelist bears witness, with the progress of age and grace: at the time of the Passover He comes to the temple at Jerusalem with His parents, and when He was absent from the returning company, He is found sitting with the elders and disputing among the wondering masters and rendering an account of His remaining behind: "why is it," He says, "that ye sought Me? did ye not know that I must be in that which is My Father's [170] ," signifying that He was the Son of Him whose temple He was in. Once more when in later years He was to be declared more openly and sought out the baptism of His forerunner John, was there any doubt of His being God remaining when after the baptism of the Lord Jesus the Holy Spirit in form of a dove descended and rested upon Him, and the Father's voice was heard from the skies, "Thou art My beloved Son: in Thee I am well pleased [171] ?" All these things we have alluded to with as much brevity as possible for this reason, that you may know, beloved, that though all the days of Christ's life were hallowed by many mighty works of His [172] , and though in all His actions mysterious sacraments [173] shone forth, yet at one time intimations of events were given by signs, and at one time fulfilment realized: and that all the Saviour's works that are recorded are not suitable to the time of baptism. For if we were to commemorate with indiscriminate honour these things also which we know to have been done by the Lord after His baptism by the blessed John, His whole lifetime would have to be observed in a continuous succession of festivals, because all His acts were full of miracles. But because the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge so instructed the Apostles and teachers of the whole Church as to allow nothing disordered or confused to exist in our Christian observances, we must discern the relative importance of the various solemnities and observe a reasonable distinction in all the institutions of our fathers and rulers: for we cannot otherwise "be one flock and one shepherd [174] ," except as the Apostle teaches us, "that we all speak the same thing: and that we be perfected in the same mind and in the same judgment [175] ."

IV. The reason explained why Easter and Whitsuntide are the proper seasons for baptism.

Although, therefore, both these things which are connected with Christ's humiliation and those which are connected with His exaltation meet in one and the same Person, and all that is in Him of Divine power and human weakness conduces to the accomplishment of our restoration: yet it is appropriate that the power of baptism should change the old into the new creature on the death-day of the Crucified and the Resurrection-day of the Dead: that Christ's death and His resurrection may operate in the re-born [176] , as the blessed Apostle says: "Are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized in Christ Jesus, were baptized in His death? We were buried with Him through baptism into death; that as Christ rose from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with the likeness of His death, we shall be also (with the likeness) of His resurrection [177] ," and the rest which the Teacher of the Gentiles discusses further in recommending the sacrament of baptism: that it might be seen from the spirit of this doctrine that that is the day, and that the time chosen for regenerating the sons of men and adopting them among the sons of God, on which by a mystical symbolism and form [178] , what is done in the limbs coincides with what was done in the Head Himself, for in the baptismal office death ensues through the slaying of sin, and threefold immersion imitates the lying in the tomb three days, and the raising out of the water is like Him that rose again from the tomb [179] . The very nature, therefore of the act teaches us that that is the recognized day for the general reception of the grace [180] , on which the power of the gift and the character of the action originated. And this is strongly corroborated by the consideration that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, after He rose from the dead, handed on both the form and power of baptizing to His disciples, in whose person all the chiefs of the churches received their instructions with these words, "Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost [181] ." On which of course He might have instructed them even before His passion, had He not especially wished it to be understood that the grace of regeneration began with His resurrection. It must be added, indeed, that the solemn season of Pentecost, hallowed by the coming of the Holy Ghost is also allowed, being as it were, the sequel and completion of the Paschal feast. And while other festivals are held on other days of the week, this festival (of Pentecost) always occurs on that day, which is marked by the Lord's resurrection: holding out, so to say, the hand of assisting grace and inviting those, who have been cut off from the Easter feast by disabling sickness or length of journey or difficulties of sailing, to gain the purpose that they long for through the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the Only-begotten of God Himself wished no difference to be felt between Himself and the Holy Spirit in the Faith of believers and in the efficacy of His works: because there is no diversity in their nature, as He says, "I will ask the Father and He shall give you another Comforter that He may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth [182] ;" and again: "But the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you [183] ;" and again: "When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the Truth [184] ." And thus, since Christ is the Truth, and the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth, and the name of "Comforter" appropriate to both, the two festivals are not dissimilar, where the sacrament is the same [185] .

V. S. Peter's example as an authority for Whitsuntide baptisms.

And that we do not contend for this on our own conviction but retain it on Apostolic authority, we prove by a sufficiently apt example, following the blessed Apostle Peter, who, on the very day on which the promised coming of the Holy Ghost filled up the number of those that believed, dedicated to God in the baptismal font three thousand of the people who had been converted by his preaching. The Holy Scripture, which contains the Acts of Apostles [186] , teaches this in its faithful narrative, saying, "Now when they heard this they were pricked in the heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, what shall we do, brethren? But Peter said unto them, Repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, unto the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For to you is the promise, and to your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto Him. With many other words also he testified and exhorted them saying, Save yourselves from this crooked generation. They then that received his word were baptized, and there were added in that day about three thousand [187] ."

VI. In cases of urgency other times are allowable for baptism.

Wherefore, as it is quite clear that these two seasons of which we have been speaking are the rightful ones for baptizing the chosen in Church, we admonish you, beloved, not to add other days to this observance. Because, although there are other festivals also to which much reverence is due in God's honour, yet we must rationally guard this principal and greatest sacrament as a deep mystery and not part of the ordinary routine [188] : not, however, prohibiting the licence to succour those who are in danger by administering baptism to them at any time. For whilst we put off the vows of those who are not pressed by ill health and live in peaceful security to those two closely connected and cognate festivals, we do not at any time refuse this which is the only safeguard of true salvation to any one in peril of death, in the crisis of a siege, in the distress of persecution, in the terror of shipwreck.

VII. Our Lord's baptism by John very different to the baptism of believers.

But if any one thinks the feast of the Epiphany, which in proper degree is certainly to be held in due honour, claims the privilege of baptism because, according to some the Lord came to St. John's baptism on the same day, let him know that the grace of that baptism and the reason of it were quite different, and is not on an equal footing with the power by which they are re-born of the Holy Ghost, of whom it is said, "which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God [189] ." For the Lord who needed no remission of sin and sought not the remedy of being born again, desired to be baptized just as He desired to be circumcised, and to have a victim offered for His purification: that He, who had been "made of a woman [190] ," as the Apostle says, might become also "under the law" which He had come, "not to destroy but to fulfil [191] ," and by fulfilling to end, as the blessed Apostle proclaims, saying: "but Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to every one that believeth [192] ." But the sacrament of baptism He founded in His own person [193] , because "in all things having the pre-eminence [194] ," He taught that He Himself was the Beginning. And He ratified the power of re-birth on that occasion, when from His side flowed out the blood of ransom and the water of baptism [195] . As, therefore, the Old Testament was the witness to the new, and "the law was given by Moses: but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ [196] ;" as the divers sacrifices prefigured the one Victim, and the slaughter of many lambs was ended by the offering up of Him, of whom it is said, "Behold the Lamb of God; behold Him that taketh away the sin of the world [197] ;" so too John, not Christ, but Christ's forerunner, not the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, was so faithful in seeking, "not His own, but the things which are Jesus Christ's [198] ," as to profess himself unworthy to undo the shoes of His feet: seeing that He Himself indeed baptized "in water unto repentance," but He who with twofold power should both restore life and destroy sins, was about to "baptize in the Holy Ghost and fire [199] ." As then, beloved brethren, all these distinct proofs come before you, whereby to the removal of all doubt you recognize that in baptizing the elect who, according to the Apostolic rule have to be purged by exorcisms, sanctified by fastings and instructed by frequent sermons, two seasons only are to be observed, viz. Easter and Whitsuntide: we charge you, brother, to make no further departure from the Apostolic institutions. Because hereafter no one who thinks the Apostolic rules can be set at defiance will go unpunished.

VIII. The Sicilian bishops are to send three of their number to each of the half-yearly meetings of bishops at Rome.

Wherefore we require this first and foremost for the keeping of perfect harmony, that, according to the wholesome rule of the holy Fathers that there should be two meetings of bishops every year [200] , three of you should appear without fail each time, on the 29th of September, to join in the council of the brethren: for thus, by the aid of God's grace, we shall the easier guard against the rise of offences and errors in Christ's Church: and this council must always meet and deliberate in the presence of the blessed Apostle Peter, that all his constitutions and canonical decrees may remain inviolate with all the Lord's priests.

These matters, upon which we thought it necessary to instruct you by the inspiration of the Lord, we wish brought to your knowledge by our brothers and fellow-bishops, Bacillus and Paschasinus. May we learn by their report that the institutions of the Apostolic See are reverently observed by you. Dated 21 Oct., in the consulship of the illustrious Alipius and Ardaburis (447).


[168] From this letter it might be gathered that it was a universal practice of the early Church based on the precepts of the apostles, to restrict Baptism to the feasts of Easter and Whitsuntide, and exclude Epiphany. Whereas as a matter of fact the restriction was almost exclusively Roman; all the Eastern Churches and a good many of the Western recognizing the Epiphany as a suitable occasion for the rite. Leo is too fond of claiming Apostolic authority for his dictates, and none such exists here, as far as we know. [169] It will be noticed that Leo's order of events, though probably correct, is not that of the modern Kalendar, which places the Epiphany (Jan. 6) soon after the Circumcision (Jan. 1), and not after the Purification (Feb. 2): unless it was some little time after, Herod's cruelty was unnecessarily great in including children of two years old in his massacre (S. Matt. ii. 16). [170] S. Luke ii. 49, in his quæ Patris mei sunt (Vulgate): this version leaves the expression en tois tou Patros mou in its original ambiguity, but Leo's commentary immediately following gives his decision in favour of "in My Father's house." [171] S. Matt. iii. 17. [172] Innumeris consecratos fuisse virtutibus, where virtutes, as often, corresponds to the Gk. dunameis. [173] Sacramentorum mysteria coruscasse: it is instructive to find the two words here conjoined, Leo so often using them apparently as equivalents. No one, moreover, after reading this sentence, can doubt what in early times Western Christians meant by sacramentum , see Letter XII. chap. 3, &c. [174] S. John x. 17. [175] 1 Cor. i. 10. [176] Renascentibus (pres. part.) here, not renatis (past). [177] Rom. vi. 3-5. Notice the support here given to the marginal alternative of the R.V., "united with," instead of "united in" ( Lat. complantati similitudini, &c.). [178] Per similitudinem et formam mysterii. [179] This was a favourite interpretation of the symbolism with the fathers. Cf. Serm. LXX., chap. 4, and Bright's n. 97 thereon. [180] Celebrandæ generaliter gratiæ, where generaliterhas much the same sense as the Eng. "generally" has in the definition of a sacrament in the Eng. Ch. Catechism as "generally necessary to salvation." [181] S. Matt. xxviii. 19. [182] S. John xiv. 16. [183] Ibid. 26. [184] Ibid. xvi. 13. [185] It need hardly be pointed out that these words, "where the sacrament is the same," refer to the sacramentum (in its Leonine sense), that has just been explained, viz,, that Christus est veritas et spiritus sanctus est spiritus veritatus. [186] Leo does not often quote from the Acts, and here he expressly includes it in the Canon, and alludes to its authenticity (fideli historia docet). [187] Acts ii. 37-41. [188] Principalis et maximi sacramenti custodienda nobis est mystica et rationalis exceptio (another reading being exemplatio (symbolism), which Quesnel prefers, thinking that the words have reference to the appropriateness of this symbolic rite of Baptism being performed at Easter-tide). [189] S. John i. 13. [190] Gal. iv. 4. [191] S. Matt. v. 17. [192] Rom. x. 4. [193] Baptismi sui in se condidit sacramentum: the baptism of Christ has very generally been associated with the Epiphany: the record of it, for instance, in S. Luke iii. 15-23, is the 2nd morning lesson for the Festival in the English Church. It is, however, not clear who the "some" were whom Leo mentions above as putting Christ's baptism on the same day as the Epiphany; perhaps he means the Eastern Church. [194] Col. i. 18. [195] Cf. Lett. XXVIII. (The Tome), chap. vi., where the same explanation of the sacred incident in the Lord's passion is given. [196] S. John i. 17. Cf. Rev. xix. 20, "for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophesy." [197] S. John i. 29. [198] Phil. ii. 21. [199] S. Matt. iii. 11; S. Luke iii. 16. [200] Cf. Lett. XIV., chap. 8, where the same rule is laid down.


Letter XVII [201] .

To All the Bishops of Sicily.

(Forbidding the sale of church property except for the advantage of the church).

Leo, the pope [202] , to all the bishops of Sicily.

The occasion of specific complaints claims our attention as having "the care of all the churches," that we should make a perpetual decree precluding all bishops from adopting as a practice what in two churches of your province has been unscrupulously suggested and wrongfully carried out. Upon the clergy of the church in Tauromenium deploring the destitution they were in from the bishop having squandered all its estates by selling, giving away, and otherwise disposing of them, the clergy of Panormus, who have lately had a new bishop, raised a similar complaint about the misgovernment of the former bishop in the holy synod, at which we were presiding. Although, therefore, we have already given instructions as to what is for the advantage of both Churches, yet lest this vicious example of abominable plundering should hereafter be taken as a precedent, we wish to make this our formal command binding on you, beloved, for ever. We decree, therefore, that no bishop without exception shall dare to give away, or to exchange, or to sell any of the property of his church: unless he foresees an advantage likely to accrue from so doing, and after consultation with the whole of the clergy, and with their consent he decides upon what will undoubtedly profit that church. For presbyters, or deacons, or clerics of any rank who have connived at the churches losses, must know that they will be deprived of both rank and communion: because it is absolutely fair, beloved brethren, that not only the bishop, but also the whole of the clergy should advance the interests of their church and keep the gifts unimpaired of those who have contributed their own substance to the churches for the salvation of their souls. Dated 20 Oct., in the consulship of the illustrious Calepius (447).


[201] This letter is suspected by Quesnel as being, if not spurious, at least the production of some later Leo than our own: but he would seem to have hardly sufficient ground for his conjecture and the document is interesting as showing the existence of Church endowments at the time, and alas! of their mismanagement. Two centuries before indeed we have Cyprian in Africa uttering a somewhat similar complaint: e.g. de laps. vi., de unit. eccl. xxvi., Lett. XV. 3. It does not appear, however, there that the clergy actually misappropriated Church funds, only that they were greedy and intent on worldly gain. [202] Papa. This title, which in later times came throughout the West to denote exclusively the Bishop of Rome, was originally in the West no less than it is still in the East, the common appellation of all priests and spiritual fathers of the Church.


Letter XVIII.

To Januarius, Bishop of Aquileia [203] .

Leo, bishop of the city of Rome, to Januarius, bishop of Aquileia.

Those who renounce heresy and schism and return to the Church must make their recantation very clear: those who are clerics may retain their rank but not be promoted.

On reading your letter, brother, we recognized the vigour of your faith, which we already were aware of, and congratulate you on the watchful care you bestow as pastor, on the keeping of Christ's flock: lest the wolves, that enter in under guise of sheep, should tear the simple ones to pieces in their bestial fierce ness, and not only themselves run riot without restraint, but also spoil those which are sound. And lest the vipery deceit should effect this, we have thought it meet to warn you, beloved, reminding you that it is at the peril of his soul, for any one of them who has fallen away from us into a sect of heretics and schismatics [204] , and stained himself to whatever extent with the pollution of heretical communion, to be received into catholic communion on coming to his senses without making legitimate and express satisfaction. For it is most wholesome and full of all the benefits of spiritual healing that presbyters or deacons, or sub-deacons or clerics of any rank, who wish to appear reformed, and entreat to return once more to the catholic Faith which they had long ago lost, should first confess without ambiguity that their errors and the authors of the errors themselves are condemned by them, that their base opinions may be utterly destroyed, and no hope survive of their recurrence, and that no member may be harmed by contact with them, every point having been met with its proper recantation. With regard to them we also order the observance of this regulation of the canons [205] , that they consider it a great indulgence, if they be allowed to remain undisturbed in their present rank without any hope of further advancement: but only on consideration of their not being defiled with second baptism [206] . No slight penalty does he incur from the Lord, who judges any such person fit to be advanced to Holy Orders. If advancement is granted to those who are without blame, only after full examination, how much more ought it to be refused to those who are under suspicion. Accordingly, beloved brother, in whose devotion we rejoice, bestow your care on our directions, and take order for the circumspect and speedy carrying out of these laudable suggestions and wholesome injunctions, which affect the welfare of the whole Church. But do not doubt, beloved, that, if what we decree for the observance of the canons, and the integrity of the Faith be neglected (which we do not anticipate), we shall be strongly moved: because the faults of the lower orders are to be referred to none more than to slothful and careless governors, who often foster much disease by refusing to apply the needful remedy. Dated 30 Dec., in the consulship of the illustrious Calepius and Ardaburis (447).


[203] The Ballerinii's conjecture is at least very plausible, that this Januarius was the successor of that Bishop of Aquileia to whom Letter I. was written 5 years previously upon the same subject of the Pelagian error. The text of this letter is almost word for word identical with Letter II., written to Septimus, Bishop of Altinum, on the same occasion as Lett. I. [204] Schismaticorum, considering how easily heresy leads to schism and schism to heresy, there is no need with Quesnel to consider that Novatians or Donatists are being here attacked. The Ballerinii say with justice:--generalis regula hic indicatur omnibus tum hæreticis tum schismaticis ad ecclesiam redeuntibus communis. [205] What canon is here alluded to is uncertain: the Ballerinii think perhaps the 8th Nicene canon, extending its application from the Cathari or Novatians to all heresies and schism. [206] Si tamen iterata tinctione non fuerint maculati. Cf. Can. Afric., 27, neque permittendum ut rebaptizati ad clericatus gradum promoveantur.


Letter XIX.

To Dorus, Bishop of Beneventum.

Leo, bishop, to Dorus his well-beloved brother.

I. He rebukes Dorus for allowing a junior presbyter to be promoted over the heads of the seniors, and the first and second in seniority for acquiescing.

We grieve that the judgment, which we hoped to entertain of you, has been frustrated by our ascertaining that you have done things which by their blame-worthy novelty infringe the whole system of Church discipline: although you know full well with what care we wish the provisions of the canons to be kept through all the churches of the Lord, and the priests of all the peoples to consider it their especial duty to prevent the violation of the rules of the holy constitutions by any extravagances. We are surprised, therefore, that you who ought to have been a strict observer of the injunctions of the Apostolic See have acted so carelessly, or rather so contumaciously, as to show yourself not a guardian, but a breaker of the laws handed on to you. For from the report of your presbyter, Paul, which is subjoined, we have learnt that the order of the presbyterate has been thrown into confusion with you by strange intrigues and vile collusion; in such a way that one man has been hastily and prematurely promoted, and others passed over whose advancement was recommended by their age, and who were charged with no fault. But if the eagerness of an intriguer or the ignorant zeal of his supporters demanded that which custom never allowed, viz., that a beginner should be preferred to veterans, and a mere boy to men of years, it was your duty by diligence and teaching to check the improper desires of the petitioners with all reasonable authority: lest he whom you advanced hastily to the priestly rank should enter on his office to the detriment of those with whom he associated and become demoralized by the growth within him, not of the virtue of humility, but of the vice of conceit [207] . For you were not unaware that the Lord had said that "he that humbleth himself shall be exalted: but he that exalteth himself shall be humbled [208] ," and also had said, "but ye seek from little to increase, and from the greater to be less [209] ." For both actions are out of order and out of place [210] : and all the fruit of men's labours is lost, all the measure of their deserts is rendered void, if the gaining of dignity is proportioned to the amount of flattery used: so that the eagerness to be eminent belittles not only the aspirer himself, but also him that connives at him. But if, as is asserted, the first and second presbyter were so agreeable to Epicarpius being put over their heads as to demand his being honoured to their own disgrace, that which they wished ought not to have been granted them when they were voluntarily degrading themselves: because it would have been worthier of you to oppose than to yield to such a pitiable wish. But their base and cowardly submission could not be to the prejudice of others whose consciences were good, and who had not done despite to God's grace; so that, whatever the transaction was whereby they gave up their precedence to another, they could not lower the dignity of those that came next to them, nor because they had placed the last above themselves, could he take precedence of the rest.

II. The presbyters, who gave way, to be degraded with the usurper to the bottom: the rest to keep their places.

The aforesaid presbyters, therefore, who have declared themselves unworthy of their proper rank, though they even deserved to be deprived of their priesthood; yet, that we may show the gentleness of the Apostolic See in sparing them, are to be put last of all the presbyters of the Church: and that they may bear their own sentence, they shall be below him also whom they preferred to themselves by their own judgment: all the other presbyters remaining in the order which the time of his ordination assigns to each. And let none except the two aforesaid suffer any loss of dignity, but let this disgrace attach to those only who chose to put themselves below a junior who had only lately been ordained: that they may feel that that sentence of the gospels applies to themselves when it is said: "with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, the same shall be measured unto you [211] ." But let Paul the presbyter retain his place from which with praiseworthy firmness he did not budge: and let no further encroachments be made to any one's harm: so that you, beloved, who not undeservedly get the discredit of the whole matter, may with all speed take measures to cure it at least by putting these our injunctions into effect; lest, if a second time a just complaint be lodged with us, we be forced into stronger displeasure: for we would rather restore discipline by correcting what is done wrong, than increase the punishment. Know that we have entrusted the carrying out of our commands to our brother and fellow-bishop Julius, that all things may straightway be established, as we have ordained. Dated 8th March, in the consulship of the illustrious Postumianus (448).


[207] Ne quem sacerdotali propere provehebas honore, ad iniuriam eorum quibis sociabatur, inciperet minorque se fieret: the text is no doubt corrupt, though the general sense is clear: the emendation minorque se for miror quis is made almost certain by the quotations that follow, especially the second. [208] S. Luke xiv. 11 and xviii. 14. [209] Vos autem quæritis de pusillo crescere et de maiore minores esse. This remarkable addition to S. Matt. xx. 28 is found in Cod. D, in some Syriac and many Latin copies: read Westcott's note in Appendix C. 3 to Introduction to Study, &c. [210] Inordinatum præposterum. Cf. Lett. XII., chap. 2, n. 8. [211] S. Matt. vii. 2; S. Mark iv. 24; S. Luke vi. 36.


Letter XX.

To Eutyches, an Abbot of Constantinople.

Leo, the bishop, to his dearly-beloved son, Eutyches, presbyter.

He thanks him for his information about the revival of Nestorianism and commends his zeal.

You have brought to our knowledge, beloved, by your letter that through the activity of some [212] the heresy of Nestorius has been again reviving. We reply that your solicitude in this matter has pleased us, since the remarks we have received are an indication of your mind. Wherefore do not doubt that the Lord, the Founder of the catholic Faith, will befriend you in all things. And when we have been able to ascertain more fully by whose wickedness this happens, we must make provision with the help of God for the complete uprooting of this poisonous growth which has long ago been condemned. God keep thee safe, my beloved son. Dated 1st June, in the consulship of the illustrious Postumianus and Zeno (448).


[212] Quesnel is of opinion that Eutyches' letter had accused Domnus, Bishop of Antioch, and Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus (cf. Lett. CXX., chapters iv. and v.), of Nestorianizing, and that he thus had gained the approbation of Leo before his own unsoundness had been made known.


Letter XXI.

From Eutyches to Leo [213] .

I. He states his account of the proceedings at the Synod.

God the Word is before all else my witness, being confident of my hope and faith in Christ the Lord and God of all, and discerning the proof of my holding the truth in these matters: but I call on your holiness, too, to bear witness to my heart and to the reasonableness of my opinions and words. But the wicked devil has exercised his evil influence upon my zeal and determination, whereby his power ought to have been destroyed. Whereupon he has exerted all his proper power and aroused Eusebius, bishop of the town of Dorylæum, against me, who presented an allegation [214] to the holy bishop of the church in Constantinople, Flavian, and to certain others whom he found in the same city assembled on various matters of their own: in this he called me heretic, not raising any true accusation but contriving destruction for me and disturbance for the churches of God.

Their holinesses summoned me to reply to his accusation: but though I was delayed by a serious illness besides my advanced age, I came to clear myself, knowing well that a faction had been formed against my safety. And, indeed, together with a writ of appeal [215] to which my signature was appended, I offered them a statement showing my confession upon the holy Faith. But when the holy Flavian did not receive the document, nor order it to be read, yet heard me in reply utter word for word that Faith which was put forth at Nicæa by the holy Synod, and confirmed at Ephesus, I was required to acknowledge two natures, and to anathematize those who denied this. But I, fearing the decision of the synod, and not wishing either to take away or to add one word contrary to the Faith put forth by the holy Synod of Nicæa, knowing, too, that our holy and blessed fathers and bishops Julius, Felix, Athanasius, and Gregorius [216] rejected the phrase "two natures," and not daring to discuss the nature of God the Word, who came into flesh in the last days entering the womb of the holy virgin Mary unchangeably as he willed and knew, becoming man in reality, not in fancy, nor yet venturing to anathematize our aforesaid Fathers, I asked them to let your holiness know these things, that you might judge what seemed right to you, undertaking by all means to follow your ruling.

II. His explanations were allowed no hearing.

But without listening to any thing which I said, they broke up the Synod and published the sentence of my degradation, which they were getting ready against me before the inquiry. So much slander were they factiously making up against me that even my safety would have been endangered had not the help of God at the intercession of your holiness quickly snatched me from the assault of military force. Then they began to force the heads of other monasteries [217] to subscribe to my degradation (a thing which was never done either towards those who have professed themselves heretics, nor even against Nestorius himself), insomuch that when to reassure the people I tried to set forth [218] statements of my faith, not only did they, who were plotting the aforesaid faction against me, prevent them being heard, but also seized them that straightway I might be held a heretic before all.

III. He appeals to Leo for protection.

I take refuge, therefore, with you the defender of religion and abhorrer of such factions, bringing in even still nothing strange against the faith as it was originally handed down to us, but anathematizing Apollinaris, Valentinus, Manes, and Nestorius, and those who say that the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour, descended from heaven and not from the Holy Ghost and from the holy Virgin, along with all heresies down to Simon Magus. Yet nevertheless I stand in jeopardy of my life as a heretic. I beseech you not to be prejudiced against me by their insidious designs about me, but to pronounce the sentence which shall seem to you right upon the Faith, and in future not to allow any slander to be uttered against me by this faction, nor let one be expelled and banished from the number of the orthodox who has spent his seventy years of life in continence and all chastity, so that at the very end of life he should suffer shipwreck. I have subjoined to this my letter both documents, that which was presented by my accuser at the Synod, and that which was brought by me but not received, as well as the statement of my faith and those things which have been decreed upon the two natures by our holy Fathers [219] .

Eutyches' Confession of Faith.

I call upon you before God, who gives life to all things, and Christ Jesus, who witnessed that good confession under Pontius Pilate, that you do nothing by favour. For I have held the same as my forefathers and from my boyhood have been illuminated by the same Faith as that which was laid down by the holy Synod of 318 most blessed bishops who were gathered at Nicæa from the whole world, and which was confirmed and ratified afresh for sole acceptance by the holy Synod assembled at Ephesus: and I have never thought otherwise than as the right and only true orthodox Faith has enjoined. And I agree to everything that was laid down about the same Faith by the same holy Synod: of which Synod the leader and chief was Cyril of blessed memory bishop of the Alexandrians, the partner and sharer in the preaching and in the Faith of those saints and elect of God, Gregory the greater, and the other Gregory [220] , Basil, Athanasius, Atticus and Proclus. Him and all of them I have held orthodox and faithful, and have honoured as saints, and have esteemed my masters. But I utter an anathema on Nestorius, Apollinaris, and all heretics down to Simon, and those who say that the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven. For He who is the Word of God came down from heaven without flesh and was made flesh in the holy Virgin's womb unchangeably and unalterably as He Himself knew and willed. And He who was always perfect God before the ages, was also made perfect man in the end of the days for us and for our salvation. This my full profession may your holiness consider.

I, Eutyches, presbyter and archimandrite, have subscribed to this statement with my own hand.


[213] Contrary to my general plan, I have thought it wiser, in the matter of the Eutychian controversy, to include other than Leo's own writings, that the reader may fulfil the precept audi alteram partem in what was the most important doctrinal discussion of Leo's term of office. This Letter (XXI.) bears the stamp of genuineness upon it, though the Gk. original is not found. It is from a collection of documents bearing on Nestorianism published ex ms. Casinensi, first by Christianus Lupus (?), and afterwards by Stephanus Baluzius (1630-1718). [214] See Introduction, p. vii. [215] Libelli sc. (appellationis ad Leonem): this is referred to by Flavian (Lett. XXVI., chap. iii.) and denied. [216] Of these four worthies, Athanasius is too well known to need further notice. Gregorius is either Greg. Nazianzen, Bishop of Constantinople (circ. 380) or Greg. of Nyssa, both great champions of the Church against Arianism (not, as the Ball., Greg. Thaumaturgus, Bishop of Neo-Cæsarea, 244-70): Julius was a Bishop of Rome (337-52): an excerpt from one of his letters is printed by the Ball. at the end of this letter as the passage on which Eutyches based his error, though they suspect it (not unnaturally) as being an Apollinarian imposition: Felix is probably no other than the Arian Bishop of Rome, Felix II. (355-8) whose appointment is characterized by Athanasius as effected "by antichristian wickedness," but who is yet a canonized saint and martyr of the Roman Church (see Schaff's Hist., vol. ii. p. 371; iii. 635, 6). [217] Abbots' signatures are found attached to the condemnation of Eutyches by the synod of Constantinople. [218] Cf. Letter XXVI., chap. ii., propositiones iniuriarum publice ponens et maledictionibus plenas (Gr. prothemeta hubreos kai loioorias anamesta) which is Flavian's account of the matter. [219] Of these four documents (1) Eusebius' libellus is preserved in Act I Chalcedon; (2) is not forthcoming; (3) is appended below; and (4) a fragment of the testimony of Julius, which is given, does not seem important enough to be added in this edition, especially as its genuineness is denied. [220] Here we have the two Gregorys mentioned: cf. n. 7. above.


Letter XXII [221] .

The first from Flavian, Bp. of Constantinople to Pope Leo.

To the most holy and God-loving father and fellow-bishop, Leo, Flavian greeting in the Lord.

I. The designs of the devil have led Eutyches astray.

There is nothing which can stay the devil's wickedness, that "restless evil, full of deadly poison [222] ." Above and below it "goes about," seeking "whom it may" strike, dismay, and "devour [223] ." Whence to watch, to be sober unto prayer, to draw near to God, to eschew foolish questionings, to follow the fathers and not to go beyond the eternal bounds, this we have learnt from Holy Writ. And so I give up the excess of grief and abundant tears over the capture of one of the clergy who are under me, and whom I could not save nor snatch from the wolf, although I was ready to lay down my life for him. How was he caught, how did he leap away, hating the voice of the caller and turning aside also from the memory of the Fathers and thoroughly detesting their paths. And thus I proceed with my account.

II. The seductions of heretics capture the unwary.

There are some "in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves [224] :" whom we know by their fruit. These men seem indeed at first to be of us, but they are not of us: "for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us [225] ." But when they have spewed out their impiety, throwing out the guile that is in them, and seizing the weaker ones, and those who have their senses unpractised in the divine utterances, they carry them along with themselves to destruction, wresting and doing despite to the Fathers' doctrines, just as they do the Holy Scriptures also to their own destruction: whom we must be forewarned of and take heed lest some should be misled by their wickedness and shaken in their firmness. "For they have sharpened their tongues like serpents: adder's poison is under their lips [226] ," as the prophet has cried out about them.

III. Eutyches' heresy stated.

Such a one, therefore, has now shown himself amongst us, Eutyches, for many years a presbyter and archimandrite [227] , pretending to hold the same belief as ours, and to have the right Faith in him: indeed he resists the blasphemy of Nestorius, and feigns a controversy with him, but the exposition of the Faith composed by the 318 holy fathers, and the letter that Cyril of holy memory wrote to Nestorius, and one by the same author on the same subject to the Easterns, these writings, to which all have given their assent, he has tried to upset, and revive the old evil dogmas of the blasphemous Valentinus and Apollinaris. He has not feared the warning of the True King: "Whoso shall cause one of the least of these little ones to stumble, it was better that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. [228] " But casting away all shame, and shaking off the cloak which covered his error [229] , he openly in our holy synod persisted in saying that our Lord Jesus Christ ought not to be understood by us as having two natures after His incarnation in one substance and in one person: nor yet that the Lord's flesh was of the same substance with us, as if assumed from us and united to God the Word hypostatically: but he said that the Virgin who bare him was indeed of the same substance with us according to the flesh, but the Lord Himself did not assume from her flesh of the same substance with us: but the Lord's body was not a man's body, although that which issued from the Virgin was a human body, resisting all the expositions of the holy Fathers.

IV. He has sent Leo the minutes of their proceedings that he may see all the details.

But not to make my letter too long by detailing everything, we have sent your holiness the proceedings which some time since we took in the matter: therein we deprived him as convicted on these charges, of his priesthood, of the management of his monastery and of our communion: in order that your holiness also knowing the facts of his case may make his wickedness manifest to all the God-loving bishops who are under your reverence; lest perchance if they do not know the views which he holds, and of which he has been openly convicted, they may be found to be in correspondence with him as a fellow-believer by letter or by other means. I and those who are with me give much greeting to you and to all the brotherhood in Christ. The Lord keep you in safety and prayer for us, O most God-Loving Father. [230]


[221] There are two Latin versions of the original Gk. of this letter, an older and a later: the later, as being more accurate, is here translated, though Canon Bright would seem to be right (n. 139) in saying that we must think of Leo as writing the Tome (Lett. XXVIII.) with the older Latin version of Flavian's letter before him. [222] S. Jam. iii. 8. [223] 1 Pet. v. 8. [224] S. Matt. vii. 15. [225] 1 John ii. 19. [226] Ps. cxl. 3. [227] Viz., head of a monastery (Gk. mandra) or abbot. [228] S. Matt. xviii. 6, but it will be noticed that the quotation is confused with xxv. 40, minimis being substituted for qui in me credunt. [229] Pudorem (instead of the impudenter of the mss.) omnem abiciens et pellem quæ eum circumdabat excutiens, the Gk. version of this somewhat obscure passage running aido pasan apobalon kai hen periekeito tes planes doran apotinaxamenos. [230] This was the letter "which was somewhat unaccountably delayed in its transit to Rome" (Bright), which reached Leo after XXIII. was written, and to which Leo refers in the Tome, chap. i., litteris, quas miramur fuisse tam seras. Bright's note 139 should be read throughout as a clear exposition of the preliminary steps in the controversy.


Letter XXIII.

To Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople.

To his well-beloved brother Flavian the bishop, Leo the bishop.

I. He complains that Flavian has not sent him a full account of Eutyches' case.

Seeing that our most Christian and merciful Emperor, in his holy and praiseworthy faith and anxiety for the peace of the Catholic Church, has sent us a letter [231] upon the matters which have roused the din of disturbance among you, we wonder, brother, that you have been able to keep silence to us upon the scandal that has been caused, and that you did not rather take measures for our being at once informed by your own report, that we might not have any doubt about the truth of the case. For we have received a document from the presbyter Eutyches [232] , who complains that on the accusation of bishop Eusebius he has been wrongfully deprived of communion, notwithstanding that he says he attended your summons and did not refuse his presence: and moreover asserts that he presented a deed of appeal in the very court, which was however not accepted: whereupon he was forced to put forth letters of defence [233] in the city of Constantinople. Pending which matter we do not yet know with what justice he has been separated from the communion of the Church. But having regard to the importance of the matter, we wish to know the reason of your action and to have the whole thing brought to our knowledge: for we, who desire the judgments of the Lord's priests to be deliberate, cannot without information decide one way or another, until we have all the proceedings accurately before us.

II. And now demands it.

And therefore, brother, signify to us in a full account by the hand of the most fit and competent person, what innovation has arisen against the ancient faith, which needed to be corrected by so severe a sentence. For both the moderation of the Church and the devout faith of our most godly prince insist upon our showing much anxiety for the peace of Christendom: that dissensions may be cleared away and the Catholic Faith kept unimpaired, and that those whose faith has been proved may be fortified by our authority, when those who maintain what is wrong have been recalled from their error. And no difficulty can arise on this side, since the said presbyter has professed himself by his own statement, ready to be corrected if anything be found in him worthy of rebuke. For it beseems us in such matters to take every precaution that charity be kept and the Truth defended without the din of strife. And therefore because you see, beloved, that we are anxious about so great a matter, hasten to inform us of everything in as full and clear a manner as possible (for this ought to have been done before), lest in the cross-statements of both sides we be misled by some uncertainty, and the dissension, which ought to be stifled in its infancy, be fostered: for our heart is impressed by God's inspiration with the need of saving from violation by anyone's misinterpretation those constitutions of the venerable fathers which have received Divine ratification and belong to the groundwork of the Faith. God keep thee safe, dear brother. Dated 18 February (449), in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes.


[231] This letter from Theodosius II. came soon after Eutyches, letter (XXI), and "apparently gave Leo the impression, that Eutyches had been badly treated." Bright. [232] See Letter XXI., above. [233] Contestatorios libellos. See Lett. XXI., chap. ii.


Letter XXIV.

To Theodosius Augustus II.

Leo the bishop, to Theodosius Augustus.

I. He praises the Emperor's piety and mentions Eutyches' appeal.

How much protection the Lord has vouchsafed His Church through your clemency and faith, is shown again by this letter which you have sent me: so that we rejoice at there being not only a kingly, but also a priestly mind within you. Seeing that, besides your imperial and public cares, you have a most devout anxiety for the Christian religion, lest schisms or heresies or other offences should grow up among God's people. For your realm is then in its best state when men serve the eternal and unchangeable Trinity by the confession of one Godhead [234] . What the disturbance was which occurred in the Church of Constantinople, and which could have so moved my brother and fellow-bishop Flavian, that he deprived Eutyches, the presbyter, of communion, I have not yet been able to understand clearly. For although the aforesaid presbyter sent in writing a complaint concerning his trouble to the Apostolic See, yet he only briefly touched on some points, asserting that he kept the constitutions of the Nicene synod and had been vainly blamed for difference of faith.

II. He finds fault with Flavian's silence.

But the statement of bishop Eusebius, his accuser, copies of which the said presbyter has sent us, contained nothing clear about his objections, and though he charged a presbyter with heresy, he did not say expressly what opinion he disapproved of in him: although the bishop himself also professed that he adhered to the decrees of the Nicene synod: for which reason we had no means of learning anything more fully. And because the method of our Faith and the laudable anxiety shown by your piety requires the merits of the case to be known, there must now be no place allowed for deception, but we must be informed of the points on which he considers him unsound, that the right judgment may be passed after full information. I have sent a letter to the aforesaid bishop, from which he may gather that I am displeased at his still keeping silence upon what has been done in so grave a matter, when he ought to have been forward in disclosing all to us at the outset: and we believe that even after the reminder he will acquaint us with the whole, in order that, when what now seems obscure, has been brought into the light, judgment may be passed agreeably to the teaching of the Gospels and the Apostles. Dated the 18th of February [235] , in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449).


[234] Is it fanciful to trace an analogy between these words and the language of the Collect for Trinity Sunday (out of the Sacramentary of Gregory), "grace by the confession of a true faith to acknowledge the glory of the Eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity?" [235] Quesnel reads the 1st of March as the date.


Letter XXV.

From Peter Chrysologus, Bishop of Ravenna, to Eutyches, the Presbyter.

[In answer to a letter from Eutyches, he urges him to accept the decisions of the Church on the Faith in fear and without too close inquiry, and to abide by the ruling of the bishop of Rome.]


Letter XXVI [236] .

A Second One from Flavian to Leo.

To the most holy and blessed father and fellow-minister Leo, Flavian greeting in the Lord.

I. Eutyches' heresy restated.

Nothing, as you know, most beloved of God, is more precious to priests than piety and the right dividing of the word of truth. For all our hope and safety, and the recompense of promised good depend thereon. For this reason we must take all pains about the true Faith, and those things which have been set forth and decreed by the holy Fathers, that always, and in all circumstances, they may be kept and guarded whole and uninjured. And so it was necessary on the present occasion for us, who see the orthodox Faith suffering harm, and the heresy of Apollinaris and Valentinus being revived by the wicked monk Eutyches, not to overlook it, but publicly to disclose it for the people's safety. For this man: this Eutyches, keeping his diseased and sickly opinion hid within him, has dared to attack our gentleness, and unblushingly and shamelessly to instil his own blasphemy into many minds: saying that before the Incarnation indeed, our Saviour Jesus Christ had two natures, Godhead and manhood: but that after the union they became one nature; not knowing [237] what he says, or on what he is speaking so decidedly. For even the union of the two natures that came together in Christ did not, as your piety knows, confuse their properties in the process: but the properties of the two natures remain entire even in the union. And he added another blasphemy also, saying that the Lord's body which sprang from Mary was not of our substance, nor of human matter: but, though he calls it human, he refuses to say it was consubstantial with us or with her who bare him, according to the flesh [238] .

II. The means Eutyches has taken to circumvent the Synod.

And this notwithstanding that the acts of Ephesus [239] , in the letter written by the holy and ecumenical synod to the wicked and deposed Nestorius, contain these express words: "the natures which came together to form true unity are indeed different: and yet from them both there is but one Christ and Son. Not as if the difference between the two natures was done away with through the union, but rather that these same natures, His Godhead and His Manhood perfected for us one Lord Jesus Christ, through an ineffable and incomprehensible meeting which resulted in unity." And this does not escape your holiness, who have no doubt read the record of what was done at Ephesus. Yet this same Eutyches attaching no weight to these words, thinks he is not liable to the penalties fixed by that holy and ecumenical synod. For this reason, finding that many of the simpler-minded folk were injured in their faith by his contention, upon his being accused by the devout Bishop Eusebius, and upon his attending at the holy council, and with his own mouth declaring what he thought to the members of the synod, we have deposed him for his estrangement from the true Faith, as your holiness will learn from the resolutions passed about him: which we have sent with this our letter. Moreover, it is fair in my opinion that you should be told this also that this same Eutyches, after suffering just and canonical deposition, instead of making amends for his earlier by his later conduct [240] , and appeasing God by careful penitence and many tears, and by a true repentance, comforting our heart which was greatly saddened at his fall: not only did not do so, but even made every effort to throw the most holy church of this place into confusion: setting up in public placards full of insults and maledictions, and beyond this addressing his entreaties to our most religious and Christ-loving Emperor, and these too over-flowing with arrogance and sauciness, whereby he tried to override the divine canons in everything.

III. He acknowledges the receipt of Leo's letter.

But after all this had occurred, your holiness' letter was conveyed to us by the most honourable count Pansophius: and from it we learnt that the same Eutyches had sent you a letter full of falsehood and cunning, saying that at the time of trial he had presented letters of appeal to us, and to the holy synod of bishops who were then present, and had appealed to your holiness: this he certainly never did, but in this matter, too, he has been guilty of deceit, like the father of lies, thinking to gain your ear. Therefore, most holy father, being stirred by all that he has ventured, and by what has been done, and is being done against us and the most holy Church, use your accustomed promptitude as becomes the priesthood, and in defending the commonweal and peace of the holy churches, consent by your own letter [241] to endorse the resolution that has been canonically passed against him, and to confirm the faith of our most religious and Christ-loving Emperor. For the matter only requires your weight and support, which through your wisdom will at once bring about general peace and quietness. For thus both the heresy which has arisen, and the disorder it has excited, will easily be appeased by God's assistance through a letter from you: and the rumoured synod will also be prevented, and so the most holy churches throughout the world need not be disturbed. I and all that are with me salute all the brethren that are with you. May you be granted to us safe in the Lord, and still praying for us, O most God-Loving and Holy Father.


[236] In reading the Tome (Lett. XXVIII.) the reader is warned to remember that he must take no account of this letter, which did not reach Leo until later, and which is acknowledged in Lett. XXXVI. dated a week after the Tome. Bright (n. 139). There are two versions of this letter also, the ancient one and a modern one by Joannes Cotelerius, which latter, as being a more exact reproduction of the Gk. original, we have taken as the basis of our English translation. [237] Ignarus: it will be remembered that in the Tome (chap. i.) this is the chief fault which Leo also has to find with Eutyches, calling him multum imprudens et nimis imperitis, &c. [238] So in Lett. XXII., chap. iii., Domini corpus non esse quidem corpus hominis, humanum autem corpus esse quod ex Virgine est. [239] The date of this Council is 431 b.c. [240] Saltem secundis curare priora (Gk. kan tois deuterois iasasthai ta protera). [241] Cf. Lett. XXVII., n. 7, where the difference between Flavian's request here and in Lett. XXII., chap iv., is pointed out.


Letter XXVII.

To Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople.

Leo to Flavian, bishop of Constantinople.

An acknowledgment of Flavian's first letter and a promise of a fuller reply.

On the first opportunity we could find, which was the coming of our honourable son Rodanus, we acknowledge, beloved, the arrival of your packet [242] , which was to give us information about the case which has been stirred up to our grief among you by misguided error. Since this man, who has long seemed to be religiously disposed, has expressed himself in the Faith otherwise than is right, though he never ought to have departed from the catholic tradition, but to have persevered in the same belief as is held by all. But on this matter we are replying more fully [243] by him who brought your letter to us, beloved: that we may give you all necessary instructions, beloved, on the whole matter. For we do not allow either him to persist in his perverse conviction; or you, beloved, who with such faithful zeal are resisting his wrong and foolish error to be long disturbed by the adversary's opposition. Our aforesaid son, by whom we are sending this letter, we desire you to receive with the affection he deserves, and to reply when he returns to us. Dated 21st May in the consulship of Asturius and Protogenes (449).


[242] Epistolas. This refers to Lett. XXII., and includes the gesta (or minutes of the synod's proceedings) which accompanied it. [243] This is the Tome (Letter XXVIII.): it will be noticed that Flavian (in Lett. XXII.) had not asked for any instructions, but only that Leo should inform the bishops under his jurisdiction of Eutyches' deposition (chap. iv.). Flavian's second letter (XXVI.), however, does mention vestras sacras litteras, which he hopes will avoid the necessity of a council (chap. iii.). Leo himself seems to be conscious of this: for in Letter XXXIII., chap. 2, he twice pointedly puts in the word "seems," as if Flavian had not expressed himself quite clearly: "the points which he seems to have referred to us," and "this error which seems to have arisen."


Letter XXVIII.

To Flavian commonly called "the Tome."

I. Eutyches has been driven into his error by presumption and ignorance [244] .

Having read your letter, beloved, at the late arrival of which we are surprised [245] , and having perused the detailed account of the bishops' acts [246] , we have at last found out what the scandal was which had arisen among you against the purity of the Faith: and what before seemed concealed has now been unlocked and laid open to our view: from which it is shown that Eutyches, who used to seem worthy of all respect in virtue of his priestly office, is very unwary and exceedingly ignorant, so that it is even of him that the prophet has said: "he refused to understand so as to do well: he thought upon iniquity in his bed [247] ." But what more iniquitous than to hold blasphemous opinions [248] , and not to give way to those who are wiser and more learned than ourself. Now into this unwisdom fall they who, finding themselves hindered from knowing the truth by some obscurity, have recourse not to the prophets' utterances, not to the Apostles' letters, nor to the injunctions of the Gospel but to their own selves: and thus they stand out as masters of error because they were never disciples of truth. For what learning has he acquired about the pages of the New and Old Testament, who has not even grasped the rudiments of the Creed? And that which, throughout the world, is professed by the mouth of every one who is to be born again [249] , is not yet taken in by the heart of this old man.

II. Concerning the twofold nativity and nature of Christ.

Not knowing, therefore, what he was bound to think concerning the incarnation of the Word of God, and not wishing to gain the light of knowledge by researches through the length and breadth of the Holy Scriptures, he might at least have listened attentively to that general and uniform confession, whereby the whole body of the faithful confess that they believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son [250] , our Lord, who was born of the Holy Spirit and [251] the Virgin Mary. By which three statements the devices of almost all heretics are overthrown. For not only is God believed to be both Almighty and the Father, but the Son is shown to be co-eternal with Him, differing in nothing from the Father because He is God from God [252] , Almighty from Almighty, and being born from the Eternal one is co-eternal with Him; not later in point of time, not lower in power, not unlike in glory, not divided in essence: but at the same time the only begotten of the eternal Father was born eternal of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. And this nativity which took place in time took nothing from, and added nothing to that divine and eternal birth, but expended itself wholly on the restoration of man who had been deceived [253] : in order that he might both vanquish death and overthrow by his strength [254] , the Devil who possessed the power of death. For we should not now be able to overcome the author of sin and death unless He took our nature on Him and made it His own, whom neither sin could pollute nor death retain. Doubtless then, He was conceived of the Holy Spirit within the womb of His Virgin Mother, who brought Him forth without the loss of her virginity, even as she conceived Him without its loss.

But if he could not draw a rightful understanding (of the matter) from this pure source of the Christian belief, because he had darkened the brightness of the clear truth by a veil of blindness peculiar to himself, he might have submitted himself to the teaching of the Gospels. And when Matthew speaks of "the Book of the Generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham [255] ," he might have also sought out the instruction afforded by the statements of the Apostles. And reading in the Epistle to the Romans, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God, which He had promised before by His prophets in the Holy Scripture concerning His son, who was made unto Him [256] of the seed of David after the flesh [257] ," he might have bestowed a loyal carefulness upon the pages of the prophets. And finding the promise of God who says to Abraham, "In thy seed shall all nations be blest [258] ," to avoid all doubt as to the reference of this seed, he might have followed the Apostle when He says, "To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He saith not and to seeds, as if in many, but as it in one, and to thy seed which is Christ [259] ." Isaiah's prophecy also he might have grasped by a closer attention to what he says, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is interpreted "God with us [260] ." And the same prophet's words he might have read faithfully. "A child is born to us, a Son is given to us, whose power is upon His shoulder, and they shall call His name the Angel of the Great Counsel, Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, the Father of the age to come [261] ." And then he would not speak so erroneously as to say that the Word became flesh in such a way that Christ, born of the Virgin's womb, had the form of man, but had not the reality of His mother's body [262] . Or is it possible that he thought our Lord Jesus Christ was not of our nature for this reason, that the angel, who was sent to the blessed Mary ever Virgin, says, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: and therefore that Holy Thing also that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God [263] ," on the supposition that as the conception of the Virgin was a Divine act, the flesh of the conceived did not partake of the conceiver's nature? But that birth so uniquely wondrous and so wondrously unique, is not to be understood in such wise that the properties of His kind were removed through the novelty of His creation. For though the Holy Spirit imparted fertility to the Virgin, yet a real body was received from her body; and, "Wisdom building her a house [264] ," "the Word became flesh and dwelt in us [265] ," that is, in that flesh which he took from man and which he quickened with the breath of a higher life [266].

III. The Faith and counsel of God in regard to the incarnation of the Word are set forth.

Without detriment therefore to the properties of either nature and substance which then came together in one person [267] , majesty took on humility, strength weakness, eternity mortality: and for the paying off of the debt belonging to our condition inviolable nature was united with possible nature, so that, as suited the needs of our case [268] , one and the same Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, could both die with the one and not die with the other. [269] Thus in the whole and perfect nature of true man was true God born, complete in what was His own, complete in what was ours. And by "ours" we mean what the Creator formed in us from the beginning and what He undertook to repair. For what the Deceiver brought in and man deceived committed, had no trace in the Saviour. Nor, because He partook of man's weaknesses, did He therefore share our faults. He took the form of a slave [270] without stain of sin, increasing the human and not diminishing the divine: because that emptying of Himself whereby the Invisible made Himself visible and, Creator and Lord of all things though He be, wished to be a mortal, was the bending down [271] of pity, not the failing of power. Accordingly He who while remaining in the form of God made man, was also made man in the form of a slave. For both natures retain their own proper character without loss: and as the form of God did not do away with the form of a slave, so the form of a slave did not impair the form of God. For inasmuch as the Devil used to boast that man had been cheated by his guile into losing the divine gifts, and bereft of the boon of immortality had undergone sentence of death, and that he had found some solace in his troubles from having a partner in delinquency [272] , and that God also at the demand of the principle of justice had changed His own purpose towards man whom He had created in such honour: there was need for the issue of a secret counsel, that the unchangeable God whose will cannot be robbed of its own kindness, might carry out the first design of His Fatherly care [273] towards us by a more hidden mystery [274] ; and that man who had been driven into his fault by the treacherous cunning of the devil might not perish contrary to the purpose of God [275] .

IV. The properties of the twofold nativity and nature of Christ are weighed one against another.

There enters then these lower parts of the world the Son of God, descending from His heavenly home and yet not quitting His Father's glory, begotten in a new order by a new nativity. In a new order, because being invisible in His own nature, He became visible in ours, and He whom nothing could contain was content to be contained [276] : abiding before all time He began to be in time: the Lord of all things, He obscured His immeasurable majesty and took on Him the form of a servant: being God that cannot suffer, He did not disdain to be man that can, and, immortal as He is, to subject Himself to the laws of death. The Lord assumed His mother's nature without her faultiness: nor in the Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin's womb, does the wonderfulness of His birth make His nature unlike ours. For He who is true God is also true man: and in this union there is no lie [277] , since the humility of manhood and the loftiness of the Godhead both meet there. For as God is not changed by the showing of pity, so man is not swallowed up by the dignity. For each form does what is proper to it with the co-operation of the other [278] ; that is the Word performing what appertains to the Word, and the flesh carrying out what appertains to the flesh. One of them sparkles with miracles, the other succumbs to injuries. And as the Word does not cease to be on an equality with His Father's glory, so the flesh does not forego the nature of our race. For it must again and again be repeated that one and the same is truly Son of God and truly son of man. God in that "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [279] ;" man in that "the Word became flesh and dwelt in us [280] ." God in that "all things were made by Him [281] , and without Him was nothing made:" man in that "He was made of a woman, made under law [282] ." The nativity of the flesh was the manifestation of human nature: the childbearing of a virgin is the proof of Divine power. The infancy of a babe is shown in the humbleness of its cradle [283] : the greatness of the Most High is proclaimed by the angels' voices [284] . He whom Herod treacherously endeavours to destroy is like ourselves in our earliest stage [285] : but He whom the Magi delight to worship on their knees is the Lord of all. So too when He came to the baptism of John, His forerunner, lest He should not be known through the veil of flesh which covered His Divinity, the Father's voice thundering from the sky, said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased [286] ." And thus Him whom the devil's craftiness attacks as man, the ministries of angels serve as God. To be hungry and thirsty, to be weary, and to sleep, is clearly human: but to satisfy 5,000 men with five loaves, and to bestow on the woman of Samaria living water, droughts of which can secure the drinker from thirsting any more, to walk upon the surface of the sea with feet that do not sink, and to quell the risings of the waves by rebuking the winds, is, without any doubt, Divine. Just as therefore, to pass over many other instances, it is not part of the same nature to be moved to tears of pity for a dead friend, and when the stone that closed the four-days' grave was removed, to raise that same friend to life with a voice of command: or, to hang on the cross, and turning day to night, to make all the elements tremble: or, to be pierced with nails, and yet open the gates of paradise to the robber's faith: so it is not part of the same nature to say, "I and the Father are one," and to say, "the Father is greater than I [287] ." For although in the Lord Jesus Christ God and man is one person, yet the source of the degradation, which is shared by both, is one, and the source of the glory, which is shared by both, is another. For His manhood, which is less than the Father, comes from our side: His Godhead, which is equal to the Father, comes from the Father.

V. Christ's flesh is proved real from Scripture.

Therefore in consequence of this unity of person which is to be understood in both natures [288] , we read of the Son of Man also descending from heaven, when the Son of God took flesh from the Virgin who bore Him. And again the Son of God is said to have been crucified and buried, although it was not actually in His Divinity whereby the Only-begotten is co-eternal and con-substantial with the Father, but in His weak human nature that He suffered these things. And so it is that in the Creed also we all confess that the Only-begotten Son of God was crucified and buried, according to that saying of the Apostle: "for if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory [289] ." But when our Lord and Saviour Himself would instruct His disciples' faith by His questionings, He said, "Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" And when they had put on record the various opinions of other people, He said, "But ye, whom do ye say that I am?" Me, that is, who am the Son of Man, and whom ye see in the form of a slave, and in true flesh, whom do ye say that I am? Whereupon blessed Peter, whose divinely inspired confession was destined to profit all nations, said, "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God [290] ." And not undeservedly was he pronounced blessed by the Lord, drawing from the chief corner-stone [291] the solidity of power which his name also expresses, he, who, through the revelation of the Father, confessed Him to be at once Christ and Son of God: because the receiving of the one of these without the other was of no avail to salvation, and it was equally perilous to have believed the Lord Jesus Christ to be either only God without man, or only man without God. But after the Lord's resurrection (which, of course, was of His true body, because He was raised the same as He had died and been buried), what else was effected by the forty days' delay than the cleansing of our faith's purity from all darkness? For to that end He talked with His disciples, and dwelt and ate with them, He allowed Himself to be handled with diligent and curious touch by those who were affected by doubt, He entered when the doors were shut upon the Apostles, and by His breathing upon them gave them the Holy Spirit [292] , and bestowing on them the light of understanding, opened the secrets of the Holy Scriptures [293] . So again He showed the wound in His side, the marks of the nails, and all the signs of His quite recent suffering, saying, "See My hands and feet, that it is I. Handle Me and see that a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have [294] ;" in order that the properties of His Divine and human nature might be acknowledged to remain still inseparable: and that we might know the Word not to be different from the flesh, in such a sense as also to confess that the one Son of God is both the Word and flesh [295] . Of this mystery of the faith [296] your opponent Eutyches must be reckoned to have but little sense if he has recognized our nature in the Only-begotten of God neither through the humiliation of His having to die, nor through the glory of His rising again. Nor has he any fear of the blessed apostle and evangelist John's declaration when he says, "every spirit which confesses Jesus Christ to have come in the flesh, is of God: and every spirit which destroys Jesus is not of God, and this is Antichrist [297] ." But what is "to destroy Jesus," except to take away the human nature from Him, and to render void the mystery, by which alone we were saved, by the most barefaced fictions. The truth is that being in darkness about the nature of Christ's body, he must also be befooled by the same blindness in the matter of His sufferings. For if he does not think the cross of the Lord fictitious, and does not doubt that the punishment He underwent to save the world is likewise true, let him acknowledge the flesh of Him whose death he already believes: and let him not disbelieve Him man with a body like ours, since he acknowledges Him to have been able to suffer: seeing that the denial of His true flesh is also the denial of His bodily suffering. If therefore he receives the Christian faith, and does not turn away his ears from the preaching of the Gospel: let him see what was the nature that hung pierced with nails on the wooden cross, and, when the side of the Crucified was opened by the soldier's spear, let him understand whence it was that blood and water flowed, that the Church of God might be watered from the font and from the cup [298] . Let him hear also the blessed Apostle Peter, proclaiming that the sanctification of the Spirit takes place through the sprinkling of Christ's blood [299] . And let him not read cursorily the same Apostle's words when he says, "Knowing that not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, have ye been redeemed from your vain manner of life which is part of your fathers' tradition, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ as of a lamb without spot and blemish [300] ." Let him not resist too the witness of the blessed Apostle John, who says: "and the blood of Jesus the Son of God cleanseth us from all sin [301] ." And again: "this is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith." And "who is He that overcometh the world save He that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God. This is He that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ: not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that testifieth, because the Spirit is the truth [302] , because there are three that bear witness, the Spirit, the water and the blood, and the three are one [303] ." The Spirit, that is, of sanctification, and the blood of redemption, and the water of baptism: because the three are one, and remain undivided, and none of them is separated from this connection; because the catholic Church lives and progresses by this faith, so that in Christ Jesus neither the manhood without the true Godhead nor the Godhead without the true manhood is believed in.

VI. The wrong and mischievous concession of Eutyches. The terms on which he may be restored to Communion. The sending of deputies to the east.

But when during your cross-examination Eutyches replied and said, "I confess that our Lord had two natures before the union but after the union I confess but one [304] ," I am surprised that so absurd and mistaken a statement of his should not have been criticised and rebuked by his judges, and that an utterance which reaches the height of stupidity and blasphemy should be allowed to pass as if nothing offensive had been heard: for the impiety of saying that the Son of God was of two natures before His incarnation is only equalled by the iniquity of asserting that there was but one nature in Him after "the Word became flesh." And to the end that Eutyches may not think this a right or defensible opinion because it was not contradicted by any expression of yourselves, we warn you beloved brother, to take anxious care that if ever through the inspiration of God's mercy the case is brought to a satisfactory conclusion, his ignorant mind be purged from this pernicious idea as well as others. He was, indeed, just beginning to beat a retreat from his erroneous conviction, as the order of proceedings shows [305] , in so far as when hemmed in by your remonstrances he agreed to say what he had not said before and to acquiesce in that belief to which before he had been opposed. However, when he refused to give his consent to the anathematizing of his blasphemous dogma, you understood, brother [306] , that he abode by his treachery and deserved to receive a verdict of condemnation. And yet, if he grieves over it faithfully and to good purpose, and, late though it be, acknowledges how rightly the bishops' authority has been set in motion; or if with his own mouth and hand in your presence he recants his wrong opinions, no mercy that is shown to him when penitent can be found fault with [307] : because our Lord, that true and "good shepherd" who laid down His life for His sheep [308] and who came to save not lose men's souls [309] , wishes us to imitate His kindness [310] ; in order that while justice constrains us when we sin, mercy may prevent our rejection when we have returned. For then at last is the true Faith most profitably defended when a false belief is condemned even by the supporters of it.

Now for the loyal and faithful execution of the whole matter, we have appointed to represent us our brothers Julius [311] Bishop and Renatus [312] priest [of the Title of S. Clement], as well as my son Hilary [313] , deacon. And with them we have associated Dulcitius our notary, whose faith is well approved: being sure that the Divine help will be given us, so that he who had erred may be saved when the wrongness of his view has been condemned. God keep you safe, beloved brother.

The 13 June, 449, in the consulship of the most illustrious Asturius and Protogenes.


[244] The original word (imperitia) implies that a recluse like Eutyches (an archimandrite of a convent) ought never to have entered into a nice controversy like the present: he has not enough savoir faire, and his knowledge is not quite up to date, is a little old-fashioned. [245] The exact reason of the delay is not altogether certain: we know Flavian had written much earlier than the date of arrival warranted: it is No. XXII. in the series. [246] Viz., the proceedings of the sunodos endemousa summoned by Flavian at Constantinople. [247] Ps. xxxvi. 4. [248] Impia sapere, to think disloyal things against God: cf. the recta sapere, "to have a right judgment" of the Collect for Whitsunday. [249] Knowledge of and belief in the principles of the Faith as contained in the Creed (symbolum) have of course always been required before Baptism from very early times. Leo here calls catechumens regenerandi, just as those who are being baptized are spoken of as renascentes (e.g. Lett. XVII. 8), those who have been baptized as renati (passim), and the rite itself as sacramentum regenerationis (e.g. Lett. IX. 2). [250] The Latin unicus is not so exact as the Greek original monogenes: elsewhere, however, unigenitus is used. [251] N.B. et (and) not ex (out of). [252] The language of the Nicene Creed. [253] I.e. by the Devil: the allusion is to Adam's fall in Paradise. [254] Sua virtute: in patristic Latin virtus is, as is well known, usually the translation of the Greek dunamis and has a much wider meaning than moral excellence, our virtue. [255] S. Matt. i. 1. [256] ei. So the Vulgate. [257] Rom. i. 1-3. [258] Gen. xii. 3. [259] Gal. iii. 16. [260] Is. vii. 14. and S. Matt. i. 23. [261] Is. ix. 6. "The angel of the great counsel" (magni consilii angelus) is a translation of the LXX. (which in the rest of the verse either represents a very different original text, or contents itself with a loose paraphrase), and is again repeated in the "Counsellor" (Consiliarius), two words farther on (which is also the Vulgate reading). [262] This was the third dogma of Apollinaris (more fully stated in Lett. CXXIV. 2 and CLXV. 2) that our Lord's acts and sufferings as man belonged entirely to His Divine nature, and were not really human at all. [263] S. Luke i. 35. [264] Prov. ix. 1. [265] In nobis, which he seems from the immediately following words to interpret as meaning "in our flesh," and not "amongst us," as the R.V. and others. [266] Quam spiritu vitæ rationalis (logikou) animavit. [267] A famous passage quoted by Hooker, Eccl. Pol. v. 53, 2, and Liddon Bampt. Lect., p. 267. Compare Serm. lxii. 1, quod...in unam personam concurrat proprietas utriusque substantiæ (Bright), also xxii. 2, xxiii. 2. [268] Quod nostris remediis congruebat, where remedia must mean the disease which needs remedies (a sort of passive use). [269] This passage from "Thus in the whole" to "not the failing of power" is repeated again in Sermon xxiii. 2, almost word for word. [270] The reference, of course, is to Phil. ii. 6: no passage is a greater favourite with the Fathers than this. [271] Compare S. Aug. ad Catech. § 6, humilitas Christi quid est? manum Deus homini iacenti porrexit: nos cecidimus, ille descendit: nos iacebamus, ille se inclinavit. Prendamus et surgamus ut non in poenam cadamus. [272] De prævaricatoris consortio: prævaricator originally is a legal term, signifying "a shuffler" in a suit, an advocate who plays into the hands of the other side. [273] Pietas, as in the collect for xvi. S. aft. Trin., where the English, "pity" represents the Latin "pietas" philologically as well as in meaning. Cf. n. 2 in chap. vi. [274] Sacramento, (musterio): what the "mystery" was is finely set forth by Canon Bright's hymn, No. 172, H. A. and M. (new edition). [275] The whole of the end of this chapter from "For inasmuch as," and the beginning of the next down to "laws of death," is repeated word for word in Sermon XXII., chaps. i. and ii. [276] Incomprehensibilis voluit comprehendi. Canon Bright's references are most apposite: "compare Serm. lxviii., idem est qui impiorum manibus comprehenditur et qui nullo fine concluditur: and Serm. xxxvii. 1, genetricis gremio continetur qui nullo fine concluditor. This `antithesis' has been grandly expressed in Milman's, `Martyr of Antioch.' "`And Thou wast laid within the tomb... Whom heaven could not contain, Nor the immeasurable plain Of vast infinity enclose or circle round.'" [277] I.e. , there is no fancy, no pretending: each nature is in equal reality present, the human as well as the Divine, thus opposing all Docetic and Monophysite heresies. [278] This passage (which is repeated in Serm. liv., chap. 2, down to "injuries"), was objected to by the Illyrian and Palestinian bishops as savouring of the heresy of Nestorius who "divided the substance:" but it is obvious that the same words might have an orthodox meaning in the mouth of one who was orthodox and to the unorthodox would bear an unorthodox construction. [279] S. John i. l. [280] Ibid. 14. [281] Ibid. 3, the Latin is per ipsum (Gk. di' autou) (through Him). [282] Gal. iv. 4. [283] Viz., that it was laid "in a manger:" the Gk. version has sparganon, "swaddling clothes," to represent cunarum and this meaning is adopted by Bright [and Heurtley], S. Luke ii. 7. [284] Ibid. 13. [285] Similis est rudimentis hominum. [286] S. Matt. iii. 17. [287] S. John xiv. 28; x. 30: the reconciliation of this class of apparently contradictory statements is often undertaken by Leo [e.g. Sermon xxiii. 2 and lxxvii. 5; Ep. xxviii. 4 and lix. 3], and by other fathers (e.g. by Augustine de Fide et Symbolo, 18). [288] This is what theologians call communicatio idiomatum, or in Gk. antidosis, the interchange of the properties of the two natures in Christ. The passage from the beginning of the chapter to "the Lord of glory" is somewhat freely adapted from S. Aug., c. Serm. Arian., cap. 8. [289] 1 Cor. ii. 8. [290] S. Matt. xvi. 13-16. [291] A principali petra. The Gk. version giving apo tes prototupou petras: others translate it "from the original (or archetypal) rock," but it seems better to link the passage more closely with Eph. ii. 20; 1 Pet. ii. 6, &c., although the Greek rendering is against this: see Serm. iv. chap. 2, where Leo is expounding the same favourite text. Bright's note 64 is most useful in explaining the Leonine exposition. "Three elements," he says, combine in the idea; (1) Christ Himself; (2) the faith in Christ; and (3) Peter considered as the chief of the Apostles and under Christ, the head of the Church." Hence petra is applied to each of these at different times. [292] S. John xx. 22. [293] S. Luke xxiv. 27. [294] Ibid. 39. [295] i.e. not to fall into the Charybdis of Nestorianism in avoiding the Scylla of Eutychianism. [296] Fidei sacramento. [297] John iv. 2, 3: the Lat. for "destroys" (or "dissolves," Bright) is solvit (so also in Lett. CXLIV. 3), which appears to be an exclusively Western reading: for Socrates, "the only Greek authority for luei" (the Gk. equivalent), according to Dr. Westcott, quotes no Gk. mss. as giving it, though he unhesitatingly makes use of that reading. The Gk. version here however, gives diairein, which simply begs the question (in Leo's favour) as to the original meaning of the phrase solvere Jesum, though on the face of it that is not at all necessarily obvious. [298] Et lavacro rigaretur et poculo: that is by the two great "generally necessary" sacraments of which he takes the water and the blood "from His riven side which flowed" to be a symbol. [299] This refers to 1 Pet. i. 2 (q.v.). [300] 1 Pet. i. 18. [301] 1 John i. 7. [302] Some of the mss. here give Christus for Spiritus (the reading adopted also by the Vulgate): in this case you must translate that Christ is the Truth instead of because of the Spirit, &c.: but see Westcott's note in loc. [303] 1 John v. 4-8. The absence of the verse on the "Heavenly witnesses" (distinctly a western insertion) is to be noticed. On Leo's interpretation of this mysterious passage Canon Bright's note 168 should be consulted. [304] This was the only compromise of his views which Eutyches could be brought to make at the synod of Constantinople. Though it was rejected, and did not hinder his condemnation, it was never met with a direct, categorical refutation. [305] Gestorum ordo, as before, in chap. 1. A report of the proceedings had accompanied Flavian's letter. [306] Fraternitas vestra: or, as the Gk. version apparently took it, "you and the rest of the brethren" (he humon adelphotes). [307] It will be remembered that he had been degraded from the priesthood and deprived of his monastery, as well as excommunicated: he might be reinstated in all these privileges, the mercifulness of Leo hints, if he recant his errors. [308] S. John x. 11 and 15. [309] S. Luke ix. 50. [310] Pietatis, a beautiful word, expressing now the Father's pitying protection, now the children's loyal affection, and here the Elder Brother's love for the younger and weaker. Cf. n. I. on chap. iii. [311] Bishop of Puteoli. [312] Died at Delos on the way. The words "of the title of S. Clement" are of doubtful authenticity, and not found in the Gk. version. The parish churches of Rome seem to have been called tituli at their first founding about the beginning of the 4th cent. a.d. Cf. our Eng. term "title," and refer to Bingham, Bk. viii. § 1. [313] Afterwards Leo's successor in the see of Rome, 461-8.


Letter XXIX.

To Theodosius Augustus.

To Cæsar Theodosius, the most religious and devout Augustus Leo pope of the CatholicChurch of the city of Rome [314] .

He notifies the appointment of his representatives at the Council of Ephesus.

How much God's providence vouchsafes to consult for the interests of men is shown by your merciful care which, incited by God's Spirit, is unwilling that there should be any disturbance or difference: since the Faith, which is absolutely one, cannot be different from itself in any thing. Hence although Eutyches, as the minutes of the bishops' proceeds reveals, has been detected in an ignorant and unwise error, and ought to have withdrawn from his conviction which is rightly condemned, yet since your piety which loves the Catholic Truth with great jealousy for God's honour, has determined on a synodal judgment at Ephesus, that that Truth on which he is blind may be brought home to the ignorant old man; I have sent my brothers Julius the Bishop, Renatus the presbyter, and my son Hilary the deacon to act as my representatives as the matter requires, and they shall bring with them such a spirit of justice and kindness that while the whole misguided error is condemned (for there can be no doubt as to what is the integrity of the Christian Faith), yet if he who has gone astray repents and entreats for pardon, he may receive the succour of priestly indulgence: seeing that in his appeal [315] which he sent us, he reserved to himself the right of earning our forgiveness by promising to correct whatever our opinion disapproved of in his opinion. But what the catholic Church universally believes and teaches on the mystery of the Lord's Incarnation is contained more fully in the letter which I have sent to my brother and fellow-bishop Flavian. Dated 13th June in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449).


[314] This is the title retained by Quesnel and the Ballerinii, though many mss. exhibit the simpler gloriosissimo et clementissimo Theodosio Augusto Leo episcopus, which is favoured by the Gk. version to endoxotato kai philanthropotato k.t.l. Quesnel takes occasion to warn us to distinguish between this use of the title papa and that adopted later when it was equivalent to oecumenicus et universalis episcopus. [315] Viz., Lett. XXI., chaps. i. and iii.


Letter XXX.

To Pulcheria Augusta.

Much shorter than, but to nearly the same effect as, xxxi., which was written on the same day as this. As xxx. has a Greek translation accompanying it and is duly dated, whereas xxxi. has neither, the Ballerinii would seem to be correct in thinking that xxx. was despatched but did not reach Pulcheria (cf. Lett. xlv. i.) and that xxxi. was for some reason never used. Of the two we have printed xxxi. by preference, as being the fuller discussion of the subject.


Letter XXXI.

To Pulcheria Augusta [316] .

Leo to Pulcheria Augusta.

I. He reminds Pulcheria of her former services to the Church, and suggests her interference in the Eutychian controversy.

How much protection the Lord has extended to His Church through your clemency, we have often tested by many signs. And whatever stand the strenuousness of the priesthood has made in our times against the assailers of the catholic Truth, has redounded chiefly to your glory: seeing that, as you have learnt from the teaching of the Holy Spirit, you submit your authority in all things to Him, by whose favour and under whose protection you reign. Wherefore, because I have ascertained from my brother and fellow-bishop Flavian's report, that a certain dispute has been raised through the agency of Eutyches in the church of Constantinople against the integrity of the Christian faith (and the text of the synod's minutes has shown me the exact nature of the whole matter), it is worthy of your great name that the error which in my opinion proceeds rather from ignorance than ingenuity, should be dispelled before, with the pertinacity of wrong-headedness, it gains any strength from the support of the unwise. Because even ignorance sometimes falls into serious mistakes, and very frequently the simple-minded rush through unwariness into the devil's pit: and it is thus, I believe, that the spirit of falsehood has crept over Eutyches: so that, whilst he imagines himself to appreciate the majesty of the Son of God more devoutly, by denying in Him the real presence of our nature, he came to the conclusion that the whole of that Word which "became flesh" was of one and the same essence. And greatly as Nestorius fell away from the Truth, in asserting that Christ was only born man of His mother, this man also departs no less far from the catholic path, who does not believe that our substance was brought forth from the same Virgin: wishing it of course to be understood as belonging to His Godhead only; so that that which took the form of a slave, and was like us and of the same form [317] , was a kind of image, not the reality of our nature.

II. Man's salvation required the union of the two natures in Christ.

But it is of no avail to say that our Lord, the Son of the blessed Virgin Mary, was true and perfect man, if He is not believed to be Man of that stock which is attributed to Him in the Gospel. For Matthew says, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham [318] :" and follows the order of His human origin, so as to bring the lines of His ancestry down to Joseph to whom the Lord's mother was espoused. Whereas Luke going backwards step by step traces His succession to the first of the human race himself, to show that the first Adam and the last Adam were of the same nature. No doubt the Almighty Son of God could have appeared for the purpose of teaching, and justifying men in exactly the same way that He appeared both to patriarchs and prophets in the semblance of flesh [319] ; for instance, when He engaged in a struggle, and entered into conversation (with Jacob), or when He refused not hospitable entertainment, and even partook of the food set before Him. But these appearances were indications of that Man whose reality it was announced by mystic predictions would be assumed from the stock of preceding patriarchs. And the fulfilment of the mystery of our atonement, which was ordained from all eternity, was not assisted by any figures because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon the Virgin, and the power of the Most High had not over-shadowed her: so that "Wisdom building herself a house [320] " within her undefiled body, "the Word became flesh;" and the form of God and the form of a slave coming together into one person, the Creator of times was born in time; and He Himself through whom all things were made, was brought forth in the midst of all things. For if the New Man had not been made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and taken on Him our old nature, and being consubstantial with the Father, had deigned to be consubstantial with His mother also, and being alone free from sin, had united our nature to Him the whole human race would be held in bondage beneath the Devil's yoke [321] , and we should not be able to make use of the Conqueror's victory, if it had been won outside our nature.

III. From the union of the two natures flows the grace of baptism. He makes a direct appeal to Pulcheria for her help.

But from Christ's marvellous sharing of the two natures, the mystery of regeneration shone upon us that through the self-same spirit, through whom Christ was conceived and born, we too, who were born through the desire of the flesh, might be born again from a spiritual source: and consequently, the Evangelist speaks of believers as those "who were born not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God [322] ." And of this unutterable grace no one is a partaker, nor can be reckoned among the adopted sons of God, who excludes from his faith that which is the chief means of our salvation. Wherefore, I am much vexed and saddened that this man, who seemed before so laudably disposed towards humility, dares to make these empty and stupid attacks on the one Faith of ourselves and of our fathers. When he saw that his ignorant notion offended the ears of catholics, he ought to have withdrawn from his opinion, and not to have so disturbed the Church's rulers, as to deserve a sentence of condemnation: which, of course, no one will be able to remit, if he is determined to abide by his notion. For the moderation of the Apostolic See uses its leniency in such a way as to deal severely with the contumacious, while desiring to offer pardon to those who accept correction. Seeing then that I possess great confidence in your lofty faith and piety, I entreat your illustrious clemency, that, as the preaching of the catholic Faith has always been aided by your holy zeal, so now, also, you will maintain its free action. Perchance the Lord allowed it to be thus assailed for this reason that we might discover what sort of persons lurked within the Church. And clearly, we must not neglect to look after such, lest we be afflicted with their actual loss.

IV. His personal presence at the council must be excused. The question at issue is a very grave one.

But the most august and Christian Emperor, being anxious that the disturbances may be set at rest with all speed, has appointed too short and early a date for the council of bishops, which he wishes held at Ephesus, in fixing the first of August for the meeting: for from the fifth of May, on which we received His Majesty's letter, most of the time remaining has to be spent in making complete arrangements for the journey of such priests as are competent to represent me. For as to the necessity of my attending the council also, which his piety suggested, even if there were any precedent for the request, it could by no means be managed now: for the very uncertain state of things at present would not permit my absence from the people of this great city: and the minds of the riotously-disposed might be driven to desperate deeds, if they were to think that I took occasion of ecclesiastical business to desert my country [323] and the Apostolic See. As then you recognize that it concerns the public weal that with your merciful indulgence I should not deny myself to the affectionate prayers of my people, consider that in these my brethren, whom I have sent in my stead, I also am present with the rest who appear: to them I have clearly and fully explained what is to be maintained in view of the satisfactory exposition of the case which has been given me by the detailed report, and by the defendant's own statement to me. For the question is not about some small portion of our Faith on which no very distinct declaration has been made: but the foolish opposition that is raised ventures to impugn that which our Lord desired no one of either sex in the Church to be ignorant of. For the short but complete confession of the catholic creed which contains the twelve sentences of the twelve apostles [324] is so well furnished with the heavenly panoply, that all the opinions of heretics can receive their death-blow from that one weapon. And if Eutyches had been content to receive that creed in its entirety with a pure and simple heart, he would at no point go astray from the decrees of the most sacred council of Nicæa, and he would understand that the holy Fathers laid this down, to the end that no mental or rhetorical ingenuity should lift itself up against the Apostolic Faith which is absolutely one. Deign then, with your accustomed piety to do your best endeavour, that this blasphemous and foolish attack upon the one and only sacrament of man's salvation may be driven from all men's minds. And if the man himself, who has fallen into this temptation, recover his senses, so as to condemn his own error by a written recantation, let him not be denied communion with his order [325] . Your clemency is to know that I have written in the same strain to the holy bishop Flavian also: that loving-kindness be not lost sight of, if the error be dispelled. Dated 13 June in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449).


[316] This was the Emperor Theodosius the younger's sister, a woman of noted zeal in the cause of the Church: for many years she had practically ruled the empire owing to her brother's youthfulness. When the intrigues of Chrysaphius had brought about a quarrel between brother and sister, she retired for a time from public life. But becoming the virgin wife of Marcian, she, through him, helped to effect the victory of the Catholic cause at the Council of Chalcedon (451). [317] Quod nostri similis fuit atque conformis. [318] S. Matt. i. 1. [319] Gen. xxxii. 24 and xviii 1. It will be noticed that Leo unhesitatingly pronounces these and similar appearances to be manifestations of the Second Person in the Trinity. [320] Prov. ix. 1. Cf. Letter XXVIII. (The Tome), chap. ii., towards the end. [321] Sub iugo diaboli generaliter teneretur humana captivitas: for the word generaliter, cf. Letter XVI., chap. iv., no. 3. [322] S. John i. 13. [323] Patriam. I can see very little ground for pressing this quite general expression to mean that he was a native of Rome, or even a native of Italy. The most that can be said is that it does not forbid the supposition. [324] Let the reader beware of accepting the plausible account here suggested of the formation of the Apostles' Creed, and still more so of accepting the popular derivation of the word symbolum (sumbolon) as the twelve Apostles' twelve "contributions" (one each) to the Church's rule of faith. [325] Communio sui ordinis.


Letter XXXII.

To the Archimandrites of Constantinople [326] .

To his well-beloved sons Faustus, Martinus, and the rest of the archimandrites, Leo the bishop.

He acknowledges their zeal and refers them to the Tome.

As on behalf of the faith which Eutyches has tried to disturb, I was sending legates de latere [327] to assist the defence of the Truth, I thought it fitting that I should address a letter to you also, beloved: whom I know for certain to be so zealous in the cause of religion that you can by no means listen calmly to such blasphemous and profane utterances: for the Apostle's command lingers in your hearts, in which it is said, "If any man hath preached unto you any gospel other than that which he received, let him be anathema [328] ." And we also decide that the opinion of the said Eutyches is to be rejected, which, as we have learnt from perusing the proceedings, has been deservedly condemned: so that, if its foolish maintainer will abide by his perverseness, he may have fellowship with those whose error he has followed. For one who says that Christ had not a human, that is our, nature, is deservedly put out of Christ's Church. But, if he be corrected through the pity of God's Spirit and acknowledge his wicked error, so as to condemn unreservedly what catholics reject, we wish him not to be denied mercy, that the Lord's Church may suffer no loss: for the repentant can always be readmitted, it is only error that must be shut out. Upon the mystery of great godliness [329] , whereby through the Incarnation of the Word of God comes our justification and redemption, what is our opinion, drawn from the tradition of the fathers, is now sufficiently explained according to my judgment in the letter which I have sent to our brother Flavian the bishop [330] : so that through the declaration of your chief you may know what, according to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, we desire to be fixed in the hearts of all the faithful. Dated 13th June, in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449).


[326] It will be remembered that 23 abbots signed the condemnation of Eutyches: cf. Lett. XXI. chap. 2. [327] De latere meo. This is interesting as an early instance of the use of this expression for the legates of the pope (now so familiar): even though Quesnel is incorrect in saying for certain that Leo is the first Bishop of Rome who employed them. He himself quotes Concil. Sardic., canon 7, where the fathers ask the Roman bishop to send some one e latere suo (a.d. 347). [328] Gal. i. 9. [329] I cannot doubt he has 1 Tim. iii. 27, mega esti to tes eusebeias musterion (here sacramentum as usual) in his mind, though the Gk. translator apparently did not see it, his version being utterly inaccurate (peri de tes hagiotetos tes megales pisteos). [330] Viz., Letter XXVIII. (The Tome).


Letter XXXIII.

To the Synod of Ephesus [331] .

Leo, bishop, to the holy Synod which is assembled at Ephesus.

I. He commends the Emperor's appeal to the chair of Peter.

The devout faith of our most clement prince, knowing that it especially concerns his glory to prevent any seed of error from springing up within the catholic Church, has paid such deference to the Divine institutions as to apply to the authority of the Apostolic See for a proper settlement: as if he wished it to be declared by the most blessed Peter himself what was praised in his confession, when the Lord said, "whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am [332] ?" and the disciples mentioned various people's opinion: but, when He asked what they themselves believed, the chief of the apostles, embracing the fulness of the Faith in one short sentence, said, "Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God [333] :" that is, Thou who truly art Son of man art also truly Son of the living God: Thou, I say, true in Godhead, true in flesh and one altogether [334] , the properties of the two natures being kept intact. And if Eutyches had believed this intelligently and thoroughly, he would never have retreated from the path of this Faith. For Peter received this answer from the Lord for his confession. "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church: and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it [335] ." But he who both rejects the blessed Peter's confession, and gainsays Christ's Gospel, is far removed from union with this building; for he shows himself never to have had any zeal for understanding the Truth, and to have only the empty appearance of high esteem, who did not adorn the hoary hairs of old age with any ripe judgment of the heart.

II. The heresy of Eutyches is to be condemned, though his full repentance may lead to his restitution.

But because the healing even of such men must not be neglected, and the most Christian Emperor has piously and devoutly desired a council of bishops to be held, that all error may be destroyed by a fuller judgment, I have sent our brothers Julius the bishop, Renatus the presbyter, and my son Hilary the deacon, and with them Dulcitius the notary, whose faith we have proved, to be present in my stead at your holy assembly, brethren, and settle in common with you what is in accordance with the Lord's will. To wit, that the pestilential error may be first condemned, and then the restitution of him, who has so unwisely erred, discussed, but only if embracing the true doctrine he fully and openly with his own voice and signature condemns those heretical opinions in which his ignorance has been ensnared: for this he has promised in the appeal which he sent to us, pledging himself to follow our judgment in all things [336] . On receiving our brother and fellow-bishop Flavian's letter, we have replied to him at some length on the points which he seems to have referred to us [337] : that when this error which seems to have arisen, has been destroyed, there may be one Faith and one and the same confession throughout the whole world to the praise and glory of God, and that "in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father [338] ." Dated 13th June in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449).


[331] This letter has a note prefixed to it in some Gk. and Latin mss. to the effect that it was produced but suppressed, and not allowed to be read through Dioscorus, Bishop of Alexandria. [332] S. Matt. xvi. 13 and 16. [333] S. Matt. xvi. 13 and 16. [334] Utrumque (Gk. hekateron) unus. [335] S. Matt. xvi. 17, 18. [336] Cf. Lett. XXI., chaps. i. and ii. [337] See Lett. XXVII., n. 7. [338] Phil. ii. 10.


Letter XXXIV.

To Julian, Bishop of Cos.

Leo, the bishop, to Julian, the bishop, his well-beloved brother.

I. Eutyches is now clearly seen to have deviated from the Faith.

Your letter, beloved, which has just reached me, shows with what spiritual love of the Catholic Faith you are inspired: and it makes me very glad that devout hearts all agree in the same opinion, so that according to the teaching of the Holy Ghost there may be fulfilled in us what the Apostle says: "Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same things, and there be no divisions among you: but that ye be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment [339] ." But Eutyches has put himself quite outside this unity, if he perseveres in his perversity, and still does not understand the bonds with which the devil has bound him, and thinks any one is to be reckoned among the Lord's priests, who is a party to his ignorance and madness. For some time we were uncertain in what he was displeasing to catholics: and when we received no letter from our brother Flavian, and Eutyches himself complained in his letter [340] that the Nestorian heresy was being revived, we could not fully learn the source or the motive of so crafty an accusation. But as soon as the minutes of the bishops' proceedings reached us, all those things which were hidden beneath the veil of his deceitful complaints were revealed in their abomination.

II. He announces the appointment of legates a latere.

And because our most clement Emperor in the loving-kindness and godliness of his mind wished a more careful judgment to be passed about the position of one who hitherto has seemed to be in high esteem, and for this purpose has thought fit to convene a council of bishops, by the hands of our brothers Julius the bishop, and Renatus the presbyter, and also my son Hilary, the deacon whom I have sent ex latere [341] in my stead, I have addressed a letter suited to the needs of the case to our brother Flavian, from which you also, beloved, and the whole Church may know about the ancient and unique Faith, which this unlearned opponent has assailed, what we hold as handed down from God and what we preach without alteration. Yet, because we must not forget the duty of mercy, we have considered it consonant with our moderation as priests, that, if the condemned presbyter corrects himself unreservedly, the sentence by which he is bound should be remitted: if, however, he chooses to lie in the mire of his foolishness, let the decree remain, and let him have his lot with those whose error he has followed. Dated 13th June in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449) [342] .


[339] 1 Cor. i. 10. [340] See Lett. XX., above. [341] See Lett. XXXII., n. 9, above. [342] This letter (XXXIV.) is written on the same day and subject and to the same person as the next letter (XXXV.): the differences between them being (l) the greater length and fuller treatment of the second; and (2) that the one is entrusted to Leo's legates, the other to Julius' own messenger, Basil the deacon; and (3) that the shorter has no Gk. version as the longer has. I think the Ballerinii are undoubtedly right in facing the difficulty boldly, the evidence of the mss. being invariable, except that XXXIV. is only found in a few collections: and I would suggest that XXXIV. is a formal, official communication, and XXXV. a private, confidential one. This will account for the difference of messengers, and the identity of date, subject and person addressed, and is justifiable as a piece of necessary diplomatic secrecy. In XXX. and XXXI. we have another instance of two letters to the same person on the same day, one of these (XXXI.) being also without a Gk. version, this time the longer one: but here we have adopted the Ballerinii's suggestion that only the first was sent. It should further be noticed that out of the very large batch of letters that are dated the 13th of June, which includes the Tome (8 in all. XXVIII.-XXXV.), it may well have been convergent to delay one and send it by another hand.


Letter XXXV.

To Julian, Bishop of Cos [343] .

Leo, bishop of the city of Rome to his well-beloved brother, Julian the bishop.

I. Eutyches' heresy involves many other heresies.

Although by the hands of our brothers, whom we have despatched from the city on behalf of the Faith, we hare sent a most full refutation of Eutyches' excessive heresy to our brother Flavian, yet because we have received, through our son Basil, your letter, beloved, which has given us much pleasure from the fervour of its catholic spirit, we have added this page also which agrees with the other document, that you may offer a united and strenuous resistance to those who seek to corrupt the gospel of Christ, since the wisdom and the teaching of the Holy Spirit is one and the same in you as in us: and whosoever does not receive it, is not a member of Christ's body and cannot glory in that Head in which he denies the presence of his own nature. What advantage is it to that most unwise old man under the name of the Nestorian heresy to mangle the belief of those, whose most devout faith he cannot tear to pieces: when in declaring the only-begotten Son of God to have been so born of the blessed Virgin's womb that He wore the appearance of a human body without the reality of human flesh being united to the Word, he departs as far from the right path as did Nestorius in separating the Godhead of the Word from the substance of His assumed Manhood [344] ? From which prodigious falsehood who does not see what monstrous opinions spring? for he who denies the true Manhood of Jesus Christ, must needs be filled with many blasphemies, being claimed by Apollinaris as his own, seized upon by Valentinus, or held fast by Manichæus: none of whom believed that there was true human flesh in Christ. But, surely, if that is not accepted, not only is it denied that He, who was in the form of God, but yet abode in the form of a slave, was born Man according to the flesh and reasonable soul: but also that He was crucified, dead, and buried, and that on the third day He rose again, and that, sitting at the right hand of the Father, he will come to judge the quick and the dead [345] in that body in which He Himself was judged: because these pledges [346] of our redemption are rendered void if Christ is not believed to have the true and whole nature of true Manhood.

II. The two natures are to be found in Christ.

Or because the signs of His Godhead were undoubted, shall the proof of his having a human body be assumed false, and thus the indications of both natures be accepted to prove Him Creator, but not be accepted for the salvation of the creature [347] ? No, for the flesh did not lessen what belongs to His Godhead, nor the Godhead destroy what belongs to His flesh. For He is at once both eternal from His Father and temporal from His mother, inviolable in His strength, passible in our weakness: in the Triune Godhead, of one and the same substance with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but in taking Manhood on Himself, not of one substance but of one and the same person [so that He was at once rich in poverty, almighty in submission, impassible in punishment, immortal in death [348] ]. For the Word was not in any part of It turned either into flesh or into soul, seeing that the absolute and unchangeable nature of the Godhead is ever entire in its Essence, receiving no loss nor increase, and so beatifying the nature that It had assumed that that nature remained for ever glorified in the person of the Glorifier. [But why should it seem unsuitable or impossible that the Word and flesh and soul should be one Jesus Christ, and that the Son of God and the Son of Man should be one, if flesh and soul which are of different natures make one person even without the Incarnation of the Word: since it is much easier for the power of the Godhead to produce this union of Himself and man than for the weakness of manhood by itself to effect it in its own substance.] Therefore neither was the Word changed into flesh nor flesh into the Word: but both remains in one and one is in both, not divided by the diversity and not confounded by intermixture: He is not one by His Father and another by His mother, but the same, in one way by His Father before every beginning, and in another by His mother at the end of the ages: so that He was "mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus [349] ," in whom dwelt "the fulness of the Godhead bodily [350] :" because it was the assumed (nature) not the Assuming (nature) which was raised, because God "exalted Him and gave Him the Name which is above every name: that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ the Lord is in the glory of God the Father [351] ."

III. The soul of Christ and the body of Christ were real in the full human sense, though the circumstances of His birth were unique.

[But as to that which Eutyches dared to say in the court of bishops "that before the Incarnation there were two natures in Christ, but after the Incarnation one [352] ," he ought to have been pressed by the frequent and anxious questions of the judges to render an account of his acknowledgment, lest it should be passed over as something trivial, though it was seen to have issued from the same fount as his other poisonous opinions. For I think that in saying this he was convinced that the soul, which the Saviour assumed, had had its abode in the heavens before He was born of the Virgin Mary, and that the Word joined it to Himself in the womb. But this is intolerable to catholic minds and ears: because the Lord who came down from heaven brought with Him nothing that belonged to our state: for He did not receive either a soul which had existed before nor a flesh which was not of his mother's body. Undoubtedly our nature was not assumed in such a way that it was created first and then assumed, but it was created by the very assumption. And hence that which was deservedly condemned in Origen must be punished in Eutyches also, unless he prefers to give up his opinion, viz. the assertion that souls have had not only a life but also different actions before they were inserted in men's bodies [353] ]. For although the Lord's nativity according to the flesh has certain characteristics wherein it transcends the ordinary beginnings of man's being, both because He alone was conceived and born without concupiscence of a pure Virgin, and because He was so brought forth of His mother's womb that her fecundity bare Him without loss of virginity: yet His flesh was not of another nature to ours: nor was the soul breathed into Him from another source to that of all other men, and it excelled others not in difference of kind but in superiority of power. For He had no opposition in His flesh [nor did the strife of desires give rise to a conflict of wishes [354] ]. His bodily senses were active without the law of sin, and the reality of His emotions being under the control of His Godhead and His mind, was neither assaulted by temptations nor yielded to injurious influences. But true Man was united to God and was not brought down from heaven as regards a pre-existing soul, nor created out of nothing as regards the flesh: it wore the same person in the Godhead of the Word and possessed a nature in common with us in its body and soul. For He would not be "the mediator between God and man," unless God and man had co-existed in both natures forming one true Person. The magnitude of the subject urges us to a lengthy discussion: but with one of your learning there is no need for such copious dissertations, especially as we have already sent a sufficient letter to our brother Flavian by our delegates for the confirmation of the minds, not only of priests but also of the laity. The mercy of God will, we believe, provide that without the loss of one soul the sound may be defended against the devil's wiles, and the wounded healed. Dated 13th June in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449).


[343] See Lett. XXXIV., chap. ii. n. 5. [344] The Gk. version here adds and "from the very conception of the Virgin," but this is probably only a repetition of the words "of the Virgin's womb," just above. [345] It can escape no one that he is here, and frequently throughout this letter, quoting from the Creed. [346] Sacramenta. [347] i.e. shall the signs of His being God, which are undoubted, and the signs that He had a body of some sort be allowed to prove Him one with the Creator of the world, but not go so far as to show that that body which He had was a fully human one? [348] So that--in death, bracketed by the editors as not being translated in the Gk. version, and perhaps here we have a gloss to explain the somewhat obscure words that precede it: but throughout this letter large portions are so bracketed, in each case the Gk. version omitting them. [349] 1 Tim. ii. 5. [350] Col. ii. 9. [351] Phil. ii. 9-11. [352] Cf. the Tome, Lett. XXVIII., chap. vi., n. 5. [353] Cf. Lett. XV., chap. xi., n. 6. [354] Here again the second clause (in brackets) seems a gloss on the first, see n. 2, above: what is meant will be seen by comparing S. Paul's famous disquisition (Rom. vii.).


Letter XXXVI.

To Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople.

(He acknowledges the receipt of Flavian's second letter (xxvi.) and protests against the necessity for a general council, though at the same time he acquiesces in it. Dated 21 June, a week after the Tome).


Letter XXXVII [355] .

To Theodosius Augustus.

Leo to Theodosius Augustus.

Unity of Faith is essential but the point at issue hardly required a general council, it is so clear.

On receiving your clemency's letter, I perceived that the universal Church has much cause for joy, that you will have the Christian Faith, whereby the Divine Trinity is honoured and worshipped, to be different or out of harmony with itself in nothing. For what more effectual support can be given to human affairs in calling upon God's mercy than when one thanksgiving, and the sacrifice of one confession is offered to His majesty by all. Wherein the devotions of the priests and all the faithful will reach at last their completeness, if in what was done for our redemption by God the Word, the only Son of God, nothing else be believed than what He Himself ordered to be preached and believed. Wherefore although every consideration prevents my attendance on the day which your piety has fixed for the councils of bishops [356] : for there are no precedents for such a thing, and the needs of the times do not allow me to leave the city, especially as the point of Faith at issue is so clear, that it would have been more reasonable to abstain from proclaiming a synod: yet as far as the Lord vouchsafes to help me, I have bestowed my zeal upon obeying your clemency's commands, by appointing my brethren who are competent to act as the case requires in removing offences, and who can represent me: because no question has arisen on which there can or ought to be any doubt. Dated 21st of June, in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes, (449).


[355] This letter is on the same subject as Lett. XXIX. above, but as the wording of it contains some interesting matter, it is here given in full. There is no Gk. version extant, and how there came to be two letters within a week of one another on the same topic is not clear. [356] Cf. Lett. XXIX. above, and especially XXXI., chap. iv., where the reasons are given rather more fully.


Letter XXXVIII [357] .

To Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople.

Leo to Flavian, bishop of Constantinople.

He acknowledges the receipt of a letter and advises mercy if Eutyches will recant.

When our brethren had already started whom we despatched to you in the cause of the Faith, we received your letter, beloved, by our son Basil the deacon, in which you rightly said very little on the subject of our common anxiety, both because the accounts which had already arrived had given us full information on every thing, and because for purposes of private inquiry it was easy to converse with the aforesaid Basil, by whom now through the grace of God, in whom we trust, we exhort you, beloved, in reply, using the Apostle's words, and saying: "Be ye in nothing affrighted by the adversaries; which is for them a cause of perdition, but to you of salvation [358] ." For what is so calamitous as to wish to destroy all hope of man's salvation by denying the reality of Christ's Incarnation, and to contradict the Apostle who says distinctly: "great is the mystery of Godliness which was manifest in the flesh [359] ?" What so glorious as to fight for the Faith of the gospel against the enemies of Christ's nativity and cross? About whose most pure light and unconquered power we have already disclosed what was in our heart, in the letter which has been sent to you beloved [360] : lest anything might seem doubtful between us on those things which we have learnt, and teach in accordance with the catholic doctrine. But seeing that the testimonies to the Truth are so clear and strong that a man must be reckoned thoroughly blind and stubborn, who does not at once shake himself free from the mists of falsehood in the bright light of reason; we desire you to use the remedy of long-suffering in curing the madness of ignorance that through your fatherly admonitions they who though old in years are infants in mind, may learn to obey their elders. And if they give up the vain conceits of their ignorance and come to their senses, and if they condemn all their errors and receive the one true Faith, do not deny them the mercifulness of a bishop's kind heart: although your judgment must remain, if their impiety which you have deservedly condemned persists in its depravity. Dated 23 July in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449).


[357] If we are right in thinking that Lett. XXXVI. is Leo's acknowledgment of Flavian's second letter (XXVI.), this (which again has no Gk. version) must be an acknowledgment of yet a third, not extant, sent by the hand of one Basil, the deacon who is probably the same as Julian's messenger (XXXV., chap. i ). [358] Phil. i. 28. [359] 1 Tim. iii. 16: the reading here is quod manifestum est in carne, in agreement with the general Western usage. [360] Sc. the Tome (XXVIII.).


Letter XXXIX.

To Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople.

Leo, the bishop, to Flavian, the bishop.

He rebukes Flavian for not answering his repeated letters.

Our anxiety is increased by your silence, for it is long now since we received a letter from you, beloved: while we who bear a chief share in your cares [361] , through our anxiety for the defence of the Faith, have several times [362] , as occasion served, sent letters to you: that we might aid you with the comfort of our exhortations not to yield to the assaults of your adversaries in defence of the Faith, but to feel that we were the sharers in your labour. Some time since we believe our messengers have reached you, brother, through whom you find yourself fully instructed by our writings and injunctions, and we have ourselves sent back Basil to you as you desired [363] . Now, lest you should think we had omitted any opportunity of communicating with you, we have sent this note by our son Eupsychius, a man whom we hold in great honour and affection, asking you to reply to our letter with all speed, and inform us at once about your own actions and those of our representatives, and about the completion of the whole matter: so that we may allay the anxiety which we now feel in defence of the Faith, by happier tidings. Dated 11th August in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449).


[361] Curarum tuarum principes. [362] Frequenter, four times in all ( Letters XXVII., XXVIII., XXXVI. and XXXVIII.). [363] This must be in the third lost letter to which we have assumed Lett. XXXVIII. to be an answer.

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