Basil: letters, hexaemeron - II. WORKS
From your affection for me you ought to be able to conjecture my affection for you. I have always desired to be a herald of peace, and, when I fail in my object, I am grieved. How could it be otherwise? I cannot feel angry with any one for this reason, because I know that the blessing of peace has long ago been withdrawn from us. If the responsibility for division lies with others, may the Lord grant that those who cause dissension may cease to do so. I cannot even ask that your visits to me may be frequent. You nave therefore no reason to excuse yourselves on this score. I am well aware that men who have embraced the life of labour, and always provide with their own hands the necessities of life, cannot be long away from home; but, wherever you are, remember me, and pray for me that no cause of disturbance may dwell in my heart, and that I may be at peace with myself and with God.
To Optimus the bishop.2
1). Under any circumstances I should have gladly seen the good lads, on account of both a steadiness of character beyond their years, and their near relationship to your excellency, which might have led me to expect something remarkable in them. And, when I saw them approaching me with your letter, my affection towards them was doubled. But now that I have read the letter now that I have seen all the anxious care for the Church that there is in it, and the evidence it affords of your zeal in reading the divine Scriptures, I thank the Lord. And I invoke blessings on those who brought me such a letter, and, even before them, on the writer himself.
2. You have asked for a solution of that famous passage which is everywhere interpreted in different senses, “Whosoever slayeth Cain will exact vengeance for seven sins.”3 Your question shews that yon have yourself carefully observed the charge of Paul to Timothy,4 for you are obviously attentive to your reading. You have moreover roused me, old man that I am, dull alike from age and bodily infirmity, and from the many afflictions which have been stirred up round about me and have weighed down my life. Fervent in spirit as you are yourself, you are rousing me, now benumbed like a beast in his den, to some little, wakefulness and vital energy. The passage in question may be interpreted simply and may also receive an elaborate explanation. The simpler, and one that may occur to any one off hand. is this: that Cain ought to suffer sevenfold punishment for his sins.
For it is not the part of a righteous judge to define requital on the principle of like for like, but the originator of evil mast pay his debt with addition, if he is to be made better by punishment and render other men wiser by his example. Therefore, since it is ordained that Cain pay the penalty of his sin sevenfold, he who kills him, it is said, will discharge the sentence pronounced against him by the divine judgment. This is the sense that suggests itself to us on our first reading the passage.
3. But readers, gifted with greater curiosity, are naturally inclined to probe into the question further. How, they ask, can justice be satisfied seven times? And what are the vengeances? Are they for seven sins committed? Or is the sin committed once and are there seven punishments for the one sin? Scripture continually assigns seven as the number of the remission of sins. “How often,” it is asked, “shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?” (It is Peter who is speaking to the Lord). “Till seven times?” Then comes the Lord’s answer, “I say not unto thee, until seven times, but, until seventy times seven.”5 Our Lord did not vary the number, but multiplied the seven, and so fixed the limit of the forgiveness. After seven years the Hebrew used to be freed from slavery.6 Seven weeks of years used in old times to make the famous jubilee,7 in which the land rested, debts were remitted, slaves were set free, and, as it were, a new life began over again, the old life from age to age being in a sense completed at the number seven. These things are types of this present life, which revolves in seven days and passes by, wherein punishments of slighter sins are inflicted, according to the loving care of our good Lord, to save us from being delivered to punishment in the age that has no end. The expression seven times is therefore introduced because of its connexion with this present world for men who love this world ought specially to be punished in the things for the sake of which they have chosen to live wicked lives. If you understand the vengeances to be for the sins committed by Cain, you will find those sins to be seven. Or if you understand them to mean the sentence passed on him by the Judge, you will not go far wrong. To take the crimes of Cain: the first sin is envy at the preference of Abel; the second is guile, whereby he said to his brother, “Let us go into the field:”8 the third is murder, a further wickedness: the fourth, fratricide, a still greater iniquity: the fifth that he committed the first murder, and set a bad example to mankind: the sixth wrong in that he grieved his parents: the seventh, his lie to God; for when he was asked, “Where is Abel thy brother?” he replied, “I know not.”9 Seven sins were therefore avenged in the destruction of Cain. For when the Lord said, “Cursed is the earth which has opened to receive the blood of thy brother,” and “groaning and trembling shall there be on the earth,” Cain said, “If thou castest me out to-day from the earth, then from thy face shall I be hid, and groaning and trembling shall I lie upon the earth, and every one that findeth me shall slay me.” It is in answer to this that the Lord says, “Whosoever slayeth Cain will discharge seven vengeances.”10 Cain supposed that he would be an easy prey to every one, because of there being no safety for him in the earth (for the earth was cursed for his sake), and of his being deprived of the succour of God, Who was angry with him for the murder, and so of there being no help for him either from earth or from heaven. Therefore he said, “It shall come to pass that every one that findeth me shall slay me.” Scripture proves his error in the words, “Not so;” i.e. thou shall not be slain. For to men suffering punishment, death is a gain, because it brings relief from their pain. But thy life shall be prolonged, that thy punishment may be made commensurate with thy sins. Since then the word ejkdikouvmenon may be understood in two senses; both the sin for which vengeance was taken, and the manner of the punishment, let us now examine whether the criminal suffered a sevenfold torment.
4. The seven sins of Cain have been enumerated in what has been already said. Now I ask if the punishments inflicted on him were seven, and I state as follows. The Lord enquired ’Where is Abel thy brother?’ not because he wished for information, but in order to give Cain an opportunity for repentance, as is proved by the words themselves, for on his denial the Lord immediately convicts him saying, “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me.” So the enquiry, “Where is Abel thy brother?” was not made with a view to God’s information, but to give Cain an opportunity of perceiving his sin. But for God’s having visited him he might have pleaded that he was left alone and had no opportunity given him for repentance. Now the physician appeared that the patient might flee to him for help. Cain, however, not only fails to hide his sore, but makes another one in adding the lie to the murder. “I know not. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Now from this point begin to reckon the punishments. “Cursed is the ground for thy sake,” one punishment. “Thou shall till the ground.” This is the second punishment. Some secret necessity was imposed upon him forcing him to the tillage of the earth, so that it should never be permitted him to take rest when he might wish, but ever to suffer pain with the earth, his enemy, which, by polluting it with his brother’s blood, he had made accursed. “Thou shall till the ground.” Terrible punishment, to live with those that hate one, to have for a companion an enemy, an implacable foe. “Thou shall till the earth,” that is, Thou shall toil at the labours of the field, never resting, never released from thy work, day or night, bound down by secret necessity which is harder than any savage master, and continually urged on to labour. “And it shall not yield unto thee her strength.” Although the ceaseless toil had some fruit, the labour itself were no little torture to one forced never to relax it. But the toil is ceaseless, and the labours at the earth are fruitless (for “she did not yield her strength”) and tiffs fruitlessness of labour is the third punishment. “Groaning and trembling shall thou be on the earth.” Here two more are added to the three; continual groaning, and tremblings of the body, the limbs being deprived of the steadiness that comes of strength. Cain had made a bad use of the strength of his body, and so its vigour was destroyed, and it tottered and shook, and it was hard for him to lift meat and drink to his mouth, for after his impious conduct, his wicked hand was no longer allowed to minister to his body’s needs. Another punishment is that which Cain disclosed when he said,” Thou hast driven me out from the face of the earth, and from thy face shall I be hid.” What is the meaning of this driving out from the face of the earth? It means deprivation of the benefits which are derived from the earth. He was not transferred to another place, but he was made a stranger to all the good things of earth. “And from thy face shall I be hid.” The heaviest punishment for men of good heart is alienation from God. “And it shall come to pass that every one that findeth me shall slay me.” He infers this from what has gone before. If I am cast out of the earth, and hidden from thy face, it remains for me to be slain of every one. What says the Lord? Not so. But he put a mark upon him. This is the seventh punishment, that the punishment should not be hid, but that by a plain sign proclamation should be made to all, that this is the first doer of unholy deeds. To all who reason rightly the heaviest of punishments is shame. We have learned this also in the case of the judgments, when “some” shall rise “to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”11
5. Your next question is of a kindred character, concerning the words of Lamech to his wives; “I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt: if Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and Sevenfold.”12 Some suppose that Cain was slain by Lamech, and that he survived to this generation that he might suffer a longer punishment. But this is not the case. Lamech evidently committed two murders, from what he says himself, “I have slain a man and a young man,” the man to his wounding, and the young man to his hurt. There is a difference between wounding and hurt.13 And there is a difference between a man and a young man. “If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.” It is right that I should undergo four hundred and ninety punishments, if God’s judgment on Cain was just, that his punishments should be seven. Cain had not learned to murder from another, and had never seen a murderer undergoing punishment. But I, who had before my eyes Cain groaning and trembling, and the mightiness of the wrath of God, was not made wiser by the example before me. Wherefore I deserve to suffer four hundred and ninety punishments. There are, however, some who have gone so far as the following explanation, which does not jar with the doctrine of the Church; from Cain to the flood, they say, seven generations passed by, and the punishment was brought on the whole earth, because sin was everywhere spread abroad. But the sin of Lamech requires for its cure not a Flood, but Him Who Himself takes away the sin of the world.14 Count the generations from Adam to the coming of Christ, and you will find, according to the genealogy of Luke, that the Lord was born in the seventy-seventh.
Thus I have investigated this point to the best of my ability, though I have passed by matters therein. that might be investigated, for fear of prolonging my observations beyond the limits of my letter. But for your intelligence little seeds are enough. “Give instruction,” it is said, “to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser.”15 “If a skilful man hear a wise word he will commend it, and add unto it.”16
6. About the words of Simeon to Mary, there is no obscurity or variety of interpretation. “And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary His mother, Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hears may he revealed.”17 Here I am astonished that, after passing by the previous words as requiring no explanation, you should enquire about the expression, “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also.” To me the question, how the same child can be for the fall and rising again, and what is the sign that shall be spoken against, does not seem less perplexing than the question how a sword shall pierce through Mary’s heart).
7. My view is, that the Lord is for falling and rising again, not because some fall and others rise again, but because in us the worst falls and the better is set up. The advent18 of the Lord is destructive of our bodily affections and it rouses the proper qualities of the soul. As when Paul says, “When I am weak, then I am strong,”19 the same man is weak and is strong, but he is weak in the flesh and strong in the spirit. Thus the Lord does not give to some occasions of falling and to others occasions of rising. Those who fall, fall from the station in which they once were, but it is plain that the faithless man never stands, but is always dragged along the ground with the serpent whom he follows. He has then nowhere to fall from, because he has already been cast down by his unbelief. Wherefore tile first boon is, that he who stands in his sin should fall and die, and then should live in righteousness and rise, both of which graces our faith in Christ confers on us. Let the worse fall that the better may have opportunity to rise. If fornication fall not, chastity does not rise. Unless our unreason be crushed our reason will not come to perfection. In this sense he is for the fall and rising again of many.
8). For a sign that shall be spoken against. By a sign, we properly, understand in Scripture a cross. Moses, it is said, set the serpent “upon a pole.”20 That is upon a cross. Or else a sign21 is indicative of something strange and obscure seen by the simple but understood by the intelligent. There is no cessation of controversy about the Incarnation of the Lord; some asserting that he assumed a body, and others that his sojourn was bodiless; some that he had a passible body, and others that he fulfilled the bodily oeconomy by a kind of appearance. Some say that his body was earthly, some that it was heavenly; some that He pre-existed before the ages; some that He took His beginning from Mary. It is on this account that He is a sign that shall be spoken against.
9. By a sword is meant the word which tries and judges our thoughts, which pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of our thoughts.22 Now every soul in the hour of the Passion was subjected, as it were, to a kind of searching. According to the word of the Lord it is said, “All ye shall be offended because of me.”23 Simeon therefore prophesies about Mary herself, that when standing by the cross, and beholding what is being done, and hearing the voices, after the witness of Gabriel, after her secret knowledge of the divine conception, after the great exhibition of miracles, she shall feel about her soul a mighty tempest.24 The Lord was bound to taste of death for every man—to become a propitiation for the world and to justify all men by His own blood. Even thou thyself, who hast been taught from on high the things concerning the Lord, shalt be reached by some doubt. This is the sword. “That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” He indicates that after the offence at the Cross of Christ a certain swift healing shall come from the Lord to the disciples and to Mary herself, confirming their heart in faith in Him. In the same way we saw Peter, after he had been offended, holding more firmly to his faith in Christ. What was human in him was proved unsound, that the power of the Lord might be shewn.
To the Sozopolitans.2
I Have received the letter which you, right honourable brethren, have sent me concerning the circumstances in which you are placed. I thank the Lord that you have let me share in the anxiety you feel as to your attention to things needful and deserving of serious heed. But I was distressed to hear that over anti above the disturbance brought on the Churches by the Arians, and the confusion caused by them in the definition of the faith, there has appeared among you yet another innovation, throwing the brotherhood into great dejection, because, as you have informed me, certain persons are uttering, in the hearing of the faithful, novel and unfamiliar doctrines which they allege to be deduced from the teaching of Scripture. You write that there are men among you who are trying to destroy the saving incarnation3 of our Lord Jesus Christ, and, so far as they can, are overthrowing the grace of the great mystery unrevealed from everlasting, bat manifested in His own times, when the Lord, when He had gone through4 all things pertaining to the cure of the human race, bestowed on all of us the been of His own sojourn among us. For He helped His own creation, first through the patriarchs, whose lives were set forth as examples anti rules to all willing to follow the footsteps of the saints, and with zeal like theirs to reach the perfection of good works. Next for succour He gave the Law, ordaining it by angels in the hand of Moses;5 then the prophets, foretelling the salvation to come; judges, kings, and righteous men, doing great works, with a mighty a hand. After all these in the last days He was Himself manifested ill the flesh, “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”6
2. If, then, the sojourn of the Lord in flesh has never taken place, the Redeemer7 paid not the fine to death on our behalf, nor through Himself destroyed death’s reign. For if what was reigned over by death was not that which was assumed by the Lord death would not have ceased working his own ends, nor would the sufferings of the God-bearing flesh have been rustle our gain; He would not have killed sin in the flesh: we who had died in Adam should not have been made alive in Christ; the fallen to pieces would not have been framed again; the shattered would not have been set up again; that which by the serpent’s trick had been estranged from God would never have been made once more His own. All these boons are undone by those that assert that it was with a heavenly body that the Lord came among us. And if the God-bearing flesh was not ordained to be assumed of the lump of Adam, what need was there of the Holy Virgin? But who has the hardihood now once again to renew by the help of sophistical arguments and, of course, by scriptural evidence, that old dogma8 of Valentinus, now long ago silenced? For this impious doctrine of the seeming9 is no novelty. It was started long ago by the feeble-minded Valentinus, who, after tearing off a few of the Apostle’s statements, constructed for himself this impious fabrication, asserting that the Lord assumed the “form of a servant,”10 and not the servant himself, and that He was made in the “likeness,” but that actual manhood was not assumed by Him. Similar sentiments are expressed by these men who can only be pitied for bringing new troubles upon you.11
3. As to the statement that human feelings are transmitted to the actual Godhead, it is one made by men who preserve no order in their thoughts, and are ignorant that there is a distinction between the feelings of flesh, of flesh endowed with soul, and of soul using a body.12 It is the property of flesh to undergo division, diminution, dissolution; of flesh endowed with soul to feel weariness, pain, hunger, thirst, and to be overcome by sleep; of soul using body to feel grief, heaviness, anxiety, and such like. Of these some are natural and necessary to every living creature; others come of evil will, and are superinduced because of life’s lacking proper discipline and training for virtue. Hence it is evident that oar Lord assumed the natural affections to establish His real incarnation, and not by way of semblance of incantation, and that all the affections derived from evil that besmirch the purity of our life. He rejected as unworthy of His unsullied Godhead. It is on this account that He is said to have been “made in the likeness of flesh of sin; “13 not, as these men hold, in likeness of flesh, but of flesh of sin. It follows that He took our flesh with its natural afflictions, but “did no sin.”14 Just as the death which is in tim flesh. transmitted to us through Adam, was swallowed up by the Godhead, so was the sin taken away by the righteousness which is in Christ Jesus,15 so that in the resurrection we receive back the flesh neither liable to death nor subject to sin.
These, brethren, are the mysteries of the Church; these are the traditions of the Fathers. Every man who fears the Lord, and is awaiting God’s judgment, I charge not to be carried away by various doctrines. If any one teaches a different doctrine, and refuses to accede to the sound words of the faith, rejecting the oracles of the Spirit, and making his own teaching of more authority than the lessons of the Gospels, of such an one beware. May the Lord grant that one day we may meet, so that all that my argument has let slip I may supply when we stand face to face! I have written little when there was much to say, for I did not like to go beyond my letter’s bounds. At the same time I do not doubt that to all that fear the Lord a brief reminder is enough.
To the Monk Urbicius.2
1). You have done well to write to me. You. have shewn how great is the fruit of charity. Continue so to do. Do not think that, when you write to me, you need offer excuses. I recognise my own position, and I know that by nature every man is of equal honour with the rest. Whatever excellence there is in me is not of family, nor of superfluous wealth, nor of physical condition; it comes only of superiority in the fear of God. What, then, hinders you from fearing the Lord yet more, and so, in this respect, being greater than I am? Write often to me, and acquaint me with the condition of the brotherhood with you. Tell me what members of the Church in your parts are sound, that I may know to whom I ought to write, and in whom I may confide. I am told that there are some who are endeavouring to deprave the right doctrine of tire Lord’s incarnation by perverse opinions, and I therefore call upon them through you to hold off from those unreasonable views, which some are reported to me to hold. I mean that God Himself was turned into flesh; that He did not assume, through the Holy Mary, the nature3 of Adam, but, in His own proper Godhead, was changed into a material nature.4
2. This absurd position can be easily confuted. The blasphemy is its own conviction, and I therefore think that, for one who fears the Lord, the mere reminder is enough. If He was turned, then He was changed. But far be it from me to say or think such a thing, when God has declared, “I am the Lord, I change not.”5 Moreover, how could the benefit of the incarnation be conveyed to as, unless our body, joined to the Godhead, was made superior to the dominion of death? If He was changed. He no longer constituted a proper body, such as subsisted after the combination with it of the divine body.6 But how, if all the nature of the Only-begotten was changed, could the incomprehensible Godhead be circumscribed within the limit of the mass of a little body? I am sure that no one who is in his senses, and has the fear of God, is suffering from this unsoundness. But the report has reached me that some of your company are afflicted with this mental infirmity, and I have therefore thought it necessary, not to send you a mere formal greeting, but to include in my letter something which may even build up the souls of them that fear the Lord. I therefore urge that these errors receive ecclesiastical correction, and that you abstain from communion with the heretics. I know that we are deprived of our liberty in Christ by indifference on these points.
To the Westerns.
1). May the Lord God, in Whom we have put our trust, give to each of you grace sufficient to enable you to realize your hope, in proportion to the joy wherewith you have filled my heart, both by the letter which you have sent me by the hands of the well-beloved fellow-presbyters, and by the sympathy which you have felt for me in my distress, like men who have put on bowels of mercy,’ as you have been described to me by the presbyters afore-mentioned. Although my wounds remain the same, nevertheless it does bring alleviation to me that I should have leeches at hand, able, should they find an opportunity, to apply rapid remedies to my hurts. Wherefore in return I salute you by oar beloved friends, and exhort you, if the Lord puts it into your power to come to me, not to hesitate to visit me. For part of the greatest commandment is the visitation of the sick. But if the good God and wise Dispenser of our lives reserves this boon for another season, at all events write to me whatever it is proper for you to write for the consolation of the oppressed and the lifting up of those that are crushed down. Already tim Church has suffered many severe blows, and great has been my affliction at them. Nowhere is there expectation of succour unless the Lord sends us a remedy by you who are his true servants.
2. The bold and shameless heresy of the Arians, after being publicly cut off from the body of the Church, still abides in its own error, anti does not do us much harm because its impiety is notorious to all. Nevertheless men clad in sheep’s clothing, and presenting a mild and amiable appearance, but within unsparingly ravaging Christ’s flocks, find it easy to do hurt to tim simpler ones, because they came out from us. It is these who are grievous and hard to guard against. It is these that we implore your diligence to denounce publicly to all the Churches of the East; to the end that they may either turn to the right way and join with us in genuine alliance, or, if they abide in their perversity, may keep their mischief to themselves alone, and be unable to communicate their own plague to their neighbours by unguarded communion. I am constrained to mention them by name, in order that you may yourselves recognise those who are stirring up disturbance here, and may make them known to our Churches. My own words are suspected by most men, as though I had an ill will towards them on account of some private quarrel. You, however, have all the more credit with the people, in proportion to the distance that separates your home from theirs, besides the fact thai you are gifted with God’s grace to help those who are distressed. If more of you concur in uttering the same opinions, it is clear that the number of those who have expressed them will make it impossible to oppose their acceptance.
3. One of those who have caused me great sorrow is Eustathius of Sebasteia in Lesser Armenia; formerly a disciple of Arius, and a follower of him at the tithe when he flourished in Alexandria, and concocted his infamous blasphemies against the Only-begotten, he was numbered among his most faithful disciples. On his return to his own country he submitted a confession of the sound faith to Hermogenes, the very blessed Bishop of Caesarea, who was on the point of condemning him for false doctrine. Under these circumstances he was ordained by Hermogenes, and, on the death of that bishop, hastened to Eusebius of Constantinople, who himself yielded to none in the energy of his support of the impious doctrine of Arius. From Constantinople he was expelled for some reason or another, returned to his own country and a second time made his defence, attempting to conceal his impious sentiments and cloking them under a certain verbal orthodoxy. He no sooner obtained the rank of bishop than he straightway appeared writing an anathema on the Homoousion in the Arians’ synod at Ancyra.2 From thence he went to Seleucia and took part in the notorious measures of his fellow heretics. At Constantinople he assented a second time to the propositions of the heretics. On being ejected from his episcopate, on the ground of his former deposition at Melitine,3 he hit upon a journey to you as a means of restitution for himself. What propositions were made to him by the blessed bishop Liberius, and to what he agreed, I am ignorant. I only know that he brought a letter restoring him, which he shewed to the synod at Tyana, and was restored to his see. He is now defaming the very creed for which he was received; he is consorting with those who are anathematizing the Homoousion, and is prime leader of the heresy of the pneumatomachi. As it is from the west that he derives his power to injure the Churches, and uses the authority given him by you to the overthrow of the many, it is necessary that his correction should come from the same quarter, and that a letter be sent to the Churches stating on what terms he was received, and in what manner he has changed his conduct and nullifies the favour given him by the Father’s at that time.
4. Next comes Apollinarius, who is no less a cause of sorrow to the Churches. With his facility of writing, and a tongue ready to argue on any subject, he has filled the world with his works, in disregard of the advice of him who said, “Beware of making many books.”4 In their multitude there are certainly many errors. How is it possible to avoid sin in a multitude of words?5 And the theological works of Apollinarius are founded on Scriptural proof, but are based on a human origin. He has written about the resurrection, from a mythical, or rather Jewish, point of view; urging that we shall return again to the worship of the Law, be circumcised, keep the Sabbath, abstain from meats, offer sacrifices to God, worship in the Temple at Jerusalem, and be altogether turned from Christians into Jews. What could be more ridiculous? Or, rather, what could be more contrary to the doctrines of the Gospel? Then, further, he has made such confusion among the brethren about the incarnation, that few of his readers preserve the old mark of true religion; but the more part, in their eagerness for novelty, have been diverted into investigations and quarrelsome discussions of his unprofitable treatises.
5. As to whether there is anything objectionable about the conversation of Paulinus, you can say yourselves. What distresses me is that he should shew an inclination for the doctrine of Marcellus, and unreservedly admit his followers to communion. You know, most honourable brethren, that the reversal of all our hope is involved in the doctrine of Marcellus, for it does not confess the Son in His proper hypostasis, but represents Him as having been sent forth, and as having again returned to Him from Whom He came; neither does it admit that the Paraclete has His own subsistence. It follows that no one could be wrong in declaring this heresy to be all at variance with Christianity, and in styling it a corrupt Judaism. Of these things I implore you to take due heed. This will be the case if you will consent to write to all the Churches of the East that those who have perverted these doctrines are in communion with you, if they amend; but that if they contentiously determine to abide by their innovations, you are separated from them. I am myself well aware, that it had been fitting for me to treat of these matters, sitting in synod with you in common deliberation. But this the time does not allow. Delay is dangerous, for the mischief they have caused has taken root. I have therefore been constrained to dispatch these brethren, that you may learn from them all that has been omitted in my letter, and that they may rouse you to afford the succour which we pray for to the Churches of the East.
To Barses, bishop of Edessa, in exile.2
Basil: letters, hexaemeron - II. WORKS