Basil: letters, hexaemeron - II. WORKS
To Eustathius, Bishop of Sebasteia.2
I Address you by the very honourable and reverend brother Petrus, beseeching you now and ever to pray for me, that I may be changed from ways dangerous and to be shunned, and may be made one day worthy of the name of Christ. Though I say nothing, you will converse together about my affairs, and he will give you an exact account of what has taken place. But you admit without due examination, the vile suspicions against me which will probably be raised by men who have insulted me, in violation of the fear of God and the regard of men. I am ashamed to tell you what treatment I have received from the illustrious Basilius, whom I had accepted at the hands of your reverence as a protection for my life. But, when you have heard what our brother has to say, you will know every detail. I do not thus speak to avenge myself upon him, for I pray that it may not be put to his account by the Lord, but in order that your affection to me may remain firm, and because I am afraid lest it be shaken by the monstrous slanders which these men are pretty sure to make up in defence of their fall. Whatever be the charges they adduce, I hope your intelligence will put these enquiries to them. Have they formally accused me? Have they sought for any correction of the error which they bring against me? Have they made their grievance against me plain? As matters are, by their ignoble flight they have made it evident that under the cheerfulness of their countenance, and their counterfeit expressions of affection, they are all the while hiding in their heart an immense depth of guile and of gall. In all this, whether I narrate it or not, your intelligence knows perfectly well what sorrow they have caused me, and what laughter to those who, always expressing their abomination for the pious life in this wretched city, affirm that the pretence of virtue is practised as a mere trick to get credit, a mere assumption to deceive. So in these days no mode of life is now so suspected of vice by people here as the profession of asceticism. Your intelligence will consider what is the best cure for all this.
As to the charges patched up against me by Sophronius, far from being a prelude of blessings, they are a beginning of division and separation, and are likely to lead to even my love growing cold. I implore that by your merciful kindness he may be withheld from his injurious efforts, and that your affection may strive rather to tighten the bonds of what is falling asunder, and not to increase separation by joining with those who are eager for dissent.
To Meletius, bishop of Antioch.2
I Have received a letter from the very God-beloved bishop Eusebius, in which he enjoins that a second letter be written to the Westerns about certain Church matters. He has expressed a wish that the letter should be drawn up by me, and signed by all those who are in communion. Having no means of writing a letter about these wishes of his, I have sent on his minute to your holiness, in order that, when you have read it and can give heed to the information given by the very dear brother Sanctissimus, our fellow presbyter, you may yourself be so good as to indite a letter on these points as seems best to you. We are prepared to agree to it and to lose no time in having it conveyed to those in communion with us, so that, when all have signed it may be carried by the messenger, who is on the point of starting on his journey to visit the bishops of the West. Give orders for the decision of your holiness to be communicated to me as quickly as possible, that I may not be ignorant of your intentions.
As to the intrigue which is now being devised, or has already been devised against me, in Antioch, the same brother will convey intimation to your holiness, unless indeed the report of what has been done does not anticipate him and make the position clear. There is ground for hope that the threats are coming to an end.
I wish your reverence to know that our brother Anthimus has ordained Faustus, who is living with the pope3 as bishop, without having received the votes, and in place of our right reverend brother Cyril. Thus he has filled Armenia with schisms. I have thought it right to tell your reverence this, lest they should lie against me, and I be responsible for these disorderly proceedings. You will of course deem it right to make this known to the rest. I think such irregularity will distress many.
To Theodotus, bishop of Nicopolis.2
The winter is severe and protracted, so that it is difficult for me even to have the solace of letters. For this reason I have written seldom to your reverence and seldom heard from you, but now my beloved brother Sanctissimus, the co-presbyter, has undertaken a journey as far as your city. By him I salute your lordship, and ask youto pray for me, and to give ear to Sanctissimus, that from him you may learn in what situation the Churches are placed, and may give all possible heed to the points put before you. You must know that Faustus came with letters for me, from the pope, requesting that he might be ordained bishop. When however I asked him for some testimonial from yourself. and the rest of the bishops, he made light of me and betook himself to Anthimus. He came back, ordained by Anthimus, without any communication having been made to me on the subject.
To Poemenius,2 bishop of Satala.
When the Armenians returned by your way you no doubt asked for a letter from them, and you learnt why I had not given the letter to them. If they spoke as truth lovers should, you forgave me on the spot; if they kept anything back (which I do not suppose), at all events hear it from me.
The most illustrious Anthimus, who long ago made peace with me, when he found an opportunity of satisfying his own vain gloriousness, and of causing me some vexation, consecrated Faustus, by his own authority and with his own hand, without waiting for any election from you, and ridiculing my punctiliousness in such matters. Inasmuch, then, as he has confounded ancient order and has made light of you, for whose election I was waiting, and has acted in a manner, as I view it, displeasing to God, for these reasons I felt pained with them, and gave no letter for any of the Armenians, not even for your reverence. Faustus I would not even receive into communion, thereby plainly testifying that, unless he brought me a letter from you, I should be permanently alienated from him, and should influence those of the same mind with me to treat him in the same manner. If there is any remedy for these things, be sure to write to me yourself, giving your testimony to him, if you see that his life is good; and exhort the rest. If on the other hand the mischief is incurable, let me perfectly understand it to be so, that I may no longer take them into account; although really, as they have proved, they have agreed, for the future, to transfer their communion to Anthimus, in contempt of me and of my Church, as though my friendship were no longer worth having.
To Urbicius, the monk.2
You were to have come to see me (and the blessing was drawing near) to cool me, aflame in my temptations, with the tip of your finger. What then? My sins stood in the way and hindered your start, so that I am sick without a remedy. Just as when the waves are round us, one sinks and another rises, and another looms black and dreadful, so of my troubles: some have ceased, some are with me, some are before me. As is generally the case, the one remedy for these troubles is to yield to the crisis and withdraw from my persecutors. Yet come to me, to console, to advise, or even to travel with me; in any case you will make me better for the mere sight of you. Above all, pray, and pray again, that my reason be not whelmed by the waves of my troubles; pray that all through I may keep a heart pleasing to God, that I be not numbered with the wicked servants, who thank a master when he gives them good, and refuse to submit when he chastises them by adversity; but let me reap benefit from my very trials, trusting most in God when I need Him most.
IT is sometimes said that slaves to the passion of love, when by some inevitable necessity they are separated from the object of their desire, are able to stay the violence of their passion by indulging the sense of sight, if haply they can look at the picture of the beloved object. Whether this be true or not I cannot say; but what has befallen me in your case, my friend, is not very different. I have felt a disposition towards your godly and guileless soul, somewhat, if I may so say, of the nature of love; but the gratification of my desire, like that of all other blessings, is made difficult to me by the opposition of my sins. However, I have seemed to see a very good likeness of you in the presence of my very reverend brothers. And if it had been my lot to fall in with you when far away from them, I should have fancied that I saw them in you. For the measure of love in each of you is so great, that in both of you there is a plain contest for the superiority. I have thanked God for this. If any longer life be left me, I pray that my life may be made sweet through you, just as now I look on life as a wretched thing to be avoided, because I am separated from the companionship of those I love best. For, in my judgment, there is nothing in which one can be cheerful when cut off from those who truly love us.
A transcript of the faith as dictated by Saint Basil, and subscribed by Eustathius, bishop of Sebasteia.2
1. Both men whose minds have been preoccupied by a heterodox creed and now wish to change over to the congregation of the orthodox, and also those who are now for the first time desirous of being instructed in the doctrine of truth, must be taught the creed drawn up by the blessed fathers in the Council which met at Nicaea. The sametraining would also be exceedingly useful in the case of all who are under suspicion of being in a state of hostility to sound doctrine, and who by ingenious and plausible excuses keep the depravity of their sentiments out of view. For these too this creed is all that is needed. They will either get cured of their concealed unsoundness, or, by continuing to keep it concealed, will themselves bear the load of the sentence due to their dishonesty, and will provide us with an easy defence in the day of judgment, when the Lord will lift the cover from the hidden things of darkness, and “make manifest the counsels of the hearts.”3 It is therefore desirable to receive them with the confession not only that they believe in the words put forth by our fathers at Nicaea, but also according to the sound meaning expressed by those words, For there are men who even in this creed pervert the word of truth, and wrest the meaning of the words in it to suit their own notions. So Marcellus, when expressing impious sentiments concerning the hypostasis of our Lord Jesus Christ, and describing Him as being Logos and nothing more,4 had the hardihood to profess to find a pretext for his principles in that creed by affixing an improper sense upon the Homoousion. Some, moreover, of the impious following of the Libyan Sabellius, who understand hypostasis and substance to be identical, derive ground for the establishment of their blasphemy from the same source, because of its having been written in the creed “if any one says that the Son is of a different substance or hypostasis, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes him.” But they did not there state hypostasis and substance to be identical. Had the words expressed one and the same meaning, what need of both? It is on the contrary clear that while by some it was denied that the Son was of the same substance with the Father, and some asserted that He was not of the substance and was of some other hypostasis, they thus condemned both opinions as outside that held by the Church. When they set forth their own view, they declared the Son to be of the substance of the Father, but they did not add the words “of the hypostasis.” The former clause stands for the condemnation of the faulty view; the latter plainly states the dogma of salvation. We are therefore bound to confess the Son to be of one substance with the Father, as it is written; but the Father to exist in His own proper hypostasis, the Son in His, and the Holy Ghost in His, as they themselves have clearly delivered the doctrine. They indeed clearly and satisfactorily declared in the words Light of Light, that the Light which begat and the Light which was begotten, are distinct, and yet Light and Light; so that the definition of the Substance is one and the same.5 I will now subjoin the actual creed as it was drawn up at Nicaea.6
2). pisteuvomen eij: e\(na Qeo;n Patevra pantokravtora, Pavntwn oJratw`n te kai; ajoravtwn poihthvn : »poihth;n ouJranou` kai` gh`: oJratw`n te pavntwn kai; ajoravtwn : 1/4
kai; eij" e\(na Kuvrion Ihsou`n Cristovn, to;n uiJo`n tou` Qeou` »to;n monogenh`1/4 gennhqevnta ejk tou` Patro;" monogenh`. »to;n ejk tou` Patro;" gennhqevnta pro; pavntwn twvn aijwvwn.1/4
toutevstin ejk th`: oujsiva" tou` Patrov:, Qeovn ejk Qeou` [omit],7 Fw`" ejk Fw`to", Qeo;n ajlhqino;n ejk Qeou` ajlhqinou`, gennhqevnta ouJ poihqevnta, oJmoouvsion tw`/ Patri, diAE ouj ta; pavnta ejgevneto, tav te ejn tw`/ oujranw`/ kai; ta; ejn th`/ gh`/ [omit].
to;n diAE hJma`" tou`" ajnqrwpou;" kai; dia` th`n hJmevteran swthrivan, katelqovnta »ejk tw`n oujranw`n1/4 kai` sarkwqevnta. »ejk pneuvmato</dqŸ aJgivou kai; Mariava</dqŸ th`<dqŸ parqe`nou.1/4
kai; ejnanqrwphvsanta »staurwqevnta te uJpe;r hmw`n ejpi; Pontivou Pilavtou, kai;1/4, paqovnta »kai; tafevnta1/4, kai; ajnastavnta th`/ trivth/ h`mevra »kata; ta;</dqŸ grafa;</dqŸ kai;1/4, ajnelqovnta eij</dqŸ tou;</dqŸ oujranou;</dqŸ. »kai; kaqezovmenon ejk dexiw`n tou`` Patrov</dqŸ.1/4
kai` eij" to; Pneu`ma to; a\(gion. »to; Kuvrion kai; to; zwopoio;n sumproskunouvmenon kai; sundoxazovmenon, to; lalh`san dia; tw`n profhtw`n : eij" mivan aJgivan kaqolikh;n ka; ajpostolikh`n ejkklhsivan, oJmologou`men e\(n ba;ptisma eij" a[fesin aJmaritw`n, prosdokw`men ajnavstasin nekrw`n, kai; zwh;n tou`mevllonto" aijw`no". JAmh;n.1/4
tou`" de; levgonta", h\n pote o\(te oujk h\n, kai`; pri;n gennhqh`nai oujk h\n, kai; o\(ti ejx oujk o[nwn ejgeveto, h[ ejx eJtevra: uJpostavsew</dqŸ h[ ouJsiva" favskontasi\baum g[ jtustivb g[ treptovn h[ ajlloiwtovn tovn UiJo;n tou` Qeou`, toutou;" ajnaqemativzei hJ kaqolikh; kai; ajpostolikh; ejkklhsiva. [Omit all the Anathemas.]
3. Here then all points but one are satisfactorily and exactly defined, some for the correction of what had been corrupted, some as a precaution against errors expected to arise. The doctrine of the Spirit, however, is merely mentioned, as needing no elaboration, because at the time of the Council no question was mooted, and the opinion on this subject in the hearts of the faithful was exposed to no attack. Little by little, however, the growing poison-germs of impiety, first sown by Arius, the champion of the heresy, and then by those who succeeded to his inheritance of mischief, were nurtured to the plague of the Church, and the regular development of the impiety issued in blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Under these circumstances we are under the necessity of putting before the men who have no pity for themselves, and shut their eyes to the inevitable threat directed by our Lord against blasphemers of the Holy Ghost, their bounden duty. They must anathematize all who call the Holy Ghost a creature, and all who so think; all who do not confess that He is holy by nature, as the Father is holy by nature, and the Son is holy by nature, and refuse Him His place in the blessed divine nature. Our not separating Him from Father and Son is a proof of our right mind, for we are bound to be baptized in the terms we have received and to profess belief in the terms in which we are baptized, and as we have professed belief in, so to give glory to Father, on, and Holy Ghost; and to hold aloof from the communion of all who call Him creature, as from open blasphemers. One point must be regarded as settled; and the remark is necessary because of our slanderers; we do not speak of the Holy Ghost as unbegotten, for we recognise one Unbegotten and one Origin of all things,8 the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: nor do we speak of the Holy Ghost as begotten, for by the tradition of the faith we have been taught one Only-begotten: the Spirit of truth we have been taught to proceed from the Father, and we confess Him to be of God without creation.We are also bound to anathematize all who speak of the Holy Ghost as ministerial,9 inasmuch as by this term they degrade Him to the rank of a creature. For that the ministering spirits are creatures we are told by Scripture in the words “they are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister.”10 But because of men who make universal confusion, and do not keep the doctrine of the Gospels, it is necessary to add yet this further, that they are to be shunned, as plainly hostile to true religion, who invert the order left us by the Lord, and put the Son before the Father, and the Holy Spirit before the Son. For we must keep unaltered and inviolable that order which we have received from the very words of the Lord, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”11
I, Eustathius, bishop, have read to thee, Basil, and understood; and I assent to what is written above. I have signed in the presence of our Fronto, Severus, the chorepis-copus, and several other clerics.
On arriving at Nicopolis in the double hope of settling the disturbances which had arisen, and applying a remedy, as far as possible, to measures taken in a disorderly manner and in violation of the law of the Church, I was exceedingly disappointed at failing to meet you. I heard that you had hurriedly withdrawn, and actually from the very synod which was being held by you. I am, therefore, under the necessity of having recourse to writing, and by this letter I bid you present yourself before me, that you may in person apply some remedy to the pain which I felt, even unto death, on hearing that you bad ventured on action, in the very middle of the church, of the like of which I hitherto have never heard. All this, although painful and serious, is endurable, as having happened to a man who has committed the punishment due for his sufferings to God, and is wholly devoted to peace and to preventing harm falling from any fault of his on God’s people. Since, however, some honourable brethren, worthy of all credit, have told me that you have introduced certain innovations into the faith, and have spoken against sound doctrine, I am under the circumstances the more agitated, and above measure anxious, lest, in addition to the countless wounds which have been inflicted on the Church by traitors to the truth of the Gospel, yet a further calamity should spring up in the renewal of the ancient heresy of Sabellius, the enemy of the Church; for to this the brethren have reported your utterances to be akin. I have, therefore, written to charge you not to shrink from undertaking a short journey to come to me, and, by giving me full assurance in the matter, at once to alleviate my pangs, and to solace the Churches of God, which are now pained to a grave, nay an unendurable extent, at your actions and your reported words.
To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.2
Our merciful God, Who makes comfort match trouble, and consoles the lowly, lest they be drowned unawares in exceeding grief, has sent a consolation, equivalent to the troubles I have suffered in Nicopolis, in seasonably bringing me the God-beloved bishop Jobinus. He must tell you himself how very opportune his visit was. I shrink from a long letter, and will hold my peace. And I am the more inclined to silence, lest I seem as it were to put a mark on men, who have turned round and begun to show regard to me, by mentioning their fall.
God grant that you may come to see me in my own home, so that I may embrace your reverence and tell you everything in detail. For we often find some comfort in telling what is painful in actual experience. However, for all that the very godly bishop has done, fully as far as regards his affection for me, and preeminently and stoutly as regards the exact observance of the canons, commend him. Moreover, thank God that your pupils everywhere exhibit your reverence’s character.
To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.2
1). Hitherto I have been unable to give any adequate and practical proof of my earnest desire to pacify the Churches of the Lord. But in my heart I affirm that I have so great a longing, that I would gladly give up even my life, if thereby the flame of hatred, kindled by the evil one, could be put out. If it was not for the sake of this longing for peace that I consented to come to Colonia,3 may my life he unblessed by peace. The peace I seek is the true peace, left us by the Lord Himself; and what I have asked that I may have for my assurance belongs to one who desires nothing but the true peace, although some perversely interpret the truth into another sense. Let them use their tongues as they will, but assuredly they will one day be sorry for their words.
2. Now I beseech your holiness to remember the original propositions, and not to be led away by receiving answers that do not fit the questions, nor yet to give practical weight to the quibbles of men who, without any power of argument, very cleverly pervert the truth, from their own ideas alone. I set out propositions which were perfectly simple, clear and easy to remember; do we decline to receive into communion those who refuse to accept the Nicene Creed? Do we refuse to have part or lot with those who have the hardihood to assert that the Holy Ghost Is a creature? He, however,4 instead of answering my questions word for word, has concocted the statement which you have sent me:—and this not from simplemindedness, as might be imagined, nor yet from his inability to see the consequences. What he reckons is that, by repudiating my proposition, he will expose his true character to the people; while, if he agrees to it, he will depart from that via media which has hitherto seemed to him preferable to any other position. Let him not try to beguile me, nor, with the rest, deceive your intelligence. Let him send a concise answer to my question, whether he accepts or repudiates communion with the enemies of the faith. If you get him to do this and send me such a distinct answer as I pray for, I own myself in error in all that has gone before; I take all the blame upon myself; then ask from me a proof of humility. But, if nothing of the kind come to pass, pardon me, most God-beloved father, in my inability to approachGod’s altar with hyprocrisy. Were it not for self this dread, why should I separate my from Euippius, so learned a man, so advanced in age, and bound to me by so many ties of affection? If, however, in this case I acted rightly, it would, I am sure, be absurd to appear united with those who maintain the same views as Euippius, through the media-lion of these amiable and charming persons.
3. Not that I think it is absolutely our duty to cut ourselves off from those who do not receive the faith, but rather to have regard to them in accordance with the old law of love, and to write to them with one consent, giving them all exhortation with pity, and to propose to them the faith of the fathers, and invite them to union. If we succeed we should be united in communionwith them; if we fail we must be content with one another and purge our conduct of this uncertain spirit, restoring the evangelical and simple conversation followed by those who accepted the Word from the beginning. “They,” it is said, “were of one heart and of one soul.”5 If they obey you, this will be best; if not, recognise the real authors of the war, and, for the future do riot write me any more letters about reconciliation.
To Meletius Bishop of Antioch.2
1. I Knew that the charge which had lately sprung up against the loquacious Apollinarius would sound strange in the ears of your excellency. I did not know myself, till now, that he was accused; at the present time, however, the Sebastenes, after search in some quarter or another, have brought these things forward, and they are carrying about a document for which they are specially trying to condemn me on the ground that I hold the same sentiments, It contains the following phrases. “Wherefore it is everywhere necessary to understand the first identity in conjunction with, or rather in union with, the second, and to say that the second and the third are the same. For what the Father is firstly, the Son is secondly, and the Spirit thirdly. And, again, what the Spirit is firstly, the Son is secondly, in so far as the Spirit is the Lord; and the Father thirdly, in so far as the Spirit is God. And, to express the ineffable with greatest force, the Father is Son in a paternal sense, and the Son Father in a filial sense, and so in the case of the Spirit, in so far as the Trinity is one God.” This is what is being bruited about. I never can believe it to have been invented by those through whom it has been published, although, after their slanders against me, I can regard nothing as beyond their audacity. For writing to some of their party, they advanced their false accusation against me, and then added the words I have quoted, describing them as the work of heretics, but saying nothing as to the author of the document, in order that it might vulgarly be supposed to have come from my pen. Nevertheless, in my opinion, their intelligence would not have gone far enough in putting the phrases together. On this account, in order to repudiate the growing blasphemy against myself, and shew to all the world that I have nothing in common with those who make such statements, I have been compelled to mention Apollinarius as approximating to the impiety of Sabellius. Of this subject I will say no more.
2. I have received a message from the court that, after the first impulse of the Emperor, to which he was impelled by my calumniators, a second decree has been passed, that I am not to be delivered to my accusers, nor given over to their will, as was ordered at the beginning; but that there has been in the meanwhile some delay. If then this obtains, or any gentler measure is determined on, I will let you know. If the former prevails, it shall not be so, without your knowledge.
3. Our brother Sanctissimus has certainly been with you a long time, and you have learnt the objects he has in view. If, then, the letter to the Westerns seems to you to contain at all what is requisite, be so good as to have it written out and conveyed to me, that I may get it signed by those who think with us, and may keep the subscription ready, and written out on a separate paper, which we can fasten on to the letter which is being carried about by our brother and fellow presbyter. As I did not find in the minute anything conclusive, I was in a difficulty on what point to write to the Westerns. Necessary points are anticipated, and it is useless to write what is superfluous, and on such points would it not be ridiculous to show feeling? One subject, however, did appear to me to be hitherto untouched, and to suggest a reason for writing, and that was an exhortation to them not indiscriminately to accept the communion of men coming from the East; but, after once choosing one side, to receive the rest on the testimony of their fellows, and not to assent to every one writing a form of creed on the pretext of orthodoxy. If they do so, they will be found in communion with men at war with one another, who often put forward the same formulae, and yet battle vehemently against one another, as those who are most widely separated. To the end, then, that the heresy may not be the more widely kindled, while those who are at variance with one another mutually object to their own formulae, they ought to be exhorted to make a distinction between the acts of communion which are brought them by chance comers, and those which are duly drawn up according to the rule of the Church.3
To Theodotus bishop of Nicopolis.
1. You have very rightly and properly blamed me, right honourable and well beloved brother, in that ever since I departed from your reverence, conveying to Eustathius those propositions about the faith, I have told you neither much nor little about his business. This neglect is really not due to any contempt on my part for the way in which he has treated me, but simply to the fact that the story is now published abroad in all men’s ears, and nobody needs any instructions from me in order to learn what his intentions are. For this he has had good heed, as though he were really afraid that hewould have few witnesses of his opinion, and has sent to the ends of the earth the letter which he has written against me. He has therefore severed himself from communion with me. He did not consent to meet me at the appointed spot, and did not bring his disciples, as he had promised. On the contrary, he publicly stigmatized me in the public synods, with the Cilician Theophilus,2 by the open and undisguised slander of sowing in the souls of the people doctrines at variance with his own teaching. This was quite enough to break up all union between us. Afterwards he came to Cilicia, and, on meeting with a certain Gelasius, showed him the creed which only an Arian, or a thorough disciple of Arius, could subscribe. Then, indeed, I was yet more confirmed in my alienation from him. I felt that the Ethiopian will never change his skin, nor the leopard his spots,3 nor a man nurtured in doctrines of perversity ever be able to rub off the stain of his heresy.
2. In addition to all this he has bad the impudence to write against me, or rather to compose long discourses full of all kinds of abuse and calumny. To these, up to this time, I have answered nothing, taught as we are by the Apostle, not to avenge ourselves, but to give place unto wrath.4 Moreover, at the thought of the depth of the hypocrisy with which he has all along approached me, I have, in a way, become speechless with amazement. But, if all this had never happened, who would not feel horror and detestation of the fellow at this fresh piece of audacity? Now, as I hear, if the report is really true and not a slanderous invention, he has ventured to re-ordain certain men; a proceeding on which so far no heretic has ventured. How then can I quietly endure such treatment? How can I look upon the errors of the man as curable? Beware, then, of being led away by lies; do not be moved by the suspicions of men who are prone to look at everything in a bad light, as though I were making little of such things. For, be sure, my very dear and honourable friend, that I have never at any time been so grieved as I am now, on hearing of this confusion of the laws of the Church. Pray only that the Lord grant me to take no step in anger, but to maintain charity, which behaveth itself not unseemly and is not puffed up.5 Only look how men without charity have been lifted up beyond all human bounds and conduct themselves in an unseemly manner, daring deeds which have no precedent in all the past.6
1). Truly unexpected tidings make both ears tingle. This is my case. These compositions against me, which are being carried about, have fallen upon ears by this time pretty well seasoned, on account of my having formerly received the letter, appropriate enough to my sins, but which I should never have expected to be written by those who sent it. Nevertheless what followed did seem to me so extraordinarily cruel as to blot out all that had gone before. How could I fail to be driven almost out of my senses when I read the letter addressed to the reverend brother Dazinas, full of outrageous insults and calumnies and of attacks against me, as though I had been convicted of much pernicious designs against the Church? Moreover proofs were forthwith offered of the truth of the calumnies against me, from the document of whose authorship I am ignorant. Parts I recognise, I own, as having been written by Apollinarius of Laodicea. These I had purposely not even ever read, but I had heard of them from the report of others. Other portions I found included, which I had never either read or heard of from any one else; of the truth of this there is a faithful witness in heaven. How then can men who shun lies, who have learnt that love is the fulfilling of the law, who profess to bear the burdens of the weak, have consented to bring these calumnies against me and to condemn me out of other men’s writings? I have often asked myself this question, but I cannot imagine the reason, unless it be, as I have said from the beginning, that my pain in all this is a part of the punishment which is due to my sins.
Basil: letters, hexaemeron - II. WORKS