Basil: letters, hexaemeron - II. WORKS
5. While I was in this position another letter came to me, addressed to a certain Dazizas, but in reality written to all the world. This is obvious from its very rapid distribution, for in a few days it was delivered all over Pontus, and was travelling about Galatia; indeed it is said that the carriers of this good news traversed Bithynia, and reached the Hellespont itself. What was written against me to Dazizas12 you are very well aware, for they do not reckon you as so far beyond the bounds of their friendship as to have left you alone undistinguished by this honour. However, if the letter has not reached you, I will send it to you. In it you will find me charged with craft and treachery, with corruption of Churches and with ruin of souls. The charge which they think the truest of all is, that I made that exposition of the faith for secret and dishonest reasons, not to do service to the Nicopolitans, but with the design of disingenously extracting a confession from them. Of all this the Lord is Judge. What clear evidence can there be of the thoughts of the heart ? One thing I do wonder at in them, that after signing the document presented by me, they show so much disagreement, that they confuse truth and falsehood to satisfy those who t are accusing them, quite forgetful that their written confession of the Nicene Creed is preserved at Rome, and that they with their own hand delivered to the council at Tyana the document brought from Rome which is in my hands, and contains the same creed. They forgot their own address, when they came forward and bewailed the deceit by which they had been tricked into giving their adhesion to the document drawn up by the faction of Eudoxius,13 and so bethought them of the defence for that error, that they should go to Rome14 and there accept the creed of the Fathers, that so they might make amends, for the mischief they had done the Church by their agreement in evil, by their introduction of something better. Now the very men who undertook long journeys for the faith’s sake, and made all these fine speeches, are reviling me for walking craftily, and for playing the playing the plotter under the cloke of love. is plain from the Letter, now bring carried about, that they have condemned the faith of Nicaea. They saw Cyzicus, and came home with another creed.15
6. But why say anything of mere verbal inconsistency ? The practical proofs of their change of position afforded by their conduct are far stronger. They refused to yield to the sentence of fifty bishops passed against them.16 They declined to resign the government of their Churches although the number of bishops assenting to the decree for their deposition was so many, on the alleged ground that they were not partakers of the Holy Ghost, and were not governing their Churches by the grace of God, but had clutched their dignity by the aid of human power, and through lust of vain glory. Now they are for receiving the men consecrated by these same persons as bishops. I should like you to ask them in my stead, (although they despise all mankind, is bereft of eyes, ears, and common sense), to perceive the inconsistency of their conduct, what sentiments they do really entertain in their own hearts. How can there be two bishops, one deposed by Euippius,17 and the other consecrated by him? Both are the actions of the same man. Had he not been endowed with the grace bestowed upon Jeremiah to pull down and build again, to root out and to plant,18 he certainly would not have rooted the one out and planted the other. Grant him the one and you must grant him the other. Their one object, as it seems, is everywhere to look to their own advantage, and to regard every one who acts in accordance with their own wishes as a friend, while they treat any one who opposes them as an enemy, and spare no calumny to run him down.19
7. What measures are they now taking against the Church? For the shiftiness of their originators, shocking; for the apathy of all who are affected by them, pitiable. By a respectable commission the children and grandchildren of Euippius have been summoned from distant regions to Sebasteia, and to them the people have been entrusted.20 They have taken possession of the altar. They have been made the leaven of that Church. I am persecuted by them as a Homoousiast. Eustathius, who brought the Homoousion in the script from Rome to Tyana, although he was not able to get admitted into their much to be coveted communion, either because they feared, or respected the authority of, the large number of persons who had agreed in condemning him, is now in intimate alliance with them. I only hope that I may never have time enough on my hands to tell of all their doings—who were gathered together, how each one had been ordained, and from what kind of earlier life each arrived at his present dignity. I have been taught to pray “that my mouth may not utter the works of the men.”21 If you enquire you will learn these things for yourself, and, if they are hidden from you, they will not assuredly continue hidden from the judges.
8. I will not, however, omit to tell you, my dear friend, in what a state I have been. Last year I suffered from a very violent fever, and came near to the gates of death. When, by God’s mercy, I was restored, I was distressed at coming back to life, as I bethought me of all the troubles before me. I considered with myself for what reason, hidden in the depths of the wisdom of God, yet further clays of life in the flesh had been allowed me. But when I heard of these matters I concluded that the Lord wished a me to see the Churches at rest after the storm c which they had previously suffered from the the alienation of the men in whom, on account of their fictitious gravity of character, every confidence had been placed. Or peradventure the Lord designed to invigorate my soul, and to render it more vigilant for the future, to the end that, instead of giving heed to men, it might be made perfect through those precepts of the Gospel which do not share in the changes and chances of human seasons and circumstances, but abide for ever the same, as they were uttered by the blessed lips that cannot lie.22
9. Men are like clouds, shifting hither and thither in the sky with the change of the winds.23 And of all men who have ever come within my experience these of whom I am speaking are the most unstable. As to the other business of life, those who have lived with them may give evidence; but as to what is within my own knowledge, their inconsistency as regards the faith, I do not know that I have ever myself observed it or heard from any one else, of anything like it. Originally they were followers of Arius; then they went over to Hermogenes, who was diametrically opposed to the errors of Arius, as is evinced by the Creed originally recited by him at Nicaea.24 Hermogenes, fell asleep, and then they went over to Eusebius, the coryphaeus, as we know on personal evidence, of the Arian ring. Leaving this, for whatever reasons, they came home again, and once more concealed their Arian sentiments. After reaching the episcopate, to pass by what occurred in the interval, how many creeds did they put forth? One at Ancyra;25 another at Seleucia;26 another at Constantinople,27 the famous one; another at Lampsacus,28 then that of Nike in Thrace;29 and now again the creed of Cyzicus.30 Of this last I know nothing, except that I am told that they have suppressed the homoousion, and are supporting the like in essence, while they subscribe with Eunomius the blasphemies against the Holy Spirit. Although all of the creeds which I have enumerated may not be opposed to one another, yet they alike exhibit the inconsistency of the men’s minds, from their never standing by the same words. I have said nothing as to countless other points, but this that I do say is true. Now that they have gone over to you, I beg you to write back by the same man, I mean our fellow presbyter Strategius, whether you have remained in the same mind towards me, or whether you have been alienated in consequence of your meeting them. For it was not likely that they would be silent, nor that you yourself, after writing to me as yon have. would not use free speaking to them too. If you remain in communion with me, it is well; it is what I would most earnestly pray for. If they have drawn you over to them, it is sad. How should separation from such a brother not be sad? If in nothing else, at least in bearing losses like this, we have been considerably tried at their hands.
To Theophilus the Bishop.2
IT is some time since I received your letter, but I waited to be able to reply by some fit person; that so the bearer of my answer might supply whatever might be wanting in it. Now there has arrived our much beloved and very reverend brother Strategius, and I have judged it well to make use of his services, both as knowing my mind and able to convey3 news of me with due propriety and reverence. Know, therefore, my beloved and honoured friend, that I highly value my affection for you, and am not conscious so far as the disposition of lay heart goes, of having at any time failed in it, although I have had many serious causes of reasonable complaint. But I have decided to weigh the good against the bad, as in a balance, and to add my own mind where the better inclines. Now changes have been made by those who should least of all have allowed anything of the kind. Pardon me, therefore, for I have not changed my mind, if I have shifted any side, or rather I should say, I shall still be on the same side, but there are others who are continually changing it, and are now openly deserting to the foe. You yourself know what a value I put on their communion, so long as they were of the sound party. If now I refuse to follow these, and shun all who think with them, I ought fairly to be forgiven. I put truth and my own salvation before everything.
To the Nicopolitans.
I AM filled with distress at seeing evil on the high road to success, while you, my reverend friends, are faint and failing under continuous calamity. But when again I bethink me of the mighty hand of God, and reflect that He knows how to raise up them that are broken down, to love the just, to crush the proud and to put down the mighty from their seats, then again my heart grows lighter by hope, and I know that through your prayers the calm that the Lord will show us will come soon. Only grow not weary in prayer, but in the present emergency strive to give to all a plain example by deed of whatever you teach by word.
To the Nicopolitans.
When I had read the letter of your holinesses, how did I not groan and lament that I had heard of these further troubles, of blows and insults inflicted on yourselves, of destruction of homes, devastation of the city, ruin of your whole country, persecution of the Church, banishment; of priests, invasion of wolves, and scattering of flocks. But I have looked to the Lord in heaven, and have ceased to groan and weep, because I am perfectly well assured, as I hope you know too, that help will speedily come and that you will not be for ever forsaken. What we have suffered, we have suffered for our sins. But our loving Lord will show us His own aid for the sake of His love and pity for the Churches. Nevertheless, I have not omitted to beseech men in authority in person. I have written to those at court, who love us, that the wrath of our ravening enemy may be stayed. I think, moreover, that from many quarters condemnation may fall upon his head, unless indeed these. troublous times allow our public men no leisure for these matters.2
To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium.
(So far as my own wishes are concerned I am grieved at living at such a distance from your reverence. But, as regards the peace of your own life, I thank the Lord Who has kept you out of this conflagration which has specially ravaged my diocese. For the just Judge has sent me, in accordance with my works, a messenger of Satan,2 who is buffeting me a severely enough, and is vigorously defending the heresy. Indeed to such a pitch has he carried the war against us, that he does not shrink even from shedding the blood of those who trust in God. You cannot fail to have heard that a man of the name of Asclepius,3 because he would not consent to communion with Doeg,4 has died under the blows inflicted on him by them, or rather, by their blows has been translated into life. You may suppose that the rest of their doings are of a piece with this; the persecutions of presbyters and teachers, and all that might be expected to be done by men abusing the imperial authority at their own caprice. But, in answer to your prayers, the Lord will give us release from these things, and patience to bear the weight of our trials worthily of our hope in Him. Pray write frequently to me of all that concerns yourself. If you find any one who can be trusted to carry you the book that I have finished, be so kind as to send for it, that so, when I have been cheered by your approval, I may send it on to others also. By the grace of the Holy One may you be granted to me and to the Church of the Lord in good health rejoicing in the Lord, and praying for me.
Without address. Commendatory.
I Congratulate this my brother, in being delivered from our troubles here and in approaching your reverence. In choosing a good life with them that fear the Lord he has chosen a good provision for the life to come. I commend him to your excellency and by him I beseech you to pray for my wretched life, to the end that I may be delivered from these trials and begin to serve the Lord according to the Gospel.
To Patrophilus, bishop of Aegae.
There has been some delay in my receiving your answer to my former letter; but it has reached me through the well-beloved Strategius, and I have given thanks to the Lord for your continuance in your love to me. What you have now been kind enough to write on the same subject proves your good intentions, for you think as you ought, and you counsel me to my gain. But I see that my words will be extending too far, if I am to reply to everything written to me by your excellency. I therefore say no more than this, that, if the blessing of peace goes no further than the mere name of peace, it is ridiculous to go on picking out here one and there another, and allow them alone a share in the boon, while others beyond number are excluded from it. But if agreement with mischievous men, under the appearance of peace, really does the harm an enemy might do to all who consent to it, then only consider who those men are who have been admitted to their companionship, who have conceived an unrighteous hatred against me; who but men of the faction not in communion with me. There is no need now for me to mention them by name. They have been invited by them to Sebasteia; they have assumed the charge of the Church; they have performed service at the altar: they have given of their own bread to all the people, being proclaimed bishops by the clergy there, and escorted through all the district as saints and in communion. If one must adopt the faction of these men, it is absurd to begin at the extremities, and not rather to hold intercourse with those that are their heads.2 If then we are to count heretic and shun no one at all, why, tell the, do you separate yourself from the communion of certain persons? But if any are to be shunned, let me be told by these people who are so logically consistent in everything, to what party those belong whom they have invited over from Galatia to join them ? If such things seem greivous to you, charge the separation on those who are responsible for it. If you judge them to be of no importance, forgive me for declining to be of the leaven of the teachers of wrong doctrine.3 Wherefore, if you will, have no more to do with those specious arguments, but with all openness confute them that do not walk aright in the truth of the Gospel.
To the people of Evaesae.2
I. MY occupations are very numerous, and my mind is full of many anxious cares, but I have never forgotten you, my dear friends, ever praying my God for your constancy in the fifth, wherein ye stand and have your boasting in the hope of the glory of God. Truly nowadays it is hard to find, and extraordinary to see, a Church pure, unharmed by the troubles of the times, anti preserving the apostolic doctrine in all its integrity and completeness. Such is your Church shewn at this present time by Him who in every generation makes manifest them that are worthy of His calling. May the Lord grant to you the blessings of Jerusalem which is above, in return for your flinging back at the heads of the liars their slanders against me, and your refusal to allow them entry into your hearts. I know, and am persuaded in the Lord, that “your reward is great in heaven,”3 even on account of this very conduct. For you have wisely concluded among yourselves, as indeed is the truth, that the men who are “rewarding me evil for good, and hatred for my love,” are accusing me now for the very same points which they are found to have themselves confessed and subscribed.
2. Their presenting you with their own signatures for an accusation against me is not the only contradiction into which they have fallen. They were unanimously deposed by the bishops assembled at Constantinople.4 They refused to accept this deposition and appealed to a synod of impious men,5 refusing to admit the episcopacy of their judges, in order not to accept the sentence passed upon them.
The reason alleged for their non-recognition was their being leaders of wicked heresy. All this6 happened nearly seventeen years ago. The principal men of those who deposed them were Eudoxius, Euippius, George,7 Acacius, and others unknown to you.8
The present tyrants of the churches are their successors, some ordained to fill their places, and others actually promoted by them.
3. Now let those who charge me with unsound doctrine tell me in what Fay the men whose deposition they refused to accept were heretical. Let them tell me in what way those promoted by them, and holding the same views as their fathers, are orthodox. If Euippius was orthodox, how can Eustathius, whom he deposed, be other than a layman ? If Euippius was a heretic, how can any one ordained by him be in communion with Eustathius now? But all this conduct, this trying to accuse men and set them up again, is child’s play, got up against the Churches of God, for their own gain.
When Eustathius was travelling through Paphlagonia, he overthrew the altars9 of Basilides of Paphlagonia,10 and used to perform divine service on his own tables.11 Now he is begging Basilides to be admitted to communion. He refused to communicate with our reverend brother Elpidius, because of his alliance with the Amasenes;12 and now he comes as a suppliant to the Amasenes, petitioning for alliance with them. Even ye yourselves know how shocking were his public utterances against Euippius: now he glorifies the holders of Euippius’s opinions for their orthodoxy, if only they will cooperate in promoting his restitution. And I am all the while being calumniated, not because I am doing any wrong, but because they have imagined that they will thus be recommended to the party at Antioch. The character of those whom they sent for last year from Galatia, as being likely by their means to recover the free exercise of their episcopal powers, is only too well known to all who have lived even for a short time with them. I pray that the Lord may never allow me leisure to recount all their proceedings. I will only say that they have passed through the whole country, with the honour and attendance of bishops, escorted by their most honourable bodyguard and sympathizers; and have made a grand entry into the city, and held an assembly with all authority. The people have been given over to them. The altar has been given over to them. How they went to Nicopolis, and could do nothing there of all that they had promised, and how they came, and what appearance they presented on their return, is known to those who were on the spot. They are obviously taking every single step for their own gain and profit. If they say that they have repented, let them shew their repentance in writing; let them anathematize the Creed of Constantinople; let them separate from the heretics; and let them no longer trick the simple-minded. So much for them and theirs.
4. I, however, brethren beloved, small and insignificant as I am, but remaining ever by God’s grace the same, have never changed with the changes of the world. My creed has not varied at Seleucia, at Constantinople, at Zela,13 at Lampsacus, and at Rome. My present creed is not different from the former; it has remained ever one and the same. As we received from the Lord, so are we baptized; as we are baptized, so we make profession of our faith; as we make profession of our faith, so do we offer our doxology, not separating the Holy Ghost from Father and Son, nor preferring Him in honour to the Father, or asserting Him to be prior to the Son, as blasphemers’ tongues invent.14 Who could be so rash as to reject the Lord’s commandment, and boldly devise an order of his own for the Names? But I do not call the Spirit, Who is ranked with Father and Son, a creature. I do not dare to call slavish that which is royal.15 And I beseech yon to remember the threat uttered by the Lord in the words, “All manner of sin anti blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”16 Keep yourselves from dangerous teaching against the Spirit. “Stand fast in the faith.”17 Look over all the world, and see how small the part is which is unsound. All the rest of the Church which has received the Gospel. from one end of the world to the other, abides in this sound and unperverted doctrine. From their communion I pray that I may never fall, and I pray that I may have part and lot with you in the righteous day of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He shall come to give to every one according to Iris conduct.
To the bishops of the Pontic Diocese.2
The honours of martyrs ought to be very eagerly coveted by all who rest their hopes on the Lord, and more especially by you who seek after virtue. By your disposition towards the great and good among your fellow servants you are shewing your affection to our common Lord. Moreover, a special reason for this is to be found in the tie, as it were, of blood, which binds the life of exact discipline to those who have been made perfect through endurance. Since then Eupsychius and Damas and their company are most illustrious among martyrs, and their memory is yearly kept in our city and all the neighbourhood, the Church, calling on you by my voice, reminds yon to keep up your ancient custom of paying a visit. A great and good world lies before you among the people, who desire to be edified by you, and are anxious for the reward dependent on the honour paid to the martyrs. Receive, therefore, my supplications, and consent of your kindness to give at the cost of small trouble to yourselves a great boon to me.3
To the presbyters of Antioch.2
The anxious care which you have for the Churches of God will to some extent be assuaged by our very dear and very reverend brother Sanctissimus the presbyter, when he has told you of the love and kindness felt for us by all the West. But, on the other hand, it will be roused afresh and made yet keener, when he has told you in person what zeal is demanded by the present position of affairs. All other authorities have told us, as it were, by halves, the minds of men in the West, and the condition of things there. He is very competent to understand men’s minds, and to make exact enquiry into the condition of affairs, and he will tell you everything and will guide your good will through the whole business. You have matter before you appropriate to the excellent will which you have always shewn in your anxiety on behalf of the Churches of God.
Again To Pelagius,2 bishop of the Syrian Laodicea.
May the Lord grant me once again in person to behold your true piety and to supply in actual intercourse all that is wanting in my letter. I am behindhand in beginning to write and must needs make many excuses. But we have with us the well beloved and reverend brother Sanctissimus, the presbyter. He will tell you everything, both our news and the news of the West. You will be cheered by what you hear; but when he tells you of the troubles in which we are involved he will perhaps add some distress and anxiety to that which already besets your kindly soul. Yet it is not to no purpose that affliction should be felt by you, able as you are to move the Lord. Your anxiety will turn to our gain, and I know that we shall receive succour from God as long as we have the aid of your prayers. Pray, too, with me for release from my anxieties, and ask for some increase in my bodily strength; then the Lord will prosper me on my way to the fulfilment of my desires and to a sight of your excellency.
To Vitus, bishop of Charrae.2
Would that it were possible for me to write to your reverence every day! Forever since I have had experience of your affection I have had great desire to converse with yon, or, if this be impossible, at least to communicate with you by letter, that I may tell you my own news and learn in what state you are. Yet we have not what we wish but what the Lord gives, and this we ought to receive with gratitude. I have therefore thanked the holy God for giving me an opportunity for writing to your reverence on the arrival of our very well beloved and reverend brother Sanctissimus, the presbyter. He has had considerable trouble in accomplishing his journey, and will tell you with accuracy all that he has learnt in the West. For all these things we ought to thank the Lord and to beseech Him to give us too the same peace and that we may freely receive one another. Receive all the brethren in Christ in my name.
To the very well beloved and reverend brethren the presbyters Acacius, Aetius, Paulus, and Silvanus; the deacons Silvinus and Lucius, and the rest of the brethren the monks, Basil, the bishop.2
News has reached me of the severe persecution carried on against you, and how directly after Easter the men who fast for strife and debate3 attacked your homes, and gave your labours to the flames, preparing for you indeed a house in the heavens, not made with hands.4 but for themselves laying up in store the fire which they had used to your hurt. I no sooner heard of this than I groaned over what had happened; pitying not you, my brethren, (God forbid!) but the men who are so sunk in wickedness as to carry their evil deeds to such an extent. I expected you all to hurry at once to the refuge prepared for you in my humble self; and I hoped that the Lord would give me refreshment in the midst of my continual troubles in embracing you, and in receiving on this inactive body of mine the noble sweat which you are dropping for the truth’s sake, and so having some share in the prizes laid tip for you by the Judge of truth. But this did not enter into year minds, and you did not even expect any relief at my hands. I was therefore at least anxious to find frequent opportunities of writing to you, to the end that like those who cheer on combatants in the arena, I might myself by letter give you some encouragement in your good fight. For two reasons, however, I have not found this easy. In the first place, I did not know where you were residing. And, secondly, but few of our people travel in your direction. Now the Lord has brought us the very well beloved and reverend brother Sanctissimus, the presbyter. By him I am able to salute you, and I beseech you to pray for me, rejoicing and exulting that your reward is great in heaven,5 and that you have freedom with the Lord to cease not day and night calling on Him to put an end to this storm of the Churches; to grant the shepherds to their flocks, and that the Church may return to her proper dignity. I am persuaded that if a voice be found to move our good God, He will not make His mercy afar off, but will now “with the temptation make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”6 Salute all the brethren in Christ in any name.
To the monks harassed by the Arians.
1. I Have thought it only right to announce to you by letter how I said to myself, when I heard of the trials brought upon you by the enemies of God, that in a time reckoned a time of peace you have won for yourselves the blessings promised to all who suffer persecution for the sake of the name of Christ. In my judgment the war that is waged against us by our fellow countrymen is the hardest to bear, because against open anti declared enemies it is easy to defend ourselves, while we are necessarily at the mercy of those who are associated with us, and are thus exposed to continual danger. This has been your case. Our fathers were persecuted, but by idolaters their substance was plundered, their houses were overthrown, they themselves were driven into exile, by our open enemies. for Christ’s name’s sake. The persecutors who have lately appeared, hate us no less than they, but, to the deceiving of many, they put forward the name of Christ, that the persecuted may be robbed of all comfort from its confession, because the majority of simpler folk, while admitting that we are being wronged, are unwilling to reckon our death for the truth’s sake to be martyrdom. I am therefore persuaded that the reward in store for you from the righteous Judge is yet greater than that bestowed on those former martyrs. They indeed both had the public praise of men, and received the reward of God; to you, though your good deeds are not less, no honours are given by the people. It is only fair that the requital in store for you in the world to come should be far greater.
2. I exhort you, therefore, not to faint in your afflictions, but to be revived by God’s love, and to add daily to your zeal. knowing that in you ought to be preserved that remnant of true religion which the Lord will find when He cometh on the earth. Even if bishops are driven from their Churches, be not dismayed. If traitors have arisen from among the very clergy2 themselves, let not this undermine your confidence in God. We are saved not by names, but by mind and purpose, and genuine love toward our Creator. Bethink you how in the attack against our Lord, high priests and scribes and elders devised the plot, and how few of the people were found really receiving the word. Remember that it is not the multitude who are being saved, but the elect of God. Be not then affrighted at the great multitude of the people who are carried hither and thither by winds like the waters of the sea. If but one be saved, like Lot at Sodom, he ought to abide in right judgment, keeping his hope in Christ unshaken, for the Lord will not forsake His holy ones. Salute all the brethren in Christ from me. Pray earnestly for my miserable soul.
To Epiphanius the bishop.2
1. IT has long been expected that, in accordance with the prediction of our Lord, because of iniquity abounding, the love of the majority would wax cold.3 Now experience has confirmed this expectation. But though this condition of things has already obtained among us here, it seems to be contradicted by the letter brought from your holiness. For verily it is no mere ordinary proof of love, first that you should remember an unworthy and insignificant person like myself; and secondly, that you should send to visit me brethren who are fit and proper ministers of a correspondence of peace. For now, when every man is viewing every one else with suspicion, no spectacle is rarer than that which you are presenting. Nowhere is pity to be seen; nowhere sympathy; nowhere a brotherly tear for a brother in distress. Not persecutions for the truth’s sake, not Churches with all their people in tears; not this great tale of troubles closing round us, are enough to stir us to anxiety for the welfare of one another. We jump on them that are fallen; we scratch and tear at wounded places; we who are supposed to agree with one another launch the curses that are uttered by the heretics; men who are in agreement on the most important matters are wholly severed from one another on some one single point. How, then, can I do otherwise than admire him who in such circumstances shews that his love to his neighbour is pure and guileless, and, though separated from me by so great a distance of sea and land, gives my soul all the care he can?
2. I have been specially struck with admiration at your having been distressed even by the dispute of the monks on the Mount of Olives, and at your expressing a wish that some means might be found of reconciling them to one another. I have further been glad to hear that you have not been unaware of the unfortunate steps, taken by certain persons, which have caused disturbance among the brethren, and that you have keenly interested yourself even in these matters. But I have deemed it hardly worthy of your wisdom that you should entrust the rectification of matters of such importance to me: for I am not guided by the grace of God, because of my living in sin; I have no power of eloquence, because I have cheerfully withdrawn from vain studies; and I am not yet sufficiently versed in the doctrines of the truth. I have therefore already written to my beloved brethren at the Mount of Olives, our own Palladius,4 and Innocent the Italian, in answer to their letters to me, that it is impossible for me to make even the slightest addition to the Nicene Creed, except the ascription of Glory to the Holy Ghost, because our Fathers treated this point cursorily, no question having at that time arisen concerning the Spirit. As to the additions it is proposed to make to that Creed, concerning the incarnation of our Lord, I have neither tested nor accepted them, as being beyond my comprehension.5 I know well that, if once we begin to interfere with the simplicity of the Creed, we shall embark on interminable discussion, contradiction ever leading us on and on, and shall but disturb the souls of simpler folk by the introduction of new phrases.6
3. As to the Church at Antioch (I mean that which is in agreement in the same doctrine), may the Lord grant that one day we may see it united. It is in peril of being specially open to the attacks of the enemy, who is angry with it because there the name of Christian first obtained.7 There heresy is divided against orthodoxy, and orthodoxy is divided against herself.8 My position, however, is this. The right reverend bishop Meletius was the first to speak boldly for the truth, and fought that good fight in the days of Constantine, Therefore my Church has felt strong affection towards him, for the sake of that brave and firm stand, and has held communion with him. I, therefore, by God’s grace, have held him to be in communion up to this time; and, if God will, I shall continue to do so. Moreover the very blessed Pope Athanasius came from Alexandria, and was most anxious that communion should be established between Meletius and himself; but by the malice of counsellors their conjunction was put off to another season. Would that this had not been so! I have never accepted communion with any one of those who have since been introduced into the see, not because I count them unworthy, but because I see no ground for the condemnation of Meletius. Nevertheless I have heard many things about tile brethren, without giving heed to them, because the accused were not brought face to face with their accusers, according to that which is written, “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?”9 I cannot therefore at present write to them, right honourable brother, and I ought not to be forced to do so. It will be becoming to your peaceful disposition not to cause union in one direction and disunion in another, but to restore the severed member to the original union. First, then, pray; next, to the utmost of your ability, exhort, that ambition may be driven from their hearts, and that reconciliation may be effected between them both to restore strength to the Church, and to destroy the rage of oar foes. It has given great comfort to my soul that, in addition to your other right and accurate statements in theology, you should acknowledge the necessity of stating that the hypostases are three. Let the brethren at Antioch be instructed by you after this manner. Indeed I am confident that they have been so instructed; for I am sure you would never have accepted communion with them unless you had carefully made sure of this point in them.
4. The Magusaeans,10 as you were good enough to point out to me in your other letter, are here in considerable numbers, scattered all over the country, settlers having long ago been introduced into these parts from Babylon. Their manners are peculiar, as they do not mix with other men. It is quite impossible to converse with them, inasmuch as they have been made the prey of the devil to do his will. They have no books; no instructors in doctrine. They are brought up in senseless institutions, piety being handed down from father to son. In addition to the characteristics which are open to general observation, they object to the slaying of animals as defilement, and they cause the animals they want for their own use to be slaughtered by other people. They are wild after illicit marriages; they consider fire divine, and so on.11 No one hitherto has told me any fables about the descent of the Magi from Abraham: they name a certain Zarnuas as the founder of their race. I have nothing more to write to your excellency about them.
To the monks Palladius and Innocent.
Basil: letters, hexaemeron - II. WORKS