Leo the Great: letters 1120
Leo, the bishop, to his beloved brother Theodoret, the bishop.
I. He Congratulates Theodoret on Their Joint Victory, and Expresses His Approval of an Hottest Inquiry Which Leads to Good Results.
On the return of our brothers and fellow-priests, whom the See of the blessed Peter sent to the holy council, we ascertained, beloved, the victory you and we together had won by assistance from on high over the blasphemy of Nestorius, as well as over the madness of Eutyches. Wherefore we make our boast in tim Lord, singing with the prophet: “our help is in the name of the Lord, who hath made heaven and earth1 :” who has suffered us to sustain no harm in the person of our brethren, but has corroborated by the irrevocable assent of the whole brotherhood what He had already laid down through our ministry: to show that, what had been first formulated by the foremost See of Christendom, and then received by the judgment of the whole Christian world, had truly proceeded from Himself: that in this, too, the members may be at one with the Head. And herein our cause for rejoicing grows greater when we see that the more fiercely the foe assailed Christ’s servants, the more did he afflict himself. For lest the assent of other Sees to that which the Lord of all has appointed to take precedence of the rest might seem mere complaisance, or lest any other evil suspicion might creep in, some were found to dispute our decisions before they were finally accepted2 . And while some, instigated by the author of the disagreement, rush forward into a warfare of contradictions, a greater good results through his fall under the guiding hand of the Author of all goodness. For the gifts of God’s grace are sweeter to us when they are gained with mighty efforts: and uninterrupted peace is wont to seem a lesser good than one that is restored by labours. Moreover, the Truth itself shines more brightly, and is more bravely maintained when what the Faith had already taught is afterwards confirmed by further inquiry. And still further, the good name of the priestly office gains much in lustre where the authority of the highest is preserved without it being thought that the liberty of the lower ranks has been at all infringed. And the result of a discussion contributes to the greater glory of God when the debaters exert themselves with confidence in overcoming the gainsayers: that what of itself is shown wrong may not seem to be passed over in prejudicial silence.
II. Christ’s Victory Has Won Back Many to the Faith.
Exult therefore, beloved brother, yes, exult triumphantly in the only-begotten Son of God. Through us He has conquered for Himself the reality of Whose flesh was denied. Through us and for us He has conquered, in whose cause we have conquered. This happy day ranks next to the Lord’s Advent for the world. The robber is laid low, and there is restored to our age the mystery of the Divine Incarnation which the enemy of mankind was obscuring with his chicaneries, because the facts would not let him actually destroy it. Nay, the immortal mystery had perished from the hearts of unbelievers, because so great salvation is of no avail to unbelievers, as the Very Truth said to His disciples: “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned3 .” The rays of the Sun of Righteousness which were obscured throughout the East by the clouds of Nestorius and Eutyches, have shone out brightly from the West, where it has reached its zenith in the Apostles and teachers of the Church. And yet not even in the East is it to be believed that it was ever eclipsed where noble confessors4 have been found among your ranks: so that, when the old enemy was trying afresh, through the impenitent heart of a modern Pharaoh5 , to blot out the seed of faithful Abraham and the sons of promise, he grew weary, through God’s mercy, and could harm no one save himself. And in regard to him the Almighty has worked this wonder also, in that He has not overwhelmed with the founder of the tyranny those who were associated with him in the slaughter of the people of Israel, but has gathered them into His own people; and as the Source of all mercy knew to be worthy of Himself and possible for Himself alone, He has made them conquerors with us who were conquered by us. For whilst the spirit of falsehood is the only true enemy of the human race, it is undoubted that all whom the Truth has won over to His side share in His triumph over that enemy. Assuredly it now is clear how divinely authorized are these words of our Redeemer, which are so applicable to the enemies of the Faith that one may not doubt they were said of them: “You,” He says, “are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to fulfil. He was a murderer from the beginning and stood not in the truth, because the truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father thereof6 .”
III. Dioscorus, Who in His Madness Has Attacked Even the Bishop of Rome, Has Shown Himself the Instrument of Satan.
It is not to be wondered, then, that they who have accepted a delusion as to our nature in the true God agree with their father on these points also, maintaining that what was seen, heard, and in fact, by the witness of the gospel, touched and handled in the only Son of God, belonged not to that to which it was proved to belong7 , but to an essence co-eternal and consubstantial with the Father: as if the nature of the Godhead could have been pierced on the Cross, as if the Unchangeable could grow from infancy to manhood, or the eternal Wisdom could progress in wisdom, or God, who is a Spirit, could thereafter be filled with the Spirit. In this, too, their sheer madness betrayed its origin, because, as far as it could, it attempted to injure everybody. For he, who afflicted you with his persecutions, led others wrong by driving them to consent to his wickedness. Yea, even us too, although he had wounded us in each one of the brethren (for they are our members), even us he did not exempt from special vexation in attempting to inflict an injury upon his Head with strange and unheard of and incredible effrontery8 . But would that he had recovered his senses even after all these enormities, and had not saddened us by his death and eternal damnation. There was no measure of wickedness that he did not reach: it was not enough for him that, sparing neither living nor dead, and forswearing truth and allying himself with falsehood, he imbrued his hands, that had been already long polluted, in the blood of a guiltless, catholic priest9 . And since it is written: “he that hateth his brother is a murderer10 :” he has actually carried out what he was said already to have done in hate, as if he had never heard of this nor of that which the Lord says, “learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls: for My yoke is easy and My burden is light11 .” A worthy preacher of the devil’s errors has been found in this Egyptian plunderer, who, like the cruellest tyrant the Church has had, forced his villainous blasphemies on the reverend brethren through the violence of riotous mobs and the blood-stained hands of soldiers. And when our Redeemer’s voice assures us that the author of murder and of lying is one and the same, He has carried out both equally: as if these things were written not to be avoided but to be perpetrated: and thus does he apply to the completion of his destruction the salutary warnings of the Son of God, and turns a deaf ear to what the same Lord has said, “I speak that which I have seen with My Father; and ye do that which ye have seen with your father12 .”
IV. Those Who Undertake to Speak Authoritatively an Doctrine, Must Preserve the Balance Between the Extremes.
Accordingly while he strove to cut short Flavian of blessed memory’s life in the present world, he has deprived himself of the light of true life. While he tried to drive you out of your churches, he has cut off himself from fellowship with Christians. While he drags and drives many into agreement with error, he has stabbed his own soul with many a wound, a solitary convicted offender beyond all, and through all and for all, for he was the cause of all men’s being accused. But, although, brother, you who are nurtured on solid food, have little need of such reminders yet that we may fulfil what belongs to our position according to that utterance of the Apostle who says, “Besides these things that are without, that which presseth on me daily, anxiety for all the churches. Who is weakened and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble and I burn not13 ?” we believe this admonition ought to be given especially on the present occasion, that whenever by the ministration of the Divine grace we either overwhelm or cleanse those who are without, in the pool of doctrine, we go not away in aught from those rules of Faith which the Godhead of the Holy Ghost brought forward at the Council of Choicedon, and weigh our words with every caution so as to avoid the two extremes of new false doctrine14 : not any longer (God forbid it) as if debating what is doubtful, but with full authority laying clown conclusions already arrived at; for in the letter which we issued from the Apostolic See, and which has been ratified by the assent of the entire holy Synod, we know that so many divinely authorised witnesses are brought together, that no one can entertain any further doubt, except one who prefers to enwrap himself in the clouds of error, and the proceedings of the Synod whether those in which we read the formulating of the definition of Faith, or those in which the aforesaid letter of the Apostolic See was zealously supported by you, brother, and especially the address of the whole Council to our most religious Princes, are corroborated by the testimonies of so many fathers in the past that they must persuade any one, however unwise and stubborn his heart, so long as he be not already joined with the devil in damnation for his wickedness.
V. Theodoret’s Orthodoxy Has Been Happily and Thoroughly Vindicated.
Wherefore this, too, it is our duty to provide against the Church’s enemies, that, as far as in us lies, we leave them no occasion for slandering us, nor yet, in acting against the Nestorians or Eutychians, ever seem to have retreated before the other side, but that we shun and condemn both the enemies of Christ in equal measure, so that whenever the interests of the hearers in any way require it, we may with all promptitude and clearness strike down them and their doctrines with the anathema that they deserve, lest if we seem to do this doubtfully or tardily, we be thought to act against our will15 . And although the facts themselves are sufficient to remind your wisdom of this, yet now actual experience has brought the lesson home. But blessed be our God, whose invincible Truth has shown you free from all taint of heresy in the judgment of the Apostolic See16 . To whom you will repay due thanks for all these labours, if you keep yourself such a defender of the universal Church as we have proved and do still prove you. For that God has dispelled all calumnious fallacies, we attribute to the blessed Peter’s wondrous care of us all, for after sanctioning the judgment of his See in defining the Faith, he allowed no sinister imputation to rest on any of you, who have laboured with us for the catholic Faith: because the Holy Spirit adjudged that no one could fail to come out conqueror of those whose Faith had now conquered.
VI. He Asks Theodoret for His Continued Cooperation, and Refers Him to a Letter Which He Has Written to the Bishop of Antioch.
It remains that we exhort you to continue your co-operation with the Apostolic See, because we have learnt that some remnants of the Eutychian and Nestorian error still linger amongst you. For the victory which Christ our Lord has vouchsafed to His Church, although it increases our confidence, does not yet entirely destroy our anxiety, nor is it granted us to sleep but to work on more calmly. Hence it is we wish to be assisted in this too by your watchful care, that you hasten to inform the Apostolic See by your periodic reports what progress the Lord’s teaching makes in those regions; to the end that we may assist the priests of that district in whatever way experience suggests.
On those matters which were mooted in the often-quoted council, in unlawful opposition to the venerable canons of Nicaea, we have written to our brother and fellow-bishop. the occupant of the See of Antioch17 , adding that too which you had given us verbal information about by your delegates with reference to the unscrupulousness of certain monks, and laying down strict injunctions that no one, be he monk18 or layman, that boasts himself of some knowledge, should presume to preach except the Lord’s priests. That letter, however, we wish to reach all men’s knowledge for the benefit of the universal Church through our aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop Maximus; and for that reason we have not thought fit to add a copy of it to this; because we have no doubt of the due carrying out of our injunctions to our aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop. (In another hand)). God keep thee safe, beloved brother. Dated 11 June in the consulship of the illustrious Opilio (453).
1 Ps 123,8.
2 These were, of course, the bishops of Illyricum and Palestine, who raised objections at various points in the reading of Leo’s Tome at Chalcedon. They were allowed five days to reconsider the matter, and ultimately yielded their consent. See Introduction, p. x., and Bright’s notes to the Tome, who gives their objections and answers in detail, esp. nn. 148, 156, 160, and 173).
3 Mc 16,16.
4 (He is thinking especially of the martyred Flavian.
5 Dioscorus of Alexandria is meant.
6 Jn 8,44.
7 Viz., to human nature.
8 A reference to Letter XCVIII. (from the Synod of Chalcedonto Leo), chap. 2,shows that Dioscorus had threatened Leo with excommunication; excommunicationem meditatus est contra te qui corpus ecclesioe unire festinas.
9 This was of course Flavian. Quesnel quotes Liberatus the deacon (chap. 10,of the Breviary) as asserting that no sooner was Dioscorus made bishop of Alexandria than oppressit Cyrilli heredes et per calumnias multas ab eis abstulit pecunias. His accusers at Chalcedon charge him with being an Origenist, an Arian, a murderer, an incendiary, and an evil liver generally.
10 1Jn 3,15.
11 Mt 11,29-30.
12 Jn 8,38.
13 2Co 11,28-29.
14 Inter utrumque hostem novelloe perfidioe, sc. Nestorianism and Eutychianism.
15 The Ballerinii remind us that all these allusions to keeping the balance of Truth in this and the last chapter,and here to acting promptissme et evidentissime were intended for Theodoret’s especial benefit, who from his former defence of Nestorius and attacks on Cyril had been suspected of the Nestorian taint, but had expressly cleared himself at the Council of Chalcedon. This explains the res ipsoe and the, experimenta of the next sentence. and the solemn adjuration of the sentence next but one.
16 See the Act of Chalcedon I, ingrediatur et reverendissimus episcopus Theodoretus ut sit particeps synodi, quia et restituit ei episcopatum sanctissimus archiepiscopus Leo,and 8, where the judges ask for a verdict, "sicut et sanctissimus Leo archiepiscopus iudicavit," to which the whole council replied Post Deum Leo iudicavit).
17 This is Letter CXIX. to Maximus, bishop of Antioch.
18 It must be remembered that monachus esse in those days meant complete withdrawal from all active life in the world the preaching orders being a much later institution. The Ballerinii suggest that it may have been a certain abbot Barsumas, who with his followers is said (Act. Chalc. 4) totam Syriam commovisse. See also Lett. CXIX., chap. vi.
Asking him for further inquiries and information about the proper date for Easter in 455; cf. Letter LXXXVIII. chap. 4, above.
Leo, the bishop, to Eudocia Augusta.
I. A Request that She Should Use Her Influence with the Monks of Palestine in Reducing Them to Order.
I do not doubt that your piety is aware how great is my devotion to the catholic Faith, and with what care I am bound, God helping me, to guard against the Gospel of truth being withstood at any time by ignorant or disloyal men. And, therefore, after expressing to you my dutiful greetings which your clemency is ever bound to receive at my hands, I entreat the Lord to gladden me with the news of your safety, and to bring aid evermore and more by your means to the maintenance of that article of the Faith over which the minds of certain monks within the province of Palestine have been much disturbed; so that to the best of your pious zeal all confidence in such heretical perversity may be destroyed. For what but sheer destruction was to be feared by men who were not moved either by the principles of God’s mysteries3 , or by the authority of the Scriptures, or by the evidence of the sacred places themselves4 . May it advantage then the Churches, as by God’s favour it does advantage them, and may it advantage the human race itself which the Word of God adopted at the Incarnation, that you have conceived the wish to take up your abode in that country5 where the proofs of His wondrous acts and the signs of His sufferings speak to you of our Loan Jesus Christ as not only true God but also true Man.
II. They are to Be Told that the Catholic Faith Rejects Both the Eutychian and the Nestorian Extremes. He Wishes to Be Informed How Far She Succeeds.
If then the aforesaid revere and love the name of “catholic,” and wish to be numbered among the members of the Lord’s body, let them reject the crooked errors which in their rashness they have committed, and let them show penitence6 for their wicked blasphemies and deeds of bloodshed7 . For the salvation of their souls let them yield to the synodal decrees which have been confirmed in the city of Choicedon. And because nothing but true faith and quiet humility attains to the understanding of the mystery of man’s salvation, let them believe what they read in the Gospel, what they confess in the Creed, and not mix themselves up with unsound doctrines. For as the catholic Faith condemns Nestorius, who dared to maintain two persons in our one Lord Jesus Christ, so does it also condemn Eutyches and Dioscorus8 who deny that the true human flesh was assumed in the Virgin Mother’s womb by the only-begotten Word of God.
If your exhortations have any success in convincing these persons, which will win for you eternal glory, I beseech your clemency to inform me of it by letter; that I may have the joy of knowing that you have reaped the fruit of your good work, and that they through the Lord’s mercy have not perished. Dated the 15th of June, in the consulship of the illustrious Opilio (453).
1 See Letter CXVII., chap. iii., n. 8.
2 See Letter CIX. above.
3 Ratio sacramentorum, it cannot be too often repeated that to Leo and other early Fathers, all nature, and all its phenomena, and all God’s dealings with mankind are sacramenta. and capable of a sacramental (i.e. higher, inner, interpretation: the particular sacramentumhe is thinking of here is the incarnation, which he speaks of just below, as often elsewhere, as the sacramentum salutis humanoe (the sacrament or mystery whereby man is saved.
4 Viz., the places in Palestine where these monks themselves lived, which trustworthy history or tradition connects with the various incidents in our Lord’s life.
5 Eudocia had just made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
6 Agant poenitentiam: this is the regular: this is the regular and very expressivetranslation in the Latin Versions and among the Fathers of the Greek metanoei`n.
7 They had seized Jerusalem, and deposed Juvenal, theBishop, setting up a partisan of their own in his stead.
8 Leo not unfrequently joins these two together as equallyresponsible (e.g. Lett. CIX. 3)).
Leo, the bishop, to the whole body of monks settled throughout Palestine.
I. They Have Possibly Been Misled by a Wrong Translation of His Letter on the Incarnation to Flavian.
The anxious care, which I owe to the whole Church and to all its sons, has ascertained from many sources that some offence has been given to your minds, beloved, through my interpreters1 , who being either ignorant, as it appears, or malicious, have made you take some of my statements in a different sense to what I meant, not being capable of turning the Latin into Greek with proper accuracy, although in the explanation of subtle and difficult matters, one who undertakes to discuss them can scarcely satisfy himself even in his own tongue. And yet this has so far been of advantage to me, that by your disapproving of what the catholic Faith rejects, we know you are greater friends to the true than to the false: and that you quite properly refuse to believe what I myself also abhor, in accordance with ancient doctrine2 . For although my letter addressed to bishop Flavian, of holy memory, is of itself sufficiently explicit, and stands in no need either of correction or explanation, yet other of my writings harmonize with that letter, and in them my position will be found similarly set forth. For necessity was laid upon me to argue against the heretics who have thrown many of Christ’s peoples into confusion, both before our most merciful princes and the holy synodal Council, and the church of Constantinople, and thus I have laid down what we ought to think and feel on the Incarnation of the Word according to the teaching of the Gospel and Apostles, and in nothing have I departed from the creed of the holy Fathers: because the Faith is one, true, unique, catholic, and to it nothing can be added, nothing taken away: though Nestorius first, and now Eutyches, have endeavoured to assail it from an opposite standpoint, but with similar disloyalty, and have tried to impose on the Church of God two contradictory heresies, which has led to their both being deservedly condemned by the disciples of the Truth; because the false view which they both held in different ways was exceedingly mad and sacrilegious.
II. Eutyches, Who Confounds the Persons, is as Much to Be Rejected as Nestorius, Who Separates Them3 .
Nestorius, therefore, must be anathematized for believing the Blessed Virgin Mary to be mother of His manhood only, whereby he made the person of His flesh one thing, and that of His Godhead another, and did not recognize the one Christ in the Word of God and in the flesh, but spoke of the Son of God as separate and distinct from the son of man: although, without losing that unchangeable essence which belongs to Him together with the Father and the Holy Spirit from all eternity and without respect of time, the “Word became flesh” within the Virgin’s womb in such wise that by that one conception and one parturition she was at the same time, in virtue of the union of the two substances, both handmaid and mother of the Lord. This Elizabeth also knew, as Luc the evangelist declares, when she said: “Whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me4 ?” But Eutyches also must be stricken with the same anathema, who, becoming entangled in the treacherous errors of the old heretics, has chosen the third dogma of Apollinaris5 : so that he denies the reality of his human flesh and Soul, and maintains the whole of our Lord Jesus Christ to be of one nature, as if the Godhead of the Word had turned itself into flesh and soul: and as if to be conceived and born, to be nursed and grow, to be crucified and die, to be buried and rise again, and to ascend into heaven and to sit on the Father’s right hand, from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead-as if all those things belonged to that essence only which admits of none of them without the reality of the flesh: seeing that the nature of the Only-begotten is the nature of the Father, the nature of the Holy Spirit, and that the undivided unity and consubstantial equality of the eternal Trinity is at once impassible and unchangeable. But if6 this heretic withdraws from the perverse views of Apollinaris, lest he be proved to hold that the Godhead is passible7 and mortal: and yet dares to pronounce the nature of the Incarnate Word that is of the Word made Flesh one, he undoubtedly crosses over into the mad view of Manichaeus8 and Marcion9 , and believes that the man Jesus Christ, the mediator between God and men, did all things in an unreal way, and had not a human body, but that a phantom-like apparition presented itself to the beholders’ eyes.
III. The Acknowledgment of Our Nature in Christ is Necessary to Orthodoxy.
As these iniquitous lies were once rejected by the catholic Faith, and such men’s blasphemies condemned by the unanimous votes of the blessed Fathers throughout the world, whoever these are that are so blinded and strange to the light of truth as to deny the presence of human, that is our, nature in the Word of God from the time of the Incarnation, they must show on what ground they claim the name of Christian, and in what way they harmonize with the true Gospel, if the child-bearing of the blessed Virgin produced either the flesh without the Godhead or the Godhead without the flesh. For as it cannot be denied that “the Word became flesh and dwelt in us10 ,” so it cannot be denied that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself11 .” But what reconciliation can there be, whereby God might be propitiated for the human race, unless the mediator between God and man took up the cause of all? And in what way could He properly fulfil His mediation, unless He who in the form of God was equal to the Father, were a sharer of our nature also in the form of a slave: so that the one new Man might effect a renewal of the old: and the bond of death fastened on us by one man’s wrong-doing12 might be loosened by the death of the one Man who alone owed nothing to death. For the pouring out of the blood of the righteous on behalf of the unrighteous was so powerful in its effect13 , so rich a ransom that, if the whole body of us prisoners only believed in their Redeemer, not one would be held in the tyrant’s bonds: since as the Apostle says, “where sin abounded, grace also did much more abound14 .” And since we, who were born under the imputation15 of sin, have received the power of a new birth unto righteousness, the gift of liberty has become stronger than the debt of slavery.
IV. They Only Benefit by the Blood of Christ Who Truly Share in His Death and Resurrection.
What hope then do they, who deny the reality of the human person in our Saviour’s body, leave for themselves in the efficacy of this mystery? Let them say by what sacrifice they have been reconciled, by what blood-shedding brought back. Who is He “who gave Himself for us an offering and a victim to God for a sweet smell16 :” or what sacrifice was ever more hallowed than that which the true High priest placed upon the altar of the cross by the immolation of His own flesh? For although in the sight of the Lord the death of many of His saints has been precious17 , yet no innocent’s death was the propitiation of the world. The righteous have received, not given, crowns: and from the endurance of the faithful have arisen examples of patience, not the gift of justification. For their deaths affected themselves alone, and no one has paid off another’s debt by his own death18 : one alone among the sons of men, our Load Jesus Christ, stands out as One in whom all are crucified, all dead, all buried, all raised again. Of them He Himself said “when I am lifted from the earth, I will draw all (things) unto Me19 .” True faith also, that justifies the transgressors and makes them just, is drawn to Him who shared their human natures and wins salvation in Him, in whom alone man finds himself not guilty; and thus is free to glory in the power of Him who in the humiliation of our flesh engaged in conflict with the haughty foe, and shared His victory with those in whose body He had triumphed.
V. The Actions of Christ’s Two Natures Must Be Kept Distinct.
Although therefore in our one Lord Jesus Christ, the true Son of God and man, the person of the Word and of the flesh is one, and both beings have their actions in common20 : yet we must understand the character of the acts themselves, and by the contemplation of sincere faith distinguish those to which the humility of His weakness is brought from those to which His sublime power is inclined: what it is that the flesh without the Word or the Word without the flesh does not do. For instance, without the power of the Word the Virgin would not have conceived nor brought forth: and without the reality of the flesh His infancy would not have laid wrapt in swaddling clothes. Without the power of the Word the Magi would not have adored the Child that a new star had pointed out to them: and without the reality of the flesh that Child would not have been ordered to be carried away into Egypt and withdrawn from Herod’s persecution. Without the power of the Word the Father’s voice uttered from the sky would not have said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased21 :” and without the reality of the flesh John would not have been able to point to Him and say: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him that beareth away the sins of the world22 .” Without the power of the Word there would have been no restoring of the sick to health, no raising of the dead to life: and without the reality of the flesh He would not have hungered and needed food, nor grown weary and needed rest. Lastly, without the power of the Word, the Lord would not have professed Himself equal to the Father, and without the reality of the flesh He would not also have said that the Father was greater than He: for the catholic Faith upholds and defends both positions, believing the only Son of God to be both Man and the Word according to the distinctive properties of His divine and human substance.
VI. There is No Confusion of the Two Natures in Christ23 .
Although therefore from that beginning whereby in the Virgin’s womb “the Word became flesh,” no sort of division ever arose between the Divine and the human substance, and through all the growth and changes of His body, the actions were of one Person the whole time, yet we do not by any mixing of them up confound those very acts which were done inseparably: and from the character of the acts we perceive what belonged to either form. For neither do His Divine acts affect24 His human, nor His human acts His Divine, since both concur in this way and to this very end that in their operation His twofold qualities be not absorbed the one by the other, nor His individuality doubled. Therefore let those Christian phantom-mongers25 tell us, what nature of the Saviour’s it was that was fastened to the wood of the Cross, that lay in the tomb, and that on the third day rose in the flesh when the stone was rolled away from the grave: or what kind of body Jesus presented to His disciples’ eyes entering when the doors were shut upon them: seeing that to drive away the beholders’ disbelief, He required them to inspect with their eyes and to handle with their hands the still open prints of the nails and the flesh wound of His pierced side. But if in spite of the truth being so clear, their persistence in heresy will not abandon their position in the darkness, let them show whence they promise themselves the hope of eternal life, which no one can attain to, save through the mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. For “there is not another name given to men under heaven, in which they must be saved26 .” Neither is there any ransoming of men from captivity, save in His blood, “who gave Himself a ransom for all27 :” who, as the blessed apostle proclaims, “when He was in the form of God, thought it not robbery that He was equal with God; but emptied Himself, receiving the form of a slaves Icing made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man He humbled Himself, being made obedient even unto death, the death of the cross. For which reason God also exalted Him, and gave Him a name which is above every name: that in the name of Jesus every knee may bow of things in heaven, of things on the earth, and of things under the earth, and that every tongue may confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father28 .”
VII. It Was as Being “In Form of a Slave,” Not as Son of God That He Was Exalted.
29 Although therefore the Lord Jesus Christ is one, and the true Godhead and true Manhood in Him forms absolutely one and the same person, and the entirety of this union cannot be separated by any division, yet the exaltation wherewith “God exalted Him,” and “gave Him a name which excels every name,” we understand to belong to that form which needed to be enriched by this increase of glory30 . Of course “in the form of God” the Son was equal to the Father, and between the Father and the Only-begotten there was no distinction in point of essence, no diversity in point of majesty: nor through the mystery31 of the Incarnation had the Word been deprived of anything which should be restored Him by the Father’s gift. But “the form of a slave” by which the impassible Godhead fulfilled a pledge of mighty loving-kindness32 , is human weakness which was lifted up into the glory of the divine power, the Godhead and the manhood being right from the Virgin’s conception so completely united that without the manhood the divine acts, and without the Godhead the human acts were not performed. For which reason as the Lord of majesty is said to have been crucified, so He who from eternity is equal with God is said to have been exalted. Nor does it matter by which substance Christ is spoken of, since the unity of His person inseparably remaining He is at once both wholly Son of man according to the flesh and wholly Son of God according to His Godhead, which is one with the Father. Whatever therefore Christ received in time, He received in virtue of His manhood, on which are conferred whatsoever it had not. For according to the power of the Word, “all things that the Father hath” the Son also hath indiscriminately, and what “in the form of a slave” He received from the Father, He also Himself gave in the form of the Father. He is in Himself at once both rich and poor; rich, because “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. This was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was made nothing:” and poor because “the Word became flesh and dwelt in us33 .” But what is that emptying of Himself, or that poverty except the receiving of the form of a slave by which the majesty of the Word was veiled, and the scheme for man’s redemption carried out? For as the original chains of our captivity could not be loosed, unless a man of our race and of our nature appeared who was not under the prejudice of the old debt, and who with his untainted blood might blot out the bond of death34 , as it had from the beginning been divinely fore-ordained, so it came to pass in the fulness of the appointed time that the promise which had been proclaimed in many ways might reach its long expected fulfilment, and that thus, what had been frequently announced by one testimony after another, might have all doubtfulness removed.
VIII. A Protest Against Their Faithlessness and Inconsistency in This Matter.
And so, as all these heresies have been destroyed, which through the holy devotion of the presiding Fathers have been cut off from the body of the catholic unity, and which deserved to be exiles from Christ, because they have made the Incarnation of the Word, which is the one salvation of those who believe aright, a stone of offence and a stumbling-block to themselves, I am surprised that you, beloved, have any difficulty in discerning the light of the Truth. And since it has been made clear by numerous explanations that the Christian Faith was right in condemning both Nestorius and Eutyches with Dioscorus, and that a man cannot be called a Christian who gives his assent to the blasphemous opinion of either the one or the other, I am grieved that you are, as I hear, doing despite to the teaching of the Gospel and the Apostles by stirring up the various bodies of citizens with seditions, by disturbing the churches, and by inflicting not only insults, but even death, upon priests and bishops, so that you lose sight of your resolves and profession35 through your fury and cruelty. Where is your rule of meekness and quietness? where is the long-suffering of patience? where the tranquillity of peace? where the firm foundation of love and courage of endurance?what evil persuasion has carried you off, what persecution has separated you from the gospel of Christ? or what strange craftiness of the Deceiver has shown itself that, forgetting the prophets and apostles, forgetting the health-giving creed and confession which you pronounced before many witnesses when you received the sacrament of baptism you should give yourselves up to the the Devil’s deceits? what effect would “the Claws36 ” and other cruel tortures have had on you if the empty comments of heretics have had so much weight in taking the purity of your faith by storm? you think you are acting for the Faith and yet you go against the Faith. You arm yourselves in the name of the Church and yet fight against the Church. Is this what you have learnt from prophets, evangelists, and apostles? to deny the true flesh of Christ, to subject the ,very essence of the Word to suffering and death, to make our nature different from His who repaired it, and to reckon all that the cross uplifted, that the spear pierced, that the stone on the tomb received and gave back, to be only the work: of Divine power, and not also of human humility? It is in reference to this humility that the Apostle says, “For I do not blush for the Gospel37 ,” inasmuch as he knew what a slur was cast upon Christians by their enemies. And, therefore, the Lord also made proclamation, saying: “he that shall confess Me before men him will I also confess before My Father38 .” For these will not be worthy of the Son and the Father’s acknowledgment in whom the flesh of Christ awakens no respect: and they will prove themselves to have gained no virtue from the sign of the cross39 who blush to avow with their lips what they have consented to bear upon their brows.
IX. An Exhortation to Accept the Catholic View of the Incarnation.
Give up, my sons, give up these suggestions of the devil). God’s Truth nothing can impair, but the Truth does not save us except in our flesh. For, as the prophet says, “truth is sprung out of the earth40 ,” and the Virgin Mary conceived the Word in such wise that she ministered flesh of her substance to be united to Him without the addition of a second person, and without the disappearance of her nature: seeing that He who was in the form of God took the form of a slave in such wise that Christ is one and the same in both forms: God bending Himself to the-weak things of man, and man rising up to the high things of the Godhead, as the Apostle says, “whose are the fathers, and from whom, according to the flesh is Christ, who is above all things God blessed for ever. Amen41 .”
1 It will be remembered that Leo himself knew not a word of the language, which will account for his uncertainty, consequent helplessness, and uneasiness in this and other cases where a knowledge of the language would have served him in excellent stead.
2 I.e. so much good at all events has come from your objection that we know you are strongly opposed to Eutyches, at present my own special abhorrence.
3 The whole of chap. ii. will be found repeated in Ep. clxv, chap. ii.
4 Lc 1,43,
5 Cf. Ep. 22,chap. 3 “conatus- antiqua impii Valentini ”(the adherent of Apollinaris and head of one of the sections af the Apollinarians after his death) “et Apollinaris mala dogmata renovare.” The third dogma of Apollinaris was that “Christ’s manhood was formed out of a divine substance.” Bright, 147).
6 Eutyches had expressly tried to guard himself against this imputation: Ep. 21,chap. 3, “anathematizans Apollinarium Valentinum, Manem et Nestorium, & c.” See Bright’s valuable notes 32, 33, 34, and esp. 35, where he shows that “it was polemical rhetoric to say that he was reviving Apollinarian or Valentinian theories.”
7 It must be clearly understood that this ugly word is here andelsewhere employed to translate,passibilis (pafhtov") for no reason, except the necessity of the case: pati and pavsxein are both broader signification than "suffer or its synonyms: they are simply the passive of facere and poiei`n ( pravssein) and there is no proper equivalent in ordinary English parlance. This tendency of terms to become more and more narrow and of particular application is constantly meeting and baffling one in translating the Latin and Greek lanquages.
8 Leo elsewhere also makes this hardly justifiable inferencethat Eutychianism is a new form of Docetism as this view was called; chap. vi. below, and Serm. 65,c. 4 “isti phantasmatici Christiani,” also 28,4, and 64,1, 2. That the Manichoeans naturally held Docetic views on the Incarnation is obvious when we remember that their fundamental misconception was that matter is identical with evil.
9 Marcion was the founder of one of the most formidableGnostic sects towards the close of the second century: Tertullian wrote a famous treatise (still extant) against him. Like other Gnostics, his views involved him in Docetism.
10 Jn 1,14.
11 2Co 5,19,
12 Proevaricatio: this is a legal term which is often used of sin (esp. in connexion with Adam’s transgression). Its original technical meaning is the action of an advocate who plays into the enemy’s hand. In theology the devil (diavbolo") is man’s adversary, and man himself is befooled into collusion with him by breaking God’s Law.
13 Potens ad privilegium:privilegium is another legal term signifying technically a bill framed to meet an individual case generally in a detrimental way, such bills being against the spirit of the Roman law: here Leo uses it in a sense more nearly approaching our English idea of “privilege.”
14 Rm 5,20,
15 Sub peccati proeiudicio : yet a third legal term: proeiudicium in Roman law was a semi-formal and anticipatory verdict by the judge before the case came on for final decision in court; in chapter 6,we have the verb proeiudicare.
16 Ep 5,2,
17 Cf. Ps 115,5.
18 The idea of vicarious death was not unfamiliar to the Greeks and Romans: e.g. Alkestis dying for her husband Admetos. and the fairly numerous examples of “devotion” Of Roman Generals on the battlefield).
19 Jn 12,32, omnia : with the Vulgate.
20 It is scarcely necessary to point out that the old story of the ’ communicatio idiomatum ’ is here again discussed: cf the Tome, chapters 4,and 5,
21 Mt 3,17, and Bright’s note 5.
22 Jn 1,29. the repetition of the Ecce (behold) is in ccordance with the old Latin versions: cf. Westcott in loc.
23 Considerable portions of this chapter are found repeated word for word in Sermon LXIV. chap. i. and iv.
24 Lat). proeiudicant, see note 3 to chap. iii., above.
25 Isti phantasmatici Christiani, cf. note 5, above.
26 Ac 4,12,
27 1Tm 2,6.
28 Ph 2,6-11.
29 The whole of this chapter is repeated with slight variations in his letter (CLXV). to Leo the Emperor (chaps. 8 and 10).
30 Quoe ditanda erat tantoe glorificationis augmento acc. to Leo’s use of the gerundive, see Tome, chap. i quod... omnium regenerandorum voce depromitur.
31 Here the word is actually mysterium, not, as usual, sacramentum.
32 Sacramentum magnoe pietatis, 1Tm 3,16: cf. Bright’s note 8.
33 Jn 1,1-3 Jn 1,14.
34 The reference is to Col 2,14.
35 Viz. as monks as well as baptized members of the church).
36 The Unguloe (Claws) were among the numerous instruments with which Christians wrere tortured:cf. Tert. Apol. 12,57, ungulis deraditis latera christianorum ; Cypr). de lapsis chap. xili). (cum) ungula effoderet, caro me in colluciatione deservuit.
37 Rm 1,16,
38 Mt 10,32.
39 Viz. in Baptism.
40 Ps 85,12.
41 Rm 9,5,
Leo the Great: letters 1120