NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS – St. Basil ; by ArchBishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz

A SELECT LIBRARY

 

OF THE

 

NICENE AND

POST-NICENE FATHERS

 

OF

 

THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH


 

Second Series

 

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH WITH PROLEGOMENA AND EXPLANATORY NOTES

 

VOLUMES I–VII

UNDER THE EDITORIAL SUPERVISION OF

PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D.,

AND

HENRY WACE, D.D.,

Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Seminary, New York.


 

Principal of King’s College, London.

IN CONNECTION WITH A NUMBER OF PATRISTIC SCHOLARS OF EUROPE AND AMERICA.

VOLUME VIII

ST. BASIL:

LETTERS AND SELECT WORKS

NEW YORK:

THE CHRISTIAN LITERATURE COMPANY

1895

Copyright, 1895, by

THE CHRISTIAN LITERATURE COMPANY

THE TREATISE DE SPIRITU SANCTO

THE NINE HOMILIES OF THE HEXAEMERON AND THE LETTERS

of

SAINT BASIL THE GREAT,

Archbishop of Cæsarea,

Translated with Notes

by

THE REV. BLOMFIELD JACKSON, M.A.

Vicar of Saint Bartholomew’s, Moor Lane, and Fellow of King’s College, London

Contents Volume VIII

Preface

Prolegomena

St. Basil

The Book of Saint Basil on the Spirit

Introduction to the Hexaemeron

The Hexaemeron

Homily I.—In the Beginning God Made the Heaven and the Earth

Homily II.—”The Earth Was Invisible and Unfinished.”

Homily III.—On the Firmament

Homily IV.—Upon the Gathering Together of the Waters

Homily V.—The Germination of the Earth

Homily VI.—The Creation of Luminous Bodies

Homily VII.—The Creation of Moving Creatures

Homily VIII.—The Creation of Fowl and Water Animals

Homily IX.—The Creation of Terrestrial Animals

Letters

Letter I

Letter II

Letter III

Letter IV

Letter V

Letter VI

Letter VII

Letter VIII

Letter IX

Letter X

Letter XI

Letter XII

Letter XIII

Letter XIV

Letter XV

Letter XVI

Letter XVII

Letter XVIII

Letter XIX

Letter XX

Letter XXI

Letter XXII

Letter XXIII

Letter XXIV

Letter XXV

Letter XXVI

Letter XXVII

Letter XXVIII

Letter XXIX

Letter XXX

Letter XXXI

Letter XXXII

Letter XXXIII

Letter XXXIV

Letter XXXV

Letter XXXVI

Letter XXXVII

Letter XXXVIII

Letter XXXIX

Letter XL

Letter XLI

Letter XLII

Letter XLIII

Letter XLIV

Letter XLV

Letter XLVI

Letter XLVII

Letter XLVIII

Letter XLIX

Letter L

Letter LI

Letter LII

Letter LIII

Letter LIV

Letter LV

Letter LVI

Letter LVII

Letter LVIII

Letter LIX

Letter LX

Letter LXI

Letter LXII

Letter LXIII

Letter LXIV

Letter LXV

Letter LXVI

Letter LXVII

Letter LXVIII

Letter LXIX

Letter LXX

Letter LXXI

Letter LXXII

Letter LXXIII

Letter LXXIV

Letter LXXV

Letter LXXVI

Letter LXXVII

Letter LXXVIII

Letter LXXIX

Letter LXXX

Letter LXXXI

Letter LXXXII

Letter LXXXIII

Letter LXXXIV

Letter LXXXV

Letter LXXXVI

Letter LXXXVII

Letter LXXXVIII

Letter LXXXIX

Letter XC

Letter XCI

Letter XCII

Letter XCIII

Letter XCIV

Letter XCV

Letter XCVI

Letter XCVII

Letter XCVIII

Letter XCIX

Letter C

Letter CI

Letter CII

Letter CIII

Letter CIV

Letter CV

Letter CVI

Letter CVII

Letter CVIII

Letter CIX

Letter CX

Letter CXI

Letter CXII

Letter CXIII

Letter CXIV

Letter CXV

Letter CXVI

Letter CXVII

Letter CXVIII

Letter CXIX

Letter CXX

Letter CXXI

Letter CXXII

Letter CXXIII

Letter CXXIV

Letter CXXV

Letter CXXVI

Letter CXXVII

Letter CXXVIII

Letter CXXIX

Letter CXXX

Letter CXXXI

Letter CXXXII

Letter CXXXIII

Letter CXXXIV

Letter CXXXV

Letter CXXXVI

Letter CXXXVII

Letter CXXXVIII

Letter CXXXIX

Letter CXL

Letter CXLI

Letter CXLII

Letter CXLIII

Letter CXLIV

Letter CXLV

Letter CXLVI

Letter CXLVII

Letter CXLVIII

Letter CXLIX

Letter CL

Letter CLI

Letter CLII

Letter CLIII

Letter CLIV

Letter CLV

Letter CLVI

Letter CLVII

Letter CLVIII

Letter CLIX

Letter CLX

Letter CLXI

Letter CLXII

Letter CLXIII

Letter CLXIV

Letter CLXV

Letter CLXVI

Letter CLXVII

Letter CLXVIII

Letter CLXIX

Letter CLXX

Letter CLXXI

Letter CLXXII

Letter CLXXIII

Letter CLXXIV

Letter CLXXV

Letter CLXXVI

Letter CLXXVII

Letter CLXXVIII

Letter CLXXIX

Letter CLXXX

Letter CLXXXI

Letter CLXXXII

Letter CLXXXIII

Letter CLXXXIV

Letter CLXXXV

Letter CLXXXVI

Letter CLXXXVII

Letter CLXXXVIII

Letter CLXXXIX

Letter CXC

Letter CXCI

Letter CXCII

Letter CXCIII

Letter CXCIV

Letter CXCV

Letter CXCVI

Letter CXCVII

Letter CXCVIII

Letter CXCIX

Letter CC

Letter CCI

Letter CCII

Letter CCIII

Letter CCIV

Letter CCV

Letter CCVI

Letter CCVII

Letter CCVIII

Letter CCIX

Letter CCX

Letter CCXI

Letter CCXII

Letter CCXIII

Letter CCXIV

Letter CCXV

Letter CCXVI

Letter CCXVII

Letter CCXVIII

Letter CCXIX

Letter CCXX

Letter CCXXI

Letter CCXXII

Letter CCXXIII

Letter CCXXIV

Letter CCXXV

Letter CCXXVI

Letter CCXXVII

Letter CCXXVIII

Letter CCXXIX

Letter CCXXX

Letter CCXXXI

Letter CCXXXII

Letter CCXXXIII

Letter CCXXXIV

Letter CCXXXV

Letter CCXXXVI

Letter CCXXXVII

Letter CCXXXVIII

Letter CCXXXIX

Letter CCXL

Letter CCXLI

Letter CCXLII

Letter CCXLIII

Letter CCXLIV

Letter CCXLV

Letter CCXLVI

Letter CCXLVII

Letter CCXLVIII

Letter CCXLIX

Letter CCL

Letter CCLI

Letter CCLIL

Letter CCLIII

Letter CCLIV

Letter CCLV

Letter CCLVI

Letter CCLVII

Letter CCLVIII

Letter CCLIX

Letter CCLX

Letter CCLXI

Letter CCLXII

Letter CCLXIII

Letter CCLXIV

Letter CCLXV

Letter CCLXVI

Letter CCLXVII

Letter CCLXVIII

Letter CCLXIX

Letter CCLXX

Letter CCLXXI

Letter CCLXXII

Letter CCLXXIII

Letter CCLXXIV

Letter CCLXXV

Letter CCLXXVI

Letter CCLXXVII

Letter CCLXXVIII

Letter CCLXXIX

Letter CCLXXX

Letter CCLXXXI

Letter CCLXXXII

Letter CCLXXXIII

Letter CCLXXXIV

Letter CCLXXXV

Letter CCLXXXVI

Letter CCLXXXVII

Letter CCLXXXVIII

Letter CCLXXXIX

Letter CCXC

Letter CCXCI

Letter CCXCII

Letter CCXCIII

Letter CCXCIV

Letter CCXCV

Letter CCXCVI

Letter CCXCVII

Letter CCXCVIII

Letter CCXCIX

Letter CCC

Letter CCCI

Letter CCCII

Letter CCCIII

Letter CCCIV

Letter CCCV

Letter CCCVI

Letter CCCVII

Letter CCCVIII

Letter CCCIX

Letter CCCX

Letter CCCXI

Letter CCCXII

Letter CCCXIII

Letter CCCXIV

Letter CCCXV

Letters CCCXVI., CCCXVII., CCCXVIII., CCCXIX

Letter CCCXX

Letter CCCXXI

Letter CCCXXII

Letter CCCXXIII

Letter CCCXXIV

Letter CCCXXV

Letter CCCXXVI

Letter CCCXXVII

Letter CCCXXVII

Letter CCCXXIX

Letters CCCXXX., CCCXXXI., CCCXXXII., CCCXXXIII

Letter CCCXXXIV

Letter CCCXXXV

Letter CCCXXXVI

Letter CCCXXXVII

Letter CCCXXXVIII

Letter CCCXXXIX

Letter CCCXL

Letter CCCXLI

Letter CCCXLII

Letter CCCXLIII

Letter CCCXLIV

Letter CCCXLV

Letter CCCXLVI

Letter CCCXLVII

Letter CCCXLVIII

Letter CCCXLIX

Letter CCCL

Letter CCCLI

Letter CCCLII

Letter CCCLIII

Letter CCCLIV

Letter CCCLV

Letter CCCLVI

Letter CCCLVII

Letter CCCLVIII

Letter CCCLIX

Letter CCCLX

Letter CCCLXVI

PREFACE

This translation of a portion of the works of St. Basil was originally begun under the editorial supervision of Dr. Wace. It was first announced that the translation would comprise the De Spiritu Sancto and Select Letters, but it was ultimately arranged with Dr. Wace that a volume of the series should be devoted to St. Basil, containing, as well as the De Spiritu Sancto, the whole of the Letters, and the Hexaemeron. The De Spiritu Sancto has already appeared in an English form, as have portions of the Letters, but I am not aware of an English translation of the Hexaemeron, or of all the Letters. The De Spiritu Sancto was presumably selected for publication as being at once the most famous, as it is among the most valuable, of the extant works of this Father. The Letters comprise short theological treatises and contain passages of historical and varied biographical interest, as well as valuable specimens of spiritual and consolatory exhortation. The Hexaemeron was added as being the most noted and popular of St. Basil’s compositions in older days, and as illustrating his exegetic method and skill, and his power as an extempore preacher.

The edition used has been that of the Benedictine editors as issued by Migne, with the aid, in the case of the De Spiritu Sancto, of that published by Rev. C. F. H. Johnston.

The editorship of Dr. Wace terminated during the progress of the work, but I am indebted to him, and very gratefully acknowledge the obligation, for valuable counsel and suggestions. I also desire to record my thanks to the Rev. C. Hole, Lecturer in Ecclesiastical History at King’s College, London, and to Mr. Reginald Geare, Head Master of the Grammar School, Bishop’s Stortford, to the former for help in the revision of proof-sheets and important suggestions, and to the latter for aid in the translation of several of the Letters.

The works consulted in the process of translation and attempted illustration are sufficiently indicated in the notes.

 

London, December, 1894.

GENEALOGICAL TABLES

I

THE FAMILY OF St. BASIL

 

II

THE FAMILY OF St. GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS, ABD OF St. AMPHILOCHIUS

 

 

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE TO ACCOMPANY THE LIFE OF ST. BASIL


 


 

a.d.


 

329 or 330. St. Basil born.

335.

Council of Tyre.

336.

Death of Arius.

337.

Death of Constantine.

340.

Death of Constantine II.

341.

Dedication creed at Antioch.

343.

Julian and Gallus relegated to Macellum.


 

Basil probably sent from Annen to school at Cæsarea.

344.

Macrostich, and Council of Sardica.

346.

Basil goes to Constantinople.

350.

Death of Constans.

351.

Basil goes to Athens.


 

1st Creed of Sirmium.

353.

Death of Magnentius.

355.

Julian goes to Athens (latter part of year).

356.

Basil returns to Cæsarea.

357.

The 2d Creed of Sirmium, or Blasphemy, subscribed by Hosius and Liberius.


 

Basil baptized, and shortly afterwards ordained Reader.

358.

Basil visits monastic establishments in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia, and retires to the monastery on the Iris.


 

 

359.

The 3d Creed of Sirmium. Dated May 22. Councils of Seleucia and Ariminum.

360.

Acacian synod of Constantinople.


 

Basil, now ordained Deacon, disputes with Aetius.


 

Dianius subscribes the Creed of Ariminum, and


 

Basil in consequence leaves Cæsarea.


 

He visits Gregory at Nazianzus.

361.

Death of Constantius and accession of Julian.


 

Basil writes the “Moralia.”

362.

Basil returns to Cæsarea.


 

Dianius dies. Eusebius baptized, elected, and consecrated bishop.


 

Lucifer consecrates Paulinus at Antioch.


 

Julian at Cæsarea. Martyrdom of Eupsychius.

363.

Julian dies (June 27). Accession of Jovian.

364.

Jovian dies. Accession of Valentinian and Valens.


 

Basil ordained Priest by Eusebius.


 

Basil writes agains Eunomius.


 

Semiarian council of Lampsacus.

365.

Revolt of Procopius.


 

Valens at Cæsarea.

366.

Semiarian deputation to Rome satisfy Liberius of their orthodoxy.


 

Death of Liberius. Damasus bp. of Rome.


 

Procopius defeated.

367.

Gratian Augustus.


 

Valens favours the Arians.


 

Council of Tyana.

368.

Semiarian Council in Caria. Famine in Cappadocia.

369.

Death of Emmelia. Basil visits Samosata.

370.

Death of Eusebius of Cæsarea.


 

Election and consecration of Basil to the see of Cæsarea.


 

Basil makes visitation tour.

371.

Basil threatened by Arian bishops and by Modestus.


 

Valens, travelling slowly from Nicomedia to Cæsarea, arrives at the end of the year.

372.

Valens attends great service at Cæsarea on the Epiphany, Jan. 6.


 

Interviews between Basil and Valens.


 

Death of Galates.


 

Valens endows Ptochotrophium and quits Cæsarea.


 

Basil visits Eusebius at Samosata.


 

Claim of Anthimus to metropolitan dignity at Tyana.


 

Basil resists Anthimus.


 

Basil forces Gregory of Nazianzus to be consecrated bishop of Sasima, and consecrated his brother Gregory to Nyssa. Consequent estrangement of Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus.


 

Basil in Armenia. Creed signed by Eustathius.

373.

St. Epiphanius writes the “Ancoratus.”


 

Death of Athanasius.


 

Basil visited by Jovinus of Perrha, and by Sanctissimus of Antioch.

374.

Death of Auxentius and consecration of Ambrose at Milan.


 

Basil writes the “De Spiritu Sancto.”


 

Eusebius of Samosata banished to Thrace.


 

Death of Gregory, bp. of Nazianzus, the elder.

375.

Death of Valentinian. Gratian and Valentinian II. emperors.


 

Synod of Illyria, and Letter to the Orientals.


 

Semiarian Council of Cyzicus.


 

Demosthenes harasses the Catholics.


 

Gregory of Nyssa deposed.

376.

Synod of Iconium.


 

Open denunciation of Eustathius by Basil.

378.

Death of Valens, Aug. 9.


 

Eusebius of Samosata and Meletius return from exile.

379.

Death of Basil, Jan. 1.


 

Theodosius Augustus.

 

PROLEGOMENA

SKETCH OF THE LIFE AND WORKS OF SAINT BASIL

I. LIFE

I.—Parentage and Birth

Under the persecution of the second Maximinus, a Christian gentleman of good position and fair estate in Pontus,2 and Macrina his wife, suffered severe hardships. They escaped with their lives, and appear to have retained, or recovered, some of their property.4 Of their children the names of two only have survived: Gregoryand Basil.6 The former became bishop of one of the sees of Cappadocia. The latter acquired a high reputation in Pontus and the neighboring districts as an advocate of eminence, and as a teacher of rhetoric. His character in the Church for probity and piety stood very high.8 He married an orphaned gentlewoman named Emmelia, whose father had suffered impoverishment and death for Christ’s sake, and who was herself a conspicuous example of high-minded and gentle Christian womanhood. Of this happy union were born ten children, five boys and five girls. One of the boys appears to have died in infancy, for on the death of the elder Basil four sons and five daughters were left to share the considerable wealth which he left behind him.10 Of the nine survivors the eldest was a daughter, named, after her grandmother, Macrina. The eldest of the sons was Basil, the second Naucratius, and the third Gregory. Peter, the youngest of the whole family, was born shortly before his father’s death. Of this remarkable group the eldest is commemorated as Saint Macrina in the biography written by her brother Gregory. Naucratius died in early manhood, about the time of the ordination of Basil as reader. The three remaining brothers occupied respectively the sees of Cæsarea, Nyssa, and Sebasteia.

As to the date of St. Basil’s birth opinions have varied between 316 and 330. The later, which is supported by Garnier, Tillemont, Maran, Fessler,13 and Böhringer, may probably be accepted as approximately correct. It is true that Basil calls himself an old man in 374,15 but he was prematurely worn out with work and bad health, and to his friends wrote freely and without concealment of his infirmities. There appears no reason to question the date 329 or 330.

Two cities, Cæsarea in Cappadocia and Neocæsarea in Pontus, have both been named as his birthplace. There must be some amount of uncertainty on this point, from the fact that no direct statement exists to clear it up, and that the word πατρἰζ was loosely employed to mean not only place of birth, but place of residence and occupation. Basil’s parents had property and interests both in Pontus and Cappadocia, and were as likely to be in the one as in the other. The early statement of Gregory of Nazianzus has been held to have weight, inasmuch as he speaks of Basil as a Cappadocian like himself before there was any other reason but that of birth for associating him with this province.2 Assenting, then, to the considerations which have been held to afford reasonable ground for assigning Caesara as the birthplace, we may adopt the popular estimation of Basil as one of “The Three Cappadocians,” and congratulate Cappadocia on the Christian associations which have rescued her fair fame from the slur of the epigram which described her as constituting with Crete and Cilicia a trinity of unsatisfactoriness.4 Basil’s birth nearly synchronizes with the transference of the chief seat of empire from Rome to Byzantium. He is born into a world where the victory already achieved by the Church has been now for sixteen years officially recognized He is born into a Church in which the first great Council has already given official expression to those cardinal doctrines of the faith, of which the final and formal vindication is not to be assured till after the struggles of the next six score of years. Rome, reduced, civilly, to the subordinate rank of a provincial city, is pausing before she realises all her loss, and waits for the crowning outrage of the barbarian invasions, ere she begins to make serious efforts to grasp, ecclesiastically, something of her lost imperial prestige. For a time the centre of ecclesiastical and theological interest is to be rather in the East than in the West.

II.—Education

The place most closely connected with St. Basil’s early years is neither Cæsarea nor Neocæsarea, but an insignificant village not far from the latter place, where he was brought up by his admirable grandmother, Macrina. In this neighbourhood his family had considerable property, and here he afterwards resided. The estate was at Annesi, on the river Iris (Jekil-Irmak),7 and lay in the neighbourhood of scenery of romantic beauty. Basil’s own description of his retreat on the opposite side of the Iris matches the reference of Gregory of Nazianzus9 to the narrow glen among lofty mountains, which keep it always in shadow and darkness, while far below the river foams and roars in its narrow precipitous bed.

There is some little difficulty in understanding the statement of Basil in Letter CCXVI., that the house of his brother Peter, which he visited in 375, and which we may assume to have been on the family property (cf. Letter CX. § I) was “not far from Neocæsarea.” As a matter of fact, the Iris nowhere winds nearer to Neocæsarea than at a distance of about twenty miles, and Turkhal is not at the nearest point. But it is all a question of degree. Relatively to Cæsarea, Basil’s usual place of residence, Annesi is near Neocæsarea. An analogy would be found in the statement of a writer usually residing in London, that if he came to Sheffield he would be not far from Doncaster.

At Annesi his mother Emmelia erected a chapel in honour of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, to which their relics were translated. It is possible that Basil was present at the dedication services, lasting all night long, which are related to have sent his brother Gregory to sleep. Here, then, Basil was taught the rudiments of religion by his grandmother,2 and by his father, in accordance with the teaching of the great Gregory the Wonder-worker.4 Here he learned the Catholic faith.

At an early age he seems to have been sent to school at Cæsarea, and there to have formed the acquaintance of an Eusebius, otherwise unknown,6 Hesychius, and Gregory of Nazianzus,8 and to have conceived a boyish admiration for Dianius the archbishop.

From Cæsarea Basil went to Constantinople, and there studied rhetoric and philosophy with success. Socrates and Sozomen11 say that he worked at Antioch under Libanius. It may be that both these writers have confounded Basil of Cæsarea with the Basil to whom Chrysostom dedicated his De Sacerdotio, and who was perhaps the bishop of Raphanea, who signed the creed of Constantinople.

There is no corroboration of a sojourn of Basil of Cæsarea at Antioch. Libanius was at Constantinople in 347, and there Basil may have attended his lectures.14

From Constantinople the young Cappadocian student proceeded in 351 to Athens. Of an university town of the 4th century we have a lively picture in the writings of his friend and are reminded that the rough horse-play of the modern undergraduate is a survival of a very ancient barbarism. The lads were affiliated to certain fraternities,16 and looked out for the arrival of every new student at the city, with the object of attaching him to the classes of this or that teacher. Kinsmen were on the watch for kinsmen and acquaintances for acquaintances; sometimes it was mere good-humoured violence which secured the person of the freshman. The first step in this grotesque matriculation was an entertainment; then the guest of the day was conducted with ceremonial procession through the agora to the entrance of the baths. There they leaped round him with wild cries, and refused him admission. At last an entry was forced with mock fury, and the neophyte was made free of the mysteries of the baths and of the lecture halls. Gregory of Nazianzus, a student a little senior to Basil, succeeded in sparing him the ordeal of this initiation, and his dignity and sweetness of character seem to have secured him immunity from rough usage without loss of popularity. At Athens the two young Cappadocians were noted among their contemporaries for three things: their diligence and success in work; their stainless and devout life; and their close mutual affection. Everything was common to them. They were as one soul. What formed the closest bond of union was their faith. God and their love of what is best made them one.18 Himerius, a pagan, and Prohæresius, an Armenian Christian, are mentioned among the well-known professors whose classes Basil attended. Among early friendships, formed possibly during his university career, Basil’s own letters name those with Terentius20 and Sophronius.

If the Libanian correspondence be accepted as genuine, we may add Celsus, a pupil of Libanius, to the group. But if we except Basil’s affection for Gregory of Nazianzus, of none of these intimacies is the interest so great as of that which is recorded to have been formed between Basil and the young prince Julian.23 One incident of the Athenian sojourn, which led to bitter consequences in after days, was the brief communication with Apollinarius, and the letter written “from layman to layman,” which his opponents made a handle for much malevolence, and perhaps for forgery. Julian arrived at Athens after the middle of the year 355.25 Basil’s departure thence and return to Cæsarea may therefore be approximately fixed early in 356. Basil starts for his life’s work with the equipment of the most liberal education which the age could supply. He has studied Greek literature, rhetoric, and philosophy, under the most famous teachers. He has been brought into contact with every class of mind. His training has been no narrow hothouse forcing of theological opinion and ecclesiastical sentiment. The world which he is to renounce, to confront, to influence, is not a world unknown to him.2 He has seen heathenism in all the autumn grace of its decline, and comes away victorious from seductions which were fatal to some young men of early Christian associations. Athens no doubt contributed its share of influence to the apostasy of Julian. Basil, happily, was found to be rooted more firmly in the faith.

III.—Life at Cæsarea Baptism; and Adoption of Monastic Life

When Basil overcame the efforts of his companions to detain him at Athens, Gregory was prevailed on to remain for a while longer. Basil therefore made his rapid journey homeward alone. His Letter to Eustathius alleges as the chief reason for his hurried departure the desire to profit by the instruction of that teacher. This may be the language of compliment. In the same letter he speaks of his fortitude in resisting all temptation to stop at the city on the Hellespont. This city I hesitate to recognise, with Maran, as Constantinople. There may have been inducements to Basil to stop at Lampsacus, and it is more probably Lampsacus that he avoided.5 At Cæsarea he was welcomed as one of the most distinguished of her sons, and there for a time taught rhetoric with conspicuous success.7 A deputation came from Neocæsarea to request him to undertake educational work at that city, and in vain endeavoured to detain9 him by lavish promises. According to his friend Gregory, Basil had already determined to renounce the world, in the sense of devoting himself to an ascetic and philosophic life. His brother Gregory, however,11 represents him as at this period still under more mundane influences, and as shewing something of the self-confidence and conceit which are occasionally to be observed in young men who have just successfully completed an university career, and as being largely indebted to the persuasion and example of his sister Macrina for the resolution, with which he now carried out the determination to devote himself to a life of self-denial. To the same period may probably be referred Basil’s baptism. The sacrament was administered by Dianius. It would be quite consonant with the feelings of the times that pious parents like the elder Basil and Emmelia should shrink from admitting their boy to holy baptism before his encountering the temptations of school and university life.13 The assigned date, 357, may be reasonably accepted, and shortly after his baptism he was ordained Reader. It was about this that he visited monastic settlements in Palestine, Mesopotamia, Cœle Syria, and Egypt,2 through he was not so fortunate as to encounter the great pope Athanasius. Probably during this tour he began the friendship with Eusebius of Samosata which lasted so long.

To the same period we may also refer his renunciation of his share of the family property. Maran would appear to date this before the Syrian and Egyptian tour, a journey which can hardly have been accomplished without considerable expense. But, in turnth with every desire to do justice to the self-denial and unworldliness of St. Basil and of other like-minded and like-lived champions of the Faith, it cannot but be observed that, at all events in Basil’s case, the renunciation must be understood with some reasonable reservation. The great archbishop has been claimed as a “socialist,” whatever may be meant in these days by the term.5 But St. Basil did not renounce all property himself, and had a keen sense of its rights in the case of his friends. From his letter on behalf of his foster-brother, placed by Maran during his presbyterate,7 it would appear that this foster-brother, Dorotheus, was allowed a life tenancy of a house and farm on the family estate, with a certain number of slaves, on condition that Basil should be supported out of the profits. Here we have landlord, tenant, rent, and unearned increment. St. Basil can scarcely be fairly cited as a practical apostle of some of the chapters of the socialist evangel of the end of the nineteenth century. But ancient eulogists of the great archbishop, anxious to represent him as a good monk, have not failed to foresee that this might be urged in objection to the completeness of his renunciation of the world, in their sense, and, to counterbalance it, have cited an anecdote related by Cassian. One day a senator named Syncletius came to Basil to be admitted to his monastery, with the statement that he had renounced his property, excepting only a pittance to save him from manual labour. “You have spoilt a senator,” said Basil, “without making a monk.” Basil’s own letter represents him as practically following the example of, or setting an example to, Syncletius.

Stimulated to carry out his purpose of embracing the ascetic life by what he saw of the monks and solitaries during his travels, Basil first of all thought of establishing a monastery in the district of Tiberina. Here he would have been in the near neighbourhood of Arianzus, the home of his friend Gregory. But the attractions of Tiberina were ultimately postponed to those of Ibora, and Basil’s place of retreat was fixed in the glen not far from the old home, and only separated from Annesi by the Iris, of which we have Basil’s own picturesque description.10 Gregory declined to do more than pay a visit to Pontus, and so is said to have caused Basil much disappointment. It is a little characteristic of the imperious nature of the man of stronger will, that while he would not give up the society of his own mother and sister in order to be near his friend, he complained of his friend’s not making a similar sacrifice in order to be near him.12 Gregory good-humouredly replies to Basil’s depreciation of Tiberina by a counter attack on Cæsarea and Annesi.

At the Pontic retreat Basil now began that system of hard ascetic discipline which eventually contributed to the enfeeblement of his health and the shortening of his life. He complains again and again in his letters of the deplorable physical condition to which he is reduced, and he died at the age of fifty. It is a question whether a constitution better capable of sustaining the fatigue of long journeys, and a life prolonged beyond the Council of Constantinople, would or would not have left a larger mark upon the history of the Church. There can be no doubt, that in Basil’s personal conflict with the decadent empire represented by Valens, his own cause was strengthened by his obvious superiority to the hopes and fears of vulgar ambitions. He ate no more than was actually necessary for daily sustenance, and his fare was of the poorest. Even when he was archbishop, no flesh meat was dressed in his kitchens. His wardrobe consisted of one under and one over garment. By night he wore haircloth; not by day, lest he should seem ostentatious. He treated his body, says his brother, with a possible reference to St. Paul, as an angry owner treats a runaway slave.2 A consistent celibate, he was yet almost morbidly conscious of his unchastity, mindful of the Lord’s words as to the adultery of the impure thought. St. Basil relates in strong terms his admiration for the ascetic character of Eustathius of Sebaste,4 and at this time was closely associated with him. Indeed, Eustathius was probably the first to introduce the monastic system into Pontus, his part in the work being comparatively ignored in later days when his tergiversation had brought him into disrepute. Thus the credit of introducing monasticism into Asia Minor was given to Basil alone. A novel feature of this monasticism was the Cænobium,6 for hitherto ascetics had lived in absolute solitude, or in groups of only two or three. Thus it was partly relieved from the discredit of selfish isolation and unprofitable idleness.8

The example set by Basil and his companions spread. Companies of hard-working ascetics of both sexes were established in every part of Pontus, every one of them an active centre for the preaching of the Nicene doctrines, and their defence against Arian opposition and misconstruction. Probably about this time, in conjunction with his friend Gregory, Basil compiled the collection of the beauties of Origen which was entitled Philocalia. Origen’s authority stood high, and both of the main divisions of Christian thought, the Nicene and the Arian, endeavoured to support their respective views from his writings. Basil and Gregory were successful in vindicating his orthodoxy and using his aid in strengthening the Catholic position.

IV.—Basil and the Councils, to the Accession of Valens

Up to this time St. Basil is not seen to have publicly taken an active part in the personal theological discussions of the age; but the ecclesiastical world was eagerly disputing while he was working in Pontus. Aetius, the uncompromising Arian, was openly favoured by Eudoxius of Germanicia, who had appropriated the see of Antioch in 357. This provoked the Semiarians to hold their council at Ancyra in 358, when the Sirmian “Blasphemy” of 357 was condemned. The Acacians were alarmed, and manæuvred for the division of the general council which Constantius was desirous of summoning. Then came Ariminum, Nike, and Seleucia, in 359, and “the world groaned to find itself Arian.” Deputations from each of the great parties were sent to a council held under the personal presidency of Constantius at Constantinople, and to one of these the young deacon was attached. The date of the ordination to this grade is unknown. On the authority of Gregory of Nyssa and Philostorgius,12 it appears that Basil accompanied his namesake of Ancyra and Eustathius of Sebaste to the court, and supported Basil the bishop. Philostorgius would indeed represent the younger Basil as championing the Semiarian cause, though with some cowardice. It may be concluded, with Maran, that he probably stood forward stoutly for the truth, not only at the capital itself, but also in the neighbouring cities of Chalcedon and Heraclea.14 But his official position was a humble one, and his part in the discussions and amid the intrigues of the council was only too likely to be misrepresented by those with whom he did not agree, and even misunderstood by his own friends. In 360 Dianius signed the creed of Ariminum, brought to Cæsarea by George of Laodicea; and thereby Basil was so much distressed as henceforward to shun communion with his bishop. He left Cæsarea and betook himself to Nazianzus to seek consolation in the society of his friend. But his feelings towards Dianius were always affectionate, and he indignantly repudiated a calumnious assertion that he had gone so far as to anathematize him. Two years later Dianius fell sick unto death and sent for Basil, protesting that at heart he had always been true to the Catholic creed. Basil acceded to the appeal, and in 362 once again communicated with his bishop and old friend.16 In the interval between the visit to Constantinople and this death-bed reconciliation, that form of error arose which was long known by the name of Macedonianism, and which St. Basil was in later years to combat with such signal success in the treatise Of the Spirit. It combined disloyalty to the Spirit and to the Son. But countervailing events were the acceptance of the Homoousion by the Council of Paris, and the publication of Athanasius’ letters to Serapion on the divinity of the two Persons assailed. To this period is referred the compilation by Basil of the Moralia2.

The brief reign of Julian would affect Basil, in common with the whole Church. in two ways: in the relief he would feel at the comparative toleration shewn to Catholics, and the consequent return of orthodox bishops to their sees; in the distress with which he would witness his old friend’s attempts to ridicule and undermine the Faith. Sorrow more personal and immediate must have been caused by the harsh treatment of Cæsarea4 and the cruel imposts laid on Cappadocia. What conduct on the part of the Cæsareans may have led Gregory of Nazianzus to speak of Julian as justly offended, we can only conjecture. It may have been the somewhat disorderly proceedings in connexion with the appointment of Eusebius to succeed Dianius. But there can be no doubt about the sufferings of Cæsarea nor of the martyrdom of Eupsychius and Damas for their part in the destruction of the Temple of Fortune.

The precise part taken by Basil in the election of Eusebius can only be conjectured. Eusebius, like Ambrose of Milan, a layman of rank and influence, was elevated per saltum to the episcopate. Efforts were made by Julian and by some Christian objectors to get the appointment annulled by means of Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzus, on the ground of its having been brought about by violence. Bishop Gregory refused to take any retrogressive steps, and thought the scandal of accepting the tumultuary appointment would be less than that of cancelling the consecration. Gregory the younger presumably supported his father, and he associates Basil with him as probable sufferers from the imperial vengeance. But he was at Nazianzus at the time of the election, and Basil is more likely to have been an active agent.8

To this period may be referred Basil’s receipt of the letter from Athanasius, mentioned in Letter CCIV., § 6. On the accession of Jovian, in June, 363, Athanasius wrote to him asserting the Nicene Faith, but he was greeted also by a Semiarian manifesto from Antioch,10 of which the first signatory was Meletius.

Valentinian and Valens, on their accession in the following year, thus found the Church still divided on its cardinal doctrines, and the lists were marked in which Basil was henceforward to be a more conspicuous combatant.

V.—The Presbyterate

Not long after the accession of Valens, Basil was ordained presbyter by Eusebius. An earlier date has been suggested, but the year 364 is accepted as fitting in better with the words of Gregory 12 on the free speech conceded to heretics. And from the same Letter it may be concluded that the ordination of Basil, like that of Gregory himself, was not wholly voluntary, and that he was forced against his inclinations to accept duties when he hesitated as to his liking and fitness for them. It was about this time that he wrote his Books against Eunomius; and it may possibly have been this work which specially commended him to Eusebius. However this may be, there is no doubt that he was soon actively engaged in the practical work of the diocese, and made himself very useful to Eusebius. But Basil’s very vigour and value seem to have been the cause of some alienation between him and his bishop. His friend Gregory gives us no details, but it may be inferred from what he says that he thought Basil ill-used. And allusions of Basil have been supposed to imply his own sense of discourtesy and neglect.2 The position became serious. Bishops who had objected to the tumultuary nomination of Eusebius, and had with difficulty been induced to maintain the lawfulness of his consecration, were ready to consecrate Basil in his place. But Basil shewed at once his wisdom and his magnanimity. A division of the orthodox clergy of Cappadocia would be full of danger to the cause. He would accept no personal advancement to the damage of the Church. He retired with his friend Gregory to his Pontic monasteries, and won the battle by flying from the field. Eusebius was left unmolested, and the character of Basil was higher than ever.4

The seclusion of Basil in Pontus seemed to afford an opportunity to his opponents in Cappadocia, and according to Sozomen, Valens himself, in 365, was moved to threaten Cæsarea with a visit by the thought that the Catholics of Cappadocia were now deprived of the aid of their strongest champion. Eusebius would have invoked Gregory, and left Basil alone. Gregory, however, refused to act without his friend, and, with much tact and good feeling, succeeded in atoning the two offended parties.6 Eusebius at first resented Gregory’s earnest advocacy of his absent friend, and was inclined to resent what seemed the somewhat impertinent interference of a junior. But Gregory happily appealed to the archbishop’s sense of justice and superiority to the common unwillingness of high dignitaries to accept counsel, and assured him that in all that he had written on the subject he had meant to avoid all possible offence, and to keep within the bounds of spiritual and philosophic discipline. Basil returned to the metropolitan city, ready to coöperate loyally with Eusebius, and to employ all his eloquence and learning against the proposed Arian aggression. To the grateful Catholics it seemed as though the mere knowledge that Basil was in Cæsarea was enough to turn Valens with his bishops to flight,8 and the tidings, brought by a furious rider, of the revolt of Procopius, seemed a comparatively insignificant motive for the emperor’s departure.

There was now a lull in the storm. Basil, completely reconciled to Eusebius, began to consolidate the archiepiscopal power which he afterward wielded as his own, over the various provinces in which the metropolitan of Cæsarea exercised exarchic authority.11 In the meantime the Semiarians were beginning to share with the Catholics the hardships inflicted by the imperial power. At Lampsacus in 364 they had condemned the results of Ariminum and Constantinople, and had reasserted the Antiochene Dedication Creed of 341. In 366 they sent deputies to Liberius at Rome, who proved their orthodoxy by subscribing the Nicene Creed. Basil had not been present at Lampsacus, but he had met Eustathius and other bishops on their way thither, and had no doubt influenced the decisions of the synod. Now the deputation to the West consisted of three of those bishops with whom he was in communication, Eustathius of Sebasteia, Silvanus of Tarsus, and Theophilus of Castabala. To the first it was an opportunity for regaining a position among the orthodox prelates. It can hardly have been without the persuasion of Basil that the deputation went so far as they did in accepting the homoousion, but it is a little singular, and indicative of the comparatively slow awakening of the Church in general to the perils of the degradation of the Holy Ghost, that no profession of faith was demanded from the Lamp-sacene delegates on this subject.13 In 367 the council of Tyana accepted the restitution of the Semiarian bishops, and so far peace had been promoted. To this period may very probably be referred the compilation of the Liturgy which formed the basis of that which bears Basil’s name.15 The claims of theology and of ecclesiastical administration in Basil’s time did not, however, prevent him from devoting much of his vast energy to works of charity. Probably the great hospital for the housing and relief of travellers and the poor, which he established in the suburbs of Cæsarea, was planned, if not begun, in the latter years of his presbyterate, for its size and importance were made pretexts for denouncing him to Elias, the governor of Cappadocia, in 372, and at the same period Valens contributed to its endowment. It was so extensive as to go by the name of Newtown,2 and was in later years known as the “Basileiad.” It was the mother of other similar institutions in the country-districts of the province, each under a Chorepiscopus.4 But whether the Ptochotrophium was or was not actually begun before Basil’s episcopate, great demands were made on his sympathy and energy by the great drought and consequent famine which befell Cæsarea in 368.6 He describes it with eloquence in his Homily On the Famine and Drought. The distress was cruel and widespread. The distance of Cæsarea from the coast increased the difficulty of supplying provisions. Speculators, scratching, as it were, in their country’s wounds, hoarded grain in the hope of selling at famine prices. These Basil moved to open their stores. He distributed lavishly at his own expense,8 and ministered in person to the wants of the sufferers. Gregory of Nazianzus gives us a picture of his illustrious friend standing in the midst of a great crowd of men and women and children, some scarcely able to breathe; of servants bringing in piles of such food as is best suited to the weak state of the famishing sufferers; of Basil with his own hands distributing nourishment, and with his own voice cheering and encouraging the sufferers.

About this time Basil suffered a great loss in the death of his mother, and sought solace in a visit to his friend Eusebius at Samosata.11 But the cheering effect of his journey was lessened by the news, which greeted him on his return, that the Arians had succeeded in placing one of their number in the see of Tarsus. The loss of Silvanus was ere long followed by a death of yet graver moment to the Church. In the middle of 370 died Eusebius, breathing his last in the arms of Basil.13

VI.—Basil as Archbishop

The archiepiscopal throne was now technically vacant. But the man who had practically filled it, “the keeper and tamer of the lion,” was still alive in the plenitude of his power. What course was he to follow? Was he meekly to withdraw, and perhaps be compelled to support the candidature of another and an inferior? The indirect evidence15 has seemed to some strong enough to compel the conclusion that he determined, if possible, to secure his election to the see. Others, on the contrary, have thought him incapable of scheming for the nomination.17 The truth probably lies between the two extreme views. No intelligent onlooker of the position at Cæsarea on the death of Eusebius, least of all the highly capable administrator of the province, could be blind to the fact that of all possible competitors for the vacant throne Basil himself was the ablest and most distinguished, and the likeliest to be capable of directing the course of events in the interests of orthodoxy. But it does not follow that Basil’s appeal to Gregory to come to him was a deliberate step to secure this end. He craved for the support and counsel of his friend; but no one could have known better that Gregory the younger was not the man to take prompt action or rule events. His invention of a fatal sickness, or exaggeration of a slight one, failed to secure even Gregory’s presence at Cæsarea. Gregory burst into tears on receipt of the news of his friend’s grave illness, and hastened to obey the summons to his side. But on the road he fell in with bishops hunrrying to Cæsarea for the election of a successor to Eusebius, and detected the unreality of Basil’s plea. He at once returned to Nazianzus and wrote the oft-quoted letter, on the interpretation given to which depends the estimate formed of Basil’s action at the important crisis.

Basil may or may not have taken Gregory’s advice not to put himself forward. But Gregory and his father, the bishop, from this time strained every nerve to secure the election of Basil. It was felt that the cause of true religion was at stake. “The Holy Ghost must win.” Opposition had to be encountered from bishops who were in open or secret sympathy with Basil’s theological opponents, from men of wealth and position with whom Basil was unpopular on account of his practice and preaching of stern self-denial, and from all the lewd fellows of the baser soft in Cæsarea.3 Letters were written in the name of Gregory the bishop with an eloquence and literary skill which have led them to be generally regarded as the composition of Gregory the younger. To the people of Cæsarea Basil was represented as a man of saintly life and of unique capacity to stem the surging tide of heresy. To the bishops of the province who had asked him to come to Cæsarea without saying why, in the hope perhaps that so strong a friend of Basil’s might be kept away from the election without being afterwards able to contest it on the ground that he had had no summons to attend, he expresses an earnest hope that their choice is not a factious and foregone conclusion, and, anticipating possible objections on the score of Basil’s weak health, reminds them that they have to elect not a gladiator, but a primate.5 To Eusebius of Samosata he sends the letter included among those of Basil in which he urges him to cooperate in securing the appointment of a worthy man. Despite his age and physical infirmity, he was laid in his litter, as his son says7 like a corpse in a grave, and borne to Cæsarea to rise there with fresh vigour and carry the election by his vote. All resistance was overborne, and Basil was seated on the throne of the great exarchate.

The success of the Catholics roused, as was inevitable, various feelings. Athanasius wrote from Alexandria to congratulate Cappadocia on her privilege in being ruled by so illustrious a primate. Valens prepared to carry out the measures against the Carbolic province, which had been interrupted by the revolt of Procopius. The bishops of the province who had been narrowly out-voted, and who had refused to take part in the consecration, abandoned communion with the new primate10. But even more distressing to the new archbishop than the disaffection of his suffragans was the refusal of his friend Gregory to come in person to support him on his throne. Gregory pleaded that it was better for Basil’s own sake that there should be no suspicion of favour to personal friends, and begged to be excused for staying at Nazianzus. Basil complained that his wishes and interests were disregarded,12 and was hurt at Gregory’s refusing to accept high responsibilities, possibly the coadjutor-bishopric, at Cæsarea. A yet further cause of sorrow annoyance was the blundering attempt of Gregory of Nyssa to effect a reconciliation between his uncle Gregory, who was in sympathy with the disaffected bishops, and his brother. He even went so far as to send more than one forged letter in their uncle’s name. The clumsy counterfeit was naturally found out, and the widened breach not bridged without difficulty.14 The episcopate thus began with troubles, both public and personal. Basil confidently confronted them. His magnanimity and capacity secured the adhesion of his immediate neighbours and subordinates, and soon his energies took a wider range. He directed the theological campaign all over the East, and was ready alike to meet opponents in hand to hand encounter, and to aim the arrows of his epistolary eloquence far and wide.16 He invokes the illustrious pope of Alexandria to join him in winning the support of the West for the orthodox cause. He is keenly interested in the unfortunate controversy which distracted the Church of Antioch.18 He makes an earnest appeal to Damasus for the wonted sympathy of the Church at Rome. At the same time his industry in his see was indefatigable. He is keen to secure the purity of ordination and the fitness of candidates. Crowds of working people come to hear him preach before they go to their work for the day.2 He travels distances which would be thought noticeable even in our modern days of idolatry of the great goddess Locomotion. He manages vast institutions eleemosynary and collegiate. His correspondence is constant and complicated. He seems the personification of the active, rather than of the literary and scholarly, bishop. Yet all the while he is writing tracts and treatises which are monuments of industrious composition, and indicative of a memory stored with various learning, and of the daily and effective study of Holy Scripture.

Nevertheless, while thus actively engaged in fighting the battle of the faith, and in the conscientious discharge of his high duties, he was not to escape an unjust charge of pusillanimity, if not of questionable orthodoxy, from men who might have known him better. On September 7th, probably in 371, was held the festival of St. Eupsychius. Basil preached the sermon. Among the hearers were many detractors.4 A few days after the festival there was a dinner-party at Nazianzus. at which Gregory was present, with several persons of distinction, friends of Basil. Of the party was a certain unnamed guest, of religious dress and reputation, who claimed a character for philosophy, and said some very hard things against Basil. He had heard the archbishop at the festival preach admirably on the Father and the Son, but the Spirit, he alleged, Basil defamed. While Gregory boldy called the Spirit God, Basil, from poor motives, refrained from any clear and distinct enunciation of the divinity of the Third Person. The unfavourable view of Basil was the popular one at the dinner-table, and Gregory was annoyed at not being able to convince the party that, while his own utterances were of comparatively little importance, Basil had to weigh every word, and to avoid, if possible, the banishment which was hanging over his head. It was better to use a wise “economy”6 in preaching the truth than so to proclaim it as to ensure the extinction of the light of true religion. Basil shewed some natural distress and astonishment on hearing that attacks against him were readily received.8

It was at the close of this same year 371 that Basil and his diocese suffered most severely from the hostility of the imperial government. Valens had never lost his antipathy to Cappadocia. In 370 he determined on dividing it into two provinces. Podandus, a poor little town at the foot of Mt. Taurus, was to be the chief seat of the new province, and thither half the executive was to be transferred. Basil depicts in lively terms the dismay and dejection of Cæsarea.10 He even thought of proceeding in person to the court to plead the cause of his people, and his conduct is in itself a censure of those who would confine the sympathies of ecclesiastics within rigidly clerical limits. The division was insisted on. But, eventually, Tyana was substituted for Podandus as the new capital; and it has been conjectured that possibly the act of kindness of the prefect mentioned in Ep. LXXVIII. may have been this transfer, due to the intervention of Basil and his influential friends.

But the imperial Arian was not content with this administrative mutilation. At the close of the year 371, flushed with successes against the barbarians, fresh from the baptism of Endoxius, and eager to impose his creed on his subjects, Valens was travelling leisurely towards Syria. He is said to have shrunk from an encounter with the famous primate of Cæsarea, for he feared lest one strong man’s firmness might lead others to resist.13 Before him went Modestus, Prefect of the Prætorium, the minister of his severities, and before Modestus, like the skirmishers in front of an advancing army, had come a troop of Arian bishops, with Euippius, in all probability, at their head. Modestus found on his arrival that Basil was making a firm stand, and summoned the archbishop to his presence with the hope of overawing him. He met with a dignity, if not with a pride, which was more than a match for his own. Modestus claimed submission in the name of the emperor Basil refused it in the name of God. Modestus threatened impoverishment, exile, torture, death. Basil retorted that none of these threats frightened him: he had nothing to be confiscated except a few rags and a few books; banishment could not send him beyond the lands of God; torture had no terrors for a body already dead; death could only come as a friend to hasten his last journey home. Modestus exclaimed in amazement that he had never been so spoken to before. “Perhaps,” replied Basil, “you never met a bishop before.” The prefect hastened to his master, and reported that ordinary means of intimidation appeared unlikely to move this undaunted prelate. The archbishop must be owned victorious, or crushed by more brutal violence. But Valens, like all weak natures, oscillated between compulsion and compliance. He so far abated his pretensions to force heresy on Cappadocia, as to consent to attend the services at the Church on the Festival of the Epipany.2 The Church was crowded. A mighty chant thundered over the sea of heads. At the end of the basilica, facing the multitude, stood Basil, statue-like, erect as Samuel among the prophets at Naioth, and quite indifferent to the interruption of the imperial approach. The whole scene seemed rather of heaven than of earth, and the orderly enthusiasm of the worship to be rather of angels than of men. Valens half fainted, and staggered as he advanced to make his offering at God’s Table. On the following day Basil admitted him within the curtain of the sanctuary, and conversed with him at length on sacred subjects.4

The surroundings and the personal appearance of the interlocutors were significant. The apse of the basilica was as a holy of holies secluded from the hum and turmoil of the vast city. It was typical of what the Church was to the world. The health and strength of the Church were personified in Basil. He was now in the ripe prime of life, but bore marks of premature age. Upright in carriage, of commanding stature, thin, with brown hair and eyes, and long beard, slightly bald, with bent brow, high cheek bones, and smooth skin, he would shew in every tone and gesture at once his high birth and breeding, the supreme culture that comes of intercourse with the noblest of books and of men, and the dignity of a mind made up and of a heart of single purpose. The sovereign presented a marked contrast to the prelate.6 Valens was of swarthy complexion, and by those who approached him nearly it was seen that one eye was defective. He was strongly built, and of middle height, but his person was obese, and his legs were crooked. He was hesitating and unready in speech and action. It is on the occasion of this interview that Theodoret places the incident of Basil’s humorous retort to Demosthenes,8 the chief of the imperial kitchen, the Nebuzaradan, as the Gregories style him, of the petty fourth century Nebuchadnezzar. This Demosthenes had already threatened the archbishop with the knife, and been bidden to go back to his fire. Now he ventured to join in the imperial conversation, and made some blunder in Greek. “An illiterate Demosthenes!” exclaimed Basil; “better leave theology alone, and go back to your soups.” The emperor was amused at the discomfiture of his satellite, and for a while seemed inclined to be friendly. He gave Basil lands, possibly part of the neighbouring estate of Macellum, to endow his hospital.

But the reconciliation between the sovereign and the primate was only on the surface. Basil would not admit the Arians to communion, and Valens could not brook the refusal. The decree of exile was to be enforced, though the pens had refused to form the letters of the imperial signature. Valens, however, was in distress at the dangerous illness of Galates, his infant son, and, on the very night of the threatened expatriation, summoned Basil to pray over him. A brief rally was followed by relapse and death, which were afterwards thought to have been caused by the young prince’s Arian baptism. Rudeness was from time to time strewn to the archbishop by discourteous and unsympathetic magistrates, as in the case of the Pontic Vicar, who tried to force an unwelcome marriage on a noble widow. The lady took refuge at the altar, and appealed to Basil for protection. The magistrate descended to contemptible insinuation, and subjected the archbishop to gross rudeness. His ragged upper garment was dragged from his shoulder, and his emaciated frame was threatened with torture. He remarked that to remove his liver would relieve him of a great inconvenience.2

Nevertheless, so far as the civil power was concerned, Basil, after the famous visit of Valens, was left at peace. He had triumphed. Was it a triumph for the nobler principles of the Gospel? Had he exhibited a pride and an irritation unworthy of the Christian name? Jerome, in a passage of doubtful genuineness and application, is reported to have regarded his good qualities as marred by the one bane of pride,4 a “leaven” of which sin is admitted by Milman to have been exhibited by Basil, as well as uncompromising firmness. The temper of Basil in the encounter with Valens would probably have been somewhat differently regarded had it not been for the reputation of a hard and overbearing spirit which he has won from his part in transactions to be shortly touched on. His attitude before Valens seems to have been dignified without personal haughtiness, and to have strewn sparks of that quiet humour which is rarely exhibited in great emergencies except by men who are conscious of right and careless of consequences to self.

VII.—The Breach with Gregory of Nazianzus

Cappadocia, it has been seen, had been divided into two provinces, and of one of these Tyana had been constituted the chief town. Anthimus, bishop of Tyana, now contended that an ecclesiastical partition should follow the civil, and that Tyana should enjoy parallel metropolitan privileges to those of Cæsarea. To this claim Basil determined to offer an uncompromising resistance, and summoned Gregory of Nazianzus to his side. Gregory replied in friendly and complimentary terms, and pointed out that Basil’s friendship for Eustathius of Sebaste was a cause of suspicion in the Church. At the same time he placed himself at the archbishop’s disposal. The friends started together with a train of slaves and mules to collect the produce of the monastery of St. Orestes, in Cappadocia Secunda, which was the property of the see of Cæsarea. Anthimus blocked the defiles with his retainers and in the vicinity of Sasima7 there was an unseemly struggle between the domestics of the two prelates. The friends proceeded to Nazianzus, and there, with imperious inconsiderateness, Basil insisted upon nominating Gregory to one of the bishoprics which he was founding in order to strengthen his position against Anthimus.9 For Gregory, the brother Nyssa was selected, a town on the Halys, about a hundred miles distant from Cæsarea, so obscure that Eusebius of Samosata remonstrated with Basil on the unreasonableness of forcing such a man to undertake the episcopate of such a place. For Gregory, the friend, a similar fate was ordered. The spot chosen was Sasima, a townlet commanding the scene of the recent fray.11 It was an insignificant place at the bifurcation of the road leading northwards from Tyana to Doara and diverging westward to Nazianzus. Gregory speaks of it with contempt, and almost with disgust, and never seems to have forgiven his old friend for forcing him to accept the responsibility of the episcopate, and in such a place.2 Gregory resigned the distasteful post, and with very bitter feelings. The utmost that can be said for Basil is that just possibly he was consulting for the interest of the Church, and meaning to honour his friend, by placing Gregory in an outpost of peril and difficulty. In the kingdom of heaven the place of trial is the place of trust.4 But, unfortunately for the reputation of the archbishop, the war in this case was hardly the Holy War of truth against error, and of right against wrong. It was a rivalry between official and official, and it seemed hard to sacrifice Gregory to a dispute between the claims of the metropolitans of Tyana and Cæsarea.

Gregory the elder joined in persuading his son. Basil had his way. He won a convenient suffragan for the moment. But he lost his friend. The sore was never healed, and even in the great funeral oration in which Basil’s virtues and abilities are extolled, Gregory traces the main trouble of his chequered career to Basil’s unkindness, and owns to feeling the smart still, though the hand that inflicted the wound was cold.

With Anthimus peace was ultimately established. Basil vehemently desired it. Eusebius of Samosata again intervened.2 Nazianzus remained for a time subject to Cæsarea, but was eventually recognized as subject to the Metropolitan of Tyana.

The relations, however, between the two metropolitans remained for some time strained. When in Armenia in 372, Basil arranged some differences between the bishops of that district, and dissipated a cloud of calumny hanging over Cyril, an Armenian bishop. He also acceded to a request on the part of the Church of Satala that he would nominate a bishop for that see, and accordingly appointed Pæmenius, a relation of his own.5 Later on a certain Faustus, on the strength of a recommendation from a pope with whom he was residing, applied to Basil for consecration to the see, hitherto occupied by Cyril. With this request Basil declined to comply, and required as a necessary preliminary the authorisation of the Armenian bishops, specially of Theodotus of Nicopolis. Faustus then betook himself to Anthimus, and succeeded in obtaining uncanonical consecration from him. This was naturally a serious cause of disagreement. However, by 375, a better feeling seems to have existed between the rivals. Basil is able at that date to speak of Anthimus as in complete agreement with him.7

VIII.—St. Basil and Eustathius

It was Basil’s doom to suffer through his friendships. If the fault lay with himself in the case of Gregory, the same cannot be said of his rupture with Eustathius of Sebaste. If in this connexion fault can be laid to his charge at all, it was the fault of entering into intimacy with an unworthy man. In the earlier days of the retirement in Pontus the austerities of Eustathius outweighed in Basil’s mind any suspicions of his unorthodoxy. Basil delighted in his society, spent days and nights in sweet converse with him, and introduced him to his mother and the happy family circle at Annesi.9 And no doubt under the ascendency of Basil, Eustathius, always ready to be all things to all men who might be for the time in power and authority, would appear as a very orthodox ascetic. Basil likens him to the Ethiopian of immutable blackness, and the leopard who cannot change his spots. But in truth his skin at various periods shewed every shade which could serve his purpose, and his spots shifted and changed colour with every change in his surroundings.11 He is the patristic Proteus. There must have been something singularly winning in his more than human attractiveness. But he signed almost every creed that went about for signature in his lifetime.13 He was consistent only in inconsistency. It was long ere Basil was driven to withdraw his confidence and regard, although his constancy to Eustathius raised in not a few, and notably in Theodotus of Nicopolis, the metropolitan of Armenia, doubts as to Basil’s soundness in the faith. When Basil was in Armenia in 373, a creed was drawn up, in consultation with Theodotus, to be offered to Eustathius for signature. It consisted of the Nicene confession, with certain additions relating to the Macedonian controversy. Eustathius signed, together with Fronto and Severus. But, when another meeting with other bishops was arranged, he violated his pledge to attend. He wrote on the subject as though it were one of only small importance.15 Eusebius endeavoured, but endeavoured in vain, to make peace. Eustathius renounced communion with Basil, and at last, when an open attack on the archbishop seemed the paying game, he published an old letter of Basil’s to Apollinarius, written by “layman to layman,” many years before, and either introduced, or appended, heretical expressions of Apollinarius, which were made to pass as Basil’s. In his virulent hostility he was aided, if not instigated, by Demosthenes the prefect’s vicar, probably Basil’s old opponent at Cæsarea in 372.17 His duplicity and slanders roused Basil’s indignant denunciation. Unhappily they were not everywhere recognized as calumnies. Among the bitterest of Basil’s trials was the failure to credit him with honour and orthodoxy on the part of those from whom he might have expected sympathy and support. An earlier instance of this is the feeling shewn at the banquet at Nazianzus already referred to. In later days he was cruelly troubled by the unfriendliness of his old neighbours at Neocæsarea,2 and this alienation would be the more distressing inasmuch as Atarbius, the bishop of that see, appear to have been Basil’s kinsman. He was under the suspicion of Sabellian unsoundness. He slighted and slandered Basil on several apparently trivial pretexts, and on one occasion hastened from Nicopolis for fear of meeting him.4 He expressed objection to supposed novelties introduced into the Church of Cæsarea, to the mode of psalmody practiced there, and to the encouragement of ascetic life. Basil did his utmost to win back the Neocæsareans from their heretical tendencies and to their old kindly sentiments towards himself.

The clergy of Pisidia and Pontus, where Eustathius had been specially successful in alienating the district of Dazimon, were personally visited and won back to communion. But Atarbius and the Neocæsareans were deaf to all appeal, and remained persistently irreconcilable.7 On his visiting the old home at Annesi, where his youngest brother Petrus was now residing, in 375, the Neocæsareans were thrown into a state of almost ludicrous panic. They fled as from a pursuing suing enemy. They accused Basil of seeking to win their regard and support from motives of the pettiest ambition, and twitted him with travelling into their neighbourhood uninvited.9

IX.—Unbroken Friendships

Brighter and happier intimacies were those formed with the older bishop of Samosata, the Eusebius who, of all the many bearers of the name, most nearly realised its meaning, and with Basil’s junior, Amphilochius of Iconium. With the former, Basil’s relations were those of an affectionate son and of an enthusiastic admirer. The many miles that stretched between Cæsarea and Samosata did not prevent these personal as well as epistolary communications.11 In 372 they were closely associated in the eager efforts of the orthodox bishops of the East to win the sympathy and active support of the West. In 374 Eusebius was exiled, with all the picturesque incidents so vividly described by Theodoret.13 He travelled slowly from Samosata into Thrace, but does not seem to have met either Gregory or Basil on his way. Basil contrived to continue a correspondence with him in his banishment. It was more like that of young lovers than of elderly bishops. The friends deplore the hindrances to conveyance, and are eager to assure one another that neither is guilty of forgetfulness.15

The friendship with Amphilochius seems to have begun at the time when the young advocate accepted the invitation conveyed in the name of Heracleidas, his friend, and repaired from Ozizala to Cæsarea. The consequences were prompt and remarkable. Amphilochius, at this time between thirty and forty years of age, was soon ordained and consecrated, perhaps, like Ambrose of Milan and Eusebius of Cæsarea, per saltum, to the important see of Iconium, recently vacated by the death of Faustinus. Henceforward the intercourse between the spiritual father and the spiritual son, both by letters and by visits, was constant. The first visit of Amphilochius to Basil, as bishop, probably at Easter 374, not only gratified the older prelate, but made a deep impression on the Church of Cæsarea. But his visits were usually paid in September, at the time of the services in commemoration of the martyr Eupsychius. On the occasion of the first of them, in 374, the friends conversed together on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, now impugned by the Macedonians, and the result was the composition of the treatise De Spiritu Sancto. This was closely followed by the three famous canonical epistles, also addressed to Amphilochius. Indeed, so great was the affectionate confidence of the great administrator and theologian19 in his younger brother, that, when infirmities were closing round him, he asked Amphilochius to aid him in the administration of the archdioces.

If we accept the explanation given of Letter CLXIX. in a note on a previous page, Gregory the elder, bishop of Nazianzus, must be numbered among those of Basil’s correspondents letters to whom have been preserved. The whole episode referred to in that and in the two following letters is curiously illustrative of outbursts of fanaticism and folly which might have been expected to occur in Cappadocia in the fourth century, as well as in soberer regions in several other centuries when they have occurred. It has been clothed with fresh interest by the very vivid narrative of Professor Ramsay, and by the skill with which he uses the scanty morsels of evidence available to construct the theory which he holds about it. This theory is that the correspondence indicates a determined attempt on the part of the rigidly orthodox archbishop to crush proceedings which were really “only keeping up the customary ceremonial of a great religious meeting,” and, as such, were winked at, if not approved of, by the bishop to whom the letter of remonstrance is addressed, and the presbyter who was Glycerius’ superior. Valuable information is furnished by Professor Ramsay concerning the great annual festival in honour of Zeus of Venasa (or Venese), whose shrine was richly endowed, and the inscription discovered on a Cappadocian hill-top, “Great Zeus in heaven, be propitious to me.” But the “evident sympathy” of the bishop and the presbyter is rather a strained inference from the extant letters; and the fact that in the days when paganism prevailed in Cappadocia Venasa was a great religious centre, and the scene of rites in which women played an important part, is no conclusive proof that wild dances performed by an insubordinate deacon were tolerated, perhaps encouraged, because they represented a popular old pagan observance. Glycerius may have played the patriarch, without meaning to adopt, or travesty, the style of the former high priest of Zeus. Cappadocia was one of the most Christian districts of the empire long before Basil was appointed to the exarchate of Cæsarea, and Basil is not likely to have been the first occupant of the see who would strongly disapprove of, and endeavour to repress, any such manifestations as those which are described.2 That the bishop whom Basil addresses and the presbyter served by Glycerius should have desired to deal leniently with the offender individually does not convict them of accepting the unseemly proceedings of Glycerius and his troupe as a pardonable, if not desirable, survival of a picturesque national custom.

Among other bishops of the period with whom Basil communicated by letter are Abramius, or Abraham, of Batnae in Oshoene, the illustrious Athansius,5 and Ambrose, Athanasius of Ancyra;7 Barses of Edessa, who cried in exile in Egypt; Elpidius,9 of some unknown see on the Levantine seaboard, who supported Basil in the controversy with Eustathius; the learned Epiphanius of Salamis; Meletius,11 the exiled bishop of Antioch; Patrophilus of Ægæ; Petrus of Alexandria;13 Theodotus of Nicopolis, and Ascholius of Thessalonica.15

Basils correspondence was not, however, confined within the limits of clerical clanship. His extant letters to laymen, both distinguished and undistinguished, shew that he was in touch with the men of mark of his time and neighbourhood, and that he found time to express an affectionate interest in the fortunes of his intimate friends.

Towards the later years of his life the archbishop’s days were darkened not only by ill-health and anxiety, but by the death of some of his chief friends and allies. Athanasius died in 373, and so far as personal living influence went, there was an extinction of the Pharos not of Alexandria only, but of the world. It was no longer “Athanasius contra mundum,”17 but “Mundus sine Athanasio.” In 374 Gregory the elder died at Nazianzus, and the same year saw the banishment of Eusebius of Samosata to Thrace. In 375 died Theodotus of Nicopolis, and the succession of Fronto was a cause of deep sorrow.

At this time some short solace would come to the Catholics in the East in the synodical letter addressed to the Orientals of the important synod held in Illyria, under the authority of Valentinian. The letter which is extant2 is directed against the Macedonian heresy. The charge of conveying it to the East was given to the presbyter Elpidius. Valentinian sent with it a letter to the bishops of Asia in which persecution is forbidden, and the excuse of submission to the reigning sovereign anticipated and condemned. Although the letter runs in the names of Valentinian, Valens’ and Gratian, the western brother appears to condemn the eastern.4

X.—Troubles of the Closing Years

The relief to the Catholic East was brief. The paroxysm of passion which caused Valentinian to break a blood-vessel, and ended his life, ended also the force of the imperial rescript. The Arians lifted their heads again. A council was held at Ancyra,6 in which the homoousion was condemned, and frivolous and vexatious charges were brought against Gregory of Nyssa. At Cyzicus a Semiarian synod blasphemed the Holy Spirit.8 Similar proceedings characterized a synod of Antioch at about the same time. Gregory of Nyssa having been prevented by illness from appearing before the synod of Ancyra, Eustathius and Demosthenes persisted in their efforts to wound Basil through his brother, and summoned a synod at Nyssa itself, where Gregory was condemned in his absence and deposed.10 He was not long afterwards banished. On the other hand the Catholic bishops were not inactive. Synods were held on their part, and at Iconium Amphilochius presided over a gathering at which Basil was perhaps present himself, and where his treatise on the Holy Spirit was read and approved.12 The Illyrian Council was a result incommensurate with Basil’s passionate entreaties for the help of the westerns. From the midst of the troubles which beset the Eastern Church Basil appealed, as he had appealed before,14 for the sympathy and active aid of the other half of the empire. He was bitterly chagrined at the failure of his entreaties for support, and began to suspect that the neglect he complained of was due to coldness and to pride. It has seemed to some that this coldness in the West was largely due to resentment at Basil’s non-recognition of the supremacy of the Roman see.16 In truth the supremacy of the Roman see, as it has been understood in later times, was hardly in the horizon. No bishop of Rome had even been present at Nicæa, or at Sardica, where a certain right of appeal to his see was conceded. A bishop of Rome signed the Sirmian blasphemy. No bishop of Rome was present to save ‘the world’ from the lapse of Ariminum. Julian “might seem to have forgotten that there was such a city as Rome.”18 The great intellectual Arian war was fought out without any claim of Rome to speak. Half a century after Basil’s death great orientals were quite unconscious of this supremacy. At Chalcedon the measure of the growing claim is aptly typified by the wish of Paschasinus of Lilybæum, one of the representatives of Leo, to be regarded as presiding, though he did not preside. The supremacy is hardly in view even at the last of the four great Councils.

In fact the appeal of Basil seems to have failed to elicit the response he desired, not so much from the independent tone of his letters, which was only in accordance with the recognised facts of the age, as from occidental suspicions of Basil’s orthodoxy,21 and from the failure of men, who thought and wrote in Latin, to enter fully into the controversies conducted in a more subtle tongue. Basil had taken every precaution to ensure the conveyance of his letters by messengers of tact and discretion. He had deprecated the advocacy of so simple-minded and undiplomatic an ambassador as his brother Gregory.23 He had poured out his very soul in entreaty. But all was unavailing. He suffered, and he had to suffer unsupported by a human sympathy on which he thought he had a just claim.2

It is of a piece with Basil’s habitual silence on the general affairs of the empire that he should seem to be insensible of the shock caused by the approach of the Goths in 378. A letter to Eusebius in exile in Thrace does shew at least a consciousness of a disturbed state of the country, and he is afraid of exposing his courier to needless danger by entrusting him with a present for his friend. But this is all. He may have written letters shewing an interest in the fortunes of the empire which have not been preserved. But his whole soul was absorbed in the cause of Catholic truth, and in the fate of the Church. His youth had been steeped in culture, but the work of his ripe manhood left no time for the literary amusement of the dilettante. So it may be that the intense earnestness with which he said to himself, “This one thing I do,” of his work as a shepherd of souls, and a fighter for the truth, and his knowledge that for the doing of this work his time was short, accounts for the absence from his correspondence of many a topic of more than contemporary interest. At all events, it is not difficult to descry that the turn in the stream of civil history was of vital moment to the cause which Basil held dear. The approach of the enemy was fraught with important consequences to the Church. The imperial attention was diverted from persecution of the Catholics to defence of the realm. Then came the disaster of Adrianople,4 and the terrible end of the unfortunate Valens. Gratian, a sensible lad, of Catholic sympathies, restored the exiled bishops, and Basil, in the few months of life yet left him, may have once more embraced his faithful friend Eusebius. The end drew rapidly near. Basil was only fifty, but he was an old man. Work, sickness, and trouble had worn him out. His health had never been good. A chronic liver complaint was a constant cause of distress and depression.

In 373 he had been at death’s door. Indeed, the news of his death was actually circulated, and bishops arrived at Cæsarea with the probable object of arranging the succession. He had submitted to the treatment of a course of natural hot baths, but with small beneficial result.7 By 376, as he playfully reminds Amphilochius, he had lost all his teeth. At last the powerful mind and the fiery enthusiasm of duty were no longer able to stimulate the energies of the feeble frame.

The winter of 378–9 dealt the last blow, and with the first day of what, to us, is now the new year, the great spirit fled. Gregory, alas! was not at the bedside. But he has left us a narrative which bears the stamp of truth. For some time the bystanders thought that the dying bishop had ceased to breathe. Then the old strength blazed out at the last. He spoke with vigour, and even ordained some of the faithful who were with him. Then he lay once more feeble and evidently passing away. Crowds surrounded his residence, praying eagerly for his restoration to them, and willing to give their lives for his. With a few final words of advice and exhortation, he said: “Into thy hands I commend my spirit,” and so ended.

The funeral was a scene of intense excitement and rapturous reverence. Crowds filled every open space, and every gallery and window; Jews and Pagans joined with Christians in lamentation, and the cries and groans of the agitated oriental multitude drowned the music of the hymns which were sung. The press was so great that several fatal accidents added to the universal gloom. Basil was buried in the “sepulchre of his fathers”—a phrase which may possibly mean in the ancestral tomb of his family at Cæsarea.

So passed away a leader of men in whose case the epithet ‘great’ is no conventional compliment. He shared with his illustrious brother primate of Alexandria the honour of rallying the Catholic forces in the darkest days of the Arian depression. He was great as foremost champion of a great cause, great in contemporary and posthumous influence, great in industry and self-denial, great as a literary controversialist. The estimate formed of him by his contemporaries is expressed in the generous, if somewhat turgid, eloquence of the laudatory oration of the slighted Gregory of Nazianzus. Yet nothing in Gregory’s eulogy goes beyond the expressions of the prelate who has seemed to some to be “the wisest and holiest man in the East in the succeeding century.” Basil is described by the saintly and learned Theodoret2 in terms that might seem exaggerated when applied to any but his master, as the light not of Cappadocia only, but of the world. To Sophronius4 he is the “glory of the Church.” To Isidore of Pelusium, he seems to speak as one inspired. To the Council of Chalcedon he is emphatically a minister of grace;6 to the second council of Nicæa a layer of the foundations of orthodoxy. His death lacks the splendid triumph of the martyrdoms of Polycarp and Cyprian. His life lacks the vivid incidents which make the adventures of Athanasius an enthralling romance. He does not attract the sympathy evoked by the unsophisticated simplicity of Gregory his friend or of Gregory his brother. There does not linger about his memory the close personal interest that binds humanity to Augustine, or the winning loyalty and tenderness that charm far off centuries into affection for Theodoret. Sometimes he seems a hard, almost a sour man.8 Sometimes there is a jarring reminder of his jealousy for his own dignity. Evidently he was not a man who could be thwarted without a rupture of pleasant relations, or slighted with impunity. In any subordinate position he was not easy to get on with.10 But a man of strong will, convinced that he is championing a righteous cause, will not hesitate to sacrifice, among other things, the amenities that come of amiable absence of self-assertion. To Basil, to assert himself was to assert the truth of Christ and of His Church. And in the main the identification was a true one. Basil was human, and occasionally, as in the famous dispute with Anthimus, so disastrously fatal to the typical friendship of the earlier manhood, he may have failed to perceive that the Catholic cause would not suffer from the existence of two metropolitans in Cappadocia. But the great archbishop could be an affectionate friend, thirsty for sympathy. And he was right in his estimate of his position. Broadly speaking, Basil, more powerfully than any contemporary official, worker, or writer in the Church, did represent and defend through all the populous provinces of the empire which stretched from the Balkans to the Mediterranean, from the Ægean to the Euphrates, the cause whose failure or success has been discerned, even by thinkers of no favourable predisposition, to have meant death or life to the Church.12 St. Basil is duly canonized in the grateful memory, no less than in the official bead-roll, of Christendom, and we may be permitted to regret that the existing Kalendar of the Anglican liturgy has not found room for so illustrious a Doctor in its somewhat niggard list. For the omission some amends have lately14 been made in the erection of a statue of the great archbishop of Cæsarea under the dome of the Cathedral of St. Paul in London.

II. WORKS

 

The extant works of St. Basil may be conveniently classified as folows:

I. Dogmatic.

(i) Adversus Eunomium. Πρὸς Εὐνόμιον.

(ii) De Spiritu Sancto. Περὶ τοῦ Πνεύματος.

II. Exegetic.

(i) In Hexaemeron. Εἰς τὴν Ἑξαήμερον.

(ii) Homiliæ on Pss. 1., 7., 14., 28., 29., 32., 33., 44., 45., 48., 59., 61., 114.

(iii) Commentary on
Isaiah 1–16.

III. Ascetic.

(i) Tractatus prœvii.

(ii) Proœmium de Judicio Dei and De Fide.

(iii) Moralia. Τὰ Ἠθικά.

(iv) Regulæ fusius tractatæ. Ὅροι κατὰ πλάτος.

and Regulœ brevius tractatœ. Ὅροι κατʼ ἐπιτόμην.

IV. Homiletic.

XXIV. Homilies. (i) Dogmatic.

(ii) Moral.

(iii) Panegyric.

V. Letters.

(i) Historic.

(ii) Dogmatic.

(iii) Moral.

(iv) Disciplinary.

(v) Consolartoy.

(vi) Commendartory.

(vii) Familiar.

VI. Liturgic.


 

 

 

I. (i) Against Eunomius. The work under this title comprises five books, the first three generally accepted as genuine, the last two sometimes regarded as doubtful. Gregory of Nazianzus, Jerome,2 and Theodoret all testify to Basil’s having written against Eunomius, but do not specify the number of books. Books IV. and V. are accepted by Bellarmine, Du Pin, Tillemont, and Ceillier, mainly on the authority of the edict of Justinian against the Three Chapters (Mansi ix., 552), the Council of Seville (Mansi x., 566) and the Council of Fiorence (Hardouin ix., 200). Maran (Vit. Bas. xliii.) speaks rather doubtfully. Böhringer describes them as of suspicious character, alike on grounds of style, and of their absence from some MSS. They may possibly be notes on the controversy in general, and not immediately directed against Eunomius. Fessler’s conclusion is “Major tamen eruditorum pars eos etiam genuinos esse censet.”

The year 364 is assigned for the date of the publication of the three books. At that time Basil sent them with a few words of half ironical depreciation to Leontius the sophist.5 He was now about thirty-four years of age, and describes himself as hitherto inexperienced in such a kind of composition. Eunomius, like his illustrious opponent, was a Cappadocian. Emulous of the notoriety achieved by Aetius the Anomœan, and urged on by Secundus of Ptolemais, an intimate associate of Aetius, he went to Alexandria about 356 and resided there for two years as Aetius’ admiring pupil and secretary. In 358 he accompanied Aetius to Antioch, and took a prominent part in the assertion of the extreme doctrines which revolted the more moderate Semiarians. He was selected as the champion of the advanced blasphemers, made himself consequently obnoxious to Constantius, and was apprehended and relegated to Migde in Phrygia. At the same time Eudoxius withdrew for a while into Armenia, his native province, but ere long was restored to the favour of the fickle Constantius, and was appointed to the see of Constantinople in 359. Eunomius now was for overthrowing Aetius, and removing whatever obstacles stood between him and promotion, and, by the influence of Eudoxius, was nominated to the see of Cyzicus, vacant by the deposition of Eleusius. Here for a while he temporized, but ere long displayed his true sentiments. To answer for this he was summoned to Constantinople by Constantius, and, in his absence, condemned and deposed. Now he became more marked than ever in his assertion of the most extreme Arianism, and the advanced party were henceforward known under his name. The accession of Julian brought him back with the rest of the banished bishops, and he made Constantinople the centre for the dissemination of his views.7

Somewhere about this period he wrote the work entitled Apologeticus, in twenty-eight chapters, to which Basil replies. The title was at once a parody on the Apologies of defenders of the Faith, and, at the same time, a suggestion that his utterances were not spontaneous, but forced from him by attack. The work is printed in Fabricius, Bibl. Grœc. viii. 262, and in the appendix to Migne’s Basil. Pat. Gr. xxx. 837. It is a brief treatise, and occupies only about fifteen columns of Migne’s edition. It professes to be a defence of the “simpler creed which is common to all Christians.”9

This creed is as follows: “We believe in one God, Father Almighty, of Whom are all things: and in one only-begotten Son of God, God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things: and in one Holy Spirit, the Comforter.” But it is in reality like the extant Exposition of the Creed, a reading into this “simpler” creed, in itself orthodox and unobjectionable, of explanations which ran distinctly counter to the traditional and instinctive faith of the Church, and inevitably demanded corrective explanations and definitions.

In the creed of Eunomius the Son is God, and it is not in terms denied that He is of one substance with the Father. But in his doctrinal system there is a practical denial of the Creed; the Son may be styled God, but He is a creature, and therefore, in the strict sense of the term, not God at all, and, at best, a hero or demigod. The Father, unbegotten, stood alone and supreme; the very idea of “begotten “implied posteriority, inferiority, and unlikeness. Against this position Basil protests. The arguments of Eunomius, he urges, are tantamount to an adoption of what was probably an Arian formula, “We believe that ingenerateness is the essence of God,”4
i.e., we believe that the Only-begotten is essentially unlike the Father. This word “unbegotten,” of which Eunomius and his supporters make so much, what is its real value? Basil admits that it is apparently a convenient term for human intelligence to use; but, he urges, “It is nowhere to be found in Scripture, it is one of the main elements in the Arian blasphemy; it had better be left alone. The word ‘Father’ implies all that is meant by ‘Unbegotten,’ and has moreover the advantage of suggesting at the same time the idea of the Son. He Who is essentially Father is alone of no other. In this being of no other is involved the sense of ‘Unbegotten.’ The title ‘unbegotten’ will not be preferred by us to that of Father, unless we wish to make ourselves wiser than the Saviour, Who said, ‘Go and baptize in the name’ not of the Unbegotten, but ‘of the Father.’ “6 To the Eunomian contention that the word “Unbegotten” is no mere complimentary title, but required by the strictest necessity, in that it involves the confession of what He is, Basil rejoins that it is only one of many negative terms applied to the Deity, none of which completely expresses the Divine Essence. “There exists no name which embraces the whole nature of God, and is sufficient to declare it; more names than one, and these of very various kinds, each in accordance with its own proper connotation, give a collective idea which may be dim indeed and poor when compared with the whole, but is enough for us.”8 The word “unbegotten,” like “immortal.” “invisible,” and the like, expresses only negation. “Yet essence is not one of the qualities which are absent, but signifies the very being of God; to reckon this in the same category as the non-existent is to the last degree unreasonable.”10 Basil “would be quite ready to admit that the essence of God is unbegotten,” but he objects to the statement that the essence and the unbegotten are identical. It is sometimes supposed that the Catholic theologians have been hair-splitters in the sphere of the inconceivable, and that heresy is the exponent of an amiable and reverent vagueness. In the Arian controversy it was Arius himself who dogmatically defined with his negative “There was when He was not,” and Eunomius with his “The essence is the unbegotten.” “What pride! What conceit!” exclaims Basil. “The idea of imagining that one has discovered the very essence of God most high! Assuredly in their magniloquence they quite throw into the shade even Him who said, ‘I will exalt my throne above the stars.’12 It is not stars, it is not heaven, that they dare to assail. It is in the very essence of the God of all the world that they boast that they make their haunt. Let us question him as to where he acquired comprehension of this essence. Was it from the common notion that all men share? This does indeed suggest to us that there is a God, but not what God is. Was it from the teaching of the Spirit? What teaching? Where found? What says great David, to whom God revealed the hidden secrets of His wisdom? He distinctly asserts the unapproachableness of knowledge of Him in the words, ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.’2 And Isaiah, who saw the glory of God’ what does he tell us concerning the Divine Essence? In his prophecy about the Christ he says, ‘Who shall declare His generation?’ And what of Paul, the chosen vessel, in whom Christ spake, who was caught up into the third heaven, who heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful to man to utter? What teaching has he given us of the essence of God? When Paul is investigating the special methods of the work of redemption4 he seems to grow dizzy before the mysterious maze which he is contemplating, and utters the well-known words, ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!’ These things are beyond the reach even of those who have attained the measure of Paul’s knowledge. What then is the conceit of those who announce that they know the essence of God! I should very much like to ask them what they have to say about the earth whereon they stand, and whereof they are born. What can they tell us of its ‘essence’? If they can discourse without hesitation of the nature of lowly subjects which lie beneath out feet, we will believe them when they proffer opinions about things which transcend all human intelligence. What is the essence of the earth? How can it be comprehended? Let them tell us whether reason or sense has reached this point! If they say sense, by which of the senses is it comprehended? Sight? Sight perceives colour. Touch? Touch distinguishes hard and soft, hot and cold, and the like; but no idiot would call any of these essence. I need not mention taste or smell, which apprehend respectively savour and scent. Hearing perceives sounds and voices, which have no affinity with earth. They must then say that they have found out the earth’s essence by reason. What? In what part of Scripture? A tradition from what saint?6

“In a word, if any one wishes to realise the truth of what I am urging, let him ask himself this question; when he wishes to understand anything about God, does he approach the meaning of ‘the unbegotten’? I for my part see that, just us when we extend our thought over the ages that are yet to come, we say that the life bounded by no limit is without end, so is it when we contemplate in thought the ages of the past, and gaze on the infinity of the life of God as we might into some unfathomable ocean. We can conceive of no beginning from which He originated: we perceive that the life of God always transcends the bounds of our intelligence; and so we call that in His life which is without origin, unbegotten. The meaning of the unbegotten is the having no origin from without.”8 As Eunomius made ingenerateness the essence of the Divine, so, with the object of establishing the contrast between Father and Son, he represented the being begotten to indicate the essence of the Son. God, said Eunomius, being ingenerate, could never admit of generation. This statement, Basil points out, may be understood in either of two ways. It may mean that ingenerate nature cannot be subjected to generation. It may mean that ingenerate nature cannot generate. Eunomius, he says, really means the latter, while he makes converts of the multitude on the lines of the former. Eunomius makes his real meaning evident by what he adds to his dictum, for, after saying “could never admit of generation,” he goes on, “so as to impart His own proper nature to the begotten.”10 As in relation to the Father, so now in relation to the Son, Basil objects to the term. Why “begotten”? Where did he get this word? From what teaching? From what prophet? Basil nowhere finds the Son called “begotten “in Scripture.12 We read that the Father begat, but nowhere that the Son was a begotten thing. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.”14 But His name is not begotten thing, but “angel of great counsel.” If this word had indicated the essence of the Son, no other word would have been revealed by the Spirit.16 Why, if God begat, may we not call that which was begotten a thing begotten? It is a terrible thing for us to coin names for Him to Whom God has given a “name which is above every name.” We must not add to or take from what is delivered to us by the Spirit.2 Things are not made for names, but names for things. Eunomius unhappily was led by distinction of name into distinction of being.4 If the Son is begotten in the sense in which Eunomius uses the word, He is neither begotten of the essence of God nor begotten from eternity. Eunomius represents the Son as not of the essence of the Father, because begetting is only to be thought of as a sensual act and idea, and therefore is entirely unthinkable in connexion with the being of God. “The essence of God does not admit of begetting; no other essence exists for the Son’s begetting; therefore I say that the Son was begotten when non-existent.” Basil rejoins that no analogy can hold between divine generation or begetting and human generation or begetting. “Living beings which are subject to death generate through the operation of the senses: but we must not on this account conceive of God in the same manner; nay, rather shall we be hence guided to the truth that, because corruptible beings operate in this manner, the Incorruptible will operate in an opposite manner.”6 “All who have even a limited loyalty to truth ought to dismiss all corporeal similitudes. They must be very careful not to sully their conceptions of God by material notions. They must follow the theologies delivered to us by the Holy Ghost. They must shun questions which are little better than conundrums, and admit of a dangerous double meaning. Led by the rey that shines forth from light to the contemplation of the divine generation, they must think of a generation worthy of God, without passion, partition, division, or thee. They must conceive of the image of the invisible God not after the analogy of images which are subsequently fashioned by craft to match their archetype, but as of one nature and subsistence with the originating prototype.8… This image is not produced by imitation, for the whole nature of the Father is expressed in the Son as on a seal.”10 “Do not press me with the questions: What is the generation? Of what kind was it? In what manner could it be effected? The manner is ineffable, and wholly beyond the scope of our intelligence; but we shall not on this account throw away the foundation of our faith in Father and Son. If we try to measure everything by our comprehension, and to suppose that what we cannot comprehend by our reasoning is wholly non-existent, farewell to the reward of faith; farewell to the reward of hope! If we only follow what is clear to our reason, how can we be deemed worthy of the blessings in store for the reward of faith in things not seen”?

If not of the essence of God, the Son could not be held to be eternal. “How utterly absurd,” exclaims Basil, “to deny the glory of God to have had brightness; to deny the wisdom of God to have been ever with God!… The Father is of eternity. So also is the Son of eternity, united by generation to the unbegotten nature of the Father. This is not my own statement. I shall prove it by quoting the words of Scripture. Let me cite from the Gospel ‘In the beginning was the Word.’13 and from the Psalm, other words spoken as in the person of the Father, ‘From the womb before the morning I have begotten them.’ Let us put both together, and say, He was, and He was begotten.… How absurd to seek for something higher in the case of the unoriginate and the unbegotten! Just as absurd is it to start questions as to thee, about priority in the case of Him Who was with the Father from eternity, and between Whom and Him that begat Him there is no interval.”15

A dilemma put by Eunomius was the following: When God begat the Son, the Son either was or was not. If He was not, no argument could lie against Eunomius and the Arians. If He was, the position is blasphemous and absurd, fur that which is needs no begetting.17

To meet this dilemma, Basil drew a distinction between eternity and the being unoriginate. The Eunomians, from the fact of the unoriginateness of the Father being called eternity, maintained that unoriginateness and eternity are identical.19 Because the Son is not unbegotten they do not even allow Him to be eternal. But there is a wide distinction to be observed in the meaning of the terms. The word unbegotten is predicated of that which has origin of itself, and no cause of its being: the word eternal is predicated of that which is in being beyond all time and age. Wherefore the Son is both not unbegotten and eternal.2 Eunomius was ready to give great dignity to the Son as a supreme creature. He did not hold the essence of the Son to be common to that of the things created out of nothing. He would give Him as great a preëminence as the Creator has over His own created works.4 Basil attributes little importance to this concession, and thinks it only leads to confusion and contradiction. If the God of the universe, being unbegotten, necessarily differs from things begotten, and all things begotten have their common hypostasis of the non-existent, what alternative is there to a natural conjunction of all such things? Just as in the one case the unapproachable effects a distinction between the natures, so in the other equality of condition brings them into mutual contact. They say that the Son and all things that came into being under Him are of the non-existent, and so far they make those natures common, and yet they deny that they give Him a nature of the non-existent. For again, as though Eunomius were Lord himself, and able to give to the Only Begotten what rank and dignity he chooses, he goes on to argue,—We attribute to Him so much supereminence as the Creator must of necessity have over His own creature. He does not say, “We conceive,” or “We are of opinion,” as would be befitting when treating of God, but he says “We attribute,” as though he himself could control the measure of the attribution. And how much supereminence does he give? As much as the Creator must necessarily have over His own creatures. This has not yet reached a statement of difference of substance. Human beings in art surpass their own works, and yet are consubstantial with them, as the potter with his clay, and the shipwright with his timber. For both are alike bodies, subject to sense, and earthy. Eunomius explained the title “Only Begotten” to mean that the Son alone was begotten and created by the Father alone, and therefore was made the most perfect minister. “If,” rejoins Basil, “He does not possess His glory in being perfect God, if it lies only in His being an exact and obedient subordinate, in what does He differ from the ministering spirits who perform the work of their service without blame?6 Indeed Eunomius joins ‘created’ to ‘begotten’ with the express object of shewing that there is no distinction between the Son and a creature! And how unworthy a conception of the Father that He should need a servant to do His work! ‘He commanded and they were created.’8 What service was needed by Him Who creates by His will alone? But in what sense are all things said by us to be ‘through the Son’? In that the divine will, starting from the prime cause, as it were from a source, proceeds to operation through its own image, God the Word.” Basil sees that if the Son is a creature mankind is still without a revelation of the Divine. He sees that Eunomius, “by alienating the Only Begotten from the Father, and altogether cutting Him off from communion with Him, as far as he can, deprives us of the ascent of knowledge which is made through the Son. Our Lord says that all that is the Father’s is His.10 Eunomius states that there is no fellowship between the Father and Him Who is of Him.” If so there is no “brightness “of glory; no “express image of hypostasis.”12 So Dorner, who freely uses the latter portion of the treatise, “The main point of Basil’s opposition to Eunomius is that the word unbegotten is not a name indicative of the essence of God, but only of a condition of existence.14 The divine essence has other predicates. If every peculiar mode of existence causes a distinction in essence also, then the Son cannot be of the same essence with the Father, because He has a peculiar mode of existence, and the Father another; and men cannot be of the same essence, because each of them represents a different mode of existence. By the names of Father, Son, and Spirit, we do not understand different essences, (οὐσίας), but they are names which distinguish the ὕπαρξις of each. All are God, and the Father is no more God than the Son, as one man is no more man than another. Quantitative differences are not reckoned in respect of essence; the question is only of being or non-being. But this does not exclude the idea of a variety in condition in the Father and the Son (ἑτέρως ἕχειν),—the generation of the Latter. The dignity of both is equal. The essence of Begetter and Begotten is identical.”

The Fourth Book contains notes on the chief passages of Scripture which were relied on by Arian disputants. Among these are

1 Cor. 15:28. On the Subjection of the Son

“If the Son is subjected to the Father in the Godhead, then He must have been subjected from the beginning, from whence He was God. But if He was not subjected, but shall be subjected, it is in the manhood, as for us, not in the Godhead, as for Himself.”

Philipp. 2:9. On the Name above every Name

“If the name above every name was given by the Father to the Son, Who was God, and every tongue owned Him Lord, after the incarnation, because of His obedience, then before the incarnation He neither had the name above every name nor was owned by all to be Lord. It follows then that after the incarnation He was greater than before the incarnation, which is absurd.” So of Matt. 28:18. “We must understand this of the incarnation, and not of the Godhead.”

John 14:28 “My Father is Greater than I”

” ‘Greater’ is predicated in bulk, in time, in dignity, in power, or as cause. The Father cannot be called greater than the Son in bulk, for He is incorporeal: nor yet in time, for the Son is Creator of times: nor yet in dignity, for He was not made what He had once not been: nor yet in power, for ‘what things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the son likewise’: nor as cause, since (the Father) would he similarly greater than He and than we, if He is cause of Him and of us. The words express rather the honour given by the Son to the Father than any depreciation by the speaker; moreover what is greater is not necessarily of a different essence. Man is called greater than man, and horse than horse. If the Father is called greater, it does not immediately follow that He is of another substance. In a word, the comparison lies between beings of one substance, not between those of different substances.3

“A man is not properly said to be greater than a brute, than an inanimate thing, but man than man and brute than brute. The Father is therefore of one substance with the Son, even though He be called greater.”

On Matt. 24:36. Of Knowledge of that Day and of that Hour

“If the Son is the Creator of the world, and does not know the time of the judgment, then He does not know what He created. For He said that He was ignorant not of the judgment, but of the time. How can this be otherwise than absurd?

“If the Son has not knowledge of all things whereof the Father has knowledge, then He spake untruly when He said ‘All things that the Father hath are mine’ and ‘As the Father knoweth me so know I the Father.’7 If there is a distinction between knowing the Father and knowing the things that the Father hath, and if, in proportion as every one is greater than what is his, it is greater to know the Father than to know what is His, then the Son, though He knew the greater (for no man knoweth the Father save the Son), did not know the less.

“This is impossible. He was silent concerning the season of the judgment. because it was not expedient for men to hear. Constant expectation kindles a warmer zeal for true religion. The knowledge that a long interval of time was to elapse would have made men more careless about true religion, from the hope of being saved by a subsequent change of life. How could He who had known everything up to this time (for so He said) not know that hour also? If so, the Apostle vainly said ‘In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’

“If the Holy Spirit, who ‘searcheth the deep things of God,’ cannot be ignorant of anything that is God’s, then, as they who will not even allow Him to be equal must contend, the Holy Ghost is greater than the Son.”3

On Matt. 26:39. Father, If it be Possible, let this Cup pass from Me

“If the Son really said, ‘Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,’ He not only shewed His own cowardice and weakness, but implied that there might be something impossible to the Father. The words ‘if it be possible’ are those of one in doubt, and not thoroughly assured that the Father could save Him. How could not He who gave the boon of lift to corpses much rather be able to preserve life in the living? Wherefore then did not He Who had raised Lazarus and many of the dead supply life to Himself? Why did He ask life from the Father, saying, in His fear, ‘Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me’? If He was dying unwillingly, He had not yet humbled Himself; He had not yet been made obedient to the Father unto death; He had not given Himself, as the Apostle says, ‘who gave Himself for our sins,5 a ransom.’ If He was dying willingly, what need of the words ‘Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away’? No: this must not be understood of Himself; it must be understood of those who were on the point of sinning against Him, to prevent them from sinning; when crucified in their behalf He said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’7 We must not understand words spoken in accordance with the œconomy to be spoken simply.”

On John 6:57. I Live by the Father.

“If the Son lives on account of the Father, He lives on account of another, and not of Himself. But He who lives on account of another cannot be Self-life.11 So He who is holy of grace is not holy of himself. Then the Son did not speak truly when He said, ‘I am the life,’13 and again, ‘the Son quickeneth whom He will.’ We must therefore understand the words to be spoken in reference to the incarnation, and not to the Godhead.”

On John 5:19. The Son can do Nothing of Himself

“If freedom of action is better than subjection to control,16 and a man is free, while the Son of God is subject to control, then the man is better than the Son. This is absurd. And if he who is subject to control cannot create free beings (for he cannot of his own will confer on others what he does not possess himself), then the Saviour, since He made us free, cannot Himself be under the control of any.”

“If the Son could do nothing of Himself, and could only act at the bidding of the Father, He is neither good nor bad. He was not responsible for anything that was done. Consider the absurdity of the position that men should be free agents both of good and evil, while the Son, who is God, should be able to do nothing of His own authority!”

On John 15:1. I am the Vine

“If, say they, the Saviour is a vine, and we are branches, but the Father is husbandman; and if the branches are of one nature with the vine, and the vine is not of one nature with the husbandman; then the Son is of one nature with us, and we are a part of Him, but the Son is not of one nature with, but in all respects of a nature foreign to, the Father, I shall reply to them that He called us branches not of His Godhead, but of His flesh, as the Apostle says, we are ‘the body of Christ, and members in particular,’ and again, ‘know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?’18 and in other places, ‘as is the earthy, such are they that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, let us all bear the image of the heavenly.’ If the head of the ‘man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God,’2 and man is not of one substance with Christ, Who is God (for man is not God), but Christ is of one substance with God (for He is God) therefore God is not the head of Christ in the same sense as Christ is the head of man. The natures of the creature and the creative Godhead do not exactly coincide. God is head of Christ, as Father; Christ is head of us, as Maker. If the will of the Father is that we should believe in His Son (for this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life), the Son is not a Son of will. That we should believe in Him is (an injunction) found with Him, or before Him.”4

On Mark 10:18. There is none Good, etc

“If the Saviour is not good, He is necessarily bad. For He is simple, and His character does not admit of any intermediate quality. How can it be otherwise than absurd that the Creator of good should be bad? And if life is good, and the words of the Son are life, as He Himself said, ‘the words which I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,’ in what sense, when He hears one of the Pharisees address Him as good Master, does He rejoin, ‘There is none good but One, that is God’? It was not when He had heard no more than good that he said, ‘there is none good,’ but when He had heard good Master. He answered as to one tempting Him, as the gospel expresses it, or to one ignorant, that God is good, and not simply a good master.”

On John 17:5. Father, glorify Me

“If when the Son asked to be glorified of the Father He was asking in respect of His Godhead, and not of His manhood, He asked for what He did not possess. Therefore the evangelist speaks falsely when he says ‘we beheld His glory’; and the apostle, in the words ‘They would not have crucified the Lord of glory,’7 and David in the words ‘And the King of glory shall come in.’ It is not therefore an increase of glory which he asks. He asks that there may be a manifestation of the œconomy.9 Again, if He really asked that the glory which He had before the world might be given Him of the Father, He asked it because He had lost it. He would never have sought to receive that of which He was in possession. But if this was the case, He had lost not only the glory, but also the Godhead. For the glory is inseparable from the Godhead. Therefore, according to Photinus, He was mere man. It is then clear that He spoke these words in accordance with the œconomy of the manhood, and not through failure in the Godhead.”

On Coloss. 1:15. Firstborn of every Creature

“If before the creation the Son was not a generated being but a created being, He would have been called first created and not firstborn.12 If, because He is called first begotten of creation He is first created, then because He is called first begotten of the dead He would be the first of the dead who died. If on the other hand He is called first begotten of the dead because of His being the cause of the resurrection from the dead, He is in the same manner called first begotten of creation, because He is the cause of the bringing of the creature from the non existent into being. If His being called first begotten of creation indicates that He came first into being, then the Apostle, when he said, ‘all things were created by Him and for Him,’2 ought to have added, ‘And He came into being first of all.’ But in saying ‘He is before all things,’ he indicated that He exists eternally, while the creature came into being. ‘Is’ in the passage in question is in harmony with the words ‘In the beginning was the Word.’4 It is urged that if the Son is first begotten, He cannot be only begotten, and that there must needs be some other, in comparison with whom He is styled first begotten. Yet, O wise objector, though He is the only Son born of the Virgin Mary, He is called her first born. For it is said, ‘Till she brought forth her first born Son.’ There is therefore no need of any brother in comparison with whom He is styled first begotten.6

“It might also be said that one who was before all generation was called first begotten, and moreover in respect of them who are begotten of God through the adoption of the Holy Ghost, as Paul says, ‘For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brethren.’ ”

On Prov. 7:22. The Lord Created Me (LXX.).

“If it is the incarnate Lord who says ‘I am the way,’ and ‘No man cometh unto the Father but by me,’10 it is He Himself Who said, ‘The Lord created me beginning of ways.’ The word is also used of the creation and making of a begotten being.’ as ‘I have created a man through the Lord,’12 and again ‘He begat sons and daughters,’ and so David, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God,14” not asking for another, but for the cleansing of the heart he had. And a new creature is spoken of, not as though another creation came into being, but because the enlightened are established in better works. If the Father created the Son for works, He created Him not on account of Himself, but on account of the works. But that which comes into being on account of something else, and not on its own account, is either a part of that on account of which it came into being, or is inferior. The Saviour will then be either a part of the creature, or inferior to the creature. We must understand the passage of the manhood. And it might be said that Solomon uttered these words of the same wisdom whereof the Apostle makes mention in the passage ‘For after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God.’ It must moreover be home in mind that the speaker is not a prophet, but a writer of proverbs. Now proverbs are figures of other things, not the actual things which are uttered. if it was God the Son Who said, ‘The Lord created me,’ He would rather have said, ‘The Father created me.’ Nowhere did He call Him Lord, but always Father. The word ‘begot,’ then, must be understood in reference to God the Son, and the word created, in reference to Him who took on Him the form of a servant. In all these cases we do not mention two, God apart and man apart (for He was One), but in thought we take into account the nature of each. Peter had not two in his mind when he said, ‘Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh.’16 If, they argue, the Son is a thing begotten and not a thing made, how does Scripture say, ‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, Whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ’? We must also say here that this was spoken according to the flesh about the Son of Man; just as the angel who announced the glad tidings to the shepherds says, ‘To you is born to-day a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord.’ The word ‘to-day’ could never be understood of Him Who was before the ages. This is more clearly shewn by what comes afterwards where it is said, ‘That same Jesus whom ye have crucified.’2 If when the Son was born He was then made wisdom, it is untrue that He was ‘the power of God and the wisdom of God.’4 His wisdom did not come into being, but existed always. And so, as though of the Father, it is said by David, ‘Be thou, God, my defender,’ and again, ‘Thou art become my salvation,’6 and so Paul, ‘Let God be true, but every man a liar.’ Thus the Lord ‘of God is made unto us wisdom and sanctification and redemption.’8 Now when the Father was made defender and true, He was not a thing made; and similarly when the Son was made wisdom and sanctification, He was not a thing made. If it is true that there is one God the Father, it is assuredly also true that there is one Lord Jesus Christ the Saviour. According to them the Saviour is not God nor the Father Lord, and it is written in vain, ‘the Lord said unto my Lord.’ False is the statement, ‘Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee.’10 False too, ‘The Lord rained from the Lord.’ False, ‘God created in the image of God,’12 and ‘Who is God save the Lord?’ and ‘Who is a God save our God.’14 False the statement of John that ‘the Word was God and the Word was with God;’ and the words of Thomas of the Son, ‘my Lord and my God.’16 The distinctions, then, ought to be referred to creatures and to those who are falsely and not properly called gods, and not to the Father and to the Son.”

On John 17:3. That they may know thee, the only true God

“The true (sing.) is spoken of in contradistinction to the false (pl.). But He is incomparable, because in comparison with all He is in all things superexcellent. When Jeremiah said of the Son, ‘This is our God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison with Him,’ did he describe Him as greater even than the Father? That the Son also is true God, John himself declares in the Epistle, ‘That we may know the only true God, and we are (in Him that is true, even) in His (true) Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.’18 It would be wrong, on account of the words ‘There shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him,’ to understand the Son to be greater than the Father; nor must we suppose the Father to be the only true God. Both expressions must be used in connexion with those who are falsely styled, but are not really, gods. In the same way it is said in Deuteronomy, ‘So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him.’ If God is alone invisible and wise, it does not at once follow that He is greater than all in all things. But the God Who is over all is necessarily superior to all. Did the Apostle, when he styled the Saviour God over all, describe Him as greater than the Father? The idea is absurd. The passage in question must be viewed in the same manner. The great God cannot be less than a different God. When the Apostle said of the Son, we look for ‘that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,’ did he think of Him as greater than the Father?21 It is the Son, not the Father, Whose appearance and advent we are waiting for. These terms are thus used without distinction of both the Father and the Son, and no exact nicety is observed in their employment. ‘Being equally with God’ is identical with being equal with God.23 Since the Son ‘thought it not robbery’ to be equal with God, how can He be unlike and unequal to God? Jews are nearer true religion than Eunomius. Whenever the Saviour called Himself no more than Son of God, as though it were due to the Son, if He be really Son, to be Himself equal to the Father, they wished, it is said, to stone Him, not only because He was breaking the Sabbath, but because, by saying that God was His own Father, He made Himself equal with God. Therefore, even though Eunomius is unwilling that it should be so, according both to the Apostle and to the Saviour’s own words, the Son is equal with the Father.”

On Matt. 20:23. Is not Mine to give, save for whom it is prepared

“If the Son has not authority over the judgment, and power to benefit some and chastise others, how could He say, ‘The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son’? And in another place, ‘The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins;’3 and again, ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth;’ and to Peter, ‘I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven;’5 and to the disciples, ‘Verily, I say unto you that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, … shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’ The explanation is clear from the Scripture, since the Saviour said, ‘Then will I reward every man according to his work;’7 and in another place, ‘They that have done good shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.’ And the Apostle says, ‘We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.’9 It is therefore the part of the recipients to make themselves worthy of a seat on the left and on the right of the Lord: it is not the part of Him Who is able to give it, even though the request be unjust.”

On Ps. 18:31, Who is God, Save the Lord? Who is God Save Our God?

“It has already been sufficiently demonstrated that the Scriptures employ these expressions and others of a similar character not of the Son, but of the so-called gods who were not really so. I have strewn this from the fact that in both the Old and the New Testament the son is frequently styled both God and Lord. David makes this still clearer when be says, ‘Who is like unto Thee?’ and adds, ‘among the gods, O Lord,’ and Moses, in the words, ‘So the Lord alone did lead them, and there was no strange god with him.’12 And yet although, as the Apostle says, the Saviour was with them, ‘They drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ,’ and Jeremiah, ‘The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, … let them perish under the heavens.’14 The Son is not meant among these, for He is himself Creator of all. It is then the idols and images of the heathen who are meant alike by the preceding passage and by the words, ‘I am the first God and I am the last, and beside me there is no God,’ and also, ‘Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there he after me,’16 and ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.’ None of these passages must be understood as referring to the Son.”

The Fifth Book against Eunomius is on the Holy Spirit, and therefore, even if it were of indubitable genuineness, it would be of comparatively Little importance, as the subject is fully discussed in the treatise of his mature life. A reason advanced against its genuineness has been the use concerning the Holy Ghost of the term God. (§ 3.) But it has been replied that the reserve which St. Basil practiced after his elevation to the episcopate was but for a special and temporary purpose. He calls the Spirit God in Ep. VIII. § 11. At the time of the publication of the Books against Eunomius there would be no such reason for any “economy” as in 374.

(ii) De Spiritu Sancto. To the illustration and elucidation of this work I have little to add to what is furnished, however inadequately, by the translation and notes in the following pages. The famous treatise of St. Basil was one of several put out about the same time by the champions of the Catholic cause. Amphilochius, to whom it was addressed, was the author of a work which Jerome describes (De Vir. Ill., cxxxiii.) as arguing that He is God Almighty, and to be worshipped. The Ancoratus of Epiphanius was issued in 373 in support of the same doctrine. At about the same time Didymus, the blind master of the catechetical school at Alexandria, wrote a treatise which is extant in St. Jerome’s Latin; and of which the work of St. Ambrose, composed in 381, for the Emperor Gratian, is “to a considerable extent an echo.”

So in East and West a vigorous defence was maintained against the Macedonian assault. The Catholic position is exactly defined in the Synodical Letter sent by Damasus to Paulinus of Tyre in 378. Basil died at the crisis of the campaign, and with no bright Pisgah view of the ultimate passage into peace. The generalship was to pass into other hands. There is something of the irony of fate, or of the mystery of Providence, in the fact that the voice condemned by Basil to struggle against the mean din and rattle of Sasima should be the vehicle for impressing on the empire the truths which Basil held dear. Gregory of Sasima was no archiepiscopal success at Constantinople. He was not an administrator or a man of the world. But he was a great divine and orator, and the imperial basilica of the Athanasia rang with outspoken declarations of the same doctrines, which Basil had more cautiously suggested to inevitable inference. The triumph was assured, Gregory was enthroned in St. Sophia, and under Theodosius the Catholic Faith was safe from molestation.

II. Exegetic.

(i) As of the De Spiritu Sancto, so of the Hexaemeron, no further account need be given here. It may, however, be noted that the Ninth Homily ends abruptly, and the latter, and apparently more important, portion of the subject is treated of at less length than the former. Jerome and Cassiodorus4 speak of nine homilies only on the creation. Socrates says the Hexaemeron was completed by Gregory of Nyssa. Three orations are published among Basil’s works, two on the creation of men and one on Paradise, which are attributed to Basil by Combefis and Du Pin, but not considered genuine by Tillemont, Maran, Garnier, Ceillier, and Fessler. They appear to be compositions which some editor thought congruous to the popular work of Basil, and so appended them to it.

The nine discourses in the Hexaemeron all shew signs of having been delivered extempore, and the sequence of argument and illustration is not such as to lead to the conclusion that they were ever redacted by the author into exact literary form. We probably owe their preservation to the skilled shorthand writers of the day.

(ii) The Homilies on the Psalms as published are seventeen in number; it has however been commonly held that the second Homily on Ps. 38. is not genuine, but the composition of some plagiarist. The Homily also on Ps. 37. has been generally objected to. These are omitted from the group of the Ben. Ed., together with the first on Ps. 114., and that on 115. Maran thinks that none of these orations shew signs of having been delivered in the episcopate, or of having reference to the heresy of the Pneumatomachi; two apparently point directly to the presbyterate. In that on Ps. 14. he speaks of an ἀμεριμνία which would better befit the priest than the primate; on Ps. 114. he describes himself as serving a particular church. Both arguments seem a little far-fetched, and might be opposed on plausible grounds. Both literal and allegorical interpretations are given. If Basil is found expressing himself in terms similar to those of Eusebius, it is no doubt because both were inspired by Origen. The Homily on Psalm 1. begins with a partial quotation from 2 Tim. 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable,” and goes on, “and was composed by the Spirit to the end that all of us men, as in a general hospital for souls, may choose each what is best for his own cure.” For him, Scripture is supreme. As is noticed on Hom. IX. of the Hexaemeron, Basil is on the whole for the simpler sense. But he was a student of Origen, and he well knows how to use allegory when he thinks fit. An example may be observed in Letter VIII., where there is an elaborate allegorisation of the “times and the seasons” of Acts 1:7. An instance of the application of both systems is to be found in the Homily on Psalm 28. (i.e. in A.V. 29.). The LXX. Title is Ψαλμὸς τῷ Δαυὶδ ἐξοδίου σκηνῆζ, “Psalmus David in exitu e tabernaculo.” Primarily this is a charge delivered to the priests and Levites on leaving their sacred offices. They are to remember all that it is their duty to prepare for the holy service. As they go out of the Tabernacle the psalm tells them all that it behoves them to have in readiness for the morrow, young rams (Ps. 29:1, LXX.), glory and honour, glory for His name. “But to our minds, as they contemplate high and lofty things, and by the aid of an interpretation dignified and worthy of Holy Scripture make the Law our own, the meaning is different. There is no question of ram in flock, nor tabernacle fashioned of lifeless material, nor departure from the temple. The tabernacle for us is this body of ours, as the Apostle has told us in the words, ‘For we that are in this tabernacle do groan.’ The departure from the temple is our quitting this life. For this these words bid us be prepared, bringing such and such things to the Lord, if the deeds done here are to be a means to help us on our journey to the life to come.”

This is in the style of exegesis hitherto popular. To hearers familiar with exegesis of the school of Origen, it is an innovation for Basil to adopt such an exclusively literal system of exposition as he does,—e.g. in Hom. IX. on the Hexaemeron,—the system which is one of his distinguishing characteristics. In his common-sense literalism he is thus a link with the historical school of Antioch, whose principles were in contrast with those of Origen and the Alexandrians, a school represented by Theodore of Mopseustia, Diodorus of Tarsus, and later by Theodoret.5

It is remarked by Gregory of Nazianzus in his memorial oration that Basil used a threefold method of enforcing Scripture on his hearers and readers. This may be understood to be the literal, moral, and allegorical. Ceillier points out that this description, so far as we know, applies only to the Homilies on the Psalms.

The praise of the Psalms, prefixed to Psalm 1., is a passage of noticeable rhetorical power and of considerable beauty. Its popularity is shewn by the fact of its being found in some manuscripts of St. Augustine, and also in the commentary of Rufinus. The latter probably translated it; portions of it were transcribed by St. Ambrose.

“The prophets,” says St. Basil, “the historians, the law, give each a special kind of teaching, and the exhortation of the proverbs furnishes yet another. But the use and profit of all are included in the book of Psalms. There is prediction of thing to come. There our memories are reminded of the past. There laws are laid down for the guidance of life. There are directions as to conduct. The book, in a word, is a treasury of sound teaching, and provides for every individual need. It heals the old hurts of souls, and brings about recovery where the wound is fresh. It wins the part that is sick and preserves that which is sound. As far as lies within its power, it destroys the passions which lord it in this life in the souls of men. And all this it effects with a musical persuasiveness and with a gratification that induces wise and wholesome reflexion. The Holy Spirit saw that mankind was hard to draw to goodness, that our life’s scale inclined to pleasure, and that so we were neglectful of the right. What plan did He adopt? He combined the delight of melody with His teaching, to the end that by the sweetness and softness of what we heard we might, all unawares, imbibe the blessing of the words. He acted like wise leeches, who, when they would give sour draughts to sickly patients, put honey round about the cup. So the melodious music of the Psalms has been designed for us, that those who are boys in years, or at least but lads in ways of life, while they seem to be singing, may in reality be carrying on the education of the soul. It is not easy for the inattentive to retain in their memory, when they go home, an injunction of an apostle or prophet; but the sayings of the Psalms are sung in our houses and travel with us through the streets. Let a man begin even to grow savage as some wild beast, and no sooner is he soothed by psalm-singing than straightway he goes home with passions lulled to calm and quiet by the music of the song.

“A psalm is souls’ calm, herald of peace, hushing the swell and agitation of thoughts. It soothes the passions of the soul; it brings her license under law. A psalm is welder of friendship, atonement of adversaries, reconciliation of haters. Who can regard a man as his enemy, when they have lifted up one voice to God together? So Psalmody gives us the best of all boons, love. Psalmody has bethought her of concerted singing as a mighty bond of union, and links the people together in a symphony of one song. A psalm puts fiends to flight, and brings the aid of angels to our side; it is armour in the terrors of the night; in the toils of the day it is refreshment; to infants it is a protection, to men in life’s prime a pride, to elders a consolation, to women an adornment. It turns wastes into homes. It brings wisdom into marts and meetings. To beginners it is an alphabet, to all who are advancing an improvement, to the perfect a confirmation. It is the voice of the church. It gladdens feasts. It produces godly sorrow. It brings a tear even from a heart of stone. A psalm is angels’ work, the heavenly conversation, the spiritual sacrifice. Oh, the thoughtful wisdom of the Instructor Who designed that we should at one and the same time sing and learn to our profit! It is thus that His precepts are imprinted on our souls. A lesson that is learned unwillingly is not likely to last, but all that is learned with pleasure and delight effects a permanent settlement in our souls. What can you not learn from this source? You may learn magnificent manliness, scrupulous righteousness, dignified self-control, perfect wisdom. You may learn how to repent, and how far to endure. What good thing can you not learn? There is a complete theology; a foretelling of the advent of Christ in the flesh; threatening of judgment; hope of resurrection; fear of chastisement; promise of glory; revelation of mysteries. Everything is stored in the book of the Psalms as in some vast treasury open to all the world. There are many instruments of music, but the prophet has fitted it to the instrument called Psaltery. I think the reason is that he wished to indicate the grace sounding in him from on high by the gift of the Spirit, because of all instruments the Psaltery is the only one which has the source of its sounds above.3 In the case of the cithara and the lyre the metal gives forth its sound at the stroke of the plectrum from below. The Psaltery has the source of its melodious strains above. So are we taught to be diligent in seeking the things which are above, and not to allow ourselves to be degraded by our pleasure in the music to the lusts of the flesh. And what I think the word of the Prophet profoundly and wisely teaches by means of the fashion of the instrument is this,—that those whose souls are musical and harmonious find their road to the things that are above most easy.”

On Psalm 14 (in A. V. 15) the commentary begins:

“Scripture, with the desire to describe to us the perfect man, the man who is ordained to be the recipient of blessings, observes a certain order and method in the treatment of points in him which we may contemplate, and begins from the simplest and most obvious, ‘Lord, who shall sojourn in thy tabernacle?’ A sojourning is a transitory dwelling. It indicates a life not settled, but passing, in hope of our removal to the better things. It is the part of a saint to pass through this world, and to hasten to another life. In this sense David says of himself, ‘I am a stranger with thee and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.’5 Abraham was a sojourner, who did not possess even so much land as to set his foot on, and, when he needed a tomb, bought one for money. The word teaches us that so long as he lives in the flesh he is a sojourner, and, when he removes from this life, rests in his own home. In this life he sojourns with strangers, but the land which he bought in the tomb to receive his body is his own. And truly blessed is it, not to rot with things of earth as though they were one’s own, nor cling to all that is about us here as through here were our natural fatherland, but to be conscious of the fall from nobler things, and of our passing our time in heaviness because of the punishment that is laid upon us, just like exiles who for some crimes’ sake have been banished by the magistrates into regions far from the land that gave them birth. Hard it is to find a man who will not heed present things as though they were his own; who knows that he has the use of wealth but for a season; who reckons on the brief duration of his health; who remembers that the bloom of human glory fades away.

” ‘Who shall sojourn in thy tabernacle?’ The flesh that is given to man’s soul for it to dwell in is called God’s tabernacle. Who will be found to treat this flesh as though it were not his own? Sojourners, when they hire land that is not their own, till the estate at the will of the owner. So, too, to us the care of the flesh has been entrusted by bond, for us to toil with diligence therein, and make it fruitful for the use of Him Who gave it. And if the flesh is worthy of God, it becomes verily a tabernacle of God, accordingly as He makes His dwelling in the saints. Such is the flesh of the sojourner. ‘Lord, who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle?’ Then there come progress and advance to that which is more perfect. ‘And who shall dwell in thy holy hill?’ A Jew, in earthly sense, when he hears of the ‘hill,’ turns his thoughts to Sion. ‘Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?’ The sojourner in the flesh shall dwell in the holy hill, he shall dwell in that hill, that heavenly country, bright and splendid, whereof the Apostle says, ‘Ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,’ where is the general assembly of ‘angels, and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven.’ ”

The Second Homily on Psalm 14 (15) has a special interest in view of the denunciation of usury alike in Scripture and in the early Church. The matter had been treated of at Nicæa. With it may be compared Homily VII., De Avaritia.

After a few words of introduction and reference to the former Homily on the same Psalm, St. Basil proceeds;—”In depicting the character of the perfect man, of him, that is, who is ordained to ascend to the life of everlasting peace, the prophet reckons among his noble deeds his never having given his money upon usury. This particular sin is condemned in many passages of Scripture. Ezekiel reckons taking usury and increase among the greatest of crimes. The law distinctly utters the prohibition ‘Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother’4 and to thy neighour. Again it is said, ‘Usury upon usury; guile upon guile.’ And of the city abounding in a multitude of wickednesses, what does the Psalm say? ‘Usury and guile depart not from her streets.’6 Now the prophet instances precisely the same point as characteristic of the perfect man, saving, ‘He that putteth not out his money to usury.’ For in truth it is the last pitch of inhumanity that one man, in need of the bare necessities of life, should be compelled to borrow, and another, not satisfied with the principal, should seek to make gain and profit for himself out of the calamities of the poor. The Lord gave His own injunction quite plainly in the words, ‘from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.’8 But what of the money lover? He sees before him a man under stress of necessity bent to the ground in supplication. He sees him hesitating at no act, no words, of humiliation. He sees him suffering undeserved misfortune, but he is merciless. He does not reckon that he is a fellow-creature. He does not give in to his entreaties. He stands stiff and sour. He is moved by no prayers; his resolution is broken by no tears. He persists in refusal, invoking curses on his own head if he has any money about him, and swearing that he is himself on the lookout for a friend to furnish him a loan. He backs lies with oaths, and makes a poor addition to his stock in trade by supplementing inhumanity with perjury. Then the suppliant mentions interest, and utters the word security. All is changed. The frown is relaxed; with a genial smile he recalls old family connexion. Now it is ‘my friend.’ ‘I will see,’ says he, ‘if I have any money by me. Yes; there is that sum which a man I know has left in my hands on deposit for profit. He named very heavy interest. However, I shall certainly take something off, and give it you on better terms.’ With presences of this kind and talk like this he fawns on the wretched victim, and induces him to swallow the bait. Then he binds him with written security, adds loss of liberty to the trouble of his pressing poverty, and is off. The man who has made himself responsible for interest which he cannot pay has accepted voluntary slavery for life. Tell me; do you expect to get money and profit out of the pauper? If he were in a position to add to your wealth, why should he come begging at your door? He came seeking an ally, and he found a foe. He was looking for medicine, and he lighted on poison. You ought to have comforted him in his distress, but in your attempt to grow fruit on the waste you are aggravating his necessity. Just as well might a physician go in to his patients, and instead of restoring them to health, rob them of the little strength they might have left. This is the way in which you try to profit by the misery of the wretched. Just as farmers pray for rain to make their fields fatter, so you are anxious for men’s need and indigence, that your money may make more. You forget that the addition which you are making to your sins is larger than the increase to your wealth which you are reckoning on getting for your usury. The seeker of the loan is helpless either way: he bethinks him of his poverty, he gives up all idea of payment as hopeless when at the need of the moment he risks the loan. The borrower bends to necessity and is beaten. The lender goes off secured by bills and bonds.

“After he has got his money, at first a man is bright and joyous; he shines with another’s splendour, and is conspicuous by his altered mode of life. His table is lavish; his dress is most expensive. His servants appear in finer liveries; he has flatterers and boon companions; his rooms are full of drones innumerable. But the money slips away. Time as it runs on adds the interest to its tale. Now night brings him no rest; no day is joyous; no sun is bright; he is weary of his life; he hates the days that are hurrying on to the appointed period; he is afraid of the months, for they are parents of interest. Even if he sleeps, he sees the lender in his slumbers—a bad dream—standing by his pillow. If he wakes up, there is the anxiety and dread of the interest. ‘The poor and the usurer,’ he exclaims, ‘meet together: the Lord lighteneth both their eyes.’ The lender runs like a hound after the game. The borrower like a ready prey crouches at the coming catastrophe, for his penury robs him of the power of speech. Both have their readyreckoner in their hands, the one congratulating himself as the interest mounts up, the other groaning at the growth of his calamities. ‘Drink waters out of thine own cistern.’2 Look, that is to say, at your own resources; do not approach other men’s springs; provide your comforts from your own reservoirs. Have you household vessels, clothes, beast of burden, all kinds of furniture? Sell these. Rather surrender all than lose your liberty. Ah, but—he rejoins—I am ashamed to put them up for sale. What then do you think of another’s bringing them out a little later on, and crying your goods, and getting rid of them for next to nothing before your very eyes? Do not go to another man’s door. Verily ‘another man’s well is narrow.’ Better is it to relieve your necessity gradually by one contrivance after another than after being all in a moment elated by another man’s means, afterwards to be stripped at once of everything. If you have anything wherewith to pay, why do you not relieve your immediate difficulties out of these resources? If you are insolvent, you are only trying to cure ill with ill. Decline to be blockaded by an usurer. Do not suffer yourself to be sought out and tracked down like another man’s game.4 Usury is the origin of lying; the beginning of ingratitude, unfairness, perjury.…

“But, you ask, how am I to live? You have hands. You have a craft. Work for wages. Go into service. There are many ways of getting a living, many kinds of resources. You are helpless? Ask those who have means. It is discreditable to ask? It will be much more discreditable to rob your creditor. I do not speak thus to lay down the law. I only wish to point out that any course is more advantageous to you than borrowing.

“Listen, you rich men, to the kind of advice I am giving to the poor because of your inhumanity. Far better endure under their dire straits than undergo the troubles that are bred of usury! But if you were obedient to the Lord, what need of these words? What is the advice of the Master? Lend to those from whom ye do not hope to receive. And what kind of loan is this, it is asked, from all which all idea of the expectation of repayment is withdrawn? Consider the force of the expression, and you will be amazed at the loving kindness of the legislator. When you mean to supply the need of a poor man for the Lord’s sake, the transaction is at once a gift and a loan. Because there is no expectation of reimbursement, it is a gift. Yet because of the munificence of the Master, Who repays on the recipient’s behalf, it is a loan. ‘He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the Lord.’6 Do you not wish the Master of the universe to be responsible for your repayment? If any wealthy man in the town promises you repayment on behalf of others, do you admit his suretyship? But you do not accept God, Who more than repays on behalf of the poor. Give the money lying useless, without weighting it with increase, and both shall be benefited. To you will accrue the security of its safe keeping. The recipients will have the advantage of its use. And if it is increase which you seek, be satisfied with that which is given by the Lord. He will pay the interest for the poor. Await the loving-kindness of Him Who is in truth most kind.

“What you are taking involves the last extremity of inhumanity. You are making your profit out of misfortune; you are levying a tax upon tears. You are strangling the naked. You are dealing blows on the starving. There is no pity anywhere, no sense of your kinship to the hungry; and you call the profit you get from these sources kindly and humane! Wo unto them that ‘put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter,’ and call inhumanity humanity! This surpasses even the riddle which Samson proposed to his boon companions:—’Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.’2 Out of the inhuman came forth humanity! Men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles, nor humanity of usury. A corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.4 There are such people as twelve-per-cent-men and ten-per-cent-men: I shudder to mention their names. They are exactors by the month, like the demons who produce epilepsy, attacking the poor as the changes of the moon come round.

“Here there is an evil grant to either, to giver and to recipient. To the latter, it brings ruin on his property; to the former, on his soul. The husbandman, when he has the ear in store, does not search also for the seed beneath the root; you both possess the fruit and cannot keep your hands from the principal. You plant where there is no ground. You reap where there has been no sowing. For whom you are gathering you cannot tell. The man from whom usury wrings tears is manifest enough; but it is doubtful who is destined to enjoy the results of the superfluity. You have laid up in store for yourself the trouble that results from your iniquity, but it is uncertain whether you will not leave the use of your wealth to others. Therefore, ‘from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away;’ and do not give your money upon usury. Learn from both Old and New Testament what is profitable for you, and so depart hence with good hope to your Lord; in Him you will receive the interest of your good deeds,—in Jesus Christ our Lord to Whom be glory and might for ever and ever, Amen.”

(iii.) The Commentary on Isaiah. The Commentary on Isaiah is placed by the Benedictine Editors in the appendix of doubtful composition, mainly on the ground of inferiority of style. Ceillier is strongly in favour of the genuineness of this work, and calls attention to the fact that it is attested by strong manuscript authority, and by the recognition of St. Maximus, of John of Damascus, of Simeon Logothetes, of Antony Melissa of Tarasius, and of the Greek scholiast on the Epistles of St. Paul, who is supposed to be Œcumenius. Fessler ranks the work among those of doubtful authority on the ground of the silence of earlier Fathers and of the inferiority of style, as well as of apparent citations from the Commentary of Eusebius, and of some eccentricity of opinion. He conjectures that we may possibly have here the rough material of a proposed work on Isaiah, based mainly on Origen, which was never completed. Garnier regards it as totally unworthy of St. Basil. Maran (Vit. Bas. 42) would accept it, and refutes objections.

Among the remarks which have seemed frivolous is the comment on Is. 11:12, that the actual cross of the Passion was prefigured by the four parts of the universe joining in the midst. Similar objections have been taken to the statement that the devils like rich fare, and crowd the idols’ temples to enjoy the sacrificial feasts.9 On the other hand it has been pointed out that this ingenuity in finding symbols of the cross is of a piece with that of Justin Martyr, who cites the yard on the mast, the plough, and the Roman trophies, and that Gregory of Nazianzus11 instances the same characteristic of the devils. While dwelling on the holiness of character required for the prophetic offices, the Commentary points out that sometimes it has pleased God to grant it to Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar for the sake of their great empires; to Caiaphas as the high priest; to Balaam, because of the exigencies of the crisis at which he appeared. The unchaste lad13 who has some great sin upon his conscience shrinks from taking his place among the faithful, and is ashamed to rank himself with the weepers. So he tries to avoid the examination of those whose duty it is to enquire into sins and he invents excuses for leaving the church before the celebration of the mysteries. The Commentary urges15 that without penitence the best conduct is unavailing for salvation; that God requires of the sinner not merely the abandonment of the sinful part, but also the amends of penance, and warns men that they must not dream that the grace of baptism will free them from the obligation to live a godly life. The value of tradition is insisted on.2 Every nation, as well as every church, is said to have its own guardian angel.

The excommunication reserved for certain gross sins is represented as a necessary means enjoined by St. Paul to prevent the spread of wickedness. It is said5 to be an old tradition that on leaving Paradise Adam went to live in Jewry, and there died; that after his death, his skull appearing bare, it was carried to a certain place hence named “place of a skull,” and that for this reason Jesus Christ, Who came to destroy death’s kingdom, willed to die on the spot where the first fruits of mortality were interred.

On Is. 5:14, “Hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure,” it is remarked that these are figurative expressions to denote the multitude of souls that perish. At the same time an alternative literal meaning is admitted, the mouth being the opening through which the souls of the damned are precipitated into a dark region beneath tile earth.

It is noted in some MSS. that the Commentary was given to the world by an anonymous presbyter after St. Basil’s death, who may have abstained from publishing it because it was in an unfinished state. Erasmus was the first to undertake to print it, and to translate it into Latin, but he went no further than the preface. It was printed in Paris in 1556 by Tilmann, with a lengthy refutation of the objections of Erasmus.

III. Ascetic.

(i) Of the works comprised under this head, the first are the three compositions entitled Tractatus Prævii. The first, Prævia Institutio ascetica (Ἀσκητικὴ προδιατύπωσις), is an exhortation to enlistment in the sacred warfare; the second, on renunciation of the world and spiritual perfection, is the Sermo asceticus (λόγος ἀσκητικός). The third, Sermo de ascetica disciplina (λόγος περὶ ἀσκήσεως, πῶς δεῖ κοσμἑισθαι τὸν μοναχόν), treats of the virtues to be exhibited in the life of the solitary.

The first of the three is a commendation less of monasticism than of general Christian endurance. It has been supposed to have been written in times of special oppression and persecution.

The second discourse is an exhortation to renunciation of the world. Riches are to be abandoned to the poor. The highest life is the monastic. But this is not to be hastily and inconsiderately embraced. To renounce monasticism and return to the world is derogatory to a noble profession. The idea of pleasing God in the world as well as out of it is, for those who have once quitted it, a delusion. God has given mankind the choice of two holy estates, marriage or virginity. The law which bids us love God more than father, mother, or self, more than wife and children, is as binding in wedlock as in celibacy. Marriage indeed demands the greater watchfulness, for it offers the greater temptations. Monks are to be firm against all attempts to shake their resolves. They will do well to put themselves under the guidance of some good man of experience and pious life, learned in the Scriptures, loving the poor more than money, superior to the seductions of flattery, and loving God above all things. Specific directions are given for the monastic life, and monks are urged to retirement, silence, and the study of the Scriptures.

The third discourse, which is brief, is a summary of similar recommendations. The monk ought moreover to labour with his hands, to reflect upon the day of judgment, to succour the sick, to practise hospitality, to read books of recognized genuineness, not to dispute about the doctrine of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but to believe in and confess an uncreate and consubstantial Trinity.

(ii) Next in order come the Proæmium de Judicio Dei (προοίμιον περὶ κρίματος Θεοῦ) and the De Fide (περὶ πίστεως). These treatises were prefixed by Basil to the Moralia. He states that, when he enquired into the true causes of the troubles which weighed heavily on the Church, he could only refer them to breaches of the commandments of God. Hence the divine punishment, and the need of observing the Divine Law. The apostle says that what is needed is faith working by love. So St. Basil thought it necessary to append an exposition of the sound faith concerning the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and so pass in order to morals. It has, however, been supposed by some2 that the composition published in the plan as the De Fide is not the original tract so entitled, but a letter on the same subject written, if not during the episcopate, at least in the presbyterate. This view has been supported by the statement “Thus we believe and baptize.”

This, however, might be said generally of the custom obtaining in the Church, without reference to the writer’s own practice. Certainly the document appears to have no connexion with those among which it stands, and to be an answer to some particular request for a convenient summary couched in scriptural terms. Hence it does not contain the Homoousion, and the author gives his reason for the omission—an omission which, he points out, is in contrast with his other writings against heretics.5 Obviously, therefore, this composition is to be placed in his later life. Yet he describes the De Fide as being anterior to the Moralia.

It will be remembered that this objection to the title and date of the extant De Fide implies nothing against its being the genuine work of the archbishop.

While carefully confining himself to the language of Scripture, the author points out that even with this aid, Faith, which he defines as an impartial assent to what has been revealed to us by the gift of God, must necessarily be dark and incomplete. God can only be clearly known in heaven, when we shall see Him face to face.7 The statement that has been requested is as follows:

“We believe and confess one true and good God, Father Almighty, of Whom are all things, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: and His one Only-begotten Son, our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, only true, through Whom all things were made both visible and invisible, and by Whom all things consist: Who was in the beginning with God and was God, and, after this, according to the Scriptures, was seen on earth and had His conversation with men: Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, and by means of the birth from a virgin took a servant’s form, and was formed in fashion as a man, and fulfilled all things written with reference to Him and about Him, according to His Father’s commandment, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. And on the third day He rose from the dead, according to the Scriptures, and was seen by His holy disciples, and the rest, as it is written: And He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of His Father, whence He is coming at the end of this world, to raise all men, and to give to every man according to his conduct. Then the just shall be taken up into life eternal and the kingdom of heaven, but the sinner shall be condemned to eternal punishment, where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched: And in one Holy Ghost, the Comforter, in Whom we were sealed to the day of redemption: The Spirit of truth, the Spirit of adoption, in Whom we cry, Abba, Father; Who divideth and worketh the gifts that come of God, to each one for our good, as He will; Who teaches and calls to remembrance all things that He has heard from the Son; Who is good; Who guides us into all truth, and confirms all that believe, both in sure knowledge and accurate confession, and in pious service and spiritual and true worship of God the Father, and of His only begotten Son our Lord, and of Himself.”

(iii) The Moralia (τὰ ἠθικά) is placed in 361, in the earlier days of the Anomœan heresy. Shortly before this time the extreme Arians began to receive this name, and it is on the rise of the Anomœans that Basil is moved to write. The work comprises eighty Rules of Life, expressed in the words of the New Testament, with special reference to the needs of bishops, priests, and deacons, and of all persons occupied in education.

Penitence consists not only in ceasing to sin, but in expiating sin by tears and mortification. Sins of ignorance are not free from peril of judgment.11

Sins into which we feel ourselves drawn against our will are the results of sins to which we have consented. Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost consists in attributing to the devil the good works which the Spirit of God works in our brethren. We ought carefully to examine whether the doctrine offered us is conformable to Scripture, and if not, to reject it.2 Nothing must be added to the inspired words of God; all that is outside Scripture is not of faith, but is sin.

(iv) The Regulæ fusius tractatæ (ὅροι κατὰ πλάτος), 55 in number, and the Regulæ brevius tractatæ (ὅροι κατʼ ἐπιτομήν), in number 313, are a series of precepts for the guidance of religious life put in the form of question and answer. The former are invariably supported by scriptural authority.

Their genuineness is confirmed by strong external evidence. Gregory of Nazianzus (Or. xliii. § 34) speaks of Basil’s composing rules for monastic life, and in Ep. vi. intimates that he helped his friend in their composition. Rufinus (H.E. ii. 9) mentions Basil’s Instituta Monachorum. St. Jerome (De Vir. illust. cxvi.) says that Basil wrote τὸ ἄσκητικόν, and Photius (Cod. 191) describes the Asceticum as including the Regulæ. Sozomen (H.E. iii. 14) remarks that the Regulae were sometimes attributed to Eustathius of Sebaste, but speaks of them as generally recognised as St. Basil’s.

The monk who relinquishes his status after solemn profession and adoption is to be regarded as guilty of sacrilege, and the faithful are warned against all intercourse with him, with a reference to 2 Thess. 3:14.

Children are not to be received from their parents except with full security for publicity in their reception. They are to be carefully instructed in the Scriptures. They are not to be allowed to make any profession till they come to years of discretion (XV.). Temperance is a virtue, but the servants of God are not to condemn any of God’s creatures as unclean, and are to eat what is given them. (XVIII.) Hospitality is to be exercised with the utmost frugality and moderation, and the charge to Martha in Luke 10:41, is quoted with the reading ὀλίγων δέ ἐοτι χρεία ἢ ἑνός and the interpretation “few,” namely for provision, and “one,” namely the object in view,—enough for necessity. It would be as absurd for monks to change the simplicity of their fare on the arrival of a distinguished guest as it would be for them to change their dress (XX.). Rule XXI. is against unevangelical contention for places at table, and Rule XXII. regulates the monastic habit. The primary object of dress is said to be shewn by the words of Genesis,8 where God is said to have made Adam and Eve “coats of skins,” or, as in the LXX., χιτῶνας δερματίνους, i.e. tunics of hides. This use of tunics was enough for covering what was unseemly. But later another object was added—that of securing warmth by clothing. So we must keep both ends in view—decency, and protection against the weather. Among articles of dress some are very serviceable; some are less so. It is better to select what is most useful, so as to observe the rule of poverty, and to avoid a variety of vestments, some for show, others for use; some for day, some for night. A single garment must be devised to serve for all purposes, and for night as well as day. As the soldier is known by his uniform, and the senator by his robe, so the Christian ought to have his own dress. Shoes are to be provided on the same principle, they are to be simple and cheap. The girdle (XXIII.) is regarded as a necessary article of dress, not only because of its practical utility, but because of the example of the Lord Who girded Himself. In Rule XXVI. all secrets are ordered to be confided to the superintendent or bishop. If the superintendent himself is in error (XVII.) he is to be corrected by other brothers. Vicious brethren (XXVIII.) are to be cut off like rotten limbs. Self-exaltation and discontent are equally to be avoided (XXIX.). XXXVII. orders that devotional exercise is to be no excuse for idleness and shirking work. Work is to be done not only as a chastisement of the body, but for the sake of love to our neighbour and supplying weak and sick brethren with the necessaries of life. The apostle2 says that if a man will not work he must not eat. Daily work is as necessary as daily bread. The services of the day are thus marked out. The first movements of heart and mind ought to be consecrated to God. Therefore early in the morning nothing ought to be planned or purposed before we have been gladdened by the thought of God; as it is written, “I remembered God, and was gladdened;” the body is not to be set to work before we have obeyed the command, “O Lord, in the morning shalt thou hear my voice; in the morning will I order my prayer unto thee.”4 Again at the third hour there is to be a rising up to prayer, and the brotherhood is to be called together, even though they happen to have been dispersed to various works. The sixth hour is also to be marked by prayer, in obedience to the words of the Psalmist, “Evening, and morning, and at noon will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.” To ensure deliverance from the demon of noon-day,6 the XCIst Psalm is to be recited. The ninth hour is consecrated to prayer by the example of the Apostles Peter and John, who at that hour went up into the Temple to pray. Now the day is done. For all the boons of the day, and the good deeds of the day, we must give thanks. For omissions there must be confession. For sins voluntary or involuntary, or unknown, we must appease God in prayer.8 At nightfall the XCIst Psalm is to be recited again, midnight is to be observed in obedience to the example of Paul and Silas, and the injunction of tile Psalmist.10 Before dawn we should rise and pray again, as it is written, “Mine eyes prevent the night watches.” Here the canonical hours are marked, but no details are given as to the forms of prayer.

XL. deals with the abuse of holy places and solemn assemblies. Christians ought not to appear in places sacred to martyrs or in their neighbourhood for any other reason than to pray and commemorate the sacred dead. Anything like a worldly festival or commonmart at such times is like the sacrilege of the money changers in the Temple precincts.

LI. gives directions for monastic discipline. “Let the superintendent exert discipline after the manner of a physician treating his patients. He is not angry with the sick, but fights with the disease, and sets himself to combat their bad symptoms. If need be, he must heal the sickness of the soul by severer treatment; for example, love of vain glory, by the imposition of lowly tasks; foolish talking, by silence; immoderate sleep, by watching and prayer; idleness, by toil; gluttony, by fasting; murmuring, by seclusion, so that no brothers may work with the offender, nor admit him to participation in their works, till by his penitence that needeth not to be ashamed he appear to be rid of his complaint.”

LV. expounds at some length the doctrine of original sin, to which disease and death are traced.

The 313 Regulæ brevius tractatæ are, like the Regulæ fusius tractatæ, in the form of questions and answers. Fessler singles out as a striking specimen XXXIV.

Q. “How is any one to avoid the sin of man-pleasing, and looking to the praises of men?”

A. “There must be a full conviction of the presence of God, an earnest intention to please Him, and a burning desire for the blessings promised by the Lord. No one before his Master’s very eyes is excited into dishonouring his Master and bringing condemnation on himself, to please a fellow servant.”

XLVII. points out that it is a grave error to be silent when a brother sins.

XLIX. tells us that vain gloriousness (τὸ περπερεύεσθαι. Cf. 1 Cor. 13:4) consists in taking things not for use, but for ostentation; and L. illustrates this principle in the case of dress.

Q. “When a man has abandoned all more expensive clothing, does he sin, and, if so, how, if he wishes his cheap upper garment or shoes to be becoming to him?”

A. “If he so wishes in order to gratify men, he is obviously guilty of the sin of man-pleasing. He is alienated from God, and is guilty of vain glory even in these cheap belongings.”

LXIV. is a somewhat lengthy comment on Matt. 18:6. To “make to offend,” or “to scandalize,” is to induce another to break the law, as the serpent Eve, and Eve Adam.

LXXXIII. is pithy.

Q. “If a man is generally in the right, and falls into one sin. how are we to treat him?”

A. “As the Lord treated Peter.”

CXXVIII. is on fasting.

Q. “Ought any one to be allowed to exercise abstinence beyond his strength, so that he is hindered in the performance of his duty?”

A. “This question does not seem to me to be properly worded. Temperance does not consist in abstinence from earthly food,2 wherein lies the ‘neglecting of the body’ condemned by the Apostles, but in complete departure from one’s own wishes. And how great is the danger of our falling away from the Lord’s commandment on account of our own wishes is clear from the words of the Apostle, ‘fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath.’ “4 The numbers in the Cœnobium are not to fall below ten, the number of the eaters of the Paschal supper. Nothing is to be considered individual and personal property.6 Even a man’s thoughts are not his own. Private friendships are harmful to the general interests of the community.8 At meals there is to be a reading, which is to be thought more of than mere material food. The cultivation of the ground is the most suitable occupation for the ascetic life.10 No fees are to be taken for the charge of children entrusted to the monks. Such children are not to be pledged to join the community till they are old enough to understand what they are about.12

IV. Homiletical.

Twenty-four homilies on miscellaneous subjects, published under St. Basil’s name, are generally accepted as genuine. They are conveniently classified as (i) Dogmatic and Exegetic, (ii) Moral, and (iii) Panegyric. To Class (i) will be referred

III.    In Illud, Attende tibi ipsi.

VI.    In Illud, Destruam horrea, etc.

IX.    In Illud, Quod Deus non est auctor malorum.

XII.    In principium Proverbiorum.

XV.    De Fide.

XVI.    In Illud, In principio erat Verbum.

XXIV.    Contra Sabellianos et Arium et Anomaos.

Class (ii) will include

I. and II.    De Jejunio.

IV.    De gratiarum actions.

VII.    In Divites.

VIII.    In famem et siccitatem.

X.    Adversus deatos.

XI.    De invidia.

XIII.    In sanctum Baptismum.

XIV.    In Ebriosos.

XX.    De humilitate.

XXI.    Quod rebus mundanis adhærendum non sit, et de incendio extra ecclesiam facto.

XXII.    Ad adolescentes, de legendis libris Gentilium.

The Panegyric (iii) are

V.    In martyrem Julittam.

XVII.    In Barlaam martyrem.

XVIII.    In Gordium martyrem.

XIX.    In sanctos quadraginta martyres.

XXIII.    In Mamantem martyrern.

Homily III. on Deut. 15:9, is one of the eight translated by Rufinus. Section 2 begins:

” ‘Take heed,’ it is written, ‘to thyself.’ Every living creature possesses within himself, by the gift of God, the Ordainer of all things, certain resources for self protection. Investigate nature with attention, and you will find that the majority of brutes have an instinctive aversion from what is injurious; while, on the other hand, by a kind of natural attraction, they are impelled to the enjoyment of what is beneficial to them. Wherefore also God our Teacher has given us this grand injunction, in order that what brutes possess by nature may accrue to us by the aid of reason, and that what is performed by brutes unwittingly may be done by us through careful attention and constant exercise of our reasoning faculty. We are to be diligent guardians of the resources given to us by God, ever shunning sin, as brutes shun poisons, and ever hunting after righteousness, as they seek for the herbage that is good for food. Take heed to thyself, that thou mayest be able to discern between the noxious and the wholesome. This taking heed is to be understood in a twofold sense. Gaze with the eyes of the body at visible objects. Contemplate incorporeal objects with the intellectual faculty of the soul. If we say that obedience to the charge of the text lies in the action of our eyes, we shall see at once that this is impossible. How can there be apprehension of the whole self through the eye? The eye cannot turn its sight upon itself; the head is beyond it; it is ignorant of the back, the countenance, the disposition of the intestines. Yet it were impious to argue that the charge of the Spirit cannot be obeyed. It follows then that it must be understood of intellectual action. ‘Take heed to thyself.’ Look at thyself round about from every point of view. Keep thy soul’s eye sleepless in ceaseless watch over thyself. ‘Thou goest in the midst of snares.’2 Hidden nets are set for thee in all directions by the enemy. Look well around thee, that thou mayest be delivered ‘as a gazelle from the net and a bird from the snare.’ It is because of her keen sight that the gazelle cannot be caught in the net. It is her keen sight that gives her her name.4 And the bird, if only she take heed, mounts on her light wing far above the wiles of the hunter.

“Beware lest in self protection thou prove inferior to brutes, lest haply thou be caught in the gins and be made the devil’s prey, and be taken alive by him to do with thee as he will.”

A striking passage from the same Homily is thus rendered by Rufinus: “Considera ergo primo omnium quod homo es, id est solum in terres animal ipsis divinis manibus formatum. Nonne sufficeret hoc solum recte atque integre sapienti ad magnum summumque solutium, quod ipsius Dei manibus qui omnia reliqua præcepti solius fecit auctoritate subsistcre, homo fictus es et formatus? Tum deinde quod cum ad imaginem Creatoris et similitudinem sis, potes sponte etiam ad angelorum dignitatem culmenque remeare. Animam namque accepisti intellectualem, et rationalem, per quam Deum possis agnoscere, et naturam rerum conspicabili rationis intelligentia contemplari: sapientiæ dulcissimis fructibus perfrui præsto est. Tibi omnium cedit animantium genus, quæ per connexa montium vel prærupta rupium aut opaca silvarum feruntur; omne quod vel aquis tegitur, vel præpetibus pennis in acre suspenditur. Omne, inquam, quod hujus mundi est, servitis et subjectioni tuæ liberalis munificentia conditoris indulsit. Nonne tu, sensu tibi rationabili suggerente, diversitates artium reperisti? Nonne tu urbes condere, omnemque earum reliquum usum pernecessarium viventibus invenisti? Nonne tibi per rationem quæ in te est mare pervium fit? Terra, flumina, fontesque tuis vel usilbus vel voluptatibus famulantur. Nonne aer hic et cælum ipsum atque omnes stellarum chori vitæ mortalium ministerio cursus suos atque ordines servant? Quid ergo deficis animo, et deesse tibi aliquid putas, si non tibi equus producitur phaleris exornatus et spumanti ore frena mandens argentca? Sed sol tibi producitur, veloci rapidoque cursu ardentes tibi faces caloris simul ac luminis portans. Non habes aureos et argenteos discos: sed habes lunæ discum purissimo et blandissimo splendore radiantem. Non ascendis currum, nec rotarum lupsibus veheris, sed habes pedum tuorum vehiculum tecum natum. Quid ergo beatos censes eos qui aurum quidem possisent, alienis autem pedibus indigent, ad necessarios commeatus? Non recubas eburncis thoris, sed adjacent fecundi cespites viridantes et herbidi thori, florum varietate melius quam fucatis coloribus Tyrii muricis picti, in quibus dulces et salubres somni nullis curarum morsibus effugantur. Non te contegunt aurata laquearia; sed cælum te contegit ineffabili fulgore stellarum depictum. Hæc quidem quantum ad communem humanitatis attinet vitam. Accipe vero majora. Propter te Deus in hominibus, Spiritus sancti distributio, mortis ablatio, resurrectionis spcs. Propter te divina præcepta hominibus delata, quæ te perfectam doceant vitam, et iter tuum ad Deum per mandatorum tramitem dirigant. Tibi panduntur regna cælorum, tibi coronæ justitiæ præparantur; si tamen labores et ærumnas pro justitia ferre non refugis.”

Homily VI., on Luke 12:18, is on selfish wealth and greed.

Beware, says the preacher, lest the fate of the fool of the text be thine. “These things are written that we may shun their imitation. Imitate the earth, O man. Bear fruit, as she does, lest thou prove inferior to that which is without life. She produces her fruits, not that she may enjoy them, but for thy service. Thou dost gather for thyself whatever fruit of good works thou hast strewn, because the grace of good works returns to the giver. Thou hast given to the poor, and the gift becomes thine own, and comes back with increase. Just as grain that has fallen on the earth becomes a gain to the sower, so the loaf thrown to the hungry man renders abundant fruit thereafter. Be the end of thy husbandry the beginning of the heavenly sowing. ‘Sow,’ it is written, ‘to yourselves in righteousness.’7 Why then art thou distressed? Why dost thou harass thyself in thy efforts to shut up thy riches in clay and bricks? ‘A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.’ If thou admire riches because of the honour that comes from them, bethink thee how very much more it tends to thine honour that thou shouldst be called the father of innumerable children than that thou shouldst possess innumerable staters in a purse. Thy wealth thou wilt leave behind thee here, even though thou like it not. The honour won by thy good deeds thou shalt convey with thee to the Master. Then all people standing round about thee in the presence of the universal Judge shall hail thee as feeder and benefactor, and give thee all the names that tell of loving kindness. Dost thou not see theatregoers flinging away their wealth on boxers and buffoons and beast-fighters, fellows whom it is disgusting even to see, for the sake of the honour of a moment, and the cheers and clapping of the crowd? And art thou a niggard in thy expenses, when thou art destined to attain glory so great? God will welcome thee, angels will laud thee, mankind from the very beginning will call thee blessed. For thy stewardship of these corruptible things thy reward shall be glory everlasting, a crown of righteousness, the heavenly kingdom. Thou thinkest nothing of all this. Thy heart is so fixed on the present that thou despisest what is waited for in hope. Come then; dispose of thy wealth in various directions. Be generous and liberal in thy expenditure on the poor. Let it be said of thee, ‘He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever.’ Do not press heavily on necessity and sell for great prices. Do not wait for a famine before thou openest thy barns. ‘He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him.’2 Watch not for a time of want for gold’s sake—for public scarcity to promote thy private profit. Drive not a huckster’s bargains out of the troubles of mankind. Make not God’s wrathful visitation an opportunity for abundance. Wound not the sores of men smitten by the scourge. Thou keepest thine eye on thy gold, and wilt not look at thy brother. Thou knowest the marks on the money, and canst distinguish good from bad. Thou canst not tell who is thy brother in the day of distress.”

The conclusion is ” ‘Ah!’—it is said—’words are all very fine: gold I is finer.’ I make the same impression as I do when I am preaching to libertines against their unchastity. Their mistress is blamed, and the mere mention of her serves but to enkindle their passions. How can I bring before your eyes the poor man’s sufferings that thou mayest know out of what deep groanings thou art accumulating thy treasures, and of what high value will seem to thee in the day of judgment the famous words, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: … I was naked and ye clothed me.’4 What shuddering, what sweat, what darkness will be shed round thee, as thou hearest the words of condemnation!—’Depart from me, ye cursed, into outer darkness prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me no drink: … I was naked and ye clothed me not.’ I have told thee what I have thought profitable. To thee now it is clear and plain what are the good things promised for thee if thou obey. If thou disobey, for thee the threat is written. I pray that thou mayest change to a better mind and thus escape its peril. In this way thy own wealth will be thy redemption. Thus thou mayest advance to the heavenly blessings prepared for thee by the grave of Him who hath called us all into His own kingdom, to Whom be glory and might for ever and ever. Amen.”

Homily IX. is a demonstration that God is not the Author of Evil. It has been conjectured that it was delivered shortly after some such public calamity as the destruction of Nicæa in 368. St. Basil naturally touches on passages which have from time to time caused some perplexity on this subject. He asks if God is not the Author of evil, how is it said “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil,”7 and again, “The evil came down from the Lord unto the gate of Jerusalem,” and again, “Shall there be evil in a city and the Lord hath not done it,”9 and in the great song of Moses, “See now that I, even I, am he and there is no god with me: I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal”? But to any one who understands the meaning of Scripture no one of these passages accuses God of being the Cause and Creator of evil. He who uses the words, “I form the light and create darkness,” describes Himself not as Creator of any evil, but as Demiurge of creation. “It is lest thou shouldst suppose that there is one cause of light and another of darkness that He described Himself as being Creator and Artificer of parts of creation which seem to be mutually opposed. It is to prevent thy seeking one Demiurge of fire, another of water, one of air and another of earth, these seeming to have a kind of mutual opposition and contrariety of qualities. By adopting these views many have ere now fallen into polytheism, but He makes peace and creates evil. Unquestionably He makes peace in thee when He brings peace into thy mind by His good teaching, and calms the rebel passions of thy soul. And He creates evil, that is to say, He reduces those evil passions to order, and brings them to a better state so that they may cease to be evil and may adopt the nature of good. ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God.’ This does not mean Make now for the first time; it means Renew the heart that had become old from wickedness. The object is that He may make both one. The word create is used not to imply the bringing out of nothing, but the bringing into order those which already existed. So it is said, ‘If any man be in Christ he is a new creature.’4 Again, Moses says, ‘Is not He thy Father that hath bought thee? Hath He not made thee and created thee?’ Now, the creation put in order after the making evidently teaches us that the word creation, as is commonly the case, is used with the idea of improvement. And so it is thus that He makes peace out of creating evil; that is, by transforming and bringing to improvement. Furthermore, even if you understand peace to be freedom from war, and evil to mean the troubles which are the lot of those who make war; marches into far regions, labours, vigils, terrors, sweatings, wounds, slaughters, taking of towns, slavery, exile, piteous spectacles of captives; and, in a word, all the evils that follow upon war, all these things, I say, happen by the just judgment of God, Who brings vengeance through war on those who deserve punishment. Should you have wished that Sodom had not been burnt after her notorious wickedness? Or that Jerusalem had not been overturned, nor her temple made desolate after the horrible wickedness of the Jews against the Lord? How otherwise was it right for these things to come to pass than by the hands of the Romans to whom our Lord had been delivered by the enemies of His life, the Jews? Wherefore it does sometimes come to pass that the calamities of war are righteously inflicted on those who deserve them—if you like to understand the words ‘I kill and I make alive’ in their obvious sense. Fear edifies the simple. ‘I wound and I heal’ is at once perceived to be salutary. The blow strikes terror; the cure attracts to love. But it is permissible to thee to find a higher meaning in the words, ‘I kill’—by sin; ‘I make alive’—by righteousness. ‘Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.’6 He does not kill one and make another alive, but He makes the same man alive by the very means by which He kills him; He heals him by the blows which He inflicts upon him. As the proverb has it, ‘Thou shalt beat him with the rod and shalt deliver his soul from hell.’ The flesh is smitten that the soul may be healed; sin is put to death that righteousness may live. In another passage8 it is argued that death is not an evil. Deaths come from God. Yet death is not absolutely an evil, except in the case of the death of the sinner, in which case departure from this world is a beginning of the punishments of hell. On the other hand, of the evils of hell the cause is not God, but ourselves. The origin and root of sin is what is in our own control and our free will.”

Homily XII. is “on the beginning of the proverbs.” “The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel.”

“The name proverbs (παροιμίαι) has been by heathen writers used of common expressions, and of those which are generally used in the streets. Among them a way is called οἰμος, whence they define a παροιμία to be a common expression, which has become trite through vulgar usage, and which it is possible to transfer from a limited number of subjects to many analogous subjects. With Christians the παροιμία is a serviceable utterance, conveyed with a certain amount of obscurity, containing an obvious meaning of much utility, and at the same time involving a depth of meaning in its inner sense. Whence the Lord says: ‘These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs, but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.’ ”

On the “wisdom and instruction” of verse 2, it is said: Wisdom is the science of things both human and divine, and of their causes. He, therefore, who is an effective theologian knows wisdom. The quotation of 1 Cor. 2:6, follows.

On general education it is said, “The acquisition of sciences is termed education,14 as it is written of Moses, that he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.16 But it is of no small importance, with a view to man’s sound condition, that he should not devote himself to any sciences what soever, but should become acquainted with the education which is most profitable. It has ere now happened that men who have spent their time in the study of geometry, the discovery of the Egyptians, or of astrology, the favourite pursuit of the Chaldæans, or have been addicted to the loftier natural philosophy which is concerned with figures and shadows, have looked with contempt on the education which is based upon the divine oracles. Numbers of students have been occupied with paltry rhetoric, and the solution of sophisms, the subject matter of all of which is the false and unreal. Even poetry is dependent for its existence on its myths.2 Rhetoric would not be but for craft in speech. Sophistics must have their fallacies. Many men for the sake of these pursuits have disregarded the knowledge of God, and have grown old in the search for the unreal. It is therefore necessary that we should have a full knowledge of education, in order to choose the profitable, and to reject the unintelligent and the injurious. Words of wisdom will be discerned by the attentive reader of the Proverbs, who thence patiently extracts what is for his good.”

The Homily concludes with an exhortation to rule life by the highest standard.

“Hold fast, then, to the rudder of life. Guide thine eye,’ lest haply at any time through thine eyes there beat upon thee the vehement wave of lust. Guide ear and tongue, lest the one receive aught harmful, or the other speak forbidden words. Let not the tempest of passion overwhelm thee. Let no blows of despondency beat thee down; no weight of sorrow drown thee in its depths. Our feelings are waves. Rise above them, and thou wilt be a safe steersman of life. Fail to avoid each and all of them skilfully and steadily, and, like some untrimmed boat, with life’s dangers all round about thee, thou wilt be sunk in the deep sea of sin. Hear then how thou mayest acquire the steersman’s skill. Men at sea are wont to lift up their eyes to heaven. It is from heaven that they get guidance for their cruise; by day from the sun, and by night from the Bear, or from some of the ever-shining stars. By these they reckon their right course. Do thou too keep thine eye fixed on heaven, as the Psalmist did who said, ‘Unto thee lift I up mine eye, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.’ Keep thine eyes on the Sun of righteousness. Directed by the commandments of the Lord, as by some bright constellations, keep thine eye ever sleepless. Give not sleep to thine eyes or slumber to thine eyelids,4 that the guidance of the commandments may be unceasing. ‘Thy word,’ it is said, ‘is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my paths.’ Never slumber at the tiller, so long as thou livest here, amid the unstable circumstances of this world, and thou shalt receive the help of the Spirit. He shall conduct thee ever onward. He shall wait thee securely by gentle winds of peace, till thou come one day safe and sound to yon calm and waveless haven of the will of God, to Whom be glory and majesty for ever and ever, Amen.”

Homilies XV. and XVI. are more distinctly dogmatic. They do not present the doctrines of which they treat in any special way. XV., De Fide, is concerned rather with the frame of mind of the holder and expounder of the Faith than with any dogmatic formula.

XVI., on John 1. I, begins by asserting that every utterance of the gospels is grander than the rest of the lessons of the Spirit, inasmuch as, while in the latter He has spoken to us through His servants the prophets, in the gospels the Master has conversed with US face to face. “The most mighty voiced herald of the actual gospel proclamation, who uttered words loud beyond all hearing and lofty beyond all understanding, is John, the son of thunder, the prelude of whose gospel is the text.” After repeating the words the preacher goes on to say that he has known many who are not within the limits of the word of truth, many of the heathen, that is, “‘who have prided themselves upon the wisdom of this world, who in their admiration for these words have ventured to insert them among their own writings. For the devil is a thief, and carries off our property for the use of his own prophets.”

“If the wisdom of the flesh has been so smitten with admiration for the force of the words, what are we to do, who are disciples of the Spirit?… Hold fast to the text, and you will suffer no harm from men of evil arts. Suppose your opponent to argue, ‘If He was begotten, He was not,’ do you retort, ‘In the beginning He was.’ But, he will go on, ‘Before He was begotten, in what way was He?’ Do not give up the words ‘He was.’ Do not abandon the words ‘In the beginning., The highest point of beginning is beyond comprehension; what is outside beginning is beyond discovery. Do not let any one deceive you by the fact that the phrase has more than one meaning. There are in this world many beginnings of many things, yet there is one beginning which is beyond them all. ‘Beginning of good way,’ says the Proverb. But the beginning of a way is the first movement whereby we begin the journey of which the earlier part can he discovered. And, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ To this beginning is prefixed something else, for elementary instruction is the beginning of the comprehension of arts. The fear of the Lord is then a primary element of wisdom, but there is something anterior to this beginning—the condition of the soul, before it has been taught wisdom and apprehended the fear of the Lord.… The point is the beginning of the line, and the line is the beginning of the surface, and the surface is the beginning of the body, and the parts of speech are the beginnings of grammatical utterance. But the beginning in the text is like none of these.… In the beginning was the Word! Marvellous utterance! How all the words are found to be combined in mutual equality of force! ‘Was’ has the same force as ‘In the beginning.’ Where is the blasphemer? Where is the tongue that fights against Christ? Where is the tongue that said, ‘There was when He was not’? Hear the gospel: ‘In the beginning was.‘ If He was in the beginning, when was He not? Shall I bewail their impiety or execrate their want of instruction? But, it is argued, before He was begotten, He was not. Do you know when He was begotten, that you may introduce the idea of priority to the time? For the word ‘before’ is a word Of time, placing one thing before another in antiquity. In what way is it reasonable that the Creator of time should have a generation subjected to terms of time? ‘In the beginning was—’ Never give up the was, and you never give any room for the vile blasphemy to slip in. Mariners laugh at the storm, when they are riding upon two anchors. So will you laugh to scorn this vile agitation which is being driven on the world by the blasts of wickedness, and tosses the faith of many to and fro, if only you will keep your soul moored safely in the security of these words.”

In § 4 on the force of with God. “Note with admiration the exact appropriateness of every single word. It is not said ‘The Word was in God.’ It runs ‘was with God.’ This is to set forth the proper character of the hypostasis. The Evangelist did not say ‘in God,’ to avoid giving any pretext for the confusion of the hypostasis. That is the vile blasphemy of men who are endeavouring to confound all things together, asserting that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, form one subject matter, and that different appellations are applied to one thing. The impiety is vile, and no less to be shunned than that of those who blasphemously maintain that the Son is in essence unlike God the Father. The Word was with God. Immediately after using the term Word to demonstrate the impassibility of the generation, he forthwith gives an explanation to do away with the mischief arising in us from the term Word. As though suddenly rescuing Him from the blasphemers’ calumny, he asks, what is the Word? The Word was God. Do not put before me any ingenious distinctions of phrase; do not with your wily cleverness blaspheme the teachings of the Spirit. You have the definitive statement. Submit to the Lord. The Word was God.

Homily XXIV., against the Sabellians, Arians, and Anomœans, repeats points which are brought out again and again in the De Spiritu Sancto, in the work Against Eunomius, and in some of the Letters.

Arianism is practical paganism, for to make the Son a creature, and at the same time to offer Him worship, is to reintroduce polytheism. Sabellianism is practical Judaism,—a denial of the Son. John 1:1, 14:9, 7, 16:28, and 8:16 are quoted against both extremes. There may be a note of time in the admitted impatience of the auditory at hearing of every other subject than the Holy Spirit. The preacher is constrained to speak upon this topic, and he speaks with the combined caution and completeness which characterize the De Spiritu Sancto. “Your ears,” he says, “are all eager to hear something concerning the Holy Ghost. My wish would be, as I have received in all simplicity, as I have assented with guileless agreement, so to deliver the doctrine to you my hearers. I would if I could avoid being constantly questioned on the same point. I would have my disciples convinced of one consent. But you stand round me rather as judges than as learners. Your desire is rather to test and try me than to acquire anything for yourselves. I must therefore, as it were, make my defence before the court, again and again giving answer, and again and again saying what I have received. And you I exhort not to be specially anxious to hear from me what is pleasing to yourselves, but rather what is pleasing to the Lord, what is in harmony with the Scriptures, what is not in opposition to the Fathers. What, then, I asserted concerning the Son, that we ought to acknowledge His proper Person, this I have also to say concerning the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is not identical with the Father, because of its being written ‘God is a Spirit.’ Nor on the other hand is there one Person of Son and of Spirit, because it is said, ‘If any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his.… Christ is in you.’2 From this passage some persons have been deceived into the opinion that the Spirit and Christ are identical. But what do we assert? That in this passage is declared the intimate relation of nature and not a confusion of persons. For there exists the Father having His existence perfect and independent, root and fountain of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. There exists also the Son living in full Godhead, Word and begotten offspring of the Father, independent. Full too is the Spirit, not part of another, but contemplated whole and perfect in Himself. The Son is inseparably conjoined with the Father and the Spirit with the Son. For there is nothing to divide nor to cut asunder the eternal conjunction. No age intervenes, nor yet can our soul entertain a thought of separation as though the Only-begotten were not ever with the Father, or the Holy Ghost not co-existent with the Son. Whenever then we conjoin the Trinity, be careful not to imagine the Three as parts of one undivided thing, but receive the idea of the undivided and common essence of three perfect incorporeal [existences]. Wherever is the presence of the Holy Spirit, there is the indwelling of Christ: wherever Christ is, there the Father is present. ‘Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?’ ”

First of the Homilies on moral topics come I. and II. on Fasting. The former is of uncontested genuineness. Erasmus rejected the latter, but it is accepted without hesitation by Garnier, Maran and Ceillier, and is said by the last named to be quoted as Basil’s by John of Damascus and Symeon Logothetes. From Homily I. two passages are cited by St. Augustine against the Pelagians. The text is Ps. 80:3. “Reverence,” says one passage, “the hoary head of fasting. It is coæval with mankind. Fasting was ordained in Paradise. The first injunction was delivered to Adam, ‘Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat.’6 ‘Thou shalt not eat’ is a law of fasting and abstinence.” The general argument is rather against excess than in support of ceremonial abstinence. In Paradise there was no wine, no butchery of beasts, no eating of flesh. Wine came in after the flood. Noah became drunk because wine was new to him. So fasting is older than drunkenness. Esau was defiled, and made his brother’s slave, for the sake of a single meal. It was fasting and prayer which gave Samuel to Hannah. Fasting brought forth Samson. Fasting begets prophets, strengthens strong men. Fasting makes lawgivers wise, is the soul’s safeguard, the body’s trusty comrade, the armour of the champion, the training of the athlete.

The conclusion is a warning against mere carnal abstinence. “Beware of limiting the good of fasting to mere abstinence from meats. Real fasting is alienation from evil. ‘Loose the bands of wickedness.’8 Forgive your neighbour the mischief he has done you. Forgive him his trespasses against you. Do not ‘fast for strife and debate.’ You do not devour flesh, but you devour your brother. You abstain from wine, but you indulge in outrages. You wait for evening before you take food, but you spend the day in the law courts. Wo to those who are ‘drunken, but not with wine.’10 Anger is the intoxication of the soul, and makes it out of its wits like wine. Drunkenness, too, is sorrow, and drowns our intelligence. Another drunkenness is needless fear. In a word, whatever passion makes the soul beside herself may be called drunkenness.… Dost thou know Whom thou art ordained to receive as thy guest? He Who has promised that He and His Father will come and make their abode with thee. Why do you allow drunkenness to enter in, and shut the door on the Lord? Why allow the foe to come in and occupy your strongholds? Drunkenness dare not receive the Lord; it drives away the Spirit. Smoke drives away bees, and debauch drives away the gifts of the Spirit.…

Wilt thou see the nobility of fasting? Compare this evening with to-morrow evening: thou wilt see the town turned from riot and disturbance to profound calm. Would that to-day might be like to-morrow in solemnity, and the morrow no less cheerful than to-day. May the Lord Who has brought us to this period of time grant to us, as to gladiators and wrestlers, that we may shew firmness and constancy in the beginning of contests, and may reach that day which is the Queen of Crowns; that we may remember now the passion of salvation, and in the age to come enjoy the requital of our deeds in this life, in the just judgment of Christ.”

Homily IV. on the giving of thanks (περὶ εὐχαριστίας), is on text 1 Thess. 5:16. Our Lord, it is remarked, wept over Lazarus, and He called them that mourn blessed. How is this to be reconciled with the charge “Rejoice alway”? “Tears and joy have not a common origin. On the one hand, while the breath is held in round the heart, tears spontaneously gush forth, as at some blow, when an unforeseen calamity smites upon the soul. Joy on the other hand is like a leaping up of the soul rejoicing when things go well. Hence come different appearances of the body. The sorrowful are pale, livid, chilly. The habit of the joyous and cheerful is blooming and ruddy; their soul all but leaps out of their body for gladness. On all this I shall say that the lamentations and tears of the saints were caused by their love to God. So, with their eyes ever fixed on the object of their love, and from hence gathering greater joy for themselves, they devoted themselves to the interests of their fellow-servants. Weeping over sinners, they brought them to better ways by their tears. But just as men standing safe on the seashore, while they feel for those who are drowning in the deep, do not lose their own safety in their anxiety for those in peril, so those who groan over the sins of their neighbours do not destroy their own proper cheerfulness. Nay, they rather increase it, in that, through their tears over their brother, they are made worthy of the joy of the Lord. Wherefore, blessed are they that weep; blessed are they that mourn; for they shall themselves be comforted; they themselves shall laugh. But by laughter is meant not the noise that comes out through the cheeks from the boiling of the blood, but cheerfulness pure and untainted with despondency. The Apostle allows us to weep with weepers, for this tear is made, as it were, a seed and loan to be repaid with everlasting joy. Mount in mind with me, and contemplate the condition of the angels; see if any other condition becomes them but one of joy and gladness. It is for that they are counted worthy to stand beside God, and to enjoy the ineffable beauty and glory of our Creator. It is in urging us on to that life that the Apostle bids us always rejoice.”

The Homily contains an eloquent exhortation to Christian fortitude in calamity, and concludes with the charge to look beyond present grief to future felicity. “Hast thou suffered dishonour? Look to the glory which through patience is laid up for thee in heaven. Hast thou suffered loss? Fix thine eyes on the heavenly riches, and on the treasure which thou hast put by for thyself through thy good works. Hast thou suffered exile? Thy fatherland is the heavenly Jerusalem. Hast thou lost a child? Thou hast angels, with whom thou shalt dance about the throne of God, and shalt be glad with everlasting joy. Set expected joys over against present griefs, and thus thou wilt preserve for thyself that calm and quiet of the soul whither the injunction of the Apostle calls us. Let not the brightness of human success fill thy soul with immoderate joy; let not grief bring low thy soul’s high and lofty exaltation through sadness and anguish. Thou must be trained in the lessons of this life before thou canst live the calm and quiet life to come. Thou wilt achieve this without difficulty, if thou keep ever with thee the charge to rejoice alway. Dismiss the worries of the flesh. Gather together the joys of the soul. Rise above the sensible perception of present things. Fix thy mind on the hope of things eternal. Of these the mere thoguht suffices to fill the soul with gladness, and to plant in our hearts the happiness of angels.”

Homily VII., against the rich, follows much the same line of argument as VI. Two main considerations are urged against the love of worldly wealth; firstly, the thought of the day of judgment; secondly, the fleeting and unstable nature of the riches themselves. The luxury of the fourth century, as represented by Basil, is much the same as the luxury of the nineteenth.

“I am filled with amazement,” says the preacher, “at the invention of superfluities. The vehicles are countless, some for conveying goods, others for carrying their owners; all covered with brass and with silver. There are a vast number of horses, whose pedigrees are kept like men’s, and their descent from noble sires recorded. Some are for carrying their haughty owners about the town, some are hunters, some are hacks. Bits, girths, collars, are all of silver, all decked with gold. Scarlet cloths make the horses as gay as bridegrooms. There is a host of mules, distinguished by their colours, and their muleteers with them, one after another, some before and some behind. Of other household servants the number is endless, who satisfy all the requirements of men’s extravagance; agents, stewards, gardeners, and craftsmen, skilled in every art that can minister to necessity or to enjoyment and luxury; cooks, confectioners, butlers, huntsmen, sculptors, painters, devisers and creators of pleasure of every kind. Look at the herds of camels, some for carriage, some for pasture; troops of horses, droves of oxen, flocks of sheep, herds of swine with their keepers, land to feed all these, and to increase men’s riches by its produce; baths in town, baths in the country; houses shining all over with every variety of marble,—some with stone of Phrygia, others with slabs of Spartan or Thessalian. There must be some houses warm in winter,2 and others cool in summer. The pavement is of mosaic, the ceiling gilded. If any part of the wall escapes the slabs, it is embellished with painted flowers.… You who dress your walls, and let your fellow-creatures go bare, what will you answer to the Judge? You who harness your horses with splendour, and despise your brother if he is ill-dressed; who let your wheat rot, and will not feed the hungry; who hide your gold, and despise the distressed? And, if you have a wealth-loving wife, the plague is twice as bad. She keeps your luxury ablaze; she increases your love of pleasure; she gives the goad to your superfluous appetites; her heart is set on stones,—pearls, emeralds, and sapphires. Gold she works and gold she weaves,4 and increases the mischief with never-ending frivolities. And her interest in all these things is no mere by-play: it is the care of night and day. Then what innumerable flatterers wait upon their idle wants! They must have their dyers of bright colours, their goldsmiths, their perfumes their weavers, their embroiderers. With all their behests they do not leave their husbands breathing time. No fortune is vast enough to satisfy a woman’s wants,—no, not if it were to flow like a river! They are as eager for foreign perfumes as for oil from the market. They must have the treasures of the sea, shells and pinnas, and more of them than wool from the sheep’s back. Gold encircling precious stones serves now for an ornament for their foreheads, now for their necks. There is more gold in their girdles; more gold fastens hands and feet. These gold-loving ladies are delighted to be bound by golden fetters,—only let the chain be gold! When will the man have time to care for his soul, who has to serve a woman’s fancies?”

Homily VIII., on the Famine and Drought, belongs to the disastrous year 368. The circumstances of its delivery have already been referred to. The text is Amos 3:8, “The lion hath roared: who will not fear?” National calamity is traced to national sin, specially to neglect of the poor. Children, it appears, were allowed a holiday from school to attend the public services held to deprecate the divine wrath. Crowds of men, to whose sins the distress was more due than to the innocent children, wandered cheerfully about the town instead of coming to church.

Homily X. is against the angry. Section 2 contains a description of the outward appearance of the angry men. “About the heart of those who are eager to requite evil for evil, the blood boils as though it were stirred and sputtering by the force of fire. On the surface it breaks out and shews the angry man in other form, familiar and well known to all, as though it were changing a mask upon the stage. The proper and usual eyes of the angry man are recognized no more; his gaze is unsteady, and fires up in a moment. He whets his teeth like boars joining battle. His countenance is livid and suffused with blood. His body seems to swell. His veins are ruptured, as his breath struggles under the storm within. His voice is rough and strained. His speech—broken and falling from him at random—proceeds without distinction, without arrangement, and without meaning. When he is roused by those who are irritating him, like a flame with plenty of fuel, to an inextinguishable pitch, then, ah! then indeed the spectacle is indescribable and unendurable. See the hands lifted against his fellows, and attacking every part of their bodies; see the feet jumping without restraint on dangerous parts. See whatever comes to hand turned into a weapon for his mad frenzy. The record of the progress from words to wounds recalls familiar lines which probably Basil never read. Rage rouses strife; strife begets abuse; abuse, blows; blows, wounds; and from wounds often comes death.”

St. Basil, however, does not omit to notice that there is such a thing as righteous indignation, and that we may “be angry and sin not.” “God forbid that we should turn into occasions for sin gifts given to us by the Creator for our salvation! Anger, stirred at the proper time and in the proper manner, is an efficient cause of manliness, patience, and endurance.… Anger is to be used as a weapon. So Moses, meekest of men, armed the hands of the Levites for the slaughter of their brethren, to punish idolatry. The wrath of Phinehas was justifiable. So was the wrath of Samuel against Agag. Thus, anger very often is made the minister of good deeds.”

Homily XI., against Envy, adduces the instances of Saul’s envy of David, and that of the patriarchs against Joseph. It is pointed out that envy grows out of familiarity and proximity. “A man is envied of his neighbour.” The Scythian does not envy the Egyptian. Envy arises among fellow-countrymen. The remedy for this vice is to recognise the pettiness of the common objects of human ambition, and to aspire to eternal joys. If riches are a mere means to unrighteousness,4 wo be to the rich man! If they are a ministering to virtue, there is no room for envy, since the common advantages proceeding from them are open to all,—unless any one out of superfluity of wickedness envies himself his own good things!

In Homily XIII., on Holy Baptism, St. Basil combats an error which had naturally arisen out of the practice of postponing baptism. The delay was made an occasion of license and indulgence. St. Augustine cites the homily as St. Chrysostom’s, but the quotation has not weakened the general acceptance of the composition as Basil’s, and as one of those referred to by Amphilochius.6 Ceillier mentions its citation by the emperor Justinian. It was apparently delivered at Easter. Baptism is good at all times.8 “Art thou a young man? Secure thy youth by the bridle of baptism. Has thy prime passed by? Do not be deprived of thy viaticum. Do not lose thy safeguard. Do not think of the eleventh hour as of the first. It is fitting that even at the beginning of life we should have the end in view.’

“Imitate the eunuch.10 He found one to teach him. He did not despise instruction. The rich man made the poor man mount into his chariot. The illustrious and the great welcomed the undistinguished and the small. When he had been taught the gospel of the kingdom, he received the faith in his heart, and did not put off the seal of the Spirit.”

Homily XIV., against Drunkards, has the special interest of being originated by a painful incident which it narrates. The circumstances may well be compared with those of the scandal caused by the deacon Glycerius. Easter day, remarks St. Basil, is a day when decent women ought to have been sitting in their homes, piously reflecting on future judgment. Instead of this, certain wanton women, forgetful of the fear of God, flung their coverings from their heads, despising God, and in contempt of His angels, lost to all shame before the gaze of men, shaking their hair, trailing their tunics, sporting with their feet, with immodest glances and unrestrained laughter, went off into a wild dance. They invited all the riotous youth to follow them, and kept up their dances in the Basilica of the Martyrs, before the walls of Cæsarea, turning hallowed places into the workshop of their unseemliness. They sang indecent songs, and befouled the ground with their unhallowed tread. They got a crowd of lads to stare at them, and left no madness undone. On this St. Basil builds a stirring temperance sermon. Section 6 contains a vivid picture of a drinking, bout, and Section 7 describes the sequel. The details are evidently not imaginary.

“Sorrowful sight for Christian eyes! A man in the prime of life, of powerful frame, of high rank in the army, is carried furtively home, because he cannot stand upright, and travel on his own feet. A man who ought to be a terror to our enemies is a laughing stock to the lads in the streets. He is smitten down by no sword—slain by no foe. A military man, in the bloom of manhood, the prey of wine, and ready to suffer any fate his foes may choose! Drunkenness is the ruin of reason, the destruction of strength; it is untimely old age; it is, for a short time, death.

“What are drunkards but the idols of the heathen? They have eyes and see not, ears and hear not. Their hands are helpless; their feet dead.” The whole Homily is forcible. It is quoted by Isidore of Pelusium,2 and St. Ambrose seems to have been acquainted with it.

Homily XX., on Humility, urges the folly of Adam, in sacrificing eternal blessings to his ambition, and the example of St. Paul in glorying only in the Lord.

Pharaoh, Goliath, and Abimelech are instanced. St. Peter is cited for lack of humility in being sure that he of all men will be true to the death.

“No detail can be neglected as too insignificant to help us in ridding ourselves of pride. The soul grows like its practices, and is formed and fashioned in accordance with its conduct. Your appearance, your dress, your gait, your chair, your style of meals, your bed and bedding, your house and its contents, should be all arranged with a view to cheapness. Your talk, your songs, your mode of greeting your neighbour, should look rather to moderation than to ostentation. Give me, I beg, no elaborate arguments in your talk, no surpassing sweetness in your singing, no vaunting and wearisome discussions. In all things try to avoid bigness. Be kind to your friend, gentle to your servant, patient with the impudent, amiable to the lowly. Console the afflicted, visit the distressed, despise none. Be agreeable in address, cheerful in reply, ready, accessible to all. Never sing your own praises, nor get other people to sing them. Never allowing any uncivil communication, conceal as far as possible your own superiority.”

Homily XXI., on disregard of the things of this world. was preached out of St. Basil’s diocese, very probably at Satala in 372. The second part8 is in reference to a fire which occurred in the near neighbourhood of the church on the previous evening.

“Once more the fiend has shewn his fury against us, has armed himself with flame of fire, and has attacked the precincts of the church. Once more our common mother has won the day, and turned back his devices on himself. He has done nothing but advertise his hatred.… How do you not suppose the devil must be groaning to-day at the failure of his projected attempt? Our enemy lighted his fire close to the church that he might wreck our prosperity. The flames raised on every side by his furious blasts were streaming over all they could reach; they fed on the air round about; they were being driven to touch the shrine, and to involve us in the common ruin; but our Saviour turned them back on him who had kindled them, and ordered his madness to fall on himself. The congregation who have happily escaped are urged to live worthily of their preservation, shining like pure gold out of the furnace.”

Homily XXII., which is of considerable interest, on the study of pagan literature, is really not a homily at all. It is a short treatise addressed to the young on their education. It would seem to have been written in the Archbishop’s later years, unless the experience of which he speaks may refer rather to his earlier experience, alike as a student and a teacher.

No source of instruction can he overlooked in the preparation for the great battle of life, and there is a certain advantage to be derived from the right use of heathen writers. The illustrious Moses is described as training his intellect in the science of the Egyptians, and so arriving at the contemplation of Him Who is.11 So in later days Daniel at Babylon was wise in the Chaldean philosophy, and ultimately apprehended the divine instruction. But granted that such heathen learning is not useless, the question remains how you are to participate in it. To begin with the poets. Their utterances are of very various kinds, and it will not be well to give attention to all without exception. When they narrate to you the deeds and the words of good men, admire and copy them, and strive diligently to be like them. When they come to bad men, shut your ears, and avoid imitating them, like Ulysses fleeing from the sirens’ songs. Familiarity with evil words is a sure road to evil deeds, wherefore every possible precaution must be taken to prevent our souls from unconsciously imbibing evil influences through literary gratification, like men who take poison in honey. We shall not therefore praise the poets when they revile and mock, or when they describe licentious, intoxicated characters, when they define happiness as consisting in a laden table and dissolute ditties. Least of all shall we attend to the poets when they are talking about the gods, specially when their talk is of many gods, and those in mutual disagreement. For among them brother is at variance with brother, parent against children, and children wage a truceless war against parents. The gods’ adulteries and amours and unabashed embraces, and specially those of Zeus, whom they describe as the chief and highest of them all,—things which could not be told without a blush of brutes,—all this let us leave to actors on the stage.

I must make the same remark about historians, specially when they write merely to please. And we certainly shall not follow rhetoricians in the art of lying.… I have been taught by one well able to understand a poet’s mind that with Homer all his poetry is praise of virtue, and that in him all that is not mere accessory tends to this end. A marked instance of this is his description of the prince of the Kephallenians saved naked from shipwreck. No sooner did he appear than the princess viewed him with reverence; so far was she from feeling anything like shame at seeing him naked and alone, since his virtue stood him in the stead of clothes. Afterwards he was of so much estimation among the rest of the Phæacians that they abandoned the pleasures amid which they lived, all looked up to him and imitated him, and not a man of the Phæacians prayed for anything more eagerly than that he might be Ulysses,—a mere waif saved from shipwreck. Herein my friend said that he was the interpreter of the poet’s mind; that Homer all but said aloud, Virtue, O men, is what you have to care for. Virtue swims out with the shipwrecked sailor, and when he is cast naked on the coast, virtue makes him more noble than the happy Phæacians. And truly this is so. Other belongings are not more the property of their possessors than of any one else. They are like dice flung hither and thither in a game. Virtue is the one possession which cannot be taken away, and remains with us alike alive and dead.

It is in this sense that I think Solon said to the rich,

Ἀλλʼ
ἡμεῖς αὐτοῖς οὐ διαμειψόμεθα

Τῇς ἀρετῆς τὸν πλοῦτον· ἐπεὶ τὸ μὲν ἔμπεδον αἰεί,

Χρήματα δʼ ἀνθρώπων ἄλλοτε ἄλλος ἔχει.

Similar to these are the lines of Theognis, in which he says that God (whatever he means by “God”) inclines the scale to men now one way and now another, and so at one moment they are rich, and at another penniless. Somewhere too in his writings Prodicus, the Sophist of Chios, has made similar reflexions on vice and virtue, to whom attention may well be paid, for he is a man by no means to be despised. So far as I recollect his sentiments, they are something to this effect. I do not remember the exact words, but the sense, in plain prose, was as follows:5

Once upon a time, when Hercules was quite young, and of just about the same age as yourselves, he was debating within himself which of the two ways he should choose, the one leading through toil to virtue, the other which is the easiest of all. There approached him two women. They were Virtue and Vice, and though they said not a word they straightway shewed by their appearance what was the difference between them. One was tricked out to present a fair appearance with every beautifying art. Pleasure and delights were shed around her and she led close after her innumerable enjoyments like a swarm of bees. She showed them to Hercules, and, promising him yet more and more, endeavoured to attract him to her side. The other, all emaciated and squalid, looked earnestly at the lad, and spoke in quite another tone. She promised him no ease, no pleasure, but toils, labours, and perils without number, in every land and sea. She told him that the reward of all this would be that he should become a god (so the narrator tells it). This latter Hercules followed even to the death. Perhaps all those who have written anything about wisdom, less or more, each according to his ability, have praised Virtue in their writings. These must be obeyed, and the effort made to show forth their teaching in the conduct of life. For he alone is wise who confirms in act the philosophy which in the rest goes no farther than words. They do but flit like shadows.

It is as though some painter had represented a sitter as a marvel of manly beauty, and then he were to be in reality what the artist had painted on the panel. But to utter glorious eulogies on virtue in public, and make long speeches about it, while in private putting pleasure before continence and giving gain higher honour than righteousness, is conduct which seems to me illustrated by actors on the stage: they enter as monarchs and magnates, when they are neither monarchs nor magnates, and perhaps even are only slaves. A singer could never tolerate a lyre that did not match his voice, nor a coryphæus a chorus that did not chant in tune. Yet every one will be inconsistent with himself, and will fail to make his conduct agree with his words. The tongue has sworn, but the heart has never sworn, as Euripides has it; and a man will aim at seeming, rather than at being, good. Nevertheless, if we may believe Plato, the last extreme of iniquity is for one to seem just without being just.3 This then is the way in which we are to receive writings which contain suggestions of good deeds. And since the noble deeds of men of old are preserved for our benefit either by tradition, or in the works of poets and historians, do not let us miss the good we may get from them. For instance: a man in the street once pursued Pericles with abuse, and persisted n it all day. Pericles took not the slightest notice. Evening fell, and darkness came on, and even then he could hardly be persuaded to give over. Pericles lighted him home, for fear this exercise in philosophy might be lost. Again: once upon a time a fellow who was angry with Euclid of Megara threatened him with death, and swore at him. Euclid swore back that he would appease him, and calm him in spite of his rage.5 A man once attacked Socrates the son of Sophoniscus and struck him again and again in the face. Socrates made no resistance, but allowed the drunken fellow to take his fill of frenzy, so that his face was all swollen and bloody from the blows. When the assault was done, Socrates, according to the story, did nothing besides writing on his forehead, as a sculptor might on a statue, “This is so and so’s doing.”

This was his revenge. Where conduct, as in this case, is so much on a par with Christian conduct, I maintain that it is well worth our while to copy these great men. The behaviour of Socrates on this occasion is akin to the precept that we are by no means to take revenge, but to turn the other cheek to the smiter. So the conduct of Pericles and Euclid matches the commands to put up with persecutors, and to bear their wrath with meekness, and to invoke not cursing but blessing on our enemies. He who has been previously instructed in these examples will no longer regard the precepts as impracticable. I should like, too, to instance the conduct of Alexander, when he had captured the daughters of Darius.8 Their beauty is described as extraordinary, and Alexander would not so much as look at them, for he thought it shameful that a conqueror of men should be vanquished by women. This is of a piece with the statement that he who looks at a woman impurely, even though he do not actually commit the act of adultery with her, is not free from guilt, because he has allowed lust to enter his heart. Then there is the case of Clinias, the follower of Pythagoras; it is difficult to believe this is a case of accidental, and not intentional, imitation of our principles. What of him? He might have escaped a fine of three talents by taking an oath, but he preferred to pay rather than swear, and this when he would have sworn truly. He appears to me to have heard of the precept which orders us to swear not at all.10 To return to the point with which I began. We must not take everything indiscriminately, but only what is profitable. It would be shameful for us in the case of food to reject the injurious, and at the same time, in the case of lessons, to take no account of what keeps the soul alive, but, like mountain streams, to sweep in everything that happens to be in our way. The sailor does not trust himself to the mercy of the winds, but steers his boat to the port; the archer aims at his mark; the smith and the carpenter keep the end of the crafts in view. What sense is there in our strewing ourselves inferior to these craftsmen, though we are quite able to understand our own affairs? In mere handicrafts is there some object and end in labour, and is there no aim in the life of man, to which any one ought to look who means to live a life better than the brutes’? Were no intelligence to be sitting at the tiller of our souls, we should be dashed up and down in the voyage of life like boats that have no ballast. It is just as with competitions in athletics, or, if you like, in music. In competitions mere crowns are offered for prizes, there is always training, and no one in training for wrestling or the pancration practices the harp or flute. Certainly not Polydamas, who before his contests at the Olympic games used to make chariots at full speed stand still, and so kept up his strength.2 Milo, too, could not be pushed off his greased shield, but, pushed as he was, held on as tightly as statues fastened by lead. In one word, training was the preparation for these feats. Suppose they had neglected the dust and the gymnasia, and had given their minds to the strains of Marsyas or Olympus, the Phrygians,4 they would never have won crowns or glory, nor escaped ridicule for their bodily incapacity. On the other hand Timotheus did not neglect harmony and spend his time in the wrestling schools. Had he done so it would never have been his lot to surpass all the world in music, and to have attained such extraordinary skill in his art as to be able to rouse the soul by his sustained and serious melody, and then again relieve and sooth it by his softer strains at his good pleasure. By this skill, when once he sang in Phrygian strains to Alexander, he is said to have roused the king to arms in the middle of a banquet, and then by gentler music to have restored him to his boon companions. So great is the importance, alike in music and in athletics, in view of the object to be attained, of training.…

 

To us are held out prizes whereof the marvellous number and splendour are beyond the power of words to tell. Will it be possible for those who are fast asleep, and live a life of indulgence, to seize them without an effort? If so, sloth would have been of great price, and Sardanapalus would have been esteemed especially happy, or even Margites, if you like, who is said by Homer to have neither ploughed nor dug, nor done any useful work,—if indeed Homer wrote this. Is there not rather truth in the saying of Pittacus,7 who said that “It is hard to be good?” …

 

We must not be the slaves of our bodies, except where we are compelled. Our best provision must be for the soul. We ought by means of philosophy to release her from fellowship with all bodily appetites as we might from a dungeon, and at the same time make our bodies superior to our appetites. We should, for instance, supply our bellies with necessaries, not with dainties like men whose minds are set on cooks and table arrangers, and who search through every land and sea, like the tributaries of some stern despot, much to be pitied for their toil. Such men are really suffering pains as intolerable as the torments of hell, carding into a fire, fetching water in a sieve, pouring into a tub with holes in it, and getting nothing for their pains. To pay more than necessary attention to our hair and dress is, as Diogenes phrases it, the part either of the unfortunate or of the wicked. To be finely dressed, and to have the reputation of being so, is to my mind quite as disgraceful as to play the harlot or to plot against a neighbour’s wedlock. What does it matter to a man with any sense, whether he wears a grand state robe, or a common cloak, so long as it serves to keep off heat and cold? In other matters necessity is to be the rule, and the body is only to be so far regarded as is good for the soul.”

Similar precepts are urged, with further references and allusions to Pythagoras, the Corybantes, Solon, Diogenes, Pythius, the rich man who feasted Xerxes on his way to Greece, Pheidias, Bias, Polycletus, Archilochus, and Tithonus.

It is suggestive to compare the wealth of literary illustration in this little tract with the severe restrictions which Basil imposes on himself in his homilies for delivery in church, where nothing but Scripture is allowed to appear. In studying the sermons, it might be supposed that Basil read nothing but the Bible. In reading the treatise on heathen authors, but for an incidental allusion to David and Methuselah, it might be supposed that he spent all his spare time over his old school and college authors.

(iii) The Panegyrical Homilies are five in number.

Homily V. is on Julitta, a lady of Cæsarea martyred in 306, and commemorated on July 30. (In the Basilian menology, July 31.) Her property being seized by an iniquitous magistrate, she was refused permission to proceed with a suit for restitution unless she abjured Christianity. On her refusal to do this she was arraigned and burned. She is described as having said that women no less than men were made after the image of God; that women as well as men were made by their Creator capable of manly virtue; that it took bone as well as flesh to make the woman, and that constancy, fortitude, and endurance are as womanly as they are manly.

The homily, which recommends patience and cheerfulness in adversity, contains a passage of great beauty upon prayer. “Ought we to pray without ceasing? Is it possible to obey such a command? These are questions which I see you are ready to ask. I will endeavour, to the best of my ability, to defend the charge. Prayer is a petition for good addressed by the pious to God. But we do not rigidly confine our petition to words. Nor yet do we imagine that God requires to be reminded by speech. He knows our needs even though we ask Him not. What do I say then? I say that we must not think to make our prayer complete by syllables. The strength of prayer lies rather in the purpose of our soul and in deeds of virtue reaching every part and moment of our life. ‘Whether ye eat,’ it is said, ‘or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God.’ As thou takest thy seat at table, pray. As thou liftest the loaf, offer thanks to the Giver. When thou sustainest thy bodily weakness with wine, remember Him Who supplies thee with this gift, to make thy heart glad and to comfort thy infirmity. Has thy need for taking food passed away? Let not the thought of thy Benefactor pass away too. As thou art putting on thy tunic, thank the Giver of it. As thou wrappest thy cloak about thee, feel yet greater love to God, Who alike in summer and in winter has given us coverings convenient for us, at once to preserve our life, and to cover what is unseemly. Is the day done? Give thanks to Him Who has given us the sun for our daily work, and has provided for us a fire to light up the night, and to serve the rest of the needs of life. Let night give the other occasions of prayer. When thou lookest up to heaven and gazest at the beauty of the stars, pray to the Lord of the visible world; pray to God the Arch-artificer of the universe, Who in wisdom hath made them all. When thou seest all nature sunk in sleep, then again worship Him Who gives us even against our wills release from the continuous strain of toil, and by a short refreshment restores us once again to the vigour of our strength. Let not night herself be all, as it were, the special and peculiar property of sleep. Let not half thy life be useless through the senselessness of slumber. Divide the time of night between sleep and prayer. Nay, let thy slumbers be themselves experiences in piety; for it is only natural that our sleeping dreams should be for the most part echoes of the anxieties of the day. As have been our conduct and pursuits, so will inevitably be our dreams. Thus wilt thou pray without ceasing; if thou prayest not only in words, but unitest thyself to God through all the course of life and so thy life be made one ceaseless and uninterrupted prayer.”

Barlaam, the subject of Homily XVII., was martyred under Diocletian, either at Antioch or at Cæsarea. The ingenuity of his tormentors conceived the idea of compelling him to fling the pinch of incense to the gods by putting it, while burning, into his hand, and forcing him to hold it over the altar. The fire fought with the right hand, and the fire proved the weaker. The fire burned through the hand, but the hand was firm. The martyr might say, “Thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” The homily concludes with an apostrophe to the painters of such scenes. “Up, I charge you, ye famous painters of the martyrs’ struggles! Adorn by your art the mutilated figure of this officer of our army! I have made but a sorry picture of the crowned hero. Use all your skill and all your colours in his honour.”

This was taken at the second Council of Nicæa as proof of an actual painting.

Homily XVIII. is on the martyr Gordius, who was a native of Cæsarea, and was degraded from his rank of centurion when Licinius removed Christians from the army. Gordius retired into the wilderness, and led the life of an anchorite. One day there was a great festival at Cæsarea in honour of Mars. There were to be races in the theatre, and thither the whole population trooped. Not a Jew, not a heathen, was wanting. No small company of Christians had joined the crowd, men of careless life, sitting in the assembly of folly, and not shunning the counsel of the evil-doers, to see the speed of the horses and the skill of the charioteers. Masters had given their slaves a holiday. Even boys ran from their schools to the show. There was a multitude of common women of the lower ranks. The stadium was packed, and every one was gazing intently on the races. Then that noble man, great of heart and great of courage, came down from the uplands into the theatre. He took no thought of the mob. He did not heed how many hostile hands he met.… In a moment the whole theatre turned to stare at the extraordinary sight. The man looked wild and savage. From his long sojourn in the mountains his head was squalid, his beard long, his dress filthy. His body was like a skeleton. He carried a stick and a wallet. Yet there was a certain grace about him, shining from the unseen all around him. He was recognised. A great shout arose. Those who shared his faith clapped for joy, but the enemies of the truth urged the magistrate to put in force the penalty he had incurred, and condemned him beforehand to die. Then an universal shouting arose all round. Nobody looked at the horses—nobody at the charioteers. The exhibition of the chariots was mere idle noise. Not an eye but was wholly occupied with looking at Gordius, not an ear wanted to hear anything but his words. Then a confused murmur, running like a wind through all the theatre, sounded above the din of the course. Heralds were told to proclaim silence. The pipes were hushed, and all the band stopped in a moment. Gordius was being listened to; Gordius was the centre of all eyes, and in a moment he was dragged before the magistrate who presided over the games. With a mild and gentle voice the magistrate asked him his name, and whence he came. He told his country, his family, the rank he had held, the reason for his flight, and his return. “Here I am,” he cried; “ready to testify by deed to the contempt in which I hold your orders, and my faith in the God in whom I have trusted. For I have heard that you are inferior to few in cruelty. This is why I have chosen this time in order to carry out my wishes.” With these words he kindled the wrath of the governor like a fire, and roused all his fury against himself. The order was given, “Call the lictors; where are the plates of lead? Where are the scourges? Let him be stretched upon a wheel; let him be wrenched upon the rack; let the instruments of torture be brought in; make ready the beasts, the fire, the sword, the cross. What a good thing for the villain that he can die only once!” “Nay,” replied Gordius. “what a bad thing for me that I cannot die for Christ again and again!”

All the town crowded to the spot where the martyrdom was to be consummated. Gordius uttered his last words. Death is the common lot of man. As we must all die, let us through death win life. Make the necessary voluntary. Exchange the earthly for the heavenly. He then crossed himself, he stepped forward for the fatal blow, without changing colour or losing his cheerful mien. It seemed as though he were not going to meet an executioner, but to yield himself into the hands of angels.

Homily XIX. is on the Forty Soldier Martyrs of Sebaste, who were ordered by the officers of Licinius, A.D. 320, to offer sacrifice to the heathen idols, and, at their refusal, were plunged for a whole night into a frozen pond in the city, in sight of a hot bath on the brink. One man’s faith and fortitude failed him. He rushed to the relief of the shore. plunged into the hot water, and died on the spot. One of the executioners had stood warming himself and watching the strange scene. He had seemed to see angels coming down from heaven and distributing gifts to all the band but one. When the sacred number of forty was for the moment broken the officer flung off his clothes, and sprang into the freezing pond with the Cry, “I am a Christian.” Judas departed. Matthias took his place.…

 

What trouble wouldst thou not have taken to find one to pray for thee to the Lord! Here are forty, praying with one voice. Where two or three are gathered together in the name of the Lord, there is He in the midst. Who doubts His presence in the midst of forty? The afflicted flees to the Forty; the joyous hurries to them; the former, that he may find relief from his troubles; the latter, that his blessings may be preserved. Here a pious woman is found beseeching for her children; she begs for the return of her absent husband, or for his health if he be sick. Let your supplications be made with the martyrs. Let young men imitate their fellows. Let fathers pray to be fathers of like sons. Let mothers learn from a good mother. The mother of one of these saints saw the rest overcome by the cold, and her son, from his strength or his constancy, yet alive. The executioners had left him, on the chance of his having changed his mind. She herself lifted him in her arms, and placed him on the car in which the rest were being drawn to the pyre, a veritable martyr’s mother.

The last of the Panegyrical Homilies (XXIII.) is on Saint Mamas, commemorated on September 2 by the Greeks, and on August 17 by the Latins. He is said to have been a shepherd martyred at Cæsarea in 274 in the persecution of Aurelian. Sozomen (v. 2) relates that when the young princes Julian and Gallus were at the castle of Macellum they were engaged in building a church in the martyr’s honour, and that Julian’s share in the work never prospered.3 The homily narrates no details concerning the saint, and none seem to be known. It does contain a more direct mention of a practice of invocation. There is a charge to all who have enjoyed the martyr in dreams to remember him; to all who have met with him in the church, and have found him a helper in their prayers; to all those whom he has aided in their doings, when called on by name. The conclusion contains a summary of the Catholic doctrine concerning the Son. “You have been told before, and now you are being told again, ‘In the beginning was the Word,’5 to prevent your supposing that the Son was a being generated after the manner of men, from His having come forth out of the non-existent. ‘Word’ is said to you, because of His impassibility. ‘Was’ is said because of His being beyond time. He says ‘beginning’ to conjoin the Begotten with His Father. You have seen how the obedient sheep hears a master’s voice. ‘In the beginning,’ and ‘was,’ and ‘Word.’ Do not go on to say, ‘How was He?’ and ‘If He was, He was not begotten;’ and ‘If He was begotten, He was not.’ It is not a sheep who says these things. The skin is a sheep’s; but the speaker within is a wolf. Let him be recognised as an enemy. ‘My sheep hear my voice.’ You have heard the Son. Understand His likeness to His Father. I say likeness because of the weakness of the stronger bodies: In truth, and I am not afraid of approaching the truth, I am no ready deceiver: I say identity, always preserving the distinct existence of Son and Father. In the hypostasis of Son understand the Father’s Form, that you may hold the exact doctrine of this Image,—that you may understand consistently with true religion the words, ‘I am in the Father and the Father in me.’ Understand not confusion of essences, but identity of characters.”

V. Letters

Under this head I will add nothing to the notes, however inadequate, appended to the text.

VI. Liturgical

It is beyond the scope of the present work to discuss at length the history and relation of the extant Liturgies, which go by the name of St. Basil. St. Basil’s precise share in their composition, as we possess them, must be conjectural.

(i) The Liturgy, which St. Basil himself used and gave to his clergy and monks, preserved the traditional form in use in the archdiocese of Cæsarea. It is mentioned in the xxxiind canon of the council “in Trullo” of 692. This is no doubt the basis of the Greek Liturgy known as St. Basil’s, and used in the East as well as the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom. The form in use is contained in Neale’s Primitive Liturgies (1875). Dr. Swainson (Greek Liturgies chiefly from Oriental Sources, p. 75) printed an edition of it from the Barberini MS. in 1884.

(ii) There is an Alexandrine Liturgy in Coptic, Arabic, and Greek form, called St. Basil’s, and used on fast days by the Monophysites (Renaudot, Lit. Orient. Collectio, i. 154). This differs entirely from the first named.

(iii) Yet again there is a Syriac Liturgy called St. Basil’s, translated by Masius, and given by Renaudot in his second volume.

VII. Writings Spurious and Dubious

Under this head will be ranked, besides writings objections against which have been already noticed:

    1.    Constitutiones monasticæ (Ἀσκητικαὶ διατάξεις), in number thirty-four.

    2.    Pœnæ in monachos delinquentes, and Pœnæ in Canonicas (ἐπιτίμια).

    3.    Libri duo de Baptismo.

    4.    Sermones duo ascetici.

    5.    Various Homilies:

Adversus Calumniatores SS. Trinitatis,

Altera de Sp. Scto.,

In Sanctam Christi Generationem,

De Libero Arbitrio,

In aliquot Scripturæ locis, dicta in Lacizis.

III. De Jejunio.

De Pænitentia.

    6.    A book On True Virginity.

    7.    A treatise On consolation in adversity.

    8.     A treatise De laude solitariæ vitæ.

    9.    Admonitio ad filum spiritualem (extant only in Latin).

    10.    Sermones de moribus XXIV. (ἠθικοὶ λόγοι), a cento of extracts made by Simeon Metaphrastes.

VIII. Writings Mentioned, But Lost

A book against the Manichæans (Augustine, c. Julian. i. 16–17). Tillemont (Art. cxlv. p. 303) mentions authors in which lost fragments of St. Basil are to be found, and (Art. cxxxvii. p. 290) refers to the lost Commentary on the Book of Job.

IX. Additional Notes on Some Points in St. Basil’ S Doctrinal and Ecclesiastical Position

It has been claimed with reason that the doctrinal standpoint of St. Basil is identical with that of the English Church, with the one exception of the veneration of relics and the invocation of saints.

In confirmation of this view, the following points may be noted:

1. The Holy Eucharist. The remarkable passage on the spiritual manducation of the elements in Letter VIII. is commented on on p. 118. His custom as to frequent communion and his opinion as to the reserved sacrament are remarked on on p. 179.

A significant passage is to be found in the Moralia, Rule XXI., that participation in the Body and Blood of Christ is necessary to eternal life. John 6:54, is then quoted. That no benefit is derived by him who comes to communion without consideration of the method whereby participation of the Body and Blood of Christ is given; and that he who receives unworthily is condemned. On this John 6:54 and 62, and 1 Cor. 13:2–7, are quoted. By what method (ποίψ λόγψ) we must eat the Body and drink the Blood of the Lord, in remembrance of the Lord’s obedience unto death, that they who live may no longer live unto themselves, but to Him who died and rose again for them. In answer, the quotations are Luke 22:29, 1 Cor. 11:23, 2 Cor 5:14, and 1 Cor. 10:16.

2. Mariolatry. Even Letter CCCLX., which bears obvious marks of spuriousness, and of proceeding from a later age, does not go beyond a recognition of the Blessed Virgin as Θεοτόκος, in which the Catholic Church is agreed, and a general invocation of apostles, prophets, and martyrs, the Virgin not being set above these. The argument of Letter CCLXI. (p. 300) that “if the Godbearing flesh was not ordained to be assumed of the lump of Adam, what need was there of the Blessed Virgin?” seems quite inconsistent with the modern doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Of any cultus of the Virgin, St. Basil’s writings shew no trace.

3. Relations to the Roman Church.

In order to say something under this head, Ceillier, the Benedictine, is driven to such straits as to quote the application of the term “Coryphæus” to Damasus in Letter CCXXXIX. Certainly St. Basil saw no reason to congratulate the Westerns on their “Coryphæus,” so far as intelligent interest in the East was involved. Fialon sees the position more clearly, so far as Basil is concerned, though he assumes the Councils to have given more authority to the patriarch of the ancient capital than was in fact conceded. “Si Basile ne va pas, comme la majorité du Concile de Constantinople, jusqu’à traiter l’Occident comme étranger; s’il ne pretend pas que l’empire appartienne à l’Orient, parce que l’Orient voit naitre le Soleil, et que c’est en Orient que Dieu brilla dans une enveloppe charnelle,3 ne voudrait il pas, dans l’ordre religieux, l’union indépendante, qui, depuis Constantin, rattache, dans l’ordre politiquc, ces deux parties du monde Romain? À ses yeux l’Orient et l’Occident ne sont ils pas deux frères, dont les droit sont égaux, sans suprématie, sans ainesse?

In truth Basil appealed to Damasus as Theodoret to Leo, and as Chrysostom to Innocent, not as vassal to liege lord, but as brother to brother. In Basil’s case, even the brotherhood was barely recognised, if recognised at all, by the western prelate.

X. Editions and Manuscripts

Among the chief editions and MSS. the following may be mentioned:

The Editio Princeps of the complete extant works of Basil in the original Greek is that which Froben published for Janus Cornarius at Bale in 1551. But Froben had already published in 1532, under the editorship of Erasmus, an edition containing the De Spiritu Sancto, the Hexaemeron, the Homilies on the Psalms, twenty-nine different Homilies and some Letters.

A Venetian edition, published by Fabius in 1535, comprised the Moralia, as well as the dubious book on Virginity, three books against Eunomius, and the tract against the Sabellians, Arians, and Anomœans.

The Greek editions had been preceded by a Latin version at Rome, by Raphael Volaterranus in 1515, of which the autograph manuscript is in the British Museum, and by another at Paris in 1525, and by a third Latin edition issued at Cologne in 1531. These were followed by other editions printed at Paris, Antwerp, and Cologne. In 1618 Fronton du Duc, commonly known as Ducæus, published, in conjunction with Frederic Morel, an edition in two folio volumes containing a Latin version as well as the Greek. The edition of the French Dominican Father, Francis Combefis, was published shortly after his death in 1679. The most important step in the direction of accuracy and completeness was taken by Julian Garnier, a Bendictine Father of the Congregation of St. Maur. He revised and corrected the Greek text of earlier editions on the authority of a number of manuscripts in Paris, Italy, and England, and issued the first of his three folio volumes at Paris, at the press of John Baptist Coignard, in 1721. The third volume did not appear till 1730, five years after Garnier’s death. In the meanwhile the editorial work had been taken up by Prudent Maran, another Benedictine, to whom are due a careful and voluminous biographical notice, many notes, and a chronological arrangement of the Letters. This was reissued in three 4° volumes in Paris in 1889, and is the basis of the edition published, with additions, by the Abbé Jacques Paul Migne, in the Patrologia Græca, in 1857.

An important edition of a separate work is the revised text, with notes and introduction, of the De Spiritu Sancto, by the Rev. C. F. H. Johnston, published at the Clarendon Press in 1892.

German translations were published by Count Schweikhard at Ingolstadt in 1591 (Ceillier VI. viii. 8), and by J. von Wendel at Vienna in 1776–78. There have also been issued Basilius des Grossen auserlesenes Homilien, übersetzt und mit Ammerkungen versehen von J. G. Krabinger, Landshut, 1839, and Auserlesene Schriften, übersetzt von Gröne, Kempten, 1875.

Homilies and Orations were published in Italian in 1711 by Gio. Maria Lucchini. Omelie Scelte, translated by A. M. Ricci, were published in Florence in 1732.

Many important extracts are translated into French in the Historie Générale des Auteurs Sacrés of the Benedictine Remy Ceillier (Paris, 1737).

E. Fialon, in his Ét. Hist. (1869) has translated the Hexaemeron; and in 1889 the Panégyrique du Martyr Gordius was published in French by J. Genouille.

A complete account of the bibliography of St. Basil is given in the Notitia ex Bibliotheca Fabricii (Ed. Harles, tom. ix. 1804), in Migne’s ed. vol. i., Prolegomena p. ccxli.

In 1888 a translation of the De Spiritu Sancto, by G. Lewis, was included in the Christian Classic Series.

Of all the smaller works a great popularity, as far as popularity can be gauged by the number of editions and translations, has belonged to the Advice to the Young and the Homily on the Forty Martyrs.

The MSS. collated by the Ben. Edd. for their edition of the De Spiritu Sancto are five entitled Regii, and a sixth known as Colbertinus, now in the national library at Paris. The Ben. Regius Secundus (2293) is described by Omont (Inventaire Sommaire des MSS. Grecs) as of the Xth c., the Colbertinus (4529) and the Regius Tertius (2893) as of the XIth c., and the Regius Primus (2286), Regius Quartus (2893), and Regius Quintus (3430) as of the XVth c.

For his edition, Mr. C. F. H. Johnston also collated or had collated 22,509 Add. MSS., Xth c., in the British Museum; Codd. Misc. xxxvii., XIth c., in the Bodleian Library at Oxford; Cod. Theol. 142, XIIth c., in the Imperial Library at Vienna; Cod. Theol. 18, XIVth c., also at Vienna; Cod. xxiii, XIth c., in the Library of the Holy Synod at Moscow; 500 (Reg. 1824, 3) G, XIth c., at Paris; Cod. lviii., Xth c., at St. Mark’s, Venice; Cod. lxvi., XIIth c., also at St. Mark’s, Venice; Codd. Regin. Suaecor. 35, XIVth c., in the Vatican at Rome.

For the Hexaemeron the Ben. Edd. used eight MSS. styled Regii, and numbered respectively 1824, 2286 (originally in the collection of Henry II. at Fontainebleau, the Regius Primus of the enumeration for the De Spiritu Sancto, but the Secundus for that of the Hexaemeron), 2287 (1°), 2287 (2°), 2349, 2892, 2896 (the Regius Quartus of the De Spiritu Sancto), and 2989, two mss. entitled Colbertinus, 3069 and 4721, two Coistiniani, 229, IXth c., and 235; and a ms. in the Bodleian, “a doctissimo viro Joanne Wolf collatus.”

The sources of the Ben. Ed. of the Letters were Coislinianus 237, XIth c., a Codex Harlaeanus of the Xth or XIth c., and a Codex Medicaeus, Codex Regius 2293, Codex Regius 2897, Codex Regius 2896, Codex Regius 2502, Codex Regius 1824, Codex Regius 1906, and Codex Regius 1908.

The following MSS. of St. Basil are in the library of the Bodleian at Oxford:

Homiliae et Epistolae. Codex membranaceus, in 4to majori ff. 250, sec. xii. Epistola ad Optimum, episcopum, in septem ultiones. Cain. fol. iii.

Epistola ad virginem lapsam, fol. 211b.

Ejusdem Basilii epistola ad monachum lapsum, fol. 215b.

Epistolae canonicae. Barocciani. xxvi. z85b (i.e. pt. 1, p. 36).

Codex membranaceus, in 4to minor), ff. 370, sec. xi. fol. 285b.

Epist canon. Baroc. xxxvi. 121 (i.e. pt. 1, p. 147).

Codex membranaceus, in 40 minor), ff. 12 et 161, sec. xii. exeuntis.

Ejusdem epistolae canonicae tertiae prologue, fol. 125b.

CLVIII. 202 (i.e. pt. 1, p. 268). Codex chartaceus, in 4to major), ff. 374, sec. xv.

S. Basilii ad Amphilochium, Iconii episcopum, et alias epistolae quinque canonicae, fol. 202.

CLXXXV. 129b (i.e. pt. 1, p. 307). Membranaceus, in folio, ff. 83 et 312, sec. xi. exaratus, bene exaratus et servatus.

S. Basilii magni epistolae canonicae, cum scholius nonnullis, fol. 129b.

Ejusdem epistolae septem aliae, fol. 141.

Epist. Canon. Baroc. cxcvi. 184b (i.e. pt. l, p. 336). Membranaceus, in 40 major), ff. 313, sec. xi. anno scilicet 1043 exaratus.

S. Basil ii exposition de jejunio quadragesimali, f. 6b.

CCV. 400b (i.e. pt. 1, p. 361). Codex chartaceus, in folio, ff. 520, sec. xiv. mutilus et madore corruptus.

Dionysii Alexandrini, Petri Alexandrini, Gregorii Thaumaturgi, Athanasii, Basilii, Gregorii Nysseni, Timothei Alexandrini, Theophili Alexandrini, Cyrilli Alexandrini, et Gennadii epistolae encyclicae; interpretatione Balsamonis illustratae, fol. 378b.

Epistolae canonicae. Laudiani. xxxix. 200 (i.e. pt. 1, p. 519). Codex membranaceus in 4to maj. ff. 347, sec. forsan. xi. ineuntis, etc.

S. Basilii Caesareensis octo, subnexis capitulis duobus ex opere de S. Spiritu, fol. 200.

Seld. xlviii. 151 (i.e. pt. 1, p. 611). Codex membranaceus, in 4to ff. 189, sec. xiii. nitide exaratus; quandam monasterii S. Trinitatis apud Chalcem insulam [ol. 3385].

S. Basilii ad Amphilochium, Diodorum et Gregorium canones, fol. 151.

Misc. clxx. 181, 263, 284b (i.e. pt. 1, p. 717). Codex membranaceus, in 4to major), ff. 363, secc. si tabulam sec. xi. excipiamus, xiv. et xv.; initio et fine mutilus. Rawl. Auct. G. 158.

S. Basilii, archiep. Caesareensis, ad Amphilochium epistolae tres canonicae, fol. 181.

S. Basilii epistolae duae, scilicet, ad chorepiscopos, ad episcopos sibi subjectos, cum excerptis duobus ex capp. xxvii. et xxix. ad Amphilochium de S. Spiritu, fol. 263.

S. Basilii epistolae duae, ad Diodorum et ad Gregorium, fol. 284b.

Epist. Canon. misc. ccvi. I71 (i.e. pt. I, p. 763). Codex membranaceus, in folio minor), ff. 242. sec. forsan xi. exeuntis; bene exaratus et servatus. Meerm. Auct. T. 2. 6.

S. Basilii, archiep. Caesareensis, ad Amphilochium ep. Icon. epistolae tres canonicae cum scholiis hic illic margin) adpositis, fol. 171.

Epistolae cccxxxiv. Misc. xxxviii. 1 (i.e. pt. 1, p. 642). Codex chartaceus, in folio fit 196, sec. xvi. anno 1547 scriptus [of. 3091]. Auct. E. 2. 10.

S. Basilii epistolae, ut e numeris marginalibus apparel, cccxxxiv. fol. 1.

Ult. est ad eundem Eusebium, et exstat in ed. cit. tom. iii. p. 257.

Epistola ccxlv. Baroc cxxi. [i.e. pt. I, p. 199]. Membranaceus, in 4to ff. 226, sec xii. exaratus; bene exaratus; in calce mutilus.

S. Basilii, archiepiscopi Caesareensis, epistolae ad diversos, numero ducentae quadraginta quinque.

Epist. clxxvii. Roc. xviii. 314 (i.e. pt. 1, p. 471). Codex chartaceus, in folio, ff. 475, hodie in duo volumina distinctus, an no 1 349 menu Constantini Sapientis binis columnis scriptus; olim ecclesiae S. Trinitatis apud insulam Chalcem [of. 264].

S. Basilii Caesareensis epistolae circiter centum septuaginta septem, fol. 314.

Epistolae variae. Baroc. lvi. 28b et passim (i.e. pt. 1, p. 83). Codex bombycinus, ff. 175, sec. xiv. exeuntis; initio mutilus, et madore corruptus.

S. Basilii adversus Eunomium epistola, fol. 28b.

Epist. xiii. ad diversos. Baroc. ccxxviii 118b (i.e. pt. 1, p. 393). Membranaceus, in folio, ff. 206, sec. forsan xii. ineuntis; foliis aliquot chartaceis a menu recentiori hic illic suppletis. S. Basilii et Libanii epistolae septem mutuae, f. 126.

Ibid. epp. 341, 342, 337–340, 356

Epist. tres. Misc. clxxix. 423 (i.e. pt. 1, p. 724). Codex chartaceus, in folio marjori, ff. 262, sec. xvii.; olim peculium coil. soc. Jesu Clarom. Paris, postea Joh. Meerman. Auct. T. I. I.

S. Basilli, archiep. Caesareensis, epistola ad Optimum episcopum in illud, πᾶς ὀ ἀποκτείνας καΐ, p. 423.

Epistola ad Chilonem. Laud. xvii. 352 (i.e. pt. I, p. 500). Codex chartaceus, et laevigatus, in 4° ff. 358, sec. xv. [of. 692].

S. Basilii Magni epistola ad Chilonem, fol. 352.

Epist. ad Coloneos. Baroc. cxlii. 264b (i.e. pt I, p. 242). Codex chartaceus, in 40 ff. 292, sec. xiv. ineuntis.

S. Basilii Magni epistola ad Coloneos, fol. 264b.

Ejus et Libanii epistolae. Baroc. xix. 191 (i.e. pt. 1, p. 27). Codex chartaceus in 40 minori, ff. 200, sec. xv. manibus tamen diversis scriptus.

S. Basilii et Libanii sophistae epistolae decem amoeboeae, fol. 19l.

Ejus et Libanii epistolae. Baroc. cxxxi. 296 (i.e, pt. 1, p. 211). Codex bombycinus, in 4° maj. ff. 4 et 536, sec. xiv. haud eadem manu scriptus; madore aliquantum corruptus.

S. Basilii et Libanii epistolae tres mutuae, f. 299b.

Epistolae ad Libanium et Modestum. Baroc. ccxvi. 301 (i.e. pt. 1, p. 376). Codex, fragmentis constans pluribus, in 4° ff. 379 quorum 43 priora membranacea, caetera chartacea sunt.

S. Basilii epistola ad Libanium, fol. 30lb.

Ejusdem ad Modestum epistola, imperf. fol. 30lb.

Basilii et Libanii epistolae quinque mutuae, fol. 302.

Ibid. epp. cccxxxv. seq., cccxlii., ccxli … ccclix.

The following MSS. of St. Basil are in the British Museum:

Harleian Collection:

1801.

Codex membranaceus (Newton’s arms in spare leaf). Doctrina Beati Basilii.

2580.

Liber chartaceus. S. Basilii sermo de parentum honore, Latine redditus per Guarinum.

2678.

Codex mmembranaceus. S. Basilii de institutis juvenum liber ex versione et cum praefatione Leonardi Aretini.

5576.

XIVth c.

40 Homilies.

5639.

XVth c.

Homilies.

5576.

XIVth c.

Hexaemeron

5622.

XIVth. c.

Com. on Isaiah.

5541.

XVth c.

Ad juvenes.

5609.

XVth c.


5660.

XVth c.


5657.

XIVth c.

Extracts.

5689.

XIIth c.

De V. Virg.

5624.

XIVth c.

Ep. ad Greg. Frat.

6827.

XVIIth c.

Epp.

3651.

XVth c.

De Cons. in Adv.

4987.

XVth c.

Admon.

 


 


 

Burney Collection:

70.

XVth c.

Ad juvenes.

75.

XVth c.

Epp. ad Liban.

 


 


 

Additional:

22509.

Vellum Curs. Xth c.

De Sp. Scto.

34060.

XVth c.

The doubtful work De Sp. Scto.

14066.

XIIth c.

Homilies.

34060.

XVth c.

Against Drunkards.

25881.

XVIth c.

The Forty Martyrs.

10014.

XVIIth c.

Ad juvenes.

10069.

XIIth c.

Reg. fus. tract.

9347.

XIVth c.

Ascetic.

18492.

XVIth c.

De Frugalitate.

17474.

XVth c.

Epp. can.

23771.

c. 1500.

Sermones Tractatus.

 

Autograph of Raph. Volterrano (translation).

 


 


 

Arundel:

535.

XIVth c.

Excerp. ex adv. Eunom. v.

532.

Xth c.

Hexaemeron.

528.

XVth c.

Against Drunkards.

520.

XVth c.

De tranqu. an.

583.

XIVth c.

Epp. can. ad. Amph.

181.

XIIth c.

Adm. ad Fil.

 

The following mss. of St. Basil are in the British Museum:

St. Basil

ΤΟΥ ΑΓΙΟΥ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΙΟΥ ΠΕΡΙ ΤΟΥ ΠΝΕΥΜΑΤΟΣ ΒΙΒΛΙΟΝ

The Book of Saint Basil on the Spirit

DE SPIRITU SANCTO

Preface

The heresy of Arius lowered the dignity of the Holy Ghost as well as that of the Son. He taught that the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are wholly unlike one another both in essence and in glory. “There is a triad, not in equal glories;” “one more glorious than the other in their glories to an infinite degree.” So says the Thalia, quoted in Ath. de Syn. § 15. But the Nicene definition, while it was precise in regard to the Son, left the doctrine of the Holy Ghost comparatively open, (Πιστεύομεν εἱς τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα,) not from hesitation or doubt, but because this side of Arian speculation was not prominent. (Cf. Basil, Letters cxxv. and ccxxvi. and Dr. Swete in D.C.B. iii. 121.) It was the expulsion of Maecdonius from the see of Constantinople in 360 which brought “Macedonianism” to a head. He was put there by Arians as an Arian. Theodoret (Ecc. Hist. ii. 5) explains how disagreement arose. He was an upholder, if not the author, of the watchword ὁμοιούσιον (Soc. ii. 45), but many supporters of the ὁμοιούσιον (e.g., Eustathius of Sebasteia) shrank from calling the Holy Ghost a creature. So the Pneumatomachi began to be clearly marked off. The various creeds of the Arians and semi-Arians did not directly attack the Godhead of the Holy Ghost, though they did not accept the doctrine of the essential unity of the Three Persons. (Cf. Hahn, Bibliothek der Symbolc, pp. 148–174, quoted by Swete.) But their individual teaching went far beyond their confessions. The Catholic theologians were roused to the danger, and on the return of Athanasius from his third exile, a council was held at Alexandria which resulted in the first formal ecclesiastical condemnation of the depravers of the Holy Ghost, in the Tomus ad Antiochenos (q v. with the preface on p. 481 of Ath. in the edition of this series. Cf.also Ath. ad Serap. i. 2, 10). In the next ten years the Pneumatomachi, Macedonians, or Marathonians, so called from Marathonius, bishop of Nicomedia, whose support to the party was perhaps rather pecuniary than intellectual (Nicephorus H.E. ix. 47), made head, and were largely identified with the Homoiousians. In 374 was published the Ancoratus of St. Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, written in 373, and containing two creeds (vide Heurtley de F. et Symb. pp. 14–18), the former of which is nearly identical with the Confession of Constantinople. It expresses belief in τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον, Κύριον, καὶ Ζωοποιὸν, τὸ ἑκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον, τὸ σὺν Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ συμπροσκυνοίμενον καὶ συνδοχαζόμενον, τὸ λαλῆσαν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν. It is in this same year, 374, that Amphilochius, the first cousin of Gregory of Nazianzus and friend and spiritual son of Basil, paid the first of his annual autumn visits to Cæsarea (Bishop Lightfoot, D.C.B. i. 105) and there urged St. Basil to clear up all doubt as to the true doctrine of the Holy Spirit by writing a treatise on the subject. St. Basil complied, and, on the completion of the work, had it engrossed on parchment (Letter ccxxxi.) and sent it to Amphilochius, to whom he dedicated it.

CHAPTER I

Prefatory remarks on the need of exact investigation of the most minute portions of theology.

1. Your desire for information, my right well-beloved and most deeply respected brother Amphilochius, I highly commend, and not less your industrious energy. I have been exceedingly delighted at the care and watchfulness shewn in the expression of your opinion that of all the terms concerning God in every mode of speech, not one ought to be left without exact investigation. You have turned to good account your reading of the exhortation of the Lord, “Every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth,” and by your diligence in asking might, I ween, stir even the most reluctant to give you a share of what they possess. And this in you yet further moves my admiration, that you do not, according to the manners of the most part of the men of our time, propose your questions by way of mere test, but with the honest desire to arrive at the actual truth. There is no lack in these days of captious listeners and questioners; but to find a character desirous of information, and seeking the truth as a remedy for ignorance, is very difficult. Just as in the hunter’s snare, or in the soldier’s ambush, the trick is generally ingeniously concealed, so it is with the inquiries of the majority of the questioners who advance arguments, not so much with the view of getting any good out of them, as in order that, in the event of their failing to elicit answers which chime in with their own desires, they may seem to have fair ground for controversy.

2. If “To the fool on his asking for wisdom, wisdom shall be reckoned,” at how high a price shall we value “the wise hearer” who is quoted by the Prophet in the same verse with “the admirable counsellor”?3 It is right, I ween, to hold him worthy of all approbation, and to urge him on to further progress, sharing his enthusiasm, and in all things toiling at his side as he presses onwards to perfection. To count the terms used in theology as of primary importance, and to endeavour to trace out the hidden meaning in every phrase and in every syllable, is a characteristic wanting in those who are idle in the pursuit of true religion, but distinguishing all who get knowledge of “the mark” “of our calling;” for what is set before us is, so far as is possible with human nature, to be made like unto God. Now without knowledge there can be no making like; and knowledge is not got without lessons. The beginning of teaching is speech, and syllables and words are parts of speech. It follows then that to investigate syllables is not to shoot wide of the mark, nor, because the questions raised are what might seem to some insignificant, are they on that account to be held unworthy of heed. Truth is always a quarry hard to hunt, and therefore we must look everywhere for its tracks. The acquisition of true religion is just like that of crafts; both grow bit by bit; apprentices must despise nothing. If a man despise the first elements as small and insignificant, he will never reach the perfection of wisdom.

Yea and Nay are but two syllables, yet there is often involved in these little words at once the best of all good things, Truth, and that beyond which wickedness cannot go, a Lie. But why mention Yea and Nay? Before now, a martyr bearing witness for Christ has been judged to have paid in full the claim of true religion by merely nodding his head. If, then, this be so, what term in theology is so small but that the effect of its weight in the scales according as it be rightly or wrongly used is not great? Of the law we are told “not one jot nor one tittle shall pass away;”6 how then could it be safe for us to leave even the least unnoticed? The very points which you yourself have sought to have thoroughly sifted by us are at the same time both small and great. Their use is the matter of a moment, and peradventure they are therefore made of small account; but, when we reckon the force of their meaning, they are great. They may be likened to the mustard plant which, though it be the least of shrub-seeds, yet when properly cultivated and the forces latent in its germs unfolded, rises to its own sufficient height.

If any one laughs when he sees our subtilty, to use the Psalmist’s words, about syllables, let him know that he reaps laughter’s fruitless fruit; and let us, neither giving in to men’s reproaches, nor yet vanquished by their disparagement, continue our investigation. So far, indeed, am I from feeling ashamed of these things because they are small, that, even if I could attain to ever so minute a fraction of their dignity, I should both congratulate myself on having won high honour, and should tell my brother and fellow-investigator that no small gain had accrued to him therefrom.

While, then, I am aware that the controversy contained in little words is a very great one, in hope of the prize I do not shrink from toil, with the conviction that the discussion will both prove profitable to myself, and that my hearers will be rewarded with no small benefit. Wherefore now with the help, if I may so say, of the Holy Spirit Himself, I will approach the exposition of the subject, and, if you will, that I may be put in the way of the discussion, I will for a moment revert to the origin of the question before us.

3. Lately when praying with the people, and using the full doxology to God the Father in both forms, at one time “with the Son together with the Holy Ghost,” and at another “through the Son in the Holy Ghost,” I was attacked by some of those present on the ground that I was introducing novel and at the same time mutually contradictory terms.

You, however, chiefly with the view of benefiting them, or, if they are wholly incurable, for the security of such as may fall in with them, have expressed the opinion that some clear instruction ought to be published concerning the force underlying the syllables employed. I will therefore write as concisely as possible, in the endeavour to lay down some admitted principle for the discussion.

CHAPTER II

The origin of the heretics’ close observation of syllables.

4. The petty exactitude of these men about syllables and words is not, as might be supposed, simple and straightforward; nor is the mischief to which it tends a small one. There is involved a deep and covert design against true religion. Their pertinacious contention is to show that the mention of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is unlike, as though they will thence find it easy to demonstrate that there is a variation in nature. They have an old sophism, invented by Aetius, the champion of this heresy, in one of whose Letters there is a passage to the effect that things naturally unlike are expressed in unlike terms, and, conversely, that things expressed in unlike terms are naturally unlike. In proof of this statement he drags in the words of the Apostle, “One God and Father of whom are all things, … and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things∙” “Whatever, then,” he goes on, “is the relation of these terms to one another, such will be the relation of the natures indicated by them; and as the term ‘of whom’ is unlike the term ‘by whom,’ so is the Father unlike the Son.”3 On this heresy depends the idle subtilty of these men about the phrases in question. They accordingly assign to God the Father, as though it were His distinctive portion and lot, the phrase “of Whom;” to God the Son they confine the phrase “by Whom;” to the Holy Spirit that of “in Whom,” and say that this use of the syllables is never interchanged, in order that, as I have already said, the variation of language may indicate the variation of nature. Verily it is sufficiently obvious that in their quibbling about the words they are endeavouring to maintain the force of their impious argument.

By the term “of whom” they wish to indicate the Creator; by the term “through whom,” the subordinate agent or instrument;3 by the term “in whom,” or “in which,” they mean to shew the time or place. The object of all this is that the Creator of the universe may be regarded as of no higher dignity than an instrument, and that the Holy Spirit may appear to be adding to existing things nothing more than the contribution derived from place or time.

CHAPTER III

5. The systematic discussion of syllables is derived from heathen philosophy.

They have, however, been led into this error by their close study of heathen writers, who have respectively applied the terms “of whom” and “through whom” to things which are by nature distinct. These writers suppose that by the term “of whom” or “of which” the matter is indicated, while the term “through whom” or “through which” represents the instrument, or, generally speaking, subordinate agency.6 Or rather—for there seems no reason why we should not take up their whole argument, and briefly expose at once its incompatibility with the truth and its inconsistency with their own teaching—the students of vain philosophy, while expounding the manifold nature of cause and distinguishing its peculiar significations, define some causes as principal, some as coöperative or con-causal, while others are of the character of “sinc qua non,” or indispensable.

For every one of these they have a distinct and peculiar use of terms, so that the maker is indicated in a different way from the instrument. For the maker they think the proper expression is “by whom,” maintaining that the bench is produced “by” the carpenter; and for the instrument “through which,” in that it is produced “through” or by means of adze and gimlet and the rest. Similarly they appropriate “of which” to the material, in that the thing made is “of” wood, while “according to which” shews the design, or pattern put before the craftsman. For he either first makes a mental sketch, and so brings his fancy to bear upon what he is about, or else he looks at a pattern previously put before him, and arranges his work accordingly. The phrase “on account of which” they wish to be confined to the end or purpose, the bench, as they say, being produced for, or on account of, the use of man. “In which” is supposed to indicate time and place. When was it produced? In this time. And where? In this place. And though place and time contribute nothing to what is being produced, yet without these the production of anything is impossible, for efficient agents must have both place and time. It is these careful distinctions, derived from unpractical philosophy and vain delusion, which our opponents have first studied and admired, and then transferred to the simple and unsophisticated doctrine of the Spirit, to the belittling of God the Word, and the setting at naught of the Divine Spirit. Even the phrase set apart by non-Christian writers for the case of lifeless instruments10 or of manual service of the meanest kind, I mean the expression “through or by means of which,” they do not shrink from transferring to the Lord of all, and Christians feel no shame in applying to the Creator of the universe language belonging to a hammer or a saw.

CHAPTER IV

That there is no distinction in the scriptural use of these syllables.

6. We acknowledge that the word of truth has in many places made use of these expressions; yet we absolutely deny that the freedom of the Spirit is in bondage to the pettiness of Paganism. On the contrary, we maintain that Scripture varies its expressions as occasion requires, according to the circumstances of the case. For instance, the phrase “of which” does not always and absolutely, as they suppose, indicate the material, but it is more in accordance with the usage of Scripture to apply this term in the case of the Supreme Cause, as in the words “One God, of whom are all things,”2 and again, “All things of God.” The word of truth has, however, frequently used this term in the case of the material, as when it says “Thou shalt make an ark of incorruptible wood;”4 and “Thou shalt make the candlestick of pure gold;” and “The first man is of the earth, earthy;6 and “Thou art formed out of clay as I am.” But these men, to the end, as we have already remarked, that they may establish the difference of nature, have laid down the law that this phrase befits the Father alone. This distinction they have originally derived from heathen authorities, but here they have shewn no faithful accuracy of limitation. To the Son they have in conformity with the teaching of their masters given the title of instrument, and to the Spirit that of place, for they say in the Spirit, and through the Son. But when they apply “of whom” to God they no longer follow heathen example, but go over, as they say, to apostolic usage, as it is said, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus,” and “All things of God.”9 What, then, is the result of this systematic discussion? There is one nature of Cause; another of Instrument; another of Place. So the Son is by nature distinct from the Father, as the tool from the craftsman; and the Spirit is distinct in so far as place or time is distinguished from the nature of tools or from that of them that handle them.

CHAPTER V

That “through whom” is said also in the case of the Father, and “of whom” in the case of the Son and of the Spirit.

7. After thus describing the outcome of our adversaries’ arguments, we shall now proceed to shew, as we have proposed, that the Father does not first take “of whom” and then abandon “through whom” to the Son; and that there is no truth in these men’s ruling that the Son refuses to admit the Holy Spirit to a share in “of whom” or in “through whom,” according to the limitation of their new-fangled allotment of phrases. “There is one God and Father of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things.”

Yes; but these are the words of a writer not laying down a rule, but carefully distinguishing the hypostases.

The object of the apostle in thus writing was not to introduce the diversity of nature, but to exhibit the notion of Father and of Son as unconfounded. That the phrases are not opposed to one another and do not, like squadrons in war marshalled one against another, bring the natures to which they are applied into mutual conflict, is perfectly, plain from the passage in question. The blessed Paul brings both phrases to bear upon one and the same subject, in the words “of him and through him and to him are all things.” That this plainly refers to the Lord will be admitted even by a reader paying but small attention to the meaning of the words. The apostle has just quoted from the prophecy of Isaiah, “Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor, and then goes on, “For of him and from him and to him are all things.” That the prophet is speaking about God the Word, the Maker of all creation, may be learnt from what immediately precedes: “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him?”2 Now the word “who” in this passage does not mean absolute impossibility, but rarity, as in the passage “Who will rise up for me against the evil doers?” and “What man is he that desireth life?”4 and “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?” So is it in the passage in question, “Who hath directed [lxx., known] the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath known him?” “For the Father loveth the Son and sheweth him all things.”6 This is He who holds the earth, and hath grasped it with His hand, who brought all things to order and adornment, who poised the hills in their places, and measured the waters, and gave to all things in the universe their proper rank, who encompasseth the whole of heaven with but a small portion of His power, which, in a figure, the prophet calls a span. Well then did the apostle add “Of him and through him and to him are all things.”8 For of Him, to all things that are, comes the cause of their being, according to the will of God the Father. Through Him all things have their continuance and constitution,10 for He created all things, and metes out to each severally what is necessary for its health and preservation. Wherefore to Him all things are turned, looking with irresistible longing and unspeakable affection to “the author and maintainer “of” their “life,” as it is written “The eyes of all wait upon thee,”12 and again, “These wait all upon thee,” and “Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.”14

8. But if our adversaries oppose this our interpretation, what argument will save them from being caught in their own trap?

For if they will not grant that the three expressions “of him” and “through him” and “to him” are spoken of the Lord, they cannot but be applied to God the Father. Then without question their rule will fall through, for we find not only “of whom,” but also “through whom” applied to the Father. And if this latter phrase indicates nothing derogatory, why in the world should it be confined, as though conveying the sense of inferiority, to the Son? If it always and everywhere implies, ministry, let them tell us to what superior the God of glory and Father of the Christ is subordinate.

They are thus overthrown by their own selves, while our position will be on both sides made sure. Suppose it proved that the passage refers to the Son, “of whom” will be found applicable to the Son. Suppose on the other hand it be insisted that the prophet’s words relate to God, then it will be granted that “through whom” is properly used of God, and both phrases have equal value, in that both are used with equal force of God. Under either alternative both terms, being employed of one and the same Person, will be shewn to be equivalent. But let us revert to our subject.

9. In his Epistle to the Ephesians the apostle says, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body.”

And again in the Epistle to the Colossians, to them that have not the knowledge of the Only Begotten, there is mention of him that holdeth “the head,” that is, Christ, “from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered increaseth with the increase of God.” And that Christ is the head of the Church we have learned in another passage, when the apostle says “gave him to be the head over all things to the Church,”18 and “of his fulness have all we received.” And the Lord Himself says “He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”20 In a word, the diligent reader will perceive that “of whom” is used in diverse manners. For instance, the Lord says, “I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”22 Similarly we have frequently observed “of whom” used of the Spirit. “He that soweth to the spirit,” it is said, “shall of the spirit reap life! everlasting.” John too writes, “Hereby we know that he abideth in us by (ἐκ) the spirit which he hath given us.” “That which is conceived in her,” says the angel, “is of the Holy Ghost,”3 and the Lord says “that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” Such then is the case so far.

10. It must now be pointed out that the phrase “through whom” is admitted by Scripture in the case of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost alike. It would indeed be tedious to bring forward evidence of this in the case of the Son, not only because it is perfectly well known, but because this very point is made by our opponents. We now show that “through whom” is used also in the case of the Father. “God is faithful,” it is said, “by whom (διʼ οὖ) ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son,” and “Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by (διά) the will of God;” and again, “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” And “like as Christ was raised up from the dead by (διά) the glory of God the Father.” Isaiah, moreover, says, “Woe unto them that make deep counsel and not through the Lord;”8 and many proofs of the use of this phrase in the case of the Spirit might be adduced. “God hath revealed him to us,” it is said, “by (διά) the spirit;” and in another place, “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by (διά) the Holy Ghost;” and again, “To one is given by (διά) the spirit the word of wisdom.”

11. In the same manner it may also be said of the word “in,” that Scripture admits its use in the case of God the Father. In the Old Testament it is said through (ἐν) God we shall do valiantly, and, “My praise shall be continually of (ἐν) thee;” and again, “In thy name will I rejoice.”14 In Paul we read, “In God who created all things,” and, “Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father;”16 and “if now at length I might have a prosperous journey by (ἐν) the will of God to come to you;” and, “Thou makest thy boast of God.”18 Instances are indeed too numerous to reckon; but what we want is not so much to exhibit an abundance of evidence as to prove that the conclusions of our opponents are unsound. I shall, therefore, omit any proof of this usage in the case of our Lord and of the Holy Ghost, in that it is notorious. But I cannot forbear to remark that “the wise hearer” will find sufficient proof of the proposition before him by following the method of contraries. For if the difference of language indicates, as we are told, that the nature has been changed, then let identity of language compel our adversaries to confess with shame that the essence is unchanged.

12. And it is not only in the case of the theology that the use of the terms varies, but whenever one of the terms takes the meaning of the other we find them frequently transferred from the one subject to the other. As, for instance, Adam says, “I have gotten a man through God,” meaning to say the same as from God; and in another passage “Moses commanded … Israel through the word of the Lord,” and, again, “Is not the interpretation through God?”22 Joseph, discoursing about dreams to the prisoners, instead of saying “from God’ ” says plainly “through God.” Inversely Paul uses the term “from whom” instead of “through whom,” when he says “made from a woman” (A.V., “of” instead of “through a woman”). And this he has plainly distinguished in another passage, where he says that it is proper to a woman to be made of the man, and to a man to be made through the woman, in the words “For as the woman is from [A.V., of] the man, even so is the man also through [A.V., by] the woman.”24 Nevertheless in the passage in question the apostle, while illustrating the variety of usage, at the same time corrects obiter the error of those who supposed that the body of the Lord was a spiritual body, and, to shew that the God-bearing26 flesh was formed out of the common lump of human nature, gave precedence to the more emphatic preposition.

The phrase “through a woman” would be likely to give rise to the suspicion of mere transit in the generation, while the phrase “of the woman” would satisfactorily indicate that the nature was shared by the mother and the offspring. The apostle was in no wise contradicting himself, but he shewed that the words can without difficulty be interchanged. Since, therefore, the term “from whom” is transferred to the identical subjects in the case of which “through whom” is decided to be properly used, with what consistency can these phrases be invariably distinguished one from the other, in order that fault may be falsely found with true religion?

CHAPTER VI

Issue joined with those who assert that the Son is not with the Father, but after the Father. Also concerning the equal glory.

13. Our opponents, while they thus artfully and perversely encounter our argument, cannot even have recourse to the plea of ignorance. It is obvious that they are annoyed with us for completing the doxology to the Only Begotten together with the Father, and for not separating the Holy Spirit from the Son. On this account they style us innovators, revolutionizers, phrase-coiners, and every other possible name of insult. But so far am I from being irritated at their abuse, that, were it not for the fact that their loss causes me “heaviness and continual sorrow,” I could almost have said that I was grateful to them for the blasphemy, as though they were agents for providing me with blessing. For “blessed are ye,” it is said, “when men shall revile you for my sake.”3 The grounds of their indignation are these: The Son, according to them, is not together with the Father, but after the Father. Hence it follows that glory should be ascribed to the Father “through him,” but not “with him;” inasmuch as “with him” expresses equality of dignity, while “through him” denotes subordination. They further assert that the Spirit is not to be ranked along with the Father and the Son, but under the Son and the Father; not coordinated, but subordinated; not connumerated, but subnumerated.

With technical terminology of this kind they pervert the simplicity and artlessness of the faith, and thus by their ingenuity, suffering no one else to remain in ignorance, they cut off from themselves the plea that ignorance might demand.

14. Let us first ask them this question: In what sense do they say that the Son is “after the Father;” later in time, or in order, or in dignity? But in time no one is so devoid of sense as to assert that the Maker of the ages holds a second place, when no interval intervenes in the natural conjunction of the Father with the Son.6 And indeed so far as our conception of human relations goes, it is impossible to think of the Son as being later than the Father, not only from the fact that Father and Son are mutually conceived of in accordance with the relationship subsisting between them, but because posteriority in time is predicated of subjects separated by a less interval from the present, and priority of subjects farther off. For instance, what happened in Noah’s time is prior to what happened to the men of Sodom, inasmuch as Noah is more remote from our own day; and, again, the events of the history of the men of Sodom are posterior, because they seem in a sense to approach nearer to our own day. But, in addition to its being a breach of true religion, is it not really the extremest folly to measure the existence of the life which transcends all time and all the ages by its distance from the present? Is it not as though God the Father could be compared with, and be made superior to, God the Son, who exists before the ages, precisely in the same way in which things liable to beginning and corruption are described as prior to one another?

The superior remoteness of the Father is really inconceivable, in that thought and intelligence are wholly impotent to go beyond the generation of the Lord; and St. John has admirably confined the conception within circumscribed boundaries by two words, “In the beginning was the Word.” For thought cannot travel outside “was,” nor imagination beyond “beginning.” Let your thought travel ever so far backward, you cannot get beyond the “was,” and however you may strain and strive to see what is beyond the Son, you will find it impossible to get further than the “beginning.” True religion, therefore, thus teaches us to think of the Son together with the Father.

15. If they really conceive of a kind of degradation of the Son in relation to the Father, as though He were in a lower place, so that the Father sits above, and the Son is thrust off to the next seat below, let them confess what they mean. We shall have no more to say. A plain statement of the view will at once expose its absurdity. They who refuse to allow that the Father pervades all things do not so much as maintain the logical sequence of thought in their argument. The faith of the sound is that God fills all things; but they who divide their up and down between the Father and the Son do not remember even the word of the Prophet: “If I climb up into heaven thou art there; if I go down to hell thou art there also.”2 Now, to omit all proof of the ignorance of those who predicate place of incorporeal things, what excuse can be found for their attack upon Scripture, shameless as their antagonism is, in the passages “Sit thou on my right hand” and “Sat down on the right hand of the majesty of God”?4 The expression “right hand” does not, as they contend, indicate the lower place, but equality of relation; it is not understood physically, in which case there might be something sinister about God, but Scripture puts before us the magnificence of the dignity of the Son by the use of dignified language indicating the seat of honour. It is left then for our opponents to allege that this expression signifies inferiority of rank. Let them learn that “Christ is the power of God and wisdom of God,”6 and that “He is the image of the invisible God” and “brightness of his glory,”8 and that “Him hath God the Father sealed,” by engraving Himself on Him.10

Now are we to call these passages, and others like them, throughout the whole of Holy Scripture, proofs of humiliation, or rather public proclamations of the majesty of the Only Begotten, and of the equality of His glory with the Father? We ask them to listen to the Lord Himself, distinctly setting forth the equal dignity of His glory with the Father, in His words, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father;” and again, “When the Son cometh in the glory of his Father;”12 that they “should honour the Son even as they honour the Father;” and, “We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father;”14 and “the only begotten God which is in the bosom of the Father.” Of all these passages they take no account, and then assign to the Son the place set apart for His foes. A father’s bosom is a fit and becoming seat for a son, but the place of the footstool is for them that have to be forced to fall.16

We have only touched cursorily on these proofs, because our object is to pass on to other points. You at your leisure can put together the items of the evidence, and then contemplate the height of the glory and the preëminence of the power of the Only Begotten. However, to the well-disposed hearer, even these are not insignificant, unless the terms “right hand” and “bosom” be accepted in a physical and derogatory sense, so as at once to circumscribe God in local limits, and invent form, mould, and bodily position, all of which are totally distinct from the idea of the absolute, the infinite, and the incorporeal. There is moreover the fact that what is derogatory in the idea of it is the same in the case both of the Father and the Son; so that whoever repeats these arguments does not take away the dignity of the Son, but does incur the charge of blaspheming the Father; for whatever audacity a man be guilty of against the Son he cannot but transfer to the Father. If he assigns to the Father the upper place by way of precedence, and asserts that the only begotten Son sits below, he will find that to the creature of his imagination attach all the consequent conditions of body. And if these are the imaginations of drunken delusion and phrensied insanity, can it be consistent with true religion for men taught by the Lord himself that “He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father” to refuse to worship and glorify with the Father him who in nature, in glory, and in dignity is conjoined with him? What shall we say? What just defence shall we have in the day of the awful universal judgment of all creation, if, when the Lord clearly announces that He will come “in the glory of his Father;”2 when Stephen beheld Jesus standing at the right hand of God; when Paul testified in the spirit concerning Christ “that he is at the right hand of God;”4 when the Father says, “Sit thou on my right hand;” when the Holy Spirit bears witness that he has sat down on “the right hand of the majesty”6 of God; we attempt to degrade him who shares the honour and the throne, from his condition of equality, to a lower state? Standing and sitting, I apprehend, indicate the fixity and entire stability of the nature, as Baruch, when he wishes to exhibit the immutability and immobility of the Divine mode of existence, says, “For thou sittest for ever and we perish utterly.”8 Moreover, the place on the right hand indicates in my judgment equality of honour. Rash, then, is the attempt to deprive the Son of participation in the doxology, as though worthy only to be ranked in a lower place of honour.

CHAPTER VII

Against those who assert that it is not proper for “with whom” to be said of the Son, and that the proper phrase is “through whom.”

16. But their contention is that to use the phrase
“with him” is altogether strange and unusual, while “through him” is at once most familiar in Holy Scripture, and very common in the language of the brotherhood. What is our answer to this? We say, Blessed are the ears that have not heard you and the hearts that have been kept from the wounds of your words. To you, on the other hand, who are lovers of Christ,10 I say that the Church recognizes both uses, and deprecates neither as subversive of the other. For whenever we are contemplating the majesty of the nature of the Only Begotten, and the excellence of His dignity, we bear witness that the glory is with the Father; while on the other hand, whenever we bethink us of His bestowal on us of good gifts, and of oar access12 to, and admission into, the household of God, we confess that this grace is effected for us through Him and by Him.

It follows that the one phrase “with whom” is the proper one to be used in the ascription of glory, while the other, “through whom,” is specially appropriate in giving of thanks. It is also quite untrue to allege that the phrase “with whom” is unfamiliar in the usage of the devout. All those whose soundness of character leads them to hold the dignity of antiquity to be more honourable than mere new-fangled novelty, and who have preserved the tradition of their fathers unadulterated, alike in town and in country, have employed this phrase. It is, on the contrary, they who are surfeited with the familiar and the customary, and arrogantly assail the old as stale, who welcome innovation, just as in dress your lovers of display always prefer some utter novelty to what is generally worn. So you may even still see that the language of country folk preserves the ancient fashion, while of these, our cunning experts16 in logomachy, the language bears the brand of the new philosophy.

What our fathers said, the same say we, that the glory of the Father and of the Son is common; wherefore we offer the doxology to the Father with the Son. But we do not rest only on the fact that such is the tradition of the Fathers; for they too followed the sense of Scripture, and started from the evidence which, a few sentences back, I deduced from Scripture and laid before you. For “the brightness” is always thought of with “the glory,” “the image” with the archetype,2 and the Son always and everywhere together with the Father; nor does even the close connexion of the names, much less the nature of the things, admit of separation.

CHAPTER VIII

In how many ways “through whom”
is used; and in what sense “with whom” is more suitable. Explanation of how the Son receives a commandment, and how He is sent.

17. When, then, the apostle “thanks God through Jesus Christ,” and again says that “through Him” we have “received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations,”4 or “through Him have access unto this grace wherein we stand and rejoice,” he sets forth the boons conferred on us by the Son, at one time making the grace of the good gifts pass through from the Father to us, and at another bringing us to the Father through Himself. For by saying “through whom we have received grace and apostleship,”6 he declares the supply of the good gifts to proceed from that source; and again in saying “through whom we have had access,” he sets forth our acceptance and being made “of the household of God”8 through Christ. Is then the confession of the grace wrought by Him to usward a detraction from His glory? Is it not truer to say that the recital of His benefits is a proper argument for glorifying Him? It is on this account that we have not found Scripture describing the Lord to us by one name, nor even by such terms alone as are indicative of His godhead and majesty. At one time it uses terms descriptive of His nature, for it recognises the “name which is above every name,” the name of Son,10 and speaks of true Son, and only begotten God,12 and Power of God, and Wisdom,14 and Word. Then again, on account of the divers manners16 wherein grace is given to us, which, because of the riches of His goodness, according to his manifold18 wisdom, he bestows on them that need, Scripture designates Him by innumerable other titles, calling Him Shepherd, King,20 Physician, Bridegroom,22 Way, Door,24 Fountain, Bread,26 Axe, and Rock.28 And these, titles do not set forth His nature, but, as I have remarked, the variety of the effectual working which, out of His tender-heartedness to His own creation, according to the peculiar necessity of each, He bestows upon them that need. Them that have fled for refuge to His ruling care, and through patient endurance have mended their wayward ways, He calls “sheep,” and confesses Himself to be, to them that hear His voice and refuse to give heed to strange teaching, a “shepherd.” For “my sheep,” He says, “hear my voice.” To them that have now reached a higher stage and stand in need of righteous royalty,30 He is a King.

And in that, through the straight way of His commandments, He leads men to good actions, and again because He safely shuts in all who through faith in Him betake themselves for shelter to the blessing of the higher wisdom, He is a Door.

So He says, “By me if any man enter in, … he shall go in and out and shall find pasture.” Again, because to the faithful He is a defence strong, unshaken, and harder to break than any bulwark, He is a Rock. Among these titles, it is when He is styled Door, or Way, that the phrase “through Him” is very appropriate and plain. As, however, God and Son, He is glorified with and together with33 the Father, in that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to
the glory of God the Father.” Wherefore we use both terms, expressing by the one His own proper dignity, and by the other His grace to usward.

18. For “through Him” comes every succour to our souls, and it is in accordance with each kind of care that an appropriate title has been devised. So when He presents to Himself the blameless soul, not having spot or wrinkle, like a pure maiden, He is called Bridegroom, but whenever He receives one in sore plight from the devil’s evil strokes, healing it in the heavy infirmity of its sins, He is named Physician. And shall this His care for us degrade to meanness our thoughts of Him? Or, on the contrary, shall it smite us with amazement at once at the mighty power and love to man3 of the Saviour, in that He both endured to suffer with us in our infirmities, and was able to come down to our weakness? For not heaven and earth and the great seas, not the creatures that live in the water and on dry land, not plants, and stars, and air, and seasons, not the vast variety in the order of the universe,5 so well sets forth the excellency of His might as that God, being incomprehensible, should have been able, impassibly, through flesh, to have come into close conflict with death, to the end that by His own suffering He might give us the boon of freedom from suffering. The apostle, it is true, says, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”7 But in a phrase of this kind there is no suggestion of any lowly and subordinate ministry, but rather of the succour rendered “in the power of his might.”9 For He Himself has bound the strong man and spoiled his goods, that is, us men, whom our enemy had abused in every evil activity, and made “vessels meet for the Master’s use “11 us who have been perfected for every work through the making ready of that part of us which is in our own control. Thus we have had our approach to the Father through Him, being translated from “the power of darkness to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”13 We must not, however, regard the œconomy through the Son as a compulsory and subordinate ministration resulting from the low estate of a slave, but rather the voluntary solicitude working effectually for His own creation in goodness and in pity, according to the will of God the Father. For we shall be consistent with true religion if in all that was and is from time to time perfected by Him, we both bear witness to the perfection of His power, and in no case put it asunder from the Father’s will. For instance, whenever the Lord is called the Way, we are carried on to a higher meaning, and not to that which is derived from the vulgar sense of the word. We understand by Way that advance15 to perfection which is made stage by stage, and in regular order, through the works of righteousness and “the illumination of knowledge;” ever longing after what is before, and reaching forth unto those things which remain,17 until we shall have reached the blessed end, the knowledge of God, which the Lord through Himself bestows on them that have trusted in Him. For our Lord is an essentially good Way, where erring and straying are unknown, to that which is essentially good, to the Father. For “no one,” He says, “cometh to the Father but [“by,” A.V.] through me.” Such is our way up to God “through the Son.”

19. It will follow that we should next in order point out the character of the provision of blessings bestowed on us by the Father “through him.” Inasmuch as all created nature, both this visible world and all that is conceived of in the mind, cannot hold together without the care and providence of God, the Creator Word, the Only begotten God, apportioning His succour according to the measure of the needs of each, distributes mercies various and manifold on account of the many kinds and characters of the recipients of His bounty, but appropriate to the necessities of individual requirements. Those that are confined in the darkness of ignorance He enlightens: for this reason He is true Light. Portioning requital in accordance with the desert of deeds, He judges: for this reason He is righteous Judge.2 “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son.” Those that have lapsed from the lofty height of life into sin He raises from their fall: for this reason He is Resurrection.4 Effectually working by the touch of His power and the will of His goodness He does all things. He shepherds; He enlightens; He nourishes; He heals; He guides; He raises up; He calls into being things that were not; He upholds what has been created. Thus the good things that come from God reach us “through the Son,” who works in each case with greater speed than speech can utter. For not lightnings, not light’s course in air, is so swift; not eyes’ sharp turn, not the movements of our very thought. Nay, by the divine energy is each one of these in speed further surpassed than is the slowest of all living creatures outdone in motion by birds, or even winds, or the rush of the heavenly bodies; or, not to mention these, by our very thought itself. For what extent of time is needed by Him who “upholds all things by the word of His power,” and works not by bodily agency, nor requires the help of hands to form and fashion, but holds in obedient following and unforced consent the nature of all things that are? So as Judith says, “Thou hast thought, and what things thou didst determine were ready at hand.”6 On the other hand, and lest we should ever be drawn away by the greatness of the works wrought to imagine that the Lord is without beginning, what saith the Self-Existent?8 “I live through [by, A.V.] the Father,” and the power of God; “The Son hath power [can, A.V.] to do nothing of himself.”10 And the self-complete Wisdom? I received “a commandment what I should say and what I should speak.” Through all these words He is guiding us to the knowledge of the Father, and referring our wonder at all that is brought into existence to Him, to the end that “through Him” we may know the Father. For the Father is not regarded from the difference of the operations, by the exhibition of a separate and peculiar energy; for whatsoever things He sees the Father doing, “these also doeth the Son likewise;”12 but He enjoys our wonder at all that comes to pass out of the glory which comes to Him from the Only Begotten, rejoicing in the Doer Himself as well as in the greatness of the deeds, and exalted by all who acknowledge Him as Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, “through whom [by whom, A.V.] are all things, and for whom are all things.” Wherefore, saith the Lord, “All mine are thine,”14 as though the sovereignty over created things were conferred on Him, and “Thine are mine,” as though the creating Cause came thence to Him. We are not to suppose that He used assistance in His action, or yet was entrusted with the ministry of each individual work by detailed commission, a condition distinctly menial and quite inadequate to the divine dignity. Rather was the Word full of His Father’s excellences; He shines forth from the Father, and does all things according to the likeness of Him that begat Him. For if in essence He is without variation, so also is He without variation in power. And of those whose power is equal, the operation also is in all ways equal. And Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God.2 And so “all things are made through [by, A.V.] him,” and “all things were created through [by, A.V.] him and for him,”4 not in the discharge of any slavish service, but in the fulfilment of the Father’s will as Creator.

20. When then He says, “I have not spoken of myself,” and again, “As the Father said unto me, so I speak,”6 and “The word which ye hear is not mine, but [the Father’s] which sent me,” and in another place, “As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do,”8 it is not because He lacks deliberate purpose or power of initiation, nor yet because He has to wait for the preconcerted key-note, that he employs language of this kind. His object is to make it plain that His own will is connected in indissoluble union with the Father. Do not then let us understand by what is called a “commandment” a peremptory mandate delivered by organs of speech, and giving orders to the Son, as to a subordinate, concerning what He ought to do. Let us rather, in a sense befitting the Godhead, perceive a transmission of will, like the reflexion of an object in a mirror, passing without note of time from Father to Son. “For the Father loveth the Son and sheweth him all things,” so that “all things that the Father hath” belong to the Son, not gradually accruing to Him little by little, but with Him all together and at once. Among men, the workman who has been thoroughly taught his craft, and, through long training, has sure and established experience in it, is able, in accordance with the scientific methods which now he has in store, to work for the future by himself. And are we to suppose that the wisdom of God, the Maker of all creation, He who is eternally perfect, who is wise, without a teacher, the Power of God, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,”10 needs piecemeal instruction to mark out the manner and measure of His operations? I presume that in the vanity of your calculations, you mean to open a school; you will make the one take His seat in the teacher’s place, and the other stand by in a scholars ignorance, gradually learning wisdom and advancing to perfection, by lessons given Him bit by bit. Hence, if you have sense to abide by what logically follows, you will find the Son being eternally taught, nor yet ever able to reach the end of perfection, inasmuch as the wisdom of the Father is infinite, and the end of the infinite is beyond apprehension. It results that whoever refuses to grant that the Son has all things from the beginning will never grant that He will reach perfection. But I am ashamed at the degraded conception to which, by the course of the argument, I have been brought down. Let us therefore revert to the loftier themes of our discussion.

21. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; not the express image, nor yet the form, for the divine nature does not admit of combination; but the goodness of the will, which, being concurrent with the essence, is beheld as like and equal, or rather the same, in the Father as in the Son.12

What then is meant by “became subject”? What by “delivered him up for us all”?14 It is meant that the Son has it of the Father that He works in goodness on behalf of men. But you must hear too the words, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law;” and “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”16

Give careful heed, too, to the words of the Lord, and note how, whenever He instructs us about His Father, He is in the habit of using terms of personal authority, saying, “I will; be thou clean;” and “Peace, be still;”18 and “But I say unto you;” and “Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee;”20 and all other expressions of the same kind, in order that by these we may recognise our Master and Maker, and by the former may be taught the Father of our Master and Creator. Thus on all sides is demonstrated the true doctrine that the fact that the Father creates through the Son neither constitutes the creation of the Father imperfect nor exhibits the active energy of the Son as feeble, but indicates the unity of the will; so the expression “through whom” contains a confession of an antecedent Cause, and is not adopted in objection to the efficient Cause.

CHAPTER IX

Definitive conceptions about the Spirit which conform to the teaching of the Scriptures.

22. Let us now investigate what are our common conceptions concerning the Spirit, as well those which have been gathered by us from Holy Scripture concerning It as those which we have received from the unwritten tradition of the Fathers. First of all we ask, who on hearing the titles of the Spirit is not lifted up in soul, who does not raise his conception to the supreme nature? It is called “Spirit of God,” “Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father,”2 “right Spirit,” “a leading Spirit.”4 Its proper and peculiar title is “Holy Spirit;” which is a name specially appropriate to everything that is incorporeal, purely immaterial, and indivisible. So our Lord, when teaching the woman who thought God to be an object of local worship that the incorporeal is incomprehensible, said “God is a spirit.”6 On our hearing, then, of a spirit, it is impossible to form the idea of a nature circumscribed, subject to change and variation, or at all like the creature. We are compelled to advance in our conceptions to the highest, and to think of an intelligent essence, in power infinite, in magnitude unlimited, unmeasured by times or ages, generous of It’s good gifts, to whom turn all things needing sanctification, after whom reach all things that live in virtue, as being watered by It’s inspiration and helped on toward their natural and proper end; perfecting all other things, but Itself in nothing lacking; living not as needing restoration, but as Supplier of life; not growing by additions; but straightway full, self-established, omnipresent, origin of sanctification, light perceptible to the mind, supplying, as it were, through Itself, illumination to every faculty in the search for truth; by nature un-approachable, apprehended by reason of goodness, filling all things with Its power, but communicated only to the worthy; not shared in one measure, but distributing Its energy according to “the proportion of faith;”8 in essence simple, in powers various, wholly present in each and being wholly everywhere; impassively divided, shared without loss of ceasing to be entire, after the likeness of the sunbeam, whose kindly light falls on him who enjoys it as though it shone for him alone, yet illumines land and sea and mingles with the air. So, too, is the Spirit to every one who receives it, as though given to him alone, and yet It sends forth grace sufficient and full for all mankind, and is enjoyed by all who share It, according to the capacity, not of Its power, but of their nature.

23. Now the Spirit is not brought into intimate association with the soul by local approximation. How indeed could there be a corporeal approach to the incorporeal? This association results from the withdrawal of the passions which, coming afterwards gradually on the soul from its friendship to the flesh, have alienated it from its close relationship with God. Only then after a man is purified from the shame whose stain he took through his wickedness, and has come back again to his natural beauty, and as it were cleaning the Royal Image and restoring its ancient form, only thus is it possible for him to draw near to the Paraclete. And He, like the sun, will by the aid of thy purified eye show thee in Himself the image of the invisible, and in the blessed spectacle of the image thou shalt behold the unspeakable beauty of the archetype.10 Through His aid hearts are lifted up, the weak are held by the hand, and they who are advancing are brought to perfection. Shining upon those that are cleansed from every spot, He makes them spiritual by fellowship with Himself. Just as when a sunbeam falls on bright and transparent bodies, they themselves become brilliant too, and shed forth a fresh brightness from themselves, so souls wherein the Spirit dwells, illuminated by the Spirit, themselves become spiritual, and send forth their grace to others. Hence comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of mysteries, apprehension of what is hidden, distribution of good gifts, the heavenly citizenship, a place in the chorus of angels, joy without end, abiding in God, the being made like to God, and, highest of all, the being made God. Such, then, to instance a few out of many, are the conceptions concerning the Holy Spirit, which we have been taught to hold concerning His greatness, His dignity, and His operations, by the oracles2 of the Spirit themselves.

CHAPTER X

Against those who say that it is not right to rank the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son.

24. But we must proceed to attack our opponents, in the endeavour to confute those “oppositions” advanced against us which are derived from “knowledge falsely so-called.”

It is not permissible, they assert, for the Holy Spirit to be ranked with the Father and Son, on account of the difference of His nature and the inferiority of His dignity. Against them it is right to reply in the words of the apostles, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

For if our Lord, when enjoining the baptism of salvation, charged His disciples to baptize all nations in the name “of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,” not disdaining fellowship with Him, and these men allege that we must not rank Him with the Father and the Son, is it not clear that they openly withstand the commandment of God? If they deny that coördination of this kind is declaratory of any fellowship and conjunction, let them tell us why it behoves us to hold this opinion, and what more intimate mode of conjunction6 they have.

If the Lord did not indeed conjoin the Spirit with the Father and Himself in baptism, do not let them lay the blame of conjunction upon us, for we neither hold nor say anything different. If on the contrary the Spirit is there conjoined with the Father and the Son, and no one is so shameless as to say anything else, then let them not lay blame on us for following the words of Scripture.

25. But all the apparatus of war has been got ready against us; every intellectual missile is aimed at us; and now blasphemers’ tongues shoot and hit and hit again, yet harder than Stephen of old was smitten by the killers of the Christ. And do not let them succeed in concealing the fact that, while an attack on us serves for a pretext for the war, the real aim of these proceedings is higher. It is against us, they say, that they are preparing their engines and their snares; against us that they are shouting to one another, according to each one’s strength or cunning, to come on. But the object of attack is faith. The one aim of the whole band of opponents and enemies of “sound doctrine”9 is to shake down the foundation of the faith of Christ by levelling apostolic tradition with the ground, and utterly destroying it. So like the debtors,—of course bona fide debtors.—they clamour for written proof, and reject as worthless the unwritten tradition of the Fathers. But we will not slacken in our defence of the truth. We will not cowardly abandon the cause. The Lord has delivered to us as a necessary and saving doctrine that the Holy Spirit is to be ranked with the Father. Our opponents think differently, and see fit to divide and rend asunder, and relegate Him to the nature of a ministering spirit. Is it not then indisputable that they make their own blasphemy more authoritative than the law prescribed by the Lord? Come, then, set aside mere contention. Let us consider the points before us, as follows:

26. Whence is it that we are Christians? Through our faith, would be the universal answer. And in what way are we saved? Plainly because we were regenerate through the grace given in our baptism. How else could we be? And after recognising that this salvation is established through the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, shall we fling away “that form of doctrine” which we received? Would it not rather be ground for great groaning if we are found now further off from our salvation “than when we first believed,”3 and deny now what we then received? Whether a man have departed this life without baptism, or have received a baptism lacking in some of the requirements of the tradition, his loss is equal. And whoever does not always and everywhere keep to and hold fast as a sure protection the confession which we recorded at our first admission, when, being delivered “from the idols,” we came “to the living Gods,”5 constitutes himself a “stranger” from the “promises” of God, fighting against his own handwriting,7 which he put on record when he professed the faith. For if to me my baptism was the beginning of life, and that day of regeneration the first of days, it is plain that the utterance uttered in the grace of adoption was the most honourable of all. Can I then, perverted by these men’s seductive words, abandon the tradition which guided me to the light, which bestowed on me the boon of the knowledge of God, whereby I, so long a foe by reason of sin, was made a child of God? But, for myself, I pray that with this confession I may depart hence to the Lord, and them I charge to preserve the faith secure until the day of Christ, and to keep the Spirit undivided from the Father and the Son, preserving, both in the confession of faith and in the doxology, the doctrine taught them at their baptism.

CHAPTER XI

That they who deny the Spirit are transgressors.

27. “Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow?” For whom is distress and darkness? For whom eternal doom? Is it not for the trangressors? For them that deny the faith? And what is the proof of their denial? Is it not that they have set at naught their own confessions? And when and what did they confess? Belief in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Ghost, when they renounced the devil and his angels, and uttered those saving words. What fit title then for them has been discovered, for the children of light to use? Are they not addressed as transgressors, as having violated the covenant of their salvation? What am I to call the denial of God? What the denial of Christ? What but transgressions? And to him who denies the Spirit, what title do you wish me to apply? Must it not be the same, inasmuch as he has broken his covenant with God? And when the confession of faith in Him secures the blessing of true religion, and its denial subjects men to the doom of godlessness, is it not a fearful thing for them to set the confession at naught, not through fear of fire, or sword, or cross, or scourge, or wheel, or rack, but merely led astray by the sophistry and seductions of the pneumatomachi? I testify to every man who is confessing Christ and denying God, that Christ will profit him nothing;9 to every man that calls upon God but rejects the Son, that his faith is vain; to every man that sets aside the Spirit, that his faith in the Father and the Son will be useless, for he cannot even hold it without the presence of the Spirit. For he who does not believe the Spirit does not believe in the Son, and he who has not believed in the Son does not believe in the Father. For none “can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost,” and “No man hath seen God at any time, but the only begotten God which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”2

Such an one hath neither part nor lot in the true worship; for it is impossible to worship the Son, save by the Holy Ghost; impossible to call upon the Father, save by the Spirit of adoption.

CHAPTER XII

Against those who assert that the baptism in the name of the Father alone is sufficient.

28. Let no one be misled by the fact of the apostle’s frequently omitting the name of the Father and of the Holy Spirit when making mention of baptism, or on this account imagine that the invocation of the names is not observed. “As many of you,” he says, “as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ;” and again, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death.”4 For the naming of Christ is the confession of the whole, shewing forth as it does the God who gave, the Son who received, and the Spirit who is, the unction.6 So we have learned from Peter, in the Acts, of “Jesus of Nazareth whom God anointed with the Holy Ghost; and in Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me;”8 and the Psalmist, “Therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Scripture, however, in the case of baptism, sometimes plainly mentions the Spirit alone.10

“For into one Spirit,” it says, “we were all baptized in12 one body.” And in harmony with this are the passages: “You shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost,”14 and “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” But no one on this account would be justified in calling that baptism a perfect baptism wherein only the name of the Spirit was invoked. For the tradition that has been given us by the quickening grace must remain for ever inviolate. He who redeemed our life from destruction16 gave us power of renewal, whereof the cause is ineffable and hidden in mystery, but bringing great salvation to our souls, so that to add or to take away anything involves manifestly a falling away from the life everlasting. If then in baptism the separation of the Spirit from the Father and the Son is perilous to the baptizer, and of no advantage to the baptized, how can the rending asunder of the Spirit from Father and from Son be safe for us?18 Faith and baptism are two kindred and inseparable ways of salvation: faith is perfected through baptism, baptism is established through faith, and both are completed by the same names. For as we believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, so are we also baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: first comes the confession, introducing us to salvation, and baptism follows, setting the seal upon our assent.

CHAPTER XIII

Statement of the reason why in the writings of Paul the angels are associated with the Father and the Son.

29. It is, however, objected that other beings which are enumerated with the Father and the Son are certainly not always glorified together with them. The apostle, for instance, in his charge to Timothy, associates the angels with them in the words, “I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels.” We are not for alienating the angels from the rest of creation, and yet, it is argued, we do not allow of their being reckoned with the Father and the Son. To this I reply, although the argument, so obviously absurd is it, does not really deserve a reply, that possibly before a mild and gentle judge, and especially before One who by His leniency to those arraigned before Him demonstrates the unimpeachable equity of His decisions, one might be willing to offer as witness even a fellow-slave; but for a slave to be made free and called a son of God and quickened from death can only be brought about by Him who has acquired natural kinship with us, and has been changed from the rank of a slave. For how can we be made kin with God by one who is an alien? How can we be freed by one who is himself under the yoke of slavery? It follows that the mention of the Spirit and that of angels are not made under like conditions. The Spirit is called on as Lord of life, and the angels as allies of their fellow-slaves and faithful witnesses of the truth. It is customary for the saints to deliver the commandments of God in the presence of witnesses, as also the apostle himself says to Timothy, “The things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men;” and now he calls the angels to witness, for he knows that angels shall be present with the Lord when He shall come in the glory of His Father to judge the world in righteousness. For He says, “Whoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God, but he that denieth Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God;”2 and Paul in another place says,” When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his angels.” Thus he already testifies before the angels, preparing good proofs for himself at the great tribunal.

30. And not only Paul, but generally all those to whom is committed any ministry of the word, never cease from testifying, but call heaven and earth to witness on the ground that now every deed that is done is done within them, and that in the examination of all the actions of life they will be present with the judged. So it is said, “He shall call to tile heavens above and to earth, that he may judge his people.” And so Moses when about to deliver his oracles to the people says, “I call heaven and earth to witness this day;”5 and again in his song he says, “Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak, and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth;” and Isaiah, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;”7 and Jeremiah describes astonishment in heaven at the tidings of the unholy deeds of the people: “The heaven was astonished at this, and was horribly afraid, because my people committed two evils.” And so the apostle, knowing the angels to be set over men astutors and guardians, calls them to witness. Moreover, Joshua, the son of Nun, even set up a stone as witness of his words (already a heap somewhere had been called a witness by Jacob),9 for he says, “Behold this stone shall be a witness unto you this day to the end of days, when ye lie to tile Lord our God,” perhaps believing that by God’s power even the stones would speak to the conviction of the transgressors; or, if not, that at least each man’s conscience would be wounded by the force of the reminder. In this manner they who have been entrusted with the stewardship of souls provide witnesses, whatever they may be, so as to produce them at some future day. But the Spirit is ranked together with God, not on account of the emergency of the moment, but on account of the natural fellowship; is not dragged in by us, but invited by the Lord.

CHAPTER XIV

Objection that some were baptized unto Moses and believed in him, and an answer to it; with remarks upon types.

31. But even if some are baptized unto the Spirit, it is not, it is urged, on this account right for the Spirit to be ranked with God. Some “were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” And it is admitted that faith even before now has been put in men; for “The people believed God and his servant Moses.”12 Why then, it is asked, do we, on account of faith and of baptism, exalt and magnify the Holy Spirit so far above creation, when there is evidence that the same things have before now been said of men? What, then, shall we reply? Our answer is that the faith in the Spirit is the same as the faith in the Father and the Son; and in like manner, too, the baptism. But the faith in Moses and in the cloud is, as it were, in a shadow and type. The nature of the divine is very frequently represented by the rough and shadowy outlines of the types; but because divine things are prefigured by small and human things, it is obvious that we must not therefore conclude the divine nature to be small. The type is an exhibition of things expected, and gives an imitative anticipation of the future. So Adam was a type of “Him that was to come.”14 Typically, “That rock was Christ;” and the water a type of the living power of the word; as He says, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” The manna is a type of the living bread that came down from heaven;2 and the serpent on the standard, of the passion of salvation accomplished by means of the cross, wherefore they who even looked thereon were preserved. So in like manner, the history of the exodus of Israel is recorded to shew forth those who are being saved through baptism. For the firstborn of the Israelites were preserved, like the bodies of the baptized, by the giving of grace to them that were marked with blood. For the blood of the sheep is a type of the blood of Christ; and the firstborn, a type of the first-formed. And inasmuch as the first-formed of necessity exists in us, and, in sequence of succession, is transmitted till the end, it follows that “in Adam” we “all die,”4 and that “death reigned” until the fulfilling of the law and the coming of Christ. And the firstborn were preserved by God from being touched by the destroyer, to show that we who were made alive in Christ no longer die in Adam. The sea and the cloud for the time being led on through amazement to faith, but for the time to come they typically prefigured the grace to be. “Who is wise and he shall understand these things?”6—how the sea is typically a baptism bringing about the departure of Pharaoh, in like manner as this washing causes the departure of the tyranny of the devil. The sea slew the enemy in itself: and in baptism too dies our enmity towards God. From the sea the people came out unharmed: we too, as it were, alive from the dead, step up from the water “saved” by the “grace” of Him who called us. And the cloud is a shadow of the gift of the Spirit, who cools the flame of our passions by the “mortification” of our “members.”8

32. What then? Because they were typically baptized unto Moses, is the grace of baptism therefore small? Were it so, and if we were in each case to prejudice the dignity of our privileges by comparing them with their types, not even one of these privileges could be reckoned great; then not the love of God, who gave His only begotten Son for our sins, would be great and extraordinary, because Abraham did not spare his own son; then even the passion of the Lord would not be glorious, because a sheep typified the offering instead of Isaac; then the descent into hell was not fearful, because Jonah had previously typified the death in three days and three nights. The same prejudicial comparison is made also in the case of baptism by all who judge of the reality by the shadow, and, comparing the typified with the type, attempt by means of Moses and the sea to disparage at once the whole dispensation of the Gospel. What remission of sins, what renewal of life, is there in the sea? What spiritual gift is there through Moses? What dying10 of sins is there? Those men did not die with Christ; wherefore they were not raised with Him. They did not “bear the image of the heavenly;”12 they did not “bear about in the body the dying of Jesus;” they did not “put off the old man;” they did not “put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him which created him.”14 Why then do you compare baptisms which have only the name in common, while the distinction between the things themselves is as great as might be that of dream and reality, that of shadow and figures with substantial existence?

33. But belief in Moses not only does not show our belief in the Spirit to be worthless, but, if we adopt our opponents’ line of argument, it rather weakens our confession in the God of the universe. “The people,” it is written, “believed the Lord and his servant Moses.” Moses then is joined with God, not with the Spirit; and he was a type not of the Spirit, but of Christ. For at that time in the ministry of the law, he by means of himself typified “the Mediator between God and men.”16 Moses, when mediating for the people in things pertaining to God, was not a minister of the Spirit; for the law was given, “ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator,” namely Moses, in accordance with the summons of the people, “Speak thou with us, … but let not God speak with us.”18 Thus faith in Moses is referred to the Lord, the Mediator between God and men, who said, “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me.” Is then our faith in the Lord a trifle, because it was signified beforehand through Moses? So then, even if men were baptized unto Moses, it does not follow that the grace given of the Spirit in baptism is small. I may point out, too, that it is usual in Scripture to say Moses and the law,20 as in the passage, “They have Moses and the prophets.” When therefore it is meant to speak of the baptism of the law, the words are, “They were baptized unto Moses.” Why then do these calumniators of the truth, by means of the shadow and the types, endeavour to bring contempt and ridicule on the “rejoicing” of our “hope,”2 and the rich gift of our God and Saviour, who through regeneration renews our youth like the eagle’s? Surely it is altogether childish, and like a babe who must needs be fed on milk,4 to be ignorant of the great mystery of our salvation; inasmuch as, in accordance with the gradual progress of our education, while being brought to perfection in our training for godliness, we were first taught elementary and easier lessons, suited to our intelligence, while the Dispenser of our lots was ever leading us up, by gradually accustoming us, like eyes brought up in the dark, to the great light of truth. For He spares our weakness, and in the depth of the riches6 of His wisdom, and the inscrutable judgments of His intelligence, used this gentle treatment, fitted for our needs, gradually accustoming us to see first the shadows of objects, and to look at the sun in water, to save us from dashing against the spectacle of pure unadulterated light, and being blinded. Just so the Law, having a shadow of things to come, and the typical teaching of the prophets, which is a dark utterance of the truth, have been devised means to train the eyes of the heart, in that hence the transition to the wisdom hidden in mystery will be made easy. Enough so far concerning types; nor indeed would it be possible to linger longer on this topic, or the incidental discussion would become many times bulkier than the main argument.

CHAPTER XV

Reply to the suggested objection that we are baptized “into water.” Also concerning baptism.

34. What more? Verily, our opponents are well equipped with arguments. We are baptized, they urge, into water, and of course we shall not honour the water above all creation, or give it a share of the honour of the Father and of the Son. The arguments of these men are such as might be expected from angry disputants, leaving no means untried in their attack on him who has offended them, because their reason is clouded over by their feelings. We will not, however, shrink from the discussion even of these points. If we do not teach the ignorant, at least we shall not turn away before evil doers. But let us for a moment retrace our steps.

35. The dispensation of our God and Saviour concerning man is a recall from the fall, and a return from the alienation caused by disobedience to close communion with God. This is the reason for the sojourn of Christ in the flesh, the pattern life described in the Gospels, the sufferings, the cross, the tomb, the resurrection; so that the man who is being saved through imitation of Christ receives that old adoption. For perfection of life the imitation of Christ is necessary, not only in the example of gentleness, lowliness, and long suffering set us in His life, but also of His actual death. So Paul, the imitator of Christ,9 says, “being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” How then are we made in the likeness of His death?11 In that we were buried with Him by baptism. What then is the manner of the burial? And what is the advantage resulting from the imitation? First of all, it is necessary that the continuity of the old life be cut. And this is impossible unless a man be born again, according to the Lord’s word;13 for the regeneration, as indeed the name shews, is a beginning of a second life. So before beginning the second, it is necessary to put an end to the first. For just as in the case of runners who turn and take the second course, a kind of halt and pause intervenes between the movements in the opposite direction, so also in making a change in lives it seemed necessary for death to come as mediator between the two, ending all that goes before, and beginning all that comes after. How then do we achieve the descent into hell? By imitating, through baptism, the burial of Christ. For the bodies of the baptized are, as it were, buried in the water. Baptism then symbolically signifies the putting off of the works of the flesh; as the apostle says, ye were “circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; buried with him in baptism.”15 And there is, as it were, a cleansing of the soul from the filth that has grown on it from the carnal mind,2 as it is written, “Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” On this account we do not, as is the fashion of the Jews, wash ourselves at each defilement, but own the baptism of salvation4 to be one. For there the death on behalf of the world is one, and one the resurrection of the dead, whereof baptism is a type. For this cause the Lord, who is the Dispenser of our life, gave us the covenant of baptism, containing a type of life and death, for the water fulfils the image of death, and the Spirit gives us the earnest of life. Hence it follows that the answer to our question why the water was associated with the Spirit6 is clear: the reason is because in baptism two ends were proposed; on the one hand, the destroying of the body of sin, that it may never bear fruit unto death;8 on the other hand, our living unto the Spirit, and having our fruit in holiness;10 the water receiving the body as in a tomb figures death, while the Spirit pours in the quickening power, renewing our souls from the deadness of sin unto their original life. This then is what it is to be born again of water and of the Spirit, the being made dead being effected in the water, while our life is wrought in us through the Spirit. In three immersions, then, and with three invocations, the great mystery of baptism is performed, to the end that the type of death may be fully figured, and that by the tradition of the divine knowledge the baptized may have their souls enlightened. It follows that if there is any grace in the water, it is not of the nature of the water, but of the presence of the Spirit. For baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God.”12 So in training us for the life that follows on the resurrection the Lord sets out all the manner of life required by the Gospel, laying down for us the law of gentleness, of endurance of wrong, of freedom from the defilement that comes of the love of pleasure, and from covetousness, to the end that we may of set purpose win beforehand and achieve all that the life to come of its inherent nature possesses. If therefore any one in attempting a definition were to describe the gospel as a forecast of the life that follows on the resurrection, he would not seem to me to go beyond what is meet and right. Let us now return to our main topic.

36. Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all “fulness of blessing,” both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise whereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment. If such is the earnest, what the perfection? If such the first fruits, what the complete fulfilment? Furthermore, from this too may be apprehended the difference between the grace that comes from the Spirit and the baptism by water: in that John indeed baptized with water, but our Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost. “I indeed,” he says, “baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.”14 Here He calls the trial at the judgment the baptism of fire, as the apostle says, “The fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is.” And again, “The day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire.”16 And ere now there have been some who in their championship of true religion have undergone the death for Christ’s sake, not in mere similitude, but in actual fact, and so have needed none of the outward signs of water for their salvation, because they were baptized in their own blood. Thus I write not to disparage the baptism by water, but to overthrow the arguments of those who exalt themselves against the Spirit; who confound things that are distinct from one another, and compare those which admit of no comparison.

CHAPTER XVI

That the Holy Spirit is in every conception inseparable from the Father and the Son, alike in the creation of perceptible objects, in the dispensation of human affairs, and in the judgment to came.

37. Let us then revert to the point raised from the outset, that in all things the Holy Spirit is inseparable and wholly incapable of being parted from the Father and the Son. St. Paul, in the passage about the gift of tongues, writes to the Corinthians, “If ye all prophesy and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all; and thus are the secrets of the heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God and report that God is in you of a truth.” If then God is known to be in the prophets by the prophesying that is acting according to the distribution of the gifts of the Spirit, let our adversaries consider what kind of place they will attribute to the Holy Spirit. Let them say whether it is more proper to rank Him with God or to thrust Him forth to the place of the creature. Peter’s words to Sapphira, “How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Ye have not lied unto men, but unto God,”3 show that sins against the Holy Spirit and against God are the same; and thus you might learn that in every operation the Spirit is closely conjoined with, and inseparable from, the Father and the Son. God works the differences of operations, and the Lord the diversities of administrations, but all the while the Holy Spirit is present too of His own will, dispensing distribution of the gifts according to each recipient’s worth. For, it is said, “there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; and differences of administrations, but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” “But all these,” it is said, “worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.”5 It must not however be supposed because in this passage the apostle names in the first place the Spirit, in the second the Son, and in the third God the Father, that therefore their rank is reversed. The apostle has only started in accordance with our habits of thought; for when we receive gifts, the first that occurs to us is the distributer, next we think of the sender, and then we lift our thoughts to the fountain and cause of the boons.

38. Moreover, from the things created at the beginning may be learnt the fellowship of the Spirit with the Father and the Son. The pure, intelligent, and supermundane powers are and are styled holy, because they have their holiness of the grace given by the Holy Spirit. Accordingly the mode of the creation of the heavenly powers is passed over in silence, for the historian of the cosmogony has revealed to us only the creation of things perceptible by sense. But do thou, who hast power from the things that are seen to form an analogy of the unseen, glorify the Maker by whom all things were made, visible and invisible, principalities and powers, authorities, thrones, and dominions, and all other reasonable natures whom we cannot name. And in the creation bethink thee first, I pray thee, of the original cause of all things that are made, the Father; of the creative cause, the Son; of the perfecting cause, the Spirit; so that the ministering spirits subsist by the will of the Father, are brought into being by the operation of the Son, and perfected by the presence of the Spirit. Moreover, the perfection of angels is sanctification and continuance in it. And let no one imagine me either to affirm that there are three original hypostases7 or to allege the operation of the Son to be imperfect. For the first principle of existing things is One, creating through the Son and perfecting through the Spirit. The operation of the Father who worketh all in all is not imperfect, neither is the creating work of the Son incomplete if not perfected by the Spirit. The Father, who creates by His sole will, could not stand in any need of the Son, but nevertheless He wills through the Son; nor could the Son, who works according to the likeness of the Father, need co-operation, but the Son too wills to make perfect through the Spirit. “For by the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath [the Spirit] of His mouth.” The Word then is not a mere significant impression on the air, borne by the organs of speech; nor is the Spirit of His mouth a vapour, emitted by the organs of respiration; but the Word is He who “was with God in the beginning” and “was God,”2 and the Spirit of the mouth of God is “the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father.” You are therefore to perceive three, the Lord who gives the order, the Word who creates, and the Spirit who confirms.4 And what other thing could confirmation be than the perfecting according to holiness? This perfecting expresses the confirmation’s firmness, unchangeableness, and fixity in good. But there is no sanctification without the Spirit. The powers of the heavens are not holy by nature; were it so there would in this respect be no difference between them and the Holy Spirit. It is in proportion to their relative excellence that they have their meed of holiness from the Spirit. The branding-iron is conceived of together with the fire; and yet the material and the fire are distinct. Thus too in the case of the heavenly powers; their substance is, peradventure, an aërial spirit, or an immaterial fire, as it is written, “Who maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire;” wherefore they exist in space and become visible, and appear in their proper bodily form to them that are worthy. But their sanctification, being external to their substance, superinduces their perfection through the communion of the Spirit. They keep their rank by their abiding in the good and true, and while they retain their freedom of will, never fall away from their patient attendance on Him who is truly good. It results that, if by your argument you do away with the Spirit, the hosts of the angels are disbanded, the dominions of archangels are destroyed, all is thrown into confusion, and their life loses law, order, and distinctness. For how are angels to cry “Glory to God in the highest”6 without being empowered by the Spirit? For “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost, and no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed;” as might be said by wicked and hostile spirits, whose fall establishes our statement of the freedom of the will of the invisible powers; being, as they are, in a condition of equipoise between virtue and vice, and on this account needing the succour of the Spirit. I indeed maintain that even Gabriel8 in no other way foretells events to come than by the foreknowledge of the Spirit, by reason of the fact that one of the boons distributed by the Spirit is prophecy. And whence did he who was ordained to announce the mysteries of the vision to the Man of Desires derive the wisdom whereby he was enabled to teach hidden things, if not from the Holy Spirit? The revelation of mysteries is indeed the peculiar function of the Spirit, as it is written, “God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit.”10 And how could “thrones, dominions, principalities and powers” live their blessed life, did they not “behold the face of the Father which is in heaven”?12 But to behold it is impossible without the Spirit! Just as at night, if you withdraw the light from the house, the eyes fall blind and their faculties become inactive, and the worth of objects cannot be discerned, and gold is trodden on in ignorance as though it were iron, so in the order of the intellectual world it is impossible for the high life of Law to abide without the Spirit. For it so to abide were as likely as that an army should maintain its discipline in the absence of its commander, or a chorus its harmony without the guidance of the coryphæus. How could the Seraphim cry “Holy, Holy, Holy,” were they not taught by the Spirit how often true religion requires them to lift their voice in this ascription of glory? Do “all His angels” and “all His hosts”14 praise God? It is through the co-operation of the Spirit. Do “thousand thousand” of angels stand before Him, and “ten thousand times ten thousand” ministering spirits? They are blamelessly doing their proper work by the power of the Spirit. All the glorious and unspeakable harmony16 of the highest heavens both in the service of God, and in the mutual concord of the celestial powers, can therefore only be preserved by the direction of the Spirit. Thus with those beings who are not gradually perfected by increase and advance, but are perfect from the moment of the creation, there is in creation the presence of the Holy Spirit, who confers on them the grace that flows from Him for the completion and perfection of their essence.

39. But when we speak of the dispensations made for man by our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who will gainsay their having been accomplished through the grace of the Spirit? Whether you wish to examine ancient evidence;—the blessings of the partriarchs, the succour given through the legislation, the types, the prophecies, the valorous feats in war, the signs wrought through just men;—or on the other hand the things done in the dispensation of the coming of our Lord in the flesh;—all is through the Spirit. In the first place He was made an unction, and being inseparably present was with the very flesh of the Lord, according to that which is written, “Upon whom thou shall see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, the same is”3 “my beloved Son;” and “Jesus of Nazareth” whom “God anointed with the Holy Ghost.”5 After this every operation was wrought with the co-operation of the Spirit. He was present when the Lord was being tempted by the devil; for, it is said, “Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted.” He was inseparably with Him while working His wonderful works;7 for, it is said, “If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils.” And He did not leave Him when He had risen from the dead; for when renewing man, and, by breathing on the face of the disciples,9 restoring the grace, that came of the inbreathing of God, which man had lost, what did the Lord say? “Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever ye retain, they are retained.” And is it not plain and incontestable that the ordering of the Church is effected through the Spirit? For He gave, it is said, “in the church, first Apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues,”11 for this order is ordained in accordance with the division of the gifts that are of the Spirit.

40. Moreover by any one who carefully uses his reason it will be found that even at the moment of the expected appearance of the Lord from heaven the Holy Spirit will not, as some suppose, have no functions to discharge: on the contrary, even in the day of His revelation, in which the blessed and only potentate will judge the world in righteousness,14 the Holy Spirit will be present with Him. For who is so ignorant of the good things prepared by God for them that are worthy, as not to know that the crown of the righteous is the grace of the Spirit, bestowed in more abundant and perfect measure in that day, when spiritual glory shall be distributed to each in proportion as he shall have nobly played the man? For among the glories of the saints are “many mansions” in the Father’s house, that is differences of dignities: for as “star differeth from star in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead.”16 They, then, that were sealed by the Spirit unto the day of redemption, and preserve pure and undiminished the first fruits which they received of the Spirit, are they that shall hear the words “well done thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.”18 In like manner they which have grieved the Holy Spirit by the wickedness of their ways, or have not wrought for Him that gave to them, shall be deprived of what they have received, their grace being transferred to others; or, according to one of the evangelists, they shall even be wholly cut asunder,—the cutting asunder meaning complete separation from the Spirit. The body is not divided, part being delivered to chastisement, and part let off; for when a whole has sinned it were like the old fables, and unworthy of a righteous judge, for only the half to suffer chastisement. Nor is the soul cut in two,—that soul the whole of which possesses the sinful affection throughout, and works the wickedness in co-operation with the body. The cutting asunder, as I have observed, is the separation for aye of the soul from the Spirit. For now, although the Spirit does not suffer admixture with the unworthy, He nevertheless does seem in a manner to be present with them that have once been sealed, awaiting the salvation which follows on their conversion; but then He will be wholly cut off from the soul that has defiled His grace. For this reason “In Hell there is none that maketh confession; in death none that remembereth God,” because the succour of the Spirit is no longer present. How then is it possible to conceive that the judgment is accomplished without the Holy Spirit, wherein the word points out that He is Himself the prize2 of the righteous, when instead of the earnest is given that which is perfect, and the first condemnation of sinners, when they are deprived of that which they seem to have? But the greatest proof of the conjunction of the Spirit with the Father and the Son is that He is said to have the same relation to God which the spirit in us has to each of us. “For what man” it is said, “knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God.”4

On this point I have said enough.

CHAPTER XVII

Against those who say that the Holy Ghost is not to be numbered with, but numbered under, the Father and the Son. Wherein moreover there is a summary notice of the faith concerning right subnumeration.

41. What, however, they call subnumeration, and in what sense they use this word, cannot even be imagined without difficulty. It is well known that it was imported into our language from the
“wisdom of the world;” but a point for our present consideration will be whether it has any immediate relation to the subject under discussion. Those who are adepts in vain investigations tell us that, while some nouns are common and of widely extended denotation, others are more specific, and that the force of some is more limited than that of others. Essence, for instance, is a common noun, predicable of all things both animate and inanimate; while animal is more specific, being predicated of fewer subjects than the former, though of more than those which are considered under it, as it embraces both rational and irrational nature. Again, human is more specific than animal, and man than human, and than man the individual Peter, Paul or John.7 Do they then mean by subnumeration the division of the common into its subordinate parts? But I should hesitate to believe they have reached such a pitch of infatuation as to assert that the God of the universe, like some common quality conceivable only by reason and without actual existence in any hypostasis, is divided into subordinate divisions, and that then this subdivision is called subnumeration. This would hardly be said even by men melancholy mad, for, besides its impiety, they are establishing the very opposite argument to their own contention. For the subdivisions are of the same essence as that from which they have been divided. The very obviousness of the absurdity makes it difficult for us to find arguments to confute their unreasonableness; so that really their folly looks like an advantage to them; just as soft and yielding bodies offer no resistance, and therefore cannot be struck a stout blow. It is impossible to bring a vigorous confutation to bear on a palpable absurdity. The only course open to us is to pass by their abominable impiety in silence. Yet our love for the brethren and the importunity of our opponents makes silence impossible.

42. What is it that they maintain? Look at the terms of their imposture. “We assert that connumeration is appropriate to subjects of equal dignity, and subnumeration to those which vary in the direction of inferiority.” “Why,” I rejoined, “do you say this? I fail to understand your extraordinary wisdom. Do you mean that gold is numbered with gold, and that lead is unworthy of the connumeration, but, because of the cheapness of the material, is subnumerated to gold? And do you attribute so much importance to number as that it can either exalt the value of what is cheap, or destroy the dignity of what is valuable? Therefore, again, you will number gold under precious stones, and such precious stones as are smaller and without lustre under those which are larger and brighter in colour. But what will not be said by men who spend their time in nothing else but either ‘to tell or to hear some new thing’? Let these supporters of impiety be classed for the future with Stoics and Epicureans. What subnumeration is even possible of things less valuable in relation to things very valuable? How is a brass obol to be numbered under a golden stater? “Because,” they reply, “we do not speak of possessing two coins, but one and one.” But which of these is subnumerated to the other? Each is similarly mentioned. If then you number each by itself, you cause an equality of value by numbering them in the same way; but, if you join them, you make their value one by numbering them one with the other. But if the subnumeration belongs to the one which is numbered second, then it is in the power of the counter to begin by counting the brass coin. Let us, however, pass over the confutation of their ignorance, and turn our argument to the main topic.

43. Do you maintain that the Son is numbered under the Father, and the Spirit under the Son, or do you confine your subnumeration to the Spirit alone? If, on the other hand, you apply this subnumeration also to the Son, you revive what is the same impious doctrine, the unlikeness of the substance, the lowliness of rank, the coming into being in later time, and once for all, by this one term, you will plainly again set circling all the blasphemies against the Only-begotten. To controvert these blasphemies would be a longer task than my present purpose admits of; and I am the less bound to undertake it because the impiety has been refuted elsewhere to the best of my ability. If on the other hand they suppose the subnumeration to benefit the Spirit alone, they must be taught that the Spirit is spoken of together with the Lord in precisely the same manner in which the Son is spoken of with the Father. “The name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”3 is delivered in like manner, and, according to the co-ordination of words delivered in baptism, the relation of the Spirit to the Son is the same as that of the Son to the Father. And if the Spirit is co-ordinate with the Son, and the Son with the Father, it is obvious that the Spirit is also co-ordinate with the Father. When then the names are ranked in one and the same co-ordinate series, what room is there for speaking on the one hand of connumeration, and on the other of subnumeration? Nay, without exception, what thing ever lost its own nature by being numbered? Is it not the fact that things when numbered remain what they naturally and originally were, while number is adopted among us as a sign indicative of the plurality of subjects? For some bodies we count, some we measure, and some we weigh;5 those which are by nature continuous we apprehend by measure; to those which are divided we apply number (with the exception of those which on account of their fineness are measured); while heavy objects are distinguished by the inclination of the balance. It does not however follow that, because we have invented for our convenience symbols to help us to arrive at the knowledge of quantity, we have therefore changed the nature of the things signified. We do not speak of “weighing under” one another things which are weighed, even though one be gold and the other tin; nor yet do we “measure under” things that are measured; and so in the same way we will not “number under” things which are numbered. And if none of the rest of things admits of subnumeration how can they allege that the Spirit ought to be subnumerated? Labouring as they do under heathen unsoundness, they imagine that things which are inferior, either by grade of rank or subjection of substance, ought to be subnumerated.

CHAPTER XVIII

In what manner in the confession of the three hypostases we preserve the pious dogma of the Monarchia. Wherein also is the refutation of them that allege that the Spirit is subnumerated.

44. In delivering the formula of the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Ghost, our Lord did not connect the gift with number. He did not say “into First, Second, and Third,”2 nor yet “into one, two, and three, but He gave us the boon of the knowledge of the faith which leads to salvation, by means of holy names. So that what saves us is our faith. Number has been devised as a symbol indicative of the quantity of objects. But these men, who bring ruin on themselves from every possible source, have turned even the capacity for counting against the faith. Nothing else undergoes any change in consequence of the addition of number, and yet these men in the case of the divine nature pay reverence to number, lest they should exceed the limits of the honour due to the Paraclete. But, O wisest sirs, let the unapproachable be altogether above and beyond number, as the ancient reverence of the Hebrews wrote the unutterable name of God in peculiar characters, thus endeavouring to set forth its infinite excellence. Count, if you must; but you must not by counting do damage to the faith. Either let the ineffable be honoured by silence; or let holy things be counted consistently with true religion. There is one God and Father, one Only-begotten, and one Holy Ghost. We proclaim each of the hypostases singly; and, when count we must, we do not let an ignorant arithmetic carry us away to the idea of a plurality of Gods.

45. For we do not count by way of addition, gradually making increase from unity to multitude, and saying one, two, and three,—nor yet first, second, and third. For “I,” God, “am the first, and I am the last.” And hitherto we have never, even at the present time, heard of a second God. Worshipping as we do God of God, we both confess the distinction of the Persons, and at the same time abide by the Monarchy. We do not fritter away the theology4 in a divided plurality, because one Form, so to say, united in the invariableness of the Godhead, is beheld in God the Father, and in God the Only begotten. For the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son; since such as is the latter, such is the former, and such as is the former, such is the latter; and herein is the Unity. So that according to the distinction of Persons, both are one and one, and according to the community of Nature, one. How, then, if one and one, are there not two Gods? Because we speak of a king, and of the king’s image, and not of two kings. The majesty is not cloven in two, nor the glory divided. The sovereignty and authority over us is one, and so the doxology ascribed by us is not plural but one;6 because the honour paid to the image passes on to the prototype. Now what in the one case the image is by reason of imitation, that in the other case the Son is by nature; and as in works of art the likeness is dependent on the form, so in the case or the divine and uncompounded nature the union consists in the communion of the Godhead. One, moreover, is the Holy Spirit, and we speak of Him singly, conjoined as He is to the one Father through the one Son, and through Himself completing the adorable and blessed Trinity. Of Him the intimate relationship to the Father and the Son is sufficiently declared by the fact of His not being ranked in the plurality of the creation, but being spoken of singly; for he is not one of many, but One. For as there is one Father and one Son, so is there one Holy Ghost. He is consequently as far removed from created Nature as reason requires the singular to be removed from compound and plural bodies; and He is in such wise united to the Father and to the Son as unit has affinity with unit.

46. And it is not from this source alone that our proofs of the natural communion are derived, but from the fact that He is moreover said to be “of God;” not indeed in the sense in which “all things are of God,”2 but in the sense of proceeding out of God, not by generation, like the Son, but as Breath of His mouth. But in no way is the “mouth” a member, nor the Spirit breath that is dissolved; but the word “mouth” is used so far as it can be appropriate to God, and the Spirit is a Substance having life, gifted with supreme power of sanctification. Thus the close relation is made plain, while the mode of the ineffable existence is safeguarded. He is moreover styled ‘Spirit of Christ,’ as being by nature closely related to Him. Wherefore “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” Hence He alone worthily glorifies the Lord, for, it is said, “He shall glorify me,”4 not as the creature, but as “Spirit of truth,” dearly shewing forth the truth in Himself, and, as Spirit of wisdom, in His own greatness revealing “Christ the Power of God and the wisdom of God.”6 And as Paraclete He expresses in Himself the goodness of the Paraclete who sent Him, and in His own dignity manifests the majesty of Him from whom He proceeded. There is then on the one hand a natural glory, as light is the glory of the sun; and on the other a glory bestowed judicially and of free will ‘ab extra‘ on them that are worthy. The latter is twofold. “A son,” it is said, “honoureth his father, and a servant his master.” Of these two the one, the servile, is given by the creature; the other, which may be called the intimate, is fulfilled by the Spirit. For, as our Lord said of Himself, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do;”9 so of the Paraclete He says “He shall glorify me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” And as the Son is glorified of the Father when He says “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again,”12 so is the Spirit glorified through His communion with both Father and Son, and through the testimony of the Only-begotten when He says “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”

47. And when, by means of the power that enlightens us, we fix our eyes on the beauty of the image of the invisible God, and through the image are led up to the supreme beauty of the spectacle of the archetype, then, I ween, is with us inseparably the Spirit of knowledge, in Himself bestowing on them time love the vision of the truth the power of beholding the Image, not making the exhibition from without, but in Himself leading on to the full knowledge. “No man knoweth the Father save the Son.” And so “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost.”15 For it is not said through the Spirit, but by the Spirit, and “God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth,” as it is written “in thy light shall we see light,”17 namely by the illumination of the Spirit, “the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” It results that in Himself He shows the glory of the Only begotten, and on true worshippers He in Himself bestows the knowledge of God. Thus the way of the knowledge of God lies from One Spirit through the One Son to the One Father, and conversely the natural Goodness and the inherent Holiness and the royal Dignity extend from the Father through the Only-begotten to the Spirit. Thus there is both acknowledgment of the hypostases and the true dogma of the Monarchy is not lost. They on the other hand who support their subnumeration by talking of first and second and third ought to be informed that into the undefiled theology of Christians they are importing the polytheism of heathen error. No other result can be achieved by the fell device of subnumeration than the confession of a first, a second, and a third God. For us is sufficient the order prescribed by the Lord. He who confuses this order will be no less guilty of transgressing the law than are the impious heathen.

Enough has been now said to prove, in contravention of their error, that the communion of Nature is in no wise dissolved by the manner of subnumeration. Let us, however, make a concession to our contentious and feeble minded adversary, and grant that what is second to anything is spoken of in subnumeration to it. Now let us see what follows. “The first man” it is said “is of the earth earthy, the second man is the Lord from heaven.” Again “that was not first which is spiritual but that which is natural and afterward that which is spiritual.”3 If then the second is subnumerated to the first, and the subnumerated is inferior in dignity to that to which it was subnumerated, according to you the spiritual is inferior in honour to the natural, and the heavenly man to the earthy.

CHAPTER XIX

Against those who assert that the Spirit ought not to be glorified.

48. “Be it so,” it is rejoined, “but glory is by no means so absolutely due to the Spirit as to require His exaltation by us in doxologies.” Whence then could we get demonstrations of the dignity of the our Spirit, “passing all understanding,” if His communion with the Father and the Son were not reckoned by our opponents as good for testimony of His rank? It is, at all events, possible for us to arrive to a certain extent at intelligent apprehension of the sublimity of His nature and of His unapproachable power, by looking at the meaning of His title, and at the magnitude of His operations, and by His good gifts bestowed on us or rather on all creation. He is called Spirit, as “God is a Spirit,”5 and “the breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord.” He is called holy,7 as the Father is holy, and the Son is holy, for to the creature holiness was brought in from without, but to the Spirit holiness is the fulfilment of nature, and it is for this reason that He is described not as being sanctified, but as sanctifying. He is called good, as the Father is good, and He who was begotten of the Good is good, and to the Spirit His goodness is essence. He is called upright,9 as “the Lord is upright,” in that He is Himself truth,11 and is Himself Righteousness, having no divergence nor leaning to one side or to the other, on account of the immutability of His substance. He is called Paraclete, like the Only begotten, as He Himself says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another comforter.”13 Thus names are borne by the Spirit in common with the Father and the Son, and He gets these titles from His natural and close relationship. From what other source could they be derived? Again He is called royal, Spirit of truth,15 and Spirit of wisdom. “The Spirit of God,” it is said “hath made me,”17 and God filled Bezaleel with “the divine Spirit of wisdom and understanding and knowledge.” Such names as these are super-eminent and mighty, but they do not transcend His glory.

49. And His operations, what are they? For majesty ineffable, and for numbers innumerable. How shall we form a conception of what extends beyond the ages? What were His operations before that creation whereof we can conceive? How great the grace which He conferred on creation? What the power exercised by Him over the ages to come? He existed; He pre-existed; He co-existed with the Father and the Son before the ages. It follows that, even if you can conceive of anything beyond the ages, you will find the Spirit yet further above and beyond. And if you think of the creation, the powers of the heavens were established by the Spirit, the establishment being understood to refer to disability to fall away from good. For it is from the Spirit that the powers derive their close relationship to God, their inability to change to evil, and their continuance in blessedness. Is it Christ’s advent? The Spirit is forerunner. Is there the incarnate presence? The Spirit is inseparable. Working of miracles, and gifts of healing are through the Holy Spirit. Demons were driven out by the Spirit of God. The devil was brought to naught by the presence of the Spirit. Remission of Sins was by the gift of the Spirit, for “ye were washed, ye were sanctified, … in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the holy Spirit of our God.”2 There is close relationship with God through the Spirit, for “God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.” The resurrection from the dead is effected by the operation of the Spirit, for “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created; and Thou renewest the face of the earth.”4 If here creation may be taken to mean the bringing of the departed to life again, how mighty is not the operation of the Spirit, Who is to us the dispenser of the life that follows on the resurrection, and attunes our souls to the spiritual life beyond? Or if here by creation is meant the change to a better condition of those who in this life have fallen into sin, (for it is so understood according to the usage of Scripture, as in the words of Paul “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature”), the renewal which takes place in this life, and the transmutation from our earthly and sensuous life to the heavenly conversation which takes place in us through the Spirit, then our souls are exalted to the highest pitch of admiration. With these thoughts before us are we to be afraid of going beyond due bounds in the extravagance of the honour we pay? Shall we not rather fear lest, even though we seem to give Him the highest names which the thoughts of man can conceive or man’s tongue utter, we let our thoughts about Him fall too low?

It is the Spirit which says, as the Lord says, “Get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.” Are these the words of an inferior, or of one in dread? “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”7 Does a slave speak thus? And Isaiah, “The Lord God and His Spirit hath sent me,” and “the Spirit came down from the Lord and guided them.”9 And pray do not again understand by this guidance some humble service, for the Word witnesses that it was the work of God;—”Thou leddest thy people,” it is said “like a flock,” and “Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock,”11 and “He led them on safely, so that they feared not.” Thus when you hear that when the Comforter is come, He will put you in remembrance, and “guide you into all truth.”13 do not misrepresent the meaning.

50. But, it is said that “He maketh intercession for us.” It follows then that, as the suppliant is inferior to the benefactor, so far is the Spirit inferior in dignity to God. But have you never heard concerning the Only-begotten that He “is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us”?15 Do not, then, because the Spirit is in you,—if indeed He is at all in you,—nor yet because He teaches us who were blinded, and guides us to the choice of what profits us,—do not for this reason allow yourself to be deprived of the right and holy opinion concerning Him. For to make the loving kindness of your benefactor a ground of ingratitude were indeed a very extravagance of unfairness. “Grieve not the Holy Spirit;” hear the words of Stephen, the first fruits of the martyrs, when he reproaches the people for their rebellion and disobedience; “you do always,” he says, “resist the Holy Ghost;”17 and again Isaiah,—”They vexed His Holy Spirit, therefore He was turned to be their enemy;” and in another passage, “the house of Jacob angered the Spirit of the Lord.”19 Are not these passages indicative of authoritative power? I leave it to the judgment of my readers to determine what opinions we ought to hold when we hear these passages; whether we are to regard the Spirit as an instrument, a subject, of equal rank with the creature, and a fellow servant of ourselves, or whether, on the contrary, to the ears of the pious the mere whisper of this blasphemy is not most grievous. Do you call the Spirit a servant? But, it is said, “the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth,” and yet the Spirit knoweth the things of God, as “the spirit of man that is in him.”2

CHAPTER XX

Against those who maintain that the Spirit is in the rank neither of a servant nor of a master, but in that of the free.

51. He is not a slave, it is said; not a master, but free. Oh the terrible insensibility, the pitiable audacity, of them that maintain this! Shall I rather lament in them their ignorance or their blasphemy? They try to insult the doctrines that concern the divine nature by comparing them with the human, and endeavour to apply to the ineffable nature of God that common custom of human life whereby the difference of degrees is variable, not perceiving that among men no one is a slave by nature. For men are either brought under a yoke of slavery by conquest, as when prisoners are taken in war; or they are enslaved on account of poverty, as the Egyptians were oppressed by Pharaoh; or, by a wise and mysterious dispensation, the worst children are by their fathers’ order condemned to serve the wiser and the better;4 and this any righteous enquirer into the circumstances would declare to be not a sentence of condemnation but a benefit. For it is more profitable that the man who, through lack of intelligence, has no natural principle of rule within himself, should become the chattel of another, to the end that, being guided by the reason of his master, he may be like a chariot with a charioteer, or a boat with a steersman seated at the tiller. For this reason Jacob by his father’s blessing became lord of Esau, in order that the foolish son, who had not intelligence, his proper guardian, might, even though he wished it not, be benefited by his prudent brother. So Canaan shall be “a servant unto his brethren”6 because, since his father Ham was unwise, he was uninstructed in virtue. In this world, then, it is thus that men are made slaves, but they who have escaped poverty or war, or do not require the tutelage of others, are free. It follows that even though one man be called master and another servant, nevertheless, both in view of our mutual equality of rank and as chattels of our Creator, we are all fellow slaves. But in that other world what can yon bring out of bondage? For no sooner were they created than bondage was commenced. The heavenly bodies exercise no rule over one another, for they are unmoved by ambition, but all bow down to God, and render to Him alike the awe which is due to Him as Master and the glower which falls to Him as Creator. For “a son honoureth his father and a servant his master,” and from all God asks one of these two things; for “if I then be a Father where is my honour? and if I be a Master where is my fear?”8 Otherwise the life of all men, if it were not under the oversight of a master, would be most pitiable; as is the condition of the apostate powers who, because they stiffen their neck against God Almighty, fling off the reins of their bondage,—not that their natural constitution is different, but the cause is in their disobedient disposition to their Creator. Whom then do you call free? Him who has no King? Him who has neither power to rule another nor willingness to be ruled? Among all existent beings no such nature is to be found. To entertain such a conception of the Spirit is obvious blasphemy. If He is a creature of course He serves with all the rest, for “all things,” it is said “are thy servants,” but if He is above Creation, then He shares in royalty.10

CHAPTER XXI

Proof from Scripture that the Spirit is called Lord.

52. But why get an unfair victory for our argument by fighting over these undignified questions, when it is within our power to prove that the excellence of the glory is beyond dispute by adducing more lofty considerations? If, indeed, we repeat what we have been taught by Scripture, every one of the Pneumatomachi will peradventure raise a loud and vehement outcry, stop their ears, pick up stones or anything else that comes to hand for a weapon, and charge against us. But our own security must not be regarded by us before the truth. We have learnt from the Apostle, “the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patient waiting for Christ” for our tribulations. Who is the Lord that directs into the love of God and into the patient waiting for Christ for tribulations? Let those men answer us who are for making a slave of the Holy Spirit. For if the argument had been about God the Father, it would certainly have said, ‘the Lord direct you into His own love,’ or if about the Son, it would have added ‘into His own patience.’ Let them then seek what other Person there is who is worthy to be honoured with the title of Lord. And parallel with this is that other passage, “and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do towards you; to the end He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” Now what Lord does he entreat to stablish the hearts of the faithful at Thessalonica, unblamable in holiness before God even our Father, at the coming of our Lord? Let those answer who place the Holy Ghost among the ministering spirits that are sent forth on service. They cannot. Wherefore let them hear yet another testimony which distinctly calls the Spirit Lord. “The Lord,” it is said, “is that Spirit;” and again “even as from the Lord the Spirit.”3 But to leave no ground for objection, I will quote the actual words of the Apostle;—”For even unto this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament, which veil is done away in Christ.… Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit.” Why does he speak thus? Because he who abides in the bare sense of the letter, and in it busies himself with the observances of the Law, has, as it were, got his own heart enveloped in the Jewish acceptance of the letter, like a veil; and this befalls him because of his ignorance that the bodily observance of the Law is done away by the presence of Christ, in that for the future the types are transferred to the reality. Lamps are made needless by the advent of the sun; and, on the appearance of the truth, the occupation of the Law is gone, and prophecy is hushed into silence. He, on the contrary, who has been empowered to look down into the depth of the meaning of the Law, and, after passing through the obscurity of the letter, as through a veil, to arrive within things unspeakable, is like Moses taking off the veil when he spoke with God. He, too, turns from the letter to the Spirit. So with the veil on the face of Moses corresponds the obscurity of the teaching of the Law, and spiritual contemplation with the turning to the Lord. He, then, who in the reading of the Law takes away the letter and turns to the Lord,—and the Lord is now called the
Spirit,—becomes moreover like Moses, who had his face glorified by the manifestation of God. For just as objects which lie near brilliant colours are themselves tinted by the brightness which is shed around, so is be who fixes his gaze firmly on the Spirit by the Spirit’s glory somehow transfigured into greater splendour, having his heart lighted up, as it were, by some light streaming from the truth of the Spirit. And this is “being changed from2 the glory” of the Spirit “into” His own “glory,” not in niggard degree, nor dimly and indistinctly, but as we might expect any one to be who is enlightened by the Spirit. Do you not, O man, fear the Apostle when he says
“Ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you”? Could he ever have brooked to honour with the title of “temple” the quarters of a slave? How can he who calls Scripture “God-inspired,”5 because it was written through the inspiration of the Spirit, use the language of one who insults and belittles Him?

CHAPTER XXII

Establishment of the natural communion of the Spirit from His being, equally with the Father and the Son, unapproachable in thought.

53. Moreover the surpassing excellence of the nature of the Spirit is to be learned not only from His having the same title as the Father and the Son, and sharing in their operations, but also from His being, like the Father and the Son, unapproachable in thought. For what our Lord says of the Father as being above and beyond human conception, and what He says of the Son, this same language He uses also of the Holy Ghost. “O righteous Father,” He says, “the world hath not known Thee,” meaning here by the world not the complex whole compounded of heaven and earth, but this life of ours subject to death,8 and exposed to innumerable vicissitudes. And when discoursing of Himself He says, “Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me;” again in this passage, applying the word world to those who being bound down by this material and carnal life, and beholding the truth by material sight alone,11 were ordained, through their unbelief in the resurrection, to see our Lord no more with the eyes of the heart. And He said the same concerning the Spirit. “The Spirit of truth,” He says, “whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you.” For the carnal man, who has never trained his mind to contemplation,13 but rather keeps it buried deep in lust of the flesh, as in mud, is powerless to look up to the spiritual light of the truth. And so the world, that is life enslaved by the affections of the flesh, can no more receive the grace of the Spirit than a weak eye the light of a sunbeam. But the Lord, who by His teaching bore witness to purity of life, gives to His disciples the power of now both beholding and contemplating the Spirit. For “now,” He says, “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you,”15 wherefore “the world cannot receive Him, because it seeth Him not, … but ye know Him; for he dwelleth with you.” And so says Isaiah;—”He that spread forth the earth and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and Spirit to them that trample on it”17; for they that trample down earthly things and rise above them are borne witness to as worthy of the gift of the Holy Ghost. What then ought to be thought of Him whom the world cannot receive, and Whom saints alone can contemplate through pureness of heart? What kind of honours can be deemed adequate to Him?

CHAPTER XXIII

The glorifying of the spirit is the enumeration of His attributes.

54. Now of the rest of the Powers each is believed to be in a circumscribed place. The angel who stood by Cornelius was not at one and the same moment with Philip;2 nor yet did the angel who spoke with Zacharias from the altar at the same time occupy his own post in heaven. But the Spirit is believed to have been operating at the same time in Habakkuk and in Daniel at Babylon, and to have been at the prison with Jeremiah,4 and with Ezekiel at the Chebar. For the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world,6 and “whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” And, in the words of the Prophet, “For I am with you, saith the Lord … and my spirit remaineth among you.”8 But what nature is it becoming to assign to Him who is omnipresent, and exists together with God? The nature which is all-embracing, or one which is confined to particular places, like that which our argument shews the nature of angels to be? No one would so say. Shall we not then highly exalt Him who is in His nature divine, in His greatness infinite, in His operations powerful, in the blessings He confers, good? Shall we not give Him glory? And I understand glory to mean nothing else than the enumeration of the wonders which are His own. It follows then that either we are forbidden by our antagonists even to mention the good things which flow to us from Him. or on the other hand that the mere recapitulation of His attributes is the fullest possible attribution of glory. For not even in the case of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the Only begotten Son, are we capable of giving Them glory otherwise than by recounting, to the extent of our powers, all the wonders that belong to Them.

CHAPTER XXIV

Proof of the absurdity of the refusal to glorify the Spirit, from the comparison of things glorified in creation.

55.
Furthermore man is “crowned with glory and honour,” and “glory, honour and peace” are laid up by promise “to every man that worketh good.”10 There is moreover a special and peculiar glory for Israelites “to whom,” it is said “pertaineth the adoption and the glory … and the service,” and the Psalmist speaks of a certain glory of his own,
“that my glory may sing praise to Thee;” and again “Awake up my glory”13 and according to the Apostle there is a certain glory of sun and moon and stars, and “the ministration of condemnation is glorious.”15 While then so many things are glorified, do you wish the Spirit alone of all things to be unglorified? Yet the Apostle says “the ministration of the Spirit is glorious.” How then can He Himself be unworthy of glory? How according to the Psalmist can the glory of the just man be great17 and according to you the glory of the Spirit none? How is there not a plain peril from such arguments of our bringing on ourselves the sin from which there is no escape? If the man who is being saved by works of righteousness glorifies even them that fear the Lord much less would be deprive the Spirit of the glory which is His due.

Grant, they say, that He is to be glorified, but not with the Father and the Son. But what reason is there in giving up the place appointed by the Lord for the Spirit, and inventing some other? What reason is there for robbing of His share of glory Him Who is everywhere associated with the Godhead; in the confession of the Faith, in the baptism of redemption, in the working of miracles, in the indwelling of the saints, in the graces bestowed on obedience? For there is not even one single gift which reaches creation without the Holy Ghost; when not even a single word can be spoken in defence of Christ except by them that are aided by the Spirit, as we have learnt in the Gospels from our Lord and Saviour.20 And I know not whether any one who has been partaker of the Holy Spirit will consent that we should overlook all this, forget His fellowship in all things, and tear the Spirit asunder from the Father and the Son. Where then are we to take Him and rank Him? With the creature? Yet all the creature is in bondage, but the Spirit maketh free. “And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Many arguments might be adduced to them that it is unseemly to coordinate the Holy Spirit with created nature, but for the present I will pass them by. Were I indeed to bring forward, in a manner befitting the dignity of the discussion, all the proofs always available on our side, and so overthrow the objections of our opponents, a lengthy dissertation would be required, and my readers might be worn out by my prolixity. I therefore propose to reserve this matter for a special treatise, and to apply thyself to the points now more immediately before us.

56. Let us then examine the points one by one. He is good by nature, in the same way as the Father is good, and the Son is good; the creature on the other hand shares in goodness by choosing the good. He knows “The deep things of God;” the creature receives the manifestation of ineffable things through the Spirit. He quickens together with God, who produces and preserves all things alive,3 and together with the Son, who gives life. “He that raised up Christ from the dead,” it is said, “shall also quicken your mortal bodies by the spirit that dwelleth in you;” and again “my sheep hear my voice, … and I give unto them eternal life;”5 but “The Spirit” also, it is said, “giveth life,” and again “the Spirit,” it is said, “is life, because of righteousness.”7 And the Lord bears witness that “it is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.” How then shall we alienate the Spirit from His quickening power, and make Him belong to lifeless nature? Who is so contentious, who is so utterly without the heavenly gift,9 and unfed by God’s good words, who is so devoid of part and lot in eternal hopes, as to sever the Spirit from the Godhead and rank Him with the creature?

57. Now it is urged that the Spirit is in us as a gift from God, and that the gift is not reverenced with the same honour as that which is attributed to the giver. The Spirit is a gift of God, but a gift of life, for the law of “the Spirit of life,” it is said, “hath made” us “free;” and a gift of power, for “ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.”11 Is He on this account to be lightly esteemed? Did not God also bestow His Son as a free gift to mankind? “He that spared not His own Son,” it is said, “but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” And in another place, “that we might truly know the things that are freely given us of God,”13 in reference to the mystery of the Incarnation. It follows then that the maintainers of such arguments, in making the greatness of God’s loving kindness an occasion of blasphemy, have really surpassed the ingratitude of the Jews. They find fault with the Spirit because He gives us freedom to call God our Father. “For God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into” our “hearts crying Abba, Father,” that the voice of the Spirit may become the very voice of them that have received him.

CHAPTER XXV

That Scripture uses the words “in” or “by,” ἐν, cf. note on p. 3, in place of “with.” Wherein also it is proved that the word “and” has the same force as “with.”

58. It is, however, asked by our opponents, how it is that Scripture nowhere describes the Spirit as glorified together with the Father and the Son, but carefully avoids the use of the expression “with the Spirit,” while it everywhere prefers to ascribe glory “in Him” as being the fitter phrase. I should, for my own part, deny that the word in [or by] implies lower dignity than the word “with;” I should maintain on the contrary that, rightly understood, it leads us up to the highest possible meaning. This is the case where, as we have observed, it often stands instead of with; as for instance, “I will go into thy house in burnt offerings,” instead of with burnt offerings and “he brought them forth also by silver and gold,” that is to say with silver and gold and “thou goest not forth in our armies” instead of with our armies, and innumerable similar passages. In short I should very much like to learn from this new-fangled philosophy what kind of glory the Apostle ascribed by the word in, according to the interpretation which our opponents proffer as derived from Scripture, for I have nowhere found the formula “To Thee, O Father, be honour and glory, through Thy only begotten Son, by [or in] the Holy Ghost,”—a form which to our opponents comes, so to say, as naturally as the air they breathe. You may indeed find each of these clauses
separately, but they will nowhere be able to show them to us arranged in this conjunction. If, then, they want exact conformity to what is written, let them give us exact references. If, on the other hand, they make concession to custom, they must not make us an exception to such a privilege.

59. As we find both expressions in use among the faithful, we use both; in the belief that full glory is equally given to the Spirit by both. The mouths, how, ever, of revilers of the truth may best be stopped by the preposition which, while it has the same meaning as that of the Scriptures, is not so wieldy a weapon for our opponents, (indeed it is now an object of their attack) and is used instead of the conjunction and. For to say “Paul and Silvanus and Timothy” is precisely the same thing as to say Paul with Timothy and Silvanus; for the connexion of the names is, preserved by either mode of expression. The Lord says “The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.” If I say the Father and the Son with the Holy Ghost shall I make, any difference in the sense? Of the connexion of names by means of the conjunction and the instances are many. We read “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost,” and again “I beseech you for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit.”5 Now if we wish to use with instead of and, what difference shall we have made? I do not see; unless any one according to hard and fast grammatical rules might prefer the conjunction as copulative and making the union stronger, and reject the preposition as of inferior force. But if we had to defend ourselves on these points I do not suppose we should require a defence of many words. As it is, their argument is not about syllables nor yet about this or that sound of a word, but about things differing. most widely in power and in truth. It is for this reason that, while the use of the syllables is really a matter of no importance whatever, our opponents are making the endeavour to authorise some syllables, and bunt out others from the Church. For my own part, although the usefulness of the word is obvious as soon as it is heard, I will nevertheless set forth the arguments which led our fathers to adopt the reasonable course of employing the preposition “with.” It does indeed, equally well with the preposition “and,” confute the mischief of Sabellius; and it sets forth quite as well as “and” the distinction of the hypostases, as in the words “I and my Father will come,” and “I and my Father are one.”9 In addition to this the proof it contains of the eternal fellowship and uninterrupted conjunction is excellent. For to say that the Son is with the Father is to exhibit at once the distinction of the hypostases, and the inseparability of the fellowship. The same thing is observable even in mere human matters, for the conjunction “and” intimates that there is a common element in an action, while the preposition “with” declares in some sense as well the communion in action. As, for instance;—Paul and Timothy sailed to Macedonia, but both Tychicus and Onesimus were sent to the Colossians. Hence we learn that they did the same thing. But suppose we are told that they sailed with, and were sent with? Then we are informed in addition that they carried out the action in company with one another. Thus while the word “with” upsets the error of Sabellius as no other word can, it routs also sinners who err in the very opposite direction; those, I mean, who separate the Son from the Father and the Spirit from the Son, by intervals of time.

60. As compared with “in,” there is this difference, that while “with” sets forth the mutual conjunction of the parties associated,—as, for example, of those who sail with, or dwell with, or do anything else in common, “in” shews their relation to that matter in which they happen to be acting. For we no sooner hear the words “sail in” or “dwell in” than we form the idea of the boat or the house. Such is the distinction between these words in ordinary usage; and laborious investigation might discover further. illustrations. I have no time to examine into the nature of the syllables. Since then it has been shewn that “with” most clearly gives the sense of conjunction, let it be declared, if you will, to be under safe-conduct, and cease to wage your savage and truceless war against it. Nevertheless, though the word is naturally thus auspicious, yet if any one likes, in the ascription of praise, to couple the names by the syllable “and,” and to give glory, as we have taught in the Gospel, in the formula of baptism, Father and Son and Holy Ghost, be it so: no one will make any objection. On these conditions, if you will, let us come to terms. But our foes would rather surrender their tongues than accept this word. It is this that rouses against us their implacable and truceless war. We must offer the ascription of glory to God, it is contended, in the Holy Ghost, and not and to the Holy Ghost, and they passionately cling to this word in, as though it lowered the Spirit. It will therefore be not unprofitable to speak at greater length about it; and I shall be astonished if they do not, when they have heard what we have to urge, reject the in as itself a traitor to their cause, and a deserter to the side of the glory of the Spirit.

CHAPTER XXVI

That the word “in,” in as many senses as it bears, is understood of the Spirit.

61. Now, short and simple as this utterance is, it appears to me, as I consider it, that its meanings are many and various. For of the senses in which “in” is used, we find that all help our conceptions of the Spirit. Form is said to be in Matter; Power to be in what is capable of it; Habit to be in him who is affected by it; and so on. Therefore, inasmuch as the Holy Spirit perfects rational beings, completing their excellence, He is analogous to Form. For he, who no longer “lives after the flesh,”3 but, being
“led by the Spirit of God,” is called a Son of God, being
“conformed to tile image of the Son of God,” is described as spiritual. And as is the power of seeing in the healthy eye, so is the operation of the Spirit in the purified soul. Wherefore also Paul prays for the Ephesians that they may have their
“eyes enlightened” by “the Spirit of wisdom.” And as the art in him who has acquired it, so is the grace of the Spirit in the recipient ever present, though not continuously in operation. For as the art is potentially in the artist, but only in operation when he is working in accordance with it, so also the Spirit is ever present with those that are worthy, but works, as need requires, in prophecies, or in healings, or in some other actual carrying into effect of His potential action.7 Furthermore as in our bodies is health, or heat, or, generally, their variable conditions, so, very frequently is the Spirit in the soul; since He does not abide with those who, on account of the instability of their will, easily reject the grace which they have received. An instance of this is seen in Saul, and the seventy elders of the children of Israel, except Eldad and Medad, with whom alone the Spirit appears to have remained,9 and, generally, any one similar to these in character. And like reason in the soul, which is at one time the thought in the heart, and at another speech uttered by the tongue, so is the Holy Spirit, as when He
“beareth witness with our spirit,” and when He “cries in our hearts, Abba, Father,”12 or when He speaks on our behalf, as it is said, “It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of our Father which speaketh in you.” Again, the Spirit is conceived of, in relation to the distribution of gifts, as a whole in parts. For we all are “members one of another, having girls differing according to the grace that is given us.”14 Wherefore “the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you,” but all together complete the Body of Christ in the Unity of the Spirit, and render to one another the needful aid that comes of the gifts. “But God hath set the members in the body,
every one of them, as it hath pleased Him.” But “the members have the same care for one another,”2 according to the inborn spiritual communion of their sympathy. Wherefore, “whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” And as parts in the whole so are we individually in the Spirit, because we all “were baptized in one body into one spirit.”4

62. It is an extraordinary statement, but it is none the less true, that the Spirit is frequently spoken of as the place of them that are being sanctified, and it will become evident that even by this figure the Spirit, so far from being degraded, is rather glorified. For words applicable to the body are, for the sake of clearness, frequently transferred in scripture to spiritual conceptions. Accordingly we find the Psalmist, even in reference to God, saying “Be Thou to me a champion God and a strong place to save me” and concerning the Spirit “behold there is a place by me, and stand upon a rock.”6 Plainly meaning the place or contemplation in the Spirit wherein, after Moses had entered thither, he was able to see God intelligibly manifested to him. This is the special and peculiar place of true worship; for it is said “Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place … but in the place the Lord thy God shall choose.” Now what is a spiritual burnt offering? “The sacrifice of praise.”8 And in what place do we offer it? In the Holy Spirit. Where have we learnt this? From the Lord himself in the words “The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” This place Jacob saw and said “The Lord is in this place.”10 It follows that the Spirit is verily the place of the saints and the saint is the proper place for the Spirit, offering himself as he does for the indwelling of God, and called God’s Temple. So Paul speaks in Christ, saying “In the sight of God we speak in Christ,”12 and Christ in Paul, as he himself says “Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me.” So also in the Spirit he speaketh mysteries,14 and again the Spirit speaks in him.

63. In relation to the originate, then, the Spirit is said to be in them “in divers portions and in divers manners,” while in relation to the Father and the Son it is more consistent with true religion to assert Him not to be in but to be with. For the grace flowing from Him when He dwells in those that are worthy, and carries out His own operations, is well described as existing in those that are able to receive Him. On the other hand His essential existence before the ages, and His ceaseless abiding with Son and Father, cannot be contemplated without requiring titles expressive of eternal conjunction. For absolute and real co-existence is predicated in the case of things which are mutually inseparable. We say, for instance, that beat exists in the hot iron, but in the case of the actual fire it co-exists; and, similarly, that health exists in the body, but that life co-exists with the soul. It follows that wherever the fellowship is intimate, congenital, and inseparable, the word with is more expressive, suggesting, as it does, the idea of inseparable fellowship. Where on the other hand the grace flowing from the Spirit naturally comes and goes, it is properly and truly said to exist in, even if on account of the firmness of the recipients’ disposition to good the grace abides with them continually. Thus whenever we have in mind the Spirit’s proper rank, we contemplate Him as being with the Father and the Son, but when we think of the grace that flows from Him operating on those who participate in it, we say that the Spirit is in us. And the doxology which we offer “in the Spirit” is not an acknowledgment of His rank; it is rather a confession of our own weakness, while we shew that we are not sufficient to glorify Him of ourselves, but our sufficiency is in the Holy Spirit. Enabled in, [or by,] Him we render thanks to our God for the benefits we have received, according to the measure of our purification from evil, as we receive one a larger and another a smaller share of the aid of the Spirit, that we may offer “the sacrifice of praise to God.”2 According to one use, then, it is thus that we offer our thanksgiving, as the true religion requires, in the Spirit; although it is not quite unobjectionable that any one should testify of himself “the Spirit of God is in me, and I offer glory after being made wise through the grace that flows from Him.” For to a Paul it is becoming to say “I think also that I have the Spirit of God,” and again, “that good thing which was committed to thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.”4 And of Daniel it is fitting to say that “the Holy Spirit of God is in him,” and similarly of men who are like these in virtue.

64. Another sense may however be given to the phrase, that just as the Father is seen in the Son, so is the Son in the Spirit. The “worship in the Spirit” suggests the idea of the operation of our intelligence being carried on in the light, as may be learned from the words spoken to the woman of Samaria. Deceived as she was by the customs of her country into the belief that worship was local, our Lord, with the object of giving her better instruction, said that worship ought to be offered “in Spirit and in Truth,” plainly meaning by the Truth, Himself. As then we speak of the worship offered in the Image of God the Father as worship in the Son, so too do we speak of worship in the Spirit as shewing in Himself the Godhead of the Lord. Wherefore even in our worship the Holy Spirit is inseparable from the Father and the Son. If you remain outside the Spirit you will not be able even to worship at all; and on your becoming in Him you will in no wise be able to dissever Him from God;—any more than you will divorce light from visible objects. For it is impossible to behold the Image of the invisible God except by the enlightenment of the Spirit, and impracticable for him to fix his gaze on the Image to dissever the light from the Image, because the cause of vision is of necessity seen at the same time as the visible objects. Thus fitly and consistently do we behold the “Brightness of the glory” of God by means of the illumination of the Spirit, and by means of the “Express Image” we are led up to Him of whom He is the Express Image and Seal, graven to the like.7

CHAPTER XXVII

Of the origin of the word “with,” and what force it has. Also concerning the unwritten laws of the church.

65. The word “in,” say our opponents, “is exactly appropriate to the Spirit, and sufficient for every thought concerning Him. Why then, they ask, have we introduced this new phrase, saying, “with the Spirit” instead of “in the Holy Spirit,” thus employing an expression which is quite unnecessary, and sanctioned by no usage in the churches? Now it has been asserted in the previous portion of this treatise that the word “in” has not been specially allotted to the Holy Spirit, but is common to the Father and the Son. It has also been, in my opinion, sufficiently demonstrated that, so far from detracting anything from the dignity of the Spirit, it leads all, but those whose thoughts are wholly perverted, to the sublimest height. It remains for me to trace the origin of the word “with;” to explain what force it has, and to shew that it is in harmony with Scripture.

66.
Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or publicly enjoined which are preserved in the Church some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have received delivered to us “in a mystery”2 by the tradition of the apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force. And these no one will gainsay;—no one, at all events, who is even moderately versed in the institutions of the Church. For were we to attempt to reject such customs as have no written authority, on the ground that the importance they possess is small, we should unintentionally injure the Gospel in its very vitals; or, rather, should make our public definition a mere phrase and nothing more. For instance, to take the first and most general example, who is thence who has taught us in writing to sign with the sign of the cross those who have trusted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ? What writing has taught us to turn to the East at the prayer? Which of the saints has left us in writing the words of the invocation at the displaying4 of the bread of the Eucharist and the cup of blessing? For we are not, as is well known, content with what the apostle or the Gospel has recorded, but both in preface and conclusion we add other words as being of great importance to the validity of the ministry, and these we derive from unwritten teaching. Moreover we bless the water of baptism and the oil of the chrism, and besides this the catechumen who is being baptized. On what written authority do we do this? Is not our authority silent and mystical tradition? Nay, by what written word is the anointing of oil itself taught? And whence comes the custom of baptizing thrice?2 And as to the other customs of baptism from what Scripture do we derive the renunciation of Satan and his angels? Does not this come from that unpublished and secret teaching which our fathers guarded in a silence out of the reach of curious meddling and inquisitive investigation? Well had they learnt the lesson that the awful dignity of the mysteries is best preserved by silence. What the uninitiated are not even allowed to look at was hardly likely to be publicly paraded about in written documents. What was the meaning of the mighty Moses in not making all the parts of the tabernacle open to every one? The profane he stationed without the sacred barriers; the first courts he conceded to the purer; the Levites alone he judged worthy of being servants of the Deity; sacrifices and burnt offerings and the rest of the priestly functions he allotted to the priests; one chosen out of all he admitted to the shrine, and even this one not always but on only one day in the year, and of this one day a time was fixed for his entry so that he might gaze on the Holy of Holies amazed at the strangeness and novelty of the sight. Moses was wise enough to know that contempt attaches to the trite and to the obvious, while a keen interest is naturally associated with the unusual and the unfamiliar. In the same manner the Apostles and Fathers who laid down laws for the Church from the beginning thus guarded the awful dignity of the mysteries in secrecy and silence, for what is bruited abroad at random among the common folk is no mystery at all. This is the reason for our tradition of unwritten precepts and practices, that the knowledge of our dogmas may not become neglected and contemned by the multitude through familiarity. “Dogma” and “Kerugma” are two distinct things; the former is observed in silence; the latter is proclaimed to all the world. One form of this silence is the obscurity employed in Scripture, which makes the meaning of “dogmas” difficult to be understood for the very advantage of the reader: Thus we all look to the East at our prayers, but few of us know that we are seeking our own old country,4 Paradise, which God planted in Eden in the East. We pray standing,6 on the first day of the week, but we do not all know the reason. On the day of the resurrection (or “standing again” Grk. ἀνάστασις) we remind ourselves of the grace given to us by standing at prayer, not only because we rose with Christ, and are bound to “seek those things which are above,”8 but because the day seems to us to be in some sense an image of the age which we expect, wherefore, though it is the beginning of days, it is not called by Moses first, but one. For he says “There was evening, and there was morning, one day,” as though the same day often recurred. Now “one” and “eighth” are the same, in itself distinctly indicating that really “one” and “eighth” of which the Psalmist makes mention in certain titles of the Psalms, the state which follows after this present time, the day which knows no waning or eventide, and no successor, that age which endeth not or groweth old.10 Of necessity, then, the church teaches her own foster children to offer their prayers on that day standing, to the end that through continual reminder of the endless life we may not neglect to make provision for our removal thither. Moreover all Pentecost is a reminder of the resurrection expected in the age to come. For that one and first day, if seven times multiplied by seven, completes the seven weeks of the holy Pentecost; for, beginning at the first, Pentecost ends with the same, making fifty revolutions through the like intervening days. And so it is a likeness of eternity, beginning as it does and ending, as in a circling course, at the same point. On this day the rules of the church have educated us to prefer the upright attitude of prayer, for by their plain reminder they, as it were, make our mind to dwell no longer in the present but in the future. Moreover every time we fall upon our knees and rise from off them we shew by the very deed that by our sin we fell down to earth, and by the loving kindness of our Creator were called back to heaven.

67. Time will fail me if I attempt to recount the unwritten mysteries of the Church. Of the rest I say nothing; but of the very confession of our faith in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, what is the written source? If it be granted that, as we are baptized, so also under the obligation to believe, we make our confession in like terms as our baptism, in accordance with the tradition of our baptism and in conformity with the principles of true religion, let our opponents grant us too the right to be as consistent in our ascription of glory as in our confession of faith. If they deprecate our doxology on the ground that it lacks written authority, let them give us the written evidence for the confession of our faith and the other matters which we have enumerated. While the unwritten traditions are so many, and their bearing on “the mystery of godliness is so important, can they refuse to allow us a single word which has come down to us from the Fathers;—which we found, derived from untutored custom, abiding in unperverted churches;—a word for which the arguments are strong, and which contributes in no small degree to the completeness of the force of the mystery?

68. The force of both expressions has now been explained. I will proceed to state once more wherein they agree and wherein they differ from one another;—not that they are opposed in mutual antagonism, but that each contributes its own meaning to true religion. The preposition “in” states the truth rather relatively to ourselves; while “with” proclaims the fellowship of the Spirit with God. Wherefore we use both words, by the one expressing the dignity of the Spirit; by the other announcing the grace that is with us. Thus we ascribe glory to God both “in” the Spirit, and “with” the Spirit; and herein it is not our word that we use, but we follow the teaching of the Lord as we might a fixed rule, and transfer His word to things connected and closely related, and of which the conjunction in the mysteries is necessary. We have deemed ourselves under a necessary obligation to combine in our confession of the faith Him who is numbered with Them at Baptism, and we have treated the confession of the faith as the origin and parent of the doxology. What, then, is to be done? They must now instruct us either not to baptize as we have received, or not to believe as we were baptized, or not to ascribe glory as we have believed. Let any man prove if he can that the relation of sequence in these acts is not necessary and unbroken; or let any man deny if he can that innovation here must mean ruin everywhere. Yet they never stop dinning in our ears that the ascription of glory “with” the Holy Spirit is unauthorized and unscriptural and the like. We have stated that so far as the sense goes it is the same to say “glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost,” and glory be to the Father and to the Son with the Holy Ghost.” It is impossible for any one to reject or cancel the syllable “and,” which is derived from the very words of our Lord, and there is nothing to hinder the acceptance of its equivalent. What amount of difference and similarity there is between the two we have already shewn. And our argument is confirmed by the fact that the Apostle uses either word indifferently,—saying at one time “in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God;” at another “when ye are gathered together, and my Spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus,”3 with no idea that it makes any difference to the connexion of the names whether he use the conjunction or the preposition.

CHAPTER XXVIII

That our opponents refuse to concede in the case of the Spirit the terms which Scripture uses in the case of men, as reigning together with Christ.

69. But let us see if we can bethink us of any defence of this usage of our fathers; for they who first originated the expression are more open to blame than we ourselves. Paul in his Letter to the Colossians says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision … hath He quickened together with” Christ. Did then God give to a whole people and to the Church the boon of the life with Christ, and yet the life with Christ does not belong to the Holy Spirit? But if this is impious even to think of, is it not rightly reverent so to make our confession, as They are by nature in close conjunction? Furthermore what boundless lack of sensibility does it not shew in these men to confess that the Saints are with Christ, (if, as we know is the case, Paul, on becoming absent from the body, is present with the
Lord, and, after departing, is with Christ2) and, so far as lies in their power, to refuse to allow to the Spirit to be with Christ even to the same extent as men? And Paul calls himself a “labourer together with God” in the dispensation of the Gospel; will they bring an indictment for impiety against us, if we apply the term “fellow-labourer” to the Holy Spirit, through whom in every creature under heaven the Gospel bringeth forth fruit?4 The life of them that have trusted in the Lord “is hidden,” it would seem, “with Christ in God, and when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall” they themselves also “appear with Him in glory;” and is the Spirit of life Himself, “Who made us free from the law of sin,”6 not with Christ, both in the secret and hidden life with Him, and in the manifestation of the glory which we expect to be manifested in the saints? We are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,” and is the Spirit without part or lot in the fellowship of God and of His Christ? “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God;”8 and are we not to allow to the Spirit even that testimony of His fellowship with God which we have learnt from the Lord? For the height of folly is reached if we through the faith in Christ which is in the Spirit hope that we shall be raised together with Him and sit together in heavenly places,10 whenever He shall change our vile body from the natural to the spiritual, and yet refuse to assign to the Spirit any share in the sitting together, or in the glory, or anything else which we have received from Him. Of all the boons of which, in accordance with the indefeasible grant of Him who has promised them, we have believed ourselves worthy, are we to allow none to the Holy Spirit, as though they were all above His dignity? It is yours according to your merit to be “ever with the Lord,” and you expect to be caught up
“in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and to be ever with the Lord.” You declare the man who numbers and ranks the Spirit with the Father and the Son to be guilty of intolerable impiety. Can you really now deny that the Spirit is with Christ?

70. I am ashamed to add the rest. You expect to be glorified together with Christ; (“if so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together;”) but you do not glorify the “Spirit of holiness”14 together with Christ, as though He were not worthy to receive equal honour even with you. You hope to “reign with” Christ; but you “do despite unto the Spirit of grace”16 by assigning Him the rank of a slave and a subordinate. And I say this not to demonstrate that so much is due to the Spirit in the ascription of glory, but to prove the unfairness of those who will not ever give so much as this, and shrink from the fellowship of the Spirit with Son and Father as from impiety. Who could touch on these things without a sigh? Is it not so plain as to be within the perception even of a child that this present state of things preludes the threatened eclipse of the faith? The undeniable has become the uncertain. We profess belief in the Spirit, and then we quarrel with our own confessions. We are baptized, and begin to fight again. We call upon Him as the Prince of Life, and then despise Him as a slave like ourselves. We received Him with the Father and the Son, and we dishonour Him as a part of creation. Those who “know not what they ought to pray for,”18 even though they be induced to utter a word of the Spirit with awe, as though coming near His dignity, yet prune down all that exceeds the exact proportion of their speech. They ought rather to bewail their weakness, in that we are powerless to express in words our gratitude for the benefits which we are actually receiving; for He “passes all understanding,” and convicts speech of its natural inability even to approach His dignity in the least degree; as it is written in the Book of Wisdom,20 “Exalt Him as much as you can, for even yet will He far exceed; and when you exalt Him put forth all your strength, and be not weary, for you can never go far enough.” Verily terrible is the account to be given for words of this kind by you who have heard from God who cannot lie that for blasphemy against the Holy Ghost there is no forgiveness.

CHAPTER XXIX

Enumeration of the illustrious men in the Church who in their writings have used the word “with.”

71. In answer to the objection that the doxology in the form “with the Spirit” has no written authority, we maintain that if there is
no other instance of that which is unwritten, then this must not be received. But if the greater number of our mysteries are admitted into our constitution without written authority, then, in company with the many others, let us receive this one. For I hold it apostolic to abide also by the unwritten traditions. “I praise you,” it is said, “that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances as I delivered them to you;” and “Hold fast the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word, or our Epistle.”2 One of these traditions is the practice which is now before us, which they who ordained from the beginning, rooted firmly in the churches, delivering it to their successors, and its use through long custom advances pace by pace with time. If, as in a Court of Law, we were at a loss for documentary evidence, but were able to bring before you a large number of witnesses, would you not give your vote for our acquittal? I think so; for “at the mouth of two or three witnesses shall the matter be established.” And if we could prove clearly to you that a long period of time was in our favour, should we not have seemed to you to urge with reason that this suit ought not to be brought into court against us? For ancient dogmas inspire a certain sense of awe, venerable as they are with a hoary antiquity. I will therefore give you a list of the supporters of the word (and the time too must be taken into account in relation to what passes unquestioned). For it did not originate with us. How could it? We, in comparison with the time during which this word has been in vogue, are, to use the words of Job, “but of yesterday.”4 I myself, if I must speak of what concerns me individually, cherish this phrase as a legacy left me by my fathers. It was delivered to me by one who spent a long life in the service of God, and by him I was both baptized, and admitted to the ministry of the church. While examining, so far as I could, if any of the blessed men of old used the words to which objection is now made, I found many worthy of credit both on account of their early date, and also—a characteristic in which they are unlike the men of to-day—because of the exactness of their knowledge. Of these some coupled the word in the doxology by the preposition, others by the conjunction, but were in no case supposed to be acting divergently,—at least so far as the right sense of true religion is concerned.

72. There is the famous Irenæus, and Clement of Rome;7 Dionysius of Rome, and, strange to say, Dionysius of Alexandria, in his second Letter to his namesake, on “Conviction and Defence,” so concludes. I will give you his very words. “Following all these, we, too, since we have received from the presbyters who were before us a form and rule, offering thanksgiving in the same terms with them, thus conclude our Letter to you. To God the Father and the Son our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost, glory and might for ever and ever; amen.” And no one can say that this passage has been altered. He would not have so persistently stated that he had received a form and rule if he had said “in the Spirit.” For of this phrase the use is abundant: it was the use of “with” which required defence. Dionysius moreover in the middle of his treatise thus writes in opposition to the Sabellians, “If by the hypostases being three they say that they are divided, there are three, though they like it not. Else let them destroy the divine Trinity altogether.” And again: “most divine on this account after the Unity is the Trinity.” Clement, in more primitive fashion, writes, “God lives, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.”10 And now let us hear how Irenæus, who lived near the times of the Apostles, mentions the Spirit in his work “Against the Heresies.” “The Apostle rightly calls carnal them that are unbridled and carried away to their own desires, having no desire for the Holy Spirit,” and in another passage Irenæus says, “The Apostle exclaimed that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of the heavens lest we, being without share in the divine Spirit, fall short of the kingdom of the heavens.” If any one thinks Eusebius of Palestine13 worthy of credit on account of his wide experience, I point further to the very words he uses in discussing questions concerning the polygamy of the ancients. Stirring up himself to his work, he writes “invoking the holy God of the Prophets, the Author of light, through our Saviour Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit.”

73. Origen, too, in many of his expositions of the Psalms, we find using the form of doxology “with the Holy Ghost. The opinions which he held concerning the Spirit were not always and everywhere sound; nevertheless in many passages even he himself reverently recognises the force of established usage, and expresses himself concerning the Spirit in terms consistent with true religion. It is, if I am not mistaken, in the Sixth Book of his Commentary on the Gospel of St. John that he distinctly makes the Spirit an object of worship. His words are:—”The washing or water is a symbol of the cleaning of the soul which is washed clean of all filth that comes of wickedness; but none the less is it also by itself, to him who yields himself to the Godhead of the adorable Trinity, through the power of the invocations, the origin and source of blessings.” And again, in his Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans “the holy powers,” he says “are able to receive the Only-begotten, and the Godhead of the Holy Spirit.” Thus I apprehend, the powerful influence of tradition frequently impels men to express themselves in terms contradictory to their own opinions. Moreover this form of the doxology was not unknown even to Africanus the historian. In the Fifth Book of his Epitome of the Times he says “we who know the weight of those terms, and are not ignorant of the grace of faith, render thanks to the Father, who bestowed on us His own creatures, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world and our Lord, to whom be glory and majesty with the Holy Ghost, for ever.” The rest of the passages may peradventure be viewed with suspicion; or may really have been altered, and the fact of their having been tampered with will be difficult to detect because the difference consists in a single syllable. Those however which I have quoted at length are out of the reach of any dishonest manipulation, and can easily be verified from the actual works.

I will now adduce another piece of evidence which might perhaps seem insignificant, but because of its antiquity must in nowise be omitted by a defendant who is indicted on a charge of innovation. It seemed fitting to our fathers not to receive the gift of the light at eventide in silence, but, on its appearing, immediately to give thanks. Who was the author of these words of thanksgiving at the lighting of the lamps, we are not able to say. The people, however, utter the ancient form, and no one has ever reckoned guilty of impiety those who say “We praise Father, Son, and God’s Holy Spirit.” And if any one knows the Hymn of Athenogenes,6 which, as he was hurrying on to his perfecting by fire, he left as a kind of farewell gift to his friends, he knows the mind of the martyrs as to the Spirit. On this head I shall say no more.

74. But where shall I rank the great Gregory, and the words uttered by him? Shall we not place among Apostles and Prophets a man who walked by the same Spirit as they; who never through all his days diverged from the footprints of the saints; who maintained, as long as he lived, the exact principles of evangelical citizenship? I am sure that we shall do the truth a wrong if we refuse to number that soul with the people of God, shining as it did like a beacon in the Church of God; for by the fellow-working of the Spirit the power which he had over demons was tremendous, and so gifted was he with the grace of the word “for obedience to the faith among … the nations,”2 that, although only seventeen Christians were handed over to him, he brought the whole people alike in town and country through knowledge to God. He too by Christ’s mighty name commanded even rivers to change their course, and caused a lake, which afforded a ground of quarrel to some covetous brethren, to dry up.4 Moreover his predictions of things to come were such as in no wise to fall short of those of the great prophets. To recount all his wonderful works in detail would be too long a task. By the superabundance of gifts, wrought in him by the Spirit in all power and in signs and in marvels, he was styled a second Moses by the very enemies of the Church. Thus in all that he through grace accomplished, alike by word and deed, a light seemed ever to be shining, token of the heavenly power from the unseen which followed him. To this day he is a great object of admiration to the people of his own neighbourhood, and his memory, established in the churches ever fresh and green, is not dulled by length of time. Thus not a practice, not a word, not a mystic rite has been added to the Church besides what he bequeathed to it. Hence truly on account of the antiquity of their institution many of their ceremonies appear to be defective. For his successors in the administration of the Churches could not endure to accept any subsequent discovery in addition to what had had his sanction. Now one of the institutions of Gregory is the very form of the doxology to which objection is now made, preserved by the Church on the authority of his tradition; a statement which may be verified without much trouble by any one who likes to make a short journey. That our Firmilian held this belief is testified by the writings which he has left.6 The contemporaries also of the illustrious Meletius say that he was of this opinion. But why quote ancient authorities? Now in the East are not the maintainers of true religion known chiefly by this one term, and separated from their adversaries as by a watchword? I have heard from a certain Mesopotamian, a man at once well skilled in the language and of unperverted opinions, that by the usage of his country it is impossible for any one, even though he may wish to do so, to express himself in any other way, and that they are compelled by the idiom of their mother tongue to offer the doxology by the syllable “and,” or, I should more accurately say, by their equivalent expressions. We Cappadocians, too, so speak in the dialect of our country, the Spirit having so early as the division of tongues foreseen the utility of the phrase. And what of the whole West, almost from Illyricum to the boundaries of our world? Does it not support this word?

75. How then can I be an innovator and creator of new terms, when I adduce as originators and champions of the word whole nations, cities, custom going back beyond the memory of man, men who were pillars of the church and conspicuous for all knowledge and spiritual power? For this cause this banded array of foes is set in motion against me, and town and village and remotest regions are full of my calumniators. Sad and painful are these things to them that seek for peace, but great is the reward of patience for sufferings endured for the Faith’s sake. So besides these let sword flash, let axe be whetted, let fire burn fiercer than that of Babylon, let every instrument of torture be set in motion against me. To me nothing is more fearful than failure to fear the threats which the Lord has directed against them that blaspheme the Spirit. Kindly readers will find a satisfactory defence in what I have said, that I accept a phrase so dear and so familiar to the saints, and confirmed by usage so long, inasmuch as, from the day when the Gospel was first preached up to our own time, it is shewn to have been admitted to all full rights within the churches, and, what is of greatest moment, to have been accepted as bearing a sense in accordance with holiness and true religion. But before the great tribunal what have I prepared to say in my defence? This; that I was in the first place led to the glory of the Spirit by the honour conferred by the Lord in associating Him with Himself and with His Father at baptism; and secondly by the introduction of each of us to the knowledge of God by such an initiation; and above all by the fear of the threatened punishment shutting out the thought of all indignity and unworthy conception. But our opponents, what will they say? After shewing neither reverence for the Lord’s honour2 nor fear of His threats, what kind of defence will they have for their blasphemy? It is for them to make up their mind about their own action or even now to change it. For my own part I would pray most earnestly that the good God will make His peace rule in the hearts of all, so that these men who are swollen with pride and set in battle array against us may be calmed by the Spirit of meekness and of love; and that if they have become utterly savage, and are in an untamable state, He will grant to us at least to bear with long suffering all that we have to bear at their hands. In short “to them that have in themselves the sentence of death,”4 it is not suffering for the sake of the Faith which is painful; what is hard to bear is to fail to fight its battle. The athlete does not so much complain of being wounded in the struggle as of not being able even to secure admission into the stadium. Or perhaps this was the time for silence spoken of by Solomon the wise. For, when life is buffeted by so fierce a storm that all the intelligence of those who are instructed in the word is filled with the deceit of false reasoning and confounded, like an eye filled with dust, when men are stunned by strange and awful noises, when all the world is shaken and everything tottering to its fall, what profits it to cry, as I am really crying, to the wind?

CHAPTER XXX

Exposition of the present state of the Churches.

76. To what then shall I liken our present condition? It may be compared, I think, to some naval battle which has arisen out of time old quarrels, and is fought by men who cherish a deadly hate against one another, of long experience in naval warfare, and eager for the fight. Look, I beg you, at the picture thus raised before your eyes. See the rival fleets rushing in dread array to the attack. With a burst of uncontrollable fury they engage and fight it out. Fancy, if you like, the ships driven to and fro by a raging tempest, while thick darkness falls from the clouds and blackens all the scene, so that watchwords are indistinguishable in the confusion, and all distinction between friend and foe is lost. To fill up the details of the imaginary picture, suppose the sea swollen with billows and whirled up from the deep, while a vehement torrent of rain pours down from the clouds and the terrible waves rise high. From every quarter of heaven the winds beat upon one point, where both the fleets are dashed one against the other. Of the combatants some are turning traitors; some are deserting in the very thick of the fight; some have at one and the same moment to urge on their boats, all beaten by the gale, and to advance against their assailants. Jealousy of authority and the lust of individual mastery splits the sailors into parties which deal mutual death to one another. Think, besides all this, of the confused and unmeaning roar sounding over all the sea, from howling winds, from crashing vessels, from boiling surf, from the yells of the combatants as they express their varying emotions in every kind of noise, so that not a word from admiral or pilot can be heard. The disorder and confusion is tremendous, for the extremity of misfortune, when life is despaired of, gives men license for every kind of wickedness. Suppose, too, that the men are all smitten with the incurable plague of mad love of glory, so that they do not cease from their struggle each to get the better of the other, while their ship is actually settling down into the deep.

77. Turn now I beg you from this figurative description to the unhappy reality. Did it not at one time appear that the Arian schism, after its separation into a sect opposed to the Church of God, stood itself alone in hostile array? But when the attitude of our foes against us was changed from one of long standing and bitter strife to one of open warfare, then, as is well known, the war was split up in more ways than I can tell into many subdivisions, so that all men were stirred to a state of inveterate hatred alike by common party spirit and individual suspicion.7 But what storm at sea was ever so fierce and wild as this tempest of the Churches? In it every landmark of the Fathers has been moved; every foundation, every bulwark of opinion has been shaken; everything buoyed up on the unsound is dashed about and shaken down. We attack one another. We are overthrown by one another. If our enemy is not the first to strike us, we are wounded by the comrade at our side. If a foeman is stricken and falls, his fellow soldier tramples him down. There is at least this bond of union between us that we hate our common foes, but no sooner have the enemy gone by than we find enemies in one another. And who could make a complete list of all the wrecks? Some have gone to the bottom on the attack of the enemy, some through the unsuspected treachery of their allies, some from the blundering of their own officers. We see, as it were, whole churches, crews and all, dashed and shattered upon the sunken reefs of disingenuous heresy, while others of the enemies of the Spirit of Salvation have seized the helm and made shipwreck of the faith.2 And then the disturbances wrought by the princes of the world have caused the downfall of the people with a violence unmatched by that of hurricane or whirlwind. The luminaries of the world, which God set to give light to the souls of the people, have been driven from their homes, and a darkness verily gloomy and disheartening has settled on the Churches.4 The terror of universal ruin is already imminent, and yet their mutual rivalry is so unbounded as to blunt all sense of danger. Individual hatred is of more importance than the general and common warfare, for men by whom the immediate gratification of ambition is esteemed more highly than the rewards that await us in a time to come, prefer the glory of getting the better of their opponents to securing the common welfare of mankind. So all men alike, each as best he can, lift the hand of murder against one another. Harsh rises the cry of the combatants encountering one another in dispute; already all the Church is almost full of the inarticulate screams, the unintelligible noises, rising from the ceaseless agitations that divert the right rule of the doctrine of true religion, now in the direction of excess, now in that of defect. On the one hand are they who confound the Persons and are carried away into Judaism; on the other hand are they that, through the opposition of the natures, pass into heathenism.6 Between these opposite parties inspired Scripture is powerless to mediate; the traditions of the apostles cannot suggest terms of arbitration. Plain speaking is fatal to friendship, and disagreement in opinion all the ground that is wanted for a quarrel. No oaths of confederacy are so efficacious in keeping men true to sedition as their likeness in error. Every one is a theologue though he have his soul branded with more spots than can be counted. The result is that innovators find a plentiful supply of men ripe for faction, while self-appointed scions of the house of place-hunters reject the government8 of the Holy Spirit and divide the chief dignities of the Churches. The institutions of the Gospel have now everywhere been thrown into confusion by want of discipline; there is an indescribable pushing for the chief places while every self-advertiser tries to force himself into high office. The result of this lust for ordering is that our people are in a state of wild confusion for lack of being ordered; the exhortations of those in authority are rendered wholly purposeless and void, because there is not a man but, out of his ignorant impudence, thinks that it is just as much his duty to give orders to other people, as it is to obey any one else.

78. So, since no human voice is strong enough to be heard in such a disturbance, I reckon silence more profitable than speech, for if there is any truth in the words of the Preacher, “The words of wise men are heard in quiet,” in the present condition of things any discussion of them must be anything but becoming. I am moreover restrained by the Prophet’s saying, “Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time, for it is an evil time,”3 a time when some trip up their neighbours’ heels, some stamp on a man when he is down, and others clap their hands with joy, but there is not one to feel for the fallen and hold out a helping hand, although according to the ancient law he is not uncondemned, who passes by even his enemy’s beast of burden fallen under his load. This is not the state of things now. Why not? The love of many has waxed cold;5 brotherly concord is destroyed, the very name of unity is ignored, brotherly admonitions are heard no more, nowhere is there Christian pity, nowhere falls the tear of sympathy. Now there is no one to receive “the weak in faith,” but mutual hatred has blazed so high among fellow clansmen that they are more delighted at a neighbour’s fall than at their own success. Just as in a plague, men of the most regular lives suffer from the same sickness as the rest, because they catch the disease by communication with the infected, so nowadays by the evil rivalry which possesses our souls we are carried away to an emulation in wickedness, and are all of us each as bad as the others. Hence merciless and sour sit the judges of the erring; unfeeling and hostile are the critics of the well disposed. And to such a depth is this evil rooted among us that we have become more brutish than the brutes; they do at least herd with their fellows, but our most savage warfare is with our own people.

79. For all these reasons I ought to have kept silence, but I was drawn in the other direction by love, which “seeketh not her own,” and desires to overcome every difficulty put in her way by time and circumstance. I was taught too by the children at Babylon,8 that, when there is no one to support the cause of true religion, we ought alone and all unaided to do our duty. They from out of the midst of the flame lifted up their voices in hymns and praise to God, recking not of the host that set the truth at naught, but sufficient, three only that they were, with one another. Wherefore we too are undismayed at the cloud of our enemies, and, resting our hope on the aid of the Spirit, have, with all boldness, proclaimed the truth. Had I not so done, it would truly have been terrible that the blasphemers of the Spirit should so easily be emboldened in their attack upon true religion, and that we, with so mighty an ally and supporter at our side, should shrink from the service of that doctrine, which by the tradition of the Fathers has been preserved by an unbroken sequence of memory to our own day. A further powerful incentive to my undertaking was the warm fervour of your “love unfeigned,” and the seriousness and taciturnity of your disposition; a guarantee that you would not publish what I was about to say to all the world,—not because it would not be worth making known, but to avoid casting pearls before swine.10 My task is now done. If you find what I have said satisfactory, let this make an end to our discussion of these matters. If you think any point requires further elucidation, pray do not hesitate to pursue the investigation with all diligence, and to add to your information by putting any uncontroversial question. Either through me or through others the Lord will grant full explanation on matters which have yet to be made clear, according to the knowledge supplied to the worthy by the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Introduction to the Hexaemeron

The Hexaemeron is the title of nine homilies delivered by St. Basil on the cosmogony of the opening chapters of Genesis. When and where they were delivered is quite uncertian. They are Lenten sermons, delivered at both the morning and evening services, and appear to have been listened to by working men. (Hom. iii. 1). Some words in Hom. viii. have confirmed the opinion that they were preached extempore, in accordance with what is believed to have been Basil’s ordinary practice. Internal evidence points in the same direction, for though a marked contrast might be expected between the style of a work intended to be read, like the De Spiritu Sancto, and that of the orations to be spoken in public, the Hexaemeron shews signs of being an unwritten composition.

In earlier ages, it was the most celebrated and admired of Basil’s works. Photius (Migne, Pat. Gr. cxli) puts it first of all, and speaks warmly of its eloquence and force. As an example of oratory he would rank it with the works of Plato and Demosthenes.

Suidas singles it out for special praise. Jerome (De Viris Illust.) among Basil’s works names only the Hexaemeron, the De Sp. Scto, and the treatise Contra Eunomium.

That Basil’s friends should think highly of it is only what might be expected. “Whenever I take his Hexaemeron in hand,” says Gregory of Nazianzus, (Orat. xliii. 67) “and quote its words, I am brought face to face with my Creator: I begin to understand the method of creation: I feel more awe than ever I did before, when I only looked at God’s work with my eyes.”

Basil’s brother Gregory, in the Proœmium to his own Hexaemeron, speaks in exaggerated terms of Basil’s work as inspired, and as being, in his opinion, as admirable as that of Moses.

The Hexaemeron of Ambrose is rather an imitation than a translation or adaptation of that of Basil. Basil’s Hexaemeron was translated into Latin by Eustathius Afer (c. A.D. 440) and is said to have been also translated by Dionysius Exiguus, the Scythian monk of the 6th C. to whom is due our custom of dating from the Saviour’s birth.

More immediately interesting to English readers is the Anglo-Saxon abbreviation attributed to Ælfric, Abbot of St. Albans in 969, and by some identified with the Ælfric who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 996 to 1006. This is extant in a MS. numbered Junius 23 in the Bodleian Library, and was collated with the MS. Jun. 47 in the same, a transcript of a MS. in the Hatton Collection, by the Rev. Henry W. Norman for his edition and translation published in 1848. It is nowhere a literal translation, but combines with the thoughts of St. Basil extracts from the Commentary upon Genesis of the Venerable Bede, as well as original matter. It is entitled

STI Basilii Exameron, ðæt Is Be Godes Six Daga Weorcvm.

“L’Hexaméron,” writes Fialon, “est l’explication de l’œuvre des six jours, explication souvent tentée avant et après Saint Basile. ‘Il n’est personne parmi les hommes, disait Théophile d’Antioche au deuxième siècle, qui puisse dignement faire le récit et exposer toute l’ecomomie de l’œuvre des six jours; eût il mille bouches et mille langue.… Beaucoup d’ecrivains ont tenté ce récit; ils ont pris pour sujet, les uns la création du monde, les autres l’origine de l’homme, et peut-être n’ont ils pas fait jaillir une étincelle qui fût digne de la vérité.’ Nous ne pouvons savoir ce que fut l’Hexaméron de Saint Hippolyte et nous ne savons guère qu’une chose de celui d’Origène: c’est qu’il dénaturait completement le récit mosaïque et n’y voyait que des allégories. L’Hexaméron de Saint Basile, par la pureté de la doctrine et la beauté du style, fit disparaitre tous ceux qui l’avaient précéde.”3 So, too, bishop Fessler. “Sapienter, pie, et admodum eloquenter istæ homilæ confectæ sunt; quædam explicationes physicæ profecto juxta placita scientiæ illius ætatis dijudicandæ sunt.” On the other hand the prominence of the “scientiæ illius ætatis” is probably the reason why the Hexaemeron has received from adverse critics less favour than it deserves. “Diese letztern,” i.e. the Homilies in question, says Böhringer, “erlangten im Alterthum eine ganz unverdiente Berühmtheit.… Die Art, wie Basil seine Aufgabe löste, ist diese; er nimmt die mosaische Erzählung von der Schöpfung Vers für Vers vor, erklärt sie von dem naturhistorischen Standpunkt seiner Zeit aus, wobei er Gelegenheit nimmt, die Ansichten der griechischen Philosophen von der Weltschöpfung u. s. w. zu widerlegen, und schliesst dann mit moralischer und religiöser Nutzandwendung, um den Stoff auch für Geist und Herz seiner Zuhörer fruchtbar zu machen. Es braucht indess kaum bemerkt zu werden, dass vom naturwissenschaftlichen wie exegetischen Standpunkt unserer Zeit diese Arbeit wenig Werth mehr hat.” The Three Cappadocians, p. 61. But in truth the fact that Basil is not ahead of the science of his time is not to his discredit. It is to his credit that he is abreast with it; and this, with the exception of his geography, he appears to be. Of him we may say, as Bp. Lightfoot writes of St. Clement, in connexion with the crucial instance of the Phœnix, “it appears that he is not more credulous than the most learned and intelligent heathen writers of the preceding and following generations.” He reads the Book of Genesis in the light of the scientific knowledge of his age, and in the amplification and illustration of Holy Scripture by the supposed aid of this supposed knowledge, neither he nor his age stands alone. Later centuries may possibly not accept all the science of the XIXth.

THE HEXAEMERON

HOMILY I.

In the Beginning God made the Heaven and the Earth

1. It is right that any one beginning to narrate the formation of the world should begin with the good order which reigns in visible things. I am about to speak of the creation of heaven and earth, which was not spontaneous, as some have imagined, but drew its origin from God. What ear is worthy to hear such a tale? How earnestly the soul should prepare itself to receive such high lessons! How pure it should be from carnal affections, how unclouded by worldly disquietudes, how active and ardent in its researches, how eager to find in its surroundings an idea of God which may be worthy of Him!

But before weighing the justice of these remarks, before examining all the sense contained in these few words, let us see who addresses them to us. Because, if the weakness of our intelligence does not allow us to penetrate the depth of the thoughts of the writer, yet we shall be involuntarily drawn to give faith to his words by the force of his authority. Now it is Moses who has composed this history; Moses, who, when still at the breast, is described as exceeding fair; Moses, whom the daughter of Pharaoh adopted; who received from her a royal education, and who had for his teachers the wise men of Egypt;2 Moses, who disdained the pomp of royalty, and, to share the humble condition of his compatriots, preferred to be persecuted with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting delights of sin; Moses, who received from nature such a love of justice that, even before the leadership of the people of God was committed to him, he was impelled, by a natural horror of evil, to pursue malefactors even to the point of punishing them by death; Moses, who, banished by those whose benefactor he had been, hastened to escape from the tumults of Egypt and took refuge in Ethiopia, living there far from former pursuits, and passing forty years in the contemplation of nature; Moses, finally, who, at the age of eighty, saw God, as far as it is possible for man to see Him; or rather as it had not previously been granted to man to see Him, according to the testimony of God Himself, “If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house, with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently and not in dark speeches.” It is this man, whom God judged worthy to behold Him, face to face, like the angels, who imparts to us what he has learnt from God. Let us listen then to these words of truth written without the help of the “enticing words of man’s wisdom”4 by the dictation of the Holy Spirit; words destined to produce not the applause of those who hear them, but the salvation of those who are instructed by them.

2. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” I stop struck with admiration at this thought. What shall I first say? Where shall I begin my story? Shall I show forth the vanity of the Gentiles? Shall I exalt the truth of our faith? The philosophers of Greece have made much ado to explain nature, and not one of their systems has remained firm and unshaken, each being overturned by its successor. It is vain to refute them; they are sufficient in themselves to destroy one another. Those who were too ignorant to rise to a knowledge of a God, could not allow that an intelligent cause presided at the birth of the Universe; a primary error that involved them in sad consequences. Some had recourse to material principles and attributed the origin of the Universe2 to the elements of the world. Others imagined that atoms, and indivisible bodies, molecules and ducts, form, by their union, the nature of the visible world. Atoms reuniting or separating, produce births and deaths and the most durable bodies only owe their consistency to the strength of their mutual adhesion: a true spider’s web woven by these writers who give to heaven, to earth, and to sea so weak an origin and so little consistency! It is because they knew not how to say “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Deceived by their inherent atheism it appeared to them that nothing governed or ruled the universe, and that was all was given up to chance.4 To guard us against this error the writer on the creation, from the very first words, enlightens our understanding with the name of God; “In the beginning God created.” What a glorious order! He first establishes a beginning, so that it might not be supposed that the world never had a beginning. Then he adds “Created” to show that which was made was a very small part of the power of the Creator. In the same way that the potter, after having made with equal pains a great number of vessels, has not exhausted either his art or his talent; thus the Maker of the Universe, whose creative power, far from being bounded by one world, could extend to the infinite, needed only the impulse of His will to bring the immensities of the visible world into being. If then the world has a beginning, and if it has been created, enquire who gave it this beginning, and who was the Creator: or rather, in the fear that human reasonings may make you wander from the truth, Moses has anticipated enquiry by engraving in our hearts, as a seal and a safeguard, the awful name of God: “In the beginning God created”—It is He, beneficent Nature, Goodness without measure, a worthy object of love for all beings endowed with reason, the beauty the most to be desired, the origin of all that exists, the source of life, intellectual light, impenetrable wisdom, it is He who “in the beginning created heaven and earth.”

3. Do not then imagine, O man! that the visible world is without a beginning; and because the celestial bodies move in a circular course, and it is difficult for our senses to define the point where the circle begins, do not believe that bodies impelled by a circular movement are, from their nature, without a beginning. Without doubt the circle (I mean the plane figure described by a single line) is beyond our perception, and it is impossible for us to find out where it begins or where it ends; but we ought not on this account to believe it to be without a beginning. Although we are not sensible of it, it really begins at some point where the draughtsman has begun to draw it at a certain radius from the centre. Thus seeing that figures which move in a circle always return upon themselves, without for a single instant interrupting the regularity of their course, do not vainly imagine to yourselves that the world has neither beginning nor end. “For the fashion of this world passeth away”6 and “Heaven and earth shall pass away.” The dogmas of the end, and of the renewing of the world, are announced beforehand in these short words put at the head of the inspired history. “In the beginning God made.” That which was begun in time is condemned to come to an end in time. If there has been a beginning do not doubt of the end.8 Of what use men are geometry—the calculations of arithmetic—the study of solids and far-famed astronomy, this laborious vanity, if those who pursue them imagine that this visible world is co-eternal with the Creator of all things, with God Himself; if they attribute to this limited world, which has a material body, the same glory as to the incomprehensible and invisible nature; if they cannot conceive that a whole, of which the parts are subject to corruption and change, must of necessity end by itself submitting to the fate of its parts? But they have become “vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Some have affirmed that heaven co-exists with God from all eternity;2 others that it is God Himself without beginning or end, and the cause of the particular arrangement of all things.

4. One day, doubtless, their terrible condemnation will be the greater for all this worldly wisdom, since, seeing so clearly into vam sciences, they have wilfully shut their eyes to the knowledge of the truth. These men who measure the distances of the stare and describe them, both those of the North, always shining brilliantly in our view, and those of the southern pole visible to the inhabitants of the South, but unknown to us; who divide the Northern zone and the circle of the Zodiac into an infinity of parts, who observe with exactitude the course of the stars, their fixed places, their declensions, their return and the time that each takes to make its revolution; these men, I say, have discovered all except one thing: the fact that God is the Creator of the universe, and the just Judge who rewards all the actions of life according to their merit. They have not known how to raise themselves to the idea of the consummation of all things, the consequence of the doctrine of judgment, and to see that the world must change if souls pass from this life to a new life. In reality, as the nature of the present life presents an affinity to this world, so in the future life our souls will enjoy a lot conformable to their new condition. But they are so far from applying these truths, that they do but laugh when we announce to them the end of all things and the regeneration of the age. Since the beginning naturally precedes that which is derived from it, the writer, of necessity, when speaking to us of things which had their origin in time, puts at the head of his narrative these words—”In the beginning God created.”

5. It appears, indeed, that even before this world an order of things existed of which our mind can form an idea, but of which we can say nothing, because it is too lofty a subject for men who are but beginners and are still babes in knowledge. The birth of the world was preceded by a condition of things suitable for the exercise of supernatural powers, outstripping the limits of time, eternal and infinite. The Creator and Demiurge of the universe perfected His works in it, spiritual light for the happiness of all who love the Lord, intellectual and invisible natures, all the orderly arrangement5 of pure intelligences who are beyond the reach of our mind and of whom we cannot even discover the names. They fill the essence of this invisible world, as Paul teaches us. “For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” or virtues or hosts of angels or the dignities of archangels. To this world at last it was necessary to add a new world, both a school and training place where the souls of men should be taught and a home for beings destined to be born and to die. Thus was created, of a nature analogous to that of this world and the animals and plants which live thereon, the succession of time, for ever pressing on and passing away and never stopping in its course. Is not this the nature of time, where the past is no more, the future does not exist, and the present escapes before being recognised? And such also is the nature of the creature which lives in time,—condemned to grow or to perish without rest and without certain stability. It is therefore fit that the bodies of animals and plants, obliged to follow a sort of current, and carried away by the motion which leads them to birth or to death, should live in the midst of surroundings whose nature is in accord with beings subject to change.7 Thus the writer who wisely tells us of the birth of the Universe does not fail to put these words at the head of the narrative. “In the beginning God created;” that is to say, in the beginning of time. Therefore, if he makes the world appear in the beginning, it is not a proof that its birth has preceded that of all other things that were made. He only wishes to tell us that, after the invisible and intellectual world, the visible world, the world of the senses, began to exist.

The first movement is called beginning. “To do right is the beginning of the good way.” Just actions are truly the first steps towards a happy life. Again, we call “beginning” the essential and first part from which a thing proceeds, such as the foundation of a house, the keel of a vessel; it is in this sense that it is said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,”2 that is to say that piety is, as it were, the groundwork and foundation of perfection. Art is also the beginning of the works of artists, the skill of Bezaleel began the adornment of the tabernacle. Often even the good which is the final cause is the beginning of actions. Thus the approbation of God is the beginning of almsgiving, and the end laid up for us in the promises the beginning of all virtuous efforts.

6. Such being the different senses of the word beginning, see if we have not all the meanings here. You may know the epoch when the formation of this world began, if, ascending into the past, you endeavour to discover the first day. You will thus find what was the first movement of time; then that the creation of the heavens and of the earth were like the foundation and the groundwork, and afterwards that an intelligent reason, as the word beginning indicates, presided in the order of visible things. You will finally discover that the world was not conceived by chance and without reason, but for an useful end and for the great advantage of all beings, since it is really the school where reasonable souls exercise themselves, the training ground where they learn to know God; since by the sight of visible and sensible things the mind is led, as by a hand, to the contemplation of invisible things. “For,” as the Apostle says, “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.”5 Perhaps these words “In the beginning God created” signify the rapid and imperceptible moment of creation. The beginning, in effect, is indivisible and instantaneous. The beginning of the road is not yet the road, and that of the house is not yet the house; so the beginning of time is not yet time and not even the least partiele of it. If some objector tell us that the beginning is a time, he ought then, as he knows well, to submit it to the division of time—a beginning, a middle and an end. Now it is ridiculous to imagine a beginning of a beginning. Further, if we divide the beginning into two, we make two instead of one, or rather make several, we really make an infinity, for all that which is divided is divisible to the infinite. Thus then, if it is said, “In the beginning God created,” it is to teach us that at the will of God the world arose in less than an instant, and it is to convey this meaning more clearly that other interpreters have said: “God made summarily” that is to say all at once and in a moment.7 But enough concerning the beginning, if only to put a few points out of many.

7. Among arts, some have in view production, some practice, others theory. The object of the last is the exercise of thought, that of the second, the motion of the body. Should it cease, all stops; nothing more is to be seen. Thus dancing and music have nothing behind; they have no object but themselves. In creative arts on the contrary the work lasts after the operation. Such is architecture—such are the arts which work in wood and brass and weaving, all those indeed which, even when the artisan has disappeared, serve to show an industrious intelligence and to cause the architect, the worker in brass or the weaver, to be admired on account of his work. Thus, then, to show that the world is a work of art displayed for the beholding of all people; to make them know Him who created it, Moses does not use another word. “In the beginning,” he says “God created.” He does not say “God worked,” “God formed,” but “God created.” Among those who have imagined that the world co-existed with God from all eternity, many have denied that it was created by God, but say that it exists spontaneously, as the shadow of this power. God, they say, is the cause of it, but an involuntary cause, as the body is the cause of the shadow and the flame is the cause of the brightness. It is to correct this error that the prophet states, with so much precision, “In the beginning God created.” He did not make the thing itself the cause of its existence.2 Being good, He made it an useful work. Being wise, He made it everything that was most beautiful. Being powerful He made it very great. Moses almost shows us the finger of the supreme artisan taking possession of the substance of the universe, forming the different parts in one perfect accord, and making a harmonious symphony result from the whole.4

“In the beginning God made heaven and earth.” By naming the two extremes, he suggests the substance of the whole world, according to heaven the privilege of seniority, and putting earth in the second rank. All intermediate beings were created at the same time as the extremities. Thus, although there is no mention of the elements, fire, water and air, imagine that they were all compounded together, and you will find water, air and fire, in the earth. For fire leaps out from stones; iron which is dug from the earth produces under friction fire in plentiful measure. A marvellous fact! Fire shut up in bodies lurks there hidden without harming them, but no sooner is it released than it consumes that which has hitherto preserved it. The earth contains water, as diggers of wells teach us. It contains air too, as is shown by the vapours that it exhales under the sun’s warmth6 when it is damp. Now, as according to their nature, heaven occupies the higher and earth the lower position in space, (one sees, in fact, that all which is light ascends towards heaven, and heavy substances fall to the ground); as therefore height and depth are the points the most opposed to each other it is enough to mention the most distant parts to signify the inclusion of all which fills up intervening Space. Do not ask, then, for an enumeration of all the elements; guess, from what Holy Scripture indicates, all that is passed over in silence.

8. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” If we were to wish to discover the essence of each of the beings which are offered for our contemplation, or come under our senses, we should be drawn away into long digressions, and the solution of the problem would require more words than I possess, to examine fully the matter. To spend time on such points would not prove to be to the edification of the Church. Upon the essence of the heavens we are contented with what Isaiah says, for, in simple language, he gives us sufficient idea of their nature, “The heaven was made like smoke,” that is to say, He created a subtle substance, without solidity or density, from which to form the heavens. As to the form of them we also content ourselves with the language of the same prophet, when praising God “that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.”8 In the same way, as concerns the earth, let us resolve not to torment ourselves by trying to find out its essence, not to tire our reason by seeking for the substance which it conceals. Do not let us seek for any nature devoid of qualities by the conditions of its existence, but let us know that all the phenomena with which we see it clothed regard the conditions of its existence and complete its essence. Try to take away by reason each of the qualities it possesses, and you will arrive at nothing. Take away black, cold, weight, density, the qualities which concern taste, in one word all these which we see in it, and the substance vanishes.

If I ask you to leave these vain questions, I will not expect you to try and find out the earth’s point of support. The mind would reel on beholding its reasonings losing themselves without end. Do you say that the earth reposes on a bed of air? How, then, can this soft substance, without consistency, resist the enormous weight which presses upon it? How is it that it does not slip away in all directions, to avoid the sinking weight, and to spread itself over the mass which overwhelms it? Do you suppose that water is the foundation of the earth?2 You will then always have to ask yourself how it is that so heavy and opaque a body does not pass through the water; how a mass of such a weight is held up by a nature weaker than itself. Then you must seek a base for the waters, and you will be in much difficulty to say upon what the water itself rests.

9. Do you suppose that a heavier body prevents the earth from falling into the abyss? Then you must consider that this support needs itself a support to prevent it from falling. Can we imagine one? Our reason again demands yet another support, and thus we shall fall into the infinite, always imagining a base for the base which we have already found. And the further we advance in this reasoning the greater force we are obliged to give to this base, so that it may be able to support all the mass weighing upon it. Put then a limit to your thought, so that your curiosity in investigating the incomprehensible may not incur the reproaches of Job, and you be not asked by him, “Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?”4 If ever you hear in the Psalms, “I bear up the pillars of it;” see in these pillars the power which sustains it. Because what means this other passage, “He hath founded it upon the sea,”6 if not that the water is spread all around the earth? How then can water, the fluid element which flows down every declivity, remain suspended without ever flowing? You do not reflect that the idea of the earth suspended by itself throws your reason into a like but even greater difficulty, since from its nature it is heavier. But let us admit that the earth rests upon itself, or let us say that it rides on the waters, we must still remain faithful to thought of true religion and recognise that all is sustained by the Creator’s power. Let us then reply to ourselves, and let us reply to those who ask us upon what support this enormous mass rests, “In His hands are the ends of the earth.” It is a doctrine as infallible for our own information as profitable for our hearers.

10. There are inquirers into nature who with a great display of words give reasons for the immobility of the earth. Placed, they say, in the middle of the universe and not being able to incline more to one side than the other because its centre is everywhere the same distance from the surface, it necessarily rests upon itself; since a weight which is everywhere equal cannot lean to either side. It is not, they go on, without reason or by chance that the earth occupies the centre of the universe. It is its natural and necessary position. As the celestial body occupies the higher extremity of space all heavy bodies, they argue, that we may suppose to have fallen from these high regions, will be carried from all directions to the centre, and the point towards which the parts are tending will evidently be the one to which the whole mass will be thrust together. If stones, wood, all terrestrial bodies, fall from above downwards, this must be the proper and natural place of the whole earth. If, on the contrary, a light body is separated from the centre, it is evident that it will ascend towards the higher regions. Thus heavy bodies move from the top to the bottom, and following this reasoning, the bottom is none other than the centre of the world. Do not then be surprised that the world never falls: it occupies the centre of the universe, its natural place. By necessity it is obliged to remain in its place, unless a movement contrary to nature should displace it.9 If there is anything in this system which might appear probable to you, keep your admiration for the source of such perfect order, for the wisdom of God. Grand phenomena do not strike us the less when we have discovered something of their wonderful mechanism. Is it otherwise here? At all events let us prefer the simplicity of faith to the demonstrations of reason.

11. We might say the same thing of the heavens. With what a noise of words the sages of this world have discussed their nature! Some have said that heaven is composed of four elements as being tangible and visible, and is made up of earth on account of its power of resistance, with fire because it is striking to the eye, with air and water on account of the mixture. Others have rejected this system as improbable, and introduced into the world, to form the heavens, a fifth element after their own fashioning. There exists, they say, an æthereal body which is neither fire, air, earth, nor water, nor in one word any simple body. These simple bodies have their own natural motion in a straight line, light bodies upwards and heavy bodies downwards; now this motion upwards and downwards is not the same as circular motion; there is the greatest possible difference between straight and circular motion. It therefore follows that bodies whose motion is so various must vary also in their essence. But, it is not even possible to suppose that the heavens should be formed of primitive bodies which we call elements, because the reunion of contrary forces could not produce an even and spontaneous motion, when each of the simple bodies is receiving a different impulse from nature. Thus it is a labour to maintain composite bodies in continual movement, because it is impossible to put even a single one of their movements in accord and harmony with all those that are in discord; since what is proper to the light particle, is in warfare with that of a heavier one. If we attempt to rise we are stopped by the weight of the terrestrial element; if we throw ourselves down we violate the igneous part of our being in dragging it down contrary to its nature. Now this struggle of the elements effects their dissolution. A body to which violence is done and which is placed in opposition to nature, after a short but energetic resistance, is soon dissolved into as many parts as it had elements, each of the constituent parts returning to its natural place. It is the force of these reasons, say the inventors of the fifth kind of body for the genesis of heaven and the stars, which constrained them to reject the system of their predecessors and to have recourse to their own hypothesis.2 But yet another fine speaker arises and disperses and destroys this theory to give predominance to an idea of his own invention.

Do not let us undertake to follow them for fear of falling into like frivolities; let them refute each other, and, without disquieting ourselves about essence, let us say with Moses “God created the heavens and the earth.” Let us glorify the supreme Artificer for all that was wisely and skillfully made; by the beauty of visible things let us raise ourselves to Him who is above all beauty; by the grandeur of bodies, sensible and limited in their nature, let us conceive of the infinite Being whose immensity and omnipotence surpass all the efforts of the imagination. Because, although we ignore the nature of created things, the objects which on all sides attract our notice are so marvellous, that the most penetrating mind cannot attain to the knowledge of the least of the phenomena of the world, either to give a suitable explanation of it or to render due praise to the Creator, to Whom belong all glory, all honour and all power world without end. Amen.

HOMILY II

“The earth was invisible and unfinished.”

1. In the few words which have occupied us this morning we have found such a depth of thought that we despair of penetrating further. If such is the fore court of the sanctuary, if the portico of the temple is so grand and magnificent, if the splendour of its beauty thus dazzles the eyes of the soul, what will be the holy of holies? Who will dare to try to gain access to the innermost shrine? Who will look into its secrets? To gaze into it is indeed forbidden us, and language is powerless to express what the mind conceives. However, since there are rewards, and most desirable ones, reserved by the just Judge for the intention alone of doing good, do not let us hesitate to continue our researches. Although we may not attain to the truth, if, with the help of the Spirit, we do not fall away from the meaning of Holy Scripture we shall not deserve to be rejected, and, with the help of grace, we shall contribute to the edification of the Church of God.

“The earth,” says Holy Scripture, “was invisible and unfinished.” The heavens and the earth were created without distinction. How then is it that the heavens are perfect whilst the earth is still unformed and incomplete? In one word, what was the unfinished condition of the earth? And for what reason was it invisible? The fertility of the earth is its perfect finishing; growth of all kinds of plants, the upspringing of tall trees, both productive and sterile, flowers’ sweet scents and fair colours, and all that which, a little later, at the voice of God came forth from the earth to beautify her, their universal Mother. As nothing of all this yet existed, Scripture is right in calling the earth “without form.” We could also say of the heavens that they were still imperfect and had not received their natural adornment, since at that time they did not shine with the glory of the sun and of the moon and were not crowned by the choirs of the stars. These bodies were not yet created. Thus you will not diverge from the truth in saying that the heavens also were “without form.” The earth was invisible for two reasons: it may be because man, the spectator, did not yet exist, or because being submerged under the waters which overflowed the surface, it could not be seen, since the waters had not yet been gathered together into their own places, where God afterwards collected them, and gave them the name of seas. What is invisible? First of all that which our fleshly eye cannot perceive; our mind, for example; then that which, visible in its nature, is hidden by some body which conceals it, like iron in the depths of the earth. It is in this sense, because it was hidden under the waters, that the earth was still invisible. However, as light did not yet exist, and as the earth lay in darkness, because of the obscurity of the air above it, it should not astonish us that for this reason Scripture calls it “invisible.”

2. But the corrupters of the truth, who, incapable of submitting their reason to Holy Scripture, distort at will the meaning of the Holy Scriptures, pretend that these words mean matter. For it is matter, they say, which from its nature is without form and invisible,—being by the conditions of its existence without quality and without form and figure. The Artificer submitting it to the working of His wisdom clothed it with a form, organized it, and thus gave being to the visible world.

If matter is uncreated, it has a claim to the same honours as God, since it must be of equal rank with Him. Is this not the summit of wickedness, that an extreme deformity, without quality, without form, shape, ugliness without configuration, to use their own expression, should enjoy the same prerogatives with Him, Who is wisdom, power and beauty itself, the Creator and the Demiurge of the universe? This is not all. If matter is so great as to be capable of being acted on by the whole wisdom of God, it would in a way raise its hypostasis to an equality with the inaccessible power of God, since it would be able to measure by itself all the extent of the divine intelligence. If it is insufficient for the operations of God, then we fall into a more absurd blasphemy, since we condemn God for not being able, on account of the want of matter, to finish His own works. The poverty of human nature has deceived these reasoners. Each of our crafts is exercised upon some special matter—the art of the smith upon iron, that of the carpenter on wood. In all, there is the subject, the form and the work which results from the form. Matter is taken from without—art gives the form—and the work is composed at the same time of form and of matter.

Such is the idea that they make for themselves of the divine work. The form of the world is due to the wisdom of the supreme Artificer; matter came to the Creator from without; and thus the world results from a double origin. It has received from outside its matter and its essence, and from God its form and figure. They thus come to deny that the mighty God has presided at the formation of the universe, and pretend that He has only brought a crowning contribution to a common work, that He has only contributed some small portion to the genesis of beings: they are incapable from the debasement of their reasonings of raising their glances to the height of truth. Here below arts are subsequent to matter—introduced into life by the indispensable need of them. Wool existed before weaving made it supply one of nature’s imperfections. Wood existed before carpentering took possession of it, and transformed it each day to supply new wants, and made us see all the advantages derived from it, giving the oar to the sailor, the winnowing fan to the labourer, the lance to the soldier. But God, before all those things which now attract our notice existed, after casting about in His mind and determining to bring into being time which had no being, imagined the world such as it ought to be, and created matter in harmony with the form which He wished to give it. He assigned to the heavens the nature adapted for the heavens, and gave to the earth an essence in accordance with its form. He formed, as He wished, fire, air and water, and gave to each the essence which the object of its existence required. Finally, He welded all the diverse parts of the universe by links of indissoluble attachment and established between them so perfect a fellowship and harmony that the most distant, in spite of their distance, appeared united in one universal sympathy. Let those men therefore renounce their fabulous imaginations, who, in spite of the weakness of their argument, pretend to measure a power as incomprehensible to man’s reason as it is unutterable by man’s voice.

3. God created the heavens and the earth, but not only half;—He created all the heavens and all the earth, creating the essence with the form. For He is not an inventor of figures, but the Creator even of the essence of beings. Further let them tell us how the efficient power of God could deal with the passive nature of matter, the latter furnishing the matter without form, the former possessing the science of the form without matter, both being in need of each other; the Creator in order to display His art, matter in order to cease to be without form and to receive a form.) But let us stop here and return to our subject.

The earth was invisible and unfinished.” In saying “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” the sacred writer passed over many things in silence, water, air, fire and the results from them, which, all forming in reality the true complement of the world, were, without doubt, made at the same time as the universe. By this silence, history wishes to train the activity or our intelligence, giving it a weak point for starting, to impel it to the discovery of the truth. Thus, we are not told of the creation of water; but, as we are told that the earth was invisible, ask yourself what could have covered it, and prevented it from being seen? Fire could not conceal it. Fire brightens all about it, and spreads light rather than darkness around. No more was it air that enveloped the earth. Air by nature is of little density and transparent. It receives all kinds of visible object, and transmits them to the spectators. Only one supposition remains; that which floated on the surface of the earth was water—the fluid essence which had not yet been confined to its own place. Thus the earth was not only invisible; it was still incomplete. Even to-day excessive damp is a hindrance to the productiveness of the earth. The same cause at the same time prevents it from being seen, and from being complete, for the proper and natural adornment of the earth is its completion: corn waving in the valleys—meadows green with grass and rich with many coloured flowers—fertile glades and hill-tops shaded by forests. Of all this nothing was yet produced; the earth was in travail with it in virtue of the power that she had received from the Creator. But she was waiting for the appointed time and the divine order to bring forth.

4. “Darkness was upon the face of the deep.” A new source for fables and most impious imaginations if one distorts the sense of these words at the will of one’s fancies. By “darkness” these wicked men do not understand what is meant in reality—air not illumined, the shadow produced by the interposition of a body, or finally a place for some reason deprived of light. For them “darkness” is an evil power, or rather the personification of evil, having his origin in himself in opposition to, and in perpetual struggle with, the goodness of God. If God is light, they say, without any doubt the power which struggles against Him must be darkness, “Darkness” not owing its existence to a foreign origin, but an evil existing by itself. “Darkness” is the enemy of souls, the primary cause of death, the adversary of virtue. The words of the Prophet, they say in their error, show that it exists and that it does not proceed from God. From this what perverse and impious dogmas have been imagined! What grievous wolves, tearing the flock of the Lord, have sprung from these words to cast themselves upon souls! Is it not from hence that have come forth Marcions and Valentini,2 and the detestable heresy of the Manicheans, which you may without going far wrong call the putrid humour of the churches.

O man, why wander thus from the truth, and imagine for thyself that which will cause thy perdition? The word is simple and within the comprehension of all. “The earth was invisible.” Why? Because the “deep” was spread over its surface. What is “the deep”? A mass of water of extreme depth. But we know that we can see many bodies through clear and transparent water. How then was it that no part of the earth appeared through the water? Because the air which surrounded it was still without light and in darkness. The rays of the sun, penetrating the water, often allow its to see the pebbles which form the bed of the river, but in a dark night it is impossible for our glance to penetrate under the water. Thus, these words “the earth was invisible” are explained by those that follow; “the deep” covered it and itself was in darkness. Thus, the deep is not a multitude of hostile powers, as has been imagined; nor “darkness” an evil sovereign force in enmity with good. In reality two rival principles of equal power, if engaged without ceasing in a war o mutual attacks, will end in self destruction. But if one should gain the mastery it would completely annihilate the conquered. Thus, to maintain the balance in the struggle between good and evil is to represent them as engaged in a war without end and in perpetual destruction, where the opponents are at the same time conquerors and conquered. If good is the stronger, what is there to prevent evil being completely annihilated? But if that be the case, the very utterance of which is impious, I ask myself how it is that they themselves are not filled with horror to think that they have imagined such abominable blasphemies.

It is equally impious to say that evil has its origin from God; because the contrary cannot proceed from its contrary. Life does not engender death; darkness is not the origin of light; sickness is not the maker of health.6 In the changes of conditions there are transitions from one condition to the contrary; but in genesis each being proceeds from its like, and not from its contrary. If then evil is neither uncreate nor created by God, from whence comes its nature? Certainly that evil exists, no one living in the world will deny. What shall we say then? Evil is not a living animated essence; it is the condition of the soul opposed to virtue, developed in the careless on account of their falling away from good.

5. Do not then go beyond yourself to seek for evil, and imagine that there is an original nature of wickedness. Each of us, let us acknowledge it, is the first author of his own vice. Among the ordinary events of life, some come naturally, like old age and sickness, others by chance like unforeseen occurrences, of which the origin is beyond ourselves, often sad, sometimes fortunate, as for instance the discovery of a treasure when digging a well, or the meeting of a mad dog when going to the market place. Others depend upon ourselves, such as ruling one’s passions, or not putting a bridle on one’s pleasures, to be master of our anger, or to raise the hand against him who irritates us, to tell the truth, or to lie, to have a sweet and well-regulated disposition, or to be fierce and swollen and exalted with pride. Here you are the master of your actions. Do not look for the guiding cause beyond yourself, but recognise that evil, rightly so called, has no other origin than our voluntary falls. If it were involuntary, and did not depend upon ourselves, the laws would not have so much terror for the guilty, and the tribunals would not be so without pity when they condemn wretches according to the measure of their crimes. But enough concerning evil rightly so called. Sickness, poverty, obscurity, death, finally all human afflictions, ought not to be ranked as evils; since we do not count among the greatest boons things which are their opposites.2 Among these afflictions, some are the effect of nature, others have obviously been for many a source of advantage. Let us then be silent for the moment about these metaphors and allegories, and, simply following without vain curiosity the words of Holy Scripture, let us take from darkness the idea which it gives us.

But reason asks, was darkness created with the world? Is it older than light? Why in spite of its inferiority has it preceded it? Darkness, we reply, did not exist in essence; it is a condition produced in the air by the withdrawal of light. What then is that light which disappeared suddenly from the world, so that darkness should cover the face of the deep? If anything had existed before the formation of this sensible and perishable world, no doubt we conclude it would have been in light. The orders of angels, the heavenly hosts, all intellectual natures named or unnamed, all the ministering spirits, did not live in darkness, but enjoyed a condition fitted for them in light and spiritual joy.4

No one will contradict this; least of all he who looks for celestial light as one of the rewards promised to virtues, the light which, as Solomon says, is always a light to the righteous, the light which made the Apostle say “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”6 Finally, if the condemned are sent into outer darkness evidently those who are made worthy of God’s approval, are at rest in heavenly light. When then, according to the order of God, the heaven appeared, enveloping all that its circumference included, a vast and unbroken body separating outer things from those which it enclosed, it necessarily kept the space inside in darkness for want of communication with the outer light. Three things are, indeed, needed to form a shadow, light, a body, a dark place. The shadow of heaven forms the darkness of the world. Understand, I pray you, what I mean, by a simple example; by raising for yourself at mid-day a tent of some compact and impenetrable material, and shutting yourself up in it in sudden darkness. Suppose that original darkness was like this, not subsisting directly by itself, but resulting from some external coasts. If it is said that it rested upon the deep, it is because the extremity of air naturally touches the surface of bodies; and as at that time the water covered everything, we are obliged to say that darkness was upon the face of the deep.

6. And the Spirit of God was borne upon the face of the waters. Does this spirit mean the diffusion of air? The sacred writer wishes to enumerate to you the elements of the world, to tell you that God created the heavens, the earth, water, and air and that the last was now diffused and in motion; or rather, that which is truer and confirmed by the authority of the ancients, by the Spirit of God, he means the Holy Spirit. It is, as has been remarked, the special name, the name above all others that Scripture delights to give to the Holy Spirit, and always by the spirit of God the Holy Spirit is meant, the Spirit which completes the divine and blessed Trinity. You will find it better therefore to take it in this sense. How then did the Spirit of God move upon the waters? The explanation that I am about to give you is not an original one, but that of a Syrian, who was as ignorant in the wisdom of this world as he was versed in the knowledge of the Truth. He said, then, that the Syriac word was more expressive, and that being more analogous to the Hebrew term it was a nearer approach to the scriptural sense. This is the meaning of the word; by “was borne” the Syrians, he says, understand: it cherished2 the nature of the waters as one sees a bird cover the eggs with her body and impart to them vital force from her own warmth. Such is, as nearly as possible, the meaning of these words—the Spirit was borne: let us understand, that is, prepared the nature of water to produce living beings: a sufficient proof for those who ask if the Holy Spirit took an active part in the creation of the world.

7. And God said, Let there be light: The first word of God created the nature of light; it made darkness vanish, dispelled gloom, illuminated the world, and gave to all beings at the same time a sweet and gracious aspect. The heavens, until then enveloped in darkness, appeared with that beauty which they still present to our eyes. The air was lighted up, or rather made the light circulate mixed with its substance, and, distributing its splendour rapidly in every direction, so dispersed itself to its extreme limits. Up it sprang to the very æther and heaven. In an instant it lighted up the whole extent of the world, the North and the South, the East and the West. For the æther also is such a subtle substance and so transparent that it needs not the space of a moment for light to pass through it. Just as it carries our sight instantaneously to the object of vision,5 so without the least interval, with a rapidity I that thought cannot conceive, it receives these rays of light in its uttermost limits. With light the æther becomes more pleasing and the waters more limpid. These last, not content with receiving its splendour, return it by the reflection of light and in all directions send forth quivering flashes. The divine word gives every object a more cheerful and a more attractive appearance, just as when men in deep sea pour in oil they make the place about them clear. So, with a single word and in one instant, the Creator of all things gave the boon of light to the world.

Let there be light. The order was itself an operation, and a state of things was brought into being, than which man’s mind cannot even imagine a pleasanter one for our enjoyment. It must be well understood that when we speak of the voice, of the word, of the command of God, this divine language does not mean to us a sound which escapes from the organs of speech, a collision of air struck by the tongue; it is a simple sign of the will of God, and, if we give it the form of an order, it is only the better to impress the souls whom we instruct.8

And God saw the light, that it was good. How can we worthily praise light after the testimony given by the Creator to its goodness? The word, even among us, refers the judgment to the eyes, incapable of raising itself to the idea that the senses have already received.10 But, if beauty in bodies results from symmetry of parts, and the harmonious appearance of colours, how in a simple and homogeneous essence like light, can this idea of beauty be preserved? Would not the symmetry in light be less shown in its parts than in the pleasure and delight at the sight of it? Such is also the beauty of gold, which it owes not to the happy mingling of its parts, but only to its beautiful colour which has a charm attractive to the eyes.

Thus again, the evening star is the most beautiful of the stars: not that the parts of which it is composed form a harmonious whole; but thanks to the unalloyed and beautiful brightness which meets our eyes. And further, when God proclaimed the goodness of light, it was not in regard to the charm of the eye but as a provision for future advantage, because at that time there were as yet no eyes to judge of its beauty. “And God divided the light from the darkness; that is to say, God gave them natures incapable of mixing, perpetually in opposition to each other, and put between them the widest space and distance.

8. “And God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night.” Since the birth of the sun, the light that it diffuses in the air, when shining on our hemisphere, is day; and the shadow produced by its disappearance is night. But at that time it was not after the movement of the sun, but following this primitive light spread abroad in the air or withdrawn in a measure determined by God, that day came and was followed by night.

And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Evening is then the boundary common to day and night; and in the same way morning constitutes the approach of night to day. It was to give day the privileges of seniority that Scripture put the end of the first day before that of the first night, because night follows day: for, before the creation of light, the world was not in night, but in darkness. It is the opposite of day which was called night, and it did not receive its name until after day. Thus were created the evening and the morning.5 Scripture means the space of a day and a night, and afterwards no more says day and night, but calls them both under the name of the more important: a custom which you will find throughout Scripture. Everywhere the measure of time is counted by days, without mention of nights. “The days of our years,” says the Psalmist. “Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been,”7 said Jacob, and elsewhere “all the days of my life.” Thus under the form of history the law is laid down for what is to follow.

And the evening and the morning were one day. Why does Scripture say “one day” not “the first day”? Before speaking to us of the second, the third, and the fourth days, would it not have been more natural to call that one the first which began the series? If it therefore says “one day,” it is from a wish to determine the measure of day and night, and to combine the time that they contain. Now twenty-four hours fill up the space of one day—we mean of a day and of a night; and if, at the time of the solstices, they have not both an equal length, the time marked by Scripture does not the less circumscribe their duration. It is as though it said: twenty-four hours measure the space of a day, or that, in reality a day is the time that the heavens starting from one point take to return there. Thus, every time that, in the revolution of the sun, evening and morning occupy the world, their periodical succession never exceeds the space of one day.

But must we believe in a mysterious reason for this? God who made the nature of time measured it out and determined it by intervals of days; and, wishing to give it a week as a measure, he ordered the week to revolve from period to period upon itself, to count the movement of time, forming the week of one day revolving seven times upon itself: a proper circle begins and ends with itself. Such is also the character of eternity, to revolve upon itself and to end nowhere. If then the beginning of time is called “one day” rather than “the first day,” it is because Scripture wishes to establish its relationship with eternity. It was, in reality, fit and natural to call “one” the day whose character is to be one wholly separated and isolated from all the others. If Scripture speaks to us of many ages, saying everywhere, “age of age, and ages of ages,” we do not see it enumerate them as first, second, and third. It follows that we are hereby shown not so much limits, ends and succession of ages, as distinctions between various states and modes of action. “The day of the Lord,” Scripture says, “is great and very terrible,” and elsewhere “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord: to what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness and not light.” A day of darkness for those who are worthy of darkness. No; this day without evening, without succession and without end is not unknown to Scripture, and it is the day that the Psalmist calls the eighth day, because it is outside this time of weeks.2 Thus whether you call it day, or whether you call it eternity, you express the same idea. Give this state the name of day; there are not several, but only one. If you call it eternity still it is unique and not manifold. Thus it is in order that you may carry your thoughts forward towards a future life, that Scripture marks by the word “one” the day which is the type of eternity, the first fruits of days, the contemporary of light, the holy Lord’s day honoured by the Resurrection of our Lord. And the evening and the morning were one day.”

But, whilst I am conversing with you about the first evening of the world, evening takes me by surprise, and puts an end to my discourse. May the Father of the true light, Who has adorned day with celestial light, Who has made the fire to shine which illuminates us during the night, Who reserves for us in the peace of a future age a spiritual and everlasting light, enlighten your hearts in the knowledge of truth, keep you from stumbling, and grant that “you may walk honestly as in the day.” Thus shall you shine as the sun in the midst of the glory of the saints, and I shall glory in you in the day of Christ, to Whom belong all glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

HOMILY III

On the Firmament

1. We have now recounted the works of the first day, or rather of one day. Far be it from me indeed, to take from it the privilege it enjoys of having been for the Creator a day apart, a day which is not counted in the same order as the others. Our discussion yesterday treated of the works of this day, and divided the narrative so as to give you food for your souls in the morning, and joy in the evening. To-day we pass on to the wonders of the second day. And here I do not wish to speak of the narrator’s talent, but of the grace of Scripture, for the narrative is so naturally told that it pleases and delights all the friends of truth. It is this charm of truth which the Psalmist expresses so emphatically when he says, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste, yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” Yesterday then, as far as we were able, we delighted our souls by conversing about the oracles of God, and now to-day we are met together again on the second day to contemplate the wonders of the second day.

I know that many artisans, belonging to mechanical trades, are crowding around me. A day’s labour hardly suffices to maintain them; therefore I am compelled to abridge my discourse, so as not to keep them too long from their work. What shall I say to them? The time which you lend to God is not lost: he will return it to you with large interest. Whatever difficulties may trouble you the Lord will disperse them. To those who have preferred spiritual welfare, He will give health of body, keenness of mind, success in business, and unbroken prosperity. And, even if in this life our efforts should not realise our hopes, the teachings of the Holy Spirit are none the less a rich treasure for the ages to come. Deliver your heart, then, from the cares of this life and give close heed to my words. Of what avail will it be to you if you are here in the body, and your heart is anxious about your earthly treasure?

2. And God said “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Yesterday we heard God’s decree, “Let there be light.” To-day it is, “Let there be a firmament.” There appears to be something more in this. The word is not limited to a simple command. It lays down the reason necessitating the structure of the firmament: it is, it is said, to separate the waters from the waters. And first let us ask how God speaks? Is it in our manner? Does His intelligence receive an impression from objects, and, after having conceived them, make them known by particular signs appropriate to each of them? Has He consequently recourse to the organs of voice to convey His thoughts? Is He obliged to strike the air by the articulate movements of the voice, to unveil the thought hidden in His heart? Would it not seem like an idle fable to say that God should need such a circuitous method to manifest His thoughts? And is it not more conformable with true religion to say, that the divine will and the first impetus of divine intelligence are the Word of God? It is He whom Scripture vaguely represents, to show us that God has not only wished to create the world, but to create it with the help of a co-operator. Scripture might continue the history as it is begun: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; afterwards He created light, then He created the firmament. But, by making God command and speak, the Scripture tacitly shows us Him to Whom this order and these words are addressed. It is not that it grudges us the knowledge of the truth, but that it may kindle our desire by showing us some trace and indication of the mystery. We seize with delight, and carefully keep, the fruit of laborious efforts, whilst a possession easily attained is despised.2 Such is the road and the course which Scripture follows to lead us to the idea of the Only begotten. And certainly, God’s immaterial nature had no need of the material language of voice, since His very thoughts could be transmitted to His fellow-worker. What need then of speech, for those Who by thought alone could communicate their counsels to each other? Voice was made for hearing, and hearing for voice. Where there is neither air, nor tongue, nor ear, nor that winding canal which carries sounds to the seat of sensation in the head, there is no need for words: thoughts of the soul are sufficient to transmit the will. As I said then, this language is only a wise and ingenious contrivance to set our minds seeking the Person to whom the words are addressed.

3. In the second place, does the firmament that is called heaven differ from the firmament that God made in the beginning? Are there two heavens? The philosophers, who discuss heaven, would rather lose their tongues than grant this. There is only one heaven, they pretend; and it is of a nature neither to admit of a second, nor of a third, nor of several others. The essence of the celestial body quite complete constitutes its vast unity. Because, they say, every body which has a circular motion is one and finite. And if this body is used in the construction of the first heaven, there will be nothing left for the creation of a second or a third. Here we see what those imagine who put under the Creator’s hand uncreated matter; a lie that follows from the first fable. But we ask the Greek sages not to mock us before they are agreed among themselves. Because there are among them some who say there are infinite heavens and worlds.4 When grave demonstrations shall have upset their foolish system, when the laws of geometry shall have established that, according to the nature of heaven, it is impossible that there should be two, we shall only laugh the more at this elaborate scientific trifling. These learned men see not merely one bubble but several bubbles formed by the same cause, and they doubt the power of creative wisdom to bring several heavens into being! We find, however, if we raise our eyes towards the omnipotence of God, that the strength and grandeur of the heavens differ from the drops of water bubbling on the surface of a fountain. How ridiculous, then, is their argument of impossibility! As for myself, far from not believing in a second, I seek for the third whereon the blessed Paul was found worthy to gaze. And does not the Psalmist in saying “heaven of heavens”6 give us an idea of their plurality? Is the plurality of heaven stranger than the seven circles through which nearly all the philosophers agree that the seven planets pass,—circles which they represent to us as placed in connection with each other like casks fitting the one into the other? These circles, they say, carried away in a direction contrary to that of the world, and striking the æther, make sweet and harmonious sounds, unequalled by the sweetest melody. And if we ask them for the witness of the senses, what do they say? That we, accustomed to this noise from our birth, on account of hearing it always, have lost the sense of it; like men in smithies with their ears incessantly dinned. If I refuted this ingenious frivolity, the untruth of which is evident from the first word, it would seem as though I did not know the value of time, and mistrusted the intelligence of such an audience.

But let me leave the vanity of outsiders to those who are without, and return to the theme proper to the Church. If we believe some of those who have preceded us, we have not here the creation of a new heaven, but a new account of the first. The reason they give is, that the earlier narrative briefly described the creation of heaven and earth; while here scripture relates in greater detail the manner in which each was created. I, however, since Scripture gives to this second heaven another name and its own function, maintain that it is different from the heaven which was made at the beginning; that it is of a stronger nature and of an especial use to the universe.

4. “And God said, let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.” Before laying hold of the meaning of Scripture let us try to meet objections from other quarters. We are asked how, if the firmament is a spherical body, as it appears to the eye, its convex circumference can contain the water which flows and circulates in higher regions? What shall we answer? One thing only: because the interior of a body presents a perfect concavity it does not necessarily follow that its exterior surface is spherical and smoothly rounded. Look at the stone vaults of baths, and the structure of buildings of cave form; the dome, which forms the interior, does not prevent the roof from having ordinarily a flat surface. Let these unfortunate men cease, then, from tormenting us and themselves about the impossibility of our retaining water in the higher regions.

Now we must say something about the nature of the firmament, and why it received the order to hold the middle place between the waters. Scripture constantly makes use of the word firmament to express extraordinary strength. “The Lord in firmament and refuge” “I have strengthened the pillars of it”3 “Praise him in the firmament of his power.” The heathen writers thus call a strong body one which is compact and full,5 to distinguish it from the mathematical body. A mathematical body is a body which exists only in the three dimensions, breadth, depth, and height. A firm body, on the contrary, adds resistance to the dimensions. It is the custom of Scripture to call firmament all that is strong and unyielding. It even uses the word to denote the condensation of the air: He, it says, who strengthens the thunder. Scripture means by the strengthening of the thunder, the strength and resistance of the wind, which, enclosed in the hollows of the clouds, produces the noise of thunder when it breaks through with violence.7 Here then, according to me, is a firm substance, capable of retaining the fluid and unstable element water; and as, according to the common acceptation, it appears that the firmament owes its origin to water, we must not believe that it resembles frozen water or any other matter produced by the filtration of water; as, for example, rock crystal, which is said to owe its metamorphosis to excessive congelation, or the transparent stone9 which forms in mines. This pellucid stone, if one finds it in its natural perfection, without cracks inside, or the least spot of corruption, almost rivals the air in clearness. We cannot compare the firmament to one of these substances. To hold such an opinion about celestial bodies would be childish and foolish; and although everything may be in everything, fire in earth, air in water, and of the other elements the one in the other; although none of those which come under our senses are pure and without mixture, either with the element which serves as a medium for it, or with that which is contrary to it; I, nevertheless, dare not affirm that the firmament was formed of one of these simple substances, or of a mixture of them, for I am taught by Scripture not to allow my imagination to wander too far afield. But do not let us forget to remark that, after these divine words “let there be a firmament,” it is not said “and the firmament was made” but, “and God made the firmament, and divided the waters.” Hear, O ye deaf! See, O ye blind!—who, then, is deaf? He who does not hear this startling voice of the Holy Spirit. Who is blind? He who does not see such clear proofs of the Only begotten.2 “Let there be a firmament.” It is the voice of the primary and principal Cause. “And God made the firmament.” Here is a witness to the active and creative power of God.

5. But let us continue our explanation: “Let it divide the waters froth the waters.” The mass of waters, which from all directions flowed over the earth, and was suspended in the air, was infinite, so that there was no proportion between it and the other elements. Thus, as it has been already said, the abyss covered the earth. We will give the reason for this abundance of water. None of you assuredly will attack our opinion; not even those who have the most cultivated minds, and whose piercing eye can penetrate this perishable and fleeting nature; you will not accuse me of advancing impossible or imaginary theories, nor will you ask me upon what foundation the fluid element rests. By the same reason which makes them attract the earth, heavier than water, from the extremities of the world to suspend it in the centre, they will grant us without doubt that it is due both to its natural attraction downwards and its general equilibrium, that this immense quantity of water rests motionless upon the earth.4 Therefore the prodigious mass of waters was spread around the earth; not in proportion with it and infinitely larger, thanks to the foresight of the supreme Artificer, Who, from the beginning, foresaw what was to come, and at the first provided all for the future needs of the world. But what need was there for this superabundance of water? The essence of fire is necessary for the world, not only in the economy of earthly produce, but for the completion of the universe; for it would be imperfect if the most powerful and the most vital of its elements were lacking.6 Now fire and water are hostile to and destructive of each other. Fire, if it is the stronger, destroys water, and water, if in greater abundance, destroys fire. As, therefore, it was necessary to avoid an open struggle between these elements, so as not to bring about the dissolution of the universe by the total disappearance of one or the other, the sovereign Disposer created such a quantity of water that in spite of constant diminution from the effects of fire, it could last until the time fixed for the destruction of the world. He who planned all with weight and measure, He who, according to the word of Job, knows the number of the drops of rain, knew how long His work would last, and for how much consumption of fire He ought to allow. This is the reason of the abundance of water at the creation. Further, there is no one so strange to life as to need to learn the reason why fire is essential to the world. Not only all the arts which support life, the art of weaving, that of shoemaking, of architecture, of agriculture, have need of the help of fire, but the vegetation of trees, the ripening of fruits, the breeding of land and water animals, and their nourishment, all existed from heat from the beginning, and have been since maintained by the action of heat. The creation of heat was then indispensable for the formation and the preservation of beings, and the abundance of waters was no less so in the presence of the constant and inevitable consumption by fire.

6. Survey creation; you will see the power of heat reigning over all that is born and perishes. On account of it comes all the water spread over the earth, as well as that which is beyond our sight and is dispersed in the depths of the earth. On account of it are abundance of fountains, springs or wells, courses of rivers, both mountain torrents and ever flowing streams, for the storing of moisture in many and various reservoirs. From the East, from the winter solstice flows the Indus, the greatest river of the earth, according to geographers. From the middle of the East proceed the Bactrus, the Choaspes,9 and the Araxes, from which the Tanais11 detaches itself to fall into the Palus-Mæotis. Add to these the Phasis13 which descends from Mount Caucasus, and countless other rivers, which, from northern regions, flow into the Euxine Sea. From the warm countries of the West, from the foot of the Pyrenees, arise the Tartessus and the Ister,2 of which the one discharges itself into the sea beyond the Pillars and the other, after flowing through Europe, fails into Euxine Sea. Is there any need to enumerate those which the Ripæan mountains pour forth in the heart of Scythia, the Rhone,4 and so many other rivers, all navigable, which after having watered the countries of the western Gauls and of Celts and of the neighbouring barbarians, flow into the Western sea? And others from the higher regions of the South flow through Ethiopia to discharge themselves some into our sea, others into inaccessible seas, the Ægon the Nyses, the Chremetes,6 and above all the Nile, which is not of the character of a river when, like a sea, it inundates Egypt. Thus the habitable part of our earth is surrounded by water, linked together by vast seas and irrigated by countless perennial rivers, thanks to the ineffable wisdom of Him Who ordered all to prevent this rival clement to fire from being entirely destroyed.

However, a time will come, when all shall be consumed by fire; as Isaiah says of the God of the universe in these words, “That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers.” Reject then the foolish wisdom of this world,8 and receive with me the more simple but infallible doctrine of truth.

7. Therefore we read: “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide life waters from the waters.” I have said what the word firmament in Scripture means. It is not in reality a firm and solid substance which has weight and resistance; this name would otherwise have better suited the earth. But, as the substance of superincumbent bodies is light, without consistency, and cannot be grasped by any one of our senses, it is in comparison with these pure and imperceptible substances that the firmament has received its name. Imagine a place fit to divide the moisture, sending it, if pure and filtered, into higher regions, and making it fall, if it is dense and earthy; to the end that by the gradual withdrawal of the moist particles the same temperature may be preserved from the beginning to the end. You do not believe in this prodigious quantity of water; but you do not take into account the prodigious quantity of heat, less considerable no doubt in bulk, but exceedingly powerful nevertheless, if you consider it as destructive of moisture. It attracts surrounding moisture, as the melon shows us, and consumes it as quickly when attracted, as the flame of the lamp draws to it the fuel supplied by the wick and burns it up. Who doubts that the æther is an ardent fire? If an impassable limit had not been assigned to it by the Creator, what would prevent it from setting on fire and consuming all that is near it, and absorbing all the moisture from existing things? The aerial waters which veil the heavens with vapours that are sent forth by rivers, fountains, marshes, lakes, and seas, prevent the æther from invading and burning up the universe. Thus we see even this sun, in the summer season, dry up in a moment a damp and marshy country, and make it perfectly arid. What has become of all the water? Let these masters of omniscience tell us. Is it not plain to every one that it has risen in vapour, and has been consumed by the heat of the sun? They say, none the less, that even the sun is without heat. What time they lose in words! And see what proof they lean upon to resist what is perfectly plain. Its colour is white, and neither reddish nor yellow. It is not then fiery by nature, and its heat results, they say, from the velocity of its rotation.10 What do they gain? That the sun does not seem to absorb moisture? I do not, however, reject this statement, although it is false, because it helps my argument. I said that the consumption of heat required this prodigious quantity of water. That the sun owes its heat to its nature, or that heat results from its action, makes no difference, provided that it produces the same effects upon the same matter. If you kindle fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together, or if you light them by holding them to a flame, you will have absolutely the same effect. Besides, we see that the great wisdom of Him who governs all, makes the sun travel from one region to another, for fear that, if it remained always in the same place, its excessive heat would destroy the order of the universe. Now it passes into southern regions about the time of the winter solstice, now it returns to the sign of the equinox; from thence it betakes itself to northern regions during the summer solstice, and keeps up by this imperceptible passage a pleasant temperature throughout all the world.

Let the learned people see if they do not disagree among themselves. The water which the sun consumes is, they say, what prevents the sea from rising and flooding the rivers; the warmth of the sun leaves behind the salts and the bitterness of the waters, and absorbs from them the pure and drinkable particles, thanks to the singular virtue of this planet in attracting all that is light and in allowing to fall, like mud and sediment, all which is thick and earthy. From thence come the bitterness, the salt taste, and the power of withering and drying up, which are characteristic of the sea. While, as is notorious, they hold these views, they shift their ground and say that moisture cannot be lessened by the sun.2

8. “And God called the firmament heaven.” The nature of right belongs to another, and the firmament only shares it on account of its resemblance to heaven. We often find the visible region called heaven, on account of the density and continuity of the air within our ken, and deriving its name “heaven” from the word which means to see.4 It is of it that Scripture says, “The fowl of the air,” “Fowl that may fly … in the open firmament of heaven;”6 and, elsewhere, “They mount up to heaven.” Moses, blessing the tribe of Joseph, desires for it the fruits and the dews of heaven, of the suns of summer and the conjunctions of the moon, and blessings from the tops of the mountains and from the everlasting hills,”8 in one word, from all which fertilises the earth. In the curses on Israel it is said, “And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass.” What does this mean? It threatens him with a complete drought, with an absence of the aerial waters which cause the fruits of the earth to be brought forth and to grow.

Since, then, Scripture says that the dew or the rain falls from heaven, we understand that it is from those waters which have been ordered to occupy the higher regions. When the exhalations from the earth, gathered together in the heights of the air, are condensed under the pressure of the wind, this aerial moisture diffuses itself in vaporous and light clouds; then mingling again, it forms drops which fall, dragged down by their own weight; and this is the origin of rain. When water beaten by the violence of the wind, changes into foam, and passing through excessive cold quite freezes, it breaks the cloud, and falls as snow. Yon can thus account for all the moist substances that the air suspends over our heads.

And do not let any one compare with the inquisitive discussions of philosophers upon the heavens, the simple and inartificial character of the utterances of the Spirit; as the beauty of chaste women surpasses that of a harlot, so our arguments are superior to those of our opponents. They only seek to persuade by forced reasoning. With us truth presents itself naked and without artifice. But why torment ourselves to refute the errors of philosophers, when it is sufficient to produce their mutually contradictory books, and, as quiet spectators, to watch the war?12 For those thinkers are not less numerous, nor less celebrated, nor more sober in speech in fighting their adversaries, who say that the universe is being consumed by fire, and that from the seeds which remain in the ashes of the burnt world all is being brought to life again. Hence in the world there is destruction and palingenesis to infinity. All, equally far from the truth, find each on their side by-ways which lead them to error.

9. But as far as concerns the separation of the waters I am obliged to contest the opinion of certain writers in the Church who, under the shadow of high and sublime conceptions, have launched out into metaphor, and have only seen in the waters a figure to denote spiritual and incorporeal powers. In the higher regions, above the firmament, dwell the better; in the lower regions, earth and matter are the dwelling place of the malignant. So, say they, God is praised by the waters that are above the heaven, that is to say, by the good powers, the purity of whose soul makes them worthy to sing the praises of God. And the waters which are under the heaven represent the wicked spirits, who from their natural height have fallen into the abyss of evil. Turbulent, seditious, agitated by the tumultuous waves of passion, they have received the name of sea, because of the instability and the inconstancy of their movements.2 Let us reject these theories as dreams and old women’s tales. Let us understand that by water water is meant; for the dividing of the waters by the firmament let us accept the reason which has been given us. Although, however, waters above the heaven are invited to give glory to the Lord of the Universe, do not let us think of them as intelligent beings; the heavens are not alive because they “declare the glory of God,” nor the firmament a sensible being because it “sheweth His handiwork.” And if they tell you that the heavens mean contemplative powers, anti the firmament active powers which produce good, we admire the theory as ingenious without being able to acknowledge the truth of it. For thus dew, the frost, cold and heat, which in Daniel are ordered to praise the Creator of all things,4 will be intelligent and invisible natures. But this is only a figure, accepted as such by enlightened minds, to complete the glory of the Creator. Besides, the waters above the heavens, these waters privileged by the virtue which they possess in themselves, are not the only waters to celebrate the praises of God. “Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons and all deeps.” Thus the singer of the Psalms does not reject the deeps which our inventors of allegories rank in the divisions of evil; he admits them to the universal choir of creation, and the deeps sing in their language a harmonious hymn to the glory of the Creator.

10. “And God saw that it was good.” God does not judge of the beauty of His work by the charm of the eyes, and He does not form the same idea of beauty that we do. What He esteems beautiful is that which presents in its perfection all the fitness of art, and that which tends to the usefulness of its end. He, then, who proposed to Himself a manifest design in His works, approved each one of them, as fulfilling its end in accordance with His creative purpose. A hand, an eye, or any portion of a statue lying apart from the rest, would look beautiful to no one. But if each be restored to its own place, the beauty of proportion, until now almost unperceived, would strike even the most uncultivated. But the artist, before uniting the parts of his work, distinguishes and recognises the beauty of each of them, thinking of the object that he has in view. It is thus that Scripture depicts to us the Supreme Artist, praising each one of His works; soon. when His work is complete, He will accord well deserved praise to the whole together. Let me here end my discourse on the second day, to allow my industrious hearers to examine what they have just heard. May their memory retain it for the profit of their soul; may they by careful meditation inwardly digest and benefit by what I say. As for those who live by their work, let me allow them to attend all day to their business, so that they may come, with a soul free from anxiety, to the banquet of my discourse in the evening. May God who, after having made such great things, put such weak words in my mouth, grant you the intelligence of His truth, so that you may raise yourselves from visible things to the invisible Being, and that the grandeur and beauty of creatures may give you a just idea of the Creator. For the visible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, and His power and divinity are eternal.7 Thus earth, air, sky, water, day, night, all visible things, remind us of who is our Benefactor. We shall not therefore give occasion to sin, we shall not give place to the enemy within us, if by unbroken recollection we keep God ever dwelling in our hearts, to Whom be all glory and all adoration, now and for ever, world without end. Amen.

HOMILY I

Upon the Gathering Together of the Waters

1. There are towns where the inhabitants, from dawn to eve, feast their eyes on the tricks of innumerable conjurors. They are never tired of hearing dissolute songs which cause much impurity to spring up in their souls, and they are often called happy, because they neglect the cares of business and trades useful to life, and pass the time, which is assigned to them on this earth, in idleness and pleasure. They do not know that a theatre full of impure sights is, for those who sit there, a common school of vice; that these melodious and meretricious songs insinuate themselves into men’s souls, and all who hear them, eager to imitate the notes of harpers and pipers, are filled with filthiness.2 Some others, who are wild after horses, think they are backing their horses in their dreams; they harness their chariots change their drivers, and even in sleep are not free from the folly of the day. And shall we, whom the Lord, the great worker of marvels, calls to the contemplation of His own works, tire of looking at them, or be slow to hear the words of the Holy Spirit? Shall we not rather stand around the vast and varied workshop of divine creation and, carried back in mind to the times of old, shall we not view all the order of creation? Heaven, poised like a dome, to quote the words of the prophet;4 earth, this immense mass which rests upon itself; the air around it, of a soft and fluid nature, a true and continual nourishment for all who breathe it, of such tenuity that it yields and opens at the least movement of the body, opposing no resistance to our motions, while, in a moment, it streams back to its place, behind those who cleave it; water, finally, that supplies drink for man, or may be designed for our other needs, and the marvellous gathering together of it into definite places which have been assigned to it: such is the spectacle which the words which I have just read will show you.

2. “And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so.” And the water which was under the heaven gathered together unto one place; “And God called the dry land earth and the gathering together of the waters called He seas.” What trouble you have given me in my previous discourses by asking me why the earth was invisible, why all bodies are naturally endued with colour, and why all colour comes under the sense of sight. And, perhaps, my reason did not appear sufficient to you, when I said that the earth, without being naturally invisible, was so to us, because of the mass of water that entirely covered it. Hear then how Scripture explains itself. “Let the waters be gathered together, and let the dry land appear.” The veil is lifted and allows the earth, hitherto invisible, to be seen. Perhaps you will ask me new questions. And first, is it not a law of nature that water flows downwards? Why, then, does Scripture refer this to the fiat of the Creator? As long as water is spread over a level surface, it does not flow; it is immovable. But when it finds any slope, immediately the foremost portion falls, then the one that follows takes its place, and that one is itself replaced by a third. Thus incessantly they flow, pressing the one on the other, and the rapidity of their course is in proportion to the mass of water that is being carried, and the declivity down which it is borne. If such is the nature of water, it was supererogatory to command it to gather into one place. It was bound, on account of its natural instability, to fall into the most hollow part of the earth and not to stop until the levelling of its surface. We see how there is nothing so level as the surface of water. Besides, they add, how did the waters receive an order to gather into one place, when we see several seas, separated from each other by the greatest distances? To the first question I reply: Since God’s command, you know perfectly well the motion of water; you know that it is unsteady and unstable and fails naturally over declivities and into hollow places. But what was its nature before this command made it take its course? You do not know yourself, an I you have heard from no eyewitness. Think, in reality, that a word of God makes the nature, and that this order is for the creature a direction for its future course. There was only one creation of day and night, and since that moment they have incessantly succeeded each other and divided time into equal parts.

3. “Let the waters be gathered together.” It was ordered that it should be the natural property of water to flow, and in obedience to this order, the waters are never weary in their course. In speaking thus, I have only in view the flowing property of waters. Some flow of their own accord like springs and rivers, others are collected and stationary. But I speak now of flowing waters. “Let the waters be gathered together unto one place.” Have you never thought, when standing nears spring which is sending forth water abundantly, Who makes this water spring from the bowels of the earth? Who forced it up? Where are the store-houses which send it forth? To what place is it hastening? How is it that it is never exhausted here, and never overflows there? All this comes from that first command; it was for the waters a signal for their course.

In all the story of the waters remember this first order, “let the waters be gathered together.” To take their assigned places they were obliged to flow, and, once arrived there, to remain in their place and not to go farther. Thus in the language of Ecclesiastes, “All the waters run into the sea; yet the sea is not full.” Waters flow in virtue of God’s order, and the sea is enclosed in limits according to this first law, “Let the waters be gathered together unto one place.” For fear the water should spread beyond its bed, and in its successive invasions cover one by one all countries, and end by flooding the whole earth, it received the order to gather unto one place. Thus we often see the furious sea raising mighty waves to the heaven, and, when once it has touched the shore, break its impetuosity in foam and retire. “Fear ye not me, saith the Lord … which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea.”2 A grain of sand, the weakest tiring possible, curbs the violence of the ocean. For what would prevent the Red Sea from invading the whole of Egypt, which lies lower, and uniting itself to the other sea which bathes its shores, were it not fettered by the fiat of the Creator? And if I say that Egypt is lower than the Red Sea, it is because experience has convinced us of it every time that an attempt has been made to join the sea of Egypt to the Indian Ocean, of which the Red Sea is apart.4 Thus we have renounced this enterprise, as also have the Egyptian Sesostris, who conceived the idea, and Darius the Mede who afterwards wished to carry it out.

I report this fact to make you understand the full force of the command, “Let the waters be gathered unto one place”; that is to say, let there be no other gathering, and, once gathered, let them not disperse.

4. To say that the waters were gathered in one place indicates that previously they were scattered in many places. The mountains, intersected by deep ravines, accumulated water in their valleys, when from every direction the waters betook themselves to the one gathering place. What vast plains, in their extent resembling wide seas, what valleys, what cavities hollowed in many different ways, at that time full of water, must have been emptied by the command of God! But we must not therefore say, that if the water covered the face of the earth, all the basins which have since received the sea were originally full. Where can the gathering of the waters have come from if the basins were already full? These basins, we reply, were only prepared at the moment when the water had to unite in a single mass. At that time the sea which is beyond Gadeira and the vast ocean, so dreaded by navigators, which surrounds the isle of Britain and western Spain, did not exist. But, all of a sudden, God created this vast space, and the mass of waters flowed in.

Now if our explanation of the creation of the world may appear contrary to experience, (because it is evident that all the waters did not flow together in one place,) many answers may be made, all obvious as soon as they are stated. Perhaps it is even ridiculous to reply to such objections. Ought they to bring forward in opposition ponds and accumulations of rain water, and think that this is enough to upset our reasonings? Evidently the chief and most complete affluence of the waters was what received the name of gathering unto one place. For wells are also gathering places for water, made by the hand of man to receive the moisture diffused in the hollow of the earth. This name of gathering does not mean any chance massing of water, but the greatest and most important one, wherein the element is shewn collected together. In the same way that fire, in spite of its being divided into minute particles which are sufficient for our needs here, is spread in a mass in the æther; in the same way that air, in spite of a like minute division, has occupied the region round the earth; so also water, in spite of the small amount spread abroad everywhere, only forms one gathering together, that which separates the whole element from the rest. Without doubt the lakes as well those of the northern regions and those that are to be found in Greece, in Macedonia, in Bithynia and in Palestine, are gatherings together of waters; but here it means the greatest of all, that gathering the extent of which equals that of the earth. The first contain a great quantity of water; no one will deny this. Nevertheless no one could reasonably give them the name of seas, not even if they are like the great sea, charged with salt and sand. They instance for example, the Lacus Asphaltitis in Judæa, and the Serbonian lake which extends between Egypt and Palestine in the Arabian desert. These are lakes, and there is only one sea, as those affirm who have travelled round the earth. Although some authorities think the Hyrcanian and Caspian Seas are enclosed in their own boundaries, if we are to believe the geographers, they communicate with each other and together discharge themselves into the Great Sea. It is thus that, according to their account, the Red Sea and that beyond Gadeira only form one. Then why did God call the different masses of water seas? This is the reason; the waters flowed into one place, and their different accumulations, that is to say, the gulfs that the earth embraced in her folds, received from the Lord the name of seas: North Sea, South Sea, Eastern Sea, and Western Sea. The seas have even their own names, the Euxine, the Propontis, the Hellespont, the Ægean, the Ionian, the Sardinian, the Sicilian, the Tyrrhene, and many other names of which an exact enumeration would now be too long, and quite out of place. See why God calls the gathering together of waters seas. But let us return to the point from which the course of my argument has diverted me.

5. And God said: “Let the waters be gathered together unto one place and let the dry land appear.” He did not say let the earth appear, so as not to show itself again without form, mud-like, and in combination with the water, nor yet endued with proper form and virtue. At the same time, lest we should attribute the drying of the earth to the sun, the Creator shows it to us dried before the creation of the sun. Let us follow the thought Scripture gives us. Not only the water which was covering the earth flowed off from it, but all that which had filtered into its depths withdrew in obedience to the irresistible order of the sovereign Master. And it was so. This is quite enough to show that the Creator’s voice had effect: however, in several editions, there is added “And the water which was under the heavens gathered itself unto one place and the dry land was seen;” words that other interpreters have not given, and which do not appear conformable to Hebrew usage. In fact, after the assertion, “and it was so,” it is superfluous to repeat exactly the same thing. In accurate copies these words are marked with an obelus, which is the sign of rejection.

And God called the dry land earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He seas.” Why does Scripture say above that the waters were gathered together unto one place, and that the dry earth appeared? Why does it add here the dry land appeared, and God gave it the name of earth? It is that dryness is the property which appears to characterize the nature of the subject, whilst the word earth is only its simple name. Just as reason is the distinctive faculty of man, and the word man serves to designate the being gifted with this faculty, so dryness is the special and peculiar quality of the earth. The element essentially dry receives therefore the name of earth, as the animal who has a neigh for a characteristic cry is called a horse. The other elements, like the earth, have received some peculiar property which distinguishes them from the rest, and makes them known for what they are. Thus water has cold for its distinguishing property; air, moisture; fire, heat. But this theory really applies only to the primitive elements of the world. The elements which contribute to the formation of bodies, and come under our senses, show us these qualities in combination, and in the whole of nature our eyes and senses can find nothing which is completely singular, simple and pure. Earth is at the same time dry and cold; water, cold and moist; air, moist and warm; fire, warm and dry. It is by the combination of their qualities that the different elements can mingle. Thanks to a common quality each of them mixes with a neighbouring element, and this natural alliance attaches it to the contrary element. For example, earth, which is at the same time dry and cold, finds in cold a relationship which unites it to water, and by the means of water unites itself to air. Water placed between the two, appears to give each a hand, and, on account of its double quality, allies itself to earth by cold and to air by moisture. Air, in its turn, takes the middle place and plays the part of a mediator between the inimical natures of water and fire, united to the first by moisture, and to the second by heat. Finally fire, of a nature at the same time warm and dry, is linked to air by warmth, and by its dryness reunites itself to the earth. And from this accord and from this mutual mixture of elements, results a circle and an harmonious choir whence each of the elements deserves its name. I have said this in order to explain why God has given to the dry land the name of earth, without however calling the earth dry. It is because dryness is not one of those qualities which the earth acquired afterwards, but one of those which constituted its essence from the beginning. Now that which causes a body to exist, is naturally antecedent to its posterior qualities and has a pre-eminence over them. It is then with reason that God chose the most ancient characteristic of the earth whereby to designate it.

6. “And God saw that it was good.” Scripture does not merely wish to say that a pleasing aspect of the sea presented itself to God. It is not with eyes that the Creator views the beauty of His works. He contemplates them in His ineffable wisdom. A fair sight is the sea all bright in a settled calm; fair too, when, ruffled by a light breeze of wind, its surface shows tints of purple and azure,—when, instead of lashing with violence the neighbouring shores, it seems to kiss them with peaceful caresses. However, it is not in this that Scripture makes God find the goodness and charm of the sea. Here it is the purpose of the work which makes the goodness.

In the first place sea water is the source of all the moisture of the earth. It filters through imperceptible conduits, as is proved by the subterranean openings and caves whither its waves penetrate; it is received in oblique and sinuous canals; then, driven out by the wind, it rises to the surface of the earth, and breaks it, having become drinkable and free from its bitterness by this long percolation. Often, moved by the same cause, it springs even from mines that it has crossed, deriving warmth from them, and rises boiling, and bursts forth of a burning heat, as may be seen in islands and on the sea coast; even inland in certain places, in the neighbourhood of rivers, to compare little things with great, almost the same phenomena occur. To what do these words tend? To prove that the earth is all undermined with invisible conduits, where the water travels everywhere underground from the sources of the sea.

7. Thus, in the eyes of God, the sea is good, because it makes the under current of moisture in the depths of the earth. It is good again, because from all sides it receives the rivers without exceeding its limits. It is good, because it is the origin and source of the waters in the air. Warmed by the rays of the sun, it escapes in vapour, is attracted into the high regions of the air, and is there cooled on account of its rising high above the refraction of the rays from the ground, and, the shade of the clouds adding to this refrigeration, it is changed into rain and fattens the earth. If people are incredulous, let them look at caldrons on the fire, which, though full of water, are often left empty because all the water is boiled and resolved into vapour. Sailors, too, boil even sea water, collecting the vapour in sponges, to quench their thirst in pressing need.

Finally the sea is good in the eyes of God, because it girdles the isles, of which it forms at the same time the rampart and the beauty, because it brings together the most distant parts of the earth, and facilitates the inter-communication of mariners. By this means it gives us the boon of general information, supplies the merchant with his wealth, and easily provides for the necessities of life, allowing the rich to export their superfluities, and blessing the poor with the supply of what they lack.

But whence do I perceive the goodness of the Ocean, as it appeared in the eyes of the Creator? If the Ocean is good and worthy of praise before God, how much more beautiful is the assembly of a Church like this, where the voices of men, of children, and of women, arise in our prayers to God mingling and re-sounding like the waves which beat upon the shore. This Church also enjoys a profound calm, and malicious spirits cannot trouble it with the breath of heresy. Deserve, then, the approbation of the Lord by remaining faithful to such good guidance, in our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

HOMILY V

The Germination of the Earth

1. “And God said Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself.” It was deep wisdom that commanded the earth, when it rested after discharging the weight of the waters, first to bring forth grass, then wood as we see it doing still at this time. For the voice that was then heard and this command were as a natural and permanent law for it; it gave fertility and the power to produce fruit for all ages to come; “Let the earth bring forth.” The production of vegetables shows first germination. When the germs begin to sprout they form grass; this develops and becomes a plant, which insensibly receives its different articulations, and reaches its maturity in the seed. Thus all things which sprout and are green are developed. “Let the earth bring forth green grass.” Let the earth bring forth by itself without having any need of help from without. Some consider the sun as the source of all productiveness on the earth. It is, they say, the action of the sun’s heat which attracts the vital force from the centre of the earth to the surface. The reason why the adornment of the earth was before the sun is the following; that those who worship the sun, as the source of life, may renounce their error. If they be well persuaded that the earth was adorned before the genesis of the sun, they will retract their unbounded admiration for it, because they see grass and plants vegetate before it rose.2 If then the food for the flocks was prepared, did our race appear less worthy of a like solicitude? He, who provided pasture for horses and cattle, thought before all of your riches and pleasures. If he fed your cattle, it was to provide for all the needs of your life. And what object was there in the bringing forth of grain, if not for your subsistence? Moreover, many grasses and vegetables serve for the food of man.

2. “Let the earth bring forth grass yielding seed after his kind.” So that although some kind of grass is of service to animals, even their gain is our gain too, and seeds are especially designed for our use. Such is the true meaning of the words that I have quoted. “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed after his kind.” this manner we can re-establish the order of the words, of which the construction seems faulty in the actual version, and the economy of nature will be rigorously observed. In fact, first comes germination, then verdure, then the growth of the plant, which after having attained its full growth arrives at perfection in seed.

How then, they say, can Scripture describe all the plants of the earth as seed-bearing, when the reed, couch-grass, mint, crocus, garlic, and the flowering rush and countless other species, produce no seed? To this we reply that many vegetables have their seminal virtue in the lower part and in the roots. The need, for example, after its annual growth sends forth a protuberance from its roots, which takes the place of seed for future trees. Numbers of other vegetables are the same and all over the earth reproduce by the roots. Nothing then is truer than that each plant produces its seed or contains some seminal virtue; this is what is meant by “after its kind.” So that the shoot of a reed does not produce an olive tree, but from a reed grows another reed, and from one sort of seed a plant of the same sort always germinates. Thus, all which sprang from the earth, in its first bringing forth, is kept the same to our time, thanks to the constant reproduction of kind.4

“Let the earth bring forth.” See how, at this short word, at this brief command, the cold and sterile earth travailed and hastened to bring forth its fruit, as it cast away its sad and dismal covering to clothe itself in a more brilliant robe, proud of its proper adornment and displaying the infinite variety of plants.

I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that everywhere, wherever you may be, the least plant may bring to yon the clear remembrance of the Creator. If you see the grass of the fields, think of human nature, and remember the comparison of the wise Isaiah. “All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.” Truly the rapid flow of life, the short gratification and pleasure that an instant of happiness gives a man, all wonderfully suit the comparison of the prophet. To-day he is vigorous in body, fattened by luxury, and in the prime of life, with complexion fair like the flowers, strong and powerful and of irresistible energy; tomorrow and he will be an object of pity, withered by age or exhausted by sickness. Another shines in all the splendour of a brilliant fortune. and around him are a multitude of flatterers, an escort of false friends on the track of his good graces; a crowd of kinsfolk, but of no true kin; a swarm Of servants who crowd after him to provide for his food and for all his needs; and in his comings and goings this innumerable suite, which he drags after him, excites the envy of all whom he meets. To fortune may be added power in the State, honours bestowed by the imperial throne, the government of a province, or the command of armies; a herald who precedes him is crying in a loud voice; lictors right and left also fill his subjects with awe, blows, confiscations, banishments, imprisonments, and all the means by which he strikes intolerable terror into all whom he has to rule. And what then? One night, a fever, a pleurisy, or an inflammation of the lungs, snatches away this man from the midst of men, stripped in a moment of all his stage accessories, and all this, his glory, is proved a mere dream. Therefore the Prophet has compared human glory to the weakest flower.

3. Up to this point, the order in which plants shoot bears witness to their first arrangement. Every herb, every plant proceeds from a germ. If, like the couch-grass and the crocus, it throws out a shoot from its root and from this lower protuberance, it must always germinate and start outwards. If it proceeds from a seed, there is still, by necessity, first a germ, then the sprout, then green foliage, and finally the fruit which ripens upon a stalk hitherto dry and thick. “Let the earth bring forth grass.” When the seed falls into the earth, which contains the right combination of heat and moisture, it swells and becomes porous, and, grasping the surrounding earth, attracts to itself all that is suitable for it and that has affinity to it. These particles of earth, however small they may be, as they fall and insinuate themselves into all the pores of the seed, broaden its bulk and make it send forth roots below, and shoot upwards, sending forth stalks no less numerous than the roots. As the germ is always growing warm, the moisture, pumped up through the roots, and helped by the attraction of heat, draws a proper amount of nourishment from the soil, and distributes it to the stem, to the bark, to the husk, to the steel itself and to the beards with which it is armed. It is owing to these successive accretions that each plant attains its natural development, as well corn as vegetables, herbs or brushwood. A single plant, a blade of grass is sufficient to occupy all your intelligence in the contemplation of the skill which produced it. Why is the wheat stalk better with joints?2 Are they not like fastenings, which help it to bear easily the weight of the ear, when it is swollen with fruit and bends towards the earth? Thus, whilst oats, which have no weight to bear at the top, are without these supports, nature has provided them for wheat. It has hidden the grain in a case, so that it may not be exposed to birds’ pillage, and has furnished it with a rampart of barbs, which, like darts, protect it against the attacks of tiny creatures.

4. What shall I say? What shall I leave unsaid? In the rich treasures of creation it is difficult to select what is most precious; the loss of what is omitted is too severe. “Let the earth bring forth grass;” and instantly, with useful plants, appear noxious plants; with corn, hemlock; with the other nutritious plants, hellebore, monkshood, mandrake and the juice of the poppy. What then? Shall we show no gratitude for so many beneficial gifts, and reproach the Creator for those which may be harmful to our life? And shall we not reflect that all has not been created in view of the wants of our bellies? The nourishing plants, which are destined for our use, are close at hand, and known by all the world. But in creation nothing exists without a reason. The blood of the bull is a poison: ought this animal then, whose strength is so serviceable to man, not to have been created, or, if created, to have been bloodless? But you have sense enough in yourself to keep you free froth deadly things. What! Sheep and goats know how to turn away from what threatens their life, discerning danger by instinct alone: and you, who have reason and the art of medicine to supply what you need, and the experience of your forebears to tell you to avoid all that is dangerous, you tell me that you find it difficult to keep yourself from poisons! But not a single thing has been created without reason, not a single thing is useless. One serves as food to some animal; medicine has found in another a relief for one of our maladies. Thus the starling eats hemlock, its constitution rendering it insusceptible to the action of the poison. Thanks to the tenuity of the pores of its heart, the malignant juice is on sooner swallowed than it is digested, before its chill can attack the vital parts. The quail, thanks to its peculiar temperament, whereby it escapes the dangerous effects, feeds on hellebore. There are even circumstances where poisons are useful to men; with mandrake2 doctors give us sleep; with opium they lull violent pain. Hemlock has ere now been used to appease the rage of unruly diseases; and many times hellebore has taken away long standing disease.4 These plants, then, instead of making you accuse the Creator, give you a new subject for gratitude.

5. “Let the earth bring forth grass.” What spontaneous provision is included in these words,—that which is present in the root, in the plant itself, and in the fruit, as well as that which our labour and husbandry add! God did not command the earth immediately to give forth seed and fruit, but to produce germs, to grow green, and to arrive at maturity in the seed; so that this first command teaches nature what she has to do in the course of ages. But, they ask, is it true that the earth produces seed after his kind, when often, after having sown wheat, we gather black grain? This is not a change of kind, but an alteration, a disease of the grain. It has not ceased to be wheat; it is on account of having been burnt that it is black, as one can learn from its name. If a severe frost had burnt it,6 it would have had another colour and a different flavour. They even pretend that, if it could find suitable earth and moderate temperature, it might return to its first form. Thus, you find nothing in nature contrary to the divine command. As to the darnel and all those bastard grains which mix themselves with the harvest, the tares of Scripture, far from being a variety of corn, have their own origin and their own kind; image of those who alter the doctrine of the Lord and, not being rightly instructed in the word, but, corrupted by the teaching of the evil one, mix themselves with the sound body of the Church to spread their pernicious errors secretly among purer souls. The Lord thus compares the perfection of those who believe in Him to the growth of seed, “as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep and rise, night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” “Let the earth bring forth grass.” In a moment earth began by germination to obey the laws of the Creator, completed every stage of growth, and brought germs to perfection. The meadows were covered with deep grass, the fertile plains quivered8 with harvests, and the movement of the corn was like the waving of the sea. Every plant, every herb, the smallest shrub, the least vegetable, arose from the earth in all its luxuriance. There was no failure in this first vegetation: no husbandman’s inexperience, no inclemency of the weather, nothing could injure it; then the sentence of condemnation was not fettering the earth’s fertility. All this was before the sin which condemned us to eat our bread by the sweat of our brow.

6. “Let the earth,” the Creator adds, “bring forth the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself.”

At this command every copse was thickly planted; all the trees, fir, cedar, cypress, pine, rose to their greatest height, the shrubs were straightway clothed with thick foliage. The plants called crown-plants, roses, myrtles, laurels, did not exist; in one moment they came into being, each one with its distinctive peculiarities. Most marked differences separated them from other plants, and each one was distinguished by a character of its own. But then the rose was without thorns; since then the thorn has been added to its beauty, to make us feel that sorrow is very near to pleasure, and to remind us of our sin, which condemned the earth to produce thorns11 and caltrops. But, they say, the earth has received the command to produce trees “yielding fruit whose seed was in itself,” and we see many trees which have neither fruit, nor seed. What shall we reply? First, that only the more important trees are mentioned; and then, that a careful examination will show us that every tree has seed, or some property which takes the place of it. The black poplar, the willow, the elm, the white poplar, all the trees of this family, do not produce any apparent fruit; however, an attentive observer finds seed in each of them. This grain which is at the base of the leaf, and which those who busy themselves with inventing words call mischos, has the property of seed. And there are trees which reproduce by their branches, throwing out roots from them. Perhaps we ought even to consider as seeds the saplings which spring from the roots of a tree: for cultivators tear them out to multiply the species. But, we have already said, it is chiefly a question of the trees which contribute most to our life; which offer their various fruits to man and provide him with plentiful nourishment. Such is the vine, which produces wine to make glad the heart of man; such is the olive tree, whose fruit brightens his face with oil. How many things in nature are combined in the same plant! In a vine, roots, green and flexible branches, which spread themselves far over the earth, buds, tendrils, bunches of sour grapes and ripe grapes. The sight of a vine, when observed by an intelligent eye, serves to remind you of your nature. Without doubt you remember the parable where the Lord calls Himself a vine and His Father the husbandman, and every one of us who are grafted by faith into the Church the branches. He invites us to produce fruits in abundance, for fear lest our sterility should condemn us to the fire. He constantly compares our souls to vines. “My well beloved,” says He, “hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill,”2 and elsewhere, I have “planted a vineyard and hedged it round about.” Evidently He calls human souls His vine, those souls whom He has surrounded with the authority of His precepts and a guard of angels. “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him.”4 And further: He has planted for us, so to say, props, in establishing in His Church apostles, prophets, teachers; and raising our thoughts by the example of the blessed in olden times, He has not allowed them to drag on the earth and be crushed under foot. He wishes that the claspings of love, like the tendrils of the vine, should attach us to our neighbours and make us rest on them, so that, in our continual aspirations towards heaven, we may imitate these vines, which raise themselves to the tops of the tallest trees. He also asks us to allow ourselves to be dug about; and that is what the soul does when it disembarrasses itself from the cares of the world, which are a weight on our hearts. He, then, who is freed from carnal affections and from the love of riches, and, far from being dazzled by them, disdains and despises this miserable vain glory, is, so to say, dug about and at length breathes, free from the useless weight of earthly thoughts. Nor must we, in the spirit of the parable, put forth too much wood, that is to say, live with ostentation, and gain the applause of the world; we must bring forth fruits, keeping the proof of our works for the husbandman. Be “like a green olive tree in the house of God,”6 never destitute of hope, but decked through faith with the bloom of salvation. Thus you will resemble the eternal verdure of this plant and will rival it in fruitfulness, if each day sees you giving abundantly in alms.

7. But let us return to the examination of the ingenious contrivances of creation. How many trees then arose, some to give us their fruits, others to roof our houses, others to build our ships, others to feed our fires! What a variety in the disposition of their several parts! And yet, how difficult is it to find the distinctive property of each of them, and to grasp the difference which separates them from other species. Some strike deep roots, others do not; some shoot straight up and have only one stem, others appear to love the earth and, from their root upwards, divide into several shoots. Those whose long branches stretch up afar into the air, have also deep roots which spread within a large circumference, a true foundation placed by nature to support the weight of the tree. What variety there is in bark! Some plants have smooth bark, others rough, some have only one layer, others several. What a marvellous thing! You may find in the youth and age of plants resemblances to those of man. Young and vigorous, their bark is distended; when they grow old, it is rough and wrinkled. Cut one, it sends forth new buds; the other remains henceforward sterile and as if struck with a mortal wound. But further, it has been observed that pines, cut down, or even submitted to the action of fire, are changed into a forest of oaks. We know besides that the industry of agriculturists remedies the natural defects of certain trees. Thus the sharp pomegranate and bitter almonds, if the trunk of the tree is pierced near the root to introduce into the middle of the pith a fat plug of pine, lose the acidity of their juice, and become delicious fruits. Let not the sinner then despair of himself, when he thinks, if agriculture can change the juices of plants, the efforts of the soul to arrive at virtue, can certainly triumph over all infirmities.

Now there is such a variety of fruits in fruit trees that it is beyond all expression; a variety not only in the fruits of trees of different families, but even in those of the same species, if it be true, as gardeners say, that the sex of a tree influences the character of its fruits. They distinguish male from female in palms; sometimes we see those which they call female lower their branches, as though with passionate desire, and invite the embraces of the male. Then, those who take care of these plants shake over these palms the fertilizing dust from the male palm-tree, the psen as they call it: the tree appears to share the pleasures of enjoyment; then it raises its branches, and its foliage resumes its usual form. The same is said of the fig tree. Some plant wild fig trees near cultivated fig trees, and there are others who, to remedy the weakness of the productive fig tree of our gardens, attach to the branches unripe figs and so retain the fruit which had already begun to drop and to be lost. What lesson does nature here give us? That we must often borrow, even from those who are strangers to the faith, a certain vigour to show forth good works. If you see outside the Church, in pagan life, or in the midst of a pernicious heresy, the example of virtue and fidelity to moral laws, redouble your efforts to resemble the productive fig tree, who by the side of the wild fig tree, gains strength, prevents the fruit from being shed, and nourishes it with more care.

8. Plants reproduce themselves in so many different ways, that we can only touch upon the chief among them. As to fruits themselves, who could review their varieties, their forms, their colours, the peculiar flavour, and the use of each of them? Why do some fruits ripen when exposed bare to the rays of the sun, while others fill out while encased in shells? Trees of which the fruit is tender have, like the fig tree, a thick shade of leaves; those, on the contrary, of which the fruits are stouter, like the nut, are only covered by a light shade. The delicacy of the first requires more care; if the latter had a thicker case, the shade of the leaves would be harmful. Why is the vine leaf serrated, if not that the bunches of grapes may at the same time resist the injuries of the air and receive through the openings all the rays of the sun? Nothing has been done without motive, nothing by chance. All shows ineffable wisdom.

What discourse can touch all? Can the human mind make an exact review, remark every distinctive property, exhibit all the differences, unveil with certainty so many mysterious causes? The same water, pumped up through the root, nourishes in a different way the root itself, the bark of the trunk, the wood and the pith. It becomes leaf, it distributes itself among the branches and twigs and makes the fruits swell—it gives to the plant its gum and its sap. Who will explain to us the difference between all these? There is a difference between the gum of the mastich and the juice of the balsam, a difference between that which distils in Egypt and Libya from the fennel. Amber is, they say, the crystallized sap of plants. And for a proof, see the bits of straws and little insects which have been caught in the sap while still liquid and imprisoned there. In one word, no one without long experience could find terms to express the virtue of it. How, again, does this water become wine in the vine, and oil in the olive tree? Yet what is marvellous is, not to see it become sweet in one fruit, fat and unctuous in another, but to see in sweet fruits an inexpressible variety of flavour. There is one sweetness of the grape, another of the apple, another of the fig, another of the date. I shall willingly give you the gratification of continuing this research. How is it that this same water has sometimes a sweet taste, softened by its remaining in certain plants, and at other times stings the palate because it has become acid by passing through others? How is it, again, that it attains extreme bitterness, and makes the mouth rough when it is found in wormwood and in scammony? That it has in acorns and dogwood a sharp and rough flavour? That in the turpentine tree and the walnut tree it is changed into a soft and oily matter?

9. But what need is there to continue. when in the same fig tree we have the most opposite flavours, as bitter in the sap as it is sweet in the fruit? And in the vine, is it not as sweet in the grapes as it is astringent in the branches? And what a variety of colour! Look how in a meadow this same water becomes red in one flower, purple in another, blue in this one, white in that. And this diversity of colours, is it to be compared to that of scents? But I perceive that an insatiable curiosity is drawing out my discourse beyond its limits. If I do not stop and recall it to the law of creation, day will fail me whilst making you see great wisdom in small things.

Let the earth bring forth the fruit tree yielding fruit.” Immediately the tops of the mountains were covered with foliage; paradises were artfully laid out, and an infinitude of plants embellished the banks of the rivers. Some were for the adornment of man’s table; some to nourish animals with their fruits and their leaves; some to provide medicinal help by giving us their sap, their juice, their chips, their bark or their fruit. In a word, the experience of ages, profiting from every chance, has not been able to discover anything useful, which the penetrating foresight of the Creator did not first perceive and call into existence. Therefore, when you see the trees in our gardens, or those of the forest, those which love the water or the land, those which bear flowers, or those which do not flower, I should like to see you recognising grandeur even in small objects, adding incessantly to your admiration of, and redoubling your love for the Creator. Ask yourself why He has made some trees evergreen and others deciduous; why, among the first, some lose their leaves, and others always keep them. Thus the olive and the pine shed their leaves, although they renew them insensibly and never appear to be despoiled of their verdure. The palm tree, on the contrary, from its birth to its death, is always adorned with the same foliage. Think again of the double life of the tamarisk; it is an aquatic plant, and yet it covers the desert. Thus, Jeremiah compares it to the worst of characters—the double character.

10. “Let the earth bring forth.” This short command was in a moment a vast nature, an elaborate system. Swifter than thought it produced the countless qualities of plants. It is this command which, still at this day, is imposed on the earth, and in the course of each year displays all the strength of its power to produce herbs, seeds and trees. Like tops, which after the first impulse, continue their evolutions, turning upon themselves when once fixed in their centre; thus nature, receiving the impulse of this first command, follows without interruption the course of ages, until the consummation of all things. Let us all hasten to attain to it, full of fruit and of good works; and thus, planted in the house of the Lord we shall flourish in the court of our God,3 in our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

HOMILY VI

The creation of luminous bodies

1. At the shows in the circus the spectator must join in the efforts of the athletes. This the laws of the show indicate, for they prescribe that all should have the head uncovered when present at the stadium. The object of this, in my opinion, is that each one there should not only be a spectator of the athletes, but be, in a certain measure, a true athlete himself. Thus, to investigate the great and prodigious show of creation, to understand supreme and ineffable wisdom, you must bring personal light for the contemplation of the wonders which I spread before your eyes, and help me, according to your power, in this struggle, where you are not so much judges as fellow combatants,5 for fear lest the truth might escape you, and lest my error might turn to your common prejudice. Why these words? It is because we propose to study the world as a whole, and to consider the universe, not by the light of worldly wisdom, but by that with which God wills to enlighten His servant, when He speaks to him in person and without enigmas. It is because it is absolutely necessary that all lovers of great and grand shows should bring a mind well prepared to study them. If sometimes, on a bright night, whilst gazing with watchful eyes on the inexpressible beauty of the stars, you have thought of the Creator of all things; if you have asked yourself who it is that has dotted heaven with such flowers, and why visible things are even more useful than beautiful; if sometimes, in the day, you have studied the marvels of light, if you have raised yourself by visible things to the invisible Being, then you are a well prepared auditor, and you can take your place in this august and blessed amphitheatre. Come in the same way that any one not knowing a town is taken by the hand and led through it; thus I am going to lead you, like strangers, through the mysterious marvels of this great city of the universe.2 Our first country was in this great city, whence the murderous dæmon whose enticements seduced man to slavery expelled us. There you will see man’s first origin and his immediate seizure by death, brought forth by sin, the first born of the evil spirit. You will know that you are formed of earth, but the work of God’s hands; much weaker than the brute, but ordained to command beings without reason and soul; inferior as regards natural advantages, but, thanks to the privilege of reason, capable of raising yourself to heaven. If we are penetrated by these truths, we shall know ourselves, we shall know God, we shall adore our Creator, we shall serve our Master, we shall glorify our Father, we shall love our Sustainer, we shall bless our Benefactor, we shall not cease to honour the Prince of present and future life, Who, by the riches that He showers upon us in this world, makes us believe in His promises and uses present good things to strengthen our expectation of the future. Truly, if such are the good things of time, what will be those of eternity? If such is the beauty of visible things, what shall we think of invisible things? If the grandeur of heaven exceeds the measure of human intelligence, what mind shall be able to trace the nature of the everlasting? If the sun, subject to corruption, is so beautiful, so grand, so rapid in its movement, so invariable in its course; if its grandeur is in such perfect harmony with and due proportion to the universe: if, by the beauty of its nature, it shines like a brilliant eye in the middle of creation; if finally, one cannot tire of contemplating it, what will be the beauty of the Sun of Righteousness?4 If the blind man suffers from not seeing the material sun, what a deprivation is it for the sinner not to enjoy the true light!

2. “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to divide the day from the night.” Heaven and earth were the first; after them was created light; the day had been distinguished from the night, then had appeared the firmament and the dry element. The water had been gathered into the reservoir assigned to it, the earth displayed its productions, it had caused many kinds of herbs to germinate and it was adorned with all kinds of plants. However, the sun and the moon did not yet exist, in order that those who live in ignorance of God may not consider the sun as the origin and the father of light, or as the maker of all that grows out of the earth.6 That is why there was a fourth day, and then God said: “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven.”

When once you have learnt Who spoke, think immediately of the hearer. God said, “Let there be lights … and God made two great lights.” Who spoke? and Who made? Do you not see a double person? Everywhere, in mystic language, history is sown with the dogmas of theology.

The motive follows which caused the lights to be created. It was to illuminate the earth. Already light was created; why therefore say that the sun was created to give light? And, first, do not laugh at the strangeness of this expression. We do not follow your nicety about words, and we trouble ourselves but little to give them a harmonious turn. Our writers do not amuse themselves by polishing their periods, and everywhere we prefer clearness of words to sonorous expressions. See then if, by this expression “to light up,” the sacred writer sufficiently made his thought understood. He has put “to give light” instead of “illumination.”2 Now there is nothing here contradictory to what has been said of light. Then the actual nature of light was produced: now the sun’s body is constructed to be a vehicle for that original light. A lamp is not fire. Fire has the property of illuminating, and we have invented the lamp to light us in darkness. In the same way, the luminous bodies have been fashioned as a vehicle for that pure, clear, and immaterial light. The Apostle speaks to us of certain lights which shine in the world without being confounded with the true light of the world, the possession of which made the saints luminaries of the souls which they instructed and drew from the darkness of ignorance. This is why the Creator of all things, made the sun in addition to that glorious light, and placed it shining in the heavens.

3. And let no one suppose it to be a thing incredible that the brightness of the light is one thing, and the body which is its material vehicle is another. First, in all composite things, we distinguish substance susceptible of quality, and the quality which it receives. The nature of whiteness is one thing, another is that of the body which is whitened; thus the natures differ which we have just seen reunited by the power of the Creator. And do not tell me that it is impossible to separate them. Even I do not pretend to be able to separate light from the body of the sun; but I maintain that that which we separate in thought, may be separated in reality by the Creator of nature. You cannot, moreover, separate the brightness of fire from the virtue of burning which it possesses; but God, who wished to attract His servant by a wonderful sight, set a fire in the burning bush, which displayed all the brilliancy of flame while its devouring property was dormant. It is that which the Psalmist affirms in saying “The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire.” Thus, in the requital which awaits us after this life, a mysterious voice seems to tell us that the double nature of fire will be divided; the just will enjoy its light, and the torment of its heat will be the torture of the wicked.

In the revolutions of the moon we find a new proof of what we have advanced. When it stops and grows less it does not consume itself in all its body, but in the measure that it deposits or absorbs the light which surrounds it, it presents to us the image of its decrease or of its increase. If we wish an evident proof that the moon does not consume its body when at rest, we have only to open our eyes. If you look at it in a cloudless and clear sky, you observe, when it has taken the complete form of a crescent, that the part, which is dark and not lighted up, describes a circle equal to that which the full moon forms. Thus the eye can take in the whole circle, if it adds to the illuminated part this obscure and dark curve. And do not tell me that the light of the moon is borrowed, diminishing or increasing in proportion as it approaches or recedes from the sun. That is not now the object of our research; we only wish to prove that its body differs from the light which makes it shine. I wish you to have the same idea of the sun; except however that the one, after having once received light and having mixed it with its substance, does not lay it down again, whilst the other, turn by turn, putting off and reclothing itself again with light, proves by that which takes place in itself what we have said of the sun.

The sun and moon thus received the command to divide the day from the night. God had already separated light from darkness; then He placed their natures in opposition, so that they could not mingle, and that there could never be anything in common between darkness and light. You see what a shadow is during the day; that is precisely the nature of darkness during the night. If, at the appearance of a light, the shadow always falls on the opposite side; if in the morning it extends towards the setting sun; if in the evening it inclines towards the rising sun, and at mid-day turns towards the north; night retires into the regions opposed to the rays of the sun, since it is by nature only the shadow of the earth. Because, in the same way that, daring the day, shadow is produced by a body which intercepts the light, night comes naturally when the air which surrounds the earth is in shadow. And this is precisely what Scripture says, “God divided the light from the darkness.” Thus darkness fled at the approach of light, the two being at their first creation divided by a natural antipathy. Now God commanded the sun to measure the day, and the moon, whenever she rounds her disc, to rule the night. For then these two luminaries are almost diametrically opposed; when the sun rises, the full moon disappears from the horizon, to re-appear in the east at the moment the sun sets. It matters little to our subject if in other phases the light of the moon does not correspond exactly with night. It is none the less true, that when at its perfection it makes the stars to turn pale and lightens up the earth with the splendour of its light, it reigns over the night, and in concert with the sun divides the duration of it in equal parts.

4. “And let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years.” The signs which the luminaries give are necessary to human life. In fact what useful observations will long experience make us discover, if we ask without undue curiosity! What signs of rain, of drought, or of the rising of the wind, partial or general, violent or moderate! Our Lord indicates to us one of the signs given by the sun when He says, “It will be foul weather to-day; for the sky is red and lowering.”2 In fact, when the sun rises through a fog, its rays are darkened, but the disc appears burning like a coal and of a bloody red colour. It is the thickness of the air which causes this appearance; as the rays of the sun do not disperse such amassed and condensed air, it cannot certainly be retained by the waves of vapour which exhale from the earth, and it will cause from superabundance of moisture a storm in the countries over which it accumulates. In the same way, when the moon is surrounded with moisture, or when the sun is encircled with what is called a halo, it is the sign of heavy rain or of a violent storm; again, in the same way, if mock suns accompany the sun in its course they foretell certain celestial phenomena. Finally, those straight lines, like the colours of the rainbow, which are seen on the clouds, announce rain, extraordinary tempests, or, in one word, a complete change in the weather.

Those who devote themselves to the observation of these bodies find signs in the different phases of the moon, as if the air, by which the earth is enveloped, were obliged to vary to correspond with its change of form. Towards the third day of the new moon, if it is sharp and clear, it is a sign of fixed fine weather. If its horns appear thick and reddish it threatens us either with heavy rain or with a gale from the South. Who does not know how useful4 are these signs in life? Thanks to them, the sailor keeps back his vessel in the harbour, foreseeing the perils with which the winds threaten him, and the traveller beforehand takes shelter from harm, waiting until the weather has become fairer. Thanks to them, husbandmen, busy with sowing seed or cultivating plants, are able to know which seasons are favourable to their labours. Further, the Lord has announced to us that at the dissolution of the universe, signs will appear in the sun, in the moon and in the stars. The sun shall be turned into blood and the moon shall not give her light, signs of the consummation of all things.

5. But those who overstep the borders, making the words of Scripture their apology for the art of casting nativities, pretend that our lives depend upon the motion of the heavenly bodies, and that thus the Chaldæans read in the planets that which will happen to us.7 By these very simple words “let them be for signs,” they understand neither the variations of the weather, nor the change of seasons; they only see in them, at the will of their imagination, the distribution of human destinies. What do they say in reality? When the planets cross in the signs of the Zodiac, certain figures formed by their meeting give birth to certain destinies, and others produce different destinies.

Perhaps for clearness sake it is not useless to enter into more detail about this vain science. I will say nothing of my own to refute them; I will use their words, bringing a remedy for the infected, and for others a preservative from falling. The inventors of astrology seeing that in the extent of time many signs escaped them, divided it and enclosed each part in narrow limits, as if in the least and shortest interval, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, to speak with the Apostle, the greatest difference should be found between one birth and another. Such an one is born in this moment; he will be a prince over cities and will govern the people, in the fulness of riches and power. Another is born the instant after; he will be poor, miserable, and will wander daily from door to door begging his bread. Consequently they divide the Zodiac into twelve parts, and, as the sun takes thirty days to traverse each of the twelve divisions of this unerring circle, they divide them into thirty more. Each of them forms sixty new ones, and these last are again divided into sixty. Let us see then if, in determining the birth of an infant, it will be possible to observe this rigorous division of time. The child is born. The nurse ascertains the sex; then she awaits the wail which is a sign of its life. Until then how many moments have passed do you think? The nurse announces the birth of the child to the Chaldæan: how many minutes would you count before she opens her mouth, especially if he who records the hour is outside the women’s apartments? And we know that he who consults the dial, ought, whether by day or by night, to mark the hour with the most precise exactitude. What a swarm of seconds passes during this time! For the planet of nativity ought to be found, not only in one of the twelve divisions of the Zodiac, and even in one of its first sub-divisions, but again in one of the sixtieth parts which divide this last, and even, to arrive at the exact truth, in one of the sixtieth sub-divisions that this contains in its turn. And, to obtain such minute knowledge, so impossible to grasp from this moment, each planet must be questioned to find its position as regards the signs of the Zodiac and the figures that the planets form at the moment of the child’s birth. Thus, if it is impossible to find exactly the hour of birth, and if the least change can upset all, then both those who give themselves up to this imaginary science and those who listen to them open-mouthed, as if they could learn from them the future, are supremely ridiculous.

6. But what effects are produced? Such an one will have curly hair and bright eyes, because he is born under the Ram; such is the appearance of a ram. He will have noble feelings; because the Ram is born to command. He will be liberal and fertile in resources, because this animal gets rid of its fleece without trouble, and nature immediately hastens to reclothe it. Another is born under the Bull: he will be enured to hardship and of a slavish character, because the bull bows under the yoke. Another is born under the Scorpion; like to this venomous reptile he will be a striker. He who is born under the Balance will be just, thanks to the justness of our balances. Is not this the height of folly? This Ram, from whence you draw the nativity of man, is the twelfth part of the heaven, and in entering into it the sun reaches the spring. The Balance and the Bull are likewise twelfth parts of the Zodiac. How can you see there the principal causes which influence the life of man? And why do you take animals to characterize the manners of men who enter this world? He who is born under the Ram will be liberal, not because this part of heaven gives this characteristic, but because such is the nature of the beast. Why then should we frighten ourselves by the names of these stars and undertake to persuade ourselves with these bleatings? If heaven has different characteristics derived from these animals, it is then itself subject to external influences since its causes depend on the brutes who graze in our fields. A ridiculous assertion; but how much more ridiculous the pretence of arriving at the influence on each other of things which have not the least connexion! This pretended science is a true spider’s web; if a gnat or a fly, or some insect equally feeble falls into it it is held entangled; if a stronger animal approaches, it passes through without trouble, carrying the weak tissue away with it.

7. They do not, however, stop here; even our acts, where each one feels his will ruling, I mean, the practice of virtue or of vice, depend, according to them, on the influence of celestial bodies. It would be ridiculous seriously to refute such an error, but, as it holds a great many in its nets, perhaps it is better not to pass it over in silence. I would first ask them if the figures which the stars describe do not change a thousand times a day. In the perpetual motion of planets, some meet in a more rapid course, others make slower revolutions, and often in an hour we see them look at each other and then hide themselves. Now, at the hour of birth, it is very important whether one is looked upon by a beneficent star or by an evil one, to speak their language. Often then the astrologers do not seize the moment when a good star shows itself, and, on account of having let this fugitive moment escape, they enrol the newborn under the influence of a bad genius. I am compelled to use their own words. What madness! But, above all, what impiety! For the evil stars throw the blame of their wickedness upon Him Who trade them. If evil is inherent in their nature, the Creator is the author of evil. If they make it themselves, they are animals endowed with the power of choice, whose acts will be free and voluntary. Is it not the height of folly to tell these lies about beings without souls? Again, what a want of sense does it show to distribute good and evil without regard to personal merit; to say that a star is beneficent because it occupies a certain place; that it becomes evil, because it is viewed by another star; and that if it moves ever so little from this figure it loses its malign influence.

But let us pass on. If, at every instant of duration, the stars vary their figures, then in these thousand changes, many times a day, there ought to be reproduced the configuration of royal births. Why then does not every day see the birth of a king? Why is there a succession on the throne from father to son? Without doubt there has never been a king who has taken measures to have his son born under the star of royalty. For what man possesses such a power? How then did Uzziah beget Jotham, Jotham Ahaz, Ahaz Hezekiah? And by what chance did the birth of none of them happen in an hour of slavery? If the origin of our virtues and of our vices is not in ourselves, but is the fatal consequence of our birth, it is useless for legislators to prescribe for us what we ought to do, and what we ought to avoid; it is useless for judges to honour virtue and to punish vice. The guilt is not in the robber, not in the assassin: it was willed for him; it was impossible for him to hold back his hand, urged to evil by inevitable necessity. Those who laboriously cultivate the arts are the maddest of men. The labourer will make an abundant harvest without sowing seed and without sharpening his sickle. Whether he wishes it or not, the merchant will make his fortune, and will be flooded with riches by fate. As for us Christians, we shall see our great hopes vanish, since from the moment that man does not act with freedom, there is neither reward for justice, nor punishment for sin. Under the reign of necessity and of fatality there is no place for merit, the first condition of all righteous judgment. But let us stop. You who are sound in yourselves have no need to hear more, and time does not allow us to make attacks without limit against these unhappy men.

8. Let its return to the words which follow. “Let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years.” We have spoken about signs. By times, we understand the succession of seasons, winter, spring, summer and autumn, which we see follow each other in so regular a course, thanks to the regularity of the movement of the luminaries. It is winter when the sun sojourns in the south and produces in abundance the shades of night in our region. The air spread over the earth is chilly, and the damp exhalations, which gather over our heads, give rise to rains, to frosts, to innumerable flakes of snow. When, returning from the southern regions, the sun is in the middle of the heavens and divides day and night into equal parts, the more it sojourns above the earth the more it brings back a mild temperature to us. Then comes spring, which makes all the plants germinate, and gives to the greater part of the trees their new life, and, by successive generation, perpetuates all the land and water animals. From thence the sun, returning to the summer solstice, in the direction of the North, gives us the longest days. And, as it travels farther in the air, it burns that which is over our heads, dries up the earth, ripens the grains and hastens the maturity of the fruits of the trees. At the epoch of its greatest heat, the shadows which the sun makes at mid-day are short, because it shines from above, from the air over our heads. Thus the longest days are those when the shadows are shortest, in the same way that the shortest days are those when the shadows are longest. It is this which happens to all of us “Hetero-skii”2 (shadowed-on-one-side) who inhabit the northern regions of the earth. But there are people who, two days in the year, are completely without shade at mid-day, because the sun, being perpendicularly over their heads, lights them so equally from all sides, that it could through a narrow opening shine at the bottom of a well. Thus there are some who call them “askii” (shadowless). For those who live beyond the land of spices see their shadow now on one side, now on another, the only inhabitants of this land of which the shade falls at mid-day; thus they are given the name of “amphiskii,”4 (shadowed-on-both-sides). All these phenomena happen whilst the sun is passing into northern regions: they give us an idea of the heat thrown on the air, by the rays of the sun and of the effects that they produce. Next we pass to autumn, which breaks up the excessive heat, lessening the warmth little by little, and by a moderate temperature brings us back without suffering to winter, to the time when the sun returns from the northern regions to the southern. It is thus that seasons, following the course of the sun, succeed each other to rule our life.

“Let them be for days” says Scripture, not to produce them but to rule them; because day and night are older than the creation of the luminaries and it is this that the psalm declares to us. “The sun to rule by day … the moon and stars to rule by night.”2 How does the sun rule by day? Because carrying everywhere light with it, it is no sooner risen above the horizon than it drives away darkness and brings us day. Thus we might, without self deception, define day as air lighted by the sun, or as the space of time that the sun passes in our hemisphere. The functions of the sun and moon serve further to mark years. The moon, after having twelve times run her course, forms a year which sometimes needs an intercalary month to make it exactly agree with the seasons. Such was formerly the year of the Hebrews and of the early Greeks. As to the solar year, it is the time that the sun, having started from a certain sign, takes to return to it in its normal progress.

9. “And God made two great lights.” The word “great,” if, for example we say it of the heaven of the earth or of the sea, may have an absolute sense; but ordinarily it has only a relative meaning, as a great horse, or a great ox. It is not that these animals are of an immoderate size, but that in comparison with their like they deserve the title of great. What idea shall we ourselves form here of greatness? Shall it be the idea that we have of it in the ant and in all the little creatures of nature, which we call great in comparison with those like themselves, and to show their superiority over them? Or shall we predicate greatness of the luminaries, as of the natural greatness inherent in them? As for me, I think so. If the sun and moon are great, it is not in comparison with the smaller stars, but because they have such a circumference that the splendour which they diffuse lights up the heavens and the air, embracing at the same time earth and sea. In whatever part of heaven they may be, whether rising, or setting, or in mid heaven, they appear always the same in the eyes of men, a manifest proof of their prodigious size. For the whole extent of heaven cannot make them appear greater in one place and smaller in another. Objects which we see afar off appear dwarfed to our eyes, and in measure as they approach us we can form a juster idea of their size. But there is no one who can be nearer or more distant from the sun. All the inhabitants of the earth see it at the same distance. Indians and Britons see it of the same size. The people of the East do not see it decrease in magnitude when it sets; those of the West do not find it smaller when it rises. If it is in the middle of the heavens it does not vary in either aspect. Do not be deceived by mere appearance, and because it looks a cubit’s breadth, imagine it to be no bigger.5 At a very great distance objects always lose size in our eyes; sight, not being able to clear the intermediary space, is as it were exhausted in the middle of its coarse, and only a small part of it reaches the visible object. Our power of sight is small and makes all we see seem small, affecting what it sees by its own condition. Thus, then, if sight is mistaken its testimony is fallible. Recall your own impressions and you will find in yourself the proof of my words. If you have ever from the top of a high mountain looked at a large and level plain, how big did the yokes of oxen appear to you? How big were the ploughmen themselves? Did they not look like ants?7 If from the top of a commanding rock, looking over the wide sea, you cast your eyes over the vast extent how big did the greatest islands appear to you? How large did one of those barks of great tonnage, which unfurl their white sails to the blue sea, appear to you. Did it not look smaller than a dove? It is because sight, as I have just told you, loses itself in the air, becomes weak and cannot seize with exactness the object which it sees. And further: your sight shows you high mountains intersected by valleys as rounded and smooth, because it reaches only to the salient parts, and is not able, on account of its weakness, to penetrate into the valleys which separate them. It does not even preserve the form of objects, and thinks that all square towers are round. Thus all proves that at a great distance sight only presents to us obscure and confused objects. The luminary is then great, according to the witness of Scripture, and infinitely greater than it appears.

10. See again another evident proof of its greatness. Although the heaven may be full of stars without number, the light contributed by them all could not disperse the gloom of night. The sun alone, from the time that it appeared on the horizon, while it was still expected and had not yet risen completely above the earth, dispersed the darkness, outshone the stars, dissolved and diffused the air, which was hitherto thick and condensed over our heads, and produced thus the morning breeze and the dew which in fine weather streams over the earth. Could the earth with such a wide extent be lighted up entirely in one moment if an immense disc were not pouring forth its light over it? Recognise here the wisdom of the Artificer. See how He made the heat of the sun proportionate to this distance. Its heat is so regulated that it neither consumes the earth by excess, nor lets it grow cold and sterile by defect.

To all this the properties of the moon are near akin; she, too, has an immense body, whose splendour only yields to that of the sun. Our eyes, however, do not always see her in her full size. Now she presents a perfectly rounded disc, now when diminished and lessened she shows a deficiency on one side. When waxing she is shadowed on one side, and when she is waning another side is hidden. Now it is not without a secret reason of the divine Maker of the universe, that the moon appears from time to time under such different forms. It presents a striking example of our nature. Nothing is stable in man; here from nothingness he raises himself to perfection; there after having hasted to put forth his strength to attain his full greatness he suddenly is subject to gradual deterioration, and is destroyed by diminution. Thus, the sight of the moon, making us think of the rapid vicissitudes of human things, ought to teach us not to pride ourselves on the good things of this life, and not to glory in our power, not to be carried away by uncertain riches, to despise our flesh which is subject to change, and to take care of the soul, for its good is unmoved. If you cannot behold without sadness the moon losing its splendour by gradual and imperceptible decrease, how much more distressed should you be at the sight of a soul, who, after having possessed virtue, loses its beauty by neglect, and does not remain constant to its affections, but is agitated and constantly changes because its purposes are unstable. What Scripture says is very true, “As for a fool he changeth as the moon.”

I believe also that the variations of the moon do not take place without exerting great influence upon the organization of animals and of all living things. This is because bodies are differently disposed at its waxing and waning. When she wanes they lose their density and become void. When she waxes and is approaching her fulness they appear to fill themselves at the same time with her, thanks to an imperceptible moisture that she emits mixed with heat, which penetrates everywhere. For proof, see how those who sleep under the moon feel abundant moisture filling their heads;3 see how fresh meat is quickly turned under the action of the moon; see the brain of animals, the moistest part of marine animals, the pith of trees. Evidently the moon must be, as Scripture says, of enormous size and power to make all nature thus participate in her changes.

11. On its variations depends also the condition of the air, as is proved by sudden disturbances which often come after the new moon, in the midst of a calm and of a stillness in the winds, to agitate the clouds and to hurl them against each other; as the flux and reflux in straits, and the ebb and flow of the ocean prove, so that those who live on its shores see it regularly following the revolutions of the moon. The waters of straits approach and retreat from one shore to the other during the different phases of the moon; but, when she is new, they have not an instant of rest, and move in perpetual swaying to and fro, until the moon, reappearing, regulates their reflux. As to the Western sea, we see it in its ebb and flow now return into its bed, and now overflow, as the moon draws it back by her respiration and then, by her expiration, urges it to its own boundaries.2

I have entered into these details, to show you the grandeur of the luminaries, and to make you see that, in the inspired words, there is not one idle syllable. And yet my sermon has scarcely touched on any important point; there are many other discoveries about the size and distance of the sun and moon to which any one who will make a serious study of their action and of their characteristics may arrive by the aid of reason. Let me then ingenuously make an avowal of my weakness, for fear that you should measure the mighty works of the Creator by my words. The little that I have said ought the rather to make you conjecture the marvels on which I have omitted to dwell. We must not then measure the moon with the eye, but with the reason. Reason, for the discovery of truth, is much surer than the eye.

Everywhere ridiculous old women’s tales, imagined in the delirium of drunkenness, have been circulated; such as that enchantmeats can remove the moon from its place and make it descend to the earth. How could a magician’s charm shake that of which the Most High has laid the foundations? And if once torn out what place could hold it?

Do you wish from slight indications to have a proof of the moon’s size? All the towns in the world, however distant from each other, equally receive the light from the moon in those streets that are turned towards its rising If she did not look on all face to face, those only would be entirely lighted up which were exactly opposite; as to those beyond the extremities of her disc, they would only receive diverted and oblique rays. It is this effect which the light of lamps produces in houses; if a lamp is surrounded by several persons, only the shadow of the person who is directly opposite to it is cast in a straight line, the others follow inclined lines on each side. In the same way, if the body of the moon were not of an immense and prodigious size she could not extend herself alike to all. In reality, when the moon rises in the equinoctial regions, all equally enjoy her light, both those who inhabit the icy zone, under the revolutions of the Bear, and those who dwell in the extreme south in the neighbourhood of the torrid zone. She gives us an idea of her size by appearing to be face to face with all people. Who then can deny the immensity of a body which divides itself equally over such a wide extent?

But enough on the greatness of the sun and moon. May He Who has given us intelligence to recognise in the smallest objects of creation the great wisdom of the Contriver make us find in great bodies a still higher idea of their Creator. However, compared with their Author, the sun and moon are but a fly and an ant. The whole universe cannot give us a right idea of the greatness of God; and it is only by signs, weak and slight in themselves, often by the help of the smallest insects and of the least plants, that we raise ourselves to Him. Content with these words let us offer our thanks, I to Him who has given me the ministry of the Word, you to Him who feeds you with spiritual food; Who, even at this moment, makes you find in my weak voice the strength of barley bread. May He feed you for ever, and in proportion to your faith grant you the manifestation of the Spirit in Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

HOMILY VII

The Creation of Moving Creatures

1. “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life” after their kind, “and fowl that may fly above the earthafter their kind. After the creation of the luminaries the waters are now filled with living beings and its own adornment is given to this part of the world. Earth had received hers from her own plants, the heavens had received the flowers of the stars, and, like two eyes, the great luminaries beautified them in concert. It still retained for the waters to receive their adornment. The command was given, and immediately the rivers and lakes becoming fruitful brought forth their natural broods; the sea travailed with all kinds of swimming creatures; not even in mud and marshes did the water remain idle; it took its part in creation. Everywhere from its ebullition frogs, gnats and flies came forth. For that which we see to-day is the sign of the past. Thus everywhere the water hastened to obey the Creator’s command. Who could count the species which the great and ineffable power of God caused to be suddenly seen living and moving, when this command had empowered the waters to bring forth life? Let the waters bring forth moving creatures that have life. Then for the first time is made a being with life and feeling. For though plants and trees be said to live, seeing that they share the power of being nourished and growing; nevertheless they are neither living beings, nor have they life. To create these last God said, “Let the water produce moving creatures.”

Every creature that swims, whether it skims on the surface of the watersers, or cleaves the depths, is of the nature of a moving creature, since it drags itself on the body of the water. Certain aquatic animals have feet and walk; especially amphibia, such as seals, crabs, crocodiles, river horses3 and frogs; but they are above all gifted with the power of swimming. Thus it is said, Let the waters produce moving creatures. In these few words what species is omitted? Which is not included in the command of the Creator? Do we not see viviparous animals, seals, dolphins, rays and all cartilaginous animals? Do we not see oviparous animals comprising every sort of fish, those which have a skin and those which have scales, those which have fins and those which have not? This command has only required one word, even less than a word, a sign, a motion of the divine will, and it has such a wide sense that it includes all the varieties and all the families of fish. To review them all would be to undertake to count the waves of the ocean or to measure its waters in the hollow of the hand. “Let the waters produce moving creatures.” That is to say, those which people the high seas and those which love the shores; those which inhabit the depths and those which attach themselves to rocks; those which are gregarious and those which live dispersed, the cetaceous, the huge, and the tiny. It is from the same power, the same command, that all, small and great receive their existence. “Let the waters bring forth.” These words show you the natural affinity of animals which swim in the water; thus, fish, when drawn out of the water, quickly die, because they have no respiration such as could attract our air and water is their element, as air is that of terrestrial animals. The reason for it is clear. With us the lung, that porous and spongy portion of the inward parts which receives air by the dilatation of the chest, disperses and cools interior warmth; in fish the motion of the gills, which open and shut by turns to take in and to eject the water, takes the place of respiration. Fish have a peculiar lot, a special nature, a nourishment of their own, a life apart. Thus they cannot be tamed and cannot bear the touch of a man’s hand.5

2. “Let the waters bring forth moving creatures after their kind.” God caused to be born the firstlings of each species to serve as seeds for nature. Their multitudinous numbers are kept up in subsequent succession, when it is necessary for them to grow and multiply. Of another kind is the species of testacea, as muscles, scallops, sea snails, conches, and the infinite variety of oysters. Another kind is that of the crustacea, as crabs and lobsters; another of fish without shells, with soft and tender flesh, like polypi and cuttle fish. And amidst these last what an innumerable variety! There are weevers, lampreys and eels, produced in the mud of rivers and ponds, which more resemble venomous reptiles than fish in their nature. Of another kind is the species of the ovipara; of another, that of the vivipara. Among the latter are sword-fish, cod, in one word, all cartilaginous fish, and even the greater part of the cetacea, as dolphins, seals, which, it is said, if they see their little ones, still quite young, frightened, take them back into their belly to protect them.

Let the waters bring forth after their kind. The species of the cetacean is one; another is that of small fish. What infinite variety in the different kinds! All have their own names, different food, different form, shape, and quality of flesh. All present infinite variety, and are divided into innumerable classes. Is there a tunny fisher who can enumerate to us the different varieties of that fish? And yet they tell us that at the sight of great swarms of fish they can almost tell the number of the individual ones which compose it. What man is there of all that have spent their long lives by coasts and shores, who can inform us with exactness of the history of all fish?

Some are known to the fishermen of the Indian ocean, others to the toilers of the Egyptian gulf, others to the islanders, others to the men of Mauretania. Great and small were all alike created by this first command, by this ineffable power. What a difference in their food! What a variety in the manner in which each species reproduces itself! Most fish do not hatch eggs like birds; they do not build nests; they do not feed their young with toil; it is the water which receives and vivifies the egg dropped into it. With them the reproduction of each species is invariable, and natures are not mixed. There are none of those unions which, on the earth, produce mules and certain birds contrary to the nature of their species. With fish there is no variety which, like the ox and the sheep, is armed with a half-equipment of teeth, none which ruminates except, according to certain writers, the scar.3 All have serried and very sharp teeth, for fear their food should escape them if they masticate it for too long a time. In fact, if it were not crushed and swallowed as soon as divided, it would be carried away by the water.

3. The food of fish differs according to their species. Some feed on mud; others eat sea weed; others content themselves with the herbs that grow in water. But the greater part devour each other, and the smaller is food for the larger, and if one which has possessed itself of a fish weaker than itself becomes a prey to another, the conqueror and the conquered are both swallowed up in the belly of the last. And we mortals, do we act otherwise when we oppress our inferiors? What difference is there between the last fish and the man who, impelled by devouring greed, swallows the weak in the folds of his insatiable avarice? Yon fellow possessed the goods of the poor; you caught him and made him a part of your abundance. You have shown yourself more unjust than the unjust, and more miserly than the miser. Look to it lest you end like the fish, by hook, by weel, or by net. Surely we too, when we have done the deeds of the wicked, shall not escape punishment at the last.

Now see what tricks, what cunning, are to be found in a weak animal, and learn not to imitate wicked doers. The crab loves the flesh of the oyster; but, sheltered by its shell, a solid rampart with which nature has furnished its soft and delicate flesh, it is a difficult prey to seize. Thus they call the oyster “sherd-hide.” Thanks to the two shells with which it is enveloped, and which adapt themselves perfectly the one to the other, the claws of the crab are quite powerless. What does he do? When he sees it, sheltered from the wind, warming itself with pleasure, and half opening its shells to the sun,6 he secretly throws in a pebble, prevents them from closing, and takes by cunning what force had lost. Such is the malice of these animals, deprived as they are of reason and of speech. But I would that you should at once rival the crab in cunning and industry, and abstain from harming your neighbour; this animal is the image of him who craftily approaches his brother, takes advantage of his neighbour’s misfortunes, and finds his delight in other men’s troubles. O copy not the damned! Content yourself with your own lot. Poverty, with what is necessary, is of more value in the eyes of the wise than all pleasures.

I will not pass in silence the cunning and trickery of the squid, which takes the colour of the rock to which it attaches itself. Most fish swim idly up to the squid as they might to a rock, and become themselves the prey of the crafty creature. Such are men who court ruling powers, bending themselves to all circumstances and not remaining for a moment in the same purpose; who praise self-restraint in the company of the self-restrained, and license in that of the licentious, accommodating their feelings to the pleasure of each. It is difficult to escape them and to put ourselves on guard against their mischief; because it is trader the mask of friendship that they hide their clever wickedness. Men like this are ravening wolves covered with sheep’s clothing, as the Lord calls them. Flee then fickleness and pliability; seek truth, sincerity, simplicity. The serpent is shifty; so he has been condemned to crawl. The just is an honest man, like Job.2 Wherefore God setteth the solitary in families. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.4 Yet a wise and marvellous order reigns among these animals. Fish do not always deserve our reproaches; often they offer us useful examples. How is it that each sort of fish, content with the region that has been assigned to it, never travels over its own limits to pass into foreign seas? No surveyor has ever distributed to them their habitations, nor enclosed them in walls, nor assigned limits to them; each kind has been naturally assigned its own home. One gulf nourishes one kind of fish, another other sorts; those which swarm here are absent elsewhere. No mountain raises its sharp peaks between them; no rivers bar the passage to them; it is a law of nature, which according to the needs of each kind, has allotted to them their dwelling places with equality and justice.

4. It is not thus with us. Why? Because we incessantly move the ancient landmarks which our fathers have set. We encroach, we add house to house, field to field, to enrich ourselves at the expense of our neighbour. The great fish know the sojourning place that nature has assigned to them; they occupy the sea far from the haunts of men, where no islands lie, and where are no continents rising to confront them, because it has never been crossed and neither curiosity nor need has persuaded sailors to tempt it. The monsters that dwell in this sea are in size like high mountains, so witnesses who have seen tell us, and never cross their boundaries to ravage islands and seaboard towns. Thus each kind is as if it were stationed in towns, in villages, in an ancient country, and has for its dwelling place the regions of the sea which have been assigned to it.

Instances have, however, been known of migratory fish, who, as if common deliberation transported them into strange regions, all start on their march at a given sign. When the time marked for breeding arrives, they, as if awakened by a common law of nature, migrate from gulf to gulf, directing their course toward the North Sea. And at the epoch of their return you may see all these fish streaming like a torrent across the Propontis towards the Euxine Sea. Who puts them in marching array? Where is the prince’s order? Has an edict affixed in the public place indicated to them their day of departure? Who serves them as a guide? See how the divine order embraces all and extends to the smallest object. A fish does not resist God’s law, and we men cannot endure His precepts of salvation! Do not despise fish because they are dumb and quite unreasoning; rather fear lest, in your resistance to the disposition of the Creator, you have even less reason than they. Listen to the fish, who by their actions all but speak and say: it is for the perpetuation of our race that we undertake this long voyage. They have not the gift of reason, but they have the law of nature firmly seated within them, to show them what they have to do. Let us go, they say, to the North Sea. Its water is sweeter than that of the rest of the sea; for the sun does not remain long there, and its rays do not draw up all the drinkable portions. Even sea creatures love fresh water.2 Thus one often sees them enter into rivers and swim far up them from the sea. This is the reason which makes them prefer the Euxine Sea to other gulfs, as the most fit for breeding and for bringing up their young. When they have obtained their object the whole tribe returns home. Let us hear these dumb creatures tell us the reason. The Northern sea, they say, is shallow and its surface is exposed to the violence of the wind, and it has few shores and retreats. Thus the winds easily agitate it to its bottom and mingle the sands of its bed with its waves. Besides, it is cold in winter, filled as it is from all directions by large rivers. Wherefore after a moderate enjoyment of its waters, during the summer, when the winter comes they hasten to reach warmer depths and places heated by the sun, and after fleeing from the stormy tracts of the North, they seek a haven in less agitated seas.

5. I myself have seen these marvels, and I have admired the wisdom of God in all things. If beings deprived of reason are capable of thinking and of providing for their own preservation; if a fish knows what it ought to seek and what to shun, what shall we say, who are honoured with reason, instructed by law, encouraged by the promises, made wise by the Spirit, and are nevertheless less reasonable about our own affairs than the fish? They know how to provide for the future, but we renounce our hope of the future and spend our life in brutal indulgence. A fish traverses the extent of the sea to find what is good for it; what will you say then—you who live in idleness, the mother of all vices? Do not let any one make his ignorance an excuse. There has been implanted in us natural reason which tells us to identify ourselves with good, and to avoid all that is harmful. I need not go far from the sea to find examples, as that is the object of our researches. I have heard it said by one living near the sea, that the sea urchin, a little contemptible creature, often foretells calm and tempest to sailors. When it foresees a disturbance of the winds, it gets under a great pebble, and clinging to it as to an anchor, it tosses about in safety, retained by the weight which prevents it from becoming the plaything of the waves.4 It is a certain sign for sailors that they are threatened with a violent agitation of the winds. No astrologer, no Chaldæan, reading in the rising of the stars the disturbances of the air, has ever communicated his secret to the urchin: it is the Lord of the sea and of the winds who has impressed on this little animal a manifest proof of His great wisdom. God has foreseen all, He has neglected nothing. His eye, which never sleeps, watches over all. He is present everywhere and gives to each being the means of preservation. If God has not left the sea urchin outside His providence, is He without care for you?

Husbands love your wives.” Although formed of two bodies you are united to live in the communion of wedlock. May this natural link, may this yoke imposed by the blessing, reunite those who are divided. The viper, the cruelest of reptiles, unites itself with the sea lamprey, and, announcing its presence by a hiss, it calls it from the depths to conjugal union. The lamprey obeys, and is united to this venomous animal.7 What does this mean? However hard, however fierce a husband may be, the wife ought to hear with him, and not wish to find any pretext for breaking the union. He strikes you, but he is your husband. He is a drunkard, but he is united to you by nature. He is brutal and cross, but he is henceforth one of your members, and the most precious of all.

6. Let husbands listen as well: here is a lesson for them. The viper vomits forth its venom in respect for marriage; and you, will you not put aside the barbarity and the inhumanity of your soul, out of respect for your union? Perhaps the example of the viper contains another meaning. The union of the viper and of the lamprey is an adulterous violation of nature. You, who are plotting against other men’s wedlock, learn what creeping creature you are like. I have only one object, to make all I say turn to the edification of the Church. Let then libertines put a restraint on their passions, for they are taught by the examples set by creatures of earth and sea.

My bodily infirmity and the lateness of the hour force me to end my discourse. However, I have still many observations to make on the products of the sea, for the admiration of my attentive audience. To speak of the sea itself, how does its water change into salt? How is it that coral, a stone so much esteemed, is a plant in the midst of the sea, and when once exposed to the air becomes hard as a rock? Why has nature enclosed in the meanest of animals, in an oyster, so precious an object as a pearl? For these pearls, which are coveted by the caskets of kings, are cast upon the shores, upon the coasts, upon sharp rocks, and enclosed in oyster shells. How can the sea pinna produce her fleece of gold, which no dye has ever imitated? How can shells give kings purple of a brilliancy not surpassed by the flowers of the field?

Let the waters bring forth.” What necessary object was there that did not immediately appear? What object of luxury was not given to man? Some to supply his needs, some to make him contemplate the marvels of creation. Some are terrible, so as to take our idleness to school. “God created great whales.” Scripture gives them the name of “great” not because they are greater than a shrimp and a sprat, but because the size of their bodies equals that of great hills. Thus when they swim on the surface of the waters one often sees them appear like islands. But these monstrous creatures do not frequent our coasts and shores; they inhabit the Atlantic ocean. Such are these animals created to strike us with terror and awe. If now you hear say that the greatest vessels, sailing with full sails, are easily stopped by a very small fish, by the remora, and so forcibly that the ship remains motionless for a long time, as if it had taken root in the middle of the sea,3 do you not see in this little creature a like proof of the power of the Creator? Sword fish, saw fish, dog fish, whales, and sharks, are not therefore the only things to be dreaded; we have to fear no less the spike of the stingray even after its death, and the sea-hare,5 whose mortal blows are as rapid as they are inevitable. Thus the Creator wishes that all may keep you awake, so that full of hope in Him you may avoid the evils with which all these creatures threaten you.

But let us come out of the depths of the sea and take refuge upon the shore. For the marvels of creation, coming one after the other in constant succession like the waves, have submerged my discourse. However, I should not be surprised if, after finding greater wonders upon the earth, my spirit seeks like Jonah’s to flee to the sea. But it seems to me, that meeting with these innumerable marvels has made me forget all measure, and experience the fate of those who navigate the high seas without a fixed point to mark their progress, and are often ignorant of the space which they have traversed. This is what has happened to me; whilst my words glanced at creation, I have not been sensible of the multitude of beings of which I spoke to you. But although this honourable assembly is pleased by my speech, and the recital of the marvels of the Master is grateful to the ears of His servants, let me here bring the ship of my discourse to anchor, and await the day to deliver you the rest. Let us, therefore, all arise, and, giving thanks for what has been said, let us ask for strength to hear the rest. Whilst taking your food may the conversation at your table turn upon what has occupied us this morning and this evening. Filled with these thoughts may you, even in sleep, enjoy the pleasure of the day, so that you may be permitted to say, “I sleep but my heart waketh,” meditating day and night upon the law of the Lord, to Whom be glory and power world without end. Amen.

HOMILY VIII

The Creation of Fowl and Water Animals

1. And God said “Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping things, and beast of the earth after his kind; and it was so.” The command of God advanced step by step and earth thus received her adornment. Yesterday it was said, “Let the waters produce moving things,” and to-day “let the earth bring forth the living creature.” Is the earth then alive? And are the mad-minded Manichæans right in giving it a soul? At these words “Let the earth bring forth,” it did not produce a germ contained in it, but He who gave the order at the same time gifted it with the grace and power to bring forth. When the earth had heard this command “Let the earth bring forth grass and the tree yielding fruit,” it was not grass that it had hidden in it that it caused to spring forth, it did not bring to the surface a palm tree, an oak, a cypress, hitherto kept back in its depths. It is the word of God which forms the nature of things created. “Let the earth bring forth;” that is to say not that she may bring forth that which she has but that she may acquire that which she lacks, when God gives her the power. Even so now, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature,” not the living creature that is contained in herself, but that which the command of God gives her. Further, the Manichæans contradict themselves, because if the earth has brought forth the life, she has left herself despoiled of life. Their execrable doctrine needs no demonstration.

But why did the waters receive the command to bring forth the moving creature that hath life and the earth to bring forth the living creature? We conclude that, by their nature, swimming creatures appear only to have an imperfect life, because they live in the thick element of water. They are hard of hearing, and their sight is dull because they see through the water; they have no memory, no imagination, no idea of social intercourse. Thus divine language appears to indicate that, in aquatic animals, the carnal life originates their psychic movements, whilst in terrestrial animals, gifted with a more perfect life, the soul2 enjoys supreme authority. In fact the greater part of quadrupeds have more power of penetration in their senses; their apprehension of present objects is keen, and they keep an exact remembrance of the past. It seems therefore, that God, after the command given to the waters to bring forth moving creatures that have life, created simply living bodies for aquatic animals, whilst for terrestrial animals He commanded the soul to exist and to direct the body, showing thus that the inhabitants of the earth are gifted with greater vital force. Without doubt terrestrial animals are devoid of reason. At the same time how many affections of the soul each one of them expresses by the voice of nature! They express by cries their joy and sadness, recognition of what is familiar to them, the need of food, regret at being separated from their companions, and numberless emotions. Aquatic animals, on the contrary, are not only dumb; it is impossible to tame them, to teach them, to train them for man’s society. “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib.”4 But the fish does not know who feeds him. The ass knows a familiar voice, he knows the road which he has often trodden, and even, if man loses his way, he sometimes serves him as a guide. His hearing is more acute than that of any other terrestrial animal. What animal of the sea can show so much rancour and resentment as the camel? The camel conceals its resentment for a long time after it has been struck, until it finds an opportunity, and then repays the wrong. Listen, you whose heart does not pardon, you who practise vengeance as a virtue; see what you resemble when you keep your anger for so long against your neighbour like a spark, hidden in the ashes, and only waiting for fuel to set your heart ablaze!

2. “Let the earth bring forth a living soul.” Why did the earth produce a living soul? so that you may make a difference between the soul of cattle and that of man. You will soon learn how the human soul was formed; hear now about the soul of creatures devoid of reason. Since, according to Scripture, “the life of every creature is in the blood,” as the blood when thickened changes into flesh, and flesh when corrupted decomposes into earth, so the soul of beasts is naturally an earthy substance. “Let the earth bring forth a living soul.” See the affinity of the soul with blood, of blood with flesh, of flesh with earth; and remounting in an inverse sense from the earth to the flesh, from the flesh to the blood, from the blood to the soul, you will find that the soul of beasts is earth. Do not suppose that it is older than the essence6 of their body, nor that it survives the dissolution of the flesh; avoid the nonsense of those arrogant philosophers who do not blush to liken their soul to that of a dog; who say that they have been formerly themselves women, shrubs, fish. Have they ever been fish? I do not know; but I do not fear to affirm that in their writings they show less sense than fish. “Let the earth bring forth the living creature.” Perhaps many of you ask why there is such a long silence in the middle of the rapid rush of my discourse. The more studious among my auditors will not be ignorant of the reason why words fail me. What! Have I not seen them look at each other, and make signs to make me look at them, and to remind me of what I have passed over? I have forgotten a part of the creation, and that one of the most considerable, and my discourse was almost finished without touching upon it. “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.”2 I spoke of fish as long as eventide allowed: to-day we have passed to the examination of terrestrial animals; between the two, birds have escaped as. We are forgetful like travellers who, unmindful of some important object, are obliged, although they be far on their road, to retrace their steps, punished for their negligence by the weariness of the journey. So we have to turn back. That which we have omitted is not to be despised. It is the third part of the animal creation, if indeed there are three kinds of animals, land, winged and water.

Let the waters” it is said “bring forth abundantly moving creature that hath life and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” Why do the waters give birth also to birds? Because there is, so to say, a family link between the creatures that fly and those that swim. In the same way that fish cut the waters, using their fins to carry them forward and their tails to direct their movements round and round and straightforward, so we see birds float in the air by the help of their wings. Both endowed with the property of swimming, their common derivation from the waters has made them of one family. At the same time no bird is without feet, because finding all its food upon the earth it cannot do without their service. Rapacious birds have pointed claws to enable them to close on their prey; to the rest has been given the indispensable ministry of feet to seek their food and to provide for the other needs of life. There are a few who walk badly, whose feet are neither suitable for walking nor for preying. Among this number are swallows, incapable of walking and seeking their prey, and the birds called swifts4 who live on little insects carried about by the air. As to the swallow, its flight, which grazes the earth, fulfils the function of feet.

3. There are also innumerable kinds of birds. If we review them all, as we have partly done the fish, we shall find that under one name, the creatures which fly differ infinitely in size, form and colour; that in their life, their actions and their manners, they present a variety equally beyond the power of description. Thus some have tried to imagine names for them of which the singularity and the strangeness might, like brands, mark the distinctive character of each kind known. Some, as eagles, have been called Schizoptera, others Dermoptera, as the bats, others Ptilota, as wasps, others Coleoptera, as beetles and all those insects which brought forth in cases and coverings, break their prison to fly away in liberty. But we have enough words of common usage to characterise each species and to mark the distinction which Scripture sets up between clean and unclean birds. Thus the species of carnivora is of one sort and of one constitution which suits their manner of living, sharp talons, curved beak, swift wings, allowing them to swoop easily upon their prey and to tear it up after having seized it.6 The constitution of those who pick up seeds is different, and again that of those who live on all they come across. What a variety in all these creatures! Some are gregarious, except the birds of prey who know no other society than conjugal union; but innumerable kinds, doves, cranes, starlings, jackdaws, like a common life. Among them some live without a chief and in a sort of independence; others, as cranes, do not refuse to submit themselves to a leader. And a fresh difference between them is that some are stationary and non-migratory; others undertake long voyages and the greater part of them, migrate at the approach of winter. Nearly all birds can be tamed and are capable of training, except the weakest, who through fear and timidity cannot bear the constant and annoying contact of the hand. Some like the society of man and inhabit our dwellings; others delight in mountains and in desert places. There is a great difference too in their peculiar notes. Some twitter and chatter, others are silent, some have a melodious and sonorous voice, some are wholly inharmonious and incapable of song; some imitate the voice of many, taught their mimicry either by nature or training;’ others always give forth the same monotonous cry. The cock is proud; the peacock is vain of his beauty; doves and fowls are amorous, always seeking each other’s society. The partridge is deceitful and jealous, lending perfidious help to the huntsmen to seize their prey.2

4. What a variety, I have said, in the actions and lives of flying creatures. Some of these unreasoning creatures even have a government, if the feature of government is to make the activity of all the individuals centre in one common end. This may be observed in bees. They have a common dwelling place; they fly in the air together, they work at the same work together; and what is still more extraordinary is that they give themselves to these labours under the guidance of a king and superintendent, and that they do not allow themselves to fly to the meadows without seeing if the king is flying at their head. As to this king, it is not election that gives him this authority; ignorance on the part of the people often puts the worst man in power; it is not fate; the blind decisions of fate often give authority to the most unworthy. It is not heredity that places him on the throne; it is only too common to see the children of kings, corrupted by luxury and flattery, living in ignorance of all virtue. It is nature which makes the king of the bees, for nature gives him superior size, beauty, and sweetness of character. He has a sting like the others, but he does not use it to revenge himself. It is a principle of natural and unwritten law, that those who are raised to high office, ought to be lenient in punishing. Even bees who do not follow the example of their king, repent without delay of their imprudence, since they lose their lives with their sting. Listen, Christians, you to whom it is forbidden to “recompense evil for evil” and commanded “to overcome evil with good.”4 Take the bee for your model, which constructs its cells without injuring any one and without interfering with the goods of others. It gathers openly wax from the flowers with its mouth, drawing in the honey scattered over them like dew, and injects it into the hollow of its cells. Thus at first honey is liquid; time thickens it and gives it its sweetness. The book of Proverbs has given the bee the most honourable and the best praise by calling her wise and industrious.6 How much activity she exerts in gathering this precious nourishment, by which both kings and men of low degree are brought to health! How great is the art and cunning she displays in the construction of the store houses which are destined to receive the honey! After having spread the wax like a thin membrane, she distributes it in contiguous compartments which, weak though they are, by their number and by their mass, sustain the whole edifice. Each cell in fact holds to the one next to it, and is separated by a thin partition; we thus see two or three galleries of cells built one upon the other. The bee takes care not to make one vast cavity, for fear it might break under the weight of the liquid, and allow it to escape. See how the discoveries of geometry are mere by-works to the wise bee!

The rows of honey-comb are all hexagonal with equal sides. They do not bear on each other in straight lines, lest the supports should press on empty spaces between and give way; but the angles of the lower hexagons serve as foundations and bases to those which rise above, so as to furnish a sure support to the lower mass, and so that each cell may securely keep the liquid honey.

5. How shall we make an exact review of all the peculiarities of the life of birds? During the night cranes keep watch in turn; some sleep, others make the rounds and procure a quiet slumber for their companions. After having finished his duty, the sentry utters a cry, and goes to sleep, and the one who awakes, in his turn, repays the security which he has enjoyed. You will see the same order reign in their flight. One leads the way, and when it has guided the flight of the flock for a certain time, it passes to the rear, leaving to the one who comes after the care of directing the march.

The conduct of storks comes very near intelligent reason. In these regions the same season sees them all migrate. They all start at one given signal. And it seems to me that our crows, serving them as escort, go to bring them back, and to help them against the attacks of hostile birds. The proof is that in this season not a single crow appears, and that they return with wounds, evident marks of the help and of the assistance that they have lent. Who has explained to them the laws of hospitality? Who has threatened them with the penalties of desertion? For not one is missing from the company. Listen, all inhospitable hearts, ye who shut your doors, whose house is never open either in the winter or in the night to travellers. The solicitude of storks for their old would be sufficient, if our children would reflect upon it, to make them love their parents; because there is no one so failing in good sense, as not to deem it a shame to be surpassed in virtue by birds devoid of reason. The storks surround their father, when old age makes his feathers drop off, warm him with their wings, and provide abundantly for his support, and even in their flight they help him as much as they are able, raising him gently on each side upon their wings, a conduct so notorious that it has given to gratitude the name of “antipelargosis.” Let no one lament poverty; let not the man whose house is bare despair of his life, when he considers the industry of the swallow. To build her nest, she brings bits of straw in her beak; and, as she cannot raise the mud in her claws, she moistens the end of her wings in water and then rolls in very fine dust and thus procures mud.3 After having united, little by little, the bits of straw with this mud, as with glue, she feeds her young; and if any one of them has its eyes injured, she has a natural remedy to heal the sight of her little ones.

This sight ought to warn you not to take to evil ways on account of poverty; and, even if you are reduced to the last extremity, not to lose all hope; not to abandon yourself to inaction and idleness, but to have recourse to God. If He is so bountiful to the swallow, what will He not do for those who call upon Him with all their heart?

The halcyon is a sea bird, which lays its eggs along the shore, or deposits them in the sand. And it lays in the middle of winter, when the violence of the winds dashes the sea against the land. Yet all winds are hushed, and the wave of the sea grows calm, during the seven days that the halcyon sits.

For it only takes seven days to hatch the young. Then, as they are in need of food so that they may grow, God, in His munificence, grants another seven days to this tiny animal. All sailors know this, and call these days halcyon days. If divine Providence has established these marvellous laws in favour of creatures devoid of reason, it is to induce you to ask for your salvation from God. Is there a wonder which He will not perform for you—you have been made in His image, when for so little a bird, the great, the fearful sea is held in check and is commanded in the midst of winter to be calm.

6. It is said that the turtle-dove, once separated from her mate, does not contract a new union, but remains in widowhood, in remembrance of her first alliance. Listen, O women! What veneration for widowhood, even in these creatures devoid of reason, how they prefer it to an unbecoming multiplicity of marriages. The eagle shows the greatest injustice in the education which she gives to her young. When she has hatched two little ones, she throws one on the ground, thrusting it out with blows from her wings, and only acknowledges the remaining one. It is the difficulty of finding food which has made her repulse the offspring she has brought forth. But the osprey, it is said, will not allow it to perish, she carries it away and brings it up with her young ones. Such are parents who, finder the plea of poverty, expose their children; such are again those who, in the distribution of their inheritance, make unequal divisions. Since they have given existence equally to each of their children, it is just that they should equally and without preference furnish them with the means of livelihood. Beware of imitating the cruelty of birds with hooked talons. When they see their young are from henceforth capable of encountering the air in their flight, they throw them out of the nest, striking them and pushing them with their wings, and do not take the least care of them. The love of the crow for its young is laudable! When they begin to fly, she follows them, gives them food, and for a very long time provides for their nourishment. Many birds have no need of union with males to conceive. But their eggs are unfruitful, except those of vultures, who more often, it is said, bring forth without coupling:2 and this although they have a very long life, which often reaches its hundredth year. Note and retain, I pray you, this point in the history of birds; and if ever you see any one laugh at our mystery, as if it were impossible and contrary to nature that a virgin should become a mother without losing the purity of her virginity, bethink you that He who would save the faithful by the foolishness of preaching, has given us beforehand in nature a thousand reasons for believing in the marvellous.

7. “Let the waters bring forth the moving creatures that have life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” They received the command to fly above the earth because earth provides them with nourishment. “In the firmament of heaven,” that is to say, as we have said before, in that part of the air called οὐρανός, heaven, from the word ὁρᾶν, which means to see; called firmament, because the air which extends over our heads, compared to the æther, has greater density, and is thickened by the vapours which exhale from the earth. You have then heaven adorned, earth beautified, the sea peopled with its own creatures, the air filled with birds which scour it in every direction. Studious listener, think of all these creations which God has drawn out of nothing, think of all those which my speech has left out, to avoid tediousness, and not to exceed my limits; recognise everywhere the wisdom of God; never cease to wonder, and, through, every creature, to glorify the Creator.

There are some kinds of birds which live by night in the midst of darkness; others which fly by day in fall light. Bats, owls, night-ravens are birds of night: if by chance you cannot sleep, reflect on these nocturnal birds and their peculiarities and glorify their Maker. How is it that the nightingale is always awake when sitting on her eggs, passing the night in a continual melody? How is it that one animal, the bat, is at the same time quadruped and fowl? That it is the only one of the birds to have teeth? That it is viviparous like quadrupeds, and traverses the air, raising itself not upon wings, but upon a kind of membrane?7 What natural love bats have for each other! How they interlace like a chain and hang the one upon the other! A very rare spectacle among men, who for the greater part prefer individual and private life to the union of common life. Have not those who give themselves up to vain science the eyes of owls? The sight of the owl, piercing during the night time, is dazzled by the splendour of the sun; thus the intelligence of these men, so keen to contemplate vanities, is blind in presence of the true light.

During the day, also, how easy it is for you to admire the Creator everywhere! See how the domestic cock calls you to work with his shrill cry, and how, forerunner of the sun, and early as the traveller, he sends forth labourers to the harvest! What vigilance in geese! With what sagacity they divine secret dangers! Did they not once upon a time save the imperial city? When enemies were advancing by subterranean passages to possess themselves of the capitol of Rome, did not geese announce the danger? Is there any kind of bird whose nature offers nothing for our admiration? Who announces to the vultures that there will be carnage when men march in battle array against one another? You may see flocks of vultures following armies and calculating the result of warlike preparations;2 a calculation very nearly approaching to human reasoning. How can I describe to you the fearful invasions of locusts, which rise everywhere at a given signal, and pitch their camps all over a country? They do not attack crops until they have received the divine command. Or shall I describe how the remedy for this curse, the thrush, follows them with its insatiable appetite, and the devouring nature that the loving God has given it in His kindness for men? How does the grasshopper modulate its song?4 Why is it more melodious at mid-day owing to the air that it breathes in dilating its chest?

But it appears to me that in wishing to describe the marvels of winged creatures, I remain further behind than I should if my feet had tried to match the rapidity of their flight. When you see bees, wasps, in short all those flying creatures called insects, because they have an incision all around, reflect that they have neither respiration nor lungs, and that they are supported by air through all parts of their bodies. Thus they perish, if they are covered with oil, because it stops up their pores. Wash them with vinegar, the pores reopen and the animal returns to life. Our God has created nothing unnecessarily and has omitted nothing that is necessary. If now you cast your eyes upon aquatic creatures, you will find that their organization is quite different. Their feet are not split like those of the crow, nor hooked like those of the carnivora, but large and membraneous; therefore they can easily swim, pushing the water with the membranes of their feet as with oars. Notice how the swan plunges his neck into the depths of the water to draw his food from it, and you will understand the wisdom of the Creator in giving this creature a neck longer than his feet, so that he may throw it like a line, and take the food hidden at the bottom of the water.6

8. If we simply read the words of Scripture we find only a few short syllables. “Let the waters bring forth fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven,” but if we enquire into the meaning of these words, then the great wonder of the wisdom of the Creator appears. What a difference He has foreseen among winged creatures! How He has divided them by kinds! How He has characterized each one of them by distinct qualities! But the day will not suffice me to recount the wonders of the air. Earth is calling me to describe wild beasts, reptiles and cattle, ready to show us in her turn sights rivalling those of plants, fish, and birds. “Let the earth bring forth the living soul” of domestic animals, of wild beasts, and of reptiles after their kind. What have you to say, you who do not believe in the change that Paul promises you in the resurrection, when you see so many metamorphoses among creatures of the air? What are we not told of the horned worm of India! First it changes into a caterpillar, then becomes a buzzing insect, and not content with this form, it clothes itself, instead of wings, with loose, broad plates. Thus, O women, when you are seated busy with your weaving, I mean of the silk which is sent you by the Chinese to make your delicate dresses,8 remember the metamorphoses of this creature, conceive a clear idea of the resurrection, and do not refuse to believe in the change that Paul announces for all men.

But I am ashamed to see that my discourse oversteps the accustomed limits; if I consider the abundance of matters on which I have just discoursed to you, I feel that I am being borne beyond bounds; but when I reflect upon the inexhaustible wisdom which is displayed in the works of creation, I seem to be but at the beginning of my story. Nevertheless, I have not detained you so long without profit. For what would you have done until the evening? You are not pressed by guests, nor expected at banquets. Let me then employ this bodily fast to rejoice your souls. You have often served the flesh for pleasure, to-day persevere in the ministry of the soul. “Delight thyself also in the Lord and he shall give thee the desire of thine heart.” Do you love riches? Here are spiritual riches. “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold and precious stones.”2 Do you love enjoyment and pleasures? Behold the oracles of the Lord, which, for a healthy soul, are “sweeter than honey and the honey-comb.” If I let you go, and if I dismiss this assembly, some will run to the dice, where they will find bad language, sad quarrels and the pangs of avarice. There stands the devil, inflaming the fury of the players with the dotted bones,4 transporting the same sums of money from one side of the table to the other, now exalting one with victory and throwing the other into despair, now swelling the first with boasting and covering his rival with confusion. Of what use is bodily fasting and filling the soul with innumerable evils? He who does not play spends his leisure elsewhere. What frivolities come from his mouth! What follies strike his ears! Leisure without the fear of the Lord is, for those who do not know the value of time, a school of vice.6 I hope that my words will be profitable; at least by occupying you here they have prevented you from sinning. Thus the longer I keep you, the longer you are out of the way of evil.

An equitable judge will deem that I have said enough, not if he considers the riches of creation, but if he thinks of our weakness and of the measure one ought to keep in that which tends to pleasure. Earth has welcomed you with its own plants, water with its fish, air with its birds; he continent in its turn is ready to offer you as rich treasures. But let us put an end to this morning banquet, for fear satiety may blunt your taste for the evening one. May He who has filled all with the works of His creation and has left everywhere visible memorials of His wonders, fill your hearts with all spiritual joys in Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom belong glory and power, world without end. Amen.

HOMILY IX

The Creation of Terrestrial Animals

1. How did you like the fare of my morning’s discourse? It seemed to me that I had the good intentions of a poor giver of a feast, who, ambitious of having the credit of keeping a good table saddens his guests by the poor supply of the more expensive dishes. In vain he lavishly covers his table with his mean fare; his ambition only shows his folly. It is for you to judge if I have shared the same fate. Yet, whatever my discourse may have been, take care lest you disregard it. No one refused to sit at the table of Elisha; and yet he only gave his friends wild vegetables. I know the laws of allegory, though less by myself than from the works of others. There are those truly, who do not admit the common sense of the Scriptures, for whom water is not water, but some other nature, who see in a plant, in a fish, what their fancy wishes, who change the nature of reptiles and of wild beasts to suit their allegories, like the interpreters of dreams who explain visions in sleep to snake them serve their own ends. For me grass is grass; plant, fish, wild beast, domestic animal, I take all in the literal sense.8 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel.” Those who have written about the nature of the universe have discussed at length the shape of the earth. If it be spherical or cylindrical, if it resemble a disc and is equally rounded in all parts, or if it has the forth of a winnowing basket and is hollow in the middle;10 all these conjectures have been suggested by cosmographers, each one upsetting that of his predecessor. It will not lead me to give less importance to the creation of the universe, that the servant of God, Moses, is silent as to shapes; he has not said that the earth is a hundred and eighty thousand furlongs in circumference; he has not measured into what extent of air its shadow projects itself whilst the sun revolves around it, nor stated how this shadow, casting itself upon the moon, produces eclipses. He has passed over in silence, as useless, all that is unimportant for us. Shall I then prefer foolish wisdom to the oracles of the Holy Spirit? Shall I not rather exalt Him who, not wishing to fill our minds with these vanities, has regulated all the economy of Scripture in view of the edification and the making perfect of our souls? It is this which those seem to me not to have understood, who, giving themselves up to the distorted meaning of allegory, have undertaken to give a majesty of their own invention to Scripture. It is to believe themselves wiser than the Holy Spirit, and to bring forth their own ideas under a pretext of exegesis. Let us hear Scripture as it has been written.

2. “Let the earth bring forth thee living creature.” Behold the word of God pervading creation, beginning even then the efficacy which is seen displayed to-day, and will be displayed to the end of the world! As a ball, which one pushes, if it meet a declivity, descends, carried by its form and the nature of the ground and does not stop until it has reached a level surface; so nature, once put in motion by the Divine command, traverses creation with an equal step, through birth and death, and keeps up the succession of kinds through resemblance, to the last.2 Nature always makes a horse succeed to a horse, a lion to a lion, an eagle to an eagle, and preserving each animal by these uninterrupted successions she transmits it to the end of all things. Animals do not see their peculiarities destroyed or effaced by any length of time; their nature, as though it had been just constituted, follows the course of ages, for ever young. “Let the earth bring forth the living creature.” This command has continued and earth does not cease to obey the Creator. For, if there are creatures which are successively produced by their predecessors, there are others that even to-day we see born from the earth itself. In wet weather she brings forth grasshoppers and an immense number of insects which fly in the air and have no names because they are so small; she also produces mice and frogs. In the environs of Thebes in Egypt, after abundant rain in hot weather, the country is covered with field mice.4 We see mud alone produce eels; they do not proceed from an egg, nor in any other manner; it is the earth alone which gives them birth. Let the earth produce a living creature.”

Cattle are terrestrial and bent towards the earth. Man, a celestial growth, rises superior to them as much by the mould of his bodily conformation as by the dignity of his soul. What is the form of quadrupeds? Their head is bent towards the earth and looks towards their belly, and only pursues their belly’s good. Thy head, O man! is turned towards heaven; thy eyes look up. When therefore thou degradest thyself by the passions of the flesh, slave of thy belly, and thy lowest parts, thou approachest animals without reason and becomest like one of them.7 Thou art called to more noble cares; “seek those things which are above where Christ sitteth.” Raise thy soul above the earth; draw from its natural conformation the rule of thy conduct; fix thy conversation in heaven. Thy true country is the heavenly Jerusalem;9 thy fellow-citizens and thy compatriots are “the first-born which are written in heaven.”

3. “Let the earth bring forth the living creature.” Thus when the soul of brutes appeared it was not concealed in the earth, but it was born by the command of God. Brutes have one and the same soul of which the common characteristic is absence of reason. But each animal is distinguished by peculiar qualities. The ox is steady, the ass is lazy, the horse has strong passions, the wolf cannot be tamed, the fox is deceitful, the stag timid, the ant industrious, the dog grateful and faithful in his friendships. As each animal was created the distinctive character of his nature appeared in him in due measure; in the lion spirit, taste for solitary life, an unsociable character. True tyrant of animals, he, in his natural arrogance, admits but few to share his honours. He disdains his yesterday’s food and never returns to the remains of the prey. Nature has provided his organs of voice with such great force that often much swifter animals are caught by his roaring alone. The panther, violent and impetuous in his leaps, has a body fitted for his activity and lightness, in accord with the movements of his soul. The bear has a sluggish nature, ways of its own, a sly character, and is very secret; therefore it has an analogous body, heavy, thick, without articulations such as are necessary for a cold dweller in dens.

When we consider the natural and innate care that these creatures without reason take of their lives we shall be induced to watch over ourselves and to think of the salvation of our souls; or rather we shall be the more condemned when we are found falling short even of the imitation of brutes. The bear, which often gets severely wounded, cares for himself and cleverly fills the wounds with mullein, a plant whose nature is very astringent. You will also see the fox heal his wounds with droppings from the pine tree; the tortoise, gorged with the flesh of the viper, finds in the virtue of marjoram a specific against this venomous animal and the serpent heals sore eyes by eating fennel.2

And is not reasoning intelligence eclipsed by animals in their provision for atmospheric changes? Do we not see sheep, when winter is approaching, devouring grass with avidity as if to make provision for future scarcity? Do we not also see oxen, long confined in the winter season, recognise the return of spring by a natural sensation, and look to the end of their stables towards the doors, all turning their heads there by common consent? Studious observers have remarked that the hedgehog makes an opening at the two extremities of his hole. If the wind from the north is going to blow he shuts up the aperture which looks towards the north; if the south wind succeeds it the animal passes to the northern door. What lesson do these animals teach man? They not only show us in our Creator a care which extends to all beings, but a certain presentiment of future even in brutes. Then we ought not to attach ourselves to this present life and ought to give all heed to that which is to come. Will you not be industrious for yourself, O man? And will you not lay up in the present age rest in that which is to come, after having seen the example of the ant? The ant during summer collects treasures for winter. Far from giving itself up to idleness, before this season has made it feel its severity, it hastens to work with an invincible zeal until it has abundantly filled its storehouses. Here again, how far it is from being negligent! With what wise foresight it manages so as to keep its provisions as long as possible! With its pincers it cuts the grains in half, for fear lest they should germinate and not serve for its food. If they are damp it dries them; and it does not spread them out in all weathers, but when it feels that the air will keep of a mild temperature. Be sure that you will never see rain fall from the clouds so long as the ant has left the grain out.4

What language can attain to the marvels of the Creator? What ear could understand them? And what time would be sufficient to relate them? Let us say, then, with the prophet, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all.” We shall not be able to say in self-justification, that we have learnt useful knowledge in books, since the untaught law of nature makes us choose that which is advantageous to us. Do you know what good you ought to do your neighbour? The good that you expect from him yourself. Do you know what is evil? That which you would not wish another to do to you. Neither botanical researches nor the experience of simples have made animals discover those which are useful to them; but each knows naturally what is salutary and marvellously appropriates what suits its nature.

4. Virtues exist in us also by nature, and the soul has affinity with them not by education, but by nature herself. We do not need lessons to hate illness, but by ourselves we repel what afflicts us, the soul has no need of a master to teach us to avoid vice. Now all vice is a sickness of the soul as virtue is its health. Thus those have defined health well who have called it a regularity in the discharge of natural functions; a definition that can be applied without fear to the good condition of the soul. Thus, without having need of lessons, the soul can attain by herself to what is fit and conformable to nature. Hence it comes that temperance everywhere is praised, justice is in honour, courage admired, and prudence the object of all aims; virtues which concern the soul more than health concerns the body. Children love your parents, and you, “parents provoke not your children to wrath.”2 Does not nature say the same? Paul teaches us nothing new; he only tightens the links of nature. If the lioness loves her cubs, if the she wolf fights to defend her little ones, what shall man say who is unfaithful to the precept and violates nature herself; or the son who insults the old age of his father; or the father whose second marriage has made him forget his first children?

With animals invincible affection unites parents with children. It is the Creator, God Himself, who substitutes the strength of feeling for reason in them. From whence it comes that a lamb as it bounds from the fold, in the midst of a thousand sheep recognises the colour and the voice of its mother, runs to her, and seeks its own sources of milk. If its mother’s udders are dry, it is content, and, without stopping, passes by more abundant ones. And how does the mother recognise it among the many lambs? All have the same voice, the same colour, the same smell, as far at least as regards our sense of smell. Yet there is in these animals a more subtle sense than our perception which makes them recognise their own. The little dog has as yet no teeth, nevertheless he defends himself with his mouth against any one who teases him. The calf has as yet no horns, nevertheless he already knows where his weapons will grow.4 Here we have evident proof that the instinct of animals is innate, and that in all beings there is nothing disorderly, nothing unforeseen. All bear the marks of the wisdom of the Creator, and show that they have come to life with the means of assuring their preservation.

The dog is not gifted with a share of reason; but with him instinct has the power of reason. The dog has learnt by nature the secret of elaborate inferences, which sages of the world, after long years of study, have hardly been able to disentangle. When the dog is on the track of game, if he sees it divide in different directions, he examines these different paths, and speech alone fails him to announce his reasoning. The creature, he says, is gone here or there or in another direction. It is neither here nor there; it is therefore in the third direction. And thus, neglecting the false tracks, he discovers the true one. What more is done by those who, gravely occupied in demonstrating theories, trace lines upon the dust and reject two propositions to show that the third is the true one?

Does not the gratitude of the dog shame all who are ungrateful to their benefactors? Many are said to have fallen dead by their murdered masters in lonely places. Others, when a crime has just been committed, have led those who were searching for the murderers, and have caused the criminals to be brought to justice. What will those say who, not content with not loving the Master who has created them and nourished them, have for their friends men whose mouth attacks the Lord, sitting at the same table with them, and, whilst partaking of their food, blaspheme Him who has given it to them?

5. But let us return to the spectacle of creation. The easiest animals to catch are the most productive. It is on account of this that hares and wild goats produce many little ones, and that wild sheep have twins, for fear lest these species should disappear, consumed by carnivorous animals. Beasts of prey, on the contrary, produce only a few and a lioness with difficulty gives birth to one lion; because, if they say truly, the cub issues from its mother by tearing her with its claws; and vipers are only born by gnawing through the womb, inflicting a proper punishment on their mother.2 Thus in nature all has been foreseen, all is the object of continual care. If you examine the members even of animals, you will find that the Creator has given them nothing superfluous, that He has omitted nothing that is necessary. To carnivorous animals He has given pointed teeth which their nature requires for their support. Those that are only half furnished with teeth have received several distinct receptacles for their food. As it is not broken up enough in the first, they are gifted with the power of returning it after it has been swallowed, and it does not assimilate until it has been crushed by rumination. The first, second, third, and fourth stomachs of ruminating animals do not remain idle; each one of them fulfils a necessary function. The neck of the camel is long so that it may lower it to its feet and reach the grass on which it feeds. Bears, lions, tigers, all animals of this sort, have short necks buried in their shoulders; it is because they do not live upon grass and have no need to bend down to the earth; they are carnivorous and eat the animals upon whom they prey.

Why has the elephant a trunk? This enormous creature, the greatest of terrestrial animals, created for the terror of those who meet it, is naturally huge and fleshy. If its neck was large and in proportion to its feet it would be difficult to direct, and would be of such an excessive weight that it would make it lean towards the earth. As it is, its head is attached to the spine of the back by short vertebræ and it has its trunk to take the place of a neck, and with it it picks up its food and draws up its drink. Its feet, without joints, like united columns, support the weight of its body. If it were supported on lax and flexible legs, its joints would constantly give way, equally incapable of supporting its weight, should it wish either to kneel or rise. But it has under the foot a little ankle joint which takes the place of the leg and knee joints whose mobility would never have resisted this enormous and swaying mass. Thus it had need of this nose which nearly touches its feet. Have you seen them in war marching at the head of the phalanx, like living towers, or breaking the enemies’ battalions like mountains of flesh with their irresistible charge? If their lower parts were not in accordance with their size they would never have been able to hold their own. Now we are told that the elephant lives three hundred years and more,5 another reason for him to have solid and unjointed feet. But, as we have said, his trunk, which has the form and the flexibility of a serpent, takes its food from the earth and raises it up. Thus we are right in saying that it is impossible to find anything superfluous or wanting in creation. Well! God has subdued this monstrous animal to us to such a point that he understands the lessons and endures the blows we give him; a manifest proof that the Creator has submitted all to our rule, because we have been made in His image. It is not in great animals only that we see unapproachable wisdom; no less wonders are seen in the smallest. The high tops of the mountains which, near to the clouds and continually beaten by the winds, keep up a perpetual winter, do not arouse more admiration in me than the hollow valleys, which escape the storms of lofty peaks and preserve a constant mild temperature. In the same way in the constitution of animals I am not more astonished at the size of the elephant, than at the mouse, who is feared by the elephant, or at the scorpion’s delicate sting, which has been hollowed like a pipe by the supreme artificer to throw venom into the wounds it makes. And let nobody accuse the Creator of having produced venomous animals, destroyers and enemies of our life. Else let them consider it a crime in the schoolmaster when he disciplines the restlessness of youth by the use of the rod and whip to maintain order.

6. Beasts bear witness to the faith. Hast thou confidence in the Lord? “Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk and thou shalt trample under feet the lion and the dragon.” With faith thou hast the power to walk upon serpents and scorpions. Do you not see that the viper which attached itself to the hand of Paul, whilst he gathered sticks, did not injure him, because it found the saint full of faith? If you have not faith, do not fear beasts so much as your faithlessness, which renders you susceptible of all corruption. But I see that for a long time you have been asking me for an account of the creation of man, and I think I can hear you all cry in your hearts, We are being taught the nature of our belongings, but we are ignorant of ourselves. Let me then speak of it, since it is necessary, and let me put an end to my hesitation. In truth the most difficult of sciences is to know one’s self. Not only our eye, from which nothing outside us escapes, cannot see itself; but our mind, so piercing to discover the sins of others, is slow to recognise its own faults.2 Thus my speech, after eagerly investigating what is external to myself, is slow and hesitating in exploring my own nature. Yet the beholding of heaven and earth does not make us know God better than the attentive study of our being does; I am, says the Prophet, fearfully and wonderfully made; that is to say, in observing myself I have known Thy infinite wisdom.4 And God said “Let us make man.” Does not the light of theology shine, in these words, as through windows; and does not the second Person show Himself in a mystical way, without yet manifesting Himself until the great day? Where is the Jew who resisted the truth and pretended that God was speaking to Himself? It is He who spoke, it is said, and it is He who made. “Let there be light and there was light.” But then their words contain a manifest absurdity. Where is the smith, the carpenter, the shoemaker, who, without help and alone before the instruments of his trade, would say to himself; let us make the sword, let us put together the plough, let us make the boot? Does he not perform the work of his craft in silence? Strange folly, to say that any one has seated himself to command himself, to watch over himself, to constrain himself, to hurry himself, with the tones of a master! But the unhappy creatures are not afraid to calumniate the Lord Himself. What will they not say with a tongue so well practised in lying? Here, however, words stop their mouth; “And God said let us make man.” Tell me; is there then only one Person? It is not written “Let man be made,” but, “Let us make man.” The preaching of theology remains enveloped in shadow before the appearance of him who was to be instructed, but, now, the creation of man is expected, that faith unveils herself and the dogma of truth appears in all its light. “Let us make man.” O enemy of Christ, hear God speaking to His Co-operator, to Him by Whom also He made the worlds, Who upholds all things by the word of His power.6 But He does not leave the voice of true religion without answer. Thus the Jews, race hostile to truth, when they find themselves pressed, act like beasts enraged against man, who roar at the bars of their cage and show the cruelty and the ferocity of their nature, without being able to assuage their fury. God, they say, addresses Himself to several persons; it is to the angels before Him that He says, “Let us make man.” Jewish fiction! a fable whose frivolity shows whence it has come. To reject one person, they admit many. To reject the Son, they raise servants to the dignity of counsellors; they make of our fellow slaves the agents in our creation. The perfect man attains the dignity of an angel; but what creature can be like the Creator? Listen to the continuation. “In our image.” What have you to reply? Is there one image of God and the angels? Father and Son have by absolute necessity the same form, but the form is here understood as becomes the divine, not in bodily shape, but in the proper qualities of Godhead. Hear also, you who belong to the new concision and who, under the appearance of Christianity, strengthen the error of the Jews.8 To Whom does He say, “in our image,” to whom if it is not to Him who is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person,” “the image of the invisible God”?10 It is then to His living image, to Him Who has said “I and my Father are one,” “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,”12 that God says “Let us make man in our image.” Where is the unlikeness in these Beings who have only one image? “So God created man,”14 It is not “They made.” Here Scripture avoids the plurality of the Persons. After having enlightened the Jew, it dissipates the error of the Gentiles in putting itself under the shelter of unity, to make you understand that the Son is with the Father, and guarding you from the danger of polytheism. He created him in the image of God. God still shows us His co-operator, because He does not say, in His image, but in the image of God.

If God permits, we will say later in what way man was created in the image of God, and how he shares this resemblance. To-day we say but only one word. If there is one image, from whence comes the intolerable blasphemy of pretending that the Son is unlike the Father? What ingratitude! You have yourself received this likeness and you refuse it to your Benefactor! You pretend to keep personally that which is in you a gift of grace, and you do not wish that the Son should keep His natural likeness to Him who begat Him.

But evening, which long ago sent the sun to the west, imposes silence upon me. Here, then, let me be content with what I have said, and put my discourse to bed. I have told you enough up to this point to excite your zeal; with the help of the Holy Spirit I will make for you a deeper investigation into the truths which follow. Retire, then, I beg you, with joy, O Christ-loving congregation, and, instead of sumptuous dishes of various delicacies, adorn and sanctify your tables with the remembrance of my words. May the Anomœan be confounded, the Jew covered with shame, the faithful exultant in the dogmas of truth, and the Lord glorified, the Lord to Whom be glory and power, world without end. Amen.

Letters

Introduction To the Letters

Of Saint Basil the extant letters, according to popular ascription, number three hundred and sixty-six. Of these three hundred and twenty-five, or, according to some, only three hundred and nineteen are genuine. They are published in three chronological divisions, the 1st, (Letters 1–46) comprising those written by Basil before his elevation to the episcopate; the second (47–291) the Letters of the Episcopate; the third (292–366) those which have no note of time, together with some that are of doubtful genuineness, and a few certainly spurious. They may be classified as (a) historical, (b) dogmatic, (c) moral and ascetic, (d) disciplinary, (e) consolatory, (f) commendatory, and (g) familiar. In the historic we have a vivid picture of his age. The doctrinal are of special value as expressing and defending the Nicene theology. The moral and ascetic indicate the growing importance of the monastic institution which Athanasius at about the same time was instrumental in recommending to the Latin Church. The disciplinary, (notably 188, 199, and 217), to Amphilochius, illustrate the earlier phases of ecclesiastical law. The consolatory, commendatory, and familiar, have an immediate biographical value as indicating the character and faith of the writer, and may not be without use alike as models of Christian feeling and good breeding, and as bringing comfort in trouble to readers remote in time and place. The text in the following translation is that of Migne’s edition, except where it is stated to the contrary. Of the inadequacy of the notes to illustrate the letters as they deserve no one can be more vividly conscious than myself. But the letters tell their own story.

LETTER I

To Eustathius the Philosopher.

Much distressed as I was by the flouts of what is called fortune, who always seems to be hindering my meeting you, I was wonderfully cheered and comforted by your letter, for I had already been turning over in my mind whether what so many people say is really true, that there is a certain Necessity or Fate which rules all the events of our lives both great and small, and that we human beings have control over nothing; or, that at all events, all human life is driven by a kind of luck. You will be very ready to forgive me for these reflexions, when you learn by what causes I was led to make them.

On hearing of your philosophy, I entertained a feeling of contempt for the teachers of Athens, and left it. The city on the Hellespont I passed by, more unmoved than any Ulysses, passing Sirens’ songs.

Asia I admired; but I hurried on to the capital of all that is best in it. When I arrived home, and did not find you,—the prize which I had sought so eagerly,—there began many and various unexpected hindrances. First I must miss you because I fell ill; then when you were setting out for the East I could not start with you; then, after endless trouble, I reached Syria, but I missed the philosopher, who had set out for Egypt. Then I must set out for Egypt, a long and weary way, and even there I did not gain my end. But so passionate was my longing that I must either set out for Persia, and proceed with you to the farthest lands of barbarism, (you had got there; what an obstinate devil possessed me!) or settle here at Alexandria. This last I did. I really think that unless, like some tame beast, I had followed a bough held out to me till I was quite worn out, you would have been driven on and on beyond Indian Nyssa, or any more remote region, and wandered about out there. Why say more?

On returning home, I cannot meet you, hindered by lingering ailments. If these do not get better I shall not be able to meet you even in the winter. Is not all this, as you yourself say, due to Fate? Is not this Necessity? Does not my case nearly outdo poets’ tales of Tantalus? But, as I said, I feel better after getting your letter, and am now no longer of the same mind. When God gives good things I think we must thank Him, and not be angry with Him while He is controlling their distribution. So if He grant me to join you, I shall think it best and most delightful; if He put me off, I will gently endure the loss. For He always rules our lives better than we could choose for ourselves.

LETTER II

Basil to Gregory

1. [I recognised your letter, as one recognises one’s friends’ children from their obvious likeness to their parents. Your saying that to describe the kind of place I live in, before letting you hear anything about how I live, would not go far towards persuading you to share my life, was just like you; it was worthy of a soul like yours, which makes nothing of all that concerns this life here, in comparison with the blessedness which is promised us hereafter. What I do myself, day and night, in this remote spot, I am ashamed to write. I have abandoned my life in town, as one sure to lead to countless ills; but I have not yet been able to get quit of myself. I am like travellers at sea, who have never gone a voyage before, and are distressed and seasick, who quarrel with the ship because it is so big and makes such a tossing, and, when they get out of it into the pinnace or dingey, are everywhere and always seasick and distressed. Wherever they go their nausea and misery go with them. My state is something like this. I carry my own troubles with me, and so everywhere I am in the midst of similar discomforts. So in the end I have not got much good out of my solitude. What I ought to have done; what would have enabled me to keep close to the footprints of Him who has led the way to salvation—for He says, “If any one will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me”—is this.]

2. We must strive after a quiet mind. As well might the eye ascertain an object put before it while it is wandering restless up and down and sideways, without fixing a steady gaze upon it, as a mind, distracted by a thousand worldly cares, be able clearly to apprehend the truth. He who is not yet yoked in the bonds of matrimony is harassed by frenzied cravings, and rebellious impulses, and hopeless attachments; he who has found his mate is encompassed with his own tumult of cares; if he is childless, there is desire for children; has he children? anxiety about their education, attention to his wife, care of his house, oversight of his servants,5 misfortunes in trade, quarrels with his neighbours, lawsuits, the risks of the merchant, the toil of the farmer. Each day, as it comes, darkens the soul in its own way; and night after night takes up the day’s anxieties, and cheats the mind with illusions in accordance. Now one way of escaping all this is separation from the whole world; that is, not bodily separation, but the severance of the soul’s sympathy with the body, and to live so without city, home, goods, society, possessions, means of life, business, engagements, human learning, that the heart may readily receive every impress of divine doctrine. Preparation of heart is the unlearning the prejudices of evil converse. It is the smoothing the waxen tablet before attempting to write on it.

Now solitude is of the greatest use for this purpose, inasmuch as it stills our passions, and gives room for principle to cut them out of the soul. [For just as animals are more easily controlled when they are stroked, lust and anger, fear and sorrow, the soul’s deadly foes, are better brought under the control of reason, after being calmed by inaction, and where there is no continuous stimulation.] Let there then be such a place as ours, separate from intercourse with men, that the tenour of our exercises be not interrupted from without. Pious exercises nourish the soul with divine thoughts. What state can be more blessed than to imitate on earth the choruses of angels? to begin the day with prayer, and honour our Maker with hymns and songs? As the day brightens, to betake ourselves, with prayer attending on it throughout, to our labours, and to sweeten our work with hymns, as if with salt? Soothing hymns compose the mind to a cheerful and calm state. Quiet, then, as I have said, is the first step in our sanctification; the tongue purified from the gossip of the world; the eyes unexcited by fair colour or comely shape; the ear not relaxing the tone or mind by voluptuous songs, nor by that especial mischief, the talk of light men and jesters. Thus the mind, saved from dissipation from without, and not through the senses thrown upon the world, falls back upon itself, and thereby ascends to the contemplation of God. [When2 that beauty shines about it, it even forgets its very nature; it is dragged down no more by thought of food nor anxiety concerning dress; it keeps holiday from earthly cares, and devotes all its energies to the acquisition of the good things which are eternal, and asks only how may be made to flourish in it self-control and manly courage, righteousness and wisdom, and all the other virtues, which, distributed under these heads, properly enable the good man to discharge all the duties of life.]

3. The study of inspired Scripture is the chief way of finding our duty, for in it we find both instruction about conduct and the lives of blessed men, delivered in writing, as some breathing images of godly living, for the imitation of their good works. Hence, in whatever respect each one feels himself deficient, devoting himself to this imitation, he finds, as from some dispensary, the due medicine for his ailment. He who is enamoured of chastity dwells upon the history of Joseph, and from him learns chaste actions, finding him not only possessed of self-command over pleasure, but virtuously-minded in habit. He is taught endurance by Job [who, not only when the circumstances of life began to turn against him, and in one moment he was plunged from wealth into penury, and from being the father of fair children into childlessness, remained the same, keeping the disposition of his soul all through uncrushed, but was not even stirred to anger against the friends who came to comfort him, and trampled on him, and aggravated his troubles.] Or should he be enquiring how to be at once meek and great-hearted, hearty against sin, meek towards men, he will find David noble in warlike exploits, meek and unruffled as regards revenge on enemies. Such, too, was Moses, rising up with great heart upon sinners against God, but with meek soul bearing their evil-speaking against himself. [Thus,4 generally, as painters, when they are painting from other pictures, constantly look at the model, and do their best to transfer its lineaments to their own work, so too must he who is desirous of rendering himself perfect in all branches of excellency, keep his eyes turned to the lives of the saints as though to living and moving statues, and make their virtue his own by imitation.

4. Prayers, too, after reading, find the soul fresher, and more vigorously stirred by love towards God. And that prayer is good which imprints a clear idea of God in the soul; and the having God established in self by means of memory is God’s indwelling. Thus we become God’s temple, when the continuity of our recollection is not severed by earthly cares; when the mind is harassed by no sudden sensations; when the worshipper flees from all things and retreats to God, drawing away all the feelings that invite him to self-indulgence, and passes his time in the pursuits that lead to virtue.]

5. This, too, is a very important point to attend to,—knowledge how to converse; to interrogate without over-earnestness; to answer without desire of display; not to interrupt a profitable speaker, or to desire ambitiously to put in a word of one’s own; to be measured in speaking and hearing; not to be ashamed of receiving, or to be grudging in giving information, nor to pass another’s knowledge for one’s own, as depraved women their supposititious children, but to refer it candidly to the true parent. The middle tone of voice is best, neither so low as to be inaudible, nor to be ill-bred from its high pitch. One should reflect first what one is going to say, and then give it utterance: be courteous when addressed; amiable in social intercourse; not aiming to be pleasant by facetiousness, but cultivating gentleness in kind admonitions. Harshness is ever to be put aside, even in censuring. [The more you shew modesty and humility yourself, the more likely are you to be acceptable to the patient who needs your treatment. There are however many occasions when we shall do well to employ the kind of rebuke used by the prophet who did not in his own person utter the sentence of condemnation on David after his sin, but by suggesting an imaginary character made the sinner judge of his own sin, so that, after passing his own sentence, he could not find fault with the seer who had convicted him.

6. From the humble and submissive spirit comes an eye sorrowful and downcast, appearance neglected, hair rough, dress dirty; so that the appearance which mourners take pains to present may appear our natural condition. The tunic should be fastened to the body by a girdle, the belt not going above the flank, like a woman’s, nor left slack, so that the tunic flows loose, like an idler’s. The gait ought not to be sluggish, which shews a character without energy, nor on the other hand pushing and pompous, as though our impulses were rash and wild. The one end of dress is that it should be a sufficient covering alike in winter and summer. As to colour, avoid brightness; in material, the soft and delicate. To aim at bright colours in dress is like women’s beautifying when they colour cheeks and hair with hues other than their own. The tunic ought to be thick enough not to want other help to keep the wearer warm. The shoes should be cheap but serviceable. In a word, what one has to regard in dress is the necessary. So too as to food; for a man in good health bread will suffice, and water will quench thirst; such dishes of vegetables may be added as conduce to strengthening the body for the discharge of its functions. One ought not to eat with any exhibition of savage gluttony, but in everything that concerns our pleasures to maintain moderation, quiet, and self-control; and, all through, not to let the mind forget to think of God, but to make even the nature of our food, and the constitution of the body that takes it, a ground and means for offering Him the glory, bethinking us how the various kinds of food, suitable to the needs of our bodies, are due to the provision of the great Steward of the Universe. Before meat let grace be said, in recognition alike of the girls which God gives now, and which He keeps in store for time to come. Say grace after meat in gratitude for gifts given and petition for gifts promised. Let there be one fixed hour for taking food, always the same in regular course, that of all the four and twenty of the day and night barely this one may be spent upon the body. The rest the ascetic3 ought to spend in mental exercise. Let sleep be light and easily interrupted, as naturally happens after a light diet; it should be purposely broken by thoughts about great themes. To be overcome by heavy torpor, with limbs unstrung, so that a way is readily opened to wild fancies, is to be plunged in daily death. What dawn is to some this midnight is to athletes of piety; then the silence of night gives leisure to their soul; no noxious sounds or sights obtrude upon their hearts; the mind is alone with itself and God, correcting itself by the recollection of its sins, giving itself precepts to help it to shun evil, and imploring aid from God for the perfecting of what it longs for.]

LETTER III

To Candidianus.

1. When I took your letter into my hand. I underwent an experience worth telling. I looked at it with the awe due to a document making some state announcement, and as I was breaking the wax, I felt a dread greater than ever guilty Spartan felt at sight of the Laconian scytale.

When, however, I had opened the letter, and read it through, I could not help laughing, partly for joy at finding nothing alarming in it; partly because I likened your state of affairs to that of Demosthenes. Demosthenes, you remember, when he was providing for a certain little company of chorus dancers and musicians, requested to be styled no longer Demosthenes, but “choragus.” You are always the same, whether playing the “choragus” or not. “Choragus” you are indeed to soldiers myriads more in number than the individuals to whom Demosthenes supplied necessaries; and yet you do not when you write to me stand on your dignity, but keep up the old style. You do not give up the study of literature, but, as Plato has it, in the midst of the storm and tempest of affairs, you stand aloof, as it were, under some strong wall, and keep your mind clear of all disturbance; nay, more, as far as in you lies, you do not even let others be disturbed. Such is your life; great and wonderful to all who have eyes to see; and yet not wonderful to any one who judges by the whole purpose of your life.

Now let me tell my own story, extraordinary indeed, but only what might have been expected.

2. One of the hinds who live with us here at Annesi, on the death of my servant, without alleging any breach of contract with him, without approaching me, without making any complaint, without asking me to make him any voluntary payment, without any threat of violence should he fail to get it, all on a sudden, with certain mad fellows like himself, attacked my house, brutally assaulted the women who were in charge of it, broke in the doors, and after appropriating some of the contents himself, and promising the rest to any one who liked, carried off everything. I do not wish to be regarded as the ne plus ultra of helplessness, and a suitable object for the violence of any one who likes to attack me. Shew me, then, now, I beg you, that kindly interest which you have always shewn in my affairs. Only on one condition can my tranquillity be secured,—that I be assured of having your energy on my side. It would be quite punishment enough, from my point of view, if the man were apprehended by the district magistrate and locked up for a short period in the gaol. It is not only that I am indignant at the treatment I have suffered, but I want security for the future.

LETTER IV

To Olympius.

What do you mean, my dear Sir, by evicting from our retreat my dear friend and nurse of philosophy, Poverty? Were she but gifted with speech, I take it you would have to appear as defendant in an action for unlawful ejectment. She might plead “I chose to live with this man Basil, an admirer of Zeno, who, when he had lost everything in a shipwreck, cried, with great fortitude, ‘well done, Fortune! you are reducing me to the old cloak;’6 a great admirer of Cleanthes, who by drawing water from the well got enough to live on and pay his tutors’ fees as well; an immense admirer of Diogenes, who prided himself on requiring no more than was absolutely necessary, and flung away his bowl after he had learned from some lad to stoop down and drink from the hollow of his hand.” In some such terms as these you might be chidden by my dear mate Poverty, whom your presents have driven from house and home. She might too add a threat; “if I catch you here again, I shall shew that what went before was Sicilian or Italian luxury: so I shall exactly requite you out of my own store.”

But enough of this. I am very glad that you have already begun a course of medicine, and pray that you may be benefited by it. A condition of body fit for painless activity would well become so pious a soul.

LETTER V

To Nectarius.

1. I heard of your unendurable loss, and was much distressed. Three or four days went by, and I was still in some doubt because my informant was not able to give me any clear details of the melancholy event. While I was incredulous about what was noised abroad, because I prayed that it might not be true, I received a letter from the Bishop fully confirming the unhappy tidings. I need not tell you how I sighed and wept. Who could be so stony-hearted, so truly inhuman, as to be insensible to what has occurred, or be affected by merely moderate grief? He is gone; heir of a noble house, prop of a family, a father’s hope, offspring of pious parents, nursed with innumerable prayers, in the very bloom of manhood, torn from his father’s hands. These things are enough to break a heart of adamant and make it feel. It is only natural then that I am deeply touched at this trouble; I who have been intimately connected with you from the beginning and have made your joys and sorrows mine. But yesterday it seemed that you had only little to trouble you, and that your life’s stream was flowing prosperously on. In a moment, by a demon’s malice, all the happiness of the house, all the brightness of life, is destroyed, and our lives are made a doleful story. If we wish to lament and weep over what has happened, a life time will not be enough; and if all mankind mourns with us they will be powerless to make their lamentation match our loss. Yes, if all the streams run tears2 they will not adequately weep our woe.

2. But we mean,—do we not?—to bring out the gift which God has stored in our hearts; I mean that sober reason which in our happy days is wont to draw lines of limitation round our souls, and when troubles come about us to recall to our minds that we are but men, and to suggest to us, what indeed we have seen and heard, that life is full of similar misfortunes, and that the examples of human sufferings are not a few. Above all, this will tell us that it is God’s command that we who trust in Christ should not grieve over them who are fallen asleep, because we hope in the resurrection; and that in reward for great patience great crowns of glory are kept in store by the Master of life’s course. Only let us allow our wiser thoughts to speak to us in this strain of music, and we may peradventure discover some slight alleviation of our trouble. Play the man, then, I implore you; the blow is a heavy one, but stand firm; do not fall under the weight of your grief; do not lose heart. Be perfectly assured of this, that though the reasons for what is ordained by God are beyond us, yet always what is arranged for us by Him Who is wise and Who loves us is to be accepted, be it ever so grievous to endure. He Himself knows how He is appointing what is best for each and why the terms of life that He fixes for us are unequal. There exists some reason incomprehensible to man why some are sooner carried far away from us, and some are left a longer while behind to bear the burdens of this painful life. So we ought always to adore His loving kindness, and not to repine, remembering those great and famous words of the great athlete Job, when he bad seen ten children at one table, in one short moment, crushed to death, “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away.” As the Lord thought good so it came to pass. Let us adopt those marvellous words. At the hands of the righteous Judge, they who show like good deeds shall receive a like reward. We have not lost the lad; we have restored him to the Lender. His life is not destroyed; it is changed for the better. He whom we love is not hidden in the ground; he is received into heaven. Let us wait a little while, and we shall be once more with him. The time of our separation is not long, for in this life we are all like travellers on a journey, hastening on to the same shelter. While one has reached his rest another arrives, another hurries on, but one and the same end awaits them all. He has outstripped us on the way, but we shall all travel the same road, and the same hostelry awaits us all. God only grant that we through goodness may be likened to his purity, to the end that for the sake of our guilelessness of life we may attain the rest which is granted to them that are children in Christ.

LETTER VI

To the wife of Nectarius

1. I hesitated to address your excellency, from the idea that, just as to the eye when inflamed even the mildest of remedies causes pain, so to a soul distressed by heavy sorrow, words offered in the moment of agony, even though they do bring much comfort, seem to be somewhat out of place. But I bethought me that I should be speaking to a Christian woman, who has long ago learned godly lessons, and is not inexperienced in the vicissitudes of human life, and I judged it right not to neglect the duty laid upon me. I know what a mother’s heart is, and when I remember how good and gentle you are to all, I can reckon the probable extent of your misery at this present time. You have lost a son whom, while he was alive, all mothers called happy, with prayers that their own might be like him, and on his death bewailed, as though each bad hidden her own in the grave. His death is a blow to two provinces, both to mine and to Cilicia. With him has fallen a great and illustrious race, dashed to the ground as by the withdrawal of a prop. Alas for the mighty mischief that the contact with an evil demon was able to wreak! Earth, what a calamity thou hast been compelled to sustain! If the sun had any feeling one would think he might have shuddered at so sad a sight. Who could utter all that the spirit in its helplessness would have said?

2. But our lives are not without a Providence. So we have learnt in the Gospel, for not a sparrow falls to the ground without the will of our Father. Whatever has come to pass has come to pass by the will of our Creator. And who can resist God’s will? Let us accept what has befallen us; for if we take it ill we do not mend the past and we work our own ruin. Do not let us arraign the righteous judgment of God. We are all too untaught to assail His ineffable sentences. The Lord is now making trial of your love for Him. Now there is an opportunity for you, through your patience, to take the martyr’s lot. The mother of the Maccabees2 saw the death of seven sons without a sigh, without even shedding one unworthy tear. She gave thanks to God for seeing them freed from the fetters of the flesh by fire and steel and cruel blows, and she won praise from God, and fame among men. The loss is great, as I can say myself; but great too are the rewards laid up by the Lord for the patient. When first you were made a mother, and saw your boy, and thanked God, you knew all the while that, a mortal yourself, you had given birth to a mortal. What is there astonishing in the death of a mortal? But we are grieved at his dying before his time. Are we sure that this was not his time? We do not know how to pick and choose what is good for our souls, or how to fix the limits of the life of man. Look round at all the world in which you live; remember that everything you see is mortal, and all subject to corruption. Look up to heaven; even it shall be dissolved; look at the sun, not even the sun will last for ever. All the stars together, all living things of land and sea, all that is fair on earth, aye, earth itself, all are subject to decay; yet a little while and all shall be no more. Let these considerations be some comfort to you in your trouble. Do not measure your loss by itself; if you do it will seem intolerable; but if you take all human affairs into account you will find that some comfort is to be derived from them. Above all, one thing I would strongly urge; spare your husband. Be a comfort to others. Do not make his trouble harder to bear by wearing yourself away with sorrow. Mere words I know cannot give comfort. Just now what is wanted is prayer; and I do pray the Lord Himself to touch your heart by His unspeakable power, and through good thoughts to cause light to shine upon your soul, that you may have a source of consolation in yourself.

LETTER VII

To Gregory my friend.

When I wrote to you, I was perfectly well aware that no theological term is adequate to the thought of the speaker, or the want of the questioner, because language is of natural necessity too weak to act in the service of objects of thought. If then our thought is weak, and our tongue weaker than our thought, what was to be expected of me in what I said but that I should be charged with poverty of expression? Still, it was not possible to let your question pass unnoticed. It looks like a betrayal, if we do not readily give an answer about God to them that love the Lord. What has been said, however, whether it seems satisfactory, or requires some further and more careful addition, needs a fit season for correction. For the present I implore you, as I have implored you before, to devote yourself entirely to the advocacy of the truth, and to the intellectual energies God gives you for the establishment of what is good. With this be content, and ask nothing more from me. I am really much less capable than is supposed, and am more likely to do harm to the word by my weakness than to add strength to the truth by my advocacy.

LETTER VIII

To the Cæsareans.

A defence of his withdrawal, and concerning the faith.

1. I have often been astonished at your feeling towards me as you do, and how it comes about that an individual so small and insignificant, and having, may be, very little that is lovable about him, should have so won your allegiance. You remind me of the claims of friendship and of fatherland, and press me urgently in your attempt to make me come back to you, as though I were a runaway from a father’s heart and home. That I am a runaway I confess. I should be sorry to deny it; since you are already regretting me, you shall be told the cause. I was astounded like a man stunned by some sudden noise. I did not crush my thoughts, but dwelt upon them as I fled, and now I have been absent from you a considerable time. Then I began to yearn for the divine doctrines, and the philosophy that is concerned with them. How, said I, could I overcome the mischief dwelling with us? Who is to be my Laban, setting me free from Esau, and leading me to the supreme philosophy? By God’s help, I have, so far as in me lies, attained my object; I have found a chosen vessel, a deep well; I mean Gregory, Christ’s mouth. Give me, therefore, I beg you, a little time. I am not embracing a city life. I am quite well aware how the evil one by such means devises deceit for mankind, but I do hold the society of the saints most useful. For in the more constant change of ideas about the divine dogmas I am acquiring a lasting habit of contemplation. Such is my present situation.

2. Friends godly and well beloved, do, I implore you, beware of the shepherds of the Philistines; let them not choke your wills unawares; let them not befoul the purity of your knowledge of the faith. This is ever their object, not to teach simple souls lessons drawn from Holy Scripture, but to mar the harmony of the truth by heathen philosophy. Is not he an open Philistine who is introducing the terms “unbegotten” and “begotten” into our faith, and asserts that there was once a time when the Everlasting was not; that He who is by nature and eternally a Father became a Father; that the Holy Ghost is not eternal? He bewitches our Patriarch’s sheep that they may not drink “of the well of water springing up into everlasting life,”3 but may rather bring upon themselves the words of the prophet, “They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water;” when all the while they ought to confess that the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God,5 as they have been taught by the divine words, and by those who have understood them in their highest sense. Against those who cast it in our teeth that we are Tritheists, let it be answered that we confess one God not in number but in nature. For everything which is called one in number is not one absolutely, nor yet simple in nature; but God is universally confessed to be simple and not composite. God therefore is not one in number. What I mean is this. We say that the world is one in number, but not one by nature nor yet simple; for we divide it into its constituent elements, fire, water, air, and earth. Again, man is called one in number. We frequently speak of one man, but man who is composed of body and soul is not simple. Similarly we say one angel in number, but not one by nature nor yet simple, for we conceive of the hypostasis of the angel as essence with sanctification. If therefore everything which is one in number is not one in nature, and that which is one and simple in nature is not one in number; and if we call God one in nature how can number be charged against us, when we utterly exclude it from that blessed and spiritual nature? Number relates to quantity; and quantity is conjoined with bodily nature, for number is of bodily nature. We believe our Lord to be Creator of bodies. Wherefore every number indicates those things which have received a material and circumscribed nature. Monad and Unity on the other hand signify the nature which is simple and incomprehensible. Whoever therefore confesses either the Son of God or the Holy Ghost to be number or creature introduces unawares a material and circumscribed nature. And by circumscribed I mean not only locally limited, but a nature which is comprehended in foreknowledge by Him who is about to educe it from the non-existent into the existent and which can be comprehended by science. Every holy thing then of which the nature is circumscribed and of which the holiness is acquired is not insusceptible of evil. But the Son and the Holy Ghost are the source of sanctification by which every reasonable creature is hallowed in proportion to its virtue.

3. We in accordance with the true doctrine speak of the Son as neither like, nor unlike8 the Father. Each of these terms is equally impossible, for like and unlike are predicated in relation to quality, and the divine is free from quality. We, on the contrary, confess identity of nature and accepting the consubstantiality, and rejecting the composition of the Father, God in substance, Who begat the Son, God in substance. From this the consubstantiality is proved. For God in essence or substance is co-essential or consubstantial with God in essence or substance. But when even man is called “god” as in the words, “I have said ye are gods,”2 and “dæmon” as in the words, “The gods of the nations are dæmons,” in the former case the name is given by favour, in the latter untruly. God alone is substantially and essentially God. When I say “alone” I set forth the holy and uncreated essence and substance of God. For the word “alone” is used in the case of any individual and generally of human nature. In the case of an individual, as for instance of Paul, that he alone was caught into the third heaven and “heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter,”4 and of human nature, as when David says, “as for man his days are as grass,” not meaning any particular man, but human nature generally; for every man is short-lived and mortal. So we understand these words to be said of the nature, “who alone hath immortality”6 and “to God only wise,” and “none is good save one, that is God,”8 for here “one” means the same as alone. So also, “which alone spreadest out the heavens,” and again “Thou shall worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve.”10 “There is no God beside me.” In Scripture “one” and “only” are not predicated of God to mark distinction from the Son and the Holy Ghost, but to except the unreal gods falsely so called. As for instance, “The Lord alone did lead them and there was no strange god with them,”12 and “then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and did serve the Lord only.” And so St. Paul, “For as there be gods many and lords many, but to us there is but out god, the Father, of whom are all things; and one Lord Jesus Christ by Whom are all things.” 14 Here we enquire why when he had said “one God” he was not content, for we have said that “one” and “only” when applied to God, indicate nature. Why did he add the word Father and make mention of Christ? Paul, a chosen vessel, did not, I imagine, think it sufficient only to preach that the Son is God and the Holy Ghost God, which he had expressed by the phrase “one God.” without, by the further addition of “the Father,” expressing Him of Whom are all things; and, by mentioning the Lord, signifying the Word by Whom are all things; and yet further, by adding the words Jesus Christ, announcing the incarnation, setting forth the passion and publishing the resurrection. For the word Jesus Christ suggests all these ideas to us. For this reason too before His passion our Lord deprecates the designation of “Jesus Christ,” and charges His disciples to “tell no man that He was Jesus, the Christ.” For His purpose was, after the completion of the œconomy,16 after His resurrection froth the dead, and His assumption into heaven, to commit to them the preaching of Him as Jesus, the Christ. Such is the force of the words “That they may know Thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent,” and again “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.”18 Everywhere the Holy Ghost secures our conception of Him to save us from falling in one direction while we advance in the other, heeding the theology but neglecting the œconomy, and so by omission falling into impiety.

4. Now let us examine, and to the best of our ability explain, the meaning of the words of Holy Scripture, which our opponents seize and wrest to their own sense, and urge against us for the destruction of the glory of the Only-begotten. First of all take the words “I live because of the Father,” for this is one of the shafts hurled heavenward by those who impiously use it. These words I do not understand to refer to the eternal life; for whatever lives because of something else cannot be self-existent, just as that which is warmed by another cannot be warmth itself; but He Who is our Christ and God says, “I am the life.”21 I understand the life lived because of the Father to be this life in the flesh, and in this time. Of His own will He came to live the life of men. He did not say “I have lived because of the Father,” but “I live because of the Father,” clearly indicating the present time, and the Christ, having the word of God in Himself, is able to call the life which He leads, life, and that this is His meaning we shall learn from what follows. “He that eateth me,” He says, “he also shall live because of me;” for we eat His flesh, and drink His blood, being made through His incarnation and His visible life partakers of His Word and of His Wisdom. For all His mystic sojourn among us He called flesh and blood, and set forth the teaching consisting of practical science, of physics, and of theology, whereby out soul is nourished and is meanwhile trained for the contemplation of actual realities. This is perhaps the intended meaning of what He says.2

5. And again, “My Father is greater than I.” This passage is also employed by the ungrateful creatures, the brood of the evil one. I believe that even from this passage the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father is set forth. For I know that comparisons may properly be made between things which are of the same nature. We speak of angel as greater than angel, of man as juster than man, of bird as fleeter than bird. If then comparisons are made between things of the same species, and the Father by comparison is said to be greater than the Son, then the Son is of the same substance as the Father. But there is another sense underlying the expression. In what is it extraordinary that He who “is the Word and was made flesh”4 confesses His Father to be greater than Himself, when He was seen in glory inferior to the angels, and in form to men? For “Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,” and again “Who was made a little lower than the angels,”6 and “we saw Him and He had neither form nor comeliness, his form was deficient beyond all men.” All this He endured on account of His abundant loving kindness towards His work, that He might save the lost sheep and bring it home when He had saved it, and bring back safe and sound to his own land the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and so fell among thieves.8 Will the heretic cast in His teeth the manger out of which he in his unreasonableness was fed by the Word of reason? Will he, because the carpenter’s son had no bed to lie on, complain of His being poor? This is why the Son is less than the Father; for your sakes He was made dead to free you from death and make you sharer in heavenly life. It is just as though any one were to find fault with the physician for stooping to sickness, and breathing its foul breath, that he may heal the sick.

6. It is on thy account that He knows not the hour and the day of judgment. Yet nothing is beyond the ken of the real Wisdom, for “all things were made by Him;” and even among men no one is ignorant of what be has made. But this is His dispensation10 because of thine own infirmity, that sinners be not plunged into despair by the narrow limits of the appointed period, no opportunity for repentance being left them; and that, on the other hand, those who are waging a long war with the forces of the enemy may not desert their post on account of the protracted time. For both of these classes He arranges12 by means of His assumed ignorance; for the former cutting the time short for their glorious struggle’s sake; for the latter providing an opportunity for repentance because of their sins. In the gospels He numbered Himself among the ignorant, on account, as I have said, of the infirmity of the greater part of mankind. In the Acts of the Apostles, speaking, as it were, to the perfect apart, He says, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power.” Here He implicitly excepts Himself. So much for a rough statement by way of preliminary attack. Now let us enquire into the meaning of the text from a higher point of view. Let me knock at the door of knowledge, if haply I may wake the Master of the house, Who gives the spiritual bread to them who ask Him, since they whom we are eager to entertain are friends and brothers.

7. Our Saviour’s holy disciples, after getting beyond the limits of human thought, and then being purified by the word, are enquiring about the end, and longing to know the ultimate blessedness which our Lord declared to be unknown to His angels and to Himself. He calls all the exact comprehension of the purposes of God, a day; and the contemplation of the One-ness and Unity, knowledge of which He attributes to the Father alone, an hour. I apprehend, therefore, that God is said to know of Himself what is; and not to know what is not God, Who is, of His own nature, very righteousness and wisdom, is said to know righteousness and wisdom; but to be ignorant of unrighteousness and wickedness; for God who created us is not unrighteousness and wickedness. If, then, God is said to know about Himself that which is, and not to know that which is not; and if our Lord, according to the purpose of the Incarnation and the denser doctrine, is not the ultimate object of desire; then our Saviour does not know the end and the ultimate blessedness. But He says the angels do not know; that is to say, not even the contemplation which is in them, nor the methods of their ministries are the ultimate object of desire. For even their knowledge, when compared with the knowledge which is face to face, is dense.2 Only the Father, He says, knows, since He is Himself the end and the ultimate blessedness, for when we no longer know God in mirrors and not immediately, but approach Him as one and alone, then we shall know even the ultimate end. For all material knowledge is said to be the kingdom of Christ; while immaterial knowledge, and so to say the knowledge of actual Godhead, is that of God the Father. But our Lord is also Himself the end and the ultimate blessedness according to the purpose of the Word; for what does He say in the Gospel? “I will raise him up at the last day.”4 He calls the transition from material knowledge to immaterial contemplation a resurrection, speaking of that knowledge after which there is no other, as the last day: for our intelligence is raised up and roused to a height of blessedness at the time when it contemplates the One-ness and Unity of the Word. But since our intelligence is made dense and bound to earth, it is both commingled with clay and incapable of gazing intently in pure contemplation, being led through adornments cognate to its own body. It considers the operations of the Creator, and judges of them meanwhile by their effects, to the end that growing little by little it may one day wax strong enough to approach even the actual unveiled Godhead. This is the meaning, I think, of the words “my Father is greater than I,”6 and also of the statement, “It is not mine to give save to those for whom it is prepared by my Father.” This too is what is meant by Christ’s “delivering up the kingdom to God even the Father;”8 inasmuch as according to the denser doctrine which, as I said, is regarded relatively to us and not to the Son Himself, He is not the end but the first fruits. It is in accordance with this view that when His disciples asked Him again in the Acts of the Apostles, “When wilt thou restore the kingdom of Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power.” That is to say, the knowledge of such a kingdom is not for them that are bound in flesh and blood. This contemplation the Father hath put away in His own power, meaning by “power” those that are empowered, and by “His own” those who are not held down by the ignorance of things below. Do not, I beg you, have in mind times and seasons of sense but certain distinctions of knowledge made by the sun apprehended by mental perception. For our Lord’s prayer must be carried out. It is Jesus Who prayed “Grant that they may be one in us as I and Thou are one, Father.”10 For when God, Who is one, is in each, He makes all one; and number is lost in the indwelling of Unity.

This is my second attempt to attack the text. If any one has a better interpretation to give, and can consistently with true religion amend what I say, let him speak and let him amend, and the Lord will reward him for me. There is no jealousy in my heart. I have not approached this investigation of these passages for strife and vain glory. I have done so to help my brothers, lest the earthen vessels which hold the treasure of God should seem to be deceived by stony-hearted and uncircumcised men, whose weapons are the wisdom of folly.

8. Again, as is said through Solomon the Wise in the Proverbs, “He was created;” and He is named “Beginning of ways” of good news, which lead us to the kingdom of heaven. He is not in essence and substance a creature, but is made a “way” according to the œconomy. Being made and being created signify the same thing. As He was made a way, so was He made a door, a shepherd, an angel, a sheep, and again a High Priest and an Apostle,2 the names being used in other senses. What again would the heretics say about God unsubjected, and about His being made sin for us? For it is written “But when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him.”4 Are you not afraid, sir, of God called unsubjected? For He makes thy subjection His own; and because of thy struggling against goodness He calls himself unsubjected. In this sense too He once spoke of Himself as persecuted—”Saul, Saul,” He says, “why persecutest thou me?” on the occasion when Saul was hurrying to Damascus with a desire to imprison the disciples. Again He calls Himself naked, when any one of his brethren is naked. “I was naked,” He says, “and ye clothed me;”6 and so when another is in prison He speaks of Himself as imprisoned, for He Himself took away our sins and bare our sicknesses. Now one of our infirmities is not being subject, and He bare this. So all the things which happen to us to our hurt He makes His own, taking upon Him our sufferings in His fellowship with us.

9. But another passage is also seized by those who are fighting against God to the perversion of their hearers: I mean the words “The Son can do nothing of Himself.” To me this saying too seems distinctly declaratory of the Son’s being of the same nature as the Father. For if every rational creature is able to do anything of himself, and the inclination which each has to the worse and to the better is in his own power, but the Son can do nothing of Himself, then the Son is not a creature. And if He is not a creature, then He is of one essence and substance with the Father. Again; no creature can do what be likes. But the Son does what He wills in heaven and in earth. Therefore the Son is not a creature. Again; all creatures are either constituted of contraries or receptive of contraries. But the Son is very righteousness, and immaterial. Therefore the Son is not a creature, and if He is not a creature, He is of one essence and substance with the Father.

10. This examination of the passages before us is, so far as my ability goes, sufficient. Now let us turn the discussion on those who attack the Holy Spirit, and cast down every high thing of their intellect that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. You say that the Holy Ghost is a creature. And every creature is a servant of the Creator, for “all are thy servants.”10 If then He is a servant, His holiness is acquired; and everything of which the holiness is acquired is receptive of evil; but the Holy Ghost being holy in essence is called “fount of holiness,” Therefore the Holy Ghost is not a creature. If He is not a creature. He is of one essence and substance with the Father. How, tell me, can you give the name of servant to Him Who through your baptism frees you from your servitude? “The law,” it is said, “of the Spirit of life hath made me free from the law of sin.”12 But you will never venture to call His nature even variable, so long as you have regard to the nature of the opposing power of the enemy, which, like lightning, is fallen from heaven and fell out of the true life because its holiness was acquired, and its evil counsels were followed by its change. So when it had fallen away from the Unity and had cast from it its angelic dignity, it was named after its character” Devil,” its former arid blessed condition being extinct and this hostile power being kindled.

Furthermore if he calls the Holy Ghost a creature he describes His nature as limited. How then can the two following passages stand? “The Spirit of the Lord filleth the world;” and “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?”3 But he does not, it would seem, confess Him to be simple in nature; for he describes Him as one in number. And, as I have already said, everything that is one in number is not simple. And if the Holy Spirit is not simple, He consists of essence and sanctification, and is therefore composite. But who is mad enough to describe the Holy Spirit as composite, and not simple, and consubstantial with the Father and the Son?

11. If we ought to advance our argument yet further, and turn our inspection to higher themes, let us contemplate the divine nature of the Holy Spirit specially from the following point of view. In Scripture we find mention of three creations. The first is the evolution from non-being into being. The second is change from the worse to the better. The third is the resurrection of the dead. In these you will find the Holy Ghost cooperating with the Father and the Son. There is a bringing into existence of the heavens; and what says David? “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”5 Again, man is created through baptism, for “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature.” And why does the Saviour say to the disciples, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”? Here too you see the Holy Ghost present with the Father and the Son. And what would you say also as to the resurrection of the dead when we shall have failed and returned to our dust? Dust we are and unto dust we shall return.7 And He will send the Holy Ghost and create us and renew the face of the earth. For what the holy Paul calls resurrection David describes as renewal. Let us hear, once more, him who was caught into the third heaven. What does he say? “You are the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you.”9 Now every temple is a temple of God, and if we are a temple of the Holy Ghost, then the Holy Ghost is God. It is also called Solomon’s temple, but this is in the sense of his being its builder. And if we are a temple of the Holy Ghost in this sense, then the Holy Ghost is God, for “He that built all things is God.”11 If we are a temple of one who is worshipped, and who dwells in us, let us confess Him to be God, for thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve. Supposing them to object to the word “God,” let them learn what this word means. God is called Θεὸς either because He placed (τεθεικέναι) all things or because He beholds (Θεᾶσθαι) all things. If He is called Θεὸς because He “placed” or “beholds” all things, and the Spirit knoweth all the things of God, as the Spirit in us knoweth our things, then the Holy Ghost is God. Again, if the sword of the spirit is the word of God,14 then the Holy Ghost is God, inasmuch as the sword belongs to Him of whom it is also called the word. Is He named the right hand of the Father? For “the right hand of the Lord bringeth mighty things to pass;” and “thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.”16 But the Holy Ghost is the finger of God, as it is said “if I by the finger of God cast out devils,” of which the version in another Gospel is “if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils.”18 So the Holy Ghost is of the same nature as the Father and the Son.

12. So much must suffice for the present on the subject of the adorable and holy Trinity. It is not now possible to extend the enquiry about it further. Do ye take seeds from a humble person like me, and cultivate the ripe ear for yourselves, for, as you know, in such cases we look for interest. But I trust in God that you, because of your pure lives, will bring forth fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold. For, it is said, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. And, my brethren, entertain no other conception of the kingdom of the heavens than that it is the very contemplation of realities. This the divine Scriptures call blessedness. For “the kingdom of heaven is within you.”2

The inner man consists of nothing but contemplation. The kingdom of the heavens, then, must be contemplation. Now we behold their shadows as in a glass; hereafter, set free from this earthly body, clad in the incorruptible and the immortal, we shall behold their archetypes, we shall see them, that is, if we have steered our own life’s course aright, and if we have heeded the right faith, for otherwise none shall see the Lord. For, it is said, into a malicious soul Wisdom shall not enter, nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin. And let no one urge in objection that, while I am ignoring what is before our eyes, I am philosophizing to them about bodiless and immaterial being. It seems to me perfectly absurd, while the senses are allowed free action in relation to their proper matter, to exclude mind alone from its peculiar operation. Precisely in the same manner in which sense touches sensible objects, so mind apprehends the objects of mental perception. This too must be said that God our Creator has not included natural faculties among things which can be taught. No one teaches sight to apprehend colour or form, nor hearing to apprehend sound and speech, nor smell, pleasant and unpleasant scents, nor taste, flavours and savours, nor touch, soft and hard, hot and cold. Nor would any one teach the mind to reach objects of mental perception; and just as the senses in the case of their being in any way diseased, or injured, require only proper treatment and then readily fulfil their own functions; just so the mind, imprisoned in flesh, and full of the thoughts that arise thence, requires faith and right conversation which make “its feet like hinds’ feet, and set it on its high places.”4 The same advice is given us by Solomon the wise, who in one passage offers us the example of the diligent worker the ant, and recommends her active life; and in another the work of the wise bee in forming its cells,6 and thereby suggests a natural contemplation wherein also the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is contained, if at least the Creator is considered in proportion to the beauty of the things created.

But with thanks to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost let me make an end to my letter, for, as the proverb has it, πᾶν μέτρον ἀριστον.

LETTER IX

To Maximus the Philosopher.

1. Speech is really an image of mind: so I have learned to know you from your letters, just as the proverb tells us we may know “the lion from his claws.”

I am delighted to find that your strong inclinations lie in the direction of the first and greatest of good things—love both to God and to your neighbour. Of the latter I find proof in your kindness to myself; of the former, in your zeal for knowledge. It is well known to every disciple of Christ that in these two all is contained.

2. You ask for the writings of Dionysius; they did indeed reach me, and a great many they were; but I have not the books with me, and so have not sent them. My opinion is, however, as follows. I do not admire everything that is written; indeed of some things I totally disapprove. For it may be, that of the impiety of which we are now hearing so much, I mean the Anomœan, it is he, as far as I know, who first gave men the seeds. I do not trace his so doing to any mental depravity, but only to his earnest desire to resist Sabellius. I often compare him to a woodman trying to straighten some ill-grown sapling, pulling so immoderately in the opposite direction as to exceed the mean, and so dragging the plant awry on the other side. This is very much what we find to be the case with Dionysius. While vehemently opposing the impiety of the Libyan, he is carried away unawares by his zeal into the opposite error. It would have been quite sufficient for him to have pointed out that the Father and the Son are not identical in substance,2 and thus to score against the blasphemer. But, in order to win an unmistakable and superabundant victory, he is not satisfied with laying down a difference of hypostases, but must needs assert also difference of substance, diminution of power, and variableness of glory. So he exchanges one mischief for another, and diverges from the right line of doctrine. In his writings he exhibits a miscellaneous inconsistency, and is at one time to be found disloyal to the homoousion, because of his opponent who made a bad use of it to the destruction of the hypostases, and at another admitting it in his Apology to his namesake.4 Besides this he uttered very unbecoming words about the Spirit, separating Him from the Godhead, the object of worship, and assigning Him an inferior rank with created and subordinate nature. Such is the man’s character.

3. If I must give my own view, it is this. The phrase “like in essence,” if it be read with the addition “without any difference,”6 I accept as conveying the same sense as the homoousion, in accordance with the sound meaning of the homoousion. Being of this mind the Fathers at Nicæa spoke of the Only-begotten as “Light of Light,” “Very God of very God,” and so on, and then consistently added the homoousion. It is impossible for any one to entertain the idea of variableness of light in relation to light, of truth in relation to truth, nor of the essence of the Only begotten in relation to that of the Father. If, then, the phrase be accepted in this sense, I have no objection to it. But if any one cuts off the qualification “without any difference” from the word “like,” as was done at Constantinople, then I regard the phrase with suspicion, as derogatory to the dignity of the Only-begotten. We are frequently accustomed to entertain the idea of “likeness” in the case of indistinct resemblances, coming anything but close to the originals. I am myself for the homoousion, as being less open to improper interpretation. But why, my dear sir, should you not pay me a visit, that we may talk of these high topics face to face, instead of committing them to lifeless letters,—especially when I have determined not to publish my views? And pray do not adopt, to me, the words of Diogenes to Alexander, that “it is as far from you to me as from me to you.” I am almost obliged by ill-health to remain like the plants, in one place; moreover I hold “the living unknown”8 to be one of the chief goods. You, I am told, are in good health; you have made yourself a citizen of the world, and you might consider in coming to see me that you are coming home. It is quite right for you, a man of action, to have crowds and towns in which to show your good deeds. For me, quiet is the best aid for the contemplation and mental exercise whereby I cling to God. This quiet I cultivate in abundance in my retreat, with the aid of its giver, God. Yet if you cannot but court the great, and despise me who lie low upon the ground, then write, and in this way make my life a happier one.

LETTER X

To a widow.

The art of snaring pigeons is as follows. When the men who devote themselves to this craft have caught one, they tame it, and make it feed with them. Then they smear its wings with sweet oil, and let it go and join the rest outside. Then the scent of that sweet oil makes the free flock the possession of the owner of the tame bird, for all the rest are attracted by the fragrance, and settle in the house. But why do I begin my letter thus? Because I have taken your son Dionysius, once Diomedes, and anointed the wings of his soul with the sweet oil of God, and sent him to you that you may take flight with him, and make for the nest which he has built under my roof. If I live to see this, and you, my honoured friend, translated to our lofty life, I shall require many persons worthy of God to pay Him all the honour that is His due.

LETTER XI

Without address. To some friends.

After by God’s grace I had passed the sacred day with our sons, and had kept a really perfect feast to the Lord because of their exceeding love to God, I sent them in good health to your excellency, with a prayer to our loving God to give them an angel of peace to help and accompany them, and to grant them to find you in good health and assured tranquillity, to the end that wherever your lot may be cast, I to the end of my days, whenever I hear news of you, may be gladdened to think of you as serving and giving thanks to the Lord. If God should grant you to be quickly freed from these cares I beg you to let nothing stand in the way of your coming to stay with me. I think you will find none to love you so well, or to make more of your friendship. So long, then, as the Holy One ordains this separation, be sure that you never lose an opportunity of comforting me by a letter.

LETTER XII

To Olympius.

Before you did write me a few words: now not even a few. Your brevity will soon become silence. Return to your old ways, and do not let me have to scold you for your laconic behaviour. But I shall be glad even of a little letter in token of your great love. Only write to me.

LETTER XIII

To Olympius.

As all the fruits of the season come to us in their proper time, flowers in spring, corn in summer, and apples in autumn, so the fruit for winter is talk.

LETTER XIV

To Gregory his friend.

My brother Gregory writes me word that he has long been wishing to be with me, and adds that you are of the same mind; however, I could not wait, partly as being hard of belief, considering I have been so often disappointed, and partly because I find myself pulled all ways by business. I must at once make for Pontus, where, perhaps, God willing, I may make an end of wandering. After renouncing, with trouble, the idle hopes which I once had, [about you] or rather the dreams, (for it is well said that hopes are waking dreams), I departed into Pontus in quest of a place to live in. There God has opened on me a spot exactly answering to my taste, so that I actually see before my eyes what I have often pictured to my mind in idle fancy. There is a lofty mountain covered with thick woods, watered towards the north with cool and transparent streams. A plain lies beneath, enriched by the waters which are ever draining off from it; and skirted by a spontaneous profusion of trees almost thick enough to be a fence; so as even to surpass Calypso’s Island, which Homer seems to have considered the most beautiful spot on the earth. Indeed it is like an island, enclosed as it is on all sides; for deep hollows cut off two sides of it; the river, which has lately fallen down a precipice, runs all along the front, and is impassable as a wall; while the mountain extending itself behind, and meeting the hollows in a crescent, stops up the path at its roots. There is but one pass, and I am master of it. Behind my abode there is another gorge, rising into a ledge up above, so as to command the extent of the plains and the stream which bounds it, which is not less beautiful, to my taste, than the Strymon as seen from Amphipolis. For while the latter flows leisurely, and swells into a lake almost, and is too still to be a river, the former is the most rapid stream I know, and somewhat turbid, too, from the rocks just above; from which, shooting down, and eddying in a deep pool, it forms a most pleasant scene for myself or any one else; and is an inexhaustible resource to the country people, in the countless fish which its depths contain. What need to tell of the exhalations from the earth, or the breezes from the river? Another might admire the multitude of flowers, and singing birds; but leisure I have none for such thoughts. However, the chief praise of the place is, that being happily disposed for produce of every kind, it nurtures what to me is the sweetest produce of all, quietness; indeed, it is not only rid of the bustle of the city, but is even unfrequented by travellers, except a chance hunter. It abounds indeed in game, as well as other things, but not, I am glad to say, in bears or wolves, such as you have, but in deer, and wild goats, and hares, and the like. Does it not strike you what a foolish mistake I was near making when I was eager to change this spot for your Tiberina,2 the very pit of the whole earth?

Pardon me, then, if I am now set upon it; for not Alcmæon himself, I suppose, could endure to wander further when he had found the Echinades.

LETTER XV

To Arcadius, Imperial Treasurer.

The townsmen of our metropolis have conferred on me a greater favour than they have received, in giving me an opportunity of writing to your excellency. The kindness, to win which they have received this letter from me, was assured them even before I wrote, on account of your wonted and inborn courtesy to all. But I have considered it a very great advantage to have the opportunity of addressing your excellency, praying to the holy God that I may continue to rejoice, and share in the pleasure of the recipients of your bounty, while you please Him more and more, and while the splendour of your high place continues to increase. I pray that in due time I may with joy once more welcome those who are delivering this my letter into your hands, and send them forth praising, as do many, your considerate treatment of them, and I trust that they will have found my recommendation of them not without use in approaching your exalted excellency.

LETTER XVI

Against Eunomius the heretic.

He who maintains that it is possible to arrive at the discovery of things actually existing, has no doubt by some orderly method advanced his intelligence by means of the knowledge of actually existing things. It is after first training himself by the apprehension of small and easily comprehensible objects, that he brings his apprehensive faculty to bear on what is beyond all intelligence. He makes his boast that he has really arrived at the comprehension of actual existences; let him then explain to us the nature of the least of visible beings; let him tell us all about the ant. Does its life depend on breath and breathing? Has it a skeleton? Is its body connected by sinews and ligaments? Are its sinews surrounded with muscles and glands? Does its marrow go with dorsal vertebræ from brow to tail? Does it give impulse to its moving members by the enveloping nervous membrane? Has it a liver, with a gall bladder near the liver? Has it kidneys, heart, arteries, veins, membranes, cartilages? Is it hairy or hairless? Has it an uncloven hoof, or are its feet divided? How long does it live? What is its mode of reproduction? What is its period of gestation? How is it that ants neither all walk nor all fly, but some belong to creeping things, and some travel through the air? The man who glories in his knowledge of the really-existing ought to tell us in the meanwhile about the nature of the ant. Next let him give us a similar physiological account of the power that transcends all human intelligence. But if your knowledge has not yet been able to apprehend the nature of the insignificant ant, how can you boast yourself able to form a conception of the power of the incomprehensible God?

LETTER XVII

To Origenes.

It is delightful to listen to you, and delightful to read you; and I think you give me the greater pleasure by your writings. All thanks to our good God Who has not suffered the truth to suffer in consequence of its betrayal by the chief powers in the State, but by your means has made the defence of the doctrine of true religion full and satisfactory. Like hemlock, monkshood, and other poisonous herbs, after they have bloomed for a little while, they will quickly wither away. But the reward which the Lord will give you in requital of all that you have said in defence of His name blooms afresh for ever. Wherefore I pray God grant you all happiness in your home, and make His blessing descend to your sons. I was delighted to see and embrace those noble boys, express images of your excellent goodness, and my prayers for them ask all that their father can ask.

LETTER XVIII

To Macarius and John.

The labours of the field come as no novelty to tillers of the land; sailors are not astonished if they meet a storm at sea; sweats in the summer heat are the common experience of the hired hind; and to them that have chosen to live a holy life the afflictions of this present world cannot come unforeseen. Each and all of these have the known and proper labour of their callings, not chosen for its own sake, but for the sake of the enjoyment of the good things to which they look forward. What in each of these cases acts as a consolation in trouble is that which really forms the bond and link of all human life,—hope. Now of them that labour for the fruits of the earth, or for earthly things, some enjoy only in imagination what they have looked for, and are altogether disappointed; and even in the case of others, where the issue has answered expectation, another hope is soon needed, so quickly has the first fled and faded out of sight. Only of them that labour for holiness and truth are the hopes destroyed by no deception; no issue can destroy their labours, for the kingdom of the heavens that awaits them is firm and sure. So long then as the word of truth is on our side, never be in any wise distressed at the calumny of a lie; let no imperial threats scare you; do not be grieved at the laughter and mockery of your intimates, nor at the condemnation of those who pretend to care for you, and who put forward, as their most attractive bait to deceive, a pretence of giving good advice. Against them all let sound reason do battle, invoking the championship and succour of our Lord Jesus Christ, the teacher of true religion, for Whom to suffer is sweet, and “to die is gain.”

LETTER XIX

To Gregory my friend.

I receiveived a letter from you the day before yesterday. It is shewn to be yours not so much by the handwriting as by the peculiar style. Much meaning is expressed in few words. I did not reply on the spot, because I was away from home, and the letter-carrier, after he had delivered the packet to one of my friends, went away. Now, however, I am able to address you through Peter, and at the same time both to return your greeting, and give you an opportunity for another letter. There is certainly no trouble in writing a laconic dispatch like those which reach me from you.

LETTER XX

To Leontius the Sophist.

I too do not write often to you, but not more seldom than you do to me, though many have travelled hitherward from your part of the world. If you had sent a letter by every one of them, one after the other, there would have been nothing to prevent my seeming to be actually in your company, and enjoying it as though we had been together, so uninterrupted has been the stream of arrivals. But why do you not write? It is no trouble to a Sophist to write. Nay, if your hand is tired, you need not even write; another will do that for you. Only your tongue is needed. And though it does not speak to me, it may assuredly speak to one of your companions. If nobody is with you, it will talk by itself. Certainly the tongue of a Sophist and of an Athenian is as little likely to be quiet as the nightingales when the spring stirs them to song. In my own case, the mass of business in which I am now engaged may perhaps afford some excuse for my lack of letters. And peradventure the fact of my style having been spoilt by constant familiarity with common speech may make me somewhat hesitate to address Sophists like you, who are certain to be annoyed and unmerciful, unless you hear something worthy of your wisdom. You, on the other hand, ought assuredly to use every opportunity of making your voice heard abroad, for you are the best speaker of all the Hellenes that I know; and I think I know the most renowned among you; so that there really is no excuse for your silence. But enough on this point.

I have sent you my writings against Eunomius. Whether they are to be called child’s play, or something a little more serious, I leave you to judge. So far as concerns yourself, I do not think you stand any longer in need of them; but I hope they will be no unworthy weapon against any perverse men with whom you may fall in. I do not say this so much because I have confidence in the force of my treatise, as because I know well that you are a man likely to make a little go a long way. If anything strikes you as weaker than it ought to be, pray have no hesitation in showing me the error. The chief difference between a friend and a flatterer is this; the flatterer speaks to please, the friend will not leave out even what is disagreeable.

LETTER XXI

To Leontius the Sophist.

The excellent Julianus seems to get some good for his private affairs out of the general condition of things. Everything nowadays is full of taxes demanded and called in, and he too is vehemently dunned and indicted. Only it is a question not of arrears of rates and taxes, but of letters. But how he comes to be a defaulter I do not know. He has always paid a letter, and received a letter—as he has this. But possibly you have a preference for the famous “four-times-as-much.”5 For even the Pythagoreans were not so fond of their Tetractys, as these modern tax-collectors of their “four-times-as-much.” Yet perhaps the fairer thing would have been just the opposite, that a Sophist like you, so very well furnished with words, should be bound in pledge to me for “four-times-as-much.” But do not suppose for a moment that I am writing all this out of ill-humour. I am only too pleased to get even a scolding from you. The good and beautiful do everything, it is said, with the addition of goodness and beauty.7 Even grief and anger in them are becoming. At all events any one would rather see his friend angry with him than any one else flattering him. Do not then cease preferring charges like the last! The very charge will mean a letter; and nothing can be more precious or delightful to me.

LETTER XXII

Without address. On the Perfection of the Life of Solitaries.

1. Many things are set forth by inspired Scripture as binding upon all who are anxious to please God. But, for the present, I have only deemed it necessary to speak by way of brief reminder concerning the questions which have recently been stirred among you, so far as I have learnt from the study of inspired Scripture itself. I shall thus leave behind me detailed evidence, easy of apprehension, for the information of industrious students, who in their turn will be able to inform others. The Christian ought to be so minded as becomes his heavenly calling, and his life and conversation ought to be worthy of the Gospel of Christ.2 The Christian ought not to be of doubtful mind, nor by anything drawn away from the recollection of God and of His purposes and judgments. The Christian ought in all things to become superior to the righteousness existing under the law, and neither swear nor lie.4 He ought not to speak evil; to do violence;6 to fight; to avenge himself;8 to return evil for evil; to be angry.10 The Christian ought to be patient, whatever he have to suffer, and to convict the wrong-doer in season,12 not with the desire of his own vindication, but of his brother’s reformation, according to the commandment of the Lord. The Christian ought not to say anything behind his brother’s back with the object of calumniating him, for this is slander, even if what is said is true.14 He ought to turn away from the brother who speaks evil against him; he ought not to indulge in jesting,16 he ought not to laugh nor even to suffer laugh makers. He must not talk idly, saying things which are of no service to the hearers nor to such usage as is necessary and permitted us by God;18 so that workers may do their best as far as possible to work in silence; and that good words be suggested to them by those who are entrusted with the duty of carefully dispensing the word to the building up of the faith, lest God’s Holy Spirit be grieved. Any one who comes in ought not to be able, of his own free will, to accost or speak to any of the brothers, before those to whom the responsibility of general discipline is committed have approved of it as pleasing to God, with a view to the common good. The Christian ought not to be enslaved by wine;20 nor to be eager for flesh meat, and as a general rule ought not to be a lover of pleasure in eating or drinking,22 “for every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.” The Christian ought to regard all the things that are given him for his use, not as his to hold as his own or to lay up;24 and, giving careful heed to all things as the Lord’s, not to overlook any of the things that are being thrown aside and disregarded, should this be the case. No Christian ought to think of himself as his own master, but each should rather so think and act as though given by God to be slave to his like minded brethren; but “every man in his own order.”26

2. The Christian ought never to murmur either in scarcity of necessities, or in toil or labour, for the responsibility in these matters lies with such as have authority in them. There never ought to be any clamour, or any behaviour or agitation by which anger is expressed,28 or diversion of mind from the full assurance of the presence of God.

The voice should be modulated; no one ought to answer another, or do anything, roughly or contemptuously, but in all things moderation31 and respect should be shewn to every one. No wily glances of the eye are to be allowed, nor any behaviour or gestures which grieve a brother and shew contempt.33 Any display in cloak or shoes is to be avoided; it is idle ostentation. Cheap things ought to be used for bodily necessity; and nothing ought to be spent beyond what is necessary, or for mere extravagance; this is a misuse of our property. The Christian ought not to seek for honour, or claim precedence.35 Every one ought to put all others before himself. The Christian ought not to be unruly.37 He who is able to work ought not to eat the bread of idleness, but even he who is busied in deeds well done for the glory of Christ ought to force himself to the active discharge of such work as he can do.39 Every Christian, with the approval of his superiors, ought so to do everything with reason and assurance, even down to actual eating and drinking, as done to the glory of God. The Christian ought not to change over from one work to another without the approval of those who are appointed for the arrangement of such matters; unless some unavoidable necessity suddenly summon any one to the relief of the helpless. Every one ought to remain in his appointed post, not to go beyond his own bounds and intrude into what is not commanded him, unless the responsible authorities judge any one to be in need of aid. No one ought to be found going from one workshop to another. Nothing ought to be done in rivalry or strife with any one.

3. The Christian ought not to grudge another’s reputation, nor rejoice over any man’s faults; he ought in Christ’s love to grieve and be afflicted at his brother’s faults, and rejoice over his brother’s good deeds.2 He ought not to be indifferent or silent before sinners. He who shows another to be wrong ought to do so with all tenderness,4 in the fear of God, and with the object of converting the sinner. He who is proved wrong or rebuked ought to take it willingly, recognizing his own gain in being set right. When any one is being accused, it is not right for another, before him or any one else, to contradict the accuser; but if at any time the charge seems groundless to any one, he ought privately to enter into discussion with the accuser, and either produce, or acquire, conviction. Every one ought, as far as he is able, to conciliate one who has ground of complaint against him. No one ought to cherish a grudge against the sinner who repents, but heartily to forgive him.6 He who says that he has repented of a sin ought not only to be pricked with compunction for his sin, but also to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. He who has been corrected in first faults, and received pardon, if he sins again prepares for himself a judgment of wrath worse than the former.8 He, who after the first and second admonition abides in his fault, ought to be brought before the person in authority,10 if haply after being rebuked by more he may be ashamed. If even thus he fail to be set right he is to be cut off from the rest as one that maketh to offend, and regarded as a heathen and a publican,12 for the security of them that are obedient, according to the saying, When the impious fall the righteous tremble. He should be grieved over as a limb cut from the body. The sun ought not to go down upon a brother’s wrath,14 lest haply night come between brother and brother, and make the charge stand in the day of judgment. A Christian ought not to wait for an opportunity for his own amendment, because there is no certainty about the morrow; for many after many devices have not reached the morrow. He ought not to be beguiled by over eating, whence come dreams in the night. He ought not to be distracted by immoderate toil, nor overstep the bounds of sufficiency, as the apostle says, “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content;”16 unnecessary abundance gives appearance of covetousness, and covetousness is condemned as idolatry. A Christian ought not to be a lover of money,18 nor lay up treasure for unprofitable ends. He who comes to God ought to embrace poverty in all things, and to be riveted in the fear of God, according to the words, “Rivet my flesh in thy fear, for I am afraid of thy judgments.” The Lord grant that you may receive what I have said with full conviction and shew forth fruits worthy of the Spirit to the glory of God, by God’s good pleasure, and the coöperation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

LETTER XXIII

To a Solitary.

A certain man, as he says, on condemning the vanity of this life, and perceiving that its joys are ended here, since they only provide material for eternal fire and then quickly pass away, has come to me with the desire of separating from this wicked and miserable life, of abandoning the pleasures of the flesh, and of treading for the future a road which leads to the mansions of the Lord. Now if he is sincerely firm in his truly blessed purpose, and has in his soul the glorious and laudable passion, loving the Lord his God with all his heart, with all his strength, and with all his mind, it is necessary for your reverence to show him the difficulties and distresses of the strait and narrow way, and establish him in the hope of the good things which are as yet unseen, but are laid up in promise for all that are worthy of the Lord. I therefore write to entreat your incomparable perfection in Christ, if it be possible to mould his character, and, without me, to bring about his renunciation according to what is pleasing to God, and to see that he receive elementary instruction in accordance with what has been decided by the Holy Fathers, and put forth by them in writing. See too that he have put before him all things that are essential to ascetic discipline, and that so he may be introduced to the life, after having accepted, of his own accord, the labours undergone for religion’s sake, subjected himself to the Lord’s easy yoke, adopted a conversation in imitation of Him Who for our sakes became poor and took flesh, and may run without fail to the prize of his high calling, and receive the approbation of the Lord. He is wishful to receive here the crown of God’s love, but I have put him off, because I wish, in conjunction with your reverence, to anoint him for such struggles, and to appoint over him one of your number whom he may select to be his trainer, training him nobly, and making him by his constant and blessed care a tried wrestler, wounding and overthrowing the prince of the darkness of this world, and the spiritual powers of iniquity, with whom, as the blessed Apostle says, is “our wrestling.”2 What I wish to do in conjunction with you, let your love in Christ do without me.

LETTER XXIV

To Athanasius, father of Athanasius bishop of Ancyra.

That one of the things hardest to achieve, if indeed it be not impossible, is to rise superior to calumny, I am myself fully persuaded, and so too, I presume, is your excellency. Yet not to give a handle by one’s own conduct, either to inquisitive critics of society, or to mischief makers who lie in wait to catch us tripping, is not only possible, but is the special characteristic of all who order their lives wisely and according to the rule of true religion. And do not think me so simple and credulous as to accept depreciatory remarks from any one without due investigation. I bear in mind the admonition of the Spirit, “Thou shalt not receive a false report.” But you, learned men, yourselves say that “The seen is significant of the unseen.” I therefore beg;—(and pray do not take it ill if I seem to be speaking as though I were giving a lesson; for “God has chosen the weak” and “despised things of the world,”6 and often by their means brings about the salvation of such as are being saved); what I say and urge is this; that by word and deed we act with scrupulous attention to propriety, and, in accordance with the apostolic precept, “give no offence in anything.” The life of one who has toiled hard in the acquisition of knowledge, who has governed cities and states, and who is jealous of the high character of his forefathers, ought to be an example of high character itself. You ought not now to be exhibiting your disposition towards your children in word only, as you have long exhibited it, ever since you became a father; you ought not only to shew that natural affection which is shewn by brutes, as you yourself have said, and as experience shews. You ought to make your love go further, and be a love all the more personal and voluntary in that you see your children worthy of a father’s prayers. On this point I do not need to be convinced. The evidence of facts is enough. One thing, however, I will say for truth’s sake, that it is not our brother Timotheus, the Chorepiscopus, who has brought me word of what is noised abroad. For neither by word of mouth nor by letter has he ever conveyed anything in the shape of slander, be it small or great. That I have heard something I do not deny, but it is not Timotheus who accuses you. Yet while I hear whatever I do, at least I will follow the example of Alexander, and will keep one ear clear for the accused.8

LETTER XXV

To Athanasius, bishop of Ancyra.

1. I have received intelligence from those who come to me from Ancyra, and they are many and more than I can count, but they all agree in what they say, that you, a man very dear to me, (how can I speak so as to give no offence?) do not mention me in very pleasant terms, nor yet in such as your character would lead me to expect. I, however, learned long ago the weakness of human nature, and its readiness to turn from one extreme to another; and so, be well assured, nothing connected with it can astonish me, nor does any change come quite unexpected. Therefore that my lot should have changed for the worse, and that reproaches and insults should have arisen in the place of former respect, I do not make much ado. But one thing does really strike me as astonishing and monstrous, and that is that it should be you who have this mind about me, and go so far as to feel anger and indignation against me, and, if the report of your hearers is to be believed, have already proceeded to such extremities as to utter threats. At these threats, I will not deny, I really have laughed. Truly I should have been but a boy to be frightened at such bugbears. But it does seem to me alarming and distressing that you, who, as I have trusted, are preserved for the comfort of the churches, a buttress of the truth where many fall away, and a seed of the ancient and true love, should so far fall in with the present course of events as to be more influenced by the calumny of the first man you come across than by your long knowledge of me, and, without any proof, should be seduced into suspecting absurdities.

2. But, as I said, for the present I postpone the case. Would it have been too hard a task, my dear sir, to discuss in a short letter, as between friend and friend, points which you wish to raise; or, if you objected to entrusting such things to writing, to get me to come to you? But if you could not help speaking out, and your uncontrollable anger allowed no time for delay, at least you might have employed one of those about you who are naturally adapted for dealing with confidential matters, as a means of communication with me. But now, of all those who for one reason or another approach you, into whose ears has it not been dinned that I am a writer and composer of certain “pests”? For this is the word which those, who quote you word for word, say that you have used. The more I bring my mind to bear upon the matter the more hopeless is my puzzle. This idea has struck me. Can any heretic have grieved your orthodoxy, and driven you to the utterance of that word by malevolently putting my name to his own writings? For you, a man who has sustained great and famous contests on behalf of the truth, could never have endured to inflict such an outrage on what I am well known to have written against those who dare to say that God the Son is in essence unlike God the Father, or who blasphemously describe the Holy Ghost as created and made. You might relieve me from my difficulty yourself, if you would tell me plainly what it is that has stirred you to be thus offended with me.

LETTER XXVI

To Cæsarius, brother of Gregory.

Thanks to God for shewing forth His wonderful power in your person, and for preserving you to your country and to us your friends, from so terrible a death. It remains for us not to be ungrateful, nor unworthy of so great a kindness, but, to the best of our ability, to narrate the marvellous works of God, to celebrate by deed the kindness which we have experienced, and not return thanks by word only. We ought to become in very deed what I, grounding my belief on the miracles wrought in you, am persuaded that you now are. We exhort you still more to serve God, ever increasing your fear more and more, and advancing on to perfection, that we may be made wise stewards of our life, for which the goodness of God has reserved us. For if it is a command to all of us “to yield ourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead,” how much more strongly is not this commanded them who have been lifted up from the gates of death? And this, I believe, would be best effected, did we but desire ever to keep the same mind in which we were at the moment of our perils. For, I ween, the vanity of our life came before us, and we felt that all that belongs to man, exposed as it is to vicissitudes, has about it nothing sure, nothing firm. We felt, as was likely, repentance for the past; and we gave a promise for the future, if we were saved, to serve God and give careful heed to ourselves. If the imminent peril of death gave me any cause for reflection, I think that you must have been moved by the same or nearly the same thoughts. We are therefore bound to pay a binding debt, at once joyous at God’s good gift to us, and, at the same time, anxious about the future. I have ventured to make these suggestions to you. It is yours to receive what I say well and kindly, as you were wont to do when we talked together face to face.

LETTER XXVII

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.

When by God’s grace, and the aid of your prayers, I had seemed to be somewhat recovering from my sickness, and had got my strength again, then came winter, keeping me a prisoner at home, and compelling me to remain where I was. True, its severity was much less than usual, but this was quite enough to keep me not merely from travelling while it lasted, but even from so much as venturing to put my head out of doors. But to me it is no slight thing to be permitted, if only by letter, to communicate with your reverence, and to rest tranquil in the hope of your reply. However, should the season permit, and further length of life be allowed me, and should the dearth not prevent me from undertaking the journey, peradventure through the aid of your prayers I may be able to fulfil my earnest wish, may find you at your own fireside, and, with abundant leisure, may take my fill of your vast treasures of wisdom.

LETTER XXVIII

To the Church of Neocæsarea. Consolatory.

1. What has befallen you strongly moved me to visit you, with the double object of joining with you, who are near and dear to me, in paying all respect to the blessed dead, and of being more closely associated with you in your trouble by seeing your sorrow with my own eyes, and so being able to take counsel with you as to what is to be done. But many causes hinder my being able to approach you in person, and it remains for me to communicate with you in writing. The admirable qualities of the departed, on account of which we chiefly estimate the greatness of our loss, are indeed too many to be enumerated in a letter; and it is, besides, no time to be discussing the multitude of his good deeds, when our spirits are thus prostrated with grief. For of all that he did, what can we ever forget? What could we deem deserving of silence? To tell all at once were impossible; to tell a part would, I fear, involve disloyalty to the truth. A man has passed away who surpassed all his contemporaries in all the good things that are within man’s reach; a prop of his country; an ornament of the churches; a pillar and support of the truth; a stay of the faith of Christ; a protector of his friends; a stout foe of his opponents; a guardian of the principles of his fathers; an enemy of innovation; exhibiting in himself the ancient, fashion of the Church, and making the state of the Church put under him conform to the ancient constitution, as to a sacred model, so that all who lived with him seemed to live in the society of them that used to shine like lights in the world two hundred years ago and more. So your bishop put forth nothing of his own, no novel invention; but, as the blessing of Moses has it, he knew how to bring out of the secret and good stores of his heart, “old store, and the old because of the new.” Thus it came about that in meetings of his fellow bishops he was not ranked according to his age, but, by reason of the old age of his wisdom, he was unanimously conceded precedence over all the rest. And no one who looks at your condition need go far to seek the advantages of such a course of training. For, so far as I know, you alone, or, at all events, you and but very few others, in the midst of such a storm and whirlwind of affairs, were able under his good guidance to live your lives unshaken by the waves. You were never reached by heretics’ buffering blasts, which bring shipwreck and drowning on unstable souls; and that you may for ever live beyond their reach I pray the Lord who ruleth over all, and who granted long tranquillity to Gregory His servant, the first founder of your church.5

Do not lose that tranquillity now; do not, by extravagant lamentation, and by entirely giving yourself up to grief, put the opportunity for action into the hands of those who are plotting your bane. If lament you must, (which I do not allow, lest you be in this respect like “them which have no hope,”) do you, if so it seem good to you, like some wailing chorus, choose your leader, and raise with him a chant of tears.

2. And yet, if he whom you mourn had not reached extreme old age, certainly, as regards his government of your church, he was allowed no narrow limit of life. He had as much strength of body as enabled him to show strength of mind in his distresses. Perhaps some of you may suppose that time increases sympathy and adds affection, and is no cause of satiety, so that, the longer you have experienced kind treatment, the more sensible you are of its loss. You may think that of a righteous person the good hold even the shadow in honour. Would that many of yon did feel so! Far be it from me to suggest anything like disregard of our friend! But I do counsel you to bear your pain with manly endurance. I myself am by no means insensible of all that may be said by those who are weeping for their loss. Hushed is a tongue whose words flooded our ears like a mighty stream: a depth of heart, never fathomed before, has fled, humanly speaking, like an unsubstantial dream. Whose glance so keen as his to look into the future? Who with like fixity and strength of mind able to dart like lightning into the midst of action? O Neocaearea, already a prey to many troubles, never before smitten with so deadly a loss! Now withered is the bloom of you, beauty; your church is dumb; your assemblies are full of mournful faces; your sacred synod craves for its leader; your holy utterances wait for an expounder; your boys have lost a father, your elders a brother, your nobles one first among them, your people a champion, your poor a supporter. All, calling him by the name that comes most nearly home to each, lift up the wailing cry which to each man’s own sorrow seems most appropriate and fit. But whither are my words carried away by my tearful joy? Shall we not watch? Shall we not meet together? Shall we riot look to our common Lord, Who suffers each of his saints to serve his own generation, and summons him back to Himself at His own appointed time? Now in season remember the voice of him who when preaching to you used always to say “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers.” The dogs are many. Why do I say dogs? Rather grievous wolves, hiding their guile under the guise of sheep, are, all over the world, tearing Christ’s flock. Of these you must beware, under the protection of some wakeful bishop. Such an one it is yours to ask, purging your souls of all rivalry and ambition: such an one it is the Lord’s to show you. That Lord, from the time of Gregory the great champion of your church down to that of the blessed departed, setting over you one after another, and from time to time fitting one to another like gem set close to gem, has bestowed on you glorious ornaments for your church. You have, then, no need to despair of them that are to come. The Lord knoweth who are His. He may bring into our midst those for whom peradventure we are not looking.

3. I meant to have come to an end long before this, but the pain at my heart does not allow me. Now I charge you by the Fathers, by the true faith, by our blessed friend, lift up your souls, each man making what is being done his own immediate business, each reckoning that be will be the first to reap the consequences of the issue, whichever way it turn out, lest your fate be that which so very frequently befalls, every one leaving to his neighbour the common interests of all; and then, while each one makes little in his own mind of what is going on, all of you unwittingly draw your own proper misfortunes on yourselves by your neglect. Take, I beg you, what I say with all kindliness, whether it be regarded as an expression of the sympathy of a neighbour, or as fellowship between fellow believers, or, which is really nearer the truth, of one who obeys the law of love, and shrinks from the risk of silence. I am persuaded that you are my boasting, as I am yours, till the day of the Lord, and that it depends upon the pastor who will be granted you whether I shall be more closely united to you by the bond of love, or wholly severed from you. This latter God forbid. By God’s grace it will not so be; and I should be sorry now to say one ungracious word. But this I do wish you to know, that though I had not that blessed man always at my side, in my efforts for the peace of the churches, because, as he himself affirmed, of certain prejudices, yet, nevertheless, at no time did I fail in unity of opinion with him, and I have always invoked his aid in my struggles against the heretics. Of this I call to witness God and all who know me best.

LETTER XXIX

To the Church of Ancyra. Consolatory.

My amazement at the most distressing news of the calamity which has befallen you for a long time kept me silent. I felt like a man whose ears are stunned by a loud clap of thunder. Then I somehow recovered a little from my state of speechlessness. Now I have mourned, as none could help mourning, over the event, and, in the midst of my lamentations, have sent you this letter. I write not so much to console you,—for who could find words to cure a calamity so great?—as to signify to you, as well as I can by these means, the agony of my own heart. I need now the lamentations of Jeremiah, or of any other of the Saints who has feelingly lamented a great woe. A man has fallen who was really a pillar and stay of the Church; or rather he himself has been taken from us and is gone to the blessed life, and there is no small danger lest many at the removal of this prop from under them fall too, and lest some men’s unsoundness be brought to light. A mouth is sealed gushing with righteous eloquence and words of grace to the edification of the brotherhood. Gone are the counsels of a mind which truly moved in God. Ah! how often, for I must accuse myself, was it my lot to feel indignation against him, because, wholly desiring to depart and be with Christ, he did not prefer for our sakes to remain in the flesh! To whom for the future shall I commit the cares of the Churches? Whom shall I take to share my troubles? Whom to participate in my gladness? O loneliness terrible and sad! How am I not like to a pelican of the wilderness?2 Yet of a truth the members of the Church, united by his leadership as by one soul, and fitted together into close union of feeling and fellowship, are both preserved and shall ever be preserved by the bond of peace for spiritual communion. God grants us the boon, that all the works of that blessed soul, which he did nobly in the churches of God, abide firm and immovable. But the struggle is no slight one, lest, once more strifes and divisions arising over the choice of the bishop, all your work be upset by some quarrel.

LETTER XXX

To Eusebius of Samosata.

If I were to write at length all the causes which, up to the present time, have kept me at home, eager as I have been to set out to see your reverence, I should tell an interminable story. I say nothing of illnesses coming one upon another, hard winter weather, and press of work, for all this has been already made known to you. Now, for my sins, I have lost my Mother, the only comfort I had in life. Do not smile, if, old as I am, I lament my orphanhood. Forgive me if I cannot endure separation from a soul, to compare with whom I see nothing in the future that lies before me. So once more my complaints have come back to me; once more I am confined to my bed, tossing about in my weakness, and every hour all but looking for the end of life; and the Churches are in somewhat the same condition as my body, no good hope shining on them, and their state always changing for the worse. In the meantime Neocæsarea and Ancyra have decided to have successors of the dead, and so far they are at peace. Those who are plotting against me have not yet been permitted to do anything worthy of their bitterness and wrath. This we make no secret of attributing to your prayers on behalf of the Churches. Weary not then in praying for the Churches and in entreating God. Pray give all salutations to those who are privileged to minister to your Holiness.

LETTER XXXI

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.

The dearth is still with us, and I am therefore compelled to remain where I am, partly by the duty of distribution, and partly out of sympathy for the distressed. Even now, therefore, I have not been able to accompany our reverend brother Hypatius, whom I am able to style brother, not in mere conventional language, but on account of relationship, for we are of one blood. You know how ill he is. It distresses me to think that all hope of comfort is cut off for him, as those who have the gifts of healing have not been allowed to apply their usual remedies in his case. Wherefore again he implores the aid of your prayers. Receive my entreaty that you will give him the usual protection alike for your own sake, for you are always kind to the sick, and for mine who am petitioning on his behalf. If possible, summon to your side the very holy brethren that he may be treated under your own eyes. If this be impossible, be so good as to send him on with a letter, and recommend him to friends further on.

LETTER XXXII

To Sophronius the Master.

1. Our God—beloved brother, Gregory the bishop, shares the troubles of the times, for he too, like everybody else, is distressed. at successive outrages, and resembles a man buffeted by unexpected blows. For men who have no fear of God, possibly forced by the greatness of their troubles, are reviling him, on the ground that they have lent Cæsarius2 money. It is not indeed the question of any loss which is serious, for he has long learnt to despise riches. The matter rather is that those who have so freely distributed all the effects of Cæsarius that were worth anything, after really getting very little, because his property was in the hands of slaves, and of men of no better character than slaves, did not leave much for the executors. This little they supposed to be pledged to no one, and straightway spent it on the poor, not only from their own preference, but because of the injunctions of the dead. For on his death bed Cæsarius is declared to have said “I wish my goods to belong to the poor.” In obedience then to the wishes of Cæsarius they made a proper distribution of them. Now, with the poverty of a Christian, Gregory is immersed in the bustle of a chafferer. So I bethought me of reporting the matter to your excellency, in order that you may state what you think proper about Gregory to the Comes Thesaurorum, and so may honour a man whom you have known for many years, glorify the Lord who takes as done to Himself what is done to His servants, and honour me who am specially bound to you. You will, I hope, of your great sagacity devise a means of relief from these outrageous people and intolerable annoyances.

2. No one is so ignorant of Gregory as to have any unworthy suspicion of his giving an inexact account of the circumstances because he is fond of money. We have not to go far to find a proof of his liberality. What is left of the property of Cæsarius he gladly abandons to the Treasury, so that the property may be kept there, and the Treasurer may give answer to those who attack it and demand their proofs; for we are not adapted for such business. Your excellency may be informed that, so long as it was possible, no one went away without getting what he wanted, and each one carried off what he demanded without any difficulty. The consequence indeed was that a good many were sorry that they had not asked for more at first; and this made still more objectors, for with the example of the earlier successful applicants before them, one false claimant starts up after another. I do then entreat your excellency to make a stand against all this and to come in, like some intervening stream, and solve the continuity of these troubles. You know how best you will help matters, and need not wait to be instructed by me. I am inexperienced the affairs of this life, and cannot see my way out of our difficulties. Of your great wisdom discover I some means of help. Be our counsellor. Be our champion.

LETTER XXXIII

To Aburgius.

Who knows so well as you do how to respect an old friendship, to pay reverence to virtue, and to sympathise with the sick? Now my God-beloved brother Gregory the bishop has become involved in matters which would be under any circumstances disagreeable, and are quite foreign to his bent of mind. I have therefore thought it best to throw myself on your protection, and to endeavour to obtain from you some solution of our difficulties. It is really an intolerable state of things that one who is neither by nature nor inclination adapted for anything of the kind should be compelled to be thus responsible; that demands for money should be made on a poor man; and that one who has long determined to pass his life in retirement should be dragged into publicity. It would depend upon your wise counsel whether yon think it of any use to address the Comes Thesaurorum or any other persons.

LETTER XXXIV

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.

How could I be silent at the present juncture? And if I cannot be silent, how am I to find utterance adequate to the circumstances, so as to make my voice not like a mere groan but rather a lamentation intelligibly indicating the greatness of the misfortune? Ah me! Tarsus is undone. This is a trouble grievous to be borne, but it does not come alone. It is still harder to think that a city so placed as to be united with Cilicia, Cappadocia, and Assyria, should be lightly thrown away by the madness of two or three individuals, while you are all the while hesitating, settling what to do, and looking at one another’s faces. It would have been far better to do like the doctors. (I have been so long an invalid that I have no lack of illustrations of this kind.) When their patients’ pain becomes excessive they produce insensibility; so should we pray that our souls may be made insensible to the pain of our troubles, that we be not put under unendurable agony. In these hard straits I do not fail to use one means of consolation. I look to your kindness; I try to make my troubles milder by my thought and recollection of you.2 When the eyes have looked intently on any brilliant objects it relieves them to turn again to what is blue and green; the recollection of your kindness and attention has just the same effect on my soul; it is a mild treatment that takes away my pain. I feel this the more when I reflect that you individually have done all that man could do. You have satisfactorily shewn us, men, if we judge things fairly, that the catastrophe is in no way due to you personally. The reward which you have won at God’s hand for your zeal for right is no small one. May the Lord grant you to me and to His churches to the improvement of life and the guidance of souls, and may He once more allow me the privilege of meeting you.

LETTER XXXV

Without address.

I have written to you about many people as belonging to myself; now I mean to write about more. The poor can never fail, and I can never say, no. There is no one more intimately associated with me, nor better able to do me kindnesses wherever he has the ability, than the reverend brother Leontius. So treat his house as if you had found me, not in that poverty in which now by God’s help I am living, but endowed with wealth and landed property. There is no doubt that you would not have made me poor, but would have taken care of what I had, or even added to my possessions. This is the way I ask you to behave in the house of Leontius. You will get your accustomed reward from me; my prayers to the holy God for the trouble you are taking in shewing yourself a good man and true, and in anticipating the supplication of the needy.

LETTER XXXVI

Without address.

It has, I think, been long known to your excellency that the presbyter of this place is a foster brother of my own. What more can I say to induce you, in your kindness, to view him with a friendly eye, and give him help in his affairs? If you love me, as I know you do, I am sure that you will endeavour, to the best of your power, to relieve any one whom I look upon as a second self. What then do I ask? That he do not lose his old rating. Really he takes no little trouble in ministering to my necessities, because I, as you know, have nothing of my own, but depend upon the means of my friends and relatives. Look, then, upon my brother’s house as you would on mine, or let me rather say, on your own. In return for your kindness to him God will not cease to help alike yourself, your house, and your family. Be sure that I am specially anxious lest any injury should be done to him by the equalization of rates.

LETTER XXXVII

Without address.

I look with suspicion on the multiplication of letters. Against my will, and because I cannot resist the importunity of petitioners, I am compelled to speak. I write because I can think of no other means of relieving myself than by assenting to the supplications of those who are always asking letters from me. I am really afraid lest, since many are carrying letters off, one of the many be reckoned to be that brother. I have, I own, many friends and relatives in my own country, and I am placed in loco parentis by the position a which the Lord has given me. Among them is this my foster brother, son of my nurse, and I pray that the house in which I was brought up may remain at its old assessment, so that the sojourn among us of your excellency, so beneficial to us all, may turn out no occasion of trouble to him. Now too I am supported from the same house, because I have nothing of my own, but depend upon those who love me. I do then entreat you to spare the house in which I was nursed as though you were keeping up the supply of support for me. May God in return grant you His everlasting rest. One thing however, and it is most true, I think your excellency ought to know, and that is that the greater number of the slaves were given him from the outset by us, as an equivalent for my sustenance, by the gift of my father and mother. At the same time this was not to be regarded as an absolute gift; he was only to have the use for life, so that, if anything serious happen to him on their account, he is at liberty to send them back to me, and I shall thus in another way be responsible for rates and to collectors.

LETTER XXXVIII

To his Brother Gregory, concerning the difference between οὐσία and ὑπόστασις

1. Many persons, in their study of the sacred dogmas, failing to distinguish between what is common in the essence or substance, and the meaning of the hypostases, arrive at the same notions, and think that it makes no difference whether οὐσία or hypostasis be spoken of. The result is that some of those who accept statements on these subjects without any enquiry, are pleased to speak of “one hypostasis,” just as they do of one “essence” or “substance;” while on the other hand those who accept three hypostases are under the idea that they are bound in accordance with this confession, to assert also, by numerical analogy, three essences or substances. Under these circumstances, lest you fall into similar error, I have composed a short treatise for you by way of memorandum. The meaning of the words, to put it shortly, is as follows:

2. Of all nouns the sense of some, which are predicated of subjects plural and numerically various, is more general; as for instance man. When we so say, we employ the noun to indicate the common nature, and do not confine our meaning to any one man in particular who is known by that name. Peter, for instance is no more man, than Andrew, John, or James. The predicate therefore being common, and extending to all the individuals ranked under the same name, requires some note of distinction whereby we may understand not man in general, but Peter or John in particular.

Of some nouns on the other hand the denotation is more limited; and by the aid of the limitation we have before our minds not the common nature, but a limitation of anything, having, so far as the peculiarity extends, nothing in common with what is of the same kind; as for instance, Paul or Timothy. For, in a word, of this kind there is no extension to what is common in the nature; there is a separation of certain circumscribed conceptions from the general idea, and expression of them by means of their names. Suppose then that two or more are set together, as, for instance, Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, and that an enquiry is made into the essence or substance of humanity; no one will give one definition of essence or substance in the case of Paul, a second in that of Silvanus, and a third in that of Timothy; but the same words which have been employed in setting forth the essence or substance of Paul will apply to the others also. Those who are described by the same definition of essence or substance are of the same essence or substance when the enquirer has learned what is common, and turns his attention to the differentiating properties whereby one is distinguished from another, the definition by which each is known will no longer tally in all particulars with the definition of another, even though in some points it be found to agree.

3. My statement, then, is this. That which is spoken of in a special and peculiar manner is indicated by the name of the hypostasis. Suppose we say “a man.” The indefinite meaning of the word strikes a certain vague sense upon the ears. The nature is indicated, but what subsists and is specially and peculiarly indicated by the name is not made plain. Suppose we say “Paul.” We set forth, by what is indicated by the name, the nature subsisting.

This then is the hypostasis, or “understanding;” not the indefinite conception of the essence or substance, which, because what is signified is general, finds no “standing,” but the conception which by means of the expressed peculiarities gives standing and circumscription to the general and uncircumscribed. It is customary in Scripture to make a distinction of this kind, as well in many other passages as in the History of Job. When purposing to narrate the events of his life, Job first mentions the common, and says “a man;” then he straightway particularizes by adding “a certain.” As to the description of the essence, as having no bearing on the scope of his work, he is silent, but by means of particular notes of identity, mentioning the place and points of character, and such external qualifications as would individualize, and separate from the common and general idea, he specifies the “certain man,” in such a way that from name, place, mental qualities, and outside circumstances, the description of the man whose life is being narrated is made in all particulars perfectly clear. If he had been giving an account of the essence, there would not in his explanation of the nature have been any mention of these matters. The same moreover would have been the account that there is in the case of Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, and each of the men there mentioned.2 Transfer, then, to the divine dogmas the same standard of difference which you recognise in the case both of essence and of hypostasis in human affairs, and you will not go wrong. Whatever your thought suggests to you as to the mode of the existence of the Father, you will think also in the case of the Son, and in like manner too of the Holy Ghost. For it is idle to halt the mind at any detached conception from the conviction that it is beyond all contention. For the account of the uncreate and of the incomprehensible is one and the same in the case of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. For one is not more incomprehensible and uncreate than another. And since it is necessary, by means of the notes of differentiation, in the case of the Trinity, to keep the distinction unconfounded, we shall not take into consideration, in order to estimate that which differentiates, what is contemplated in common, as the uncreate, or what is beyond all comprehension, or any quality of this nature; we shall only direct our attention to the enquiry by what means each particular conception will be lucidly and distinctly separated from that which is conceived of in common.

4. Now the proper way to direct our investigation seems to me to be as follows. We say that every good thing, which by God’s providence befalls us, is an operation, of the Grace which worketh in us all things, as the apostle says, “But all these worketh that one and the self same Spirit dividing to every man severally as he will.” If we ask, if the supply of good things which thus comes to the saints has its origin in the Holy Ghost alone, we are on the other hand guided by Scripture to the belief that of the supply of the good things which are wrought in us through the Holy Ghost, the Originator and Cause is the Only-begotten God;5 for we are taught by Holy Scripture that “All things were made by Him,” and “by Him consist.”7 When we are exalted to this conception, again, led by God-inspired guidance, we are taught that by that power all things are brought from non-being into being, but yet not by that power to the exclusion of origination. On the other hand there is a certain power subsisting without generation and without origination,9 which is the cause of the cause of all things. For the Son, by whom are all things, and with whom the Holy Ghost is inseparably conceived of, is of the Father. For it is not possible for any one to conceive of the Son if he be not previously enlightened by the Spirit. Since, then, the Holy Ghost, from Whom all the supply of good things for creation has its source, is attached to the Son, and with Him is inseparably apprehended, and has Its11 being attached to the Father, as cause, from Whom also It proceeds; It has this note of Its peculiar hypostatic nature, that It is known after the Son and together with the Son, and that It has Its subsistence of the Father. The Son, Who declares the Spirit proceeding from the Father through Himself and with Himself, shining forth alone and by only-begetting from the unbegotten light, so far as the peculiar notes are concerned, has nothing in common either with the Father or with the Holy Ghost. He alone is known by the stated signs. But God, Who is over all, alone has, as one special mark of His own hypostasis, His being Father, and His deriving His hypostasis from no cause; and through this mark He is peculiarly known. Wherefore in the communion of the substance we maintain that there is no mutual approach or intercommunion of those notes of indication perceived in the Trinity, whereby is set forth the proper peculiarity of the Persons delivered in the faith, each of these being distinctively apprehended by His own notes. Hence, in accordance with the stated signs of indication, discovery is made of the separation of the hypostases; while so far as relates to the infinite, the incomprehensible, the uncreate, the uncircumscribed, and similar attributes, there is no variableness in the life-giving nature; in that, I mean, of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but in Them is seen a certain communion indissoluble and continuous. And by the same considerations, whereby a reflective student could perceive the greatness of any one of the (Persons) believed in in the Holy Trinity, he will proceed without variation. Beholding the glory in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, his mind all the while recognises no void interval wherein it may travel between Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for there is nothing inserted between Them; nor beyond the divine nature is there anything so subsisting as to be able to divide that nature from itself by the interposition of any foreign matter. Neither is there any vacuum of interval, void of subsistence, which can make a break in the mutual harmony of the divine essence, and solve the continuity by the interjection of emptiness. He who perceives the Father, and perceives Him by Himself, has at the same time mental perception of the Son; and he who receives the Son does not divide Him from the Spirit, but, in consecution so far as order is concerned, in conjunction so far as nature is concerned, expresses the faith commingled in himself in the three together. He who makes mention of the Spirit alone, embraces also in this confession Him of whom He is the Spirit. And since the Spirit is Christ’s and of God,2 as says Paul, then just as he who lays hold on one end of the chain pulls the other to him, so he who “draws the Spirit,” as says the prophet, by His means draws to him at the same time both the Son and the Father. And if any one verily receives the Son, he will hold Him on both sides, the Son drawing towards him on the one His own Father, and on the other His own Spirit. For He who eternally exists in the Father can never be cut off from the Father, nor can He who worketh all things by the Spirit ever be disjoined from His own Spirit. Likewise moreover he who receives the Father virtually receives at the same time both the Son and the Spirit; for it is in no wise possible to entertain the idea of severance or division, in such a way as that the Son should be thought of apart from the Father, or the Spirit be disjoined from the Son. But the communion and the distinction apprehended in Them are, in a certain sense, ineffable and inconceivable, the continuity of nature being never rent asunder by the distinction of the hypostases, nor the notes of proper distinction confounded in the community of essence. Marvel not then at my speaking of the name thing as being both conjoined and parted, and thinking as it were darkly in a riddle, of a certain4 new and strange conjoined separation and separated conjunction. Indeed, even in objects perceptible to the senses, any one who approaches the subject in a candid and uncontentious spirit, may find similar conditions of things.

5. Yet receive what I say as at best a token and reflexion of the truth; not as the actual truth itself. For it is not possible that there should be complete correspondence between what is seen in the tokens and the objects in reference to which the use of tokens is adopted. Why then do I say that an analogy of the separate and the conjoined is found in objects perceptible to the senses? You have before now, in springtime, beheld the brightness of the bow in the cloud; the bow, I mean, which, in our common parlance, is called Iris, and is said by persons skilled in such matters to be formed when a certain moisture is mingled with the air, and the force of the winds expresses what is dense and moist in the vapour, after it has become cloudy, into rain. The bow is said to be formed as follows. When the sunbeam, alter traversing obliquely the dense and darkened portion of the cloud-formation, has directly cast its own orb on some cloud, the radiance is then reflected back from what is moist and shining, and the result is a bending and return, as it were, of the light upon itself. For flame-like flashings are so constituted that if they fall on any smooth surface they are refracted on themselves; and the shape of the sun, which by means of the beam is formed on the moist and smooth part of the air, is round. The necessary consequence therefore is that the air adjacent to the cloud is marked out by means of the radiant brilliance in conformity with the shape of the sunR