Basil of Caesarea

Selected Letters


 Brief Introduction to Basil

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II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, XII, XIII, XIV, XIX, XXVI, XXXIX, XL, XLI, XLVI, XLVII, LXIII, LXXI, LXXVIII, LXXXIII, LXXXVI, LXXXVII, LXXXVIII, CIV, CVII, CVIII, CIX, CX, CXI, CLIX, CLXX, CLXXI, CXCVII, CCVII, CCLXXXIII, CCLXXXIV, CCLXXXVIII


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, 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. When 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 tinder 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, 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 rites 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 ascetic 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.

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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 De- mosthenes 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.

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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 ejectmeat. 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;' 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.

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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 stonyhearted, 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 tears 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, vet 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.

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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 yon 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 bad 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 Maccabees 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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, the very pit of the whole earth?

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

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LETTER XIX.

To Gregory my friend.

I RECEIVED 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.

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LETTER XXVI.

To Caesarius, 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.

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LETTER XXXIX.

Julian to Basil.

THE proverb says "You are not proclaiming war," and, let me adds out of the comedy, "O messenger of golden words." Come then; prove this in act, and hasten to me. You will come as friend to friend. Conspicuous and unremitting devotion to business seems, to those that treat it as of secondary importance, a heavy burden; yet the diligent are modest, as I persuade myself, sensible, and ready for any emergency. I allow myself relaxations so that even rest may be permitted to one who neglects nothing. Our mode of life is not marked by the court hypocrisy, of which I think you have had some experience, and in accordance with which compliments mean deadlier hatred than is felt to our worst foes; but, with becoming freedom, while we blame and rebuke where blame is due, we love with the love of the dearest friends. I may therefore, let me say, with all sincerity, both be diligent in relaxation and, when at work, not get worn out, and sleep secure; since when awake I do not wake more for myself, than, as is fit, for every one else. I am afraid this is rather silly and trifling, as I feel rather lazy, (I praise myself like Astydamas ) but I am writing to prove to you that to have the pleasure of seeing you, wise man as you are, will be more likely to do me good than to cause any difficulty. Therefore, as I have said, lose no time: travel post haste. After you have paid me as long a visit as you likes you shall go on your journey, whithersoever you will, with my best wishes.

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LETTER XL.

Julian to Basil.

WHILE showing up to the present time the gentleness and benevolence which have been natural to me from my boyhood, I have reduced all who dwell beneath the sun to obedience. For lo! every tribe of barbarians to the shores of ocean has come to lay its gifts before my feet. So too the Sagadares who dwell beyond the Danube, wondrous with their bright tattooing, and hardly like human beings, so wild and strange are they, now grovel at my feet, and pledge themselves to obey all the behests my sovereignty imposes on them. I have a further object. I must as soon as possible march to Persia and rout and make a tributary of that Sapor, descendant of Darius. I mean too to devastate the country of the Indians and the Saracens until they all acknowledge my superiority and become my tributaries. You, however, profess a wisdom above and beyond these things; you call yourself clad with piety, but your clothing is really impudence and everywhere you slander me as one unworthy of the imperial dignity. Do you not know that I am the grandson of the illustrious Constantius? I know this of you, and yet I do not change the old feelings which I had to you, and you to me in the days when we were both young. But of my merciful will I command that a thousand pounds of gold be sent me from you, when I pass by Caesarea; for I am still on the march, and with all possible dispatch am hurrying to the Persian campaign.. If you refuse I am prepared to destroy Caesarea, to overthrow the buildings that have long adorned it; to erect in their place temples and statues; and so to induce all men to submit to the Emperor of the Romans and not exalt themselves. Wherefore I charge you to send me without fail by the hands of some trusty messenger the stipulated gold, after duly counting and weighing it, and sealing it with your ring. In this way I may show mercy to you for your errors, if you acknowledge, however late, that no excuses will avail. I have learned to know, and to condemn, what once I read.

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LETTER XLI.

Basil to Julian.

1. THE heroic deeds of your present splendour are small, and your grand attack against me, or rather against yourself, is paltry. When I think of you robed in purple, a crown on your dishonoured head, which, so long as true religion is absents, rather disgraces than graces your empire, I tremble. And you yourself who have risen to be so high and great, now that vile and honour-hating demons have brought you to this pass, have begun not only to exalt yourself above all human nature, but even to uplift yourself against God, and insult His Church, mother and nurse of all, by sending to me, most insignificant of men, orders to forward you a thousand pounds of gold. I am not so much astonished at the weight of the gold, although it is very serious; but it has made me shed bitter tears over your so rapid ruin. I bethink me how you and I have learned together the lessons of the best and holiest books. Each of us went through the sacred and God-inspired Scriptures. Then nothing was hid from you. Nowadays you have become lost to proper feeling, beleaguered as you are with pride. Your serene Highness did not find out for the first time yesterday that I do not live in the midst of superabundant wealth. To-day you have demanded a thousand pounds of gold of me. I hope your serenity will deign to spare me. My property amounts to so much, that I really shall not have enough to eat as much as I shall like to-day. Under my roof the art of cookery is dead. My servants' knife never touches blood. The most important viands, in which lies our abundance, are leaves of herbs with very coarse bread and sour wine, so that our senses are not dulled by gluttony, and do not indulge in excess.

2. Your excellent tribune Lausus, trusty minister of your orders, has also reported to me that a certain woman came as a suppliant to your serenity on the occasion of the death of her son by poison; that it has been judged by you that poisoners are not allowed to exist; if any there be, that they are to be destroyed, or, only those are reserved, who are to fight with beasts. And, this rightly decided by you, seems strange to me, for your efforts to cure the pain of great wounds by petty remedies are to the last degree ridiculous. After insulting God, it is useless for you to give heed to widows and orphans. The former is mad and dangerous; the latter the part of a merciful and kindly man. It is a serious thing for a private individual like myself to speak to an emperor; it will be more serious for you to speak to God. No one will appear to mediate between God and man. What you read yon did not understand. If you had understood, you would not have condemned.

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LETTER XLVI.

To a fallen virgin.

1. Now is the time to quote the words of the prophet and to say, "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people." Though they are wrapped in profound silence and lie stunned by their misfortune, robbed of all sense of feeling by the fatal blow, I at all events must not let such a fall go unlamented. If, to Jeremiah, it seemed that those whose bodies had been wounded in war, were worthy of innumerable lamentations, what shall be said of such a disaster of souls? "My slain men," it is said, "are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle." But I am bewailing the sting of the real death, the grievousness of sin and the fiery darts of the wicked one, which have savagely set on fire souls as well as bodies. Truly God's laws would groan aloud on seeing so great a pollution on the earth. They have pronounced their prohibition of old "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife"; and through the holy gospels they say that "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery already with her in his heart." Now they see the bride of the Lord herself, whose head is Christ, boldly committing adultery. So too would groan the companies of the Saints. Phinehas, the zealous, because he can now no more take his spear into his hands and avenge the outrage on the bodies; and John the Baptist, because he cannot quit the realms above, as in his life he left the wilderness, to hasten to convict iniquity, and if he must suffer for the deed, rather lose his head than his freedom to speak. But, peradventure, like the blessed Abel, he too though dead yet speaks to us, and now exclaims, more loudly than John of old concerning Herodias. "It is not lawful for thee to have her." For even if the body of John in obedience to the law of nature has received the sentence of God, and his tongue is silent, yet "the word of God is not bound." John, when he saw the wedlock of a fellow servant set at nought, was bold to rebuke even to the death: how would he feel on seeing such an outrage wreaked on the marriage chamber of the Lord?

2. You have flung away the yoke of that divine union; you have fled from the undefiled chamber of the true King; you have shamefully fallen into this disgraceful and impious corruption; and now that you cannot avoid this painful charge, and have no means or device to conceal your trouble, you rush into insolence. The wicked man after falling into a pit of iniquity always begins to despise, and you are denying your actual covenant with the true bridegroom; you say that you are not a virgin, and made no promise, although you have undertaken and publicly professed many pledges of virginity. Remember the good profession which you witnessed before God, angels, and men. Remember the hallowed intercourse, the sacred company of virgins, the assembly of the Lord, the Church of the holy. Remember your grandmother, grown old in Christ, still youthful and vigorous in virtue; and your mother vying with her in the Lord, and striving to break with ordinary life in strange and unwonted toils; remember your sister, who copies their doings, nay, endeavours to surpass them, and goes beyond the good deeds of her fathers in her virgin graces, and earnestly challenges by word and deed you her sister, as she thinks, to like efforts, while she earnestly prays that your virginity be preserved. All these call to mind, and your holy service of God with them, your life spiritual, though in the flesh; your conversation heavenly, though on earth. Remember days of calm, nights lighted up, spiritual songs, sweet music of psalms, saintly prayers, a bed pure and undefiled, procession of virgins, and moderate fare. What has become of your grave appearance, your gracious demeanour, your plain dress, meet for a virgin, the beautiful blush of modesty, the comely and bright pallor due to temperance and vigils, shining fairer than any brilliance of complexion? How often have you not prayed, perhaps with tears, that you might preserve your virginity without spot! How often have you not written to the holy men, imploring them to offer up prayers in your behalf, not that it should be your lot to marry, still less to be involved in this shameful corruption, but that you should not fall away from the Lord Jesus? How often have you received gifts from the Bridegroom? Why enumerate the honours given you for His sake by them that are His? Why tell of your fellowship with virgins, your progress with them, your being greeted by them with praises on account of virginity, eulogies of virgins, letters written as to a virgin? Now, nevertheless, at a little blast from the spirit of the air, "that now worketh in the children of disobedience," you have abjured all these; you have changed the honourable treasure, worth fighting for at all costs, for short-lived indulgence which does! for the moment gratify the appetite; one day you will find it more bitter than gall.

3. Who would not grieve over such things and say, "How is the faithful city become an harlot?" How would not the Lord Himself say to some of those who are now walking in the spirit of Jeremiah, "Hast thou seen what the virgin of Israel has done to me?" I betrothed her to me in trust, in purity, in righteousness, in judgment, in pity, and in mercy; as I promised her through Hosea the prophet. But she loved strangers, and while I, her husband. was yet alive, she is called adulteress, and is not afraid to belong to another husband. What then says the conductor of the bride, the divine and blessed Paul, both that one of old, and the later one of to-day under whose mediation and instruction you left your father's house and were united to the Lord? Might not either, in sorrow for such a trouble, say, "The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me." "I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." I was indeed ever afraid "lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your mind should be corrupted;" wherefore by countless counter-charms I strove to control the agitation of your senses, and by countless safeguards to preserve the bride of the Lord. So I continually set forth the life of the unmarried maid, and described how "the unmarried" alone "careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit." I used to describe the high dignity of virginity, and, addressing you as a temple of God, used as it were to give wings to your zeal as I strove to lift you to Jesus. Yet through fear of evil I helped you not to fall by the words "if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy." So by my prayers I tried to make you more secure, if by any means "your body, soul, and spirit might be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Yet all my toil on your behalf has been in vain. Bitter to me has been the end of those sweet labours. Now I needs must groan again at that over which I ought to have rejoiced. You have been deceived by the serpent more bitterly than Eve; and not only your mind but also your body has been defiled. Even that last horror has come to pass which I shrink from saying, and yet cannot leave unsaid, for it is as a burning and blazing fire in my bones, and I am undone and cannot endure. You have taken the members of Christ and made them the members of a harlot. This is an evil with which no other can be matched. This outrage in life is new. "For pass over the Isles of Chittim and see; and send unto Chedar and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods which are yet no gods." But the virgin has changed her glory, and her glory is in her shame. The heavens are astonished at this, and the earth is horribly afraid, saith the Lord, for the virgin has committed two evils; she has forsaken Me, the true and holy Bridegroom of holy souls, and has betaken herself to an impious and lawless destroyer of body and soul alike. She has revolted from God, her Saviour, and yielded her members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity. She forgot me and went after her lover from whom she will get no good.

4. It were better for him that a mill-stone had been hanged about his neck, and that he had been cast into the sea, than that he should have offended the virgin of the Lord. What slave ever reached such a pitch of mad audacity as to fling himself upon his master's bed? What robber ever attained such a height of folly as to lay hands upon the very offerings of God, not dead vessels, but bodies living and enshrining a soul made after the image of God?

Who was ever known to have the hardihood, in the heart of a city anti at high noon, to mark figures of filthy swine upon a royal statue? He who has set at naught a marriage of man, with no mercy shewn him, in the presence of two or three witnesses, dies. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and defiled His pledged bride and done despite unto the spirit of virginity? But the woman, he urges, consented, and I did no violence to her against her will. So, that unchaste lady of Egypt raged with love for comely Joseph, but the chaste youth's virtue was not overcome by the frenzy of the wicked woman, and, even when she laid her hand upon him, he was not forced into iniquity. But still, he urges, this was no new thing in her case; she was no longer a maid; if I had been unwilling, she would have been corrupted by some one else. Yes; and it is written, the Son of Man was ordained to be betrayed, but woe unto that man by whom He was betrayed. It must needs be that offences come, but woe to that man by whom they come.

5. In such a state of things as this, "Shall they fall and not arise? Shall he turn away and not return?" Why did the virgin turn shamefully away, though she bad heard Christ her bridegroom saying through the mouth of Jeremiah, "And I said, after she had done all these things (committed all these fornications, LXX.), turn thou unto me, but she returned not?" "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" You might indeed find many remedies for evil in Scripture, many medicines to save from destruction and lead to health; the mysteries of death and resurrection, the sentences of terrible judgment and everlasting punishment; the doctrines of repentance and of remission of sins; all the countless illustrations of conversion, the piece of money, the sheep, the son who wasted his substance with harlots, who was lost and was found, who was dead and alive again. Let us not use these remedies for ill; by these means let us heal our soul. Bethink you of your last day, for you will surely not, unlike all other women, live for ever. The distress, the gasping for breath, the hour of death, the imminent sentence of God, the angels hastening on their way, the soul fearfully dismayed, and lashed to agony by the consciousness of sin, turning itself piteously to things of this life and to the inevitable necessity of that long life to be lived elsewhere. Picture to me, as it rises in your imagination, the conclusion of all human life, when the Son of God shall come in His glory with His angels, "For he shall come anti shall not keep silence;" when He shall come to judge the quick and dead, to render to every one according to his work; when that terrible trumpet with its mighty voice shall wake those that have slept through the ages, and they that have done good shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation. Remember the vision of Daniel, and bow he brings the judgment before us: "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool; ... and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth before Him; thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened," clearly disclosing in the hearing of all, angels and men, things good and evil, things done openly and in secret, deeds, words, and thoughts all at once. What then must those men be who have lived wicked lives? Where then shall that soul hide which in the sight of all these spectators shall suddenly be revealed in its fulness of shame? With what kind of body shall it sustain those endless and unbearable pangs in the place of fire unquenched, and of the worm that perishes and never dies, and of depth of Hades, dark and horrible; bitter wailings, loud lamenting, weeping and gnashing of teeth and anguish without end? From all these woes there is no release after death; no device, no means of coming forth from the chastisement of pain.

6. We can escape now. While we can, let us lift ourselves from the fall: let us never despair of ourselves, if only we depart from evil. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. "O come, let us worship and fall down; let us weep before Him." The Word Who invited us to repentance calls aloud, "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." There is, then, a way of salvation, if we will. "Death in his might has swallowed up, but again the Lord hath wiped away tears from off all faces" of them that repent. The Lord is faithful in all His words. He does not lie when He says, "Though your sins be scarlet they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool." The great Physician of souls, Who is the ready liberator, not of you alone, but of all who are enslaved by sin, is ready to heal your sickness. From Him come the words, it was His sweet and saving lips that said, "They that be whole need not a physician but they that are sick. ... I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." What excuse have you, what excuse has any one, when He speaks thus? The Lord wishes to cleanse you from the trouble of your sickness and to show you light after darkness. The good Shepherd, Who left them that had not wandered away, is seeking after you. If you give yourself to Him He will not hold back. He, in His love, will not disdain even to carry you on His own shoulders, rejoicing that He has found His sheep which was lost. The Father stands and awaits your return from your wandering. Only come back, and while you are yet afar off, He will run and fall upon your neck, and, now that you are cleansed by repentance, will enwrap you in embraces of love. He will clothe with the chief robe the soul that has put off the old man with all his works; He will put a ring on hands that have washed off the blood of death, and will put shoes on feet that have turned from the evil way to the path of the Gospel of peace. He will announce the day of joy and gladness to them that are His own, both angels and men, and will celebrate your salvation far and wide. For "verily I say unto you," says He, "there is joy in heaven before God over one sinner that repenteth." If any of those who think they stand find fault because of your quick reception, the good Father will Himself make answer for you in the words, "It was meet that we should make merry and be glad for this" my daughter "was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found."

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LETTER XLVII.

To Gregory.

"WHO will give me wings like a dove? Or how can my old age be so renewed that I can travel to your affection, satisfy my deep longing to see you, tell you all the troubles of my soul, and get from you some comfort in my affliction? For when the blessed bishop Eusebius fell asleep, we were under no small alarm lest plotters against the Church of our Metropolis, wishful to fill it with their heretical tares, should seize the present opportunity, root out by their wicked teaching the true faith sown by much labour in men's souls, and destroy its unity. This has been the result of their action in many churches. When however I received the letters of the clergy exhorting me not to let their needs be overlooked at such a crisis, as I ranged my eyes in all directions I bethought me of your loving spirit, your right faith, and your unceasing zeal on behalf of the churches of God. I have therefore sent the well beloved Eustathius, the deacon, to invite your reverence, and implore you to add this one more to all your labours on behalf of the Church. I entreat you also to refresh my old age by a sight of you; and to maintain for the true Church its famous orthodoxy, by uniting with me, if I may be deemed worthy of uniting with you, in the good work, to give it a shepherd in accordance with the will of the Lord, able to guide His people aright. I have before my eyes a man not unknown even to yourself. If only we be found worthy to secure him, I am sure that we shall acquire a confident access to God and confer a very great benefit on the people who have invoked our aid. Now once again, aye, many times I call on you, all hesitation put aside, to come to meet me, and to set out before the difficulties of winter intervene.

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LETTER LXIII.

To the Governor of Neocoesarea.

THE wise man, even if he dwells far away, even if I never set eyes on him, I count a friend. So says the tragedian Euripides. And so, if, though I have never had the pleasure of meeting your excellency in person, I speak of myself as a familiar friend, pray do not set this down to mere empty compliment. Common report, which loudly proclaims your universal benevolence, is, in this instance, the promoter of friendship. Indeed since I met the highly respectable Elpidius, I have known you as well, and I have been as completely captured by you, as though I had long lived with you and had practical experience of your excellent qualities. For he did not cease telling me about you, mentioning one by one your magnanimity, your exalted sentiments, your mild manners, your skill in business, intelligence, dignity tempered by cheerfulness, and eloquence. All the other points that he enumerated in his long conversation with me it is impossible for me to write to you, without extending my letter beyond all reasonable bounds. How can I fail to love such a man? How could I put such restraint upon myself as not loudly to proclaim what I feel? Accept then, most excellent Sir, the greeting which I send you, for it is inspired by true and unfeigned friendship. I abhor all servile compliment. Pray keep me enrolled in the list of your friends, and, by frequently writing to me, bring yourself before me and comfort me in your absence.

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LETTER LXXI.

Basil to Gregory.

1. I HAVE received the letter of your holiness, by the most reverend brother Helenius. and what you have intimated he has told me in plain terms. How I felt on hearing it, you cannot doubt at all. However, since I have determined that my affection for you shall outweigh my pain, whatever it is, I have accepted it as I ought to do, and I pray the holy God, that my remaining days or hours may be as carefully conducted in their disposition towards you as they have been in past time, during which, my conscience tells me, I have been wanting to you in nothing small or great. But that the man who boasts that he is now just beginning to take a look at the life of Christians, and thinks he will get some credit by having something to do with me, should invent what he has not heard, and narrate what he has never experienced, is not at all surprising. What is surprising and extraordinary is that he has got my best friends among the brethren at Nazianzus to listen to him; and not only to listen to him, but as it seems, to take in what he says. On most grounds it might be surprising that the slanderer is of such a character, and that I am the victim, but these troublous times have taught us to bear everything with patience. Slights greater than this have, for my sins, long been things of common occurrence with me. I have never yet given this man's brethren any evidence of my sentiments' about God, and I have no answer to make now. Men who are not convinced by long experience are not likely to be convinced by a short letter. If the former is enough let the charges of the slanderers be counted as idle tales. But if I give license to unbridled mouths, and uninstructed hearts, to talk about whom they will, all the while keeping my ears ready to listen, I shall not be alone in hearing what is said by other people; they will have to hear what I have to say.

2. I know what has led to all this, and have urged every topic to hinder it; but now I am sick of the subject, and will say no more about it, I mean our little intercourse. For had we kept our old promise to each other, and had due regard to the claims which the Churches have on us, we should have been the greater part of the year together; and then there would have been no opening for these calumniators. Pray have nothing to say to them; let me persuade you to come here and assist me in my labours, particularly in my contest with the individual who is now assailing me. Your very appearance will have the effect of stopping him; directly you show these disturbers of our home that you will, by God's blessing, place yourself at the head of our party, you will break up their cabal, and you will shut every unjust mouth that speaketh unrighteousness against God. And thus facts will show who are your followers in good, and who are the halters and cowardly betrayers of the word of truth. If, however, the Church be betrayed, why then I shall care little to set men right about myself, by means of words, who account of me as men would naturally account who have not yet learned to measure themselves. Perhaps, in a short time, by God's grace, I shall be able to refute their slanders by very deed, for it seems likely that I shall have soon to suffer somewhat for the truth's sake more than usual; the best I can expect is banishment, or, if this hope fails, after all Christ's judgment-seat is not far distant. If then yon ask for a meeting for the Churches' sake, I am ready to betake myself whithersoever you invite me. But if it is only a question of refuting these slanders, I really have no time to reply to them.

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LETTER LXXVIII.

Without inscription, on behalf of Elpidius.

I HAVE not failed to observe the interest you have shown in our venerable friend Elpidius; and how with your usual intelligence you have given the prefect an opportunity of showing his kindness. What I am now writing to ask you is to make this favour complete and suggest to the prefect that he should by a particular order set over our city the man who is full of all possible care for the public interests. You will therefore have many admirable reasons to urge upon the prefect for his ordering Elpidius to remain at Caesarea. There is at all events no need for you to be taught by me, since you yourself know only too well, what is the position of affairs, and how capable Elpidius in administration.

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LETTER LXXXIII.

To a Magistrate.

I HAVE had only a short acquaintance and intercourse with your lordship, but I have no small or contemptible knowledge of you from the reports through which I am brought into communication with many men of position and importance. You yourself are better able to say whether I, by report, am of any account with you. At all events your reputation with me is such as I have said. But since God has called you to an occupation which gives you opportunity of showing kindness, and in the exercise of which it lies in your power to bring about the restoration of my own city, now level with the ground, it is, I think, only my duty to remind your excellency that in the hope of the requital God will give, you should show yourself of such a character as to win a memory that cannot die, and be made an inheritor of everlasting rest, in consequence of your making the afflictions of the distressed hard to bear. I have a property at Chamanene, and I beg you to look after its interests as though they were your own. And pray do not be surprised at my calling my friend s property my own, for among other virtues I have been taught that of friendship, and I remember the author of the wise saying a friend is another self. I therefore commend to your excellency this property belonging to my friend, as though it were my own. I beg you to consider the misfortunes of the house, and both to grant them consolation for the past, and for the future to make the place more comfortable for them; for it is now left and abandoned on account of the weight of the rates imposed upon it. I will do my best to meet your excellency and converse with you on points of detail.

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LETTER LXXXVI.

To the Governor.

I KNOW that a first and foremost object of your excellency is in every way to support the right; and after that to benefit your friends, and to exert yourself in behalf of those who have fled to your lordship's protection. Both these pleas are combined in the matter before us. The cause is right for which we are pleading; it is dear to me who am numbered among your friends; it is due to those who are invoking the aid of your constancy in their sufferings. The corn, which was all my very, dear brother Dorotheus had for the necessaries of life, has been carried off by some of the authorities at Berisi, entrusted with the management of affairs, driven to this violence of their own accord or by others' instigation. Either way it is an indictable offence. For how does the man whose wickedness is his own do less wrong than he who is the mere minister of other men's wickedness? To the sufferers the loss is the same. I implore you, therefore, that Dorotheus may have his corn returned by the men by whom he has been robbed, and that they may not be allowed to lay the guilt of their outrage on other men's shoulders. If you grant me my request I shall reckon the value of the boon conferred by your excellency in proportion to the necessity of providing one's self with food.

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LETTER LXXXVII.

Without address on the same subject.

I AM astonished that, with yon to appeal to, so grave an offence should have been committed against the presbyter as that he should have been deprived of his only means of livelihood. The most serious part of the business is that the perpetrators transfer the guilt of their proceedings to you; while all the while it was your duty not only not to suffer such deeds to be done, but to use all your authority to prevent them in the case of any one, but specially in the case of presbyters, and such presbyters as are in agreement with me, and are walking in the same way of true religion. If then you have any care to give me gratification, see that these matters are set right without delay. For, God helping you, you are able to do this, anti greater things than this to whom you will. I have written to the governor of my own country, that, if they refuse to do what is right of their own accord, they may be compelled to do so on pressure from the courts.

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LETTER LXXXVIII.

Without address an the subject of the exaction of taxes.

Your excellency knows better than any one else the difficulty of getting together the gold furnished by contribution. We have no better witness to our poverty than yourself, for with your great kindness you have felt for us, and, up to the present time, so far as has lain within your power, have borne with us, never departing from your own natural forbearance from any alarm caused by superior authority. Now of the whole sum there is still something wanting, and that must be got in from the contribution which we have recommended to all the town. What I ask is, that you will grant us a little delay, that a reminder may be sent to dwellers in the country, and most of our magistrates are in the country. If it is possible for it to be sent in short of as many pounds as those in which we are still behind-hand, I should be glad if you would so, arrange, and the amount shall be sent later. If, however, it is absolutely necessary that the whole sum should be sent in at once, then I repeat my first request that we may be allowed a longer time of grace.

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LETTER CIV.

To the prefect Modestus.

MERELY to write to so great a man, even though there be no other reason, must be esteemed a great honour. For communication with personages of high distinction confers glory upon all to whom it is permitted. My supplication, however, is one which I am driven by necessity to make to your excellency, in my great distress at the condition of my whole country. Bear with me, I beg you, kindly and in accordance with your own characters and reach a helping hand to my country, now beaten to the knee. The immediate object of my entreaty is as follows. By the old census, the clergy of God, presbyters and deacons, were left exempt. The recent registrars, however, without any authority from your lordship, have enrolled them, except that in some cases a few were granted immunity on the score of age. I ask, then, that you will leave us this memorial of your beneficence, to preserve through all coming time your good fame; that in accordance with the old law the clergy be exempt from contribution. I do not ask the remission to be conceded personally and individually to those who are now included, in which case the grace will pass to their successors, who may not always be worthy of the sacred ministry. I would suggest that some general concession be made to the clergy, according to the form in the open register, so that the exemption may be given in each place to ministers by the rulers of the Church. This boon is sere to bring undying glory to your excellency for your good deeds, and will cause many to pray for the imperial house. It will also really be profitable to the government, if we afford the relief of exemption, not generally to all the clergy, but to those who from time to time are in distress. This, as any one who chooses may know, is the course we actually pursue when we are at liberty.

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LETTER CVII.

To the Widow Julitta.

I was grieved to find on reading your ladyship's letter that you are involved in the same difficulties. What is to be done to men who show such a shifty character, saying now one thing now another and never abiding in the same pledges? If, after the promises made in my presence, and in that of the ex-prefect, he now tries to shorten the time of grace as though nothing had been said, he does seem to have lost, as far as I am concerned, all sense of shame. Nevertheless I wrote to him, rebuking him, and reminding him of his promises. I wrote also to Helladius, who is of the household of the prefect, that information might be given through him about your affairs. I hesitated myself to make so free with an officer of such importance, on account of my never having yet written to him about my own private affairs and my fearing some adverse decision from him, great men, as you know, being easily annoyed about such matters. If, however, any good is to be done in the matter, it will be through Helladius, an excellent man, well disposed towards me, fearing God, and having perfectly free access to the prefect. The Holy One is able to deliver you from all affliction, if only truly and sincerely we fix all our hope on Him.

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LETTER CVIII.

To the guardian of the heirs of Julitta.

I AM very much astonished to bear that, after the kind promises which you made and which were only such as might be expected from your generous character, you have now forgotten them and are putting violent and stern pressure on our sister. What to think, trader the circumstances, I really do not know. I know from many who have experienced your liberality, and bear testimony to it, how great it is; and I remember the promises which you made before me and the ex-prefect. You said that you were naming a shorter time in writing, but that you would grant a longer term of grace, from your wish to meet the necessities of the case, and do a favour to the widow, who is now compelled to pay out of her substance such a large sum of money at once. What is the cause of this change I cannot imagine. However, whatever it is, I beg you to be mindful of your own generous character, and to look to the Lord Who requites good deeds. I beg you to grant the time of remission, which you promised at tim outset, that they may be able to sell their property and discharge the debt. I perfectly well remember that you promised, if you received the sum agreed on, to restore to the widow all the stipulated documents, as well those which had been executed before the magistrates as the private papers. I do beg you then, honour me and win great blessing for yourself from the Lord. Remember your own promises, recognizing that you are human and must yourself look for that time when you will need God's help. Do not shut yourself off from that help by your present severity; but, by showing all kindness and clemency to the afflicted, attract God's pity to yourself.

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LETTER CIX.

To the Count Helladius.

I SHRINK from troubling your good nature, on account of the greatness of your influence, for fear of seeming to make an unwarrantable use of your friendship; however, the necessity of the case prevents my holding my peace. Our sister, who is a relative of mine, and now in the sorrowful position of a widow, has to look after the affairs of her orphan boy. On seeing her above measure oppressed by intolerable responsibilities, I felt great compassion for her, and, feeling deeply on the subject, I have hastened to invoke your aid, in order that you may, if possible, deign to support the messenger whom she has sent, to the end that when she has paid what she promised in person in my presence, she may be freed from any further pressure. She had agreed that she should be relieved from the interest on payment of the capital. Now, however, those who are looking after the affairs of her heirs are trying to exact the payment of the interest as well as that of the capital. The Lord, you know, makes the care of widows and orphans His own, and so do you strive to use your best endeavours in this matter, in the hope of the recompense which God Himself will give you. I cannot help thinking that, when our admirable and kindly prefect has heard of the discharge of the capital, he will feel for this afflicted and unhappy house now stricken to the knee, and no longer able to cope with the injuries inflicted upon it. Pardon, then, the necessity which compels me to intrude upon you; and give your help in this matter, in proportion to the power which Christ has given you, good and true man as you are, and using your talents for the best.

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LETTER CX.

To the prefect Modestus.

IN kindly condescending to come down to me you give me great honour and allow me great freedom; and these in like, aye and in greater, measure, I pray that your lordship may receive from our good Master during the whole of your life. I have long wanted to write to you and to receive honour at your hands, but respect for your great dignity has restrained me, and I have been careful lest I should ever seem to abuse the liberty conceded to me. Now, however, I am forced to take courage, not only by the fact of my having received permission from your incomparable excellency to write, but also by the necessity of the distressed. If, then, prayers of even the small are of any avail with the great, be moved, most excellent sir, of your good will to grant relief to a rural population now in pitiable case, and give orders that the tax of iron, paid by the inhabitants of iron-producing Taurus, may be made such as it is possible to pay. Grant this, lest they be crushed once for all, instead of being of lasting service to the state. I am sure that your admirable benevolence will see that this is done.

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LETTER CXI.

To Modestus, the prefect.

UNDER any ordinary circumstances I should have lacked courage to intrude upon your excellency, for I know how to gauge my own importance and to recognise dignities. But now that I have seen a friend in a distressing position at having been summoned before you, I have ventured to give him this letter. I hope that by using it, as a kind of propitiatory symbol, he may meet with merciful consideration. Truly, although I am of no account, moderation itself may be able to conciliate the most merciful of prefects, and to win pardon for me. Thus if my friend has done no wrong, he may be saved by the mere force of truth; if he has erred, he may be forgiven through my entreaty.

How we are situated here no one knows better than yourself, for you discern the weak parts in each man and rule all with your admirable forethought.

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LETTER CLXIX.

Basil to Gregory.

YOU have undertaken a kindly and charitable task in getting together the captive troop of the insolent Glycerius (at present I must so write), and, so far as in you lay, covering our common shame. It is only right that your reverence should undo this dishonour with a full knowledge of the facts about him.

This grave and venerable Glycerius of yours was ordained by me deacon of the church of Venesa to serve the presbyter, and look after the work of the Church, for, though the fellow is in other respects intractable, he is naturally clever at manual labour. No sooner was he appointed than he neglected his work, as though there had been absolutely nothing to do. But, of his own private power and authority, he got together some wretched virgins, some of whom came to him of their own accord (you know how young people are prone to anything of this kind), and others were unwillingly forced to accept him as leader of their company. Then he assumed the style and title of patriarch, and began all of a sudden to play the man of dignity. He had not attained to this on any reasonable or pious ground; his only object was to get a means of livelihood, just as some men start one trade and some another. He has all but upset the whole Church, scorning his own presbyter, a man venerable both by character and age; scorning his chorepiscopus, and myself, as of no account at all, continually filling the town and all the clergy with disorder and disturbance. And now, on being mildly rebuked by me and his chorepiscopus, that he may not treat us with contempt (for he was trying to stir the younger men to like insubordination), he is meditating conduct most audacious and inhuman. After robbing as many of the virgins as he could, he has made off by night. I am sure all this will have seemed very sad to you. Think of the time too. The feast was being held there, and, as was natural, large numbers of people were gathered together. He, however, on his side, brought out his own troop, who followed young men and danced round them, causing all well-disposed persons to be most distressed, while loose chatterers laughed aloud. And even this was not enough, enormous as was the scandal. I am told that even the parents of the virgins, finding their bereavement unendurable, wishful to bring home the scattered company, and falling with not unnatural sighs and tears at their daughters' feet, have been insulted and outraged by this excellent young man and his troop of bandits. I am sure your reverence will think all this intolerable. The ridicule of it attaches to us all alike. First of all, order him to come back with the virgins. He might find some mercy, if he were to come back with a letter from you. If you do not adopt this course, at least send the virgins back to their mother the Church. If this cannot be done, at all events do not allow any violence to be done to those that are willing to return, but get them to return to me. Otherwise I call God and man to witness that all this is ill done, and a breach of the law of the Church. The best course would be for Glycerius to come back with a letter, and in a becoming and proper frame of mind; if not, let him be deprived of his ministry.

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LETTER CLXX.

To Glycerius.

HOW far will your mad folly go? How long will you counsel mischief against yourself? How long will you go on rousing me to wrath, and bringing shame on the common order of solitaries? Return. Put confidence in God, and in me, who imitate God's loving-kindness. If I rebuked you like a father, like a father I will forgive you. This is the treatment you shall receive from me, for many others are making supplication in your behalf, and before all the rest your own presbyter, for whose grey hairs and compassionate disposition I feel much respect. Continue longer to hold aloof from me and you have quite fallen from your degree. You will also fall away from God, for with your songs and your garb you are leading the young women not to God, but to the pit.

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LETTER CLXXI.

To Gregory.

I WROTE to you, not long ago, about Glycerius and the virgins. Even now they have not returned, but are still hesitating, how and why I know not. I should be sorry to charge this against you, as though you were acting thus to bring discredit on me, either because you have some ground of complaint against me, or to gratify others. Let them then come, fearing nothing. Do you be surety for their doing this. For it pains me to have my members cut off, although they have been rightly cut off. If they hold out the burden will rest on others. I wash my hands of it.

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LETTER CXCVII.

To Ambrose, bishop of Milan.

1. THE gifts of the Lord are ever great and many; in greatness beyond measure, in number incalculable. To those who are not insensible of His mercy one of the greatest of these gifts is that of which I am now availing myself, the opportunity allowed us, far apart in place though we be, of addressing one another by letter. He grants us two means of becoming acquainted; one by personal intercourse, another by epistolary correspondence. Now I have become acquainted with you through what you have said. I do not mean that my memory is impressed with your outward appearance, but that the beauty of the inner man has been brought home to me by the rich variety of your utterances, for each of us "speaketh out of the abundance of the heart." I have given glory to God, Who in every generation selects those who are well- pleasing to Him; Who of old indeed chose from the sheepfold a prince for His people; Who through the Spirit gifted Amos the herdman with power and raised him up to be a prophet; Who now has drawn forth for the care of Christ's flock a man from the imperial city, entrusted with the government of a whole nation, exalted in character, in lineage, in position, in eloquence, in all that this world admires. This same man has flung away all the advantages of the world, counting them all loss that he may gain Christ, and has taken in his hand the helm of the ship, great and famous for its faith in God, the Church of Christ. Come, then, O man of God; not from men have you received or been taught the Gospel of Christ; it is the Lord Himself who has transferred you from the judges of the earth to the throne of the Apostles; fight the good right; heal the infirmity of the people, if any are infected by the disease of Arian madness; renew the ancient footprints of the Fathers. You have laid the foundation of affection towards me; strive to build upon it by the frequency of your salutations. Thus shall we be able to be near one another in spirit, although our earthly homes are far apart.

2. By your earnestness and zeal in the matter of the blessed bishop Dionysius you testify all your love to the Lord, your honour for your predecessors, and your zeal for the fairly. For our disposition towards our faithful fellow-servants is referred to the Lord Whom they have served. Whoever honours men that have contended for the faith proves that he has like zeal for it. One single action is proof of much virtue.

I wish to acquaint your love in Christ that the very zealous brethren who have been commissioned by your reverence to act for you in this good work have won praise for all the clergy by the amiability of their manners; for by their individual modesty and conciliatoriness they have shewn the sound condition of all. Moreover, with all zeal and diligence they have braved an inclement season; and with unbroken perseverance have persuaded the faithful guardians of the blessed body to transmit to them the custody of what they have regarded as the safeguard of their lives. And you must understand that they are men who would never have been forced by any human authority or sovereignty, had not the perseverance of these brethren moved them to compliance. No doubt a great aid to the attainment of the object desired was the presence of our well beloved and reverend son Therasius the presbyter. He voluntarily undertook all the toil of the journey; he moderated the energy of the faithful on the spot; he persuaded opponents by his arguments; in the presence of priests and deacons, and of many others who fear the Lord, he took up the relics with all becoming reverence, and has aided the brethren in their preservation. These relics do you receive with a joy equivalent to the distress with which their custodians have parted with them and sent them to you. Let none dispute; let none doubt. Here you have that unconquered athlete. These bones, which shared in the conflict with the blessed soul, are known to the Lord. These bones He will crown, together with that soul, in the righteous day of His requital, as it is written, "we must stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that each may give an account of the deeds he has done in the body." One coffin held that honoured corpse. None other lay by his side. The burial was a noble one; the honours of a martyr were paid him. Christians who had welcomed him as a guest and then with their own hands laid him in the grave, have now disinterred him. They have wept as men bereaved of a father and a champion. But they have sent him to you, for they put your joy before their own consolation. Pious were the hands that gave; scrupulously careful were the hands that received. There has been no room for deceit; no room for guile. I bear witness to this. Let the untainted truth be accepted by you.

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LETTER CCVII.

To the clergy of Neocaesarea.

You all concur in hating me. To a man you have followed the leader of the war against me. I was therefore minded to say not a word to any one. I determined that I would write no friendly letter; that I would start no communication, but keep my sorrow ill silence to myself. Yet it is wrong to keep silence in the face of calumny; not that by contradiction we may vindicate ourselves, but that we may not allow a lie to travel further and its victims to be harmed. I have therefore thought it necessary to put this matter also before you all, and to write a letter to you, although, when I recently wrote to all the presbyterate in common, you did not do me the honour to send me a reply. Do not, my brethren, gratify the vanity of those who are filling your minds with pernicious opinions. Do not consent to look lightly on, when, to your knowledge, God's people are being subverted by impious teaching. None but Sabellius the Libyan and Marcellus the Galatian have dared to teach and write what the leaders of your people are attempting to bring forward among you as their own private discovery. They are making a great talk about it, but they are perfectly powerless to give their sophisms anti fallacies even any colour of truth. In their harangues against me they shrink from no wickedness, and persistently refuse to meet me. Why? Is it not because they are afraid of being convicted for their own wicked opinions? Yes; and in their attacks upon me they have become so lost to all sense of shame as to invent certain dreams to my discredit while they falsely accuse my teaching of being pernicious. Let them take upon their own heads all the visions of the autumn months; they can fix no blasphemy on me, for in every Church there are many to testify to the truth.

2. When they are asked the reason for this furious and truceless war, they allege psalms and a kind of music varying from the custom which has obtained among you, and similar pretexts of which they ought to be ashamed. We are, moreover, accused because we maintain men in the practice of true religion who have renounced the world and all those cares of this life, which the Lord likens to thorns that do not allow the word to bring forth fruit. Men of this kind carry about in the body the deadness of Jesus; they have taken up their own cross, and are followers of God. I would gladly give my life if these really were my faults, and if I had men with me owning me as teacher who had chosen this ascetic life. I hear that virtue of this kind is to be fount now in Egypt, and there are, peradventure some men in Palestine whose conversation follows the precepts of the Gospel. I am told too that some perfect and blessed men are to be found in Mesopotamia. We, in comparison with the perfect, are children. But if women also have chosen to live the Gospel life, preferring virginity to wedlock. leading captive the lust of the flesh, and living in the mourning which is called blessed, they are blessed in their profession wherever they are to be found. We, however, have few instances of this to show, for with us people are still in an elementary stage and are being gradually brought. to piety. If any charges of disorder are brought against the life of our women I do not undertake to defend them. One thing, however, I do say and that is, that these bold hearts, these unbridled mouths are ever fearlessly uttering what Satan, the father of lies, has hitherto I been unable to say. I wish you to know that we rejoice to have assemblies of both men and women, whose conversation is in heaven and who have crucified the flesh with, the affections and lusts thereof; they take no thought for food and raiment, but remain undisturbed beside their Lord, continuing night and day in prayer. Their lips speak not of the deeds of men: they sing hymns to God continually, working with their own hands that they may have to distribute to them that need.

3. Now as to the charge relating to the singing of psalms, whereby my calumniators specially scare the simpler folk, my reply is this. The customs which now obtain are agreeable to those of all the Churches of God. Among us the people go at night to the house of prayer, and, in distress, affliction, and continual tears, making confession to God, at last rise from their prayers and begin to sing psalms. And now, divided into two parts, they sing antiphonally with one another, thus at once confirming their study of the Gospels, and at the same time producing for themselves a heedful temper and a heart free from distraction. Afterwards they again commit the prelude of the strain to one, and the rest take it up; and so after passing the night in various psalmody, praying at intervals as the day begins to dawn, all together, as with one voice and one heart, raise the psalm of confession to the Lord, each forming for himself his own expressions of penitence. If it is for these reasons that you renounce me, you will renounce the Egyptians; you will renounce both Libyans, Thebans, Palestinians, Arabians, Phoenicians, Syrians, the dwellers by the Euphrates; in a word all those among whom vigils, prayers, and common psalmody have been held in honour.

4. But, it is alleged, these practices were not observed in the time of the great Gregory. My rejoinder is that even the Litanies which you now use were not used in his time. I do not say this to find fault with you; for my prayer would be that every one of you should live in tears and continual penitence. We, for our part, are always offering supplication for our sins, but we propitiate our God not as you do, in the words of mere man, but in the oracles of the Spirit. And what evidence have you that this custom was not followed in the time of the great Gregory? You have kept none of his customs up to the present time. Gregory did not cover his head at prayer. How could he? He was a true disciple of the Apostle who says, "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth Iris head." And "a man indeed ought not to cover his bead forasmuch as he is the image of God." Oaths were shunned by Gregory, that pure soul, worthy of the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, content with yea and nay, in accordance with the commandment of the Lord Who said, "I say unto you swear not at all?" Gregory could not bear to call his brother a fool, for he stood in awe of the threat of the Lord. Passion, wrath, and bitterness never proceeded out of his mouth. Railing he hated, because it leads not to the kingdom of heaven. Envy and arrogance had been shut out of that guiltless sold. He would never have stood at the altar before being reconciled to his brother. A lie, or any word designed to slander any one, he abominated, as one who knew that lies come from the devil, and that the Lord will destroy all that utter a lie. If you have none of these things, and are clear of all, then are you verily disciples of the disciple of the Lord. if not, beware lest, in your disputes about the mode of singing psalms, you are straining at the gnat and setting at naught the greatest of the commandments.

I have been driven to use these expressions by the urgency of my defence, that you may be taught to cast the beam out of your own eyes before you try to remove other men's motes. Nevertheless, I am conceding all, although there is nothing that is not searched into before God. Only let great matters prevail, and do not allow innovations in the fifth to make themselves heard. Do not disregard the hypostases. Do not deny the name of Christ. Do not put a wrong meaning on the words of Gregory. If you do so, as long as I breathe and have the power of utterance, I cannot keep silence, when I see souls being thus destroyed.

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LETTER CCLXXXIII.

To a widow.

I HOPE to find a suitable day for the conference, after those which I intend to fix for the hill-country. I see no opportunity for our meeting (unless the Lord so order it beyond my expectation), other than at a public conference.

You may imagine my position from your own experience. If in the care of a single household you are beset with such a crowd of anxieties, how many distractions, think you, each day brings to me?

Your dream, I think, reveals more perfectly the necessity of making provision for spiritual contemplation, and cultivating that mental vision by which God is wont to be seen. Enjoying as you do the consolation of the Holy Scriptures, you stand in need neither of my assistance nor of that of anybody else to help you to comprehend your duty. You have the all-sufficient counsel and guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead you to what is right.

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LETTER CCLXXXIV.

To the assessor in the case of monks.

CONCERNING the monks, your excellency has, I believe, already rules in force, so that I need ask for no special favour on their behalf.

It is enough that they share with others the enjoyment of your general beneficence; still I feel it incumbent upon me too to interest myself in their case. I therefore submit it to your more perfect judgment, that men who have long since taken leave of this life, who have mortified their own bodies, so that they have neither money to spend nor bodily service to render in the interests of the common weal, should be exempted from taxation. For if their lives are consistent with their profession, they possess neither money nor bodies; for the former is spent in communicating to the needy; while their bodies are worn away in prayer and fasting.

Men living such lives you will, I know, regard with special reverence; nay you will wish to secure their intervention, since by their life in the Gospel they are able to prevail with God.

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LETTER CCLXXXVIII.

Without address. Excommunicatory.

WHEN public punishment fails to bring a man to his senses, or exclusion from the prayers of the Church to drive him to repentance, it only remains to treat him in accordance with our Lord's directions — as it is written, " If thy brother shall trespass against thee ....tell him his fault between thee and him; ... if he will not hear thee, take with 'thee another;" "and if he shall" then " neglect to hear, tell it unto the Church; but if he neglect to hear even the Church, let him be unto thee henceforth as an heathen man, and as a publican." Now all this we have done in the case of this fellow. First, he was accused of his fault; then he was convicted in the presence of one or two witnesses; thirdly, in the presence of the Church. Thus we have made our solemn protest, and he has not listened to it. Henceforth let him be excommunicated.

Further, let proclamation be made throughout the district, that he be excluded from participation in any of the ordinary relations of life; so that by our withholding ourselves from all intercourse with him he may become altogether food for the devil.

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