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Fathers Of The Church, Catholic Edition

Athanasius to the presbyters and deacons and the people of the Catholic Church in the Mareotis, brethren beloved and longed for, greeting in the Lord.

The holy council has praised your piety in Christ. They have all acknowledged your spirit and fortitude in all things, in that ye did not fear threats, and though you had to bear insults and persecutions against your piety you held out. Your letters when read out to all produced tears and enlisted universal sympathy. They loved you though absent, and reckoned your persecutions as their own. Their letter to you is a proof of their affection: and although it would suffice to include you along with the holy Church of Alexandria , yet the holy synod has written separately to you in order that ye may be encouraged not to give way on account of your sufferings, but to give thanks to God; because your patience shall have good fruit.

Formerly the character of the heretics was not evident. But now it is revealed and laid open to all. For the holy synod has taken cognisance of the calumnies these men have concocted against you, and has had them in abhorrence, and has deposed Theodore, Valens, Ursacius, in Alexandria and the Mareotis by consent of all. The same notice has been given to other Churches also. And since the cruelty and tyranny practised by them against the Churches can no longer be borne, they have been cast out from the episcopate and expelled from the communion of all. Moreover of Gregory they were unwilling even to make mention, for since the man has lacked the very name of bishop, they thought it superfluous to name him. But on account of those who are deceived by him they have mentioned his name; not because he seemed worthy of mention, but that those deceived by him might thereby recognise his infamy and blush at the kind of man with whom they have communicated. You will learn what has been written about them from the previous document : and though not all of the bishops came together to sign, yet it was drawn up by all, and they signed for all. Salute one another with a holy kiss. All the brethren salute you.

I, Protogenes , bishop, desire that you may be preserved in the Lord, beloved and longed for.

I, Athenodorus*, bishop, desire that ye may be preserved in the Lord, most beloved brethren. [Other signatures] Julian, Ammonius, Aprianus, Marcellus, Gerontius*, Porphyrius*, Zosimus, Asclepius, Appian, Eulogius, Eugenius, Liodorus (26), Martyrius, Eucarpus, Lucius*, Caloes. Maximus: by letters from the Gauls I desire that ye may be preserved in the Lord, beloved. We, Arcidamus and Philoxenus, presbyters, and Leo a deacon, from Rome, desire that ye may be preserved. I, Gaudentius, bishop of Naissus, desire that ye may be preserved in the Lord. [Also] Florentius of Meria in Pannonia, Ammianus (9), of Castellum in Pannonia, Januarius of Beneventum, Praetextatus of Narcidonum in Pannonia, Hyperneris (48) of Hypata in Thessaly, Castus of Caesaraugusta, Severus of Calcisus in Thessaly, Julian of Therae Heptapolis , Lucius of Verona, Eugenius (35) of Hecleal Cycbinae , Zosimus (92) of Lychni Sunosion in Apulia , Hermogenes of Syceon , Thryphos of Magara, Paregorius* of Caspi, Caloes (21) of Castromartis, Ireneus of Syconis, Macedonius of Lypianum, Martyrius of Naupacti, Palladius of Dius, Broseus (87) of Lu[g]dunum in Gaul, Ursacius of Brixia, Amantius of Viminacium, by the presbyter Maximus, Alexander of Gypara in Achaia, Eutychius of Mothona, Aprianus of Petavio in Pannonia, Antigonus of Pallene in Macedonia, Dometius* of Acaria Constantias, Olympius of Enorodope , Zosimus of Oreomarga, Protasius of Milan, Mark of Siscia on the Save, Eucarpus of Opus in Achaia, Vitalis* of Vertara in Africa, Helianus of Tyrtana, Symphorus of Herapythae in Crete, Mosinius (64) of Heracla, Eucissus of Chisamus , Cydonius of Cydonia .

Athanasius to all the presbyters and deacons of the holy Catholic Church at Alexandria and the Parembola, brethren most beloved, greeting.

In writing this I must begin my letter, most beloved brethren, by giving thanks to Christ. But now this is especially fitting, since both many things and great, done by the Lord, deserve our thanks , and those who believe in Him ought not to be ungrateful for His many benefits. We thank the Lord therefore, who always manifests us to all in the faith, who also has at this time done many wonderful things for the Church. For what the heretical party of Eusebius and heirs of Arius have maintained and spread abroad, all the bishops who assembled have pronounced false and fictitious. And the very men who are thought terrible by many, like those who are called giants, were counted as nothing, and rightly so, for just as the darkness is illuminated when light comes, so, iniquity is unveiled by the coming of the just, and when the good are present, the worthless are exposed.

For you yourselves, beloved, are not ignorant what the successors of the ill-named heresy of Eusebius did, namely Theodore, Narcissus, Valens, Ursacius, and the worst of them all, George, Stephen, Acacius, Menophantus, and their colleagues, for their madness is manifest to all; nor has it escaped your observation what they committed against the Churches. For you were the first they injured, your Church the first they tried to corrupt. But they who did so many great things, and were, as I said above, terrible to the minds of all, have been so frightened as to pass all imagination. For not only did they fear the Roman Synod, not only when invited to it did they excuse themselves, but, now also having arrived at Sardica, so conscience-stricken were they, that when they had seen the judges, they were astonished. So they fainted in their minds. Verily, one might say to them: Death, where is thy sting, Death, where is thy victory?’ For neither did it go as they wished, for them to give judgment as they pleased; this time they could not over-reach whom they would. But they saw faithful men, that cared for justice, nay rather, they saw our Lord Himself among them, like the demons of old from the tombs; for being sons of falsehood, they could not bear to see the truth. So Theodore, Narcissus, and Ursacius, with their friends said as follows : Stay, what have we to do with you, men of Christ? We know that you are true, and fear to be convicted: we shrink from confessing our calumnies to your face. We have nothing to do with you; for you are Christians, while we are foes to Christ; and while with you truth is powerful, we have learned to over-reach. We thought our deeds were hid; we did not think that we were now coming to judgment; why do you expose our deeds before their time; and by exposing us vex us before the day?’ and although they are of the worst character and walk in darkness, yet they have learnt at last that there is no agreement between light and darkness, and no concord between Christ and Belial. Accordingly, beloved brethren, since they knew what they had done, and saw their victims ready as accusers, and the witnesses before their eyes, they followed the example of Cain and fled like him; in that they greatly wandered , for they imitated his flight, and so have received his condemnation. For the holy council knows their works; it has heard our blood crying aloud, heard from themselves the voices of the wounded. All the Bishops know how they have sinned, and how many things they have done against our Churches and others; and accordingly they have expelled these men from the Churches like Cain. For who did not weep when your letter was read? who did not groan to see whom those men had exiled? Who did not reckon your tribulations his own? Most beloved brethren, you suffered formerly when they were committing evil against you, and perhaps it is no long time since the war has ceased. Now, however, all the Bishops who assembled and heard what you have suffered, grieved and lamented just as you did when you suffered the injuries and they shared your grief at that time. . . .

On account of these deeds then, and all the others which they have committed against the Churches, the holy general council has deposed them all, and not only has judged them aliens from the Church, but has held them unworthy to be called Christians. For how can men be called Christians who deny Christ? And how can men be admitted to church who do evil against the Churches? Accordingly, the holy council has sent to the Churches everywhere, that they may be marked among all, so that they who were deceived by them may now return to full assurance and truth. Do not therefore fail, beloved brethren; like servants of God, and professors of the faith of Christ, be tried in the Lord, and let not tribulation cast you down, neither let troubles caused by the heretics who plot against you make you sad. For you have the sympathy of the whole world in your grief, and what is more, it bears you all in mind. Now I think that those deceived by them will, when they see the severe sentence of the Council, turn aside from them and reject their impiety. If, however, even after this their hand is lifted up, do you not be astonished, nor fear if they rage; but pray and raise your hands to God, and be sure that the Lord will not tarry but will perform all things according to your will. I could wish indeed to write you a longer letter with a detailed account of what has taken place, but since the presbyters and deacons are competent to tell you in person of all they have seen, I have refrained from writing much. One thing alone I charge you, considering it a necessity, that having the fear of the Lord before your eyes you will put Him first, and carry on all things with your wonted concord as men of wisdom and understanding. Pray for us, bearing in mind the necessities of the widows , especially since the enemies of truth have taken away what belongs to them. But let your love overcome the malice of the heretics. For we believe that according to your prayers the Lord will be gracious and permit me to see you speedily. Meanwhile you will learn the proceedings at the Synod by what all the Bishops have written to you, and from the appended letter you will perceive the deposition of Theodore, Narcissus, Stephen, Acacius, George, Menophantus, Ursacius and Valens. For Gregory they did not wish to mention: since they thought it superfluous to name a man who lacked the very name of bishop. Yet for the sake of those deceived by him they have mentioned his name, not that his name was worthy of mention, but in order that those deceived by him may learn his infamy and blush for the sort of man they have communicated with. . . . I pray that you may be preserved in the Lord, brethren most beloved and longed for.

All things made by God are beautiful and pure, for the Word of God has made nothing useless or impure. For we are a sweet savour of Christ in them that are being saved ,’ as the Apostle says. But since the devil’s darts are varied and subtle, and he contrives to trouble those who are of simpler mind, and tries to hinder the ordinary exercises of the brethren, scattering secretly among them thoughts of uncleanness and defilement; come let us briefly dispel the error of the evil one by the grace of the Saviour, and confirm the mind of the simple. For to the pure all things are pure,’ but both the conscience and all that belongs to the unclean are defiled . I marvel also at the craft of the devil, in that, although he is corruption and mischief itself, he suggests thoughts under the show of purity; but with the result of a snare rather than a test. For with the object, as I said before, of distracting ascetics from their customary and salutary meditation, and of appearing to overcome them, he stirs some such buzzing thoughts as are of no profit in life, vain questions and frivolities which one ought to put aside. For tell me, beloved and most pious friend, what sin or uncleanness there is in any natural secretion,—as though a man were minded to make a culpable matter of the cleanings of the nose or the sputa from the mouth? And we may add also the secretions of the belly, such as are a physical necessity of animal life. Moreover if we believe man to be, as the divine Scriptures say, a work of God’s hands, how could any defiled work proceed from a pure Power? and if, according to the divine Acts of the Apostles , we are God’s offspring,’ we have nothing unclean in ourselves. For then only do we incur defilement, when we commit sin, that foulest of things. But when any bodily excretion takes place independently of will, then we experience this, like other things, by a necessity of nature. But since those whose only pleasure is to gainsay what is said aright, or rather what is made by God, pervert even a saying in the Gospels, alleging that not that which goeth in defileth a man, but that which goeth out ,’ we are obliged to make plain this unreasonableness,—for I cannot call it a question—of theirs. For firstly, like unstable persons, they wrest the Scriptures to their own ignorance. Now the sense of the divine oracle is as follows. Certain persons, like these of today, were in doubt about meats. The Lord Himself, to dispel their ignorance, or it may be to unveil their deceitfulness, lays down that, not what goes in defiles the man, but what goes out. Then he adds exactly whence they go out, namely from the heart. For there, as he knows, are the evil treasures of profane thoughts and other sins. But the Apostle teaches the same thing more concisely, saying, But meat shall not bring us before God .’ Moreover, one might reasonably say no natural secretion will bring us before him for punishment. But possibly medical men (to put these people to shame even at the hands of outsiders) will support us on this point, telling us that there are certain necessary passages accorded to the animal body, to provide for the dismissal of the superfluity of what is secreted in our several parts; for example, for the superfluity of the head, the hair and the watery discharges from the head, and the purgings of the belly, and that superfluity again of the seminative channels. What sin then is there in God’s name, elder most beloved of God, if the Master who made the body willed and made these parts to have such passages? But since we must grapple with the objections of evil persons, as they may say, If the organs have been severally fashioned by the Creator, then there is no sin in their genuine use,’ let us stop them by asking this question: What do you mean by use? That lawful use which God permitted when He said, Increase and multiply, and replenish the earth ,’ and which the Apostle approves in the words, Marriage is honourable and the bed undefiled ,’ or that use which is public, yet carried on stealthily and in adulterous fashion? For in other matters also which go to make up life, we shall find differences according to circumstances. For example, it is not right to kill, yet in war it is lawful and praiseworthy to destroy the enemy; accordingly not only are they who have distinguished themselves in the field held worthy of great honours, but monuments are put up proclaiming their achievements. So that the same act is at one time and under some circumstances unlawful, while under others, and at the right time, it is lawful and permissible. The same reasoning applies to the relation of the sexes. He is blessed who, being freely yoked in his youth, naturally begets children. But if he uses nature licentiously, the punishment of which the Apostle writes shall await whoremongers and adulterers.

For there are two ways in life, as touching these matters. The one the more moderate and ordinary, I mean marriage; the other angelic and unsurpassed, namely virginity. Now if a man choose the way of the world, namely marriage, he is not indeed to blame; yet he will not receive such great gifts as the other. For he will receive, since he too brings forth fruit, namely thirtyfold . But if a man embrace the holy and unearthly way, even though, as compared with the former, it be rugged and hard to accomplish, yet it has the more wonderful gifts: for it grows the perfect fruit, namely an hundredfold. So then their unclean and evil objections had their proper solution long since given in the divine Scriptures. Strengthen then, father, the flocks under you, exhorting them from the Apostolic writings, guiding them from the Evangelical, counselling them from the Psalms, and saying, quicken me according to Thy Word ;’ but by Thy Word,’ is meant that we should serve Him with a pure heart. For knowing this, the Prophet says, as if interpreting himself, Make me a clean heart, O God ,’ lest filthy thoughts trouble me. David again, And stablish me with Thy free spirit ,’ that even if ever thoughts disturb me, a certain strong power from Thee may stablish me, acting as a support. Giving then this and the like advice, say with regard to those who are slow to obey the truth, I will teach Thy ways unto the wicked,’ and, confident in the Lord that you will persuade them to desist from such wickedness, sing and sinners shall be converted unto Thee .’ And be it granted, that they who raise malicious questions may cease from such vain labour, and that they who doubt in their simplicity may be strengthened with a free spirit;’ while as many of you as surely know the truth, hold it unbroken and unshaken in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom be to the Father glory and might, together with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

I am at a loss how to write. Am I to blame you for your refusal? or for having regard to the trials, and hiding for fear of the Jews ? In any case, however it may be, what you have done is worthy of blame, beloved Dracontius. For it was not fitting that after receiving the grace you should hide, nor that, being a wise man, you should furnish others with a pretext for flight. For many are offended when they hear it; not merely that you have done this, but that you have done it having regard to the times and to the afflictions which are weighing upon the Church. And I fear lest, in flying for your own sake, you prove to be in peril in the sight of the Lord on account of others. For if he that offendeth one of the little ones, should rather choose that a mill stone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea ,’ what can be in store for you, if you prove an offence to so many? For the surprising unanimity about your election in the district of Alexandria will of necessity be broken up by your retirement: and the episcopate of the district will be grasped at by many,—and many unfit persons, as you are well aware. And many heathen who were promising to become Christians upon your election will remain heathen, if your piety sets at nought the grace given you.

2. What defence will you offer for such conduct? With what arguments will you be able to wash away and efface such an impeachment? How will you heal those who on your account are fallen and offended? Or how will you be able to restore the broken peace? Beloved Dracontius, you have caused us grief instead of joy, groaning instead of consolation. For we expected to have you with us as a consolation; and now we behold you in flight, and that you will be convicted in judgment, and when upon your trial will repent it. And Who shall have pity upon thee ,’ as the Prophet says, who will turn his mind to you for peace, when he sees the brethren for whom Christ died injured on account of your flight? For you must know, and not be in doubt, that while before your election you lived to yourself, after it, you live for your flock. And before you had received the grace of the episcopate, no one knew you; but after you became one, the laity expect you to bring them food, namely instruction from the Scriptures. When then they expect, and suffer hunger, and you are feeding yourself only, and our Lord Jesus Christ comes and we stand before Him, what defence will you offer when He sees His own sheep hungering? For had you not taken the money, He would not have blamed you. But He would reasonably do so if upon taking it you dug and buried it,—in the words which God forbid that your piety should ever hear: Thou oughtest to have given my money to the bankers, that when I came I might demand it of them .’

3. I beseech you, spare yourself and us. Yourself, lest you run into peril; us, lest we be grieved because of you. Take thought of the Church, lest many of the little ones be injured on your account, and the others be given an occasion of withdrawing. Nay but if you feared the times and acted as you did from timidity, your mind is not manly; for in such a case you ought to manifest zeal for Christ, and rather meet circumstances boldly, and use the language of blessed Paul: in all these things we are more than conquerors ;’ and the more so in that we ought to serve not the time, but the Lord . But if the organising of the Churches is distasteful to you, and you do not think the ministry of the episcopate has its reward, why, then you have brought yourself to despise the Saviour that ordered these things. I beseech you, dismiss such ideas, nor tolerate those who advise you in such a sense, for this is not worthy of Dracontius. For the order the Lord has established by the Apostles abides fair and firm; but the cowardice of the brethren shall cease .

4. For if all were of the same mind as your present advisers, how would you have become a Christian, since there would be no bishops? Or if our successors are to inherit this state of mind, how will the Churches be able to hold together? Or do your advisers think that you have received nothing, that they despise it? If so surely they are wrong. For it is time for them to think that the grace of the Font is nothing, if some are found to despise it. But you have received it, beloved Dracontius; do not tolerate your advisers nor deceive yourself. For this will be required of you by the God who gave it. Have you not heard the Apostle say, Neglect not the gift that is in thee ?’ or have you not read how he accepts the man that had doubled his money, while he condemned the one that had hidden it? But may it come to pass that you may quickly return, in order that you too may be one of those who are praised. Or tell me, whom do your advisers wish you to imitate? For we ought to walk by the standard of the saints and the fathers, and imitate them, and to be sure that if we depart from them we put ourselves also out of their fellowship. Whom then do they wish you to imitate? The one who hesitated, and while wishing to follow, delayed it and took counsel because of his family , or blessed Paul, who, the moment the stewardship was entrusted to him, straightway conferred not with flesh and blood ?’ For although he said, I am not worthy to be called an Apostle ,’ yet, knowing what he had received, and being not ignorant of the giver, he wrote, For woe is me if I preach not the gospel .’ But, as it was woe to me’ if he did not preach, so, in teaching and preaching the gospel, he had his converts as his joy and crown . This explains why the saint was zealous to preach as far as Illyricum, and not to shrink from proceeding to Rome , or even going as far as the Spains , in order that the more he laboured, he might receive so much the greater reward for his labour. He boasted then that he had fought the good fight, and was confident that he should receive the great crown . Therefore, beloved Dracontius, whom are you imitating in your present action? Paul, or men unlike him? For my part, I pray that you, and myself, may prove an imitator of all the saints.

5. Or possibly there are some who advise you to hide, because you have given your word upon oath not to accept the office if elected. For I hear that they are buzzing in your ears to this effect, and consider that they are thus acting conscientiously. But if they were truly conscientious, they would above all have feared God, Who imposed this ministry upon you. Or if they had read the divine Scriptures, they would not have advised you contrary to them. For it is time for them to blame Jeremiah also, and to impeach the great Moses, in that they did not listen to their advice, but fearing God fulfilled their ministry, and prophesying were made perfect. For they also when they had received their mission and the grace of Prophecy, refused. But afterwards they feared, and did not set at nought Him that sent them. Whether then you be of stammering utterance, and slow of tongue, yet fear God that made you, or if you call yourself too young to preach, yet reverence Him Who knew you before you were made. Or if you have given your word (now their word was to the saints as an oath), yet read Jeremiah, how he too had said, I will not name the Name of the Lord ,’ yet afterwards he feared the fire kindled within him, and did not do as he had said, nor hid himself as if bound by an oath, but reverenced Him that had entrusted to him his office, and fulfilled the prophetic call. Or are you not aware, beloved, that Jonah also fled, but met with the fate that befel him, after which he returned and prophesied?

6. Do not then entertain counsels opposite to this. For the Lord knows our case better than we ourselves, and He knows to whom He is entrusting His Churches. For even if a man be not worthy, yet let him not look at his former life, but let him carry out his ministry, lest, in addition to his life he incur also the curse of negligence. I ask you, beloved Dracontius, whether knowing this, and being a wise man, you are not pricked in your soul? Do you not feel anxious lest any of those entrusted to you should perish? Do you not burn, as with a fire in your conscience? Are you not in fear of the day of judgment, in which none of your present advisers will be there to aid you? For each shall give account of those entrusted to his hands. For how did his excuse benefit the man who hid the money? Or how did it benefit Adam to say, The woman beguiled me ?’ Beloved Dracontius, even if you are really weak, yet you ought to take up the charge, lest, the Church being unoccupied, the enemies injure it, taking advantage of your flight. You should gird yourself up, so as not to leave us alone in the struggle; you should labour with us, in order to receive the reward also along with all.

7. Make haste then, beloved, and tarry no longer, nor suffer those who would prevent you: but remember Him that has given, and come hither to us who love you, who give you Scriptural advice, in order that you may both be installed by ourselves, and, as you minister in the churches make remembrance of us. For you are not the only one who has been elected from among monks, nor the only one to have presided over a monastery, or to have been beloved by monks. But you know that not only was Serapion a monk, and presided over that number of monks; you were not unaware of how many monks Apollos was father; you know Agathon, and are not ignorant of Ariston. You remember Ammonius who went abroad with Serapion. Perhaps you have also heard of Muitus in the upper Thebaid, and can learn about Paul at Latopolis, and many others. And yet these, when elected, did not gainsay; but taking Elisha as an example, and knowing the story of Elijah, and having learnt all about the disciples and apostles, they grappled with the charge, and did not despise the ministry, and were not inferior to themselves, but rather look for the reward of their labour, advancing themselves, and guiding others onward. For how many have they turned away from the idols? How many have they caused to cease from their familiarity with demons by their warning? How many servants have they brought to the Lord, so as to cause those who saw such wonders to marvel at the sight? Or is it not a great wonder to make a damsel live as a virgin, and a young man live in continence, and an idolater come to know Christ?

8. Let not monks then prevent you, as though you alone had been elected from among monks; nor do you make excuses, to the effect that you will deteriorate. For you may even grow better if you imitate Paul, and follow up the actions of the Saints. For you know that men like those, when appointed stewards of the mysteries, all the more pressed forward to the mark of their high calling . When did Paul meet martyrdom and expect to receive his crown, if not after being sent to teach? When did Peter make his confession, if not when he was preaching the Gospel, and had become a fisher of men ? When was Elijah taken up, if not after completing his prophetic career? When did Elisha gain a double share of the Spirit, if not after leaving all to follow Elijah? Or why did the Saviour choose disciples, if not to send them out as apostles?

9. So take these as an example, beloved Dracontius, and do not say, or believe those who say, that the bishop’s office is an occasion of sin, nor that it gives rise to temptations to sin. For it is possible for you also as a bishop to hunger and thirst , as Paul did. You can drink no wine, like Timothy , and fast constantly too, like Paul , in order that thus fasting after his example you may feast others with your words, and while thirsting for lack of drink, water others by teaching. Let not your advisers, then, allege these things. For we know both bishops who fast, and monks who eat. We know bishops who drink no wine, as well as monks who do. We know bishops who work wonders, as well as monks who do not. Many also of the bishops have not even married, while monks have been fathers of children; just as conversely we know bishops who are fathers of children and monks of the completest kind .’ And again, we know clergy who suffer hunger, and monks who fast. For it is possible in the latter way, and not forbidden in the former. But let a man, wherever he is, strive earnestly; for the crown is given not according to position, but according to action.

10. Do not then suffer those who give contrary advice. But rather hasten and delay not; the more so as the holy festival is approaching; so that the laity may not keep the feast without you, and you bring great danger upon yourself. For who will in your absence preach them the Easter sermon? Who will announce to them the great day of the Resurrection, if you art in hiding? Who will counsel them, if you are in flight, to keep the feast fittingly? Ah, how many will be the better if you appear, how many be injured if you fly! And who will think well of you for this? and why do they advise you not to take up the bishop’s office, when they themselves wish to have presbyters ? For if you are bad, let them not associate with you. But if they know that you are good, let them not envy the others. For if, as they say, teaching and government is an occasion of sin, let them not be taught themselves, nor have presbyters, lest they deteriorate, both they and those who teach them. But do not attend to these human sayings, nor suffer those who give such advice, as I have often already said. But rather make haste and turn to the Lord, in order that, taking thought for his sheep, you may remember us also. But to this end I have bidden our beloved Hierax, the presbyter, and Maximus the reader go, and bid you by word of mouth also, that you may be able thus to learn both with what feelings I have written, and the danger that results from gainsaying the ordinance of the Church.

To our lord, and most beloved brother the Bishop and Confessor Lucifer. Athanasius greeting in the Lord.

Being well in body by God’s favour, we have now sent our most beloved deacon Eutyches, that your most pious holiness, as is much desired by us, may be pleased to inform us of the safety of yourself and those with you. For we believe it is by the life of you Confessors and servants of God that the state of the Catholic Church is renewed; and that what heretics have assayed to rend in pieces, our Lord Jesus Christ by your means restores whole.

For although the forerunners of Antichrist have by the power of this world done everything to put out the lantern of truth, yet the Deity by your confession shews its light all the clearer, so that none can fail to see their deceit. Heretofore perhaps they were able to dissimulate: now they are called Antichrists. For who can but execrate them, and fly from their communion like a taint, or the poison of a serpent? The whole Church everywhere is mourning, every city groans, aged bishops are suffering in exile, and heretics dissembling, who while denying Christ have made themselves publicans, sitting in the Churches and exacting revenue . O new kind of men and of persecution which the devil has devised, namely to use such cruelty, and even ministers as the agents of evil. But although they act thus, and have gone all lengths in pride and blasphemy, yet your confession, your piety and wisdom, will be the very greatest comfort and solace to the brotherhood. For it has been reported to us that your holiness has written to Constantius Augustus; and we wonder more and more that dwelling as it were among scorpions you yet preserve freedom of spirit, in order, by advice or teaching or correction, to bring those in error to the light of truth. I ask then, and all confessors join me in asking, that you will be good enough to send us a copy; so that all may perceive, not by hearsay only but by letters, the valour of your spirit, and the confidence and firmness of your faith. Those who are with me salute your holiness. I salute all those who are with you. May the deity ever keep you safe and sound and mindful of us, most beloved lord, and true man of God.

Upon receiving this letter, blessed Lucifer sent the books which he had addressed to Constantius; and when he had read them Athanasius sent the following letter:

To the most glorious lord and deservedly much-desired fellow-Bishop Lucifer, Athanasius greeting in the Lord.

Although I believe that tidings have reached your holiness also of the persecution which the enemies of Christ have just now attempted to raise, seeking our blood, yet our own most beloved messengers can tell your piety about it. For to such a length did they dare to carry their madness by means of the soldiers, that they not only banished the Clergy of the city, but also went out to the Hermits, and laid their fatal hands upon Solitaries. Hence I also withdrew far away, lest those who entertained me should suffer trouble at their hands. For whom do Arians spare, who have spared not even their own souls? Or how can they give up their infamous actions while they persist in denying Christ our Lord the only Son of God? This is the root of their wickedness; on this foundation of sand they build up the perversity of their ways, as we find it written in the thirteenth Psalm, The fool said in his heart there is no God;’ and presently follows, Corrupt are they and become abominable in their works .’ Hence the Jews who denied the Son of God, deserved to be called a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children without law .’ Why without law?’—because you have deserted the Lord. And so the most blessed Paul, when he had begun not only to believe in the Son of God, but also to preach His deity, wrote, I know nothing against myself .’ Accordingly we too, according to your confession of faith, desire to hold the Apostolic tradition, and to live according to the commands of the divine law, that we may be found along with you in that band in which now Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles and Martyrs are rejoicing. So then, though the Arian madness, aided by external power, was so active that our brethren on account of their fury could not even see the open air with freedom, yet by God’s favour, according to your prayers, I have been able, though with trouble and danger, to see the brother who is wont to bring me necessaries and the letters of your holiness, along with those of others. And so we have received the books of your most wise and religious soul, in which we have seen the image of an Apostle, the confidence of a Prophet, the teaching of truth, the doctrine of true faith, the way of heaven, the glory of martyrdom, the triumphs against the Arian heresy, the unimpaired tradition of our Fathers, the right rule of the Church’s order. O truly Lucifer, who according to your name bring the light of truth, and have set it on a candlestick to give light to all. For who, except the Arians, does not clearly see from your teaching the true faith and the taint of the Arians. Forcibly and admirably, like light from darkness, you have separated the truth from the subtilty and dishonesty of heretics, defended the Catholic Church, proved that the arguments of the Arians are nothing but a kind of hallucination, and taught that the diabolical gnashings of the teeth are to be despised. How good and welcome are your exhortations to martyrdom; how highly to be desired have you shewn death to be on behalf of Christ the Son of the living God . What love you have shewn for the world to come and for the heavenly life. You seem to be a true temple of the Saviour, Who dwells in you and utters these exact words through you, and has given such grace to your discourses. Beloved as you were before among all, now such passionate affection for you is settled in the minds of all, that they call you the Elijah of our times; and no wonder. For if they who seem to please God are called Sons of God, much more proper is it to give that name to the associates of the Prophets, namely the Confessors, and especially to you. Believe me, Lucifer, it is not you only who has uttered this, but the Holy Spirit with you. Whence comes so great a memory for the Scriptures? Whence an unimpaired sense and understanding of them? Whence has such an order of discourse been framed? Whence did you get such exhortations to the way of heaven, whence such confidence against the devil, and such proofs against heretics, unless the Holy Spirit had been lodged in you? Rejoice therefore to see that you are already there where also are your predecessors the martyrs, that is, among the band of angels. We also rejoice, having you as an example of valour, and patience, and liberty. For I blush to say anything of what you have written about my name , lest I should appear a flatterer. But I know and believe that the Lord Himself, Who has revealed all knowledge to your holy and religious spirit, will reward you for this labour also with a reward in the kingdom of the heavens. Since then you are such a man, we ask the Lord in prayer that you may pray for us, that in His mercy He may now deign to look down upon the Catholic Church, and deliver all His servants from the hands of persecutors; in order that all they too who have fallen on account of temporal fear may at length be enabled to raise themselves and return to the way of righteousness, led away from which they are wandering, poor people, not knowing in what a pit they are. In particular I ask, if I have said anything amiss, you would be good enough to overlook it, for from so great a fountain my unskilfulness has not been able to draw what it might have done. But as to our brethren, I ask you again to overlook my not having been able to see them. For truth itself is my witness that I wished and longed to compass this, and was greatly grieved at being unable. For my eyes ceased not from tears, nor my spirit from groaning, because we are not permitted even to see the brethren. But God is my witness, that on account of their persecution I have not been able to see even the parents whom I have . For what is there that the Arians leave undone? They watch the roads, observe those who enter and leave the city, search the vessels, go round the deserts, ransack houses, harass the brethren, cause unrest to everybody. But thanks be to God, in so doing they are more and more incurring the execration of all, and coming to be truly known for what your holiness has called them: slaves of Antichrist. And, poor wretches, hated as they are, they persist in their malice, until they shall be condemned to the death of their ancestor Pharaoh. Those with me salute your piety. Pray salute those who are with you. May God’s divine grace preserve you, mindful of us and ever blessed, worthily called man of God, servant of Christ, partner of the Apostles, comfort of the brotherhood, master of truth, and in all things most longed for.

1. To those in every place who are living a monastic life, who are established in the faith of God, and sanctified in Christ, and who say, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee ,’ brethren dearly beloved and longed for, heartiest greeting in the Lord.

1. In compliance with your affectionate request, which you have frequently urged upon me, I have written a short account of the sufferings which ourselves and the Church have undergone, refuting, according to my ability, the accursed heresy of the Arian madmen, and proving how entirely it is alien from the Truth. And I thought it needful to represent to your Piety what pains the writing of these things has cost me, in order that you may understand thereby how truly the blessed Apostle has said, O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ;’ and may kindly bear with a weak man such as I am by nature. For the more I desired to write, and endeavoured to force myself to understand the Divinity of the Word, so much the more did the knowledge thereof withdraw itself from me; and in proportion as I thought that I apprehended it, in so much I perceived myself to fail of doing so. Moreover also I was unable to express in writing even what I seemed to myself to understand; and that which I wrote was unequal to the imperfect shadow of the truth which existed in my conception.

2. Considering therefore how it is written in the Book of Ecclesiastes, I said, I will be wise, but it was far from me; That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who shall find it out ?’ and what is said in the Psalms, The knowledge of Thee is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it ;’ and that Solomon says, It is the glory of God to conceal a thing ;’ I frequently designed to stop and to cease writing; believe me, I did. But lest I should be found to disappoint you, or by my silence to lead into impiety those who have made enquiry of you, and are given to disputation, I constrained myself to write briefly, what I have now sent to your piety. For although a perfect apprehension of the truth is at present far removed from us by reason of the infirmity of the flesh, yet it is possible, as the Preacher himself has said, to perceive the madness of the impious, and having found it, to say that it is more bitter than death .’ Wherefore for this reason, as perceiving this and able to find it out, I have written, knowing that to the faithful the detection of impiety is a sufficient information wherein piety consists. For although it be impossible to comprehend what God is, yet it is possible to say what He is not . And we know that He is not as man; and that it is not lawful to conceive of any originated nature as existing in Him. So also respecting the Son of God, although we are by nature very far from being able to comprehend Him; yet is it possible and easy to condemn the assertions of the heretics concerning Him, and to say, that the Son of God is not such; nor is it lawful even to conceive in our minds such things as they speak, concerning His Godhead; much less to utter them with the lips.

3. Accordingly I have written as well as I was able; and you, dearly beloved, receive these communications not as containing a perfect exposition of the Godhead of the Word, but as being merely a refutation of the impiety of the enemies of Christ, and as containing and affording to those who desire it, suggestions for arriving at a pious and sound faith in Christ. And if in anything they are defective (and I think they are defective in all respects), pardon it with a pure conscience, and only receive favourably the boldness of my good intentions in support of godliness. For an utter condemnation of the heresy of the Arians, it is sufficient for you to know the judgment given by the Lord in the death of Arius, of which you have already been informed by others. For what the Holy God hath purposed, who shall scatter ?’ and whom the Lord condemned who shall justify ? After such a sign given, who do not now acknowledge, that the heresy is hated of God, however it may have men for its patrons? Now when you have read this account, pray for me, and exhort one another so to do. And immediately send it back to me, and suffer no one whatever to take a copy of it, nor transcribe it for yourselves . But like good money-changers be satisfied with the reading; but read it repeatedly if you desire to do so. For it is not safe that the writings of us babblers and private persons should fall into the hands of them that shall come after. Salute one another in love, and also all that come unto you in piety and faith. For if any man’ as the Apostle has said, love not the Lord, let him be anathema. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you . Amen.’

Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, to the Solitaries.

Athanasius to those who practise a solitary life, and are settled in faith in God, most beloved brethren, greeting in the Lord.

I thank the Lord who hath given to you to believe in Him, that ye too may have with the saints eternal life. But because there are certain persons who hold with Arius and go about the monasteries with no other object save that under colour of visiting you, and returning from us they may deceive the simple; whereas there are certain who, while they affirm that they do not hold with Arius, yet compromise themselves and worship with his party; I have been compelled, at the instance of certain most sincere brethren, to write at once in order that keeping faithfully and without guile the pious faith which God’s grace works in you, you may not give occasion of scandal to the brethren. For when any sees you, the faithful in Christ, associate and communicate with such people, [or worshipping along with them], certainly they will think it a matter of indifference and will fall into the mire of irreligion. Lest, then, this should happen, be pleased, beloved, to shun those who hold the impiety [of Arius], and moreover to avoid those who, while they pretend not to hold with Arius, yet worship with the impious. And we are specially bound to fly from the communion of men whose opinions we hold in execration. [If then any come to you, and, as blessed John says, brings with him right doctrine, say to him, All hail, and receive such an one as a brother.] But if any pretend that he confesses the right faith, but appear to communicate with those others, exhort him to abstain from such communion, and if he promise to do so, treat him as a brother, but if he persist in a contentious spirit, him avoid. [I might greatly lengthen my letter, adding from the divine Scriptures the outline of this teaching. But since, being wise men, you can anticipate those who write, and rather, being intent upon self-denial, are fit to instruct others also, I have dictated a short letter, as from one loving friend to others, in the confidence] that living as you do you will preserve a pure and sincere faith, and that those persons, seeing that you do not join with them in worship, will derive benefit, fearing lest they be accounted as impious, and as those who hold with them.

Athanasius to Serapion , a brother and fellow-minister, health in the Lord.

I have read the letters of your piety, in which you have requested me to make known to you the events of my times relating to myself, and to give an account of that most impious heresy of the Arians, in consequence of which I have endured these sufferings, and also of the manner of the death of Arius. With two out of your three demands I have readily undertaken to comply, and have sent to your Godliness what I wrote to the Monks; from which you will be able to learn my own history as well as that of the heresy. But with respect to the other matter, I mean the death, I debated with myself for a long time, fearing lest any one should suppose that I was exulting in the death of that man. But yet, since a disputation which has taken place amongst you concerning the heresy, has issued in this question, whether Arius died after previously communicating with the Church; I therefore was necessarily desirous of giving an account of his death, as thinking that the question would thus be set at rest, considering also that by making this known I should at the same time silence those who are fond of contention. For I conceive that when the wonderful circumstances connected with his death become known, even those who before questioned it will no longer venture to doubt that the Arian heresy is hateful in the sight of God.

2. I was not at Constantinople when he died, but Macarius the Presbyter was, and I heard the account of it from him. Arius had been invited by the Emperor Constantine, through the interest of Eusebius and his fellows; and when he entered the presence the Emperor enquired of him, whether he held the Faith of the Catholic Church? And he declared upon oath that he held the right Faith, and gave in an account of his Faith in writing, suppressing the points for which he had been cast out of the Church by the Bishop Alexander, and speciously alleging expressions out of the Scriptures. When therefore he swore that he did not profess the opinions for which Alexander had excommunicated him, [the Emperor] dismissed him, saying , If thy Faith be right, thou hast done well to swear; but if thy Faith be impious, and thou hast sworn, God judge of thee according to thy oath.’ When he thus came forth from the presence of the Emperor, Eusebius and his fellows, with their accustomed violence, desired to bring him into the Church. But Alexander, the Bishop of Constantinople of blessed memory, resisted them, saying that the inventor of the heresy ought not to be admitted to communion; whereupon Eusebius and his fellows threatened, declaring, As we have caused him to be invited by the Emperor, in opposition to your wishes, so to-morrow, though it be contrary to your desire, Arius shall have communion with us in this Church.’ It was the Sabbath when they said this.

3. When the Bishop Alexander heard this, he was greatly distressed, and entering into the church, he stretched forth his hands unto God, and bewailed himself; and casting himself upon his face in the chancel, he prayed, lying upon the pavement. Macarius also was present, and prayed with him, and heard his words. And he besought these two things, saying, If Arius is brought to communion to-morrow, let me Thy servant depart, and destroy not the pious with the impious; but if Thou wilt spare Thy Church (and I know that Thou wilt spare), look upon the words of Eusebius and his fellows, and give not thine inheritance to destruction and reproach , and take off Arius, lest if he enter into the Church, the heresy also may seem to enter with him, and henceforward impiety be accounted for piety.’ When the Bishop had thus prayed, he retired in great anxiety; and a wonderful and extraordinary circumstance took place. While Eusebius and his fellows threatened, the Bishop prayed; but Arius, who had great confidence in Eusebius and his fellows, and talked very wildly, urged by the necessities of nature withdrew, and suddenly, in the language of Scripture, falling headlong he burst asunder in the midst ,’ and immediately expired as he lay, and was deprived both of communion and of his life together.

4. Such has been the end of Arius: and Eusebius and his fellows, overwhelmed with shame, buried their accomplice, while the blessed Alexander, amidst the rejoicings of the Church, celebrated the Communion with piety and orthodoxy, praying with all the brethren, and greatly glorifying God, not as exulting in his death (God forbid!), for it is appointed unto all men once to die ,’ but because this thing had been shewn forth in a manner transcending human judgments. For the Lord Himself judging between the threats of Eusebius and his fellows, and the prayer of Alexander, condemned the Arian heresy, shewing it to be unworthy of communion with the Church, and making manifest to all, that although it receive the support of the Emperor and of all mankind, yet it was condemned by the Church herself. So the antichristian gang of the Arian madmen has been shewn to be unpleasing to God and impious; and many of those who before were deceived by it changed their opinions. For none other than the Lord Himself who was blasphemed by them condemned the heresy which rose up against Him, and again shewed that howsoever the Emperor Constantius may now use violence to the Bishops in behalf of it, yet it is excluded from the communion of the Church, and alien from the kingdom of heaven. Wherefore also let the question which has arisen among you be henceforth set at rest; (for this was the agreement made among you), and let no one join himself to the heresy, but let even those who have been deceived repent. For who shall receive what the Lord condemned? And will not he who takes up the support of that which He has made excommunicate, be guilty of great impiety, and manifestly an enemy of Christ?

5. Now this is sufficient to confound the contentious; read it therefore to those who before raised this question, as well as what was briefly addressed to the Monks against the heresy, in order that they may be led thereby more strongly to condemn the impiety and wickedness of the Arian madmen. Do not however consent to give a copy of these to any one, neither transcribe them for yourself (I have signified the same to the Monks also); but as a sincere friend, if anything is wanting in what I have written, add it, and immediately send them back to me. For you will be able to learn from the letter which I have written to the Brethren, what pains it has cost me to write it, and also to perceive that it is not safe for the writings of a private person to be published (especially if they relate to the highest and chief doctrines), for this reason;—lest what is imperfectly expressed through infirmity or the obscurity of language, do hurt to the reader. For the majority of men do not consider the faith, or the aim of the writer, but either through envy or a spirit of contention, receive what is written as themselves choose, according to an opinion which they have previously formed, and misinterpret it to suit their pleasure. But the Lord grant that the Truth and a sound faith in our Lord Jesus Christ may prevail among all, and especially among those to whom you read this. Amen.

To our lord, son, and most desired fellow-minister Rufinianus . Athanasius greeting in the Lord.

You write what is proper for a beloved son to write to a father: accordingly, I embraced you when you came near me in writing, most desired Rufinianus. And I, though I might write to you as a son both in the opening and the middle and the close, refrained, lest my commendation and testimony should be made known by writing. For you are my letter, as it is written , known and read in the heart. That you then are in such case, believe, yea believe. I address you, and invite you to write. For by doing so you afford me the highest gratification. But since in an honourable and church-like spirit, such as becomes your piety, you ask me about those who were drawn away by necessity but not corrupted by error, and wish me to write what resolution has been come to about them, whether in synods or elsewhere; know, most desired Lord, that to begin with , when violence was ceased, a synod has been held, bishops from foreign parts being present; while others have been held by our fellow-ministers resident in Greece, as well as by those in Spain and Gaul : and the same decision was come to here and everywhere, namely, in the case of those who had fallen and been leaders of impiety, to pardon them upon their repentance, but not to give them the position of clergy: but in the case of men not deliberate in impiety, but drawn away by necessity and violence, that they should not only receive pardon, but should occupy the position of clergy: the more so, in that they offered a plausible defence, and what had happened seemed due to a certain special purpose . For they assured us that they had not gone over to impiety; but lest certain most impious persons should be elected and ruin the Churches they elected rather to acquiesce in the violence and to bear the burden, than to lose the people. But in saying this, they appeared to us to say what was plausible; for they alleged in excuse Aaron the brother of Moses, who in the wilderness acquiesced in the people’s transgression; and that he had had as his excuse the danger of the people returning to Egypt and abiding in idolatry. For there was reason in the view, that if they remained in the wilderness they might cease from their impiety: but if they went into Egypt they would become ruined and increase the impiety in their midst. For this reason, then, they have been allowed to rank as clergy, those who had been deceived and suffered violence being pardoned. I give this information to your piety in the confidence that you will both accept what has been resolved upon, and not charge those who assembled, as I have said, with remissness. But be good enough to read it to the clergy and laity under you, that they may be informed, and may not blame you for being thus minded about such persons. For it would not be fitting for me to write, when your piety is able to do so, and to announce our mind with regard to them, and carry out all that remains to be done. Thanks to the Lord that filled you with all utterance and with all knowledge. Let then those that repent openly anathematise by name the error of Eudoxius and Euzoius. For they blasphemed still, and wrote that He was a creature, ringleaders of the Arian heresy. But let them confess the faith confessed by the fathers at Nicaea, and that they put no other synod before that one. Greet the brotherhood with you. That with us greets you in the Lord.

Copy of a letter of the Emperor Jovian, sent to Athanasius, the most holy Archbishop of Alexandria.

To the most religious and friend of God, Athanasius, Jovian.

Admiring exceedingly the achievements of your most honourable life, and of your likeness to the God of all, and of your affection toward our Saviour Christ, we accept you, most honoured bishop. And inasmuch as you have not flinched from all labour, nor from the fear of your persecutors, and, regarding dangers and threats of the sword as dung, holding the rudder of the orthodox faith which is dear to you, are contending even until now for the truth, and continue to exhibit yourself as a pattern to all the people of the faithful, and an example of virtue:—our imperial Majesty recalls you, and desires that you should return to the office of the teaching of salvation. Return then to the holy Churches, and tend the people of God, and send up to God with zeal your prayers for our clemency. For we know that by your supplication we, and all who hold with us [the Christian faith], shall have great assistance from the supreme God.

56. Letter of Athanasius to Jovian concerning the Faith.

1. A desire to learn and a yearning for heavenly things is suitable to a religious Emperor; for thus you will truly have your heart’ also in the hand of God .’ Since then your Piety desired to learn from us the faith of the Catholic Church, giving thanks for these things to the Lord, we counselled above all things to remind your Piety of the faith confessed by the Fathers at Nicaea. For this certain set at nought, while plotting against us in many ways, because we would not comply with the Arian heresy, and they have become authors of heresy and schisms in the Catholic Church. For the true and pious faith in the Lord has become manifest to all, being both known and read ‘ from the Divine Scriptures. For in it both the saints were made perfect and suffered martyrdom, and now are departed in the Lord; and the faith would have abode inviolate always had not the wickedness of certain heretics presumed to tamper with it. For a certain Arius and those with him attempted to corrupt it, and to introduce impiety in its place, affirming that the Son of God was from nought, and a creature, and a thing made and changeable. But with these words they deceived many, so that even they that seemed to be somewhat were carried away ,’ with their blasphemy. And yet our holy Fathers, as we said before, came promptly together at the Synod at Nicaea, and anathematised them, and confessed in writing the faith of the Catholic Church, so that, this being everywhere preached, the heresy kindled by the heretics might be quenched. This faith then was everywhere in every Church sincerely known and preached. But since now certain who wish to renew the Arian heresy have presumed to set at nought this faith confessed at Nicaea by the Fathers, and while pretending to confess it, do in fact deny it, explaining away the Coessential ,’ and blaspheming of their own accord against the Holy Spirit, in affirming that It is a creature, and came into being as a thing made by the Son, we hasten as of bounden duty, in view of the injury resulting to the people from such blasphemy, to hand to your Piety the faith confessed at Nicaea; in order that thy religiousness may know what has been written with all accuracy, and how far wrong they are who teach contrary to it.

2. For know, most religious Augustus, that these things have been preached from time immemorial, and this faith the Fathers who met at Nicaea confessed; and to it have assented all the Churches in every quarter, both those in Spain, and Britain, and the Gauls, and all Italy and Dalmatia, Dacia and Moesia, Macedonia and all Greece, and in all Africa and Sardinia, and Cyprus and Crete, as well as Pamphylia, Lycia and Isauria, and those in Egypt and the Libyas, Pontus and Cappadocia, and those near at hand to us , and the Churches in the East, except a few who hold with Arius. For of all those above mentioned we have both learnt the opinion by experience, and we have letters. And you know, O most religious Augustus, that even if some few speak against this faith, they cannot create a demurrer , inasmuch as the whole world holds the Apostolic faith. For they having long been infected by the Arian heresy, now the more obstinately oppose the truth. And that your Piety may know, although you know already, yet we hasten to append the faith confessed by the Bishops at Nicaea. The faith then confessed at Nicaea by the Fathers is as follows:—

3. We believe , &c., &c.

4. By this faith, Augustus, all must needs abide, as Divine and Apostolic, and none must unsettle it by plausibilities, and contentions about words, which is what the Arian madmen have done, saying that the Son of God is from nought, and that once there was when He was not, and that He is created, and made and changeable. For for this cause, as we said before, the Synod at Nicaea anathematised such heresy, but confessed the faith of the truth. For they have not merely said that the Son is like the Father, lest He should be believed merely like God, instead of Very God from God; but they wrote Coessential,’ which was peculiar to a genuine and true Son, truly and naturally from the Father. Nor yet did they make the Holy Spirit alien from the Father and the Son, but rather glorified Him together with the Father and the Son, in the one faith of the Holy Triad, because there is in the Holy Triad also one Godhead.

Appendix to Letter LVI.

Petition made at Antioch to Jovian the Emperor on the part of Lucius and Bernicianus, and certain other Arians against Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.

First Petition which they made as the Emperor was departing to Camp, at the Roman Gate.

May it please your Might and your Majesty and your Piety to hear us. The Emperor: Who are you and where from?’ The Arians: Christians, my Lord.’ Emperor: Where from, and from what city?’ The Arians: Alexandria.’—Emperor: What do you want?’ The Arians: May it please your Might and your Majesty, give us a Bishop.’ Emperor: I ordered the former one, whom you had before, Athanasius, to occupy the See.’ The Arians: May it please your Might: he has been many years both in banishment, and under accusation.’ Suddenly a soldier answered in indignation: May it please your Majesty, enquire of them who they are and where from, for these are the leavings and refuse of Cappadocia, the remains of that unholy George who desolated the city and the world.’ The Emperor on hearing this set spurs to his horse, and departed to the Camp.

Second Petition of the Arians.

We have accusations and clear proofs against Athanasius, in that ten and twenty years ago he was deprived by the ever memorable Constantine and Constantius, and incurred banishment under the most religious and philosophical and blessed Julian.’ Emperor: Accusations ten, twenty, and thirty years old are now obsolete. Don’t speak to me about Athanasius, for I know why he was accused, and how he was banished.’

Third Petition of the Arians.

And now again, we have certain other accusations against Athanasius.’ Emperor: The rights of the case will not appear by means of crowded numbers, and clamours, but choose two from yourselves, and from the party of the majority other two, for I cannot answer each one severally.’ Those from the majority: These are the leavings from the unholy George, who desolated our province, and who would not allow a counsellor to dwell in the cities.’ The Arians: May it please you, any one you will except Athanasius.’ Emperor: I told you that the case of Athanasius was already settled,’ (and then angrily) feri, feri !’ The Arians: May it please you, if you send Athanasius, our city is ruined, and no one assembles with him.’ Emperor: Yet I took pains, and ascertained that he holds right opinions and is orthodox, and teaches aright.’ The Arians: With his mouth he utters what is right, but in his soul he harbours guile.’ Emperor: That will do, you have testified of him, that he utters what is right and teaches aright, but if he teaches and speaks aright with his tongue, but harbours evil thoughts in his soul, it concerns him before God. For we are men, and hear what is said; but what is in the heart God knows.’ The Arians: Authorise our holding communion together.’ Emperor: Why, who prevents you?’ The Arians: May it please you, he proclaims us as sectarians and dogmatisers.’ Emperor: It is his duty, and that of those who teach aright.’ The Arians: May it please your Might; we cannot bear this man, and he has taken away the lands of the Churches.’ Emperor: Oh then, it is on account of property you are come here, and not on account of the faith’—then he added—go away, and keep the peace.’ Once more he added to the Arians: Go away to the Church, to-morrow you have a Communion, and after the dismissal, there are Bishops here, and here is Nemesinus , each one of you shall sign as he believes: Athanasius is here too; whoever does not know the word of faith, let him learn from Athanasius. You have to-morrow and the day after, for I am going out to Camp.’ And a certain lawyer belonging to the Cynics petitioned the Emperor: May it please your Majesty, on account of Bishop Athanasius, the Receiver-General seized my houses.’ Emperor: If the Receiver-General seized your houses what has that to do with Athanasius?’ Another lawyer, Patalas, said: I have a complaint against Athanasius.’ Emperor: And what have you to do with Christians, being a heathen?’ But certain of the majority of them of Antioch took Lucius and brought him to the Emperor, saying: May it please your Might and your Majesty, look whom they wanted to make a Bishop!’

Another petition made at the porch of the palace on the part of Lucius:—May it please your Might, listen to me.’ The Emperor stopped and said: I ask you, Lucius, how did you come here, by sea or by land?’ Lucius: May it please you, by sea.’ Emperor: Well, Lucius, may the God of the world, and the radiant sun, and moon, be angry with those men that made the voyage with you, for not casting you into the sea; and may that ship never again have fair winds, nor find a haven with her passengers when in a storm.’ And through Euzoius the unbelieving Arians asked Probatius and his fellows, the successors of Eusebius and Bardio as eunuchs, that they might be granted an audience. The Emperor learned this, and tortured the eunuchs and said: If any one wants to make a petition against Christians let this be his fate.’ And so the Emperor dismissed them.

And having spent a few days there, he saith to the Abbat Theodorus: Since the Passover is nigh, visit the brethren after your manner; and as the Lord shall dispose me, I will do. And he embraced him, and sent him away, having written a letter by him to the Abbat Orsisius and the brethren, to the following effect:’—

I have seen your fellow-worker and father of the brethren, Theodorus, and in him the master of our father Pachomius. And I rejoiced to see the sons of the Church, and they made me glad by their presence. But the Lord is their recompenser. And as Theodorus was about to leave me for you, he said to me: Remember me. And I said to him: If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten, yea let my tongue cleave to my throat if I remember thee not .

But the most holy Archbishop Athanasius, when he heard about our father Theodorus, was grieved, and sent this letter to the Abbat Orsisius and the brethren to console them for his decease, as follows:’—

Athanasius to Orsisius, Abbat, father of monks, and to all with him who practise the solitary life, and are settled in faith in God, beloved brethren most longed for in the Lord, greeting.

I have heard about the decease of the blessed Theodorus , and the tidings caused me great anxiety, knowing as I did his value to you. Now if it had not been Theodorus, I should have used many words to you, with tears, considering what follows after death. But since it is Theodorus whom you and I have known, what need I say in my letter save Blessed is’ Theodorus, who hath not walked in the council of the ungodly ?’ But if he is blessed that feareth the Lord ,’ we may now confidently call him blessed, having the firm assurance that he has reached as it were a haven, and has a life without care. Would that the same had also befallen each one of us; would that each of us in his running might thus arrive; would that each of us, on his voyage, might moor his own bark there in the stormless haven, so that, at rest with the fathers, he might say, here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein .’ Wherefore, brethren beloved and most longed-for, weep not for Theodorus, for he is not dead, but sleepeth .’ Let none weep when he remembers him, but imitate his life. For one must not grieve over one that is gone to the place where grief is not. This I write to you all in common; but especially to you, beloved and most longed for Orsisius, in order that now that he is fallen asleep, you may take up the whole charge, and take his place among the brethren. For while he survived, you two were as one, and when one was away, the work of both was carried on: and when both were there you were as one, discoursing to the beloved ones what made for their good. Thus act, then, and so doing write and tell me of the safety of yourself and of the brotherhood. And I exhort you all to pray together that the Lord may grant further peace to the Churches. For we now kept festival with joy, both Easter and Pentecost, and we rejoice in the benefits of the Lord. I write to you all. Greet all who fear the Lord. Those with me greet you. I pray that you may be well in the Lord, beloved and much-longed-for brethren.

To my Lord, beloved brother, and most-longed-for fellow-minister Epictetus , Athanasius greeting in the Lord. I thought that all vain talk of all heretics, many as they may be, had been stopped by the Synod which was held at Nicaea. For the Faith there confessed by the Fathers according to the divine Scriptures is enough by itself at once to overthrow all impiety, and to establish the religious belief in Christ. For this reason at the present time, at the assembling of diverse synods, both in Gaul and Spain, and great Rome , all who came together, as though moved by one spirit, unanimously anathematised those who still were secretly holding with Arius, namely Auxentius of Milan, Ursacius, Valens, and Gaius of Pannonia. And they wrote everywhere, that, whereas the above-said were devising the names of synods to cite on their side, no synod should be cited in the Catholic Church save only that which was held at Nicaea, which was a monument of victory over all heresy, but especially the Arian, which was the main reason of the synod assembling when it did. How then, after all this, are some attempting to raise doubts or questions? If they belong to the Arians, this is not to be wondered at, that they find fault with what was drawn up against themselves, just as the Gentiles when they hear that the idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands ,’ think the doctrine of the divine Cross folly. But if those who desire to reopen everything by raising questions belong to those who think they believe aright, and love what the fathers have declared, they are simply doing what the prophet describes, giving their neighbour turbid confusion to drink , and fighting about words to no good purpose, save to the subversion of the simple.

2. I write this after reading the memoranda submitted by your piety, which I could wish had not been written at all, so that not even any record of these things should go down to posterity. For who ever yet heard the like? Who ever taught or learned it? For from Sion shall come forth the law of God, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem ;’ but whence came forth this? What lower region has vomited the statement that the Body born of Mary is coessential with the Godhead of the Word? or that the Word has been changed into flesh, bones, hair, and the whole body, and altered from its own nature? Or who ever heard in a Church, or even from Christians, that the Lord wore a body putatively, not in nature; or who ever went so far in impiety as to say and hold, that this Godhead, which is coessential with the Father, was circumcised and became imperfect instead of perfect; and that what hung upon the tree was not the body, but the very creative Essence and Wisdom? Or who that hears that the Word transformed for Himself a passible body, not of Mary, but of His own Essence, could call him who said this a Christian? Or who devised this abominable impiety, for it to enter even his imagination, and for him to say that to pronounce the Lord’s Body to be of Mary is to hold a Tetrad instead of a Triad in the Godhead? Those who think thus, saying that the Body of the Saviour which He put on from Mary, is of the Essence of the Triad. Or whence again have certain vomited an impiety as great as those already mentioned; saying namely, that the body is not newer than the Godhead of the Word, but was coeternal with it always, since it was compounded of the Essence of Wisdom. Or how did men called Christians venture even to doubt whether the Lord, Who proceeded from Mary, while Son of God by Essence and Nature, is of the seed of David according to the flesh , and of the flesh of the Holy Mary? Or who have been so venturesome as to say that Christ Who suffered in the flesh and was crucified is not Lord, Saviour, God, and Son of the Father ? Or how can they wish to be called Christians who say that the Word has descended upon a holy man as upon one of the prophets, and has not Himself become man, taking the body from Mary; but that Christ is one person, while the Word of God, Who before Mary and before the ages was Son of the Father, is another? Or how can they be Christians who say that the Son is one, and the Word of God another?

3. Such were the contents of the memoranda; diverse statements, but one in their sense and in their meaning; tending to impiety. It was for these things that men who make their boast in the confession of the fathers drawn up at Nicaea were disputing and quarrelling with one another. But I marvel that your piety suffered it, and that you did not stop those who said such things, and propound to them the right faith, so that upon hearing it they might hold their peace, or if they opposed it might be counted as heretics. For the statements are not fit for Christians to make or to hear, on the contrary they are in every way alien from the Apostolic teaching. For this reason, as I said above, I have caused what they say to be baldly inserted in my letter, so that one who merely hears may perceive the shame and impiety therein contained. And although it would be right to denounce and expose in full the folly of those who have had such ideas, yet it would be a good thing to close my letter here and write no more. For what is so manifestly shewn to be evil, it is not necessary to waste time in exposing further, lest contentious persons think the matter doubtful. It is enough merely to answer such things as follows: we are content with the fact that this is not the teaching of the Catholic Church, nor did the fathers hold this. But lest the inventors of evil things ‘ make entire silence on our part a pretext for shamelessness, it will be well to mention a few points from Holy Scripture, in case they may even thus be put to shame, and cease from these foul devices.

4. Whence did it occur to you, sirs, to say that the Body is of one Essence with the Godhead of the Word? For it is well to begin at this point, in order that by shewing this opinion to be unsound, all the others too may be proved to be the same. Now from the divine Scriptures we discover nothing of the kind. For they say that God came in a human body. But the fathers who also assembled at Nicaea say that, not the body, but the Son Himself is coessential with the Father, and that while He is of the Essence of the Father, the body, as they admitted according to the Scriptures, is of Mary. Either then deny the Synod of Nicaea, and as heretics bring in your doctrine from the side; or, if you wish to be children of the fathers, do not hold the contrary of what they wrote. For here again you may see how monstrous it is: If the Word is coessential with the body which is of earthly nature, while the Word is, by your own confession, coessential with the Father, it will follow that even the Father Himself is coessential with the body produced from the earth. And why any longer blame the Arians for calling the Son a creature, when you go off to another form of impiety, saying that the Word was changed into flesh and bones and hair and muscles and all the body, and was altered from its own nature? For it is time for you to say openly that He was born of earth; for from earth is the nature of the bones and of all the body. What then is this great folly of yours, that you fight even with one another? For in saying that the Word is coessential with the Body, you distinguish the one from the other , while in saying that He has been changed into flesh, you imagine a change of the Word Himself. And who will tolerate you any longer if you so much as utter these opinions? For you have gone further in impiety than any heresy. For if the Word is coessential with the Body, the commemoration and the work of Mary are superfluous , inasmuch as the body could have existed before Mary, just as the Word also is eternal: if, that is, it is as you say co-essential with the Body. Or what need was there even of the Word coming among us, to put on what was coessential with Himself, or to change His own nature and become a body? For the Deity does not take hold of itself, so as to put on what is of its own Essence, any more than the Word sinned, in that it ransoms the sins of others, in order that changing into a body it should offer itself a sacrifice for itself, and ransom itself.

5. But this is not so, far be the thought. For he takes hold of the seed of Abraham ,’ as the apostle said; whence it behoved Him to be made like His brethren in all things, and to take a Body like us. This is why Mary is truly presupposed, in order that He may take it from her, and offer it for us as His own. And this Isaiah pointed to in his prophecy, in the words: Behold the Virgin ,’ while Gabriel is sent to her—not simply to a virgin, but to a virgin betrothed to a man ,’ in order that by means of the betrothed man he might shew that Mary was really a human being. And for this reason Scripture also mentions her bringing forth, and tells of her wrapping Him in swaddling clothes; and therefore, too, the paps which He sucked were called blessed . And He was offered as a sacrifice, in that He Who was born had opened the womb . Now all these things are proofs that the Virgin brought forth. And Gabriel preached the Gospel to her without uncertainty, saying not merely what is born in thee,’ lest the body should be thought to be extraneously induced upon her, but of thee,’ that what was born might be believed to be naturally from her, inasmuch as Nature clearly shews that it is impossible for a virgin to produce milk unless she has brought forth, and impossible for a body to be nourished with milk and wrapped in swaddling clothes unless it has previously been naturally brought forth. This is the meaning of His being circumcised on the eighth day: of Symeon taking Him in his arms, of His becoming a young child, and growing when He was twelve years old, and of His coming to His thirtieth year. For it was not, as some suppose, the very Essence of the Word that was changed, and was circumcised, because it is incapable of alteration or change. For the Saviour Himself says, Behold, behold, it is I, and I change not ,’ while Paul writes: Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever .’ But in the Body which was circumcised, and carried, and ate and drank, and was weary, and was nailed on the tree and suffered, there was the impassible and incorporeal Word of God. This Body it was that was laid in a grave, when the Word had left it, yet was not parted from it, to preach, as Peter says, also to the spirits in prison .

6. And this above all shews the foolishness of those who say that the Word was changed into bones and flesh. For if this had been so, there were no need of a tomb. For the Body would have gone by itself to preach to the spirits in Hades. But as it was, He Himself went to preach, while the Body Joseph wrapped in a linen cloth, and laid it away at Golgotha . And so it is shewn to all that the Body was not the Word, but Body of the Word. And it was this that Thomas handled when it had risen from the dead, and saw in it the print of the nails, which the Word Himself had undergone, seeing them fixed in His own Body, and though able to prevent it, did not do so. On the contrary, the incorporeal Word made His own the properties of the Body, as being His own Body. Why, when the Body was struck by the attendant, as suffering Himself He asked, Why smitest thou Me ?’ And being by nature intangible, the Word yet said, I gave My back to the stripes, and My cheeks to blows, and hid not My face from shame and spitting .’ For what the human Body of the Word suffered, this the Word, dwelling in the body, ascribed to Himself, in order that we might be enabled to be partakers of the Godhead of the Word . And verily it is strange that He it was Who suffered and yet suffered not. Suffered, because His own Body suffered, and He was in it, which thus suffered; suffered not, because the Word, being by Nature God, is impassible. And while He, the incorporeal, was in the passible Body, the Body had in it the impassible Word, which was destroying the infirmities inherent in the Body. But this He did, and so it was, in order that Himself taking what was ours and offering it as a sacrifice, He might do away with it, and conversely might invest us with what was His, and cause the Apostle to say: This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality .’

7. Now this did not come to pass putatively, as some have supposed: far be the thought: but the Saviour having in very truth become Man, the salvation of the whole man was brought about. For if the Word were in the Body putatively, as they say, and by putative is meant imaginary, it follows that both the salvation and the resurrection of man is apparent only, as the most impious Manichaeus held. But truly our salvation is not merely apparent, nor does it extend to the body only, but the whole man, body and soul alike, has truly obtained salvation in the Word Himself. That then which was born of Mary was according to the divine Scriptures human by nature, and the Body of the Lord was a true one; but it was this, because it was the same as our body, for Mary was our sister inasmuch as we all are from Adam. And no one can doubt of this when he remembers what Luke wrote. For after He had risen from the dead, when some thought that they did not see the Lord in the body derived from Mary, but were beholding a spirit instead, He said, See My hands and My feet, and the prints of the nails, that it is I Myself: handle Me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me to have. And when He had said thus, He shewed them His hands and His feet .’ Whence they can be refuted who have ventured to say that the Lord was transformed into flesh and bones. For He did not say, As ye see Me to be flesh and bone,’ but as ye see Me to have,’ in order that it might not be thought that the Word Himself was changed into these things, but that He might be believed to have them after His resurrection as well as before His death.

8. These things being thus demonstrated, it is superfluous to touch upon the other points, or to enter upon any discussion relating to them, since the body in which the Word was is not coessential with the Godhead, but was truly born of Mary, while the Word Himself was not changed into bones and flesh, but came in the flesh. For what John said, The Word was made flesh ,’ has this meaning, as we may see by a similar passage; for it is written in Paul: Christ has become a curse for us .’ And just as He has not Himself become a curse, but is said to have done so because He took upon Him the curse on our behalf, so also He has become flesh not by being changed into flesh, but because He assumed on our behalf living flesh, and has become Man. For to say the Word became flesh,’ is equivalent to saying the Word has become man;’ according to what is said in Joel: I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh ;’ for the promise did not extend to the irrational animals, but is for men, on whose account the Lord is become Man. As then this is the sense of the above text, they all will reasonably condemn themselves who have thought that the flesh derived from Mary existed before her, and that the Word, prior to her, had a human soul, and existed in it always even before His coming. And they too will cease who have said that the Flesh was not accessible to death, but belonged to the immortal Nature. For if it did not die, how could Paul deliver to the Corinthians that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures ,’ or how did He rise at all if He did not also die? Again, they will blush deeply who have even entertained the possibility of a Tetrad instead of a Triad resulting, if it were said that the Body was derived from Mary. For if (they argue) we say the Body is of one Essence with the Word, the Triad remains a Triad; for then the Word imports no foreign element into it; but if we admit that the Body derived from Mary is human, it follows, since the Body is foreign in Essence, and the Word is in it, that the addition of the Body causes a Tetrad instead of a Triad.

9. When they argue thus, they fail to perceive the contradiction in which they involve themselves. For even though they say that the Body is not from Mary, but is coessential with the Word, yet none the less (the very point they dissemble, to avoid being credited with their real opinion) this on their own premises can be proved to involve a Tetrad. For as the Son, according to the Fathers, is coessential with the Father, but is not the Father Himself, but is called coessential, as Son with Father, so the Body, which they call coessential with the Word, is not the Word Himself, but a distinct entity. But if so, on their own shewing, their Triad will be a Tetrad . For the true, really perfect and indivisible Triad is not accessible to addition as is the Triad imagined by these persons. And how do these remain Christians who imagine another God in addition to the true one? For, once again, in their other fallacy one can see how great is their folly. For if they think because it is contained and stated in the Scriptures, that the Body of the Saviour is human and derived from Mary, that a Tetrad is substituted for a Triad, as though the Body created an addition, they go very far wrong, so much so as to make the creature equal to the Creator, and suppose that the Godhead can receive an addition. And they have failed to perceive that the Word is become Flesh, not by reason of an addition to the Godhead, but in order that the flesh may rise again. Nor did the Word proceed from Mary that He might be bettered, but that He might ransom the human race. How then can they think that the Body, ransomed and quickened by the Word, made an addition in respect of Godhead to the Word that had quickened it? For on the contrary, a great addition has accrued to the human Body itself from the fellowship and union of the Word with it. For instead of mortal it is become immortal; and, though an animal body, it is become spiritual, and though made from earth it entered the heavenly gates. The Triad, then, although the Word took a body from Mary, is a Triad, being inaccessible to addition or diminution; but it is always perfect, and in the Triad one Godhead is recognised, and so in the Church one God is preached, the Father of the Word.

10. For this reason they also will henceforth keep silence, who once said that He who proceeded from Mary is not very Christ, or Lord, or God. For if He were not God in the Body, how came He, upon proceeding from Mary, straightway to be called Emmanuel, which is being interpreted God with us ?’ Why again, if the Word was not in the flesh, did Paul write to the Romans of whom is Christ after the flesh, Who is above all God blessed for ever. Amen ?’ Let them therefore confess, even they who previously denied that the Crucified was God, that they have erred; for the divine Scriptures bid them, and especially Thomas, who, after seeing upon Him the print of the nails, cried out My Lord and my God !’ For the Son, being God, and Lord of glory , was in the Body which was ingloriously nailed and dishonoured; but the Body, while it suffered, being pierced on the tree, and water and blood flowed from its side, yet because it was a temple of the Word was filled full of the Godhead. For this reason it was that the sun, seeing its creator suffering in His outraged body, withdrew its rays and darkened the earth. But the body itself being of mortal nature, beyond its own nature rose again by reason of the Word which was in it; and it has ceased from natural corruption, and, having put on the Word which is above man, has become incorruptible.

11. But with regard to the imagination of some, who say that the Word came upon one particular man, the Son of Mary, just as it came upon each of the Prophets, it is superfluous to discuss it, since their madness carries its own condemnation manifestly with it. For if He came thus, why was that man born of a virgin, and not like others of a man and woman? For in this way each of the saints also was begotten. Or why, if the Word came thus, is not the death of each one said to have taken place on our behalf, but only this man’s death? Or why, if the Word sojourned among us in the case of each one of the prophets, is it said only in the case of Him born of Mary that He sojourned here once at the consummation of the ages ?’ Or why, if He came as He had come in the saints of former times, did the Son of Mary alone, while all the rest had died without rising as yet, rise again on the third day? Or why, if the Word had come in like manner as He had done in the other cases, is the Son of Mary alone called Emmanuel, as though a Body filled full of the Godhead were born of her? For Emmanuel is interpreted God with us.’ Or why, if He came thus, is it not said that when each of the saints ate, drank, laboured, and died, that He (the Word) ate, drank, laboured, and died, but only in the case of the Son of Mary. For what that Body suffered is said to have been suffered by the Word. And while we are merely told of the others that they were born, and begotten, it is said in the case of the Son of Mary alone that The Word was made Flesh.’

12. This proves that while to all the others the Word came, in order that they might prophesy, from Mary the Word Himself took flesh, and proceeded forth as man; being by nature and essence the Word of God, but after the flesh man of the seed of David, and made of the flesh of Mary, as Paul said . Him the Father pointed out both in Jordan and on the Mount, saying, This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased .’ Him the Arians denied, but we recognising worship, not dividing the Son and the Word, but knowing that the Son is the Word Himself, by Whom all things are made, and by Whom we were redeemed. And for this reason we wonder how any contention at all has arisen among you about things so clear. But thanks to the Lord, much as we were grieved at reading your memoranda, we were equally glad at their conclusion. For they departed with concord, and peacefully agreed in the confession of the pious and orthodox faith. This fact has induced me, after much previous consideration, to write these few words; for I am anxious lest by my silence this matter should cause pain rather than joy to those whose concord occasions joy to ourselves. I therefore ask your piety in the first place, and secondly those who hear, to take my letter in good part, and if anything is lacking in it in respect of piety, to set that right, and inform me. But if it is written, as from one unpractised in speech, below the subject and imperfectly, let all allow for my feebleness in speaking. Greet all the brethren with you. All those with us greet you; may you live in good health in the Lord, beloved and truly longed for.

We have read what your piety has written to us, and genuinely approve your piety toward Christ. And above all we glorify God, Who has given you such grace as not only to have right opinions, but also, so far as that is possible, not to be ignorant of the devices of the devil. But we marvel at the perversity of the heretics, seeing that they have fallen into such a pit of impiety that they no longer retain even their senses, but have their understanding corrupted on all sides. But this attempt is a plot of the devil, and an imitation of the disobedient Jews. For as the latter, when refuted on all sides, kept devising excuses to their own hurt, if only they could deny the Lord and bring upon themselves what was prophesied against them, in like manner these men, seeing themselves proscribed on all hands, and perceiving that their heresy has become abominable to all, prove themselves inventors of evil things ,’ in order that, not ceasing their fightings against the truth, they may remain consistent and genuine adversaries of Christ. For whence has this new mischief of theirs sprung forth? How have they even ventured to utter this new blasphemy against the Saviour? But the impious man, it seems, is a worthless object, and truly reprobate concerning the Faith .’ For formerly, while denying the Godhead of the only-begotten Son of God, they pretended at any rate to acknowledge His coming in the Flesh. But now, gradually going from bad to worse, they have fallen from this opinion of theirs, and become Godless on all hands, so as neither to acknowledge Him as God, nor to believe that He has become man. For if they believed this they would not have uttered such things as your piety has reported against them.

2. You, however, beloved and most truly longed-for, have done what befitted the tradition of the Church and your piety toward the Lord, in refuting, admonishing, and rebuking such men. But since, instigated by their father the devil, they knew not nor understood,’ as it is written, but go on still in darkness ,’ let them learn from your piety that this error of theirs belongs to Valentinus and Marcion, and to Manichaeus, of whom some substituted [the idea of] Appearance for Reality, while the others, dividing what is indivisible, denied the truth that the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us .’ Why then, as they hold with those people, do they not also take up the heritage of their names? For it is reasonable, as they hold their error, to have their names as well, and for the future to be called Valentinians, Marcionists, and Manichaeans. Perhaps even thus, being put to shame by the ill savour of the names, they may be enabled to perceive into what a depth of impiety they have fallen. And it would be within our rights not to answer them at all, according to the apostolic advice : A man that is heretical, after a first and second admonition refuse, knowing that such an one is perverted, and sinneth, being self-condemned;’ the more so, in that the Prophet says about such men: The fool shall utter foolishness, and his heart shall imagine vain things .’ But since, like their leader, they too go about like lions seeking whom among the simple they shall devour , we are compelled to write in reply to your piety, that the brethren being once again instructed by your admonition may still further reprobate the vain teaching of those men.

3. We do not worship a creature. Far be the thought. For such an error belongs to heathens and Arians. But we worship the Lord of Creation, Incarnate, the Word of God. For if the flesh also is in itself a part of the created world, yet it has become God’s body. And we neither divide the body, being such, from the Word, and worship it by itself , nor when we wish to worship the Word do we set Him far apart from the Flesh, but knowing, as we said above, that the Word was made flesh,’ we recognise Him as God also, after having come in the flesh. Who, accordingly, is so senseless as to say to the Lord: Leave the Body that I may worship Thee;’ or so impious as to join the senseless Jews in saying, on account of the Body, Why dost Thou, being a man, make Thyself God ?’ But the leper was not one of this sort, for he worshipped God in the Body, and recognised that He was God, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt Thou canst make me clean .’ Neither by reason of the Flesh did he think the Word of God a creature: nor because the Word was the maker of all creation did he despise the Flesh which He had put on. But he worshipped the Creator of the universe as dwelling in a created temple, and was cleansed. So also the woman with an issue of blood, who believed, and only touched the hem of His garment, was healed , and the sea with its foaming waves heard the incarnate Word, and ceased its storm , while the man blind from birth was healed by the fleshly spitting of the Word . And, what is greater and more startling (for perhaps this even offended those most impious men), even when the Lord was hanging upon the actual cross (for it was His Body and the Word was in it), the sun was darkened and the earth shook, the rocks were rent, and the vail of the temple rent, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.

4. These things then happened, and no one doubted, as the Arians now venture to doubt, whether one is to believe the incarnate Word; but even from beholding the man, they recognised that He was their maker, and when they heard a human voice, they did not, because it was human, say that the Word was a creature. On the contrary, they trembled, and recognised nothing less than that it was being uttered from a holy Temple. How then can the impious fail to fear lest as they refused to have God in their knowledge, they may be given up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting ?’ For Creation does not worship a creature. Nor again did she on account of His Flesh refuse to worship her Lord. But she beheld her maker in the Body, and in the Name of Jesus every knee’ bowed, yea and shall bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess,’ whether the Arians approve or no, that Jesus is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father .’ For the Flesh did not diminish the glory of the Word; far be the thought: on the contrary, it was glorified by Him. Nor, because the Son that was in the form of God took upon Him the form of a servant was He deprived of His Godhead. On the contrary, He is thus become the Deliverer of all flesh and of all creation. And if God sent His Son brought forth from a woman, the fact causes us no shame but contrariwise glory and great grace. For He has become Man, that He might deify us in Himself, and He has been born of a woman, and begotten of a Virgin, in order to transfer to Himself our erring generation , and that we may become henceforth a holy race, and partakers of the Divine Nature,’ as blessed Peter wrote . And what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh .’

5. Seeing then that Flesh was taken by the Word to deliver all men, raise all from the dead, and make redemption for sins, must not they appear ungrateful, and be worthy of all hatred, who make light of the Flesh, as well as those who on account of it charge the Son of God with being a thing created or made? For they as good as cry to God and say: Send not Thine Only-begotten Son in the Flesh, cause Him not to take flesh of a virgin, lest He redeem us from death and sin. We do not wish Him to come in the body, lest He should undergo death on our behalf: we do not desire the Word to be made flesh, lest in it He should become our Mediator to gain access to thee, and we so inhabit the heavenly mansions. Let the gates of the heavens be shut lest Thy Word consecrate for us the road thither through the veil, namely His Flesh .’ These are their utterances, vented with diabolical daring, by the error they have devised. For they who do not wish to worship the Word made flesh, are ungrateful for His becoming man. And they who divide the Word from the Flesh do not hold that one redemption from sin has taken place, or one destruction of death. But where at all will these impious men find the Flesh which the Saviour took, apart from Him, that they should even venture to say we do not worship the Lord with the Flesh, but we separate the Body, and worship Him alone.’ Why, the blessed Stephen saw in the heavens the Lord standing on [God’s] right hand , while the Angels said to the disciples, He shall so come in like manner as ye beheld Him going into heaven :’ and the Lord Himself says, addressing the Father, I will that where I am, they also may be with Me .’ And surely if the Flesh is inseparable from the Word, does it not follow that these men must either lay aside their error, and for the future worship the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, or, if they do not worship or serve the Word Who came in the Flesh, be cast out on all sides, and count no longer as Christians but either as heathens, or among the Jews.

6. Such then, as we have above described, is the madness and daring of those men. But our faith is right, and starts from the teaching of the Apostles and tradition of the fathers, being confirmed both by the New Testament and the Old. For the Prophets say: Send out Thy Word and Thy Truth ,’ and Behold the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is being interpreted God with us .’ But what does that mean, if not that God has come in the Flesh? While the Apostolic tradition teaches in the words of blessed Peter, Forasmuch then as Christ suffered for us in the Flesh;’ and in what Paul writes, Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a people for His own possession, and zealous of good works .’ How then has He given Himself, if He had not worn flesh? For flesh He offered, and gave Himself for us, in order that undergoing death in it, He might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil .’ Hence also we always give thanks in the name of Jesus Christ, and we do not set at nought the grace which came to us through Him. For the coming of the Saviour in the flesh has been the ransom and salvation of all creation. So then, beloved and most longed-for, let what I have said put in mind those who love the Lord, while as to those who have imitated the behaviour of Judas, and deserted the Lord to join Caiaphas, let them by these things be taught better, if maybe they are willing, if maybe they are ashamed. And let them know that in worshipping the Lord in the flesh we do not worship a creature, but, as we said above, the Creator Who has put on the created body.

7. But we should like your piety to ask them this. When Israel was ordered to go up to Jerusalem to worship at the temple of the Lord, where was the ark, and above it the Cherubim of glory overshadowing the Mercy-seat ,’ did they do well or the opposite? If they did ill, how came it that they who despised this law were liable to punishment? for it is written that if a man make light of it and go not up, he shall perish from among the people . But if they did well, and in this proved well-pleasing to God, are not the Arians, abominable and most shameful of any heresy, many times worthy of destruction, in that while they approve the former People for the honour paid by them to the Temple, they will not worship the Lord Who is in the flesh as in a temple? And yet the former temple was constructed of stones and gold, as a shadow. But when the reality came, the type ceased from thenceforth, and there did not remain, according to the Lord’s utterance, one stone upon another that was not broken down . And they did not, when they saw the temple of stones, suppose that the Lord who spoke in the temple was a creature; nor did they set the Temple at nought and retire far off to worship. But they came to it according to the Law, and worshipped the God who uttered His oracles from the Temple. Since then this was so, how can it be other than right to worship the Body of the Lord, all-holy and all-reverend as it is, announced as it was by the archangel Gabriel, formed by the Holy Spirit, and made the Vesture of the Word? It was at any rate a bodily hand that the Word stretched out to raise her that was sick of a fever : a human voice that He uttered to raise Lazarus from the dead ; and, once again, stretching out His hands upon the Cross, He overthrew the prince of the power of the air, that now works in the sons of disobedience, and made the way clear for us into the heavens.

8. Therefore he that dishonours the Temple dishonours the Lord in the Temple; and he that separates the Word from the Body sets at nought the grace given to us in Him. And let not the most impious Arian madmen suppose that, since the Body is created, the Word also is a creature, nor let them, because the Word is not a creature, disparage His Body. For their error is matter for wonder, in that they at once confuse and disturb everything, and devise pretexts only in order to number the Creator among the creatures.

But let them listen. If the Word were a creature, He would not assume the created body to quicken it. For what help can creatures derive from a creature that itself needs salvation? But since the Word being Creator has Himself made the creatures, therefore also at the consummation of the ages He put on the creature, that He as creator might once more consecrate it, and be able to recover it. But a creature could never be saved by a creature, any more than the creatures were created by a creature, if the Word was not creator. Accordingly let them not lie against the divine Scriptures nor give offence to simple brethren; but if they are willing let them change their mind in their turn, and no longer worship the creature instead of God, Who made all things. But if they wish to abide by their impieties, let them alone take their fill of them, and let them gnash their teeth like their father the devil, because the Faith of the Catholic Church knows that the Word of God is creator and maker of all things; and we know that while in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God ,’ now that He has become also man for our salvation we worship Him, not as though He had come in the body equalising Himself with it, but as Master, assuming the form of the servant, and Maker and Creator coming in a creature in order that, in it delivering all things, He might bring the world nigh to the Father, and make all things to be at peace, things in heaven and things on the earth. For thus also we recognise His Godhead, even the Father’s, and worship His Incarnate Presence, even if the Arian madmen burst themselves in sunder.

Greet all that love the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray that you may be well, and remember us to the Lord, beloved and truly most longed-for. If need be this is to be read to Hieracas the presbyter.

To our beloved and most truly longed-for son, Maximus , philosopher, Athanasius greeting in the Lord.

Having read the letter now come from you, I approve your piety: but, marvelling at the rashness of those who understand neither what they say nor whereof they confidently affirm ,’ I had really decided to say nothing. For to reply upon matters which are so plain and which are clearer than light, is simply to give an excuse for shamelessness to such lawless men. And this we have learned from the Saviour. For when Pilate had washed his hands, and acquiesced in the false accusation of the Jews of that day, the Lord answered him no more, but rather warned his wife in a dream, so that He that was being judged might be believed to be God not in word, but in power. While after vouchsafing Caiaphas no reply to his folly, He Himself by his promise brought all over to knowledge. Accordingly for some time I delayed, and have reluctantly yielded to your zeal for the truth, in view of the argumentativeness of men without shame. And I have dictated nothing beyond what your letter contains, in order that the adversary may from henceforth be convinced on the points to which he has objected, and may keep his tongue from evil and his lips that they speak no guile .’ And would that they would no longer join the Jews who passed by of old in reproaching Him that hung upon the Tree: If thou be the Son of God save Thyself .’ But if even after this they will not give in, yet do you remember the apostolic injunction, and a man that is heretical after a first and second admonition refuse, knowing that such an one is perverted and sinneth being self-condemned .’ For if they are Gentiles, or of the Judaisers, who are thus daring, let them, as Jews, think the Cross of Christ a stumbling-block, or as Gentiles, foolishness . But if they pretend to be Christians let them learn that the crucified Christ is at once Lord of Glory, and the Power of God and Wisdom of God .

2. But if they are in doubt whether He is God at all, let them reverence Thomas, who handled the Crucified and pronounced Him Lord and God . Or let them fear the Lord Himself, who said, after washing the feet of the disciples: Ye call Me Lord and Master , and ye say well, for so I am.’ But in the same body in which He was when he washed their feet, He also carried up our sins to the Tree . And He was witnessed to as Master of Creation, in that the Sun withdrew his beams and the earth trembled and the rocks were rent, and the executioners recognised that the Crucified was truly Son of God. For the Body they beheld was not that of some man, but of God, being in which, even when being crucified, He raised the dead. Accordingly it is no good venture of theirs to say that the Word of God came into a certain holy man; for this was true of each of the prophets and of the other saints, and on that assumption He would clearly be born and die in the case of each one of them. But this is not so, far be the thought. But once for all at the consummation of the ages , to put away sin’ the Word was made flesh ‘ and proceeded forth from Mary the Virgin, Man after our likeness, as also He said to the Jews, Wherefore seek ye to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth ?’ And we are deified not by partaking of the body of some man, but by receiving the Body of the Word Himself.

3. And at this also I am much surprised, how they have ventured to entertain such an idea as that the Word became man in consequence of His Nature. For if this were so, the commemoration of Mary would be superfluous. For neither does Nature know of a Virgin bearing apart from a man. Whence by the good pleasure of the Father, being true God, and Word and Wisdom of the Father by nature, He became man in the body for our salvation, in order that having somewhat to offer for us He might save us all, as many as through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage. ‘ For it was not some man that gave Himself up for us; since every man is under sentence of death, according to what was said to all in Adam, earth thou art and unto earth thou shalt return. ‘ Nor yet was it any other of the creatures, since every creature is liable to change. But the Word Himself offered His own Body on our behalf that our faith and hope might not be in man, but that we might have our faith in God the Word Himself. Why, even now that He is become man we behold His Glory, glory as of one only-begotten of His Father—full of grace and truth. ‘ For what He endured by means of the Body, He magnified as God. And while He hungered in the flesh, as God He fed the hungry. And if anyone is offended by reason of the bodily conditions, let him believe by reason of what God works. For humanly He enquires where Lazarus is laid, but raises him up divinely. Let none then laugh, calling Him a child, and citing His age, His growth, His eating, drinking and suffering, lest while denying what is proper for the body, he deny utterly also His sojourn among us. And just as He has not become Man in consequence of His nature, in like manner it was consistent that when He had taken a body He should exhibit what was proper to it, lest the imaginary theory of Manichaeus should prevail. Again it was consistent that when He went about in the body, He should not hide what belonged to the Godhead, lest he of Samosata should find an excuse to call Him man, as distinct in person from God the Word.

4. Let then the unbelievers perceive this, and learn that while as a Babe He lay in a manger, He subjected the Magi and was worshipped by them; and while as a Child He came down to Egypt, He brought to nought the hand-made objects of its idolatry : and crucified in the flesh, He raised the dead long since turned to corruption. And it has been made plain to all that not for His own sake but for ours He underwent all things, that we by His sufferings might put on freedom from suffering and incorruption , and abide unto life eternal.

5. This then I have concisely dictated, following, as I said above, the lines of your own letter, without working out any point any further but only mentioning what relates to the Holy Cross, in order that the despisers may be taught better upon the points where they were offended, and may worship the Crucified. But do you thoroughly persuade the unbelievers; perhaps somehow they may come from ignorance to knowledge, and believe aright. And even though what your own letter contains is sufficient, yet it is as well to have added what I have for the sake of reminder in view of contentious persons; not so much in order that being refuted in their venturesome statements they may be put to shame, as that being reminded they may not forget the truth. For let what was confessed by the Fathers at Nicaea prevail. For it is correct, and enough to overthrow every heresy however impious, and especially that of the Arians which speaks against the Word of God, and as a logical consequence profanes His Holy Spirit. Greet all who hold aright. All that are with us greet you.

Athanasius to John and Antiochus, our beloved sons and fellow-presbyters in the Lord, greeting.

I was glad to receive your letter just now, the more so as you wrote from Jerusalem. I thank you for informing me about the brethren that there assembled, and about those who wish, on account of disputed points, to disturb the simple. But about these things let the Apostle charge them not to give heed to those who contend about words, and seek nothing else than to tell and hear some new thing . But do you, having your foundation sure, even Jesus Christ our Lord, and the confession of the fathers concerning the faith, avoid those who wish to say anything more or less than that, and rather aim at the profit of the brethren, that they may fear God and keep His commandments, in order that both by the teaching of the fathers, and by the keeping of the commandments, they may be able to appear well-pleasing to the Lord in the day of judgment. But I have been utterly astonished at the boldness of those who venture to speak against our beloved Basil the bishop, a true servant of God. For from such vain talk they can be convicted of not loving even the confession of the fathers.

Greet the brethren. They that are with me greet you. I pray that ye may be well in the Lord, beloved and much-desired sons.

To our beloved son Palladius, presbyter, Athanasius the Bishop greeting in the Lord.

I was glad to receive also the letter written by you alone, the more so that you breathe orthodoxy in it, as is your wont. And having learnt not for the first time, but long ago, the reason of your staying at present with our beloved Innocent , I am pleased with your piety. Since then you are acting as you are, write and let me know how are the brethren there, and what the enemies of the truth think about us. But whereas you have also told me of the monks at Caesarea, and I have learned from our beloved Dianius that they are vexed, and are opposing our beloved bishop Basil, I am glad you have informed me, and I have pointed out to them what is fitting, namely that as children they should obey their father, and not oppose what he approves. For if he were suspected as touching the truth, they would do well to combat him. But if they are confident, as we all are, that he is a glory to the Church, contending rather on behalf of the truth and teaching those who require it, it is not right to combat such an one, but rather to accept with thanks his good conscience. For from what the beloved Dianius has related, they appear to be vexed without cause. For he, as I am confident, to the weak becomes weak to gain the weak . But let our beloved friends look at the scope of his truth, and at his special purpose , and glorify the Lord Who has given such a bishop to Cappadocia as any district must pray to have. And do you, beloved, be good enough to point out to them the duty of obeying, as I write. For this is at once calculated to render them well disposed toward their father, and will preserve peace to the churches. I pray that you may be well in the Lord, beloved son.

To my lord, son, and most beloved fellow-minister Diodorus [bishop of Tyre] , Athanasius greeting in the Lord.

I thank my Lord, Who is everywhere establishing His doctrine, and chiefly so by means of His own sons, such as actual fact shews you to be. For before your Reverence wrote, we knew how great grace has been brought to pass in Tyre by means of your perseverance. And we rejoice with you that by your means Tyre also has learned the right word of piety. And I indeed took an opportunity of writing to you, longed-for and beloved: but I marvel at your not having replied to my letter. Be not then slow to write at once, knowing that you give me refreshment, as a son to his father, and make me exceeding glad, as a herald of truth. And enter upon no controversy with the heretics, but overcome their argumentativeness with silence, their ill-will with courtesy. For thus your speech shall be with grace, seasoned with salt ,’ while they [will be judged] by the conscience of all. . . .

The above Collection of Letters is complete upon the principle stated in the Introduction (supr., p. 495). But one or two fragments have been excluded which may be specified here.

(1.) Fragment of a letter to Eupsychius;’ probably the Nicene Father referred to Ep. AEg. 8, (cf. D.C.B. ii. 299 (4)). The Greek is given by Montf. in Ath. Opp. 1. p. 1293 (Latin, ib. p. 1287). It was cited in Conc. Nic. II. Act vi., but although it has affinities with Orat. ii. 8 (high-priestly dress’), it has the appearance of a polemical argument against Monophysitism. (Migne xxvi. 1245.)

(2.) To Epiphanius’ (Migne xxvi. 1257). Against certain, who contentiously follow the Jews in celebrating Easter. (From Chron. Pasch. pag. 4 postremae editionis.’)

(3.) Fragments of an Epistola ad Antiochenos’ (not our Tomus,’ supr., p. 483): also a polemic against Monophysitism, and almost Nestorian in doctrine: Jesus Christus . . . non est Ipse’ [i.e. ante saecula et in saecula, Heb. xiii. 8], and duas personas’ asserted of Christ. From Facundus, who says the letter was written against the Apollinarians, and who gives it on the authority of Peter, Ath.’s successor (Migne xxvi. 1259).

(4.) Ad Eusebium, Lucinianum, et socios.’ (In Migne xxvi. 1325 sq., from Mai, Script. Vet. 11. 583 sq.) A minute fragment. Cf. supr., Letter 55, notes 1, 7.

(5.) Spurious letters (in Migne xxviii.) to Jovian, to Castor (2), to a bishop of the Persians,’ and to and from popes Liberius, Marcus, Julius and Felix (made up out of late and spurious decretals, &c., &c.).

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