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Historical Sketches: Volumes 1 To 3 -Blessed John Henry Newman

“I have kept silence; must there be no end of it? Shall I bear any longer to enforce this most heavy penalty of silence against myself—neither writing nor conversing with you? Indeed, in persisting hitherto in this melancholy determination, I seem to have a right to use the Prophet’s words—‘I have been still, and refrained myself as a woman in travail’—always anxious to see or hear from you, always for my sins disappointed. No other cause can be assigned for the present state of things, except that my estrangement from your love is certainly an infliction on me for old transgressions. Yet, even though the very naming of estrangement were not a sin, if shown towards you by whomsoever, yet certainly it were, if shown by me, to whom you have been from the first in place of a father. However, the time of my punishment has been long indeed. So I can hold no longer, and am the first to speak; beseeching you to remember both me and yourself, who have treated me, all through my life, with a greater tenderness than relationship could claim, and to love the city which I govern for my sake, instead of alienating yourself from it on my account.

“If, therefore, there is any consolation in Christ, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels of commiseration, fulfil my prayer; put an end at once to this gloom, making a beginning of a more cheerful state of things for the future, becoming yourself the guide of the others towards right, not following another towards wrong. No one’s features were ever more strongly marked, than your soul is characterized with peaceableness and mildness. It becomes such an one to draw others to him, and to supply all who approach him, as it were, with the fragrant oil of his own amiableness. There may be obstacles just now; but, in a short time, the blessedness of peace will be recognized. But while our dissension gives opportunity to tale-bearers, our complaints of each other must necessarily be increasing. It is unbecoming in other parties to neglect me, but more than any, in your venerableness. Tell me if I am any where wrong, and I shall be the better in future. But it is impossible to do so without intercourse. If, on the other hand, I have committed no offence, why am I hated? This I say by way of self-defence.

“What those churches will say for themselves, which with so little honour are partners in our dispute, I will not ask, for I have no wish to give offence by this letter, but to remove it. You are too clear-sighted for anything of this kind to escape you; and will take, and lay before others, a much more accurate view than mine can be. Indeed, you were sensible of the existing evils in the churches before I was, and have felt them more keenly, having long ago learnt of the Lord not to despise any of the least of His matters. At present, however, the mischief is not confined to one or two individuals, but whole cities and communities are partners in our misfortune. Comfort me then, either by coming to see me, or by writing, or by sending for me, or in any way you will. My own earnest wish is, that you would make your appearance in my church, so that both I and my people might be benefited by the sight and the words of your grace. This will be best, if possible; but I shall welcome any proposition which you will make. Only, let me beg of you to give me some sure intelligence of your intention.”—Ep. 59.


This misunderstanding he surmounted: but the following was on a far more painful matter, being not so much a misunderstanding between friends, as a real difference of religious creed, which did not admit of removal.

Eustathius had been one of the pupils of Arius at Alexandria, and was admitted into orders at Antioch by the Arians. After a time, he joined the Semi-Arian, or middle, party in Asia Minor, with whom he continued some years. On the death of the Emperor Constantius, this party lost the patronage of the court; and during the reign of Valens, a purely Arian prince, Eustathius deserted them, and, after a time, professed himself of the new Emperor’s religion. Up to this date he had the friendship of Basil, as bearing about him all the marks of a zealous and honest, though erring man. He was austere in his manner of life, professed a most strict adherence to truth, and seemed not destitute of the spirit of Christian love. On occasion of his first lapsing after the death of Constantius, he carried the appearance of sincerity so far as even to betake himself to Rome for the purpose of subscribing the Catholic creed, and to acknowledge publicly his offence. Afterwards he became a bitter enemy of Basil. The following letter was written A.D. 375, about the time of the first rupture between him and Basil, and is interesting as disclosing some particulars of the early life of the latter.

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