Fathers of the Church

Epistle XIX

Description

Gregory suggests to Basil that they meet with Eusebius. As he suggested in this epistle, Gregory did write three letters to Eusebius (Epistles XVI, XVII, XVIII).

Provenance

Gregory was the first Greek author to publish a collection of his letters; he did so at the request of Nicobulus, a grandson of his sister Gorgonia. Incidentally, he also sets forth a theory of epistolography; he demands that a good letter should have four characteristics: shortness, clearness, charm and simplicity. Although he refuses to present his own epistles as models, they are carefully written, in mnay cases not without humor, and most of them are brief and pointed. (Quasten)

Gregory opens one of his letters addressed to St. Basil with the sentence: "From the first I have taken you, and I take you still, for my guide of life and my teacher of dogma." With these words Gregory himself acknowledges his obligation to the great bishop of Caesarea. (Quasten) The two were friends from their youth, and maintained an active correspondence throughout most of their adult lives.

by Gregory Nazianzen in Unknown | translated by Charles Gordon Browne, M.A., James Edward Swallow, M.A

It is a time for prudence and endurance, and that we should not let anyone appear to be of higher courage than ourselves, or let all our labours and toils be in an instant brought to nothing. Why do I write this, and wherefore? Our Bishop Eusebius, very dear to God (for so we must for the future both think and write of him), is very much disposed to agreement and friendship with us; and as fire softens iron, so has time softened him; and I think a letter of appeal and invitation will come to you from him, as he intimated to me, and as many persons who are well acquainted with his affairs assure me. Let us be beforehand with him then, either by going to him, or by writing to him; or rather by first writing and then going; in order that we may not by and by be put to shame by being defeated when it was in our power to secure a victory by being honourably and philosophically beaten, which so many are asking from us. Be persuaded by me then, and come; both on this account and on account of the bad times; for a conspiracy of heretics is assailing the Church; some of them are here now, and are troubling us; and others, rumour says, are coming; and there is reason to fear lest the Word of Truth should be swept away, unless there be stirred up very soon the spirit of a Bezaleel, the wise Master builder of such arguments and dogmas. If you think I ought to go too, to stay with you and travel with you, I will not refuse to do even this.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF II/VII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.