Fathers of the Church

Letter CXV: to the Heretic Simplicia

Description

Basil warns Simplicia of the judgment that awaits him.

Provenance

St. Basil's correspondence is a copious and invaluable store of information for the history of the Eastern Church in the fourth century, particularly in Cappadocia. Since he never found a real biographer, his letters represent the best source for his life and times, for his many activities and far-reaching influence, especially for his personality and his character. (Quasten)

by Basil the Great in 357-370 | translated by Blomfield Jackson, M.A

We often ill advisedly hate our superiors and love our inferiors. So I, for my part, hold my tongue, and keep silence about the disgrace of the insults offered me. I wait for the Judge above, Who knows how to punish all wickedness in the end, even though a man pour out gold like sand; let him trample on the right, he does but hurt his own soul. God always asks for sacrifice, not, I think, because He needs it, but because He accepts a pious and right mind as a precious sacrifice. But when a man by his transgressions tramples on himself God reckons his prayers impure. Bethink thyself, then, of the last day, and pray do not try to teach me. I know more than you do, and am not so choked with thorns within. I do not mind tenfold wickedness with a few good qualities. You have stirred up against me lizards and toads, beasts, it is true, of Spring time, but nevertheless unclean. But a bird will come from above who will devour them. The account I have to render is not according to your ideas, but as God thinks fit to judge. If witnesses are wanted, there will not stand before the Judge slaves; nor yet a disgraceful and detestable set of eunuchs; neither woman nor man, lustful, envious, ill-bribed, passionate, effeminate, slaves of the belly, mad for gold, ruthless, grumbling about their dinner, inconstant, stingy, greedy, insatiable, savage, jealous. What more need I say? At their very birth they were condemned to the knife. How can their mind be right when their feet are awry? They are chaste because of the knife, and it is no credit to them. They are lecherous to no purpose, of their own natural vileness. These are not the witnesses who shall stand in the judgment, but rather the eyes of the just and the eyesight of the perfect, of all who are then to see with their eyes what they now see with their understanding.

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. (PNPF II/VIII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.