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Fathers of the Church

Letter CCXXVIII: to the Magistrates of Colonia

Description

Basil asks the magistrates to deal gently with the clergy in their foolishness regarding the removal of the bishop Euphronius.

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

I HAVE received your lordships' letter, and offered thanks to God most holy, that you, occupied as you are with affairs of state, should not put those of the Church in the second place. I am grateful to think that every one of you has shewn anxiety as though he were acting in his own private interest, nay, in defence of his own life, and that you have written to me in your distress at the removal of your very God-beloved bishop Euphronius. Nicopolis has not really stolen him from you; were she pleading her cause before a judge she might say that she was recovering what is her own. If honourably treated she will tell you, as becomes an affectionate mother, that she will share with you the Father who will give a portion of his grace to each of you: he will not suffer the one to be in any way harmed by the invasion of their adversaries, and at the same time will not deprive you, the other, of the care to which you have been accustomed. Bethink you then of the emergency of the time; apply your best intelligence to understand how good government necessitates a certain course of action; and then pardon the bishops who have adopted this course for the establishment of the Churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. Suggest to yourselves what is becoming you. Your own intelligence needs no instruction, You know how to adopt the counsels of those who love you. It is only natural that you should be unaware of many of the questions that are being agitated, because of our being situated far away in Armenia; but we who are in the midst of affairs and have our ears dinned every day on all sides with news of Churches that are being overthrown, are in deep anxiety lest the common enemy, in envy at the protracted peace of our life, should be able to sow his tares in your ground too, and Armenia, as well as other places, be given over to our adversaries to devour. For the present be still, as not refusing to allow your neighbours too share with you the use of a goodly vessel. Ere long, 'if the Lord allow me to come to you, you shall, if it seem necessary to you, receive yet greater consolation for what has come to pass.

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.