Fathers of the Church
Letter LXXI: Basil to Gregory
by Basil the Great in 357-370 | translated by J. H. Newman
1. I HAVE received the letter of your holiness, by the most reverend brother Helenius, and what you have intimated he has told me in plain terms. How I felt on hearing it, you cannot doubt at all. However, since I have determined that my affection for you shall outweigh my pain, whatever it is, I have accepted it as I ought to do, and I pray the holy God, that my remaining days or hours may be as carefully conducted in their disposition towards you as they have been in past time, during which, my conscience tells me, I have been wanting to you in nothing small or great. [But that the man who boasts that he is now just beginning to take a look at the life of Christians, and thinks he will get some credit by having something to do with me, should invent what he has not heard, and narrate what he has never experienced, is not at all surprising. What is surprising and extraordinary is that he has got my best friends among the brethren at Nazianzus to listen to him; and not only to listen to him, but as it seems, to take in what he says. On most grounds it might be surprising that the slanderer is of such a character, and that I am the victim, but these troublous times have taught us to bear everything with patience. Slights greater than this have, for my sins, long been things of common occurrence with me. I have never yet given this man's brethren any evidence of my sentiments' about God, and I have no answer to make now. Men who are not convinced by long experience are not likely to be convinced by a short letter. If the former is enough let the charges of the slanderers be counted as idle tales. But if I give license to unbridled mouths, and uninstructed hearts, to talk about whom they will, all the while keeping my ears ready to listen, I shall not be alone in hearing what is said by other people; they will have to hear what I have to say.]
2. I know what has led to all this, and have urged every topic to hinder it; but now I am sick of the subject, and will say no more about it, I mean our little intercourse. For had we kept our old promise to each other, and had due regard to the claims which the Churches have on us, we should have been the greater part of the year together; and then there would have been no opening for these calumniators. Pray have nothing to say to them; let me persuade you to come here and assist me in my labours, particularly in my contest with the individual who is now assailing me. Your very appearance will have the effect of stopping him; directly you show these disturbers of our home that you will, by God's blessing, place yourself at the head of our party, you will break up their cabal, and you will shut every unjust mouth that speaketh unrighteousness against God. And thus facts will show who are your followers in good, and who are the halters and cowardly betrayers of the word of truth. If, however, the Church be betrayed, why then I shall care little to set men right about myself, by means of words, who account of me as men would naturally account who have not yet learned to measure themselves. Perhaps, in a short time, by God's grace, I shall be able to refute their slanders by very deed, for it seems likely that I shall have soon to suffer somewhat for the truth's sake more than usual; the best I can expect is banishment, or, if this hope fails, after all Christ's judgment-seat is not far distant. [If then you ask for a meeting for the Churches' sake, I am ready to betake myself whithersoever you invite me. But if it is only a question of refuting these slanders, I really have no time to reply to them.]
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.