LETTERS OF ATHANASIUS
WITH TWO ANCIENT CHRONICLES
OF HIS LIFE
HISTORIA ACEPHALA
FESTAL LETTERS VI, VII & X TO XIII

LETTER VI. For 334.

Easter-day, xii Pharmuthi, vii [Id. April: xvii Moon; AEra Dioclet. 50; Coss. Optatus Patricius, Anicius Paulinus; Praefect, Philagrius(1), the Cappadocian; vii Indict.

Now again, my beloved, has God brought us to the season of the feast, and through His loving-kindness we have reached the period of assembly for it. For that God who brought Israel out of Egypt, even He at this time calls us to the feast, saying by Moses, 'Observe the month of new fruits(2), and keep the Passover to the Lord thy God(3):' and by the prophet, Keep thy feasts, O Judah; pay to the Lord thy vows(4).' If then God Himself loves the feast, and calls us to it, it is not right, my brethren, that it should be delayed, or observed carelessly; but with alacrity and zeal we should come to it, so that having begun joyfully here, we may also receive an earnest of that heavenly feast. For if we diligently celebrate the feast here, we shall doubtless receive the perfect joy which is in heaven, as the Lord says; 'With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I say unto you, that I will not eat it until it is fulfilled with you in the kingdom of God(5).' Now we eat it if, understanding the reason of the feast, and acknowledging the Deliverer, we conduct ourselves in accordance with His grace, as Paul saith; 'So that we may keep the Feast, not with old leaven neither with the leaven of wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth(6).' For the Lord died in those days, that we should no longer do the deeds of death. He gave His life, that we might preserve our own from the snares of the devil. And, what is most wonderful, the Word became flesh, that we should no longer live in the flesh, but in spirit should worship God, who is Spirit. He who is not so disposed, abuses the days, and does not keep the feast, but like an unthankful person finds fault with the grace, and honours the days overmuch, while he does not supplicate the Lord who in those days redeemed him. Let him by all means hear, though fancying that he keeps the feast, the Apostolic voice reproving him; 'Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years: I fear test I have laboured among you in vain 7.'

2. For the feast is not on account of the days; but for the Lord's sake, who then suffered for us, we celebrate it, for 'our Passover Christ, is sacrificed(8).' Even as Moses, when teaching Israel not to consider the feast as pertaining to the days, but to the Lord, said, 'It is the Lord's Passover(9).' To the Jews when they thought they were keeping the Passover, because they persecuted the Lord, the feast was useless; since it no longer bore the name of the Lord, even according to their own testimony. It was not the Passover of the Lord, but that of the Jews(10). The Passover was named after the Jews, my brethren, because they denied the Lord of the Passover. On this account, the Lord, turning away His face from such a doctrine of theirs, saith, 'Your new moons and your sabbaths My soul hateth(11)',

3. So now, those who keep the Passover in like manner, the Lord again reproves, as He did those lepers who were cleansed, when He loved the one as thankful, but was angry with the others as ungrateful, because they did not acknowledge their Deliverer, but thought more of the cure of the leprosy than of Him who healed them. 'But one of them when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell on his If ace at the feet of Jesus giving Him thanks; and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but those nine -- whence are there none found who returned to give glory to God, but this stranger(12)? ' And there was more given to him than to the rest; for being cleansed from his leprosy, he heard from the Lord, 'Arise, go thy way, thy faith hath saved thee(13).' For he who gives thanks, and he who glorifies, have kindred feelings, in that they bless their Helper for the benefits they have received. So the Apostle exhorts all men to this, saying, 'Glorify God with your body;' and the prophet commands, saying, 'Give glory to God.' Although testimony was borne by Caiaphas(14) against our Redeemer, and He was set at nought by the Jews, and was condemned by Pilate in those days, yet exalted exceedingly and most mighty was the voice of the Father which came to Him; 'I have glorified, and will glorify again(15).' For those things which He suffered for our sake have passed away; but those which belong to Him as the Saviour remain for ever.

4. But in our commemoration of these things, my brethren, let us not be occupied with meats, but let us glorify the Lord, let us become fools for Him who died for us, even as Paul said; 'For if we are foolish, it is to God; or if we are sober-minded, it is to you; since because one died for all men, therefore all were dead to Him; and He died for all, that we who live should not henceforth live to ourselves, but to Him who died for us, and rose again(16).' No longer then ought we to live to ourselves, but, as servants to the Lord. And not in vain should we receive the grace, as the time is especially an acceptable one(17), and the day of salvation hath dawned, even the death of our Redeemer(18). For even for our sakes the Word came down, and being incorruptible, put on a corruptible body for the salvation of all of us. Of which Paul was confident, saying, 'This corruptible must put on incorruption(19).' The Lord too was sacrificed, that by His blood He might abolish death. Full well did He once, in a certain place, blame those who participated vainly in the shedding of His blood, while they did not delight themselves in the flesh of the Word, saying, 'What profit is there in my blood, that I go down to corruption(20)?' This does not mean that the descent of the Lord was without profit, for it gained the whole world; but rather that after He had thus suffered, sinners would prefer to suffer loss than to profit by it. For He regarded our salvation as a delight and a peculiar gain; while on the contrary He looked upon our destruction as loss.

5. Also in the Gospel, He praises those who increased the grace twofold, both him who made ten talents of five, and him who made four talents of two, as those who had profited, and turned them to good account; but him who hid the talent He cast out as wanting, saying to him, 'Thou wicked servant! oughtest thou not to have put My money to the exchangers? then at My coming I should have received Mine own with interest. Take, therefore, from him the talent, and give it to him that hath ten talents. For to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth[21].' For it is not His will that the grace we have received should be unprofitable; but He requires us to take pains to render Him His own fruits, as the blessed Paul saith; 'The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and, peace[1].' Having therefore this right resolution, and owing no man anything, but rather giving everything to every man, he was a teacher of the like rightness of principle, saying, 'Render to all their dues[2].' He was like those sent by the householder to receive the fruits of the vineyard from the husbandmen[3]; for he exhorted all men to render a return. But Israel despised and would not render, for their will was not right, nay moreover they killed those that were sent, and not even before the Lord of the vineyard were they ashamed, but even He was slain by them. Verily, when He came and found no fruit in them, He cursed them through the fig-tree, saying, 'Let there be henceforth no fruit from thee[4];' and the fig-tree was dead and fruitless so that even the disciples wondered when it withered away.

6. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet; 'I will take away from them the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the scent of myrrh, and the light of a lamp, and the whole land shall be destroyed[5].' For the whole service of the law has been abolished from them, and henceforth and for ever they remain without a feast. And they observe not the Passover; for how can they? They have no abiding place, but they wander everywhere. And they eat unleavened bread contrary to the law, since they are unable first to sacrifice the lamb, as they were commanded to do when eating unleavened bread. But in every place they transgress the law, and as the judgments of God require, they keep days of grief instead of gladness. Now the cause of this to them was the slaying of the Lord, and that they did not reverence the Only-Begotten. At this time the altogether wicked heretics and ignorant schismatics are in the same case; the one in that they slay the Word, the other in that they rend the coat. They too remain expelled from the feast, because they live without godliness and knowledge, and emulate the conduct shewn in the matter of Bar-Abbas the robber, whom the Jews desired instead of the Saviour. Therefore the Lord cursed them under the figure of the fig-tree. Yet even thus He spared them in His loving-kindness, not destroying them root and all. For He did not curse the root, but [said], that no man should eat fruit of it thenceforth. When He did this, He abolished the shadow, causing it to wither; but preserved the root, so that we might [not][6] be grafted upon it; 'they too, if they abide not in unbelief, may attain to be grafted into their own olive tree[7].' Now when the Lord had cursed them because of their negligence, He removed from them the new moons, the true lamb, and that which is truly the Passover.

7. But to us it came: there came too the solemn day, in which we ought to call to the feast with a trumpet[8], and separate ourselves to the Lord with thanksgiving, considering it as our own festival[9]. For we are bound to celebrate it, not to ourselves but to the Lord; and to rejoice, not in ourselves but in the Lord, who bore our griefs and said, 'My soul is sorrowful unto death[10].' For the heathen, and all those who are strangers to our faith, keep feasts according to their own wills, and have no peace, since they commit evil against God. But the saints, as they live to the Lord also keep the feast to Him, saying, 'I will rejoice in Thy salvation,' and, 'my soul shall be joyful in the Lord.' The commandment is common to them, 'Rejoice, ye righteous, in the Lord[11]'--so that they also may be gathered together, to sing that common and festal Psalm, 'Come, let us rejoice[12],' not in ourselves, but, 'in the Lord.'

8. For thus the patriarch Abraham rejoiced not to see his own day, but that of the Lord ; and thus looking forward 'he saw it, and was glad[13].' And when he was tried, by faith he offered up Isaac, and sacrificed his only-be-gotten son--he who had received the promises. And, in offering his son, he worshipped the Son of God. And, being restrained from sacrificing Isaac, he saw the Messiah in the ram[14], which was offered up instead as a sacrifice to God. The patriarch was tried, through Isaac, not however that he was sacrificed, but He who was pointed out in Isaiah; 'He shall be led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers he shall be speechless[15];' but He took away the sin of the world. And on this account [Abraham] was restrained from laying his hand on the lad, lest the Jews, taking occasion from the sacrifice of Isaac, should reject the prophetic declarations concerning our Saviour, even all of them, but more especially those uttered by the Psalmist; 'Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not; a body Thou hast prepared Me[16];' and should refer all such things as these to the son of Abraham.

9. For the sacrifice was not properly the setting to rights[17] of Isaac, but of Abraham who also offered, and by that was tried. Thus God accepted the will of the offerer, but prevented that which was offered from being sacrificed. For the death of Isaac did not procure freedom to the world, but that of our Saviour alone, by whose stripes we all are healed[18]. For He raised up the falling, healed the sick, satisfied those who were hungry, and filled the poor, and, what is more wonderful raised us all from the dead; having abolished death, He has brought us from affliction and sighing to the rest and gladness of this feast, a joy which reacheth even to heaven. For not we alone are affected by this, but because of it, even the heavens rejoice with us, and the whole church of the firstborn, written in heaven[19], is made glad together, as the prophet proclaims, saying, 'Rejoice, ye heavens, for the Lord hath had mercy upon Israel. Shout, ye foundations of the earth. Cry out with joy, ye mountains, ye high places, and all the trees which are in them, for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and Israel hath been glorified[20].' And again; Rejoice, and be glad, ye heavens; let the hills melt into gladness, for the Lord hath had mercy on His people, and comforted the oppressed of the people[1].'

10. The whole creation keeps a feast, my brethren, and everything that hath breath praises the Lord[2], as the Psalmist [says], on account of the destruction of the enemies, and our salvation. And justly indeed; for if there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth[3], what should there not be over the abolition of sin, and the resurrection of the dead? Oh what a feast and how great the gladness in heaven! how must all its hosts joy and exult, as they rejoice and watch in our assemblies, those that are held continually, and especially those at Easter? For they look on sinners while they repent; on those who have turned away their faces, when they become converted; on those Who formerly persisted in lusts and excess, but who now humble themselves by fastings and temperance; and, finally, on the enemy who lies weakened, lifeless, bound hand and foot, so that we may mock at him; 'Where is thy victory, O Death? where is thy sting, O Grave[4]?' Let us then sing unto the Lord a song of victory.

11. Who then will lead us to such a company of angels as this? Who, coming with a desire for the heavenly feast, and the angelic holiday, will say like the prophet, 'I will pass to the place of the wondrous tabernacle, unto the house of God; with the voice of joy and praise, with the shouting of those who keep festival[5]?' To this course the saints also encourage us, saying, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob[6].' But not for the impure is this feast, nor is the ascent thereto for sinners; but it is for the virtuous and diligent; and for those who live according to the aim of the saints; for, 'Who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place, but he that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not devoted his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully to his neighbour. For he,' as the Psalmist adds, when he goes up, 'shall receive a blessing from the Lord[7].' Now this clearly also refers to what the Lord gives to them at the right hand, saying, 'Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you[8].' But the deceitful, and he that is not pure of heart, and possesses nothing that is pure (as the Proverb saith, 'To a deceitful man there is nothing good[9]'), shall assuredly, being a stranger, and of a different race from the saints, be accounted unworthy to eat the Passover, for 'a foreigner shall not eat of it[10].' Thus Judas, when he thought he kept the Passover, because he plotted deceit against the Saviour, was estranged from the city which is above, and from the apostolic company. For the law commanded the Pass-over to be eaten with due observance; but he, while eating it, was sifted of the devil[11], who had entered his soul.

12. Wherefore let us not celebrate the feast after an earthly manner, but as keeping festival in heaven with the angels. Let us glorify the Lord, by chastity, by righteousness, and other virtues. And let us rejoice, not in ourselves, but in the Lord, that we may be inheritors with the saints. Let us keep the feast then, as Moses. Let us watch like David who rose seven times, and in the middle of the night gave thanks for the righteous judgments of God. Let us be early, as be said, 'In the morning I will stand before Thee, and Thou wilt look upon me: in the morning Thou wilt hear my voice[12].' Let us fast like Daniel let us pray without ceasing, as Paul commanded; all of us recognising the season of prayer, but especially those who are honourably married; so that having borne witness to these things, and thus having kept the feast, we may be able to enter into the joy of Christ in the kingdom of heaven[13]. But as Israel, when going up to Jerusalem, was first purified in the wilderness, being trained to forget the customs of Egypt, the Word by this typifying to us the holy fast of forty days, let us first be purified and freed from defilement[14], so that when we depart hence, having been careful of fasting, we may be able to ascend to the upper chamber[15] with the Lord, to sup with Him; and may be partakers of the joy which is in heaven. In no other manner is it possible to go up to Jerusalem, and to eat the Passover, except by observing the fast of forty days.

13. We begin the fast of forty days on the first day of the month Phamenoth (Feb. 25); and having prolonged it till the fifth of Pharmuthi (Mar. 31), suspending it upon the Sundays and the Saturdays[16] preceding them, we then begin again on the holy days of Easter, on the sixth of Pharmuthi (Apr, 1), and cease on the eleventh of the same month (Apr. 6), late in the evening [17] of the Saturday, whence dawns on us the holy Sunday, on the twelfth of Pharmuthi (Apr. 7), which extends its beams, with unobscured grace, to all the seven weeks of the holy Pentecost. Resting on that day, let us ever keep Easter joy in Christ Jesus our Lord, through Whom, to the Father, be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. All the brethren who are with me salute you. Salute one another with a holy kiss.

Here endeth the sixth Festal Letter of the holy and God-clad Athanasius.

LETTER VII. For 335.

Easter-day iv Pharmuthi, iii Kal. April; xx Moon; 'r. Dioclet. 51; Coss. Julius Constantius, the brother of Augustus, Rufinus Albinus; Praefect, the same Philagrius; viii Indict.

THE blessed Paul[1] wrote tO the Corinthians[2] that he always bore in his body the dying of Jesus, not as though he alone should make that boast, but also they and we too, and in this let us be followers of him, my brethren. And let this be the customary boast of all of us at all times. In this David participated, saying in the Psalms, 'For thy sake we die all the day; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughters[3].' Now this is becoming in us, especially in the days of the feast, when a commemoration of the death of our Saviour is held. For he who is made like Him in His death, is also diligent in virtuous practices, having mortified his members which are upon the earth[4], and crucifying the flesh with the affections and lusts, he lives in the Spirit, and is conformed to the Spirits. He is always mindful of God, and forgets Him not, and never does the deeds of death. Now, in order that we may bear in our body the dying of Jesus, he immediately adds the way of such fellowship, saying, 'we having the same spirit of faith, as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak[6].' He adds also, speaking of the grace that arises from knowledge; 'For He that raised up Jesus, will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us before Him with you[7].'

2. When by such faith and knowledge the saints have embraced this true life, they receive, doubtless, the joy which is in heaven; lot which the wicked not caring, are deservedly deprived of the blessedness arising from it. For, 'let the wicked be taken away, so that he shall not see the glory of the Lord[8].' For although, when they shall hear the universal proclamation of the promise, 'Awake, thou that steepest, and arise from the dead[9],' they shall rise and shall come even to heaven, knocking and saying, ' Open to us [10];' nevertheless the Lord will reprove them, as those who put the knowledge of Himself far from them, saying, 'I know you not.' But the holy Spirit cries against them, 'The wicked shall be turned into hell, even all the nations that forget God.[11].' Now we say that the wicked are dead, but not in an ascetic life opposed to sin; nor do they, like the saints, bear about dying in their bodies. But it is the soul which they bury in sins and follies, drawing near to the dead, and satisfying it with dead nourishment; like young eagles which, from high places, fly upon the carcases of the dead, and which the law prohibited, commanding figurativey, 'Thou shalt not eat the eagle, nor any other bird that feedeth on a dead carcase[12];' and it pronounced unclean whatsoever eateth the dead. But these kill the soul with lusts, and say nothing but, 'let us eat and drink, for to morrow we die[13].' And the kind of fruit those have who thus love pleasures, he immediately describes, adding, 'And these things are revealed in the ears of the Lord of Hosts, that this sin shall not be forgiven you until ye die[14].' Yea, even while they live they shall be ashamed, because they consider their belly their lord; and when dead, they shall be tormented, because they have made a boast of such a death. To this effect also Paul bears witness, saying, 'Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats; but God shall destroy both it and them[15].' And the divine word declared before concerning them; 'The death of sinners is evil, and those who hate the righteous commit sin[16].' For bitter is the worm, and grievous the darkness, which wicked men inherit.

3. But the saints, and they who truly practise virtue, 'mortify their members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness passions, evil concupiscence[17];' and, as the result of this, are pure and without spot, confiding in the promise of our Saviour, who said, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God[18].' These, having become dead to the world, and renounced the merchandise of the world, gain an honourable death; for, 'precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints[19].' They are also able, preserving the Apostolic likeness, to say, 'I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me[20].' For that is the true life, which a man lives in Christ; for although they are dead to the world, yet they dwell as it were in heaven, minding those things which are above, as he who was a lover of such a habitation said, 'While we walk on earth, our dwelling is in heaven[21].' Now those who thus live, and are partakers in such virtue, are alone able to give glory to God, and this it is which essentially constitutes a feast and a holiday[1]. For the feast does not consist in pleasant intercourse at meals, nor splendour[2] of clothing, nor days of leisure, but in the acknowledgment of God, and the offering of thanksgiving and of praise to Him[3]. Now this belongs to the saints alone, who live in Christ; for it is written, 'The dead shall not praise Thee, O Lord, neither all those who go down into silence; but we who live will bless the Lord, from henceforth even for ever[4].' So was it with Hezekiah, who was delivered from death, and therefore praised God, saying, 'Those who are in hades cannot praise Thee I the dead cannot bless Thee; but the living shall bless Thee, as I also do[5].' For to praise and bless God belongs to those only who live in Christ, and by means of this they go up to the feast; for the Passover is not of the Gentiles, nor of those who are yet Jews in the flesh; but of those who acknowledge the truth in Christ[6], as he declares who was sent to proclaim such a feast; 'Our Passover, Christ, is sacrificed 7.'

4. Therefore, although wicked men press forward to keep the feast, and as at a feast praise God, and intrude into the Church of the saints, yet God expostulates, saying to the sinner, 'Why dost thou talk of My ordinances?' And the gentle Spirit rebukes them, saying, 'Praise is not comely in the mouth of a sinners[8].' Neither hath sin any place in common with the praise of God; for the sinner has a mouth speaking perverse things, as the Proverb saith, 'The mouth of the wicked answereth evil things[9].' For how is it possible for us to praise God with an impure mouth? since things which are contrary to each other cannot coexist. For what communion has righteousness with iniquity? or, what fellowship is there between light and darkness? So exclaims Paul, a minister of the Gospel[10].

Thus it is that sinners, and all those who are aliens from the Catholic Church, heretics, and schismatics, since they are excluded from glorifying (God)with the saints, cannot properly even continue observers of the feast. But the righteous man, although he appears dying to the world, uses boldness of speech, saying, 'I shall not die, but live, and narrate all Thy marvellous deeds[11].' For even God is not ashamed to be called the God[12] of those who truly mortify their members which are upon the earth[13], but live in Christ; for He is the God of the living, not of the dead. And He by His living Word quickeneth all men, and gives Him to be food and life to the saints; as the Lord declares, 'I am the bread of life[14].' The Jews, because they were weak in perception, and had not exercised the senses of the soul in virtue, and did not comprehend this discourse about bread, murmured against Him, because He said, 'I am the bread which came down from heaven, and giveth life unto men[15].'

5. For sin has her own special bread, of her death, and calling to those who are lovers of pleasure and lack understanding, she saith, 'Touch with delight secret bread, and sweet waters which are stolen[16];' for he who merely touches them knows not that that which is born from the earth perishes with her. For even when the sinner thinks to find pleasure, the end of that food is not pleasant, as the Wisdom of God saith again, 'Bread of deceit is pleasant to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel[17].' And, 'Honey droppeth from the lips of a whorish woman, which for a time is sweet to thy palate; but at the last thou shalt find it more bitter than gall, and sharper than a two-edged sword[18].' Thus then he eats and rejoices for a little time; afterwards he spurneth it when he hath removed his soul afar. For the fool knoweth not that those who depart far from God shall perish. And besides, there is the restraint of the prophetic admonition which says, 'What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Gihon? And what hast thou to do in the way of Asshur, to drink the waters of the rivers[19]?' And the Wisdom of God which loves mankind forbids these things, crying, 'But depart quickly, tarry not in the place, neither fix thine eye upon it; for thus thou shalt pass over strange waters, and depart quickly from the strange river[20].' She also calls them to herself, 'For wisdom hath builded her house, and supported it on seven pillars; she hath killed her sacrifices, and mingled her wine in the goblets, and prepared her table; she hath sent forth her servants, inviting to the goblet with a loud proclamation, and saying, Whoso is foolish, let him turn in to me; and to them that lack understanding she saith, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine I have mingled for you[1].' And what hope is there instead of these things? 'Forsake folly that ye may live, and seek understanding that ye may abide[2].' For the bread of Wisdom is living fruit, as the Lord said; 'I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever[3].' For when Israel ate of the manna, which was indeed pleasant and wonderful, yet he died, and he who ate it did not in consequence live for ever, but all that multitude died in the wilderness. The Lord teaches, saying, I am the bread of life: your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which came down from heaven, that a man should eat thereof, and not die[4].'

6. Now wicked men hunger for bread like this, for effeminate souls will hunger; but the righteous alone, being prepared, shall be satisfied, saying, 'I shall behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when Thy glory is seen by me[5].' For he who partakes of divine bread always hungers with desire; and he who thus hungers has a never-failing gift, as Wisdom promises, saying, 'The Lord will not slay the righteous soul with famine.' He promises too in the Psalms, 'I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread.' We may also hear our Saviour saying,

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled[6].' Well then do the saints and those who love the life which is in Christ raise themselves to a longing after this food. And one earnestly implores, saying, 'As the hart panteth after the fountains of waters, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God! My soul thirsteth for the living God, when shall I come and see the face of God?' And another; 'My God, my God, I seek Thee early; my soul thirsteth for Thee; often does my flesh, in a dry and pathless land, and without water. So did I appear before Thee in holiness to see Thy power and Thy glory[7].'

7. Since these things are so, my brethren, let us mortify our members which are on the earth[8], and be nourished with living bread, by faith and love to God, knowing that without faith it is impossible to be partakers of such bread as this. For our Saviour, when He called all men to him, and said, 'If any man thirst, let him[come] to Me and drink[9],' immediately spoke of the faith without which a man cannot receive such food; 'He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water[10].' To this end He continually nourished His believing disciples with His words, and gave them life by the nearness of His divinity, but to the Canaanitish woman, because she was not yet a believer, He deigned not even a reply, although she stood greatly in need of food from Him. He did this not from scorn, far from it (for the Lord is loving to men and good, and on that account He went into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon); but because of her unbelief, and because she was of those who had not the word. And He did it righteously, my brethren; for there would have been nothing gained by her offering her supplication before believing, but by her faith she would support her petition; 'For He that cometh to God, must first believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that seek Him;' and that 'without faith it is impossible for a man to please Him[11].' This Paul teaches. Now that she was hitherto an unbeliever, one of the profane, He shews, saying, 'It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs[12].' She then, being convinced by the power of the word, and having changed her ways, also gained faith; for the Lord no longer spoke to her as a dog, but conversed with her as a human being, saying, 'O woman, great is thy faith[13]!' As therefore she believed, He forthwith granted to her the fruit of faith, and said, 'Be it to thee as thou desirest. And her daughter was healed in the self-same hour.'

8. For the righteous man, being nurtured in faith and knowledge, and the observance of divine precepts, has his soul always in health. Wherefore it is commanded to 'receive to ourselves him who is weak in the faith[14],' and to nourish him, even if he is not yet able to eat bread, but herbs, 'for he that is weak eateth herbs.' For even the Corinthians were not able to partake of such bread, being yet babes, and like babes they drank milk. 'For every one that partaketh of milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness[15],' according to the words of that divine man. The Apostle exhorts his beloved son Timothy, in his first Epistle, 'to be nourished with the word of faith, and the good doctrine whereto he had attained.' And in the second, 'Preserve thou the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus 16.' And not only here, my brethren, is this bread the food of the righteous, neither are the saints on earth alone nourished by such bread and such blood; but we also eat them in heaven, for the Lord is the food even of the exalted spirits, and the angels, and He is the joy of all the heavenly host[17]. And to all He is everything, and He has pity upon all according to His loving-kindness. Already hath the Lord given us angels' food[18], and He promises to those who continue with Him in His trials, saying, 'And I promise to you a kingdom, as My Father hath promised to Me; that ye shall eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel[1].' O what a banquet is this, my brethren, and how great is the harmony and gladness of those who eat at this heavenly table! For they delight themselves not with that food which is cast out, but with that which produces life everlasting. Who then shall be deemed worthy of that assembly? Who is so blessed as to be called, and accounted worthy of that divine feast? Truly, 'blessed is he who shall eat bread in Thy kingdom[2].'

9. Now he who has been counted worthy of the heavenly calling, and by this calling has been sanctified, if he grow negligent in it, although washed becomes defiled: 'counting the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a profane thing, and despising the Spirit of grace,' he hears the words, 'Friend, bow camest thou in hither, not having wedding garments?' For the banquet of the saints is spotless and pure; 'for many are called, but few chosen[3].' Judas to wit, though he came to the supper, because he despised it went out from the presence of the Lord, and having abandoned his Life[4], hanged himself. But the disciples who continued with the Redeemer shared in the happiness of the feast. And that young man who went into a far country, and there wasted his substance, living in dissipation, if he receive a desire for this divine feast, and, coming to himself, shall say, 'How many hired servants of my father have bread to spare, while I perish here with hunger!' and shall next arise and come to his father, and confess to him, saying, 'I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am not worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants[5];'--when he shall thus confess, then he shall be counted worthy of more than he prayed for. For the father does not receive him as a hired servant, neither does he look upon him as a stranger, but he kisses him as a son, he brings him back to life as from the dead, and counts him worthy of the divine feast, and gives him his former and precious robe. So that, on this account, there is singing and gladness in the paternal home.

10. For this is the work of the Father's loving-kindness and goodness, that not only should He make him alive from the dead, but that He should render His grace illustrious through the Spirit. Therefore, instead of corruption, He clothes him with an incorruptible garment; instead of hunger, He kills the fatted calf; instead of far journeys, [the Father] watched for his return, providing shoes for his feet; and, what is most wonderful, placed a divine signet-ring upon his hand; whilst by all these things He begot him afresh in the image of the glory of Christ. These are the gracious gifts of the Father, by which the Lord honours and nourishes those who abide with Him, and also those who return to Him and repent. For He promises, saying, 'I am the bread of life; he that cometh unto Me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst(6).' We too shall be counted worthy of these things, if at all times we cleave to our Saviour, and if we are pure, not only in these six days of Easter(7), but consider the whole course of our life as a feast(8), and continue near and do not go far off, saying to Him, 'Thou hast the words of eternal life, and whither shall we go(9)?' Let those of us who are far off return, confessing our iniquities, and having nothing against any man, but by the spirit mortifying the deeds of the body(10). For thus, having first nourished the soul here, we shall partake with angels at that heavenly and spiritual table; not knocking and being repulsed like those five foolish virgins(11), but entering with the Lord, like those who were wise and loved the bridegroom; and shewing the dying of Jesus in our bodies(12), we shall receive life and the kingdom from Him.

11. We begin the fast of forty days on the twenty-third of Mechir (Feb. 17), and the holy fast of the blessed feast on the twenty-eighth of Phamenoth (Mar. 24); and having joined to these six days after them, in fastings and watchings, as each one is able, let us rest on the third of the month Pharmuthi (Mar. 29), on the evening of the seventh day. Also that day which is holy and blessed in everything, which possesses the name of Christ, namely the Lord's day(13), having risen upon us on the fourth of Pharmuthi (Mar. 30), let us afterwards keep the holy feast of Pentecost. Let us at all times worship the Father in Christ, through Whom to Him and with Him be glory and dominion by the Holy Ghost for ever and ever. Amen. All the brethren who are with me salute you: salute one another with a holy kiss.

There is no eighth or ninth, for he did not send them, for the reason before mentioned(1).

Here endeth the seventh Festal Letter of holy Athanasius the Patriarch.

LETTER X. For 338.

Coss. Ursus and Polemius; Pr'f. the same Theodorus, of Heliopolis, and of the Catholics(2). After him, for the second year, Philagrius; Indict. xi; Easter-day, vii Kal. Ap.(3) xxx Phamenoth; Moon 18½; .(3) xxx Phamenoth; Moon 18 1/2, 'ra Dioclet. 54.

ALTHOUGH I have travelled all this distance from you, my brethren, I have not forgotten the custom which obtains among you, which has been delivered to us by the fathers(5), so as to be silent without notifying to you the time of the annual holy feast, and the day for its celebration. For although I have been hindered by those afflictions of which you have doubtless heard, and severe trials have been laid upon me, and a great distance has separated us; while the enemies of the truth have followed our tracks, laying snares to discover a letter from us, so that by their accusations, they might add to the pain of our wounds; yet the Lord, strengthening and comforting us in our afflictions, we have not feared, even when held fast in the midst of such machinations and conspiracies, to indicate and make known to you our saving Easter-feast, even from the ends of the earth. Also when I wrote to the presbyters of Alexandria, I urged that these letters might be sent to you through their instrumentality, although I knew the fear imposed on them by the adversaries. Still, I exhorted them to be mindful of the apostolic boldness of speech, and to say, 'Nothing separates us from the love of Christ; neither affliction, nor distress nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness nor peril, nor sword(6).' Thus, keeping the feast myself, I was desirous that you also, my beloved, should keep it; and being conscious that an announcement like this is due from me, I have not delayed to discharge this duty, fearing to be condemned by the Apostolic counsel; 'Render to every man his due(7).'

2. While I then committed all my affairs to God, I was anxious to celebrate the feast with you, not taking into account the distance between us. For although place separate us, yet the Lord the Giver of the feast, and Who is Himself our feast(8), Who is also the Bestower of the Spirit(9), brings us together in mind, in harmony, and in the bond of peace(10). For when we mind and think the same things, and offer up the same prayers on behalf of each other, no place can separate us, but the Lord gathers and unites us together. For if He promises, that 'when two or three are gathered together in His name, He is in the midst of them(11),' it is plain that being in the midst of those who in every place are gathered together, He unites them, and receives the prayers of all of them, as if they were near, and listens to all of them, as they cry out the same Amen(12). I have(13) borne affliction like this, and all those trials which I mentioned, my brethren, when I wrote to you.

3. And that we may not distress you at all, I would now (only) briefly remind you of these things, because it is not becoming in a man to forget, when more at ease, the pains he experienced in tribulation; lest, like an unthankful and forgetful person, he should be excluded from the divine assembly. For at no time should a man freely praise God, more than when he has passed through afflictions; nor, again, should he at any time give thanks more than when he finds rest from toil and temptations. As Hezekiah, when the Assyrians perished, praised the Lord, and, gave thanks, saying, 'The Lord is my salvation(14); and I will not cease to bless Thee with harp all the days of my life, before the house of the Lord(15).' And those valiant and blessed three who were tried in Babylon, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, when they were in safety and the fire became to them as dew, gave thanks, praising and saying words of glory to God(16).' I too like them have written, my brethren, having these things in mind; for even in our time, God hath made possible those things which are impossible to men. And those things which could not be accomplished by man, the Lord has shewn to be easy of accomplishment, by bringing us to you. For He does not give us as a prey to those who seek to swallow us up. For it is not so much us, as the Church, and the faith and godliness which they planned to overwhelm with wickedness.

4. But God, who is good, multiplied His loving-kindness towards us, not only when He granted the common salvation of us all through His Word, but now also, when enemies have persecuted us, and have sought to seize upon us. As the blessed Paul saith in a certain place, when describing the incomprehensible riches of Christ: 'But God, being rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in follies and sins, quickened us with Christ(17).' For the might of man and of all creatures, is weak and poor; but the Might which is above man, and uncreated, is rich and incomprehensible, and has no beginning, but is eternal. He does not then possess one method only of healing, but being rich, He works in divers manners for our salvation by means of His Word, Who is not restricted or hindered in His dealings towards us; but since He is rich and manifold, He varies Himself according to the individual capacity of each soul. For He is the Word and the Power and the Wisdom of God, as Solomon testifies concerning Wisdom, that 'being one, it can do all things, and remaining in itself, it maketh all things new; and passing upon holy souls, fashioneth the friends of God and the prophets(18).' To those then who have not yet attained to the perfect way He becomes like a sheep giving milk, and this was administered by Paul: 'I have fed you with milk, not with meat(19).' To those who have advanced beyond the full stature of childhood, but still are weak as regards perfection, He is their food, according to their capacity, being again administered by Paul(20),' Let him that is weak eat herbs.' But as soon as ever a man begins to walk in the perfect way, he is no longer fed with the things before mentioned, but he has the Word for bread, and flesh for food, for it is written, 'Strong meat is for those who are of full age, for those who, by reason of their capacity, have their senses exercised(1).' And further, when the word is sown it does not yield a uniform produce of fruit in this human life, but one various and rich; for it bringeth forth, some an hundred, and some sixty, and some thirty(2), as the Saviour teaches--that Sower of grace, and Bestower of the Spirit(3). And this is no doubtful matter, nor one that admits no confirmation; but it is in our power to behold the field which is sown by Him; for in the Church the word is manifold and the produce(4) rich. Not with virgins alone is such a field adorned; nor with monks alone but also with honourable matrimony and the chastity of each one. For in sowing, He did not compel the will beyond the power. Nor is mercy confined to the perfect, but it is sent down also among those who occupy the middle and the third ranks, so that He might rescue all men generally to salvation. To this intent He hath prepared many mansions(5) with the Father, so that although the dwelling-place is various in proportion to the advance in moral attainment, yet all of us are within the wall, and all of us enter within the same fence, the adversary being cast out, and all his host expelled thence. For apart from light there is darkness, and apart from blessing there is a curse, the devil also is apart from the saints, and sin far from virtue. Therefore the Gospel rebukes Satan, saying, 'Get thee behind Me, Satan(6).' But us it calls to itself, saying, 'Enter ye in at the strait gate.' And again, 'Come, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom which is prepared for you(7).' So also the Spirit cried aforetime in the Psalms, saying, 'Enter into His gates with psalms(8).' For through virtue a man enters in unto God, as Moses did into the thick cloud where God was. But through vice a man goes out from the presence of the Lord; as Cain(9) when he had slain his brother, went out, as far as his will was concerned, from before the face of God; and the Psalmist enters, saying, 'And I will go in to the altar of God, even to the God that delighteth my youth(10).' But of the devil the Scripture beareth witness, that the devil went out from before God, and smote Job(11) with sore boils. For this is the characteristic of those who go out from before God--to smite and to injure the men of God. And this is the characteristic of those who fall away from the faith--to injure and persecute the faithful. The saints on the other hand, take such to themselves and look upon them as friends; as also the blessed David, using openness of speech, says, 'Mine eyes are on the faithful of the earth, that they may dwell with me.' But those that are weak in the faith(12), Paul urges that we should especially take to ourselves. For virtue is philanthropic(13), just as in men of an opposite character, sin is misanthropic. So Saul, being a sinner, persecuted David, whereas David, though he had a good opportunity, did not kill Saul. Esau too persecuted Jacob, while Jacob overcame his wickedness by meekness. And those eleven sold Joseph, but Joseph, in his loving-kindness, had pity on them.

5. But what need we many words? Our Lord and Saviour, when He was persecuted by the Pharisees, wept for their destruction. He was injured, but He threatened(14) not; not when He was afflicted, not even when He was killed. But He grieved for those who dared to do such things. He, the Saviour, suffered for man, but they despised and cast from them life, and light, and grace. All these were theirs through that Saviour Who suffered in our stead. And verily for their darkness and blindness, He wept. For if they had understood the things which are written in the Psalms, they would not have been so vainly daring against the Saviour, the Spirit having said, 'Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?' And if they had considered the prophecy of Moses, they would not have hanged Him Who was their Life(15). And if they had examined with their understanding the things which were written, they would not have carefully fulfilled the prophecies which were against themselves, so as for their city to be now desolate, grace taken from them, and they themselves without the law, being no longer called children, but strangers. For thus in the Psalms was it before declared, saying, 'The strange children have acted falsely by Me.' And by Isaiah the prophet; 'I have begotten and brought up children, and they have rejected Me'? And they are no longer named the people of God, and a holy nation, but rulers of Sodom, and people of Gomorrah; having exceeded in this even the iniquity of the Sodomites, as the prophet also saith, 'Sodom is justified before thee(17).' For the Sodomites raved against angels, but these against the Lord and God and King of all, and these dared to slay the Lord of angels, not knowing that Christ, who was slain by them, liveth. But those Jews who had conspired against the Lord died, having rejoiced a very little in these temporal things, and having fallen away from those which are eternal. They were ignorant of this--that the immortal promise has not respect to temporal enjoyment, but to the hope of those things which are everlasting. For through many tribulations, and labours, and sorrows, the saint enters into the kingdom of heaven; but when he arrives where sorrow, and distress, and sighing, shall flee away, he shall thenceforward enjoy rest; as Job, who, when tried here, was afterwards the familiar friend of the Lord. But the lover of pleasures, rejoicing for a little while, afterwards passes a sorrowful life; like Esau, who had temporal food, but afterwards was condemned thereby.

6. We may take as a type of this distinction, the departure of the children of Israel and the Egyptians from Egypt. For the Egyptians, rejoicing a little while in their injustice against Israel, when they went forth, were all drowned in the deep; but the people of God, being for a time smitten and injured, by the conduct of the taskmasters, when they came out of Egypt, passed through the sea unharmed, and walked in the wilderness as an inhabited place. For although the place was unfrequented by man and desolate, yet, through the gracious gift of the law, and through converse with angels, it was no longer desert, but far more than an inhabited country. As also Elisha(1), when he thought he was alone in the wilderness, was with companies of angels; so in this case, though the people were at first afflicted and in the wilderness, yet those who remained faithful afterwards entered the land of promise. In like manner those who suffer temporal afflictions here, finally having endured, attain comfort, while those who here persecute are trodden under foot, and have no good end. For even the rich man(2), as the Gospel affirms, having indulged in pleasure here for a little while, suffered hunger there, and having drunk largely here, he there thirsted exceedingly. But Lazarus, after being afflicted in worldly things, found rest in heaven, and having hungered for bread ground from corn, he was there satisfied with that which is better than manna, even the Lord who came down and said, 'I am the bread which came down from heaven, and giveth life to mankind(3).'

7. Oh! my dearly beloved, if we shall gain comfort from afflictions, if rest from labours, if health after sickness, if from death immortality, it is not right to be distressed by the temporal ills that lay hold on mankind. It does not become us to be agitated because of the trials which befall us. It is not right to fear if the gang that contended with Christ, should conspire against godliness; but we should the more please God through these things, and should consider such matters as the probation and exercise of a virtuous life. For how shall patience be looked for, if there be not previously labours and sorrows? Or how can fortitude be tested with no assault from enemies? Or how shall magnanimity be exhibited, unless after contumely and injustice? Or how can long-suffering be proved, unless there has first been the calumny of Antichrist(4)? And, finally, how can a man behold virtue with his eyes, unless the iniquity of the very wicked has previously appeared? Thus even our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ comes before us, when He would shew men how to suffer, Who when He was smitten bore it patiently, being reviled He reviled not again, when He suffered He threatened not, but He gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to buffetings, and turned not His face from spitting(5); and at last, was willingly led to death, that we might behold in Him the image of all that is virtuous and immortal, and that we, conducting ourselves after these examples, might truly tread on serpents and scorpions, and on all the power of the enemy(6).

8. Thus too Paul, while he conducted himself after the example of the Lord, exhorted us, saying, 'Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ(7).' In this way he prevailed against all the divisions of the devil, writing, 'I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ(8).' For the enemy draws near to us in afflictions, and trials, and labours, using every endeavour to ruin us. But the man who is in Christ, combating those things that are contrary, and opposing wrath by long-suffering, contumely by meekness, and vice by virtue, obtains the victory, and exclaims, 'I can do all things through Christ Who strengtheneth me;' and, 'In all these things we are conquerors through Christ Who loved us(9).' This is the grace of the Lord, and these are the Lord's means of restoration for the children of men. For He suffered to prepare freedom from suffering for those who suffer in Him, He descended that He might raise us up, He took on Him the trial of being born, that we might love Him Who is unbegotten, He went down to corruption, that corruption might put on immortality, He became weak for us, that we might rise with power, He descended to death, that He might bestow on us immortality, and give life to the dead. Finally, He became man, that we who die as men might live again, and that death should no more reign over us; for the Apostolic word proclaims, 'Death shall not have the dominion over us(10).'

9. Now because they did not thus consider these matters, the Ario-maniacs(11), being opponents of Christ, and heretics, smite Him who is their Helper with their tongue, and blaspheme Him who set [them] free, and hold all manner of different opinions against the Saviour. Because of His coming down, which was on behalf of man, they have denied His essential Godhead; and seeing that He came forth from the Virgin, they doubt His being truly the Son of God, and considering Him as become incarnate in time, they deny His eternity; and, looking upon Him as having suffered for us, they do not believe in Him as the incorruptible Son from the incorruptible Father. And finally, because He endured for our sakes, they deny the things which concern His essential eternity; allowing the deed of the unthankful, these despise the Saviour, and offer Him insult instead of acknowledging His grace. To them may these words justly be addressed: Oh! unthankful opponent of Christ, altogether wicked, and the slayer of his Lord, mentally blind, and a Jew in his mind, hadst thou understood the Scriptures, and listened to the saints, who said, 'Cause Thy face to shine, and we shall be saved;' or again, 'Send out Thy light and Thy truth(12);'--then wouldest thou have known that the Lord did not descend for His own sake, but for ours; and for this reason, thou wouldest the more have admired His lovingkindness. And hadst thou considered what the Father is, and what the Son, thou wouldest not have blasphemer the Son, as of a mutable nature(13). And hadst thou understood His work of loving-kindness towards us, thou wouldest not have alienated the Son from the Father, nor have looked upon Him as a stranger(14), Who reconciled us to His Father. I know these [words] are grievous, not only to those who dispute with Christ(15), but also to the schismatics; for they are united together, as men of kindred feelings. For they have learned to rend the seamless coat(16) of God: they think it not strange to divide the indivisible Son from the Father

10. I know indeed, that when these things are spoken, they will gnash their teeth upon us, with the devil who stirs them up, since they are troubled by the declaration of the true glory concerning the Redeemer. But the Lord, Who always has scoffed at the devil, does the same even now, saying, 'I am in the Father, and the Father in Me(18).' This is the Lord, Who is manifested in the Father, and in Whom also the Father is manifested; Who, being truly the Son of the Father, at last became incarnate for our sakes, that He might offer Himself to the Father in our stead, and redeem us through His oblation and sacrifice. This is He Who once brought the people of old time out of Egypt; but Who afterwards redeemed all of us, or rather the whole race of men, from death, and brought them up from the grave. This is He Who in old time was sacrificed as a lamb, He being signified in the lamb; but Who afterwards was slain for us, for 'Christ our Passover is sacrificed(19).' This is He Who delivered us from the snare of the hunters, from the opponents of Christ, I say, and froth the schismatics, and again rescued us His Church. And because we were then victims of deceit, He has now delivered us by His own self.

11. What then is our duty, my brethren, for the sake of these things, but to praise and give thanks to God, the King of all? And let us first exclaim in the words of the Psalms, 'Blessed be the Lord, Who hath not given us over as a prey to their teeth(20).' Let us keep the feast in that way which He hath dedicated for us unto salvation--the holy day Easter--so that we may celebrate the which is in heaven with the angels. Thus anciently, the people of the Jews, when they came out of affliction into a state of ease, kept the feast, staging a song of praise for their victory. So also the people in the time of Esther, because they were delivered from the edict of death, kept a feast to the Lord(21), reckoning it a feast, returning thanks to the Lord, and praising Him for having changed their condition. Therefore let us, performing our vows to the Lord, and confessing our sins, keep the feast to the Lord, in conversation, moral conduct, and manner of life; praising our Lord, Who hath chastened us a little, but hath not utterly failed nor forsaken us, nor altogether kept silence from us. For if, having brought us out of the deceitful and famous Egypt of the opponents of Christ, He hath caused us to pass through many trials and afflictions, as it were in the wilderness, to His holy Church, so that from hence, according to custom, we can send to you, as well as receive letters from you; on this account especially I both give thanks to God myself, and exhort you to thank Him with me and on my behalf, this being the Apostolic custom, which these opponents of Christ, and the schismatics, wished to put an end to, and to break off. The Lord did not permit it, but both renewed and preserved that which was ordained by Him through the Apostle, so that we may keep the feast together, and together keep holy-day, according to the tradition and commandment of the fathers.

12. We begin the fast of forty days on the nineteenth of the month Mechir (Feb. 13); and the holy Easter-fast on the twenty-fourth of the month Phamenoth (Mar. 20). We cease from the fast on the twenty-ninth of the month Phamenoth (Mar. 25), late in the evening of the seventh day. And we thus keep the feast on the first day of the week which dawns on the thirtieth of the month Phamenoth (Mar. 26); from which, to Pentecost, we keep holy-day, through seven weeks, one after the other. For when we have first meditated properly on these things, we shall attain to be counted worthy of those which are eternal, through Christ Jesus our Lord, through Whom to the Father be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Greet one another with a holy kiss, remembering us in your holy prayers. All the brethren who are with me salute you, at all times remembering you. And I pray that ye may have health in the Lord, my beloved brethren, whom we love above all.

Here endeth the tenth Letter of holy Athanasius.

LETTER XI. For 339.

Cost. Constantius Augustus II, Constans I: Pr'efect, Philagrius the Cappadocian, for the second time; Indict. xii; Easter-day xvii Kal. Mai, xx Pharmuthi; 'ra Dioclet. 55.

THE blessed Paul, being girt about with every virtue(1), and called faithful of the Lord--for he was conscious of nothing in himself but what was a virtue and a praise(2), or what was in harmony with love and godliness--clave to these things more and more, and was carried up even to heavenly places, and was borne to Paradise(3); to the end that, as he surpassed the conversation of men, he should be exalted above men. And when he descended, he preached to every man; 'We know in part, and we prophesy in part; here I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known(4).' For, in truth, he was known to those saints who are in heaven, as their fellow-citizen(5). And in relation to all that is future and perfect, the things known by him here were in part; but with respect to those things which were committed and entrusted to him by the Lord, he was perfect; as he said, 'We who are perfect, should be thus minded(6).' For as the Gospel of Christ is the fulfilment and accomplishment of the ministration which was supplied by the law of Israel, so future things will be the accomplishment of such as now exist, the Gospel being then fulfilled, and the faithful receiving those things which, not seeing now, they yet hope for, as Paul saith; 'For what a man seeth, why doth he also hope for? But if we hope for those things we see [not], we then by patience wait for them(7).' Since then that blessed man was of such a character, and apostolic grace was committed to him, he wrote, wishing 'that all men should be as he was(8).' For virtue is philanthropic(9), and great is the company of the kingdom of heaven, for thousands of thousands and myriads of myriads there serve the Lord. And though a man enters it through a strait and narrow way, yet having entered, he beholds immeasurable space, and a place greater than any other, as they declare, who were eye-witnesses and heirs of these things. 'Thou didst place afflictions before us.' But afterwards, having related their afflictions, they say, 'Thou broughtest us forth into a wide place;' and again, 'In affliction Thou hast enlarged us(10).' For truly, my brethren, the course of the saints here is straitened; since they either toil painfully through longing for those things which are to come, as he who said, 'Woe is me that my pilgrimage is prolonged(11);' or they are distressed and spent for the salvation of other men, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, saying, 'Lest, when I come to you, God should humble me, and I should bewail many of those who have sinned already, and not repented for the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed[12].' As Samuel bewailed the destruction of Saul, and Jeremiah wept for the captivity of the people. But after this affliction, and sorrow, and sighing, when they depart from this world, a certain divine gladness, and pleasure, and exultation receives them, from which misery and sorrow, and sighing, flee away.

2. Since we are thus circumstanced, my brethren, let us never loiter in the path of virtue; for hereto he counsels us, saying, 'Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ[13].' For he gave this advice not to the Corinthians only, since he was not their Apostle only, but being 'a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity[14],' he admonished us all through them; and in short, the things he wrote to each particular person are commandments common to all men[15]. On this account in writing to different people, some he exhorted as, for instance, in the Epistles to the Romans, and the Ephesians, and Philemon. Some he reproved, and was indignant with them, as in the case of the Corinthians and Galatians. To some he gave advice, as to the Colossians and Thessalonians. The Philippians he approved of, and rejoiced in them. The Hebrews he taught that the law was a shadow to them[16]. But to his elect sons, Timothy and Titus, when they were near, he gave instruction; when far away, he put them in remembrance. For he was all things to all men; and being himself a perfect man, he adapted his teaching to thee need of every one, so that by all means he might rescue some of them. Therefore his word was not without fruit; but in every place it is planted and productive even to this day.

3. And wherefore, my beloved? For it is right that we should search into the apostolic mind. Not only in the beginning of the Epistles, but towards their close, and in the middle of them, he used persuasions and admonitions. I hope therefore that, by your prayers, I shall in no respect falsely represent the plan of that holy man. As he was well skilled in these divine matters, and knew the power of the divine teaching, he deemed it necessary, in the first place, to make known the word concerning Christ, and the mystery regarding Him; and then afterwards to point to the correction of habits, so that when they had learned to know the Lord, they might earnestly desire to do those things which He commanded. For when the Guide to the laws is unknown, one does not readily pass on to the observance of them. Faithful Moses, the minister of God, adopted this method; for when he promulgated the words of the divine dispensation of laws, he first proclaimed the matters relating to the knowledge of God: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord[17].' Afterwards, having shadowed Him forth to the people, and taught of Him in Whom they ought to believe, and informed their minds of Him Who is truly God, he proceeds to lay down the law relating to those things whereby a man may be well-pleasing to Him, saying, 'Thou shall not commit adultery; thou shall not steal;' together with the other commandments. For also, according to the Apostolic teaching, 'He that draweth near to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that seek Him[18].' Now He is sought by means of virtuous deeds, as the prophet saith; 'Seek ye the Lord, and when 'ye have found Him, call upon Him; when He is near to you, let the wicked forsake his ways, and the lawless man his thoughts[19].'

4. It will also be well if a man is not offended at the testimony of the Shepherd, saying in the beginning of his book, 'Before all things believe that there is one God, Who created and established all these things, and from non-existence called them into beings[1].' And, further, the blessed Evangelists--who recorded the words of the Lord--in the beginning of the Gospels, wrote the things concerning our Saviour; so that, having first made known the Lord, the Creator, they might be believed when narrating the events that took place. For how could they have been believed, when writing respecting him who [was blind] from his mother's womb, and those other blind men who recovered their sight, and those who rose from the dead, and the changing of water into wine, and those lepers who were cleansed; if they bad not taught of Him as the Creator, writing, 'In the beginning was the Word[2]?' Or, according to Matthew, that He Who was born of the seed of David, was Emmanuel, and the Son of the living God? He from Whom the Jews, with the Arians, turn away their faces, but Whom we acknowledge and worship. The Apostle therefore, as was meet, sent to different people, but his own son he especially reminded, 'that he should not despise the things in which he had been instructed by him,' and enjoined on him, 'Remember Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my Gospel[3].' And speaking of these things being delivered to him, to be always had in remembrance, he immediately writes to him. saying, 'Meditate on these things: be engaged in them C For constant meditation, and the remembrance of divine words, strengthen s piety towards God, and produces a love to Him inseparable and not merely formal[5]; as he, being of this mind, speaks about himself and others like-minded, saying boldly, 'Who shall separate us from the love of God 6?' For[7] such men, being confirmed in the Lord, and possessing an unshaken disposition towards Him, and being one in spirit (for[8] 'he who is joined to the Spirit is one spirit'), are sure 'as the mount Sion;' and although ten thousand trials may rage against them, they are founded upon a rock, which is Christ[9]. In Him the careless take no delight; and having no continuous purpose of good, they are sullied by temporal attacks, and esteem nothing more highly than present things, being unstable and deserving reproof as regards the faith. For 'either the care of this world, or the deceitfulness of riches, chokes them[10];' or, as Jesus said in that parable which had reference to them, since they have not established the faith that has been preached to them, but continue only for a time, immediately, in time of persecution, or when affliction ariseth through the word, they are offended. Now those who meditate evil we say, [think] not truth, but falsehood and not righteousness, but iniquity, for their tongue learns to speak lies. They have done evil, and have not ceased that they might repent. For, persevering with delight in wicked actions, they hasten thereto without turning back, even treading under foot the commandment with regard to neighbours, and, instead of loving them, devise evil against them, as the saint testifies, saying, 'And those who seek me evil have spoken vanity, and imagined deceit all the day[11].' But that the cause of such meditation is none other than the want of instruction, the divine proverb has already declared; 'The son that forsaketh the commandment of his father meditateth evil words[12].' But such meditation, because it is evil, the Holy Spirit blames in these words, and reproves too in other terms, saying, 'Your hands are polluted with blood, your fingers with sins; your lips have spoken lawlessness, and your tongue imagineth iniquity: no man speaketh right things, nor is there true judgment[13].' But what the end is of such perverse imagining, He immediately declares, saying, 'They trust in vanities and speak falsehood; for they conceive mischief, and bring forth lawlessness. They have hatched the eggs of an asp, and woven a spider's web; and he who is prepared to eat of their eggs, when he breaks them finds gall, and a basilisk therein[14].' Again, what the hope of such is, He has already announced. 'Because righteousness does not overtake them, when they waited for light, they had darkness; when they waited for brightness, they walked in a thick cloud. They shall grope for the wall like the blind, and as those who have no eyes shall they grope; they shall fall at noon-day as at midnight; when dead, they shall groan. They shall roar together as a bear, or as a dove[15].'

This is the fruit of wickedness, these rewards are given to its familiars, for perverseness does not deliver its own. But in truth, against them it sets itself, and it tears them first, and on them especially it summons ruin. Woe to them against whom these are brought; for 'it is sharper than a two-edged sword[16],' slaying beforehand and very swiftly those who will lay hold of it. For their tongue, according to the testimony of the Psalmist, is a 'sharp sword, and their teeth spears and arrows[17].' But the wonderful part is that while often he against whom men imagine [harm] suffers nothing, they are pierced by their own spears: for they possess, even in themselves, before they reach others, anger, wrath, malice, guile, hatred, bitterness. Although they may not be able to bring these upon others, they forthwith return upon and against themselves, as he prays, saying, 'Let their sword enter into their own heart.' There is also such a proverb as this: 'The wicked is held fast by the chain of his sins[18].'

5. The Jews in their imaginings, and in their agreeing to act unjustly against the Lord, forgot that they were bringing wrath upon themselves. Therefore does the Word lament for them, saying, 'Why do the people exalt themselves, and the nations imagine vain things[19]?' For vain indeed was the imagination of the Jews, meditating death against the Life[1], and devising unreasonable things against the Word of the Father[2].' For who that looks upon their dispersion, and the desolation of their city, may not aptly say, 'Woe unto them, for they have imagined an evil imagination, saying against their own soul, let us bind the righteous man, because he is not pleasing to us[3].' And full well is it so, my brethren; for when they erred concerning the Scriptures, they knew not that 'he who diggeth a pit for his neighbour falleth therein; and he who destroyeth a hedge, a serpent shall bite him[4].' And if they had not turned their faces from the Lord, they would have feared what was written before in the divine Psalms: 'The heathen are caught in the pit which they made; in the snare which they hid is their own foot taken. The Lord is known when executing judgments: by the works of his hands is the sinner taken[5].' Let them observe this, and how that 'the snare they know not shall come upon them, and the net they hid take them[6].' But they understood not these things, for had they done so, 'they would not have crucified the Lord of glory 7.'

6. Therefore the righteous and faithful servants of the Lord, who 'are made disciples for the kingdom of heaven, and bring forth from it things new and old;' and who 'meditate on the words of the Lord, when sitting in the house, when lying down or rising up, and when walking by the way[8];'--since they are of good hope because of the promise of the Spirit which said, 'Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of corrupters; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night[9];'--being grounded in, faith, rejoicing in hope, fervent in spirit, they have boldness to say, 'My mouth shall speak wisdom, and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.' And again, 'I have meditated on all Thy works, and on the work of Thy hands has been my meditation.' And, 'If I have remembered Thee on my bed, and in the morning have meditated on Thee[10].' Afterwards, advancing in boldness, they say, 'The meditation of my heart is before Thee at all times[11].' And what is the end of such an one? He cites immediately; 'The Lord is my Helper and my Redeemer[12].' For to those who thus examine themselves, and conform their hearts to the Lord, nothing adverse shall happen; for indeed, their heart is strengthened by confidence in the Lord, as it is written, 'They who trust in the Lord are as mount Sion: he who dwelleth in Jerusalem shall not be moved for ever[13].' For if at any time, the crafty one shall be presumptuously bold against them, chiefly that he may break the rank of the saints, and cause a division among brethren; even in this the Lord is with them, not only as an avenger on their behalf, but also when they have already been beaten, as a deliverer for them. For this is the divine promise; 'The Lord shall fight for you[14].' Henceforth, although afflictions and trials from without overtake them, yet, being fashioned after the apostolic words, and 'being stedfast in tribulations, and persevering in prayers[15]' and in meditation on the law, they stand against those things which befall them, are well-pleasing to God, and give utterance to the words which are written, 'Afflictions and distresses are come upon me; but Thy commandments are my meditation[16].'

7. And whereas, not only in action, but also in the thoughts of the mind, men are moved to deeds of virtue, he afterwards adds, saying, 'Mine eyes prevent the dawn, that I might meditate on Thy words[17].' For it is meet that the spiritual meditations of those who are whole should precede their bodily actions. And does not our Saviour, when intending to teach this very thing begin with the thoughts of the mind? saying, 'Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery:' and, 'Whosoever shall be angry with his brother, is guilty of murder[18].' For where there is no wrath, murder is prevented; and where lust is first removed, there can be no accusation of adultery. Hence meditation on the law is necessary, my beloved, and uninterrupted converse with virtue, 'that the saint may lack nothing, but be perfect to every good works[19].' For by these things is the promise of eternal life, as Paul wrote to Timothy, calling constant meditation exercise, and saying, 'Exercise thyself unto godliness; for bodily exercise profiteth little; but godliness is profitable for all things, since it has the promise of the present life, and of that which is eternal[20].'

8. Worthy of admiration is the virtue of that man, my brethren! for through Timothy he enjoins upon all[1], that they should have regard to nothing more than to godliness, but above everything to adjudge the chief place to faith in God. For what grace has the unrighteous man, though he may feign to keep the commandments? Nay rather, the unrighteous man is unable even to keep a portion of the law, for as is his mind, such of necessity must be his actions; as the Spirit says, reproving such; 'The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.' After this the Word, shewing that actions correspond with thoughts, says, 'They are corrupt; they are profane in their machinations[2].' The unrighteous man then, in every respect corrupts his body; stealing, committing adultery, cursing, being drunken, and doing such like things. Even as Jeremiah, the prophet, convicts Israel of these things, crying out and saying, 'Oh, that I had a lodge far off in the wilderness! then would I leave my people and depart from them: for they are all adulterers, an assembly of oppressors, who draw out their tongue as a bow; lying and not truth has prevailed upon the earth, and they proceed from iniquities to iniquities; but Me they have not known[3].' Thus, for wickedness and falsehood, and for deeds, in which they [proceed] from iniquity to iniquity, he reproves their practices; but, because they knew not the Lord, and were faithless, he charges them with unrighteousness.

9. For faith and godliness are allied to each other, and sisters; and he who believes in Him is godly, and he also who is godly, believes the more[4]. He therefore who is in a state of wickedness, undoubtedly also wanders from the faith; and he who fails from godliness, falls from the true faith. Paul, for instance, bearing testimony to the same point, advises his disciple, saying, 'Avoid profane conversations; for they increase unto more ungodliness, and their word takes hold as doth a canker, of whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus[5].' In what their wickedness consisted he declares, saying, 'Who have erred from the faith, saying that the resurrection is already past[6].' But again, desirous of shewing that faith is yoked with godliness, the Apostle says, 'And all those who will live godly in Jesus Christ shall suffer persecution[7].' Afterwards, that no man should renounce godliness through persecution, he counsels them to preserve the faith, adding, 'Thou, therefore, continue in the things thou hast learned, and hast been assured of[8].' And as when brother is helped by brother, they become as a wall to each other; so faith and godliness, being of like growth, hang together, and he who is practised in the one, of necessity is strengthened by the other. Therefore, wishing the disciple to be exercised in godliness unto the end, and to contend for the faith, he counsels them, saying, 'Fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life[9].' For if a man first put away the wickedness of idols, and rightly confesses Him Who is truly God, he next fights by faith with those who war against Him.

10. For of these two things we speak faith and godliness--the hope is the same, even everlasting life; for he saith, 'Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life.' And, 'exercise thyself unto godliness, for hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come[10].' For this cause, the Ario-maniacs, who now have gone out from the Church, being opponents of Christ, have digged a pit of unbelief, into which they themselves have been thrust; and, since they have advanced in ungodliness, they 'overthrow the faith of the simple[11];' blaspheming the Son of God, and saying that He is a creature, and has His being from things which are not. But as then against the adherents of Philetus and Hymenaeus, so now the Apostle forewarns all men against ungodliness like theirs, saying, 'The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His; and, Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity[12].' For it is well that a man should depart from wickedness and deeds of iniquity, that he may be able properly to celebrate the feast; for he who is defiled with the pollutions of the wicked is not able to sacrifice the Passover to the Lord our God. Hence, the people who were then in Egypt said, 'We cannot sacrifice the Passover in Egypt to the Lord our God[13].' For God, Who is over all, willed that they should go far away from the servants of Pharaoh, and from the furnace of iron; so that being set free from wickedness, and having carefully put away from them all strange notions, they might receive the knowledge of God and of virtuous actions. For He saith,

Go far from them: depart from the midst of them, and touch not the unclean things[14].' For a man will not otherwise depart from sin, and lay hold on virtuous deeds, than by meditation on his acts; and when he has been practised by exercise in godliness, he will lay hold on the confession of faith[15], which also Paul, after he had fought the fight, possessed, namely, the crown of righteousness which was laid up; which the righteous Judge will give, not to him alone, but to all who are like him.

11. For such meditation and exercise in godliness, being at all times the habit of the saints, is urgent on us at the present time, when the divine word desires us to keep the feast with them if we are in this disposition. For what else is the feast, but the constant worship of God, and the recognition of godliness, and unceasing prayers from the whole heart with agreement? So Paul wishing us to be ever in this disposition, commands, saying, 'Rejoice evermore; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks,6.' Not therefore separately, but unitedly and collectively, let us all keep the feast together, as the prophet exhorts, saying, 'O come, let us rejoice in the Lord; let us make a joyful noise unto God our Saviour[17].' Who then is so negligent, or who so disobedient to the divine voice, as not to leave everything, and run to the general and common assembly of the feast? which is not in one place only, for not one place alone keeps the feast; but 'into all the earth their song has gone forth, and to the ends of the world their words.' And the sacrifice is not offered in one place, but 'in every nation, incense and a pure sacrifice is offered unto God[1].' So when in like manner from all in every place, praise and prayer shall ascend to the gracious and good Father, when the whole Catholic Church which is in every place, with gladness and rejoicing, celebrates together the same worship to God, when all men in common send up a song of praise and say, Amen[2]; how blessed will it not be, my brethren! who will not, at that time, be engaged, praying rightly? For the walls of every adverse power, yea even of Jericho especially, failing down, and the gift[3] of the Holy Spirit being then richly poured upon all men, every man perceiving the coming of the Spirit shall say, 'We are all filled in the morning with Thy favour, and we rejoice and are made glad in our days[4].'

12. Since this is so, let us make a joyful noise with the saints, and let no one of us fail of his duty in these things; counting as nothing the affliction or the trials. which, especially at this time, have been enviously directed against us by the party of Eusebius. Even now they wish to injure us, and by their accusations to compass our death, because of that godliness, whose helper is the Lord. But, as faithful servants of God, knowing that He is our salvation in the time of trouble:--for our Lord promised beforehand, saying, 'Blessed are ye when men revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for your reward is great in heavens[5].' Again, it is the Redeemer's own word, that affliction shall not befall every man in this world, but only those who have a holy fear of Him:--on this account, the more the enemies hem us in, the more let us be at liberty; although they revile us, let us come together; and the more they would turn us aside from godliness, let us the more boldly preach it saying, 'All these things are come upon us, yet have we not forgotten Thee[6],' and we have not done evil with the Ario-maniacs, who say that Thou hast existence from those things that exist not. The Word which is eternally with the Father, is also from Him.

13. Let us therefore keep the feast, my brethren, celebrating it not at all as an occasion of distress and mourning, neither let us mingle with heretics through temporal trials brought upon us by godliness. But if anything that would promote joy and gladness should offer, let us attend to it; so that our heart may not be sad, like that of Cain; but that, like faithful and good servants of the Lord, we may hear the words, 'Enter into the joy of thy Lord[7].' For we do not institute days of mourning and sorrow, as some may consider these of Easter to be, but we keep the feast, being filled with joy and gladness. We keep it then, not regarding it after the deceitful error of the Jews, nor according to the teaching of the Arians, which takes away the Son from the Godhead, and numbers Him among creatures; but we look to the correct doctrine we derive from the Lord. For the guile of the Jews, and the unbounded impiety of the Arians, cause nothing but sad reflections, for the former at the beginning slew the Lord; but these latter take away His position of having conquered that death to which the Jews brought Him, in that they say He is not the Creator, but a creature. For if He were a creature, He would have been holden by death; but if He was not holden by death, according to the Scriptures, He is not a creature, but the Lord of the creatures, and the subject[8] of this immortal feast.

14. For the Lord of death would abolish death, and being Lord, what He would was accomplished; for we have all passed from death unto life. But the imagination of the Jews, and of those who are like them, was vain, since the result was not such as they contemplated, but turned out adverse to themselves; and 'at both of them He that sitteth in the heaven shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision 9.' Hence, when our Saviour was led to death, He restrained the women who followed Him weeping, saying, 'Weep not for Me[10];' meaning to shew that the Lord's death is an event, not of sorrow but of joy, and that He Who dies for us is alive. For He does not derive His being from those things which are not, but from the Father. It is truly a subject of joy, that we can see the signs of victory against death, even our own incorruptibility, through the body of the Lord. For since He rose gloriously, it is clear that the resurrection of all of us will take place; and since His body remained without corruption, there can be no doubt regarding our incorruption ". For as by one man[12], as saith Paul (and it is the truth), sin passed upon all men, so by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall all rise. 'For,' he says, 'this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality 13.' Now this came to pass in the time of the Passion, in which our Lord died for us, for 'our Passover, Christ, is sacrificed 14.' Therefore, because He was sacrificed, let each of us feed upon Him, and with alacrity and diligence partake of His sustenance; since He is given to all without grudging, and is in every one 'a well of water flowing to everlasting life[15].'

15. We begin the fast of forty days on the ninth of the month Phamenoth (Mar. 5); and having, in these days, served the Lord with abstinence, and first purified ourselves[16], we commence also the holy Easter on the fourteenth of the month Pharmuthi (April 9). Afterwards, extending the fast to the seventh day, on the seventeenth 17 of the month, let us rest late in the evening. And the light of the Lord having first dawned upon us, and the holy Sunday on which our Lord rose shining upon us, we should rejoice and be glad with the joy which arises from good works, during the seven weeks which remain--to Pentecost--giving glory to the Father, and saying, 'This is the day which the Lord hath made: we will rejoice and be glad in it[18'], through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, through Whom to the same, and to His Father, be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Salute one another with a holy kiss. All the brethren who are with me salute you. That ye may have health in the Lord, I pray, brethren beloved.

Here endeth the eleventh Letter of holy Athanasius.

LETTER XII. (Probably for 340 A.D.)

To the Beloved Brother, and our fellow Minister Serapion[1].

THANKS be to Divine Providence for those things which, at all times, it vouchsafes to us; for it has vouchsafed to us now to come to the season of the festival. Having, therefore, according to custom, written the Letter respecting the festival, I have sent it to you, my beloved; that through you all the brethren may be able to know the day of rejoicing. But because some Meletians, being come from Syria, have boasted that they had received what does not belong to them, I mean, that they also were reckoned in the Catholic Church; on this account, I have sent to you a copy of one letter of our fellow-ministers who are of Palestine, that when it reaches you, you may know the fraud of the pretenders in this matter. For because they boasted, as I have said before, it was necessary for me to write to the Bishops who are in Syria, and immediately those of Palestine sent us a reply, having agreed in[2] the judgment against them, as you may learn from this example. That you may not have to consider the letters of all the Bishops one after the other, I have sent you one, which is of like character with the rest, in order that from it you may know the purport of all of them. I know also that when they are convicted in this matter, they will incur perfect odium at the hands of all men. And thus far concerning the pretenders. But I have further deemed it highly necessary and very urgent, to make known to your modesty--for i have written this to each one--that you should proclaim the fast of forty days to the brethren, and persuade them to fast, lest, while all the world is fasting, we who are in Egypt should be derided, as the only people who do not fast, but take our pleasure in these days. For if, on account of the Letter [not] being yet read, we do not fast, we should take away this pretext, and it should be read before the fast of forty days, so that they may not make this an excuse for neglect or fasting. Also, when it is read, they may be able to learn about the fast. But O, my beloved, whether in this way or any other, persuade and teach them to fast the forty days. For it is a disgrace that when all the world does this, those alone who are in Egypt, instead of fasting, should find their pleasure. For even I being grieved because men deride us for this, have been constrained to write to you. When therefore you receive the letters, and have read them and given the exhortation, write to me in return, my beloved, that I also may rejoice upon learning it.

2. But I have also thought it necessary to inform a you of the fact, that Bishops have succeeded those who have fallen asleep. In Tanis in the stead of Elias[4], is Theodorus. In Arsenoitis, Silvanus[5] instead of Calosiris. In Paralus, Nemesion is instead of Nonnus[6]. In Bucolia[7] is Heraclius. In Tentyra, Andronicus is instead of Saprion[8], his father. In Thebes, Philon instead of Philon. In Maximianopolis, Herminus instead of Atras. In the lower Apollon is Sarapion instead of Plution. In Aphroditon, Serenus is in the place of Theodorus. In Rhinocoruron, Salomon. In Stathma, Arabion, and in Marmarica. In the eastern Garyathis, Andragathius[9] in the place of Hierax. In the southern Garyathis, Quintus[9] instead of Nicon[10]. So that to these you may write, and from these receive the canonical Letters.

Salute one another with a holy kiss.All the brethren who are with me salute you.

He wrote this from Rome. There is no twelfth Letter.

LETTER XIII. (For 341.)

Coss. Marcellinus, Probinus; Proef. Longinus; Indict. xiv; Easter-day, xiii Kal. Maii, xxiv Pharmuthi; AEra Dioclet. 57.

AGAIN, my beloved brethren, I am ready to notify to you the saving feast[1], which will take place according to annual custom. For although the opponents of Christ[2] have oppressed you together with us with afflictions and sorrows; yet, God having comforted us by our mutual faith[3], behold, I write to you even from Rome. Keeping the feast here with the brethren, still I keep it with you also in will and in spirit, for we send up prayers in common to God, 'Who hath granted us not only to believe in Him, but also now to suffer for His sake[4].' For troubled as we are, because we are so far from you, He moves us to write, that by a letter we might comfort ourselves, and provoke one another to good[4a]. For, indeed, numerous afflictions and bitter persecutions directed against the Church have been against us. For heretics, corrupt in their mind, untried in the faith, rising against the truth, violently persecute the Church, and of the brethren, some are scourged and others torn with stripes, and hardest of all, their insults reach even to the Bishops. Nevertheless, it is not becoming, on this account, that we should neglect the feast. But we should especially remember it, and not at all forget its commemoration from time to time. Now the unbelievers do not consider that there is a season for feasts, because they spend all their lives in revelling and follies; and the feasts which they keep are an occasion of grief rather than of joy. But to us in this present life they are above all an uninterrupted passage [to heaven]--it is indeed our season. For such things as these serve for exercise and trial, so that, having approved ourselves zealous and chosen servants of Christ, we may be fellow-heirs with the saints[5]. For thus Job: 'The whole world is a place of trial to men upon the earth[5a].' Nevertheless, they are proved in this world by afflictions, labours, and sorrows, to the end that each one may receive of God such reward as is meet for him, as He saith by the prophet, 'I am the Lord, Who trieth the hearts, and searcheth the reins, to give to every one according to his ways[6].'

2. Not that He first knows the things of a man on his being proved (for He knows them all before they come to pass), but because He is good and philanthropic, He distributes to each a due reward according to his actions, so that every man may exclaim, Righteous is the judgment of God! As the prophet says again, The Lord trieth the just, and discerneth the reins[7].' Again, for this cause He tries each one of us, either that to those who know it not, virtue may be manifested by means of those who are proved, as was said respecting Job; 'Thinkest thou that I was revealed to thee for any other cause, than that thou shouldest be seen righteous[8]?' or that, when men come to a sense of their deeds, they may be able to know of what manner they are, and so may either repent of their wickedness, or abide confirmed in the faith. Now the blessed Paul, when troubled by afflictions, and persecutions, and hunger and thirst, 'in everything was a conqueror, through Jesus Christ, Who loved us[9].' Through suffering he was weak indeed in body, yet, believing and hoping, he was made strong in spirit, and his strength was made perfect in weakness[9a].

3. The other saints also, who had a like confidence in God, accepted a like probation with gladness, as Job said, 'Blessed be the name of the Lord[10].' But the Psalmist, 'Search me, O Lord, and try me: prove my reins and my heart[11].' For since, when the strength is proved, it convinceth the foolish, they perceiving the cleansing and the advantage resulting from the divine fire, were not discouraged in trials like these, but they rather delighted in them, suffering no injury at all from the things which happened, but being seen to shine more brightly, like gold from the fire[12], as he said, who was tried in such a school of discipline as this; 'Thou hast tried my heart, Thou hast visited me in the night-season; Thou hast proved me, and hast not found iniquity in me, so that my mouth shall not speak of the works of men[13].' But those whose actions are not restrained by law, who know of nothing beyond eating and drinking and dying, account trials as danger. They soon stumble at them, so that, being untried in the faith, they are given over to a reprobate mind, and do those things which are not seemly[13a]. Therefore the blessed Paul, when urging us to such exercises as these, and having before measured himself by them, says, 'Therefore I take pleasure in afflictions, in infirmities.' And again, 'Exercise thyself unto godliness[14].' For since he knew the persecutions that befel those who chose to live in godliness, he wished his disciples to meditate beforehand on the difficulties connected with godliness; that when trials should come, and affliction arise, they might be able to bear them easily, as having been exercised in these things. For in those things wherewith a man has been conversant in mind, he ordinarily experiences a hidden joy. In this way, the blessed martyrs, becoming at first conversant with difficulties, were quickly perfected in Christ, regarding as nought the injury of the body, while they contemplated the expected rest.

4. But all those who 'call their lands by their own names[15],' and have wood, and hay, and stubble[16] in their thoughts; such as these, since they are strangers to difficulties, become aliens from the kingdom of heaven. Had they however known that 'tribulation perfecteth patience, and patience experience, anti experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed,' they would have exercised themselves, after the example of Paul, who said, 'I keep under my body and bring it into subjection, test when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway[1].' They would easily have borne the afflictions which were brought upon them to prove them from time to time, if the prophetic admonition[2] had been listened to by them; 'It is good for a man to take up Thy yoke in his youth; he shall sit alone and shall be silent, because he hath taken Thy yoke upon him. He will give his cheek to him who smiteth him; he will be filled with reproaches. Because the Lord does not cast away for ever; for when He abases, He is gracious, according to the multitude of His tender mercies[3].' For though all these things should proceed from the enemies, stripes, insults, reproaches, yet shall they avail nothing against the multitude of God's tender mercies; for we shall quickly recover from them since they are merely temporal, but God is always gracious, pouring out His tender mercies on those who please [Him]. Therefore, my beloved brethren, we should not look at these temporal things, but fix our attention on those which are eternal. Though affliction may come, it will have an end, though insult and persecution, yet are they nothing to the hope which is set [before us]. For all present matters are trifling compared with those which are future; the sufferings of this present time not being worthy to be compared with the hope that is to come[4]. For what can be compared with the kingdom? or what is there in comparison with life eternal? Or what is all we could give here, to that which we shall inherit yonder? For we are 'heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ[5].' Therefore it is not right, my beloved, to consider afflictions and persecutions, but the hopes which are laid up for us because of persecutions.

5. Now to this the example of Issachar, the patriarch, may persuade, as the Scripture[6] saith, 'Issachar desires that which is good, resting between the heritages; and when he saw that the rest was good, and the land fertile[7], he bowed his shoulder to labour, and became a husbandman.' Being consumed by divine love, like the spouse in the Canticles, he gathered abundance from the holy Scriptures, for his mind was captivated not by the old alone, but by both the heritages. And hence as it were, spreading his wings, he beheld afar off 'the rest' which is in heaven, and,--since this 'land' consists of such beautiful works,--how much more truly the heavenly [country] must also [consist] of such[8]; for the other is ever new, and grows not old. For this 'land' passes away, as the Lord said; but that which is ready to receive the saints is immortal. Now when Issachar, the patriarch, saw these things, he joyfully made his boast of afflictions and toils, bowing his shoulders that he might labour. And he did not contend with those who smote him, neither was he disturbed by insults; but like a strong man triumphing the more by these things, and the more earnestly tilling his land, he received profit from it. The Word scattered the seed, but he watchfully cultivated it, so that it brought forth fruit, even a hundred-fold.

6. Now what does this mean, my beloved, but that we also, when the enemies are arrayed against us, should glory in afflictions[8a], and that when we are persecuted, we should not be discouraged, but should the rather press after the crown of the high calling[9] in Christ Jesus our Lord? and that being insulted, we should not be disturbed, but should give our cheek to the smiter, and bow the shoulder? For the lovers of pleasure and the lovers of enmity are tried, as saith the blessed Apostle James, 'when they are drawn away by their own lusts and enticed[10].' But let us, knowing that we suffer for the truth, and that those who deny the Lord smite and persecute us, 'count it all joy, my brethren,' according to the words of James, 'when we fall into trials of various temptations, knowing that the trial of our faith worketh patience[11].' Let us rejoice as we keep the feast, my brethren, knowing that our salvation is ordered in the time of affliction. For our Saviour did not redeem us by inactivity, but by suffering for us He abolished death. And respecting this, He intimidated to us before, saying, 'In the world ye shall have tribulation[12].' But He did not say this to every man, but to those who diligently and faithfully perform good service to Him, knowing beforehand, that they should be persecuted who would live godly toward Him.

7. 'But evil-doers and sorcerers will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived[13]., If therefore, like those expounders of dreams and false prophets who professed to give signs, these ignorant men being drunk, not with wine, but with their own wickedness, make a profession of priesthood, and glory in their threats, believe them not; but since we are tried, let us humble ourselves, not being drawn away by them. For so God warned His people by Moses, saying, 'If there shall rise up among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and shall give signs and tokens, and the sign or the token shall come to pass which he spake to thee, saying, Let us go and serve strange gods, which ye have not known; ye shall not hearken unto the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God trieth you, that He may know whether you will love the Lord your God with all your heart[14].' So we, when we are tried by these things, will not separate ourselves from the love of God. But let us now keep the feast, my beloved, not as introducing a day of suffering, but of joy in Christ, by Whom we are fed every day. Let us be mindful of Him Who was sacrificed in the days of the Passover; for we celebrate this, because Christ the Passover was sacrificed[15]. He Who once brought His people out of Egypt, and hath now abolished death, and him that had the power of death, that is the devil[16], will likewise now turn him to shame, and again grant aid to those who are troubled, and cry unto God day and night[17].

8. We begin the fast of forty days on the thirteenth of Phamenoth (9 Mar.), and the holy week of Easter on the eighteenth of Pharmuthi (Apr. 13); and resting on the seventh day, being the twenty-third (Apr. 18), and the first of the great week having dawned on the twenty-fourth of the same month Pharmuthi (Apr. 19),, let us reckon from it till Pentecost. And at all times let us sing praises, calling on Christ, being delivered from our enemies by Christ Jesus our Lord, through Whom to the Father be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All those who are here with me salute you. I pray, my beloved brethren, that ye may have health in the Lord.

He wrote this also from Rome. Here endeth the thirteenth Letter.

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