LETTERS OF ATHANASIUS
WITH TWO ANCIENT CHRONICLES
OF HIS LIFE
HISTORIA ACEPHALA
FESTAL LETTERS XIV
XVII TO XX, XXII, XXIV, XXVII TO XXIX
XXXIX, XL & XLII TO XLV

LETTER XIV. (For 342.)

Cuss. Augustus Constantius III, Constans II, Proef. the same Zonginus; Indict. xv; Easter-day iii Id. Apr., xvi Pharmuthi; AEra Dioclet. 58.

THE gladness of our feast, my brethren, is always near at hand, and never fails those who wish to celebrate it[1]. For the Word is near, Who is all things on our behalf, even our Lord Jesus Christ, Who, having promised that His habitation with us should be perpetual, in virtue thereof cried, saying, 'Lo, I am with you all the days of the world[2].' For as He is the Shepherd, and the High Priest, and the Way and the Door, and everything at once to us, so again, He is shewn to us as the Feast, and the Holyday, according to the blessed Apostle; 'Our Passover, Christ, is sacrificed[3].' He it was who was expected, He caused a light to shine at the prayer of the Psalmist, who said, 'My Joy, deliver me from those who surround me[4];' this being indeed true rejoicing, this being a true feast, even deliverance from wickedness, whereto a man attains by thoroughly adopting an upright conversation, and being approved in his mind of godly submission towards God[5]. For thus the saints all their lives long were like men rejoicing at a feast. One found rest in prayer to God, as blessed David[6], who rose in the night, not once but seven times. Another gave glory in songs of praise, as great Moses, who sang a song of praise for the victory over Pharaoh, and those task-masters[7]. Others performed worship with unceasing diligence, like great Samuel and blessed Elijah; who have ceased from their course, and now keep the feast in heaven, and rejoice in what they formerly learnt through shadows, and from the types recognise the truth.

2. But what sprinklings shall we now employ, while we celebrate the feast? Who will be our guide, as we haste to this festival? None can do this, my beloved, but Him Whom you will name with me, even our Lord Jesus Christ Who said, 'I am the Way.' For it is He Who, according to the blessed John, 'taketh away the sin of the world[8].' He purifies our souls, as Jeremiah the prophet says in a certain place, 'Stand in the ways and see, and enquire, and look which is the good path, and ye shall find in it cleansing for your souls[9].' Of old time, the blood of he-goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkled upon those who were unclean, were fit only to purify the flesh[9a]; but now, through the grace of God the Word, every man is thoroughly cleansed. Following Him, we may, even here, as on the threshold of the Jerusalem which is above, meditate beforehand on the feast which is eternal, as also the blessed Apostles, together following the Saviour Who was their Leader, have now become teachers of a like grace, saying, 'Behold, we have left all, and followed Thee[10].' For the following of the Lord, and the feast which is of the Lord, is not accomplished by words only, but by deeds, every enactment of laws and every command involving a distinct performance. For as great Moses, when administering the holy laws, exacted a promise from the people[11], respecting the practice of them, so that having promised, they might not neglect them, and be accused as liars, thus also, the celebration of the least of the Passover raises no question, and demands no reply; but when the word is given, the performance of it follows, for He saith, 'And the children of Israel shall keep the Passover[12];' intending that there should be a ready performance of the commandment, while the command should aid its execution. But respecting these matters, I have confidence in your wisdom, and your care for instruction. Such points as these have been touched upon by us often and in various Letters.

3. But now, which is above all things most necessary, I wish to remind you, and myself with you, how that the command would have us come to the Paschal feast not profanely and without preparation, but with sacramental and doctrinal rites, and prescribed observances, as indeed we learn from the historical account, 'A man who is of another nation, or bought with money, or uncircumcised, shall not eat the Passover[13].' Neither should it be eaten in 'any' house, but He commands it to be done in haste; inasmuch as before we groaned and were made sad by the bondage to Pharaoh, and the commands of the task-masters. For when in former time the children of Israel acted in this way, they were counted worthy to receive the type, which existed for the sake of this feast, nor is the feast now introduced on account of the type. As also the Word of God, when desirous of this, said to His disciples, 'With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you[14].' Now that is a wonderful account, for a man might have seen them at that time girded as for a procession or a dance, and going out with staves, and sandals, and unleavened bread. These things, which took place before in shadows, were typical But now the Truth is nigh unto us, 'the Image of the invisible God[15], ' our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light, Who instead of a staff, is our sceptre, instead of unleavened bread, is the bread which came down from heaven, Who, instead of sandals, hath furnished us with the preparation of the Gospel[16], and Who, to speak briefly, by all these hath guided us to His Father. And if enemies afflict us and persecute us, He again, instead of Moses, will encourage us with better words, saying, 'Be of good cheer; I have overcome the wicked one[17].' And if after we have passed over the Red Sea heat should again vex us or some bitterness of the waters befall us, even thence again the Lord will appear to us, imparting to us of His sweetness, and His life-giving fountain, saying, 'If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink[18].'

4. Why therefore do we tarry, and why do we delay, and not come with all eagerness and diligence to the feast, trusting that it is Jesus who calleth us? Who is all things for us, and was laden in ten thousand ways for our salvation; Who hungered and thirsted for us, though He gives us food and drink in His saving gifts[19]. For this is His glory, this the miracle of His divinity, that He changed our sufferings for His happiness. For, being life, He died that He might make us alive, being the Word, He became flesh, that He might instruct the flesh in the Word, and being the fountain of life, He thirsted our thirst, that thereby He might urge us to the feast, saying, 'If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink[1].' At that time, Moses proclaimed the beginning of the feast, saying, 'This month is the beginning of months to you[2].' But the Lord, Who came down in the end of the ages[3], proclaimed a different day, not as though He would abolish the law, far from it, but that He should establish the law, and be the end of the law. 'For Christ is the end of the law to every one that believeth in righteousness;' as the blessed Paul saith, 'Do we make void the law by faith? far from it: we rather establish the law[4].' Now these things astonished even the officers who were sent by the Jews, so that wondering they said to the Pharisees, 'No man ever thus spake[5].' What was it then that astonished those officers, or what was it which so affected the men as to make them marvel? It was nothing but the boldness and authority of our Saviour. For when of old time prophets and scribes studied the Scriptures, they perceived that what they read did not refer to themselves, but to others. Moses, for instance, 'A prophet will the Lord raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; to him hearken in all that he commands you.' Isaiah again, 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and ye shall call his name Emmanuel[6].' And others prophesied in different and various ways, concerning the Lord. But by the Lord, of Himself, and of no other, were these things prophesied; to Himself He limited them all, saying, 'If any man thirst, let him come to Me[7]'--not to any other person, but to 'Me.' A man may indeed hear from those concerning My coming, but he must not henceforth drink from others, but from Me.

5. Therefore let us also, when we come to the feast, no longer come as to old shadows, for they are accomplished, neither as to common feasts, but let us hasten as to the Lord, Who is Himself the feast[8], not looking upon it as an indulgence and delight of the belly, but as a manifestation of virtue. For the feasts of the heathen are full of greediness, and utter indolence, since they consider they celebrate a feast when they are idle[9]; and they work the works of perdition when they feast. But our feasts consist in the exercise of virtue and the practice of temperance; as the prophetic word testifies in a certain place, saying, 'The fast of the fourth, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth [month], shall be to the house of Judah for gladness, anti rejoicing, and for pleasant feasts[10].' Since therefore this occasion for exercise is set before us, and such a day as this is come, and the prophetic voice has gone forth that the feast shall be celebrated, let us give all diligence to this good proclamation, and like those who contend on the race course, let us vie with each other in observing the purity of the fast[11], by watchfulness in prayers, by study of the Scriptures, by distributing to the poor, and let us be at peace with our enemies. Let us bind up those who are scattered abroad, banish pride, and return to lowliness of mind, being at peace with all men, and urging the brethren unto love. Thus also the blessed Paul was often engaged in fastings and watchings, and was willing to be accursed for his brethren. Blessed David again, having humbled himself by fastings, used boldness, saying, 'O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is any iniquity in my hands, if I have repaid those who dealt evil with me, then may I fall from my enemies as a vain man[12].' If we do these things, we shall conquer death; and receive an earnest[13] of the kingdom of heaven.

6. We begin the holy Easter feast on the tenth of Pharmuthi (April 5), desisting from the holy fasts on the fifteenth of the same month Pharmuthi (April 10), on the evening of the seventh day. And let us keep the holy feast on the sixteenth of the same month Pharmuthi (April 11); adding one by one [the days] till the holy Pentecost, passing on to which, as through a succession of feasts, let us keep the festival to the Spirit, Who is even now near us, in Jesus Christ, through Whom and with Whom to the Father be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

The fifteenth and sixteenth are wanting.

LETTER XVII. (For 345.)

Coss. Amantius, Albinus; Proef. Nestorius of Gaza ; Indict. iii; Easter-day, vii Id. Apr., xii Pharmuthi; Moon 19; AEra Dioclet. 61. ATHANASIUS to the Presbyters and Deacons of Alexandria, and to the beloved brethren, greeting in Christ.

According to custom, I give you notice respecting Easter, my beloved, that you also may notify the same to the districts of those who are at a distance, as is usual. Therefore, after this present festival[1], I mean this which is on the twentieth of the month Pharmuthi, the Easter-day following will be on the vii Id. April, or according to the Alexandrians on the twelfth of Pharmuthi. Give notice therefore in all those districts, that Easter-day will be on the vii Id. April, or according to the Alexandrian reckoning on the twelfth of Pharmuthi. That you may be in health in Christ, I pray, my beloved brethren.

LETTER XVIII. (For 346 )

Coss. Augustus Constantius IV, Constans III; Proef. the same Nestorius; Indict. iv; Easter-day iii Kal. Apr., iv Pharmuthi; Moon 21; AEra Dioclet. 62.

ATHANASIUS, to the Presbyters and Deacons of Alexandria, brethren beloved in the Lord, greeting.

You have done well, dearly beloved brethren, that you have given the customary notice of the holy Easter in those districts; for I have seen and acknowledged your exactness, By other letters I have also given you notice, that when this year is finished, ye may know concerning the next, Yet now I have thought it necessary to write the same things that, when you have it exactly, you also may write with care. Therefore, after the conclusion of this feast, which is now drawing to its close, on the twelfth of the month Pharmuthi, which is on the vii Id, Apr.[2], Easter-day will be on the iii Kal, April; the fourth of Pharmuthi, according to the Alexandrians. When therefore the feast is finished, give notice again in these districts, according to early custom, thus: Easter Sunday is on the iii Kal. April, which is the fourth of Pharmuthi, according to the Alexandrian reckoning. And let no man hesitate concerning the day, neither let any one contend, saying, It is requisite that Easter should be held on the twenty-seventh of the month Phamenoth; for it was discussed in the holy Synod[3], and all there settled it to be on the iii Kal. April. I say then that it is on the fourth of the month Pharmuthi; for the week before this is much too early[4]. Therefore let there be no dispute, but let us act as becometh us. For I have thus written to the Romans also. Give notice then as it has been notified to you, that it is on the iii Kal. April; the fourth of Pharmuthi, according to the Alexandrian reckoning.

That ye may have health in the Lord, I pray, my dearly beloved brethren.

LETTER XIX. (For 347.)

Coss. Rufinus, Eusebius ; Proef. the same Nestorius; Indict. v; Easter-day Prid. Id. Apr., Pharmuthi xvii; AEra Dioclet. 63; Moon 15.

'BLESSED is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ[1],' for such an introduction is fitting for an Epistle, and more especially now, when it brings thanksgiving to the Lord, in the Apostle's words, because He hath brought us from a distance, and granted us again to send openly to you, as usual, the Festal Letters. For this is the season of the feast, my brethren, and it is near; being not now proclaimed by trumpets, as the history records[2], but being made known and brought near to us by the Saviour, Who suffered on our behalf and rose again, even as Paul preached, saying, 'Our Passover, Christ, is sacrificed[3].' Henceforth the feast of the Passover is ours, not that of a stranger, nor is it any longer of the Jews[4]. For the time of shadows is abolished, and those former things have ceased, and now the month of new things[4a] is at hand, in which every man should keep the feast, in obedience to Him who said, 'Observe the month of new things, and keep the Passover to the Lord thy Gods.' Even the heathen fancy they keep festival, and the Jews hypo-critically feign to do so. But the feast of the heathen He reproves, as the bread(6) of mourners, and He turns His face from that of the Jews, as being outcasts, saying, 'Your new moons and your sabbaths My soul hateth(7).'

2. For actions not done lawfully and piously, are not of advantage, though they may be reputed to be so, but they rather argue hypocrisy in those who venture upon them. Therefore, although such persons feign to offer sacrifices, yet they hear from the Father, 'Your whole burnt-offerings are not acceptable, and your sacrifices do not please Me; and although ye bring fine flour, it is vanity, incense also is an abomination unto Me(8).' For God does not need anything(9); and, since nothing is unclean to Him, He is full in regard to them, as He testifies, by Isaiah, saying, 'I am full(10).' Now there was a law given about these things, for the instruction of the people, and to prefigure things to come, for Paul saith to the Galatians; 'Before faith came, we were kept guarded under the law, being shut up in the faith which should afterwards be revealed unto us; wherefore the law was our instructor in Christ, that we might be justified by faith(11).' But the Jews knew not, neither did they understand, therefore they walked in the daytime as in darkness, feeling for, but not touching, the truth we possess, which [was contained] in the law; conforming to the letter, but not submitting to the spirit. And when Moses was veiled, they looked on him, but turned away their faces from him when he was uncovered. For they knew not what they read, but erroneously substituted one thing for another. The prophet, therefore, cried against them, saying, 'Falsehood and faithlessness have prevailed among them.' The Lord also therefore said concerning them, 'The strange children have dealt falsely with Me; the strange children have waxen old(12).' But how gently does He reprove them, saying, 'Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me(13).' But being faithless, they went on to deal falsely with the law, affirming things after their own pleasure, but not understanding the Scripture; and, further, as they had hypocritically made a pretence of the plain text of Scripture, and had confidence in this, He is angry with them, saying by Isaiah, 'Who hath required these of your hands(14)?' And by Jeremiah, since they were very bold, he threatens, 'Gather together your whole burnt-offerings with your sacrifices, and eat flesh, for I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices(15).' For they did not act as was right, neither was their zeal according to law, but they rather sought their own pleasure in such days, as the prophet accuses them, beating clown their bondsmen, and gathering themselves together for strifes and quarrels, and they smote the lowly with the fist, and did all things that tended to their own gratification. For this cause, they continue without a feast until the end, although they make a display now of eating flesh, out of place and out of season. For, instead of the legally-appointed lamb, they have learned to sacrifice to Baal; instead of the true unleavened bread, 'they collect the wood, and their fathers kindle the fire, and their wives prepare the dough, that they may make cakes to the host of heaven, and pour out libations to strange gods, that they may provoke Me to anger, saith the Lord(16).' They have the just reward of such devices, since, although they pretend to keep the Passover, yet joy and gladness is taken from their mouth, as saith Jeremiah, 'There hath been taken away from the cities of Judah, and the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of those who are glad, and the voice of those who rejoice; the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride(17).' Therefore now, 'he who among them sacrificeth an ox, is as he who smiteth a man, and he who sacrificeth a lamb is as he who killeth a dog, he that offereth fine flour, is as [if he offered] swine's blood, he that giveth frankincense for a memorial, is as a blasphemer(18).' Now these things will never please God, neither thus hath the word required of them. But He saith, 'These have chosen their own ways; and their abominations are what their soul delighteth in(19).'

3. And what does this mean my brethren? For it is right for us to investigate the saying of the prophet, and especially on account of heretics who have turned their mind against the law. By Moses then, God gave commandment respecting sacrifices, and all the book called Leviticus is entirely taken up with the arrangement of these matters, so that He might accept the offerer. So through the Prophets, He blames him who despised these things, as disobedient to the commandment, saying, 'I have not required these at your hands. Neither did I speak to your fathers respecting sacrifices, nor command them concerning whole burnt-offerings(1).' Now it is the opinion of some, that the Scriptures do not agree together, or that God, Who gave the commandment, is false. But there is no disagreement whatever, far from it, neither can the Father, Who is truth, lie; 'for it is impossible that God should lie(2),' as Paul affirms. But all these things are plain to those who rightly consider them, and to those who receive with faith the writings of the law. Now it appears to me--may God grant, by your prayers, that the remarks I presume to make may not be far from the truth--that not at first were the commandment and the law concerning sacrifices, neither did the mind of God, Who gave the law, regard whole burnt-offerings, but those things which were pointed out and prefigured by them. 'For the law contained a shadow of good things to come.' And, 'Those things were appointed until the time of reformation(3).'

4. Therefore, the whole law did not treat of sacrifices, though there was in the law a commandment concerning sacrifices, that by means of them it might begin to instruct men and might withdraw them from idols, and bring them near to God, teaching them for that present time. Therefore neither at the beginning, when God brought the people out of Egypt, did He command them concerning sacrifices or whole burnt-offerings, nor even when they came to mount Sinai. For God is not as man, that He should be careful about these things beforehand; but His commandment was given, that they might know Him Who is truly God, and His Word, and might despise those which are falsely called gods, which are not, but appear in outward show So He made Himself known to them in that He brought them out of Egypt, and caused them to pass through the Red Sea. But when they chose to serve Baal, and dared to offer sacrifices to those that have no existence, and forgat the miracles which were wrought in their behalf in Egypt, and thought of returning thither again; then indeed, after the law, that commandment concerning sacrifices was ordained as law; so that with their mind, which at one time had meditated on those which are not, they might turn to Him Who is truly God, and learn not, in the first place, to sacrifice, but to turn away their faces from idols, and conform to what God commanded. For when He saith, 'I have not spoken concerning sacrifices, neither given commandment concerning whole burnt-offerings,' He immediately adds, 'But this is the thing which I commanded them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be to you a God, and ye shall be to Me a people, and ye shall walk in all the ways that I command you(4).' Thus then, being before instructed and taught, they learned not to do service to any one but the Lord. They attained to know what time the shadow should last, and not to forget the time that was at hand, in which no longer should the bullock of the herd be a sacrifice to God, nor the ram of the flock, nor the he-goat(5), but all these things should be fulfilled in a purely spiritual manner, and by constant prayer, and upright conversation, with godly words; as David sings, 'May my meditation be pleasing to Him. Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice(6).' The Spirit also, who is in him, commands, saying, 'Offer unto God the sacrifice of praise, and pay to the Lord thy vows. Offer the sacrifice of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord(7).'

5. Samuel, that great man, no less clearly reproved Saul, saying, 'Is not the word better than a gift(7a)?' For hereby a man fulfils the law, and pleases God, as He saith, 'The sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me.' Let a man 'learn what this means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice(8),' and I will not condemn the adversaries. But this wearied them, for they were not anxious to understand, 'for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory(9).' And what their end is, the prophet foretold, crying, 'Woe unto their soul, for they have devised an evil thought, saying, let us bind the just man, because he is not pleasing to us(10). The end of such abandonment as this can be nothing but error, as the Lord, when reproving them, saith, 'Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures(11).' Afterwards when, being reproved, they should have come to their senses, they rather grew insolent, saying, 'We are Moses' disciples; and we know that God spake to Moses(12);' dealing the more falsely by that very expression, and accusing themselves. For had they believed him to whom they hearkened, they would not have denied the Lord, Who spake by Moses, when He was present. Not so did the eunuch in the Acts, for when he heard, 'Understandest thou what thou readest(13)?' he was not ashamed to confess his ignorance, and implored to be taught. Therefore, to him who became a learner, the grace of the Spirit was given. But as for those Jews who persisted in their ignorance; as the proverb saith, 'Death came upon them. For the fool dies in his sins

6. Like these too, are the heretics, who, having fallen from true discernment, dare to invent to themselves atheism. 'For the fool saith in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, and become abominable in their doings(15).' Of such as are fools in their thoughts, the actions are wicked, as He saith, 'can ye, being evil, speak good things(16);' for they were evil, because they thought wickedness. Or how can those do just acts, whose minds are set upon fraud? Or how shall he love, who is prepared beforehand to hate? How shall he be merciful, who is bent upon the love of money? How shall he be chaste, who looks upon a woman to lust after her? 'For from the heart proceed evil thoughts, fornications, adulteries, murders(17).' By them the fool is wrecked, as by the waves of the sea, being led away and enticed by his fleshly pleasures; for this stands written, 'All flesh of fools is greatly tempest-tossed(1).' While he associates with folly, he is tossed by a tempest, and perishes, as Solomon says in the Proverbs, 'The fool and he who lacketh understanding shall perish together, and shall leave their wealth to strangers(2).' Now they suffer such things, because there is not among them one sound of mind to guide them. For where there is sagacity, there the Word, who is the Pilot of souls, is with the vessel; 'for he that hath understanding shall possess guidance(3);' but they who are without guidance fall like the leaves. Who has so completely fallen away as Hymenaeus and Philetus, who held evil opinions respecting the resurrection, and concerning faith in it suffered shipwreck? And Judas being a traitor, fell away from the Pilot, and perished with the Jews(4). But the disciples since they were wise, and therefore remained with the Lord, although the sea was agitated, and the ship covered with the waves, for there was a storm, and the wind was contrary, yet fell not away. For they awoke the Word, Who was sailing with them(5), and immediately the sea became smooth at the command of its Lord, and they were saved. They became preachers and teachers at the same time; relating the miracles of our Saviour, and teaching us also to imitate their example. These things were written on our account and for our profit, so that through these signs we may acknowledge the Lord Who wrought them.

7. Let us, therefore, in the faith of the disciples, hold frequent converse with our Master. For the world is like the sea to us, my brethren, of which it is written, 'This is the great and wide sea, there go the ships; the Leviathan, which Thou hast created to play therein(6).' We float on this sea, as with the wind, through our own free-will, for every one directs his course according to his will, and either, under the pilotage of the Word, he enters into rest, or, laid hold on by pleasure, he suffers shipwreck, and is in peril by storm. For as in the ocean there are storms and waves, so in the world there are many afflictions and trials. The unbelieving therefore 'when affliction or persecution ariseth is offended(7),' as the Lord said. For not being confirmed in the faith, and having his regard towards temporal things, he cannot resist the difficulties which arise from afflictions. But like that house, built on the sand by the foolish man, so he, being without understanding(8), fails before the assault of temptations, as it were by the winds. But the saints, having their senses exercised in self-possession(9), and being strong in faith, and understanding the word, do not faint under trials; but although, from time to time, circumstances of greater trial are set against them, yet they continue faithful, and awaking the Lord Who is with them, they are delivered. So, passing through water and fire, they find relief and duly keep the feast, offering up prayers with thanksgiving to God Who has redeemed them. For either being tempted they are known, like Abraham, or suffering they are approved, like Job, or being oppressed and deceitfully treated, like Joseph, they patiently endure it, or being persecuted, they are not overtaken; but as it is written, through God they 'leap over the wall(10)' of wickedness, which divides and separates between brethren, and turns them from the truth. In this manner the blessed Paul, when he took pleasure in infirmities, in reproach, in necessities, in persecutions, and in distresses for Christ, rejoiced, and wished all of us to rejoice saying, 'Rejoice always; in everything give thanks[11].'

8. For what is so fitting for the feast, a turning from wickedness, and a pure conversation, and prayer offered without ceasing to God, with thanksgiving? Therefore let us, my brethren, looking forward to celebrate the eternal joy in heaven, keep the feast here also, rejoicing at all times, praying incessantly, and in everything giving thanks to the Lord. I give thanks to God, for those other wonders He has done, and for the various helps that have now been granted us, in that though He hath chastened us sore, He did not deliver us over to death, but brought us from a distance even as from the ends of the earth, and hath united us again with you. I have been mindful while I keep the feast, to give you also notice of the great feast of Easter, that so we may go up together, as it were, to Jerusalem, and eat the Passover, not separately but as in one house(12); let us not as sodden in water, water down the word of God; neither let us, as having broken its bones, destroy the commands of the Gospel. But as roasted with fire, with bitterness, being fervent in spirit, in fastings and watchings, with lying on the ground, let us keep it with penitence and thanksgiving.

9. We begin the fast of forty days on the sixth day of Phamenoth(Mar. 2); and having passed through that properly, with fasting and prayers, we may be able to attain to the holy day. For he who neglects to observe the fast of forty days, as one who rashly and impurely treads on holy things, cannot celebrate the Easter festival. Further, let us put one another in remembrance, and stimulate one another not to be negligent, and especially that we should fast those days, so that fasts may receive us in succession, and we may rightly bring the feast to a close.

10. The fast of forty days begins then, as was already said, on the sixth of Phamenoth (Mar. 2), and the great week of the Passion on the eleventh of Pharmuthi (Apr. 6). And let us rest from the fast on the sixteenth of it (Apr. 11), on the seventh day, late in the evening. Let us keep the feast when the first of the week dawns upon us, on the seventeenth of the same month Pharmuthi (Apr. 12). Let us then add, one after the other, the seven holy weeks of Pentecost, rejoicing and praising God, that He hath by these things made known to us beforehand, joy and rest everlasting, prepared in heaven for us and for those who truly believe in Christ Jesus our Lord; through Whom, and with Whom, be glory and dominion to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

(13) I have also thought it necessary to inform you of the appointment of Bishops, which has taken place in the stead of our blessed fellow-ministers, that ye may know to whom to write, and from whom ye should receive letters. In Syene, therefore, Nilammon, instead of Nilammon of the same name. In Latopolis, Masis, instead of Ammonius. In Coptos, Psenosiris(14), instead of Theodorus(15). In Panopolis, because Artemidorus(16) desired it, on account of his old age, and weakness of body, Arius is appointed coadjutor. In Hypsele, Arsenius, having become reconciled to the Church. In Lycopolis, Eudaemon(17) in the stead of Plusianus(18). In Anti-noopolis, Arion(19), instead of Ammonius and Tyrannus(20). In Oxyrynchus, Theodorus, instead of Pelagius. In Nilopolis, instead of Theon, Amatus(1), and Isaac, who are reconciled to each other. In Arsenoitis, Andreas(2), instead of Silvanus(3). In Prosopitis, Triadelphus, instead of Serapammon(4). In Diosphacus, on the river side, Theodorus, instead of Serapammon. In Sais, Paphnutius, instead of Nemesion. In Xois, Theodorus, instead of Anubion; and there is also with him Isidorus, who is reconciled to the Church. In Sethroitis, Orion(5), instead of Potammon(6). In Clysma, Tithonas(7), instead of Jacob; and there is with him Paulus, who has been reconciled to the Church.

LETTER XX. (For 348.)

Coss. Philippus, Salia; Praefect the same Nestorius; Indict. vi; Easter-day iii Non. Apr., viii Pharmuthi; AEra Dioclet. 64; Moon 18.

LET us now keep the feast, my brethren, for as our Lord then gave notice to His disciples, so He now tells us beforehand, that 'after some days is the Passover(1),' in which the Jews indeed betrayed the Lord, but we celebrate His death as a feast, rejoicing because we then obtained rest from our afflictions. We are diligent in assembling ourselves together, for we were scattered in time past and were lost, and are found. We were far off, and are brought nigh, we were strangers, and have become His, Who suffered for us, and was nailed on the cross, Who bore our sins, as the prophet(1a) saith, and was afflicted for us, that He might put away from all of us grief, and sorrow, and sighing. When we thirst, He satisfies us on the feast-day itself; standing and crying, 'If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink(2).' For such is the love of the saints at all times, that they never once leave off, but offer the uninterrupted, constant sacrifice to the Lord, and continually thirst, and ask of Him to drink(3); as David sang, 'My God, my God, early will I seek Thee, my soul thirsteth for Thee; many times my heart and flesh longeth for Thee in a barren land, without a path, and without water. Thus was I seen by Thee in the sanctuary(4).' And Isaiah the prophet says, 'From the night my spirit seeketh Thee early, O God, because Thy commandments are light(5).' And another says, 'My soul fainteth for the longing it hath for Thy judgments at all times.' And again he says, 'For Thy judgments I have hoped, and Thy law will I keep at all times(6).' Another boldly cries out, saying, ' Mine eye is ever towards the Lord' And with him one says, 'The meditation of my heart is before Thee at all times.' And Paul further advises, ' At all times give thanks; pray without ceasing(7).' Those who are thus continually engaged, are waiting entirely on the Lord, and say, ' Let us follow on to know the Lord: we shall find Him ready as the morning, and He will come to us as the early and the latter rain for the earth(8).' For not only does He satisfy them in the morning; neither does He give them only as much to drink as they ask; but He gives them abundantly according to the multitude of His lovingkindness, vouchsafing to them at all times the grace of the Spirit. And what it is they thirst for He immediately adds, saying, 'He that believeth on Me.' For, 'as cold waters are pleasant to those who are thirsty(9),' according to the proverb, so to those who believe in the Lord, the coming of the Spirit is better than all refreshment and delight.

2. It becomes us then in these days of the Passover, to rise early with the saints, and approach the Lord with all our soul, with purity of body, with confession and godly faith in Him; so that when we have here first drunk, and are filled with these divine waters which [flow] from Him, we may be able to sit at table with the saints in heaven, and may share in the one voice of gladness which is there. From this sinners, because it wearied them, are rightly cast out, and hear the words, 'Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment(10)?' Sinners indeed thirst, but not for the grace of the Spirit; but being inflamed with wickedness, they are wholly set on fire by pleasures, as saith the Proverb,' All day long he desires evil desires.' But the Prophet cries against them, saying, 'Wo unto those who rise up early, and follow strong drink; who continue until the evening, for wine inflameth them(11).' And since they run wild in wantonness, they dare to thirst for the destruction of others. Having first drunk of lying and unfaithful waters, those things have come upon them, which are stated by the Prophet; 'My wound,' saith he, 'is grievous, whence shall I be healed; it hath surely been to me like deceitful waters, in which there is no trust(12).' Secondly, while they drink with their companions, they lead astray and disturb the right mind, and turn away the simple from it. And what does he cry?

Wo unto him who causeth his neighbour to drink turbid destruction, and maketh him drunk, that he may look upon his caverns(13).' But those who dissemble, and steal away the truth, quench their hearts. Having first drunk of these things, they go on to say those things which the whore saith in the Proverbs, 'Lay hold with delight on hidden bread, and sweet stolen waters(14).' They lay snares secretly, because they have not the freedom of virtue, nor the boldness of Wisdom(15), who praises herself in the gates, and employs freedom of speech in the broad ways, preaching on high walls. For this reason, they are bidden to 'lay hold with delight(16).' because, having the choice between faith and pleasures, they steal the sweetness of truth, and disguise their own bitter waters [to escape] from the blame of their wickedness, which would have been speedy and public. On this account, the wolf puts on the skin of the sheep, sepulchres deceive by their whitened exteriors(17). Satan, that is(18).

FROM LETTER XXII(19). (For 350.)

WHERE our Lord Jesus Christ, who took upon Him to die for all, stretched forth His hands, not somewhere on the earth beneath, but in the air itself, in order that the Salvation effected by the Cross might be shewn to be for all men everywhere: destroying the devil who was working in the air: and that He might consecrate our road up to Heaven, and make it free.

FROM LETTER XXIV(19). (For 352.)

AND at that time when they went forth and crossed over Egypt, their enemies were the sport of the sea; but now, when we pass over from earth to Heaven, Satan himself henceforth falls like lightning from Heaven.

FROM LETTER XXVII. (For 355.)

From the twenty-seventh Festal Letter of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria and Confessor; of which the commencement is, 'Again the season of the day of the living Passover(1).'

FOR who is our joy and boast, but our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who suffered for us, and by Himself made known to us the Father? For He is no other than He Who of old time spoke by the Prophets; but now He saith to every man, 'I Who speak am near(2).' Right well is this word spoken, for He does not at one time speak, at another keep silence; but continually and at all times, from the beginning without ceasing, He raises up every man, and speaks to every man in his heart.

FROM LETTER XXVIII(3). (For 356.)

... IN order that while He might become a sacrifice for us all, we, nourished up in the words of truth, and partaking of His living doctrine, might be able with the saints to receive also the joy of Heaven. For thither, as He called the disciples to the upper chamber, so does the Word call us with them to the divine and incorruptible banquet; having suffered for us here, but there, preparing the heavenly tabernacles for those who most readily hearken to the summons, and unceasingly, and [gazing] at the goal, pursue the prize of their high calling; where for them who come to the banquet, and strive with those who hinder them, there is laid up both a crown, and incorruptible joy. For even though, humanly speaking, the labour of such a journey is great, yet the Saviour Himself has rendered even it light and kindly.

ANOTHER FRAGMENT.

BUT let us, brethren, who have received the vineyard from the Saviour, and are invited to the heavenly banquet, inasmuch as the Feast is now drawing nigh, take the branches of the palm 4 trees, and proving conquerors of sin, let us too like those, who on that occasion went to meet the Saviour, make ourselves ready by our conduct, both to meet Him when He comes, and to go in with Him and partake of the immortal food, and from thenceforth live eternally in the heavens.

FROM LETTER XXIX(1) (For 357.)

From the twenty-ninth Letter, of which the beginning is, 'Sufficient for this present time is that which we have already written.'

THE Lord proved the disciples(2), when He was asleep on the pillow, at which time a miracle was wrought, which is especially calculated to put even the wicked to shame. For when He arose, and rebuked the sea, and silenced the storm, He plainly shewed two things; that the storm of the sea was not from the winds, but from fear of its Lord Who walked upon it, and that the Lord Who rebuked it was not a creature, but rather its Creator, since a creature is not obedient to another creature. For although the Red Sea was divided before by Moses(3), yet it was not Moses who did it, for it came to pass, not because he spoke, but because God commanded. And if the sun stood still in Gibeon(4), and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, yet this was the work, not of the son of Nun, but of the Lord, Who heard his prayer. He it was Who both rebuked the sea, and on the cross caused the sun to be darkened(5).

ANOTHER FRAGMENT(6).

AND whereas what is human comes to an end, what is divine does not. For which reason also when we are dead, and when our nature is tired out, he raises us up, and leads us up [though] born of earth to heaven.

ANOTHER FRAGMENT(7).

Here begins a letter of S. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, to his children. May God comfort you. I know moreover that not only this thing saddens you, but also the fact that while others have obtained the churches by violence, you are meanwhile cast out from your places. For they hold the places, but you the Apostolic Faith. They are, it is true, in the places, but outside of the true Faith; while you are outside the places indeed, but the Faith, within you. Let us consider whether is the greater, the place or the Faith. Clearly the true Faith. Who then has lost more, or who possesses more? He who holds the place, or he who holds the Faith? Good indeed is the place, when the Apostolic Faith is preached there, holy is it if the Holy One dwell there. (After a little:) But ye are blessed, who by faith are in the Church, dwell upon the foundations of the faith, and have full satisfaction, even the highest degree of faith which remains among you unshaken. For it has come down to you from Apostolic tradition, and frequently has accursed envy wished to unsettle it, but has not been able. On the contrary, they have rather been cut off by their attempts to do so. For this is it that is written, 'Thou art the Son of the Living God(8),' Peter confessing it by revelation of the Father, and being told, 'Blessed art thou Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood did not reveal it to thee, but 'My Father Who is in heaven,' and the rest. No one therefore will ever prevail against your Faith most beloved brethren. For if ever God shall give back the churches (for we think He will) yet without(9) such restoration of the churches the Faith is sufficient for us. And test, speaking without the Scriptures, I should [seem to] speak too strongly, it is well to bring you to the testimony of Scriptures, for recollect that the Temple indeed was at Jerusalem; the Temple was not deserted, aliens had invaded it, whence also the Temple being at Jerusalem, those exiles went down to Babylon by the judgment of God, who was proving, or rather correcting them; while manifesting to them in their ignorance punishment [by means] of blood-thirsty enemies(10). And aliens indeed had held the Place, but knew not the Lord of the Place while in that He neither gave answer nor spoke they were deserted by the truth. What profit then is the Place to them?

For behold they that hold the Place are charged by them that love God with making it a den of thieves, and with madly making the Holy Place a house of merchandise, and a house of judicial business for themselves to whom it was unlawful to enter there. For this and worse than this is what we have heard, most beloved, from those who are come from thence. However really, then, they seem to hold the church, so much the more truly are they cast out. And they think themselves to be within the truth, but are exiled, and in captivity, and [gain] no advantage by the church alone. For the truth of things is judged...

FROM LETTER XXXIX. (For 367.)

Of the particular books and their number, which are accepted by the Church. From the thirty-ninth Letter of Holy Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, on the Paschal festival; wherein he defines canonically what are the divine books which are accepted by the Church.

.... 1. They have(1) fabricated books which they call books of tables(2), in which they shew stars, to which they give the names of Saints. And therein of a truth they have inflicted on themselves a double reproach: those who have written such books, because they have perfected themselves in a lying and contemptible science; and as to the ignorant and simple, they have led them astray by evil thoughts concerning the right faith established in all truth and upright in the presence of God.

.... 2. But(2a) since we have made mention of heretics as dead, but of ourselves as possessing the Divine Scriptures for salvation; and since I fear lest, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians(3), some few of the simple should be beguiled from their simplicity and purity, by the subtility of certain men, and should henceforth read other books--those called apocryphal--led astray by the similarity of their names with the true books; I beseech you to bear patiently, if I also write, by way of remembrance, of matters with which you are acquainted, influenced by the need and advantage of the Church.

3. In proceeding to make mention of these things, I shall adopt, to commend my undertaking, the pattern of Luke the Evangelist, saying on my own account: 'Forasmuch as some have taken in hand(4),' to reduce into order for themselves the books termed apocryphal, and to mix them up with the divinely inspired Scripture, concerning which we have been fully persuaded, as they who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, delivered to the fathers; it seemed good to me also, having been urged thereto by true brethren, and having learned from the beginning, to set before you the books included in the Canon, and handed down, and accredited as Divine; to the end that any one who has fallen into error may condemn those who have led him astray; and that he who has continued stedfast in purity may again rejoice, having these things brought to his remembrance.

4. There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua, the son of Nun, then Judges, then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra, the first and second(4a) are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah, one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and[5] the epistle, one book; afterwards, Ezekiel and Daniel, each one book. Thus far constitutes the Old Testament.

5. Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John.

6. These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, 'Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.' And He reproved the Jews, saying, 'Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me(6).'

7. But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings. But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose, bestowing upon them their approbation, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple.

FROMLETTER XL(7). (For 368.)

'YE are they that have continued with Me in My temptations; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me, that ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdoms(1).' Being called, then, to the great and heavenly Supper, in that upper room which has been swept, let us 'cleanse ourselves,' as the Apostle exhorted, 'from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God(2);' that so, being spotless within and without,--without, clothing ourselves with temperance and justice; within, by the Spirit, rightly dividing the word of truth --we may hear, 'Enter into the joy of thy Lord(3).'

FROM LETTER XLII. (For 370.)

FOR we have been called, brethren, and are now called together, by Wisdom, and according to the Evangelical parable, to that great and heavenly Supper, and sufficient for every creature; I mean, to the Passover,--to Christ, Who is sacrificed; for 'Christ our Passover is sacrificed.' (And afterwards:) They, therefore, that are thus prepared shall hear, 'Enter into the joy of thy Lord(4).'

FROM LETTER XLIII. (For 371.)

OF US, then, whose also is the Passover, the calling is from above, and 'our conversation is in heaven,' as Paul says; 'For we have here no abiding city, but we seek that which is to come(5),' whereto, also, looking forward, we properly keep the feast. (And again, afterwards:) Heaven truly is high, and its distance from us infinite; for 'the heaven of heavens,' says he, 'is the Lord's(6).' But not, on that account, are we to be negligent or fearful, as though the way thereto were impossible; but rather should we be zealous. Yet not, as in the case of those who formerly, removing from the east and finding a plain in Senaar, began [to build a tower], is there need for us to bake bricks with fire, and to seek slime for mortar; for their tongues were confounded, and their work was destroyed. But for us the Lord has consecrated a way through His blood, and has made it easy. (And again:) For not only has He afforded us consolation respecting the distance, but also in that He has come and opened the door for us which was once shut. For, indeed, it was shut from the time He cast out Adam from the delight of Paradise, and set the Cherubim and the flaming sword, that turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life--now, however, opened wide. And He that sitteth upon the Cherubim having appeared with greater grace and loving-kindness, led into Paradise with himself the thief who confessed, and having entered heaven as our forerunner, opened the gates to all. (And again:) Paul also, 'pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling(7),' by it was taken up to the third heaven, and having seen those things which are above, and then descended, be teaches us, announcing what is written to the Hebrews, and saying, 'For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and clouds, and darkness, and a tempest, and to the voice of words. But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, and to the general assembly and Church of the first-born, which are written in heaven(8).' Who would not wish to enjoy the high companionship with these! Who not desire to be enrolled with these, that he may hear with them, 'Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world(9).'

FROM LETTER XLIV. (For 372.)

And again, from the forty-fourth Letter, of which the commencement is, 'All that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ did instead of us and for us(1).'

WHEN therefore the servants of the Chief Priests and the Scribes saw these things, and heard from Jesus, 'Whosoever is athirst, let him come to Me and drink(2);' they perceived that this was not a mere man like themselves, but that this was He Who gave water to the saints, and that it was He Who was announced by the prophet Isaiah. For He was truly the splendour of the light(3), and the Word of God. And thus as a river from the fountain he gave drink also of old to Paradise; but now to all men He gives the same gift of the Spirit, and says, 'If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink.' Whosoever 'believeth on Me, as saith the Scripture, rivers of living water shall flow out of his belly(4).' This was not for man to say, but for the living God, Who truly vouchsafes life, and gives the Holy Spirit.

FROM LETTER XLV. (For 373.)

LET us all take up our sacrifices, observing distribution to the poor, and enter into the holy place, as it is written; 'whither also our forerunner Jesus is entered for us, having obtained eternal redemption(5).' ... (From the same:) ... And this is a great proof that, whereas we were strangers, we are called friends; from being formerly aliens, we are become fellow-citizens with the saints, and are called children of the Jerusalem which is above, whereof that which Solomon built was a type. For if Moses made all things according to the pattern shewed him in the mount, it is clear that the service performed in the tabernacle was a type of the heavenly mysteries, whereto the Lord, desirous that we should enter, prepared for us the new and abiding way. And as all the old things were a type of the new, so the festival that now is, is a type of the joy which is above, to which coming with psalms and spiritual songs, let us begin the fasts(6).

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