Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Select Letters of Saint Gregory Nazianzen.: Letter XX
(In a.d. 368 the City of Nicæa in Bithynia was almost entirely destroyed by a terrible earthquake. Cæsarius lost his house, and his personal escape was almost miraculous. Gregory writes (as also did Basil) to congratulate him on his escape, and profits by the occasion to urge upon him retirement from his secular avocations. Cæsarius soon resolved to follow this advice, and was taking steps to carry this resop. 459 lution into effect, when he died suddenly, early in a.d. 369, aged only 40. He left the whole of his large property to the poor, but it fell for a time into the hands of designing persons, and Gregory, who was his brothers executor, had much difficulty in recovering it for the purpose for which it had been intended. (See the letter to Sophronius, Prefect of Constantinople on this subject.) He was buried at Nazianzus in the Church of the Martyrs, in a vault which his parents had prepared for themselves. Gregory preached the funeral sermon, which is given in the former part of this volume. These four are the only letters known to have passed between the brothers.)
Even frights are not without use to the wise; or, as I should say, they are very valuable and salutary. For, although we pray that they may not happen, yet when they do they instruct us. For the afflicted soul, as Peter 4740 somewhere admirably says, is near to God; and every man who escapes a danger is brought into nearer relation to Him Who preserved him. Let us not then be vexed that we had a share in the calamity, but let us give thanks that we were delivered. And let us not shew ourselves one thing to God in the time of peril, and another when the danger is over, but let us resolve, whether at home or abroad, whether in private life or in public office (for I must say this and may not omit it), to follow Him Who has preserved us, and to attach ourselves to His side, thinking little of the little concerns of earth; and let us furnish a tale to those who come after us, great for our glory and the benefit of our soul, and at the same time a very useful lesson to all, that danger is better than security, and that misfortune is preferable to success, at least if before our fears we belonged to the world, but after them we belong to God. Perhaps I seem to you somewhat of a bore, by writing to you so often on the same subject, and you will think my letter a piece not of exhortation but of ostentation, so enough of this. You will know that I desire and wish especially that I might be with you and share your joy at your preservation, and to talk over these matters later on. But since that cannot be, I hope to receive you here as soon as may be, and to celebrate our thanksgiving together.
Source of the quotation unknown.
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