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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VIII:
The Letters.: To Atarbius.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Letter LXV. 2232

To Atarbius2233

If I continue to insist on the privileges to which my superior age entitles me, and wait for you to take the initiative in communicap. 163 tion , and if you, my friend, wish to adhere more persistently to your evil counsel of inaction, what end will there be to our silence?  However, where friendship is involved, to be defeated is in my opinion to win, and so I am quite ready to gave you precedence, and retire from the contest as to which should maintain his own opinion.  I have been the first to betake myself to writing, because I know that “charity beareth all things…endureth all things…seeketh not her own” and so “never faileth.” 2234   He who subjects himself to his neighbour in love can never be humiliated.  I do beg you, then, at all events for the future, show the first and greatest fruit of the Spirit, Love; 2235 away with the angry man’s sullenness which you are showing me by your silence, and recover joy in your heart, peace with the brothers who are of one mind with you, and zeal and anxiety for the continued safety of the Churches of the Lord.  If I were not to make as strenuous efforts on behalf of the Churches as the opponents of sound doctrine make to subvert and utterly destroy them, you may be quite sure that there is nothing to prevent the truth from being swept away and destroyed by its enemies, and my being involved in the condemnation, for not shewing all possible anxiety for the unity of the Churches, with all zeal and eagerness in mutual unanimity and godly agreement.  I exhort you then, drive out of your mind the idea that you need communion with no one else.  To cut one’s self off from connexion with the brethren is not the mark of one who is walking by love, nor yet the fulfilling of the commandment of Christ.  At the same time I do wish you, with all your good intentions, to take into account that the calamities of the war which are now all round about us 2236 may one day be at our own doors, and if we too, like all the rest, have our share of outrage, we shall not find any even to sympathise with us, because in the hour of our prosperity we refused to give our share of sympathy to the wronged.



Placed about 371, or, at all events, according to Maran, before the year 373, when the ill will of Atarbius towards Basil was violently manifested.


Atarbius is recognised as bishop of Neocæsarea, partly on the evidence of the Codices Coislinanus and Medicæus, which describe him as of Neocæsarea, partly on a comparison of Letters lxv. and cxxvi., addressed to him, with the circumstances of the unnamed bishop of Neocæsarea referred to in Letter ccx.  Moreover (cf. Bp. Lightfoot, D.C.B. i. 179) at the Council of Constantinople he represented the province of Pontus Polemoniacus, of which Neocæsarea was metropolis.  On the authority of an allusion in Letter ccx. sec. 4, Atarbius is supposed to be a kinsman of Basil.


1 Cor. 13:7, 8.


cf. Gal. v. 22.


i.e. the attacks of Valens on the Church.

Next: To Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria.

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