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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:
Defence of His Flight. (Apologia de Fuga.): Their real grievance is not that Athanasius is a coward, but that he is free.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

10. Their real grievance is not that Athanasius is a coward, but that he is free.

Who then does not perceive their craftiness? Is it not very evident to every one that they do not reproach me with cowardice from regard to virtue, but that being athirst for blood, they employ these their base devices as nets, thinking thereby to catch those whom they seek to destroy? That such is their character is shewn by their actions, which have convicted them of possessing dispositions more savage than wild beasts, and more cruel than Babylonians. But although the proof against them is sufficiently clear from all this, yet since they still dissemble with soft words after the manner of their ‘father the devil 1431 ,’ and pretend to charge me with cowardice, while they are themselves more cowardly than hares; let us consider what is written in the Sacred Scriptures respecting such cases as this. For thus they will be shewn to fight against the Scriptures no less than against me, while they detract from the virtues of the Saints.

For if they reproach men for hiding themselves from those who seek to destroy them, and accuse those who flee from their persecutors, what will they do when they see Jacob fleeing from his brother Esau, and Moses withdrawing into Midian for fear of Pharaoh? What excuse will they make for David, after all this idle talk, for fleeing from his house on account of Saul, when he sent to kill him, and for hiding himself in the cave, and for changing his appearance, until he withdrew from Abimelech 1432 , and escaped his designs against him? What will they say, they who are ready to say anything, when they see the great Elijah, after calling upon God and raising the dead, hiding himself for fear of Ahab, and fleeing from the threats of Jezebel? At which time also the sons of the prophets, when they were sought after, hid themselves with the assistance of Obadiah, and lay concealed in caves 1433 .



John viii. 44.


Achish, 1 Sam. xxi. 13 [but cf. title of Ps. xxxiv.]


1 Kings xviii. 15; Hist. Ar. §53.

Next: Examples of Scripture Saints in defence of flight.

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