Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Letters of Athanasius with Two Ancient Chronicles of His Life.: Letter to Rufinianus.
Letter LV.—Letter to Rufinianus.
To our lord, son, and most desired fellow-minister Rufinianus 4665 . Athanasius greeting in the Lord.
You write what is proper for a beloved son to write to a father: accordingly, I embraced you when you came near me in writing, most desired Rufinianus. And I, though I might write to you as a son both in the opening and the middle and the close, refrained, lest my commendation and testimony should be made known by writing. For you are my letter, as it is written 4666 , known and read in the heart. That you then are in such case, believe, yea believe. I address you, and invite you to write. For by doing so you afford me the highest gratification. But since in an honourable and church-like spirit, such as becomes your piety, you ask me about those who were drawn away by necessity but not corrupted by error, and wish me to write what resolution has been come to about them, whether in synods or elsewhere; know, most desired Lord, that to begin with 4667 , when violence was ceased, a synod 4668 has been held, bishops from foreign parts being present; while others have been held by our fellow-ministers resident in Greece, as well as by those in Spain and Gaul 4669 : and the same decision was come to here and everywhere, namely, in the case of those who had fallen and been leaders of impiety, to pardon them upon their repentance, but not to give them the position of clergy: but in the case of men not deliberate in impiety, but drawn away by necessity and violence, that they should not only receive pardon, but should occupy the position of clergy: the more so, in that they offered a plausible defence, and what had happened seemed due to a certain special purpose 4670 . For they assured us that they had not gone over to impiety; but lest certain most impious persons should be elected and ruin the Churches they elected rather to acquiesce in the violence and to bear the burden, than to lose the people. But in saying this, they appeared to us to say what was plausible; for they alleged in excuse Aaron the brother of Moses, who in the wilderness acquiesced in the peoples transgression; and that he had had as his excuse the danger of the people returning to Egypt and abiding in idolatry. For there was reason in the view, that if they remained p. 567 in the wilderness they might cease from their impiety: but if they went into Egypt they would become ruined and increase the impiety in their midst. For this reason, then, they have been allowed to rank as clergy, those who had been deceived and suffered violence being pardoned. I give this information to your piety in the confidence that you will both accept 4671 what has been resolved upon, and not charge those who assembled, as I have said, with remissness. But be good enough to read it to the clergy and laity under you, that they may be informed, and may not blame you for being thus minded about such persons. For it would not be fitting for me to write, when your piety is able to do so, and to announce our mind with regard to them, and carry out all that remains to be done. Thanks to the Lord that filled you 4672 with all utterance and with all knowledge. Let then those that repent openly anathematise by name the error of Eudoxius and Euzoius. For they blasphemed still, and wrote that He was a creature, ringleaders of the Arian heresy. But let them confess the faith confessed by the fathers at Nicæa, and that they put no other synod before that one. Greet the brotherhood with you. That with us greets you in the Lord.
This letter (Migne xxvi. 1180) deals with one of the questions which occupied the council of 362 (supr. p. 481), and was probably written not long after, although the contents furnish no precise terminus ad quem. The personality and see of Rufinianus are uncertain. The latter must have been distant from Alexandria: the Coptic documents call him Rufinus the archbishop, which seems to place him outside Egypt. The mention of Eudoxius and Euzoius sub. fin. possibly points to Syria. I suspect that he is the Lucinianus associated with Eusebius (of Vercellæ?) in the little fragment (4) quoted in note 7 below, which comes from a letter of Ath. dealing with the same subject. The Coptic Acts of Revillout, p. 462 (as referred to supr. p. 188) give part of a letter of Rufinianus himself, which shews that the correspondence of which our letter is the principal relic bore on the Christological decision of the Council of 362: Sound is the idea of perfection for the Divinity, as for the Economy of the Manhood: Sound is the doctrine of the Divinity in a single essence. Pure, and wholesome for the souls of the faithful, is the Confession of the Holy Triad. Perfect then is the Economy of the Manhood of the Saviour, and Perfect is His Soul also; nothing is lacking to Him. It is thus that It was manifested to us.566:4666
2 Cor. iii. 2.566:4667
Immediately after the death of Constantius.566:4668
At Alexandria, a.d. 362, see above p. 481.566:4669
These unnamed councils are all connected with the general return of the exiled orthodox bishops on Julians accession. They are possibly the same as are referred to again in the opening of the letter to Epict. below, p. 570.566:4670
Do you, then, who confess all this, abstain, I pray, from condemning those who confess the same. But explain the words they use, nor, ignoring the latter, repel their authors. Nay, entreat and advise them, that they be willing to come to one mind. ad Eus. Lucin., &c., supr. note 1.567:4672
1 Cor. i. 5.
Next: To the Emperor Jovian.
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