Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: The sophistry which he employs to prove our acknowledgment that he had been tried, and that the confession of his faith had not been unimpeached, is feeble.
§11. The sophistry which he employs to prove our acknowledgment that he had been tried, and that the confession of his faith had not been unimpeached, is feeble.
He objects to sophistries in others; see the sort of care he takes himself that his proofs shall be real ones. Our Master said, in the book which he addressed to him, that at the time when our cause was ruined, Eunomius won Cyzicus as the prize of his blasphemy. What then does this detector of sophistry do? He fastens at once on that word prize, and declares that we on our side confess that he made an apology, that he won thereby, that he gained the prize of victory by these efforts; and he frames his argument into a syllogism consisting as he thinks of unanswerable propositions. But we will quote word for word what he has written. If a prize is the recognition and the crown of victory, and a trial implies a victory, and, as also inseparable from itself, an accusation, then that man who grants (in argument) the prize must necessarily allow that there was a defence. What then is our answer to that? We do not deny that he fought this wretched battle of impiety with a most vigorous energy, and that he went a very long distance beyond his fellows in these perspiring efforts against the truth; but we will not allow that he obtained the victory over his opponents; but only that as compared with those who were running the same as himself through heresy into error he was foremost in the number of his lies and so gained the prize of Cyzicus in return for high attainments in evil, beating all who for the same prize combated the Truth; and that for this victory of blasphemy his name was blazoned loud and clear when p. XLVII Cyzicus was selected for him by the umpires of his party as the reward of his extravagance. This is the statement of our opinion, and this we allowed; our contention now that Cyzicus was the prize of a heresy, not the successful result of a defence, shews it. Is this anything like his own mess of childish sophistries, so that he can thereby hope to have grounds for proving the fact of his trial and his defence? His method is like that of a man in a drinking bout, who has made away with more strong liquor than the rest, and having then claimed the pool from his fellow-drunkards should attempt to make this victory a proof of having won some case in the law courts. That man might chop the same sort of logic. If a prize is the recognition and the crown of victory, and a law-trial implies a victory and, as also inseparable from itself, an accusation, then I have won my suit, since I have been crowned for my powers of drinking in this bout.
One would certainly answer to such a boaster that a trial in court is a very different thing from a wine-contest, and that one who wins with the glass has thereby no advantage over his legal adversaries, though he get a beautiful chaplet of flowers. No more, therefore, has the man who has beaten his equals in the advocacy of profanity anything to show in having won the prize for that, that he has won a verdict too. The testimony on our side that he is first in profanity is no plea for his imaginary apology. If he did speak it before the court, and, having so prevailed over his adversaries, was honoured with Cyzicus for that, then he might have some occasion for using our own words against ourselves; but as he is continually protesting in his book that he yielded to the animus of the voters, and accepted in silence the penalty which they inflicted, not even waiting for this hostile decision, why does he impose upon himself and make this word prize into the proof of a successful apology? Our excellent friend fails to understand the force of this word prize; Cyzicus was given up to him as the reward of merit for his extravagant impiety; and as it was his will to receive such a prize, and he views it in the light of a victors guerdon, let him receive as well what that victory implies, viz. the lions share in the guilt of profanity. If he insists on our own words against ourselves, he must accept both these consequences, or neither.
Next: His charge of cowardice is baseless: for Basil displayed the highest courage before the Emperor and his Lord-Lieutenants.
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