Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Select Letters of Saint Gregory Nazianzen.: Letter XLI
Ep. XLI. To the People of Cæsarea, in His Fathers Name.
I am a little shepherd, and preside over a tiny flock, and I am among the least of the servants of the Spirit. But Grace is not narrow, or circumscribed by place. Wherefore let freedom of speech be given even to the small,—especially when the subject matter is of such great importance, and one in which all are interested—even to deliberate with men of hoary hairs, who speak with perhaps greater wisdom than the ordinary run of men. You are deliberating on no ordinary or unimportant matter, but on one by which the common interest must necessarily be promoted or injured according to the decision at which you arrive. For our subject matter is the Church, for which Christ died, and the guide who is to present it and lead it to God. For the light of the body is the eye, 4737 as we have heard; not only the bodily eye which sees and is seen, but that which contemplates and is contemplated spiritually. But the light of the Church is the Bishop, as is evident to you even without our writing it. As then the straightness or crookedness of the course of the body depends upon the clearness or dulness of the eye, so must the Church necessarily share the peril or safety incurred by the conduct of its Chief. You must then take thought for the whole Church as the Body of Christ, but more especially for your own, which was from the beginning and is now the Mother of almost all the Churches, to which all the Commonwealth looks, like a circle described round a centre, not only because of its orthodoxy proclaimed of old to all, but also because of the grace of unanimity so evidently bestowed upon it by God. You then have summoned us also to your discussion of this matter, and so are acting rightly and canonically. But we are oppressed by age and infirmity, and if we by the strength given us by the Holy Ghost could be present (nothing is incredible to them that believe), this would be best for the common welfare and most pleasant to ourselves, that we might confer something on you, and ourselves have a part of the blessing; but if I should be kept away through weakness, I will give at any rate whatever can be given by one who is absent.
I believe that there are others among you worthy of the Primacy, both because of the greatness of your city, and because it has been governed in times past so excellently and by such great men; but there is one man among you to whom I cannot prefer any, our son well beloved of God, Basil the Priest (I speak before God as my witness); a man of pure life and word, and alone, or almost alone, of all qualified in both respects to stand against the present times, and the prevailing wordiness of the heretics. I write this to men of the priestly and monastic Orders, and also to the dignitaries and councillors, and to the whole people. If you should approve it, and my vote should prevail, being so just and right, and given with Gods aid, I am and will be with you in spirit; or rather I have already set my hand to the work and am bold in p. 451 the Spirit. But if you should not agree with me, but determine something else, and if the matter is to be settled by cliques and relationships, and if the hand of the mob is again to disturb the sincerity of your vote, do what pleases you—I shall stay at home.
Matt. vi. 22.
Next: Letter XLIII
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