Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VIII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Letters.: To the holy brethren the bishops of the West.
Letter XC. 2302
To the holy brethren the bishops of the West. 2303
1. The good God Who ever mixes consolation with affliction has, even now in the midst of my pangs, granted me a certain amount of comfort in the letters which our right honourable father bishop Athanasius has received from you and sent on to me. For they contain evidence of sound faith and proof of your inviolable agreement and concord, showing thus that the shepherds are following in the footsteps of the Fathers and feeding the people of the Lord with knowledge. All this has so much gladdened my heart as to dispel my despondency and to create something like a smile in my soul in the midst of the distressing state of affairs in which we are now placed. The Lord has also extended His consolation to me by means of the reverend deacon Sabinus, my son, who has cheered my soul by giving me an exact narrative of your condition; and from personal experience of his own, will give you clear tidings of ours, that you may, in the first place, aid me in my trouble by earnest and constant prayer to God; and next that you may consent to give such consolation as lies in your power to our afflicted Churches. For here, very honourable brethren, all is in a weak state; the Church has given way before the continuous attacks of her foes, like some bark in mid-ocean buffeted by successive blows of the waves; unless haply there be some quick visitation of the divine mercy. As then we reckon your mutual sympathy and unity an important blessing to ourselves, so do we implore you to pity our dissensions; and not, because we are separated by a great extent of country, to part us from you, but to admit us to the concord of one body, because we are united in the fellowship of the Spirit.
2. Our distresses are notorious, even though we leave them untold, for now their sound has gone out into all the world. The doctrines of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set at nought; the devices of innovators are in vogue in the Churches; now men are rather contrivers of cunning systems than theologians; the wisdom of this world wins the highest prizes and has rejected the glory of the cross. Shepherds are banished, and in their places are introduced grievous wolves hurrying the flock of Christ. Houses of prayer have none to assemble in them; desert places are full of lamenting crowds. The elders lament when they compare the present with the past. The younger are yet more to be compassionated, for they do not know of what they have been deprived. All this is enough to stir the pity of men who have learnt the love of Christ; but, compared with the actual state of things, words fall very far short. If then there be any consolation of love, any fellowship of the Spirit, any bowels of mercy, be stirred to help us. Be zealous for true religion, and rescue us from this storm. Ever be spoken among us with boldness that famous dogma 2304 of the Fathers, which destroys the ill-famed heresy of Arius, and builds up the Churches in the sound doctrine wherein the Son is confessed to be of one substance with the Father, and the Holy Ghost is ranked and worshipped as of equal honour, to the end that through your prayers and co-operation the Lord may grant to us that same boldness for the truth and glorying in the confession of the divine and saving Trinity which He has given you. But the aforenamed deacon will tell you every thing in detail. We have welcomed your apostolic zeal for orthodoxy p. 177 and have agreed to all that has been canonically done by your reverences.
Placed in 372.176:2303
By Newman, who translates the first paragraphs, this letter, as well as xcii., is viewed in close connection with Letter lxx., addressed to Damasus.176:2304
κήρυγμα. cf. note on the De Sp. Sancto. p. 41.
Next: To Valerianus, Bishop of Illyricum.
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