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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VIII:
The Letters.: To the heretic Simplicia.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Letter CXV. 2387

To the heretic Simplicia2388

We often ill advisedly hate our superiors and love our inferiors.  So I, for my part, hold my tongue, and keep silence about the disgrace of the insults offered me.  I wait for the Judge above, Who knows how to punish all wickedness in the end, even though a man pour out gold like sand; let him trample on the right, he does but hurt his own soul.  God always asks for sacrifice, not, I think, because He needs it, but because He accepts a pious and right mind as a precious sacrifice.  But when a man by his transgressions tramples on himself God reckons his prayers impure.  Bethink thyself, then, of the last day, and pray do not try to teach me.  I know more than you do, and am not so choked with thorns within.  I do not mind tenfold wickedness with a few good qualities.  You have stirred up against me lizards and toads, 2389 p. 191 beasts, it is true, of Spring time, but nevertheless unclean.  But a bird will come from above who will devour them.  The account I have to render is not according to your ideas, but as God thinks fit to judge.  If witnesses are wanted, there will not stand before the Judge slaves; nor yet a disgraceful and detestable set of eunuchs; neither woman nor man, lustful, envious, ill-bribed, passionate, effeminate, slaves of the belly, mad for gold, ruthless, grumbling about their dinner, inconstant, stingy, greedy, insatiable, savage, jealous.  What more need I say?  At their very birth they were condemned to the knife.  How can their mind be right when their feet are awry?  They are chaste because of the knife, and it is no credit to them.  They are lecherous to no purpose, of their own natural vileness.  These are not the witnesses who shall stand in the judgment, but rather the eyes of the just and the eyesight of the perfect, of all who are then to see with their eyes what they now see with their understanding.



Placed in 372.


The Ben. E. note that in the imperial codex No. lxvii. appears an argument of this letter wanting in the editions of St. Basil.  It is as follows:  “Letter of the same to Simplicia about her eunuchs.  She was a heretic.  The blessed Basil being ill and entering a bath to bathe, Simplicia told her eunuchs and maids to throw his towels out.  Straightway the just judgment of God slew some of them, and Simplicia sent money to the blessed Basil to make amends for the injury.  Basil refused to receive it, and wrote this Letter.”  This extraordinary preface seems to have been written by some annotator ignorant of the circumstances, which may be learnt from Greg. Naz. Letter xxxviii.  It appears that a certain Cappadocian church, long without a bishop, had elected a slave of Simplicia, a lady wealthy and munificent, but of suspected orthodoxy.  Basil and Gregory injudiciously ordained the reluctant slave without waiting for his mistress’s consent.  The angry lady wrote in indignation, and threatened him with the vengeance of her slaves and eunuchs.  After Basil’s death she returned to the charge, and pressed Gregory to get the ordination annulled.  cf. Maran, Vit. Bas. chap. xxv.


Presumably the slaves and eunuchs mentioned below.  If the letter is genuine it is wholly unworthy of the Archbishop of Cæsarea.

Next: To Firminius.

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