Letter CXC. 2663
To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium. 2664
1. The interest which you have shewn in the affairs of the Isaurian Church is only what might have been expected from that zeal and propriety of conduct which so continually rouses my admiration of you. The most careless observer must at once perceive that it is in all respects more advantageous for care and anxiety to be divided among several bishops. This has not escaped your observation, and you have done well in noting, and in acquainting me with, the position of affairs. But it is not easy to find fit men. While, then, we are desirous of having the credit that comes of numbers, and cause Gods Church to be more effectively administered by more officers, let us be careful lest we unwittingly bring the word into contempt on account of the unsatisfactory character of the men who are called to office, and accustom the laity to indifference. You yourself know well that the conduct of the governed is commonly of a piece with that of those who are set over them. Perhaps therefore it might be better to appoint one well approved man, though even this may not be an easy matter, to the supervision of the whole city, and entrust him with the management of details on his own responsibility. Only let him be a servant of God, “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” 2665 not “looking on his own things,” 2666 but on the things of the most, “that they be saved.” 2667 If he finds himself overweighted with responsibility, he will associate other labourers for the harvest with himself. If only we can find such a man, I own that I think the one worth many, and the ordering of the cure of souls in this way likely to be attended at once with more advantage to the Churches and with less risk to us. If, however, this course prove difficult, let us first do our best to appoint superintendents 2668 to the small townships or villages which have of old been episcopal sees. Then afterwards we will appoint once more the [bishop] of the city. Unless we take this course the man appointed may prove a hindrance to subsequent administration, and from his wish to rule over a larger diocese, and his refusal to accept the ordination of the bishops, we may find ourselves suddenly involved in a domestic quarrel. If this course is difficult, and time does not allow, see to it that the Isaurian bishop is strictly kept within his own bounds by ordaining some of his immediate neighbours. In the future it will be reserved for us to give to the rest bishops at the proper season, after we have carefully examined those whom we ourselves may judge to be most fit.
2. I have asked George, as you requested. He replies as you reported. In all this we must remain quiet, casting the care of the house on the Lord. For I put my trust in the Holy God that He will by my aid 2669 grant to him deliverance from his difficulties in some other way, and to me to live my life without trouble. If this cannot be, be so good as to send me word yourself as to what part I must look after, that I may begin to ask this favour of each of my friends in power, either for nothing, or for some moderate price, as the Lord may prosper me. 2670
I have, in accordance with your request, written to brother Valerius. Matters at Nyssa are going on as they were left by your reverence, and, by the aid of your holiness, are improving. Of those who were then separated from me some have gone off to the court, and some remain waiting for tidings from it. The Lord is able as well to frustrate the expectations of these latter as to make the return of the former useless.
3. Philo, on the authority of some Jewish tradition, explains the manna to have been of such a nature that it changed with the taste of the eater: that of itself it was like millet seed boiled in honey; it served sometimes for bread, sometimes for meat, either of birds or beasts; at other times for vegetables, acp. 233 cording to each mans liking; even for fish so that the flavour of each separate kind was exactly reproduced in the eaters mouth.
Sympius has written me a letter expressive of respect and communion. The letter which I have written in reply I am sending to your holiness, that you may send it on to him if you quite approve of it, with the addition of some communication from yourself. May you, by the loving kindness of the Holy One, be preserved for me and for the Church of God, in good health, happy in the Lord, and ever praying for me.
Isauria, the district of Pisidia, forming the S. W. corner of the modern Karamania, was under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Iconium. “In the heart of the Roman monarchy, the Isaurians long continued a nation of wild barbarians. Succeeding powers, unable to reduce them to obedience either by arms or policy, were compelled to acknowledge their weakness by surrounding the hostile and independent spot with a strong chain of fortifications (Hist. Aug. 197) which often proved insufficient to restrain the invasions of these domestic foes.” Gibbon. chap. X. Raids and Arian persecution had disorganised the Isaurian Episcopate. (Maran, Vit. Bas.)232:2665 232:2666 232:2667 232:2668 232:2669 232:2670
“Videtur illa dignitas, quam se amici causa alicujus petiturum promittit Basilius, non administratio aliqua fuisse, sed tantum codicillaria dignitas. Hoc enim consilio hanc dignitatem petere statuerat, ut amici domus magnum aliquod incommodum effugeret. Porro in hunc usum impetrari solebant codicilli, ut curia, vel saltem duumviratus et civitatis cura vitarentur. Pretio autem impetratos non modo nulla immunitas, sed etiam multa sequebatur ut perspictur ex Cod. Theod. vi. 22. Sic enim habet lex secunda imperatoris Constantii: Ab honoribus mercandis per suffragia, vel qualibet ambitione quærendis, certa multa prohibuit: cui addimus et quicunque, fugientes obsequia curiarum, umbras et nomina affectaverint dignitatem, tricenas libras argenti inferre cogantur, manente illa præterita inlatione auri qua perpetua lege constructi sunt. Unde miror Basilium ab hac via tentanda non omnino alienum fuisse. Sed forte hæ leges non admodum accurate servabuntur sub Valente.” Ben. note.