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Gregory Nazianzen the Theologian Against Arians, and Concerning Himself (Oration XXXIII), Complete

Translated by Ch. Browne and J. Swallow.

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Delivered at Constantinople about the middle of the year 380.

I. Where are they who reproach us with our poverty, and boast themselves of their own riches; who define the Church by numbers, [3753] and scorn the little flock; and who measure Godhead, [3754] and weigh the people in the balance, who honour the sand, and despise the luminaries of heaven; who treasure pebbles and overlook pearls; for they know not that sand is not in a greater degree more abundant than stars, and pebbles than lustrous stones—that the former are purer and more precious than the latter? Are you again indignant? Do you again arm yourselves? Do you again insult us? [3755] Is this a new faith? Restrain your threats a little while that I may speak. We will not insult you, but we will convict you; we will not threaten, but we will reproach you; we will not strike, but we will heal. This too appears an insult! What pride! Do you here also regard your equal as your slave? If not, permit me to speak openly; for even a brother chides his brother if he has been defrauded by him.

II. Would you like me to utter to you the words of God to Israel, stiff-necked and hardened? "O my people what have I done unto thee, or wherein have I injured thee, or wherein have I wearied thee?" [3756] This language indeed is fitter from me to you who insult me. It is a sad thing that we watch for opportunities against each other, and having destroyed our fellowship of spirit by diversities of opinion have become almost more inhuman and savage to one another than even the barbarians who are now engaged in war against us, banded together against us by the Trinity whom we have separated; with this difference that we are not foreigners making forays and raids upon foreigners, nor nations of different language, which is some little consolation in the calamity, but are making war upon one another, and almost upon those of the same household; or if you will, we the members of the same body are consuming and being consumed by one another. Nor is this, bad though it be, the extent of our calamity, for we even regard our diminution as a gain. But since we are in such a condition, and regulate our faith by the times, let us compare the times with one another; you your Emperor, [3757] and I my Sovereigns; [3758] you Ahab and I Josias. Tell me of your moderation, and I will proclaim my violence. But indeed yours is proclaimed by many books and tongues, which I think future ages will accept as an immortal pillory for your actions and I will declare my own.

[3753] Shewing the absurdity of defining the Church by counting heads.

[3754] This refers to the distinction drawn by the Arians in degree as to the Godhead, asserting the Spirit to be great, the Son greater, and the Father greatest (cf. Or. xlii., 16).

[3755] The beginning of the Oration was apparently disturbed by hostile demonstrations on the part of Arian hearers.

[3756] Mic. vi. 3.

[3757] Valens.

[3758] Theodosius and Gratian.

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