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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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III. What tumultuous mob have I led against you? What soldiers have I armed? What general boiling with rage, and more savage than his employers, and not even a Christian, but one who offers his impiety against us as his private worship to his own gods? [3759] Whom have I besieged while engaged in prayer and lifting up their hands to God? When have I put a stop to psalmody with trumpets? or mingled the Sacramental Blood with blood of massacre? What spiritual sighs have I put an end to by cries of death, or tears of penitence by tears of tragedy? What House of prayer have I made a burialplace? What liturgical vessels which the multitude may not touch have I given over to the hands of the wicked, of a Nebuzaradan, [3760] chief of the cooks, or of a Belshazzar, who wickedly used the sacred vessels for his revels, [3761] and then paid a worthy penalty for his madness? "Altars beloved" as Holy Scripture saith, but "now defiled." [3762] And what licentious youth has insulted you for our sake with shameful writhings and contortions? O precious Throne, seat and rest of precious men, which hast been occupied by a succession of pious Priests, who from ancient times have taught the divine Mysteries, what heathen popular speaker and evil tongue hath mounted thee to inveigh against the Christian's faith? O modesty and majesty of Virgins, that cannot endure the looks of even virtuous men, which of us hath shamed thee, and outraged thee by the exposure of what may not be seen, and showed to the eyes of the impious a pitiable sight, worthy of the fires of Sodom? I say nothing of deaths, which were more endurable than this shame.

IV. What wild beasts have we let loose upon the bodies of Saints,—like some who have prostituted human nature,—on one single accusation, that of not consenting to their impiety; or defiled ourselves by communion with them, which we avoid like the poison of a snake, not because it injures the body, but because it blackens the depths of the soul? Against whom have we made it a matter of criminal accusation that they buried the dead, whom the very beasts reverenced? And what a charge, worthy of another theatre and of other beasts! What Bishop's aged flesh have we carded with hooks in the presence of their disciples, impotent to help them save by tears, hung up with Christ, conquering by suffering, and sprinkling the people with their precious blood, and at last carried away to death, to be both crucified and buried and glorified with Christ; with Christ Who conquered the world by such victims and sacrifices? What priests have those contrary elements fire and water divided, raising a strange beacon over the sea, and set on fire together with the ship in which they put to sea? [3763] Who (to cover the more numerous part of our woes with a veil of silence) have been accused of inhumanity by the very magistrates who conferred such favour on them? For even if they did obey the lusts of those men, yet at any rate they hated the cruelty of their purpose. The one was opportunism, the other calculation; the one came of the lawlessness of the Emperor, the other of a consciousness of the laws by which they had to judge.

[3759] Dr. Ullmann makes this passage refer to outrages perpetrated in Constantinople itself on Gregory, by his Arian opponents. On one occasion, he says, in the night time the meetingplace of the Orthodox was assailed; a mob of Arians, and in particular women of the lowest stamp, set on by monks, armed themselves with sticks and stones, and forced an entrance into the peaceful place of holy worship. The champion of orthodoxy well nigh became a martyr to his convictions; the Altar was profaned, the consecrated wine was mixed with blood; the house of prayer was made a scene of outrage and unbridled licentiousness. The Benedictine Editors, however, whom Benoit follows, think the reference is to the disturbances in Alexandria when the Arian Lucius was forcibly intruded into the Chair of Athanasius by the Prefect Palladius. A full account of the atrocities by which his installation was marked is to be found in a letter of Peter, the expelled or orthodox Patriarch, preserved in Theodoret (H. E. IV. 22). This Lucius was living in Constantinople and abetting the Arian party there at the time when Gregory pronounced this Oration.

[3760] 2 Kings xxv. 11.

[3761] Dan. v. 3.

[3762] Hos. viii. 11 (LXX.).

[3763] Socrates (H. E. IV. 16) gives an account of the murder of eighty Priests by order of Valens. The Prefect of Nicomedia, being afraid to execute the Emperor's commands by a public action, put these men on board a ship, as if to send them into exile, but gave orders to the crew to set the vessel on fire on the high seas, and leave the prisoners to their fate. Billius, however, thinks that the reference is to the martyrdom of a single Priest, whose death in this way is described by S. Gregory in his panegyric on Maximus (Or. xxv. 10, p. 461, 462).

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