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Gregory Nazianzen the Theologian Second Theological Oration (XXVIII), Complete

Translated by Ch. Browne and J. Swallow. Cf. An Introduction to the Theological Orations of St Gregory

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I. In the former Discourse we laid down clearly with respect to the Theologian, both what sort of character he ought to bear, and on what kind of subject he may philosophize, and when, and to what extent. We saw that he ought to be, as far as may be, pure, in order that light may be apprehended by light; and that he ought to consort with serious men, in order that his word be not fruitless through falling on an unfruitful soil; and that the suitable season is when we have a calm within from the whirl of outward things; so as not like madmen [3415] to lose our breath; and that the extent to which we may go is that to which we have ourselves advanced, or to which we are advancing. Since then these things are so, and we have broken up for ourselves the fallows of Divinity [3416] , so as not to sow upon thorns, [3417] and have made plain the face of the ground, [3418] being moulded and moulding others by Holy Scripture...let us now enter upon Theological questions, setting at the head thereof the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, of Whom we are to treat; that the Father may be well pleased, and the Son may help us, and the Holy Ghost may inspire us; or rather that one illumination may come upon us from the One God, One in diversity, diverse in Unity, wherein is a marvel.

II. Now when I go up eagerly into the Mount [3419] —or, to use a truer expression, when I both eagerly long, and at the same time am afraid (the one through my hope and the other through my weakness) to enter within the Cloud, and hold converse with God, for so God commands; if any be an Aaron, let him go up with me, and let him stand near, being ready, if it must be so, to remain outside the Cloud. But if any be a Nadad or an Abihu, or of the Order of the Elders, let him go up indeed, but let him stand afar off, according to the value of his purification. But if any be of the multitude, who are unworthy of this height of contemplation, if he be altogether impure let him not approach at all, [3420] for it would be dangerous to him; but if he be at least temporarily purified, let him remain below and listen to the Voice alone, and the trumpet, [3421] the bare words of piety, and let him see the Mountain smoking and lightening, a terror at once and a marvel to those who cannot get up. But if any is an evil and savage beast, and altogether incapable of taking in the subject matter of Contemplation and Theology, let him not hurtfully and malignantly lurk in his den among the woods, to catch hold of some dogma or saying by a sudden spring, and to tear sound doctrine to pieces by his misrepresentations, but let him stand yet afar off and withdraw from the Mount, or he shall be stoned and crushed, and shall perish miserably in his wickedness. For to those who are like wild beasts true and sound discourses are stones. If he be a leopard let him die with his spots. [3422] If a ravening and roaring lion, seeking what he may devour [3423] of our souls or of our words; or a wild boar, trampling under foot the precious and translucent pearls of the Truth; [3424] or an Arabian [3425] and alien wolf, or one keener even than these in tricks of argument; or a fox, that is a treacherous and faithless soul, changing its shape according to circumstances or necessities, feeding on dead or putrid bodies, or on little vineyards [3426] when the large ones have escaped them; or any other carnivorous beast, rejected by the Law as unclean for food or enjoyment; our discourse must withdraw from such and be engraved on solid tables of stone, and that on both sides because the Law is partly visible, and partly hidden; the one part belonging to the mass who remain below, the other to the few who press upward into the Mount.

[3415] A marginal reading noted by the Benedictines gives "sobbing" or "panting," which is a better sense.

[3416] Jerem. iv. 3.

[3417] Matt. xiii. 7.

[3418] Isa. xxviii. 25.

[3419] Exod. xxiv. 1.

[3420] Ib. xix. 14.

[3421] Ib. xix. 16-18.

[3422] Jer. xiii. 23.

[3423] 1 Pet. v. 8.

[3424] Matt. vii. 6.

[3425] Arabian: So the LXX. renders the word which in A.V. Jer. v. 6, is translated "of the evening," and in the Vulg. "at evening." R.V. gives as an alternative, "of the deserts."

[3426] The LXX. in Cant. xi. 15, admits of this translation as well as of that followed by A.V.

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