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To them that suffer under false accusation the greatest comfort is given by the words of Scripture. When such a sufferer is wounded by the lying words of an unbridled tongue, and feels the sharp stings of distress, he remembers the story of the admirable Joseph, and as he beholds that model of chastity, an exemplar of every kind of virtue, suffering, under a calumnious charge, imprisoned and fettered for invading another man’s bed, and spending a long time in a dungeon, his pain is lightened by the remedy that the story furnishes. So again when he finds the gentle David, hunted as a tyrant by Saul, and then catching his enemy and letting him go unharmed, an anodyne is given him in his distress. But when he sees the Lord Christ Himself, Maker of the ages, Creator of all things, very God, and Son of the very God, called a gluttonous man and a wine bibber by the wicked Jews, it is not only consolation but rather great joy that is given him in that he is deemed worthy of sharing the sufferings of the Lord.
Thus I was compelled to write when I read the letters of your holiness to the most pious and sacred archbishop Domnus, for there was contained in them the statement that certain men have come to the illustrious city administered by your holiness, and have accused me of dividing the one Lord Jesus Christ into two sons, and this when preaching at Antioch, where innumerable hearers swell the congregation. I wept for the men who had the hardihood to contrive the vain calumny against me. But I grieved, and, my Lord, forgive me, forced as I am by pain to speak, that your pious excellency did not reserve one ear unbiassed for me instead of believing the lies of my accusers. Yet they were but three or four or about a dozen while I have countless hearers to testify to the orthodoxy of my teaching. Six years I continued teaching in the time of Theodotus bishop of Antioch, of blessed and sacred memory, who was famous alike for his distinguished career and for his knowledge of the divine doctrines. Thirteen years I taught in the time of bishop John of sacred and blessed memory, who was so delighted at my discourses as to raise both his hands and again and again to start up: your holiness in your own letters has borne witness how, brought up as he was from boyhood with the divine oracles, the knowledge which he had of the divine doctrines was most exact. Besides these this is the seventh year of the most pious lord archbishop Domnus.1765
All this I say not for the sake of boasting, but because I am forced to defend myself. It is not the fame of my sermons to which I am calling attention; it is their orthodoxy alone. Even the great teacher of the world who is wont to style himself last of saints and first of sinners, that he might stop the mouths of liars was compelled to set forth a list of his own labours; and in shewing that this account of his sufferings was of necessity, not of free will, he added “I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me.”1766
In the same manner we call those men corrupt and exclude them from the assembly of the Christians, who divide our one Lord Jesus Christ into two persons or two sons or two Lords, for we have heard the very divine Paul saying “One Lord, one faith, one baptism”1772
These lessons we have learnt alike from the holy Scripture and from the holy Fathers who have expounded it, Alexander and Athanasius, loud voiced heralds of the truth, who have been ornaments of your apostolic see; from Basil and from Gregory and the rest of the lights of the world; and that, in our endeavour to shut the mouths of them that dare to oppose the blessed Theophilus and Cyril, we use their works, our own writings testify. For we are most anxious by the medicines supplied by very holy men to heal them that deny the distinction between the Lord’s flesh and the Godhead, and who maintain at one moment that the divine nature was changed into flesh, and at another that the flesh was transmuted into nature of Godhead.
For they clearly instruct us in the distinction between the two natures, and proclaim the immutability of the divine nature, calling the flesh of the Lord divine as being made flesh of God the Word; but the doctrine that it was transmuted into nature of Godhead they repudiate as impious.
I think that your excellency is well aware that Cyril of blessed memory often wrote to me, and when he sent his books against Julian to Antioch, and in like manner his book on the scapegoat, he asked the blessed John, bishop of Antioch, to shew them to the great teachers of the East; and in compliance with this request the blessed John sent us the books. I read them with admiration, and I wrote to Cyril of blessed memory; and he wrote back to me praising my exactitude and kindness. This letter I have preserved.
That I twice subscribed the writings of John of blessed memory concerning Nestorius my own hand bears witness, but this is the kind of thing whispered about me by men who try to conceal their own unsoundness by calumniating me.
Therefore I implore your holiness to turn your back on the liars; to give heed to the Church’s quiet and either to heal by salutary medicines them that are trying to destroy the doctrines of the truth, or, if they refuse to accept your treatment, to expel them from the fold, to the end that the sheep may be spared from contagion. I beg you to give me your customary salutation. That I have written you my true sentiments is proved by my works on the holy Scriptures and against the Arians and Eunomians.
I will in addition write yet a brief word. If any one refuses to confess the holy Virgin to be “Theotokos,” or calls our Lord Jesus Christ bare man, or divides into two sons Him who is one only begotten and first born of every creature, I pray that he may fall from hope in Christ, and let all the people say amen, amen.
Now that I have thus spoken, deign, my lord, to give me your sacred prayers, and to cheer me by a letter in reply telling me that your holiness has turned your back on my accusers.