2. But, before I make my answer to your letter, I must expostulate with you; you who are first in age among the monks, good presbyter, follower of Christ; is it possible for you to wish to kill your brother, when even to hate him is to be a homicide? Have you learned from your Saviour the lesson that if one strike you on the one cheek you should turn to him the other also? Did not he make answer to the man who struck him, 3155 “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, but if well, why smitest thou me?” You threaten me with death, which can be inflicted on us even by serpents. To die is the lot of all, to commit homicide only of the weak man. What then? If you do not kill me shall I never die? Perhaps I ought to be grateful to you p. 520 that you turn this necessity into a virtue. We read of Apostles quarrelling, namely Paul and Barnabas who were angry with each other on account of John whose surname was Mark; those who were united by the bonds of Christs gospel were separated for a voyage; but they still remained friends. Did not the same Paul resist Peter to the face because he did not walk uprightly in the Gospel? Yet he speaks of him as his predecessor in the Gospel, and as a pillar of the church; and he lays before him his mode of preaching, 3156 lest he should be running, or had run in vain. Do not children differ from parents and wives from husbands in religious matters, while yet domestic affections remain unimpaired. If you are as I am, why should you hate me? Even if you believe differently, why should you wish to kill me? Is it so, that whoever differs from you is to be slain? I call upon Jesus who will judge what I am now writing and your letter also, as a witness upon my conscience, that when the reverend bishop Chromatius begged me to keep silence, my wish was to do so, and thus to make an end of our dissensions, and to overcome evil with good. But, now that you threaten me with destruction, I am compelled to reply; otherwise, my silence will be taken as an acknowledgment of the crime, and you will interpret my moderation as the sign of an evil conscience.
John xviii. 23520:3156
Gal. ii. 2