Letter XLVII. 2157
To Gregory. 2158
“Who will give me wings like a dove? 2159 Or how can my old age be so renewed that I can travel to your affection, satisfy my deep longing to see you, tell you all the troubles of my soul, and get from you some comfort in my affliction? For when the blessed bishop Eusebius 2160 fell asleep, we were under no small alarm lest plotters against the Church of our Metropolis, wishful to fill it with their heretical tares, should seize the present opportunity, root out by their wicked teaching the true faith sown by much labour in mens souls, and destroy its unity. This has been the result of their action in many churches. 2161 When however I received the letters of the clergy exhorting me not to let their needs be overlooked at such a crisis, as I ranged my eyes in all directions I bethought me of your loving spirit, your right faith, and your unceasing zeal on behalf of the churches of God. I have therefore sent the well beloved Eustathius, 2162 the deacon, to invite your reverence, and implore you to p. 153 add this one more to all your labours on behalf of the Church. I entreat you also to refresh my old age by a sight of you; and to maintain for the true Church its famous orthodoxy, by uniting with me, if I may be deemed worthy of uniting with you, in the good work, to give it a shepherd in accordance with the will of the Lord, able to guide His people aright. I have before my eyes a man not unknown even to yourself. If only we be found worthy to secure him, I am sure that we shall acquire a confident access to God and confer a very great benefit on the people who have invoked our aid. Now once again, aye, many times I call on you, all hesitation put aside, to come to meet me, and to set out before the difficulties of winter intervene.
Placed in 370. The letters numbered 47 to 291, inclusive, are placed by the Benedictine editors during St. Basils episcopate.152:2158
On this title Benedictine editors remark that no careful reader can fail to note that the letter is written not by Basil but about Basil. “Hodie,” they write, “inter eruditos fere convenit eam a Gregorio patre, filii manu, ad Eusebium Samosatensem scriptam fuisse. Nam senem se esse declarat auctor Epistolæ et in Cappadocia Episcopum, ut qui litteris cleri ad electionem Episcopi, et Ecclesiæ Cæsariensis defesionem invitatus fuerit. Is autem ad quem scribit et eadem dignitate præditus erat, et laboribus pro Ecclesia susceptis clarus, et amicus Basilio, nec Cappadociæ vicinus. Omnia in Eusebium Samosatensem mirifice conveniunt, quem Basilii ordinationi scimus interfuisse,” and they give, moreover, as their descriptive heading: “Gregorius Theologi pater Eusebium Samosatensem, misso Eustathio diacono, invitat ad electionem Episcopi Cæsariensis ut eo adjuvante Basilius eligi possit.” Fialon, however, apparently forgetting the reference to old age, writes (Étude Hist. p. 87, n.): “Cette lettre est évidemment de Grégoire de Nazianze,” meaning the younger. The election of St. Basil, who probably “voluit episcopari” to the archiepiscopal throne, was indeed mainly due to the intervention of the elder Gregory. Basils unfortunate and indefensible disingenuousness in summoning the younger Gregory to Cæsarea on the plea of his own severe illness defeated its object. But for the prompt and practical intervention of Gregory the elder, and this appeal to Eusebius of Samosata, the archbishopric might have fallen into unworthy, or at least inferior, hands. Vide Biog. Notice in Proleg., .152:2159
cf. Ps. lv. 6, LXX.152:2160
Eusebius, at the time of his election an unbaptized layman, was elevated to the throne of Cæsarea on the death of Dianius in 362. In this case too it was due to the counsels of the elder Gregory that the objections both of Eusebius and of the bishops, forced by the opposing party to consecrate him, were finally overcome. It was he who ordained Basil to the presbyterate and chafed against the ascendancy of his more able and brilliant subordinate.152:2161
In 365 Valens came to Cæsarea with Arian bishops, and endeavoured to put down the Catholics. Basil returned from his retreat in order to aid Eusebius in resisting the attack, and seems to have shown much tact and good feeling as well as vigour and ability. cf. Greg. Naz., Or. xx. 340.152:2162
cf. Letter cxxxvi., where it appears that Basil kindly nursed a deacon Eustathius. The fact of an Eustathius being one of Basils deacons is so far in favour of Basils having written the letter. But Eustathius was a common name, and Eustathius, a monk, is mentioned in the will of Gregory of Nazianzus.