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Home > Fathers of the Church > Letters (Theodoret) > Letter 168

Letter 168

Third Demand of the same, addressed from Chalcedon to the Sovereigns.

We never expected the summons of your piety to meet with this result. We were honourably convoked, as priests by prince; we were convoked to ratify the faith of the holy Fathers; and therefore, in due obedience to a pious prince, we came. On our arrival we were no less faithful to the Church, not less respectful to your edict. From the day of our arrival at Ephesus till the present moment we have without intermission followed your behests.

As it seems, however, our moderation, in these times, has not been of the slightest use to us; nay, rather, so far as we can see, it has stood very much in our way. We indeed who have thus behaved have been up to the present time detained in Chalcedon; and now we are told that we may go home. They however who have thrown everything into confusion, who have filled the world with tumult, who are striving to rend churches in two, and who are the open assailants of true religion, perform priestly functions, crowd the churches, and as they imagine have authority to ordain, though in truth it is illegally claimed by them, stir up seditions in the church, and what ought to be spent upon the poor they throw away upon their bullies.

But you are not only their emperor; you are ours too. For no small portion of your empire is the East, wherein the right faith has ever shone, and, besides, the other provinces and dioceses from which we have been convened.

Let not your majesty despise the faith which is being corrupted, in which you and your forefathers have been baptized; on which the Church's foundations are laid; for which most holy martyrs have rejoiced to suffer countless kinds of death; by aid of which you have vanquished barbarians and destroyed tyrants; which you are needing now in your war for the subjugation of Africa. For on your side will fight the God of all if you struggle on behalf of His holy doctrines and forbid the dismemberment of the body of the church: for dismembered it will be if the opinion prevail which Cyril has introduced into the Church and other heretics have confirmed.

To these truths we have often already borne testimony before God both in Ephesus and in this place. I have furnished information to your holiness, giving an account as before the God of all. For this is required of us, as is taught in the divine Scripture both by prophets and apostles; as says the blessed Paul I give you charge in the sight of God, who quickens the dead, and of Lord Jesus Christ, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; and as God charged Ezekiel to announce to the people, adding threats and saying, when you give him not warning,...his blood will I require at your hand.

In awe of this sentence, once again we inform your majesty that they who have been permitted to hold churches, and who teach the doctrines of Apollinarius, Arius, and Eunomius, perform all sacred functions irregularly and in violation of the canons, and destroy the souls of all who approach them; if, indeed, any shall be found willing to listen to them. For by the grace of God whose Providence is over all, and who wishes all men to be saved, the more part of the people is sound, and warmly attached to pious doctrines. It is on their account that we grieve.

And in our anguish and alarm lest the plague creeping on little by little should attack more, and the evil become general, we thus instruct your serenity, and continue to give you exhortation; we implore your majesty to yield to our prayers and to prohibit any addition to be made to the Faith of the holy Fathers assembled in council at Nicæa.

And if after this our entreaty your piety reject this doctrine, which was given in the presence of God, we will shake off the dust of our feet against you, and cry with the blessed Paul, We are pure from your blood. For we cease not night and day from the moment of our arrival at this distinguished council to bear witness to prince, nobles, soldiers, priests and people, that we hold fast the Faith delivered to us by the Fathers.

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Source. Translated by Blomfield Jackson. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 3. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2707168.htm>.

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