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Letter Eight: To Demophilos, Therapeutes. About minding one's own business, and kindness.

Translated by Rev. John Parker, 1897.

Letter VIII

Section IV.

Thyself, then, assign their due limit to passion and anger and reason. And to thyself, let the divine Leitourgoi assign the due limit, and to these, the priests, and to the priests, hierarchs, and to the hierarchs, the Apostles and the successors of the Apostles. And if, perchance, any, even among these, should have failed in what is becoming, he shall be put right by the holy men of the same rank; and rank shall not be turned against rank, but each shall be in his own rank, and in his own service. So much for thee, from us, on behalf of knowing and doing one's own business.

But, concerning the inhuman treatment towards that man, whom thou callest "irreverent and sinner," I know not how I shall bewail the scandal of my beloved. For, of whom dost thou suppose thou wast ordained Therapeutes by us? For if it were not of the Good, it is necessary that thou shouldst be altogether alien from Him and from us, and from our whole religion, and it is time for thee both to seek a God, and other priests, and amongst them to become brutal rather than perfected, and to be a cruel minister of thine own fierceness. For, have we ourselves, forsooth, been perfected to the altogether Good, and have no need of the divine compassion for ourselves [Luke 16:10], or do we commit the double sin, as the Oracles say [Jer. 2:13-35], after the example of the unholy, not knowing in what we offend, but even justifying ourselves and supposing we see, whilst really not seeing, [Rom. 1:27]?

Heaven was startled at this, and I shivered, and I distrust myself. And unless I had met with thy letters (as know well I would I had not), they would not have persuaded me if indeed any other had thought good to persuade me concerning thee, that Demophilus supposes, that Almighty God, Who is good to all, is not also compassionate towards men, and that he himself has no need of the Merciful or the Saviour; yea further, he deposes those priests who are deemed worthy, through clemency, to bear the ignorances of the people, and who well know, that they also are compassed with infirmity. But, the supremely Divine Priest pursued a different (course), and that as the Oracles say, from being separate of sinners, and makes the most gentle tending of the sheep a proof of the love towards Himself; and He stigmatizes as wicked, him who did not forgive his fellow-servant the debt, nor impart a portion of that manifold goodness, graciously given to himself; and He condemns him to enjoy his own deserts, which both myself and Demophilus must take care to avoid. For, even for those who were treating Him impiously, at the very time of His suffering, He invokes remission from the Father; and He rebukes even the disciples, because without mercy they thought it right to convict of impiety the Samaritans who drove Him away.

This, indeed, is the thousand times repeated theme of thy impudent letter (for thou repeatest the same from beginning to end), that thou hast avenged, not thyself, but Almighty God. Tell me (dost thou avenge) the Good by means of evil?

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The St. Pachomius Orthodox Library, St. Andrew of Crete, 2004.

Have mercy, O Lord, upon Thy servants the translator John and the scribe Roger.