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Letter of Theodoretus, as Some Suppose, to Domnus,
Bishop of Antioch, Written on the Death of Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria.
At last and with difficulty the villain has gone. The good and the gentle pass
away all too soon; the bad prolong their life for years.
The Giver of all good, methinks, removes the former before their time from the
troubles of humanity; He frees them like victors from their contests and
transports them to the better life, that life which, free from death, sorrow and
care, is the prize of them that contend for virtue. They, on the other hand, who
love and practise wickedness are allowed a little longer to enjoy this present
life, either that sated with evil they may afterwards learn virtue's lessons, or
else even in this life may pay the penalty for the wickedness of their own ways
by being tossed to and fro through many years of this life's sad and wicked
This wretch, however, has not been dismissed by the ruler of our souls like
other men, that he may possess for longer time the things which seem to be full
of joy. Knowing that the fellow's malice has been daily growing and doing harm
to the body of the Church, the Lord has lopped him off like a plague and “taken
away the reproach from Israel.”
His survivors are indeed delighted at his departure. The dead, maybe, are sorry.
There is some ground of alarm lest they should be so much annoyed at his company
as to send him back to us, or that he should run away from his conductors like
the tyrant of Cyniscus in Lucian.
Great care must then be taken, and it is especially your holiness's business to
undertake this duty, to tell the guild of undertakers to lay a very big and
heavy stone upon his grave, for fear he should come back again, and show his
changeable mind once more.
Let him take his new doctrines to the shades below, and preach to them all day
and all night. We are not at all afraid of his dividing them by making public
addresses against true religion and by investing an immortal nature with death.
He will be stoned not only by ghosts learned in divine law, but also by Nimrod,
Pharaoh and Sennacherib, or any other of God's enemies.
But I am wasting words. The poor fellow is silent whether he will or no, “his
breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth, in that very day his thoughts
perish.” He is doomed too to silence of another kind. His deeds, detected, tie
his tongue, gag his mouth, curb his passion, strike him dumb and make him bow
down to the ground.
I really am sorry for the poor fellow. Truly the news of his death has not
caused me unmixed delight, but it is tempered by sadness. On seeing the Church
freed from a plague of this kind I am glad and rejoice; but I am sorry and do
mourn when I think that the wretch knew no rest from his crimes, but went on
attempting greater and more grievous ones till he died. His idea was, so it is
said, to throw the imperial city into confusion by attacking true doctrines a
second time, and to charge your holiness with supporting them. But God saw and
did not overlook it. “He put his hook into his nose and his bridle into his
lips,” and turned him to the earth whence he was taken. Be it then granted to
your holiness's prayers that he may obtain mercy and pity and that God's
boundless clemency may surpass his wickedness.
I beg your holiness to drive away the agitations of my soul. Many different
reports are being bruited abroad to my alarm announcing general misfortunes. It
is even said by some that your reverence is setting out against your will for
the court, but so far I have despised these reports as untrue. But finding every
one repeating one and the same story I have thought it right to try and learn
the truth from your holiness that I may laugh at these tales if false, or sorrow
not without reason if they are true.