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Letter 223, Against Eustathius of Sebasteia
THERE is a time to keep silence and a time to speak, is the saying of the Preacher. Time enough has been given to silence, and now the time has come to open my mouth for the publication of the truth concerning matters that are, up to now, unknown. The illustrious Job bore his calamities for a long time in silence, and ever showed his courage by holding out under the most intolerable sufferings, but when he had struggled long enough in silence, and had persisted in covering his anguish in the bottom of his heart, at last he opened his mouth and uttered his well-known words. In my own case this is now the third year of my silence, and my boast has become like that of the Psalmist "I was as a man that heareth not and in whose mouth are no reproofs." Thus I shut up in the bottom of my heart the pangs which I suffered on account of the calumnies directed against me, for calumny humbles a man, and calumny makes a poor man giddy. If, therefore, the mischief of calumny is so great as to cast down even the perfect man from his height, for this is what Scripture indicates by the word man, and by the poor man is meant he who lacks the great doctrines, as is the view also of the prophet when he says, "These are poor, therefore they shall not hear; ... I will get me unto the great men," he means by poor those who are lacking in understanding; and here, too, he plainly means those who are not yet furnished in the inner man, and have not even come to the full measure of their age; it is.these who are said by the proverb to be made giddy and tossed about. Nevertheless I thought that I ought to bear my troubles in silence, waiting for some indication to come out of them. I did not even think that what was said against me proceeded from ill will; I thought it was the result of ignorance of the truth. But now I see that hostility increases with time, and that my slanderers are not sorry for what they said at the beginning, and do not take any trouble to make amends for the past, but go on and on and rally themselves together to attain their original object. This was to make my life miserable and to devise means for sullying my reputation among the brethren. I, therefore, no longer see safety in silence. I have bethought me of the words of Isaiah: " I have long time holden my peace, shall I always be still and refrain myself? I have been patient like a travailing woman." God grant that I may both receive the reward of silence, and gain some strength to confute my opponents, and that thus, by confuting them, I may dry up the bitter torrent of falsehood that has gushed out against me. So might I say, "My soul bus passed over the torrent;" and, "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when men rose up against us, ... then they had swallowed us up quick, the water had drowned us."
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