Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume III/Theodoret/Letters/Letter 181
CLXXXI. Letter to Abundius, Bishop of Como.
To my dear lord and very holy brother Abundius Theodoretus sends greeting in the Lord. I have discovered that your piety religiously preserves the true and apostolic faith; and I have thanked Almighty God that the truth which was in peril has been renewed and brought to light by your holiness.
Of old, after the flood, it came to pass that Noah and his sons were left for seed of the human race. Just so in our own day are reserved the fathers of the West, that by them the holy churches of the East may be able to preserve that true religion which has been threatened with devastation and destruction by a new and impious heresy. Well may we quote those words of the prophet “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant we should have been as Sodom and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” So upon us from this impious heresy the wrath of God has fallen like a flood and invasion.
Now we acknowledge the presence of our Saviour in a human body, and one Son of God, His perfect Godhead and His perfect manhood. We do not divide our one Lord Jesus Christ into two sons for He is one; but we recognise the distinction between God and man; we know that one is of the Father, the other of the seed of David and Abraham, according to the divine Scriptures, and that the divine nature is free from passion, the body which was before subject to passion being now itself too free from passion; for after the resurrection it is plainly delivered from all passion.
This we have learnt from the letter of the very holy and religious Archbishop our lord Leo. For we have read what he wrote to Flavianus, of holy and blessed memory, and have thanked the loving-kindness of the Lord because we have found an advocate and defender of the truth. To this letter I have given my adhesion, and have subjoined a copy of it to my present epistle, which I have also subscribed and have thereby proved that I obey the apostolic rules, that is true doctrines; that I abide in them to this day, and am suffering in their cause.
Assent has also been given by my lord Ibas and my lord Aquilinus against whom the inventors of the new heresy have armed the imperial power.
It remains for you with your very holy colleagues to bring aid to the sacred Church, and to drive away the war that threatens it. Banish the impious party which has been roused against the truth; give back the churches their ancient peace; so will you receive from the Lord, Who has promised to grant this boon, the fruits of your apostolic labours.
All the very religious and godly presbyters and reverend deacons and brethren by your holiness I greet; and I and all who are with me salute your reverence.
- This letter may be dated from Nicerte in the autumn of 450 when Abundius was at Constantinople on a mission from Leo, after the failure to get Theodosius to agree to the summary of the Council in the West. Theodosius died a few days after the arrival of the envoys at Constantinople. Theodoret is anxious to encourage the Roman Legates to support the orthodox cause in the Imperial city, to repair the mischief caused by the Latrocinium, and to show the court that he and his friends Ibas and Aquilinus had the support of Leo. Abundius, fourth bishop of Como (450–469) represented Leo at Chalcedon. Manzoni, in the Promessi Sposi, reminds us of the local survival of the name.
- Isaiah i. 9
- After all the storms of controversy and quarrel which we have followed in the course of the dialogues and letters of the Blessed Bishop of Cyrus; after the lurid leap of grim pleasantry which, if not actually penned by Theodoret, indicates a temper that must have often shown itself in these troubled times; there is something pathetic and encouraging in the conciliatory conclusion of this last letter. Cyril has been dead for years, and his weaknesses are forgotten in a confession which his more moderate opponents could accept. The subscription of Theodoret to the tome of Leo is an earnest of harmony and concord. The calmer wisdom of the West asserts the truth which underlay the furious disputes of the subtler East. The last word of the drama is Peace.