Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume V/Dogmatic Treatises/Against Eunomius/Book I/Chapter 7
§7. Eunomius himself proves that the confession of faith which He made was not impeached.
Let us see for a moment now what kind of truth is dealt with by this man, who in his Introduction complains that it is because of his telling the truth that he is hated by the unbelievers; we may well make the way he handles truth outside doctrine teach us a test to apply to his doctrine itself. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much, and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Now, when he is beginning to write this “apology for the apology” (that is the new and startling title, as well as subject, of his book) he says that we must look for the cause of this very startling announcement nowhere else but in him who answered that first treatise of his. That book was entitled an Apology; but being given to understand by our master-theologian that an apology can only come from those who have been accused of something, and that if a man writes merely from his own inclination his production is something else than an apology, he does not deny—it would be too manifestly absurd—that an apology requires a preceding accusation; but he declares that his ‘apology’ has cleared him from very serious accusations in the trial which has been instituted against him. How false this is, is manifest from his own words. He complained that “many heavy sufferings were inflicted on him by those who had condemned him”; we may read that in his book.
But how could he have suffered so, if his ‘apology’ cleared him of these charges? If he successfully adopted an apology to escape from these, that pathetic complaint of his is a hypocritical pretence; if on the other hand he really suffered as he says, then, plainly, he suffered because he did not clear himself by an apology; for every apology, to be such, has to secure this end, namely, to prevent the voting power from being misled by any false statements. Surely he will not now attempt to say that at the time of the trial he produced his apology, but not being able to win over the jury lost the case to the prosecution. For he said nothing at the time of the trial ‘about producing his apology;’ nor was it likely that he would, considering that he distinctly states in his book that he refused to have anything to do with those ill-affected and hostile dicasts. “We own,” he says, “that we were condemned by default: there was a packed panel of evil-disposed persons where a jury ought to have sat.” He is very labored here, and has his attention diverted by his argument, I think, or he would have noticed that he has tacked on a fine solecism to his sentence. He affects to be imposingly Attic with his phrase ‘packed panel;’ but the correct in language use these words, as those familiar with the forensic vocabulary know, quite differently to our new Atticist.
A little further on he adds this; “If he thinks that, because I would have nothing to do with a jury who were really my prosecutors he can argue away my apology, he must be blind to his own simplicity.” When, then, and before whom did our caustic friend make his apology? He had demurred to the jury because they were ‘foes,’ and he did not utter one word about any trial, as he himself insists. See how this strenuous champion of the true, little by little, passes over to the side of the false, and, while honouring truth in phrase, combats it in deed. But it is amusing to see how weak he is even in seconding his own lie. How can one and the same man have ‘cleared himself by an apology in the trial which was instituted against him,’ and then have ‘prudently kept silence because the court was in the hands of the foe?’ Nay, the very language he uses in the preface to his Apology clearly shows that no court at all was opened against him. For he does not address his preface to any definite jury, but to certain unspecified persons who were living then, or who were afterwards to come into the world; and I grant that to such an audience there was need of a very vigorous apology, not indeed in the manner of the one he has actually written, which requires another still to bolster it up, but a broadly intelligible one, able to prove this special point, viz., that he was not in the possession of his usual reason when he wrote this, wherein he rings the assembly-bell for men who never came, perhaps never existed, and speaks an apology before an imaginary court, and begs an imperceptible jury not to let numbers decide between truth and falsehood, nor to assign the victory to mere quantity. Verily it is becoming that he should make an apology of that sort to jurymen who are yet in the loins of their fathers, and to explain to them how he came to think it right to adopt opinions which contradict universal belief, and to put more faith in his own mistaken fancies than in those who throughout the world glorify Christ’s name.
Let him write, please, another apology in addition to this second; for this one is not a correction of mistakes made about him, but rather a proof of the truth of those charges. Every one knows that a proper apology aims at disproving a charge; thus a man who is accused of theft or murder or any other crime either denies the fact altogether, or transfers the blame to another party, or else, if neither of these is possible, he appeals to the charity or to the compassion of those who are to vote upon his sentence. But in his book he neither denies the charge, nor shifts it on some one else, nor has recourse to an appeal for mercy, nor promises amendment for the future; but he establishes the charge against him by an unusually labored demonstration. This charge, as he himself confesses, really amounted to an indictment for profanity, nor did it leave the nature of this undefined, but proclaimed the particular kind; whereas his apology proves this species of profanity to be a positive duty, and instead of removing the charge strengthens it. Now, if the tenets of our Faith had been left in any obscurity, it might have been less hazardous to attempt novelties; but the teaching of our master-theologian is now firmly fixed in the souls of the faithful; and so it is a question whether the man who shouts out contradictions of that about which all equally have made up their minds is defending himself against the charges made, or is not rather drawing down upon him the anger of his hearers, and making his accusers still more bitter. I incline to think the latter. So that if there are, as our writer tells us, both hearers of his apology and accusers of his attempts upon the Faith, let him tell us, how those accusers can possibly compromise the matter now, or what sort of verdict that jury must return, now that his offence has been already proved by his own ‘apology.’
- The μὴ is redundant and owing to οὐκ.
- Εἰςφρησάντων. A word used in Aristophanes of ‘letting into court,’ probably a technical word: it is a manifest derivation from εἰσφορεῖν. What the solecism is, is not clear; Gretser thinks that Eunomius meant it for εἰσπηδᾶν
- συνεκρότει. The word has this meaning in Origen. In Philo (de Vitâ Mosis, p. 476, l. 48, quoted by Viger.), it has another meaning, συνεκρότουν ἄλλος ἄλλον, μὴ ἀποκάμνειν, i.e. ‘cheered.’
- καθυφήσουσιν. This is the reading of the Venetian ms. The word bears the same forensic sense as the Latin prævaricari. The common reading is καθυβρίσουσιν