92. Having said this, when they had kissed him, he lifted up his feet, and as though he saw friends coming to him and was glad because of them -- for as he lay his countenance appeared joyful -- he died and was gathered to the fathers. And they afterward, according to his commandment, wrapped him up and buried him, hiding his body underground. And no one knows to this day where it was buried, save those two only. But each of those who received the sheepskin of the blessed Antony and the garment worn by him guards it as a precious treasure. For even to look on them is as it were to behold Antony; and he who is clothed in them seems with joy to bear his admonitions. c93. This is the end of Antony's life in the body and the above was the beginning of the discipline. Even if this account is small compared with his merit, still from this reflect how great Antony, the man of God, was. Who from his youth to so great an age preserved a uniform zeal for the discipline, and neither through old age was subdued by the desire of costly food, nor through the infirmity of his body changed the fashion of his clothing, nor washed even his feet with water, and yet remained entirely free from harm. For his eyes were undimmed and quite sound and he saw clearly; of his teeth he had not lost one, but they had become worn to the gums through the great age of the old man. He remained strong both in hands and feet; and while all men were using various foods, and washings and divers garments, he appeared more cheerful and of greater strength. And the fact that his fame has been blazoned everywhere; that all regard him with wonder, and that those who have never seen him long for him, is clear proof of his virtue and God's love of his soul. For not from writings, nor from worldly wisdom, nor through any art, was Antony renowned, but solely from his piety towards God. That this was the gift of God no one will deny. For from whence into Spain and into Gaul, how into Rome and Africa, was the man heard of who abode hidden in a mountain, unless it was God who maketh His own known everywhere, who also promised this to Antony at the beginning? For even if they work secretly, even if they wish to remain in obscurity, yet the Lord shows them as lamps to lighten all, that those who hear may thus know that the precepts of God are able to make men prosper and thus be zealous in the path of virtue. c94. Read these words, therefore, to the rest of the brethren that they may learn what the life of monks ought to be; and may believe that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ glorifies those who glorify Him: and leads those who serve Him unto the end, not only to the kingdom of heaven, but here also -- even though they hide themselves and are desirous of withdrawing from the world -- makes them illustrious and well known everywhere on account of their virtue and the help they render others. And if need be, read this among the heathen, that even in this way they may learn that our Lord Jesus Christ is not only God and the Son of God, but also that the Christians who truly serve Him and religiously believe on Him, prove, not only that the demons, whom the Greeks themselves think to be gods, are no gods, but also tread them under foot and put them to flight, as deceivers and corrupters of mankind, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. cIntroduction to Ad Episcopos Ægypti Et Libyæ Epistola Encyclica.
This letter was addressed by St. Athanasius to the bishops of his Province after his expulsion by Syrianus (Feb.8, 356), and when the nomination of George the contractor to the Alexandrian See was already known (§7). But no details of the persecution of the orthodox in Egypt had reached Athanasius when he wrote, in fact he mentions it as only beginning (§5). This points to about the Easter of 356; see Prolegg. ch. ii. §8 (1). The tract thus opens the series of anti-Arian works composed during the third exile.' It has indeed been inferred (by Baronius and others) from §22 that the letter was written thirty-six years after the Nicene Synod, i.e. in 361. But it was certainly written before the arrival of George, and in the passage referred to it is the first condemnation of Arius by Alexander, and not the Council of Nicæa, that is placed thirty-six years ago. The primary purpose of the letter is to warn the bishops against a formulary which was on the point of being circulated for their acceptance on pain of banishment (§5). The creed in question cannot now be identified, -- but it was very possibly the Sirmian Creed of 351 (de Synod.27), not formally Arian, but evading the Nicene test (§10). He begins, accordingly, after a general warning (1-4) against being imposed upon by mere words, and a statement (5) of the tactics of his opponents, by urging the bishops to hold to the faith of Nicæa, in contrast to the shifting professions of its opponents (6-8), and to be satisfied with nothing short of an explicit repudiation of Arianism (9-11). In the Second Part of the Letter he turns to doctrine. He states (12) the original Arian position, and confronts it (13) with passages from Scripture. He challenges the Arians (14) to state any clear belief as to the nature of the Word, which shall reconcile their premises with the language of Holy Writ (15, 16). He explains Prov. viii.22 of the Incarnation, and taxes the Arians with denying this truth, like the heathen (17). He next taxes them with dissimulation, especially Arius in his profession to Constantine (18); he describes the death of Arius, and presses the charge of complicity with a man already judged by God (19). He urges the bishops (20, 21) to steadfastness and confessorship, reprobates the coalition of Meletians (22) and Arians, and finally expresses the conviction (23) that the Emperor Constantius will put an end to these outrages when informed of the true facts of the case.
The last section is an anticipation of the Apol. ad Constantium, which Athanasius was probably preparing at the same time. Not till two years later does he cast aside all hope of the Emperor and launch out in the bitter invective of the Arian History' (see Apol. pro Fuga 26, note 7).
The place where this Encyclical was written is quite uncertain, but it was most probably in the Libyan desert, or in Cyrenaica (Prolegg. ubi supr. note 10). His language (infr. §5, note 7) would naturally be such as not to give, through so public a document, a clue to his pursuers.
It may be added that in many mss., and in the editions previous to 1698, this tract was counted as the first of the five' (or in some cases six') Orationes contra Arianos. For a discussion of this error, see Montfaucon's Monita to this tract and to the four Orationes.