The Dialogue of Palladius concerning the Life of St. John Chrysostom (1921). English translation. Pp. 1-199.
[Translated by Herbert Moore]
CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTORY
The Sin of Self-seeking in Spiritual Things
The gifts of God,1 my excellent brother Theodorus, seem to me to fall into three classes. Some are common to all, and not apportioned to individuals, while others are common to all, yet apportioned. The third class consists of those which are not common to all, nor apportioned to individuals, nor unapportioned, but given as a special privilege to those to whom they have been given.
Deacon. Your opening observation sounds reasonable; please tell us the kind of gifts you assign to each class.
Bishop. The gifts which are essentially noble, without which life would be wretched, are common to all, and not apportioned.
Deac. For example, father?
Bish. First, the God of all, together with His |2 Only-begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit, is common to all, and not apportioned; every one who wishes can by contemplation possess Him in His entirety, without material aids.2 Next to God, there are the divine scriptures, and the supra-mundane powers. Besides these, the sky, the sun, the moon, and all the host of stars, and the air itself, are common, and not apportioned; they are shared in their entirety by all. We need not give further illustrations of the class of unapportioned gifts. The land was at one time common to all, and unapportioned, and so were the streams of water; but since the mad craving for possessions became intensified in the souls of lovers of pleasure, the weightier elements of earth and water came to be apportioned.3
Deac. What you say is very clear; complete your account of the second class, that of apportioned gifts.
Bish. I will; we cannot leave the web of our subject incomplete. Well, gold, and silver, and every sort of metal, and timber, and in short every kind of raw material, are common to all, yet apportioned; for they are not at the unreserved disposal of every one who likes.
Deac. Again a very satisfactory account. I am wondering if you will not be hard put to it to demonstrate your third class, of special gifts. You laid it down, that there are some gifts which are neither common to all, nor apportioned, but are the special privilege of those who are worthy of their bestowal. |3 So make your final flourish,4 and then tell us where you have come from, and the facts in regard to which we desire to learn the truth.
Bish. If it lies in my power, and if I have the requisite knowledge of these matters about which you wish to inquire, I will not hesitate, and will add nothing; but first, I suppose, I will pay off the debt 5 owing from my argument as best I can. Well, you will find that there is no apportionment in virginity, and in the unmarried state generally; these do not belong to the class of gifts common to all, or to that of those which are apportioned. Not every one who desires it is unwedded, but he who is able; for many married people long that they might be in the virgin state, but cannot attain to it, as they are already in wedlock. At the Olympic games, the herald calls him who wishes to run, but crowns only the victor; so it is with chastity, as the gospel says. Peter, you remember, raised the objection to the Saviour's teaching, that "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry"; and the Saviour answered, "But it is not for all men to receive this saying, but they to whom it is given." 6 Do you see, that it is not for all, but for those to whom it is given?
Deac. I expected that you would have some difficulty in your demonstration of the special gifts, but it appears that you have won us to your view by your forcible and scriptural language. |4
Illustrations from the Old Testament
Bish. As you have grasped this, I will enrich 7 my argument with other scripture proofs, so that evil-minded people may be persuaded to give up grasping at what they cannot get. We find that in the divine scriptures the priesthood is not common to all, nor apportioned, but is the special privilege of those who are worthy of it. Thus the great-souled Paul declares in his instructions to the Hebrews: "For no man taketh to himself the honour, but he who is called by God; so also Aaron," he says, "did not glorify himself, to be made a high priest." 8 For there were six hundred thousand men, many of them full of zeal; but one, Aaron, was proclaimed high priest, and the miracle of the rod which put forth nuts convinced the mass of the people that the priest was chosen of God. Some, however, in their ignorance of what is good, were bitten with the lust of vain reputation, and supposing that this was one of the common or apportioned gifts, leaped upon the office as self-ordained priests. They received the reward which their madness deserved; they made the very ground upon which their gathering was held bear witness to their wilfulness. It was Dathan and Abiram who were enamoured of the dignity, like men looking upon an harlot; they and their dupes were plunged into destruction beneath the earth, and found their places of assemblage to be their unexpected tomb.
Next, Uzzah, unmindful of the events I have mentioned, was led by the lust of power to fall in love with the office; and one day, as the ark was being carried along the road upon a wagon, it happened that the ox which drew it jolted and shook the ark. Uzzah, who was in attendance, took hold of it with his hand, to prevent the coffer from being |5 overturned. God saw it, and it pleased Him not, as it afforded a precedent to headstrong persons; He prevented this, by smiting Uzzah even unto death, as a warning to posterity to refrain from such folly.
An Illustration from the New Testament
Long afterwards, after the advent of Christ, Simon Magus, of the village of Gethae,9 a cunning professor of the teaching opposed to the truth, really a bad man of wicked life, hit upon a subtle plan 10 to satisfy his lust of power; afraid, apparently, of the punishment which befel these men of old time, he did not wish to reap as they reaped, through sowing as they sowed. So he hid the wolf in the sheepskin, and approached the apostles with flattery, offering them money, so as not to seem to grasp what he was wrongfully anxious to buy, and saying what we should expect of him and his like. "Take this money," he said, "and give me the power of your high office, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive (the gifts of the) 11 Holy Ghost." 12 And he had been baptized into the name of Jesus! The answer of the apostolic band was this: "Begone, man; the grace of God does not allow itself to be sold." And as he continued knocking at the door with his appeals, they said again: "Why buy that which you can get for nothing, if you live worthily of it?" But as he considered the burdens of the life, and his own unwillingness to bear them, and the uncertainty of the matter,13 he again produced the money from his purse, thinking to ensnare the disciples of the Saviour by deceit. He Who takes |6 the wise in their own craftiness 14 expressed His indignation at this by the mouth of Peter. "Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought to purchase the gift of God with money." Yet He offered him the medicine of repentance, applying oil to his ailment, in His long-suffering. "Repent," He said; "it may be that the thought of thine heart shall be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." For God, in His love of souls, wills not the destruction of offenders.
The Characters in the Dialogue Introduced
Now, then, that I have explained my first remarks to the best of my powers, Theodorus of noble name, and deacon of the mysteries of the truth, ask us what you wanted to find out.
Deac. "Where have you come from to give us 15 your company?
Bish. From the east. You may be sure of that, for I have never seen Rome before. 16
Deac. What particular object brought you here?
Bish. My desire for your peace.
Deac. Is our peace different from yours?
Bish. No, it is not different, but. one and the same; the peace which the Saviour has given from heaven, saying to His disciples, "My peace I give unto you." And to confirm His gift of grace He repeated, "My peace I leave to you." 17 The word "give" He applies to His own work, "leave" to the Holy Spirit's; in the Spirit, through Christ, they are to reveal to the Gentiles the knowledge of the Father. But the sad condition of the poor East is like that of a man with his limbs paralyzed, who finds that the vital forces make their way to the |7 healthier parts of his body. Her limbs are paralyzed and unable to perform their proper functions, because concord has fled from her; most of us, her champions and lovers, have become exiles from our country, as we cannot live in our native land safely and quietly, on account of our attachment to the truth. We venture to hope that we may spend among you the few days of life that still remain to us in accordance with the gospel.
Deac. It seems to me that you have been sent, to us, excellent father, by divine providence; for I find that your sorrow is in tune with our troubles. I think that you must be a member of the synod of John the bishop of Constantinople.
Episc. That is so.
Deac. I urge you then, as in the presence of God, to give us a really true account of events there, the details of which we are anxious to hear; remembering, that if you tell us anything contrary to the truth, you will have God as your inquisitor and judge, and will be convicted by us as well, when we learn the discrepancy. For it is not one, or two, or three, or ten persons, but more, who have given us accounts of what has happened at Constantinople; nor were they casual travellers, but some of them bishops, and presbyters, and members of the monastic order. As you may wish to have a short statement of the part the Roman Church has played, I will give you some information on the point.
How the News reached Rome
The first to arrive here was a reader 18 from |8 Alexandria, with letters from Pope 19 Theophilus, notifying us that he had deposed John. Upon reading this letter, the blessed Pope Innocent was somewhat 20 troubled; he condemned the impetuosity and pride of Theophilus, as he had not only written on his own single authority,21 but also had neglected to make it clear why he had deposed him, or who had joined him in the sentence of deposition. He thus found himself in difficulty; he was disinclined to answer the letter, as the case was so obscure. Meanwhile, one Eusebius, a deacon of the Church of Constantinople, who was staying in Rome upon ecclesiastical business, came to Pope Innocent, and presented written memorials,22 adjuring him to wait for a short time, to see the unmasking of the plot. Three days 23 afterwards |9 arrived four bishops of John's party, all devout 24 persons----Pansophius of Pisidia, Pappus of Syria, Demetrius of the Second Galatia, and Eugenius of Phrygia; they delivered two letters, followed by a third, one from Bishop John, one from forty other bishops in communion with John, the last from John's clergy. All three letters agreed in their representation of the disturbance caused by ignorant persons. The substance of John's letter 25 was as follows:---- |10
CHAPTER II. CHRYSOSTOM'S LETTER TO INNOCENT
The Urgent Need for Action
"To my Lord the reverend and most holy Bishop Innocent, John sends greetings in the Lord.
"Your piety 26 has doubtless heard, before the receipt of this letter, of the daring illegalities committed here; for the magnitude of the crime has left no part of the world in ignorance of the cruel tragedy. Rumour has carried the news to the furthest bounds of the earth, and caused everywhere much grief and sorrow. But as the circumstances call not only for lamentation, but for remedial action, and consideration of the steps to be taken to stay this furious tempest raging within the Church, we thought it necessary to instruct my most honoured and devout lords,27 the Bishops Demetrius, Pansophius, Pappus, and Eugenius, to leave their own Churches, and to face the dangers of a long sea voyage, and set out for a lengthy absence from home; to fly to your love, and explain all the facts clearly, so as to arrange for the speediest possible redress. With them we have sent the most honoured and well-beloved deacons 28 Paul and Cyriacus.29 These persons shall take the place of a letter, and quickly inform your love of what has happened. |11
Theophilus reveals his Hostility
"The fact is, that Theophilus, to whose hands has been entrusted the bishopric of the Church of Alexandria, on representations made against him to our most pious king,30 was commanded to appear before him alone; but he arrived with a large company of Egyptians, as if anxious to show, from the very beginning, that he came for war and conflict. Next, on landing at the great and godly city of Constantinople, he did not go to Church, according to the rule which has prevailed from ancient times, or have any dealings with us, or join with us in conversation, in prayer, or in communion, but came off the ship, hurried past the porch of the Church, and went somewhere outside of the city to lodge. We repeatedly invited both him and his companions to make their stay with us (indeed, we had everything ready, including rooms and all proper accommodation); but both they and he refused the offer. We were much perplexed at this conduct, as we could not find any reason for such undeserved enmity; none the less, we did all that could be required of us, and acted correctly, continually inviting him to confer with us, and to say why he, at the very outset, kindled such a conflict, and caused offence to so important a city. But as he still persisted in refusing to state his reason, and his accusers were urgent, the most pious king commanded us to go across to his lodging, and hear his statement of his case; for he was charged with violence and murder, and countless other crimes.
Chrysostom's Correct Attitude
"We, however, had too much respect and honour for the laws laid down by the fathers,31 and for |12 Theophilus himself; and we had in our possession his own letter,32 in which he said that cases ought not to be taken beyond the boundaries [of a province], but the affairs of each province should be dealt with in that province.33 We therefore declined to try the case, and even protested most vigorously.
Theophilus Secures his Expulsion
"But Theophilus seemed to think he was dealing with his old enemies; he summoned my archdeacon 34 |13 in a very high-handed manner, as if the Church was already a widow,35 and had no bishop, and through him brought all the clergy over to his side. Thus the Churches were in a state of disorder; the clergy attached to them were led astray,36 and persuaded to present memorials against us, and egged on to become our accusers. Having succeeded so far, he sent and called us to come before him for judgment, although he had not cleared himself of the charges brought against him; a thing distinctly contrary to the canons and all the laws of the Church. But as we were aware that we were not to come before a judge (we would have appeared ten thousand times before a judge!), but before an enemy and a foe, as his actions before and afterwards showed, we sent |14 to him the Bishops Demetrius of Pisinum, Eulysius of Apameia, and Luppicianus of Appiaria, and the priests Germanus and Serus; we answered with becoming moderation, and said that we raised no objection to a trial, but to trial by an open enemy and foe. Seeing that he had as yet received no charges against us, and had from the first acted as he had, and dissociated himself from Church, and communion, and prayer, and was bribing 37 accusers, winning over our clergy, and leaving Churches without shepherds, how could he with justice mount the judge's throne, which in no sense belonged to him? For it was out of order for an Egyptian bishop to act as judge in Thrace,38 when he himself was under accusation, and an enemy and foe of the accused. Yet he was unabashed by all these considerations, and persevered in his design; when we declared that we were ready to clear ourselves of the charges in the presence of a hundred or of a thousand bishops, and to prove our innocence, shown by the very fact of our offer, he would not allow it. In our absence, in spite of our appeal to a synod, and our request for a trial (it was not a fair hearing, but open hostility, that we wished to avoid), he admitted our accusers, and set free offenders whom I had placed in confinement, and without waiting for them to clear themselves of the charges against them, accepted their memorials, and drew up minutes. All this was contrary to rule, and canon, and order. In fact, to make a long story short, he left no stone unturned, until by |15 sheer force and tyrannical action he drove us from the city and the Church.
Chrysostom's Expulsion and Return
"Late one evening, when I was being escorted through the streets by the whole of the populace, I was arrested by the city governor's agent 39 in the middle of the city, dragged away by force, and put on board a ship, which set sail by night; when I was summoning a synod for a just trial. Who could hear of these doings without shedding tears, though he had a heart of stone? But, as I said before, they call not only for lamentation, but for redress; I therefore appeal to your love, to arise and grieve with me, and do all you can to stay these evils. For there is more yet. Even after my departure, Theophilus did not put a stop to the lawless doings of his party, but girded himself for further action. Our most pious king expelled those who had so shamelessly and unrighteously intruded themselves upon the Church, and many of the bishops, when they observed the lawlessness of my opponents, retired to their own homes, so as to avoid their attacks, as they would an universal conflagration; while we were recalled to the city and to the Church, from which we had been unrighteously expelled, thirty bishops introducing us, and our most reverent king sending a notary for the purpose.40 Then Theophilus, for no rhyme or reason known to us, at once went off like a runaway slave.
The Emperor summons a Synod
"Upon our re-entry into the city, we petitioned the most reverent king to summon a synod to exact |16 retribution for all that had been done. Conscious of his guilt, and afraid of conviction, when the royal letters had been issued throughout the realm and gathered the whole episcopate from every quarter, at dead of night he secretly flung himself into a boat, and so made off, taking all his party with him. Even so, we could not let the matter drop, in the confidence our good conscience gave us, but renewed our request to the most pious king. He did as became his piety, sending a despatch to Theophilus, requiring him to return at once from Egypt, with all his followers, to give an account of what had taken place, and not to think that his unrighteous proceedings, conducted in our absence, with one side only heard, and contrary to so many canons, were sufficient to exculpate him.
Chrysostom's Second Expulsion
"But he paid no attention even to the royal letters, but stayed at home, pleading in excuse a possible uprising of the people and an unfortunate outburst of zeal, on the part, presumably, of some of his supporters; although before the king's letter was issued this same people had loaded him with abuse. But we will not labour this point now; we only mention it to show that his actions proved his guilt.
"However, even after this we did not rest, but persisted in our claim for a trial, with proper inquiry and response; for we were ready to prove our innocence, and their outrageous lawlessness. Now he had left behind some Syrians, who had accompanied him, his fellow-actors in the whole drama. We were ready to face these before a judge, and repeatedly pressed our application, claiming that either minutes of the proceedings should be given us, or the memorials of our accusers, or at least that the nature of the charges, or the accusers themselves, should be made known to us; we were granted none of these requests, but were again expelled from the city. |17
Acts of Sacrilege at Constantinople
"How can I tell you what followed, a tale more harrowing than any tragedy? What words can express it? What ears can hear it without a shudder? While we were pressing the requests I have mentioned, a strong body of soldiers invaded the Church, on the Great Sabbath,41 when evening was fast closing in, forcibly expelled all the clergy who were with us, and surrounded the chancel 42 with arms. Women who were in the houses of prayer,43 unrobed in readiness for baptism on that day,44 fled naked in face of this savage attack, not even allowed to clothe themselves as womanly decency requires. Many of these were even thrown outside injured, and the fonts 45 were filled with blood, and the holy water dyed red from their wounds. |18
"Even this was not the end of the horror; the soldiers then entered the chamber in which the sacred vessels were kept, some of them, we know, being unbaptized,46 and saw all that was within; in the turmoil the most holy blood 47 of Christ was poured out upon the garments of the women of whom I spoke. It was exactly like a barbarian man-hunting raid. The people were driven out into the country, and all the laity fled from the city; high festival though it was, the churches were emptied of their congregations, and more than forty bishops, in communion with us, were driven out, with the laity, for no possible reason. Everywhere, in the marketplaces, the houses, the country districts, were cries, groans, wailings, lamentations, and streams of tears; no part of the city escaped these calamities. Lawlessness reached such a pitch, that not only the actual victims, but even those who had not actually suffered as we did, were distressed in sympathy with us, including not only our fellow-believers, but heretics, Jews, and Greeks,48 as well; everything was in a state of disturbance, and confusion, and lamentation, as if the city had been captured by force of arms. And all this wickedness was done against the wishes of the most pious king, under cover of night, at the instigation of bishops, who were not ashamed to have corporals 49 marching in front of them, instead of deacons.
The Injury to the whole Church
"When day came, the whole city moved outside |19 the walls, and kept the feast under trees and thickets, like sheep scattered abroad. I leave you to imagine all that followed; for, as I said, it is impossible to go into all the details in words. It is especially hard, that even now we have not seen the end of all this long series of crying evils, or even any prospect of it; on the contrary, the evil spreads every day, and we are a laughing-stock to every one----though it would be more true to say that no one, even the most hardened offender against law, laughs----but, as I said, every one laments this new form of lawlessness, the very crown 50 of evils. Who can tell the disorders of the other Churches? For the trouble has not been confined to Constantinople, but has extended into the east. When some evil matter discharges from the head, all the limbs are corrupted; in the same way, now that the evil has begun in this great city, disorder has made its way everywhere, like water from a spring. Everywhere clergy are in revolt against bishops, and as for the lay congregations, some are split up into factions, others arc likely to be so; everywhere we find the throes of evil, and the undoing of the whole world.
An Appeal for Help
"With the whole of the facts before you, my most learned and reverent lords, show, we pray you, the courage and zeal which we expect of you, so as to check this flood of lawlessness which has burst upon the Churches. For if these proceedings become a precedent; if it come to be within the powers of all who wish, to invade other provinces, however distant from their own, and expel whom they will, and to do on their own authority whatever they will; be sure that everything will go by the board, and implacable 51 war will overrun the whole world. |20 Every one will expel his neighbour, and be expelled in turn. To prevent such universal confusion, I beg you to declare in writing, that these lawless proceedings, transacted in our absence, and with only one side heard, while we raised no objections to a fair trial, have no force (as indeed, from their very nature, they cannot), and that those who have been guilty of such lawlessness lie under penalty for breach of ecclesiastical law; while to us, "who have not been arrested, nor convicted, nor shown to be guilty, grant that we may have the benefit of your customary good services,52 and of your love, and your help in every way, as heretofore.
Request for a Trial
"But if these grievous law-breakers, even now, are willing to declare the charges on the strength of which they undeservedly expelled us, let the documents be presented to us, the memorials of our accusers be produced, and an unprejudiced court sit; so let us be tried, and make our defence, and let us show ourselves guiltless, as indeed we are, of the allegations brought against us. For their present proceedings are beyond all order, and all ecclesiastical law and canon. Such outrages have never been known even in heathen courts of justice, or even in a barbarian court. Scythians and Sarmatians would never have decided a case after hearing one side only, in the absence of the accused, when he raised no objections to a trial, but only to personal hatred, and when he asked for judges to any number, declaring himself to be innocent, and was ready in the presence of the whole world to clear himself of the charges, and to show himself to be absolutely guiltless.
"Take all these points, I pray you, into consideration, and make full inquiries of our most reverent brother lord bishops; and take such steps |21 as commend themselves to you. In so doing you will render service not only to us, but to the general welfare of the Churches, and you will receive your due reward from God, Who unceasingly works for the good of the Churches. I address this letter also to Venerius, Bishop of Milan, and to Chromatius, Bishop of Aquileia. Farewell in the Lord."
CHAPTER III. THE EMPEROR OF ROME TAKES ACTION
Innocent calls for a Synod of Inquiry
In answer to this letter, the blessed Pope Innocent sent to each party a formal letter,53 declaring himself to be in communion with them both, at the same time nullifying the judgment supposed to have been given by Theophilus, and stating that another synod, in which full confidence could be placed, of western and eastern bishops, must be summoned,54 first the friends, and then the enemies, of the respective |22 parties to retire from the assemblage, since as a general rule neither of these gives an unprejudiced verdict.
After a few days, Peter, one of Theophilus' priests, arrived, and with him Martyrius,55 a deacon of the Church of Constantinople, who presented letters from Theophilus, and what professed to be certain minutes; in which it appeared that John had been condemned by thirty-six bishops, of whom twenty-nine were from Egypt, seven from other parts. Pope Innocent read these minutes, and finding that the charges were not serious, and also that John had not been present in person at his conviction, renewed his denunciation of the mad fury of Theophilus, in issuing, like an evil discharge, a hasty sentence against an absent man. He dismissed them, therefore, with letters expressing his censure, and besought God with prayer and fasting, that the breach of unity in the Church might be closed, and brotherly love be cemented. The tenor of his letter was as follows:----
"Brother Theophilus, we recognize both you and your brother John to be in communion with us; we expressed our views to this effect in our previous letter. And now, without departing from this our determined policy, we can only write to you again the same message, however many letters you may send us. This is, that unless a proper judgment confirms these childish proceedings, it is impossible for us, without reason given, to separate ourselves from communion with John. If then you are sure of your verdict, meet a synod assembled as Christ ordained,56 and there openly state your accusation under appeal to the canons of Nicaea 57 (for the |23 Church of Rome accepts no other canon); so you will stand on firm ground against all cavil."
Further News Arrives
A little time slipped by,58 and then a priest of Constantinople, Theotecnus by name, arrived, presenting letters from John's synod, of twenty-five bishops or rather more; in which they advised us, that John had been expelled from the city 59 with the help of the military, and sent into exile at Cucusus, and that the church had been burnt. Innocent gave him letters of communion,60 addressed to Bishop John and to those in communion with him, begging them with tears to be patient, as he could not help them owing to the hostile action of certain persons with power to do wrong.
A Foul Charge
A short time afterwards a second messenger arrived, a mannikin, ugly in appearance, difficult to understand; Paternus was his name. He said that he was a priest of the Church of Constantinople; he was in a state of furious excitement, and showed his hostility by his behaviour.61 After loading Bishop John with abuse, he presented letters from a few bishops, Acacius, Paulus, Antiochus, Cyrinus,62 and Severianus, and some others, in which they laid against John the false charge of having set the church on fire. The |24 story seemed to us so palpably false, that John did not even offer any defence in an important synod; 63 Pope Innocent treated it with contempt, and did not think it worthy of an answer.
Chrysostom's Friends denounced by Imperial Edicts
Bish. Be so good as to give me your attention, that I may tell you the exact facts; for most truly, as Elihu says to Job, "The spirit of my belly constrains me" 64 ----meaning by "belly," his mind, filled with words.
Deac. I must first insist upon making complete, as well as accurate, my account of all that has happened among us, most excellent father. Only then can I begin to put my questions to you. Well, after a few days the bishop of the Synadi 65 arrived; he carried no letter, but was qualified to give a harmonious narrative. He said that he had left Constantinople in consequence of the threat conveyed in the royal edict, containing the order that "if any one is not in communion with Theophilus and Arsacius and Porphyrius,66 he is to be restrained from exercise of the episcopal office; and further, if he appears to hold property in money or goods he shall be deprived of it." 67
Cyriacus was followed by Eulysius, Bishop of Apameia, in Bithynia, who presented letters from fifteen bishops of John's synod and from the venerable Anysius, Bishop of Thessalonica; in which the fifteen |25 bishops described the pillage which had occurred, and was occurring, all over Constantinople, and Anysius declared that he abided by the judgment of the Church of Rome. Eulysius' account agreed with that of Cyriacus.
A month later, Palladius, Bishop of Helenopolis, arrived, without letters, saying that he too had fled from the fury of the civil authorities; he was able to add point to his account by producing a copy of the edict, containing the order, that "the house of any one who conceals, or receives into his house, under any pretext, a bishop or priest in communion with John, is to be confiscated."
After Palladius arrived Germanus, a priest,68 and with him Cassianus,69 a deacon, of John's party, both discreet men, presenting letters from the whole of John's clergy. They wrote that their Church had been subjected to violence and tyranny; their bishop had been expelled with the help of the military, and sent into exile through a plot formed by Acacius of Berea, Theophilus of Alexandria, Antiochus of Ptolemais, and Severianus of Gabala. They also presented a receipt, showing that they had deposited with the magistrates, as witnesses to the deed, namely, Studius the city prefect, Eutychianus, chief of the guard, John the city treasurer, and Eustathius, chief of police, and keeper of the records, valuables in gold, silver, and clothing, by way of clearing Bishop John of the charges laid against him.70 |26
After these came Demetrius, Bishop of Pisinum, for the second time, from a long journey through the east. He announced that the Roman Church was in communion with Bishop John, as shown by letters from Pope Innocent, and brought letters from the bishops of Caria, in which they declared their adherence to the communion of John, and from the bishops of Antioch, appealing to the love of order of the Roman Church, and lamenting the ordination of Porphyrius, as illegally and impiously performed.
Last of all came the priest Domitian, steward 71 of the Church of Constantinople, and one Vallagas, a Nisibian priest, who related the troubles of the monasteries of Mesopotamia, and presented memoranda from one Optatus,72 the prefect, showing that respectable women of the upper classes, deaconesses of the Church of Constantinople, were publicly brought before him, and compelled either to communicate with Arsacius, or to pay two hundred pounds in gold to the treasury. As for the treatment of anchorites and virgins, I dare not speak of that. They could point to ribs scraped upon the rack, and mutilated ears. |27
Pope Innocent could restrain himself no longer; he sent a letter to the pious King Honorius,73 submitting in detail the main points of the letters. His reverence was deeply moved by this statement, and ordered a synod of the western bishops to be summoned, which should pass an unanimous resolution, to be transmitted to him. The bishops of Italy accordingly met, and petitioned the king to write to his brother and fellow-king Arcadius, that he should command a synod to be held in Thessalonica. This would enable those from both hemispheres, east and west alike, to attend without difficulty, and so secure that a full synod, characterized by good judgment rather than by numbers, should issue an indisputable resolution. His reverence was so much inflamed by this letter, that he wrote to the Bishop of Rome, that he had sent five bishops, two priests, and one deacon, of Rome, to convey his letter to his brother. The import of this letter was as follows:----
Honorius' Letter to Arcadius
"This is the third time that I write to your gentleness, begging you to take measures for redress in regard to the plot against John, Bishop of Constantinople, and so far as it appears, nothing has been done. Once more, then, I address you, by the hands of the bishops and priests, in my anxiety for the peace of the Church, upon which the peace of your kingdom depends, urging you to be so good as to command that the bishops of the cast shall meet at Thessalonica. I may add that our bishops of the west have made careful choice of messengers, beyond the influence of malice or deceit----five bishops, two priests, and a deacon, of the greatest Church, that of Rome. Be so good as to hold them worthy of |28 all honour, so that either they may be convinced that Bishop John was justly expelled, and instruct me to separate from communion with him; or else, if they prove that the bishops of the east were deliberately influenced by malice, they may induce you to break off communion with them. To show you the mind of the westerns in regard to Bishop John, I append two of the various letters they have addressed to me, which are of the same import as the rest; those of the bishops of Rome and of Aquileia. But what I specially press upon your gentleness is, that you require the presence, however unwilling, of Theophilus of Alexandria, who is alleged to be the chief cause of all the trouble; that so the bishops assembled in synod may meet with no hindrance in deciding upon the peaceful settlement which our times require."
CHAPTER IV. THE BISHOP BEGINS HIS NARRATIVE
The Deputation from Rome
So the holy bishops Aemilius of Beneventum and Cythegius, and Gaudentius, with the priests Valentianus and Bonifacius and others, took charge of the letters of Innocent and the Italian bishops, Chromatius of Aquileia and Venerius of Milan and the rest, and of a memorandum from the synod of the whole of the west, and were despatched to Constantinople at public expense,74 accompanied by Bishops Cyriacus, |29 Demetrius, Palladius, and Eulysius. The memorandum was to the effect that John ought not to come up for judgment until his Church and rights of communion were restored to him; so that he might take his place in the synod of his own free will, without any excuse for ignoring the summons.
The Despiteful Treatment of the Delegates
They arrived safely at Constantinople, but returned after four months, reporting proceedings 75 which recalled Babylonian oppression. "We coasted Greece," they said, "and reached Athens; where we were detained by some wretched officer, who at once put us under the guard of a centurion, and forbad us to proceed to Thessalonica," where they 76 proposed to commence their mission by presenting the letters to Bishop Anysius. "So he embarked us," the narrator continued, "in two ships, and sent us off. A violent storm from the south came on, and we were three days without food, crossing the Aegean Sea and the straits, and at the twelfth hour of the third day anchored before the city, near the suburb of Victor. Here we were arrested by the harbour masters, by whose orders we did not know, and taken to the outskirts of the city.77 We were confined in a fortress in Thrace, called Athyra, near the sea, to our absolute torture; 78 the Roman envoys together in one small |30 building, Cyriacus and his companions in others, without even a slave to wait upon us. We were asked for our letters, but refused to surrender them, maintaining that it was impossible for us as delegates to present the letters of the king and the bishops to other than the king himself. As we persisted in our refusal, we were visited first by Patricius, a notary, then by various others, and last of all by a company captain named Valerianus, a Cappadocian, who broke the thumb of Bishop Marianus, and carried off the sealed letter of the king, with the other letters.
"On the following day, messengers were sent to us (whether by members of the royal court, or by Atticus, who was reported to have leaped upon the throne of the Church,79 we do not know), offering us three thousand cash,80 and urging us to accept their offer, and to communicate with Atticus, and say no more about the case of John. We refused the offer, and continued in prayer, that if we could do nothing to bring about peace, we might at least return in safety to our Churches----such was the ferocity we observed in them. That this should be so, God the Saviour made clear to them by various revelations. Paul, the deacon of the holy Emmelius, a very gentle and sensible man, while on the ship, saw a vision of Paul the apostle, saying to him, 'Take heed how ye walk, not as fools, but as wise, knowing that the days are evil.' 81 The dream was a warning against their various unprincipled efforts to persuade us to pervert the truth, by bribes and flattery." |31
Return of the Delegates
"Captain Valerianus came again," our informant said, "and placed us on board a very poor vessel, with a guard of twenty soldiers drawn from different ranks, after bribing the skipper, so it was rumoured, to get rid of his episcopal passengers, and packed us from Athyra at a moment's notice. So we sailed for a long distance, and were like to lose our lives, when we moored off Lampsacus; 82 there we were transhipped, and on the twentieth day brought up at Hydrun 83 in Calabria. As to the whereabouts of the blessed Bishop John, or where were the Bishops Demetrius, Cyriacus, Eulysius, and Palladius, who had accompanied our bishops upon their mission, they could tell us nothing."
The Authors of the Mischief
Bish. Come now, you have had your say, most reverent sir. Now give me your attention, and listen carefully to what I have to tell you; and I will make known to you point by point the public disturbances, worthy of a company of satyrs, which have characterized the whole tragedy, and the sources from which the delirium arose, and the point at which our enemies expected to stop----but they have not stopped yet. Well, the fountain-head and beginning of all the troubles, I suppose one must say, was the devil, the hater of good, who always opposes the reasonable 84 flocks of Christ, pitilessly harassing the experienced shepherds with various kinds of torments, just as the King of Egypt treated the male children |32 of the Jews, and seducing the impostors, the false shepherds, with the deceits of earthly pleasures. The channels conveying the foul effluence, as all the round world knows, are Acacius,85 Antiochus,86 Theophilus, and Severianus,87 who are called what they are not, and really are what they cannot bear to be called; and some of the clerical order, two priests and five deacons, some of them gathered from the unclean, some from the malicious----I do not know if one can safely call such people priests or deacons. Then there are two, or at the most three, from the royal court, who strengthened Theophilus' party, lending them the support of the military; and three women, besides those who are well known, widows, left wealthy, possessed of money made by extortion, to the loss of their own salvation, husband-baiters and disturbers of the peace.88 The three are Marsa, wife of Promotus, Castricia, wife of Saturninus, and |33 Eugraphia,89 an absolute maniac. For very shame, I will say no more. These are the men and the women, sluggard-hearted in the matter of the faith, who have formed themselves into a kind of drunken regiment, united in their hatred of Christian teaching, and have organized a flood of destruction against the peace of the Church.
Theodorus desires the Truth, and Nothing but the Truth
Deac. I understand. Now then, father, I beg you to tell us, as in the presence of God, why they hated Bishop John, and what grounds he had for persistently vexing such highly placed people; and let us know where he began his career, and how he reached the episcopal throne of Constantinople, and how long he held office, and his character, and how he came to his death, if it is true that, as we hear, he has fallen asleep.90 True, the man is universally held in respect and honourable memory; still, I make it a rule not to believe hastily in rumours, until their truth is confirmed by those who have sufficient knowledge to bestow blame or praise.
The Tests of Truth
Bish. I commend your love of accuracy, most truth-loving gentleman and man of God, Theodorus, but I do not accept your distinction. You ought to have been satisfied (excuse a personal remark) by the sight of my white hairs,91 and by the office I hold, that you had the truth laid before you; but as you have not done so, but a second time call God to be my judge, do promise me an unprejudiced hearing, at least from now, and let me not pipe my chants to no purpose. I know what is written in |34 the divine law----" The Lord shall destroy all them that speak leasing," 92 and in the apostle John, "He who speaketh a lie is not of God," 93 and again in David, "For the mouth of them that speak lies is stopped." 94 It is true that a liar does harm to the man who believes him; but it is also true that he who believes him does wrong to the liar, by being ready to trust him. As both are equally guilty, let neither of us do wrong to his neighbour. It is a virtue in a speaker, to speak the truth, and a virtue in a hearer, to test unrighteous statements; for the Scripture says, "Be ye reliable money-changers," 95 rejecting the spurious from among the genuine coins. We are not to receive everything we hear merely because it rings true,96 but to weigh it by the testimony of the facts, whether it be spoken or written, with a good conscience, and in the fear of God. Grave is the danger from ears and tongue; this is why God, the good artificer, has caused the tongue to be guarded by two lips, and fixed the rampart of the teeth within, as a secure defence to moderate its activity (as it is written, "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, a door of confinement about my lips, that I offend not with my tongue "),97 while He has bored the channel of the ears in spiral form. The significance of this shape is, that words do not enter too quickly, as the time occupied by their winding course is sufficient to deposit the crass matter of falsehood, and the sludge of malice, which arc left upon the walls of the orifice. Not that these |35 were the only organs upon which He bestowed His care, as though they were the only ones that trip; we find that He has set veils before the eyes, like window curtains, to keep them from admitting the death of licentiousness, to which the prophet bears witness in the words, "Death ascended. through the doors." 98
Grey Hair no Criterion of Truth
Deac. If our inquiry dealt with ordinary matters, most holy father, your appearance would have been enough to guarantee the truth of your account; but as we are in quest of the truth, in a matter which involves no small blame in this world, and condemnation in the next, when rulers and peoples arc gathered before the awful tribunal, pardon me, my dear sir, if I do not accept your white hairs as evidence. Many bad men have reached old age, men who have not whitened their souls with virtue, but wrinkled their bodies with the lapse of time; such as were the false priests at Babylon, and Ephraim, in Jeremiah,99 of whom the Word cries in reproof, "Ephraim is a silly dove, having no heart; grey hairs have blossomed forth upon him, but he himself knoweth it not." 100 And again, more severely, "Ephraim is a cake not turned, and strangers have devoured his strength." 101
And I must add, at the risk of being prolix, who is whiter, or more amiable, than Acacius of Berea, whom you and your friends accuse of being the rebel chief, and the leader of the revolutionaries in misbehaviour? Yet his very nostrils bore a crop of long white hairs, when he visited Rome to bring the formal announcement of the ordination 102 of John. |36
Bish. Now I know for certain, that you are a reliable money-changer; you are not content with the look of the tent-skins, but insist upon full knowledge of the man who lives inside. The temples of the Egyptians,103 we know, are very large, and glory in the magnificence of their stones, but have within them apes, and ibises, and dogs, which pass as gods; while our Lord and God, in making known to Samuel His will as to the appointment of a ruler for Israel, instructs him not to look upon the condition and moulding of the body of clay, with the words, "God seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh upon the countenance, but God upon the heart." 104 Hence those who follow the example of God,105 in everything search out what lies beneath the surface. So I gladly trust myself to you, now that I have found that your scales are free from bias. Those two Babylonians, who were old in body, but perfect infants in their clownish minds, if they had believed in the resurrection of the dead,106 would have been fortified in wisdom against falling in love with Susanna, the wife of another man; and further, if they had possessed the fear of God, they would not have interwoven false accusations with their licentiousness.107 The |37 misuse of youth is a sure proof of dishonour in old age.108
CHAPTER V. THE EARLY CAREER OF CHRYSOSTOM
Chrysostom's Birth and Early Years
This John was (yes, he has fallen asleep) by birth a man of Antioch, the son of honourable parents, his father 109 holding the office of military commander in Syria; an elder sister was the only other child. He was gifted with unusual ability, and was carefully trained in letters,110 for the ministry of the oracles 111 of |38 God. At the age of eighteen, a boy in years, he revolted against the professors of verbosities; and a man in intellect, he delighted in divine learning. At that time the blessed Meletius the Confessor, an Armenian by race, was ruling the Church of Antioch; he noticed the bright lad, and was so much attracted by the beauty of his character, that he allowed him to be continually in his company. His prophetic eye foresaw the boy's future. He was admitted to the mystery 112 of the washing of regeneration, and after three years of attendance 113 on the bishop, advanced to be reader.114
But as his conscience would not allow him to be satisfied with work in the city, for youth was hot within him, though his mind was sound, he turned to the neighbouring mountains; here he fell in with an old man named Syrus,115 living in self-discipline, whose hard life he resolved to share. With him he spent four years, battling with the rocks of pleasure. When |39 he found it more easy to master these, not so much by toil as by reason,116 he retired to a cave by himself, in his eagerness to hide himself from the world, and there spent twenty-four months, for the greater part of which he denied himself sleep, while he studied the covenants 117 of Christ, the better to dispel ignorance. Two years spent without lying down by night or day deadened his gastric organs, and the functions of the kidneys were impaired by the cold.118 As he could not doctor himself, he returned to the haven of the Church.
And here we see the providence of the Saviour, in withdrawing him by his infirmity, for the good of the Church, from ascetic toils, and compelling him by this obstacle of ill-health to leave the caves.119
Chrysostom as Deacon and Priest.
Next, after serving the altar for five years, he was ordained deacon 120 by Meletius. By this time his brilliant abilities as a teacher were famous, and the |40 people found in intercourse with him sweet refreshment from the bitterness of life; Bishop Flavianus 121 therefore ordained him presbyter. For twelve years he was a shining light in the Church of Antioch, lending dignity to the priesthood there by the strictness of his life; some he salted with sobriety, some he illuminated by his teaching, some he refreshed with draughts of the spirit. Thus all was fair sailing under the steersmanship of Christ, when the blessed 122 Nectarius,123 bishop of the Church of Constantinople, fell asleep. Immediately a crowd of people who were not called for rushed forward to secure the supreme position----men who were not men, presbyters by office, yet unworthy of the priesthood; some battering at the doors of officials, others offering bribes, others again going on their knees to the populace. The orthodox laity were much disturbed by all this, and importuned the king with petitions for an experienced priest. |41
Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople
The most influential man of affairs was Eutropius 124 the eunuch, chief of the royal chamberlains. It was his wish to have John in charge of the city, as he had gained some experience of his high character when some business of the king took him to the further East; so he advised the king to send instructions to the governor 125 of Antioch, to send John quietly out of the city, without disturbing the Church. The governor, immediately on receipt of the letter, summoned him to present himself at the shrines of the |42 martyrs,126 outside the city, near the gate known as Romanesia; where he put him in a public conveyance, and entrusted him to the care of the eunuch sent by Eutropius, and the magistrate's guard. Thus he reached Constantinople, and was ordained bishop of the Church of that city.127
Now Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, as he observed his bearing,128 and the irreproachable outspokenness of his language, was from the beginning |43 bitterly opposed 129 to his ordination. For Theophilus is very clever at judging faces; the will and mind of a man are not easy to read.130
Deac. One moment, father. I must raise a slight objection.
Bish. What is your difficulty?
Deac. If Theophilus is so sharp-sighted, how is it that he was unaware that if he expelled John from his see, he would disturb the whole world?
Bish. There is nothing wonderful in this, my dear sir; even the demons recognized the advent of the Saviour, and yet were unaware that they would be made powerless by a single breath from those who believed in Him.
Deac. Where do we find that they recognized the Saviour's presence?
Bish. When they cried, "We know Thee who Thou art, the holy one of God; why hast Thou come to torment us before the time?" 131 You see that they knew, even then, that He is not only holy, but also judge. But apart from demons, unfortunate prostitutes recognize men of self-control from the bearing of their eyes, and avoid them, just as a diseased eye avoids the light of the sun, or the vulture sweet scent. How is it that "Godliness is an abomination to sinners," if they cannot recognize godliness? So it was that Theophilus, not finding anything in John's face corresponding to his own eye, or that which he desired to find, inferred his hostility, as a matter of unsupported conjecture. |44
Deac. You surprise me, father. But why did he oppose his ordination?
Bish. It was always his policy not to ordain good and sensible men, except by inadvertence, as he wished them all to be weak-minded persons, over whom he could dominate; he thought it better to dominate over weak-minded men than to hear the wisdom of the prudent. None the less, willing or unwilling, he had to yield to saving Providence.
Reforms of the Life of the Clergy
Thus John was ordained, and entered upon the care of affairs. At first, he tested his flock by playing to them upon the pipe of reason. But occasionally he exercised the staff of correction 132 as well; he inveighed against the mode of life, white-washed under the name of "brotherly life," which he called by its right name of "evil life," in connection with the women known as "introduced." 133 He showed it to be worse, if a choice of evils had to be made, than that of brothel-keepers; for they live far from the surgery, and keep the disease to themselves, for those who desire it, while the "brothers" live within the workshop of salvation, and invite healthy people to come and catch the disease. This caused great indignation to those among the clergy who were without the love of God, and blazing with passion. |45
Reform of the Life of the Laity
He next took action against injustice, pulling down avarice, that metropolis of evils, to build an habitation of righteousness. This is characteristic of wise master-builders, first to pull down the habitation of falsehood, and then to lay the foundation of truth, as it is said in the prophet, "I have set thee over peoples and kingdoms, to root up and to plant, to dig down and to rebuild." 134 The first expressions refer to his work as husbandman, the second as a builder. Next, he disturbed the numerous purse-worshippers, and then attended to their manner of life, urging them to be content with their own earnings, and not to be always dangling after the savoury odours of the rich. To follow smoke as their torch-bearer meant handing themselves over to the fire of licence; this was the result of following the life of the flatterer and the parasite. Then, most of the gluttons were dug out of their holes, and the sharp people who bring false accusations shared the same fate.
Reform of Church Finance
Then he examined the account books of the Church treasurer, and found expenditure which was of no benefit to the Church; these grants he ordered to be stopped. This brought him to another financial question----the bishop's expenditure. Here he found extraordinary extravagance, and ordered the large sums so spent to be transferred to the hospital. 135 As |46 the need of treatment was very great, he erected other hospitals, over which he appointed two devout priests, as well as doctors and cooks, and kindly workers from among his celibates to assist them; so that strangers coming to the city, and there falling ill, could obtain medical care, as a thing which was not only good in itself, but also for the glory of the Saviour.
Reform of the Order of Widows
Then he summoned the members of the order 136 of widows, and made a searching investigation into cases of misconduct; some, whom he found too fond of carnal pursuits, he admonished either to adopt the practice of fasting, and to abstain from the bath 137 and from over-dressing, or else to proceed without delay to a second marriage, that the law of the Lord might not be brought into disrepute.
Reform of Devotion
Next, he urged the people to join in the intercessions 138 offered during the night,139 as the men had no |47 leisure during the day, while their wives were to stay at home, and say their prayers by day. All this annoyed the less strenuous clergy, who made a practice of sleeping all night.
Then he put his hand to the sword of correction against the rich, lancing the abscesses of their souls, and teaching them humility and courtesy towards others. In this he followed the apostolic precept to Timothy, "Charge them who are rich in this world not to be high-minded, nor to trust in uncertain riches." 140
Results of these Reforms
As the result of these reforms, the Church put forth daily more abundant blossoms; the tone 141 of the whole city was changed to piety, men delighting their souls with soberness and psalmody. But the devil, who hates all that is good, could not tolerate the escape of those whom he held in dominion, now taken from his grasp by the word of the Lord through the teaching of John; so much so, that the horse-racing and theatre-going fraternity left the courts of the devil, and hastened to the fold 142 of the Saviour, in their love for the pipe of the shepherd who loves his sheep. |48
CHAPTER VI. THE BEGINNING OF TROUBLE
The Plot against Chrysostom
In consequence of this, envy took possession of the minds of the hireling shepherds, who were by implication convicted. As they could not get the better of him, because they did not call upon the Saviour, the destroyer of envy, they devised various slanders against John; representing certain homilies of his as jests at the expense of the queen and of the royal court.143
Now it happened that just at this time Acacius, Bishop of Berea, paid him a visit, and according to his own statement, was not given a decent lodging; he was much vexed at this, and swelled with indignation at what he regarded as a slight put upon him by John. Unable to control his feelings, he indulged in a witless witticism, "out of the abundance of his heart," 144 worthy of his great mind.145 He said in the presence of some of John's clergy, "I am seasoning a pot for him." At once he threw in his lot with Severianus and Antiochus, and Isaac Syriscus, the leading spirit of the impostor monks,146 a plausible |49 rascal, who spent all his time in abuse of bishops. These worthies looked themselves out arms, nominally against John, but really against the glory of the Saviour.
First, they sent to Antioch, and tried to discover any youthful offences of his. But as "they that seek failed," 147 and found nothing, they sent messengers to Alexandria, to the unprincipled Theophilus, known as "weather-cock," 148 who was very clever at engineering such things. He at once opened the books of his mind, with all the stealth of a thief, and set himself to find any pretext whatever for taking action.
The Charge of a Breach of Canon Law
Deac. Stay the torrent of your words, father, before I forget what is in my mind, and let me tell you the charge which reached us from Alexandria, and generally gained acceptance. The story is, that John received into communion some clergy who had been deposed by Theophilus. This improper action annoyed Theophilus, who in consequence had a disagreement with John, and proceeded to act against him.
Bish. Granted that the popular account is true; still, is it for a bishop to remedy evil by evil? What then of the gospel saying, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath"? 149 Or of the apostle's words, "Overcome evil with good"? 150 Or the prophet's, "If I have rewarded evil to them that dealt evil to me"? 151 Surely, then, it would have been more gallant for him, in dealing with devout bishops, to say, Brother John, in inadvertence you have done this or that? And for John to be able to plead in self-defence, that he knew nothing about the matter?
Deac. That is true, provided that his will was |50 good, and that he was not trumping up the charge of befriending these clergy to satisfy his private animosity.
Bish. Then, by the fear of God, Who ruleth over the illimitable fears, I swear that I will speak no word that is not consonant with fact, in regard to these clergy of whom you speak.
Isidore and the Widow's Gift
There was one Isidore,152 one of the priests ordained by the blessed Athanasius the Great, still surviving, in his eightieth year. Most of the people of Rome know him, as he visited the city on ecclesiastical business, as the guest-master153 of the Church of Alexandria; and you know him yourselves, from his coming with Acacius to convey the announcement of the establishment of communion 154 between Flavian us and Theophilus,155 after it had been interrupted for twenty years, on account of the blessed Evagrius,156 who fought many a fight in the course of his labours for the good of the Church. The widow of one of the great men of the city gave this Isidore a thousand |51 gold pieces,157 putting him under oath by the table of the Saviour, for the purchase of clothes for the poor women of Alexandria; he was not to mention the matter to Theophilus, for fear that he would take the money, and spend it on his stones. For Theophilus is obsessed, like Pharaoh, with a craving for stone 158 for buildings, of which the Church stands in no need. Never mind that now; I want to come to the point about Isidore.
Isidore took the money, and spent it for the benefit of the poor women and widows. Theophilus somehow got to know; nothing could escape him, wherever done or spoken, with his gang of spies and eavesdroppers, not to call them anything else. He summoned Isidore, and with apparent civility asked if his information was true. Isidore did not deny it, and gave an account of his dealings in the matter. On hearing this, Theophilus changed his behaviour, and he who a moment before, when he made the inquiry, was gentle and kindly, next moment swelled all over his body with wrath; his very appearance changed, when Isidore's answer reached his ears.
Theophilus' Accusation of Isidore
He kept quiet for a while, like a dog that bites you when you are off your guard, but two months later convened the clergy, before whom he produced a document, and said in the presence of Isidore: "I received this charge against you, Isidore, eighteen years ago; but as I was very busy, I forgot the matter. Just now, as I was looking up some other papers, I found this document, which concerns you. What have you to say in defence?" The paper contained a charge of sodomy. |52
Isidore began his defence by saying to Theophilus: "Granted that it is true, that you received the paper, and also that it slipped your memory, was not the man who presented the memorial available for a second inquiry?" Theophilus answered, "No; the lad did not appear, as he was a sailor." Then Isidore: "He did not appear at the moment, as you say, Pope; did he not appear after his voyage? Did he not appear the year after, or the year after that? It is not too late even now; if he is here, tell the fellow to stand forth."
Theophilus Excommunicates Isidore
Hereupon Theophilus, finding himself likely to be humiliated in face of the actual truth, adjourned the inquiry to another day; and by large promises induced a boy to lay an accusation against Isidore, giving him a bribe, it is said, of twenty-five gold pieces, which he at once handed over to his mother. The mother refused to accept the money, deterred partly by the thought of the unbiassed Eye, partly by fear of the laws of the land; she reflected that Isidore, if falsely accused, might appeal to the magistrate.159 So she came and told Isidore the whole story, and showed him the coins, which she said she had received from Theophilus' sister as "a reward against the innocent." 160 The woman paid the due penalty for her many sins, and for this one in particular; she died under an operation on the breasts. All this time Isidore stayed at home, making supplication to God. The boy, partly in fear of the laws, partly at the thought of Theophilus' rage at his failure, fled to the efficacious protection of the Church, and took refuge at the altar.161
Thus, on a revolting allegation, the rights of which were never heard, Theophilus declared Isidore to be outcast from the Church; a solemn farce to disguise his own wickedness. Isidore now took alarm, lest |53 Theophilus in his increasing fury should take measures against his personal safety (for by all accounts, he actually went as far as this), and made his way with all speed to the community of monks of the mountain of Nitria,162 where he had spent his youth; here he sat in his cell, and addressed himself in prayer to the long-suffering God.163
The Charge of Origenism
Meanwhile Theophilus, conscious of the indecency and doubtfulness of his victory, sent letters to the neighbouring bishops, ordering some of the principal monks, the heads of the monasteries, to be expelled from the mountain and from the further desert, without giving his reasons. These monks went down to Alexandria, with their priests, and begged Theophilus to state the grounds on which they were condemned to expulsion. Theophilus stared at them, like. a dragon, with bloodshot eyes, glaring like a bull; in his uncontrollable temper, he was livid one moment, pale the next, the next again smiling sarcastically. He took the tippet 164 upon the shoulders of the aged Ammonius, and twisted it round his neck with his own hands, punching him in the face, making his nose bleed with his clenched fists, and |54 shouting, "Anathematize Origen,165 you heretic!" when the only point at issue was the petition on behalf of Isidore. This is the way with bad tempers; their actions and words are like puppies, born blind. So they returned, all bloodstained, to their monasteries, without receiving an answer; and continued their usual life of austerity, sharpening their natural powers by the study of the scriptures, through which we win salvation. They thought the less of the man's frenzy, because they were conscious of their own innocence. |55
CHAPTER VII. THEOPHILUS, THE MONKS AND CHRYSOSTOM
Synodical Action against the Monks
Not content with this, Theophilus sent to the neighbouring bishops, and convened a synod to condemn the monks; without calling them to defend themselves, or letting them speak a word, he declared outcast three of the most eminent of them (he was afraid to issue sentence of punishment upon the whole body at once), trumping up a charge of perversion of doctrine. The very men whom he had often honoured above bishops as teachers, for their lives, their gifts of speech, and their length of service, he was not ashamed to call impostors, for their attitude towards Isidore. Following up this declaration, he secured 166 five mannikins from Mount Nitria itself, who never had a place in the chapter-meeting of the elders of the desert, creatures not fit, much as it pains me to say so, to keep the doors; one of them he ordained bishop, and as he had not a city at his disposal, placed him in charge of a little village. He had no scruples about revolutionary acts, as he called himself a second Moses. Another he ordained priest, and the other three deacons. These were not Egyptians, but from different countries----one from Libya, one from Alexandria, one from Pharana, one from Paralus; as they had no hope of making anything out of their native countries, they fell in with his ridiculous measures.
Appeal to the Civil Authority
Next, he persuaded them to present memorials against the three excommunicate bishops, concocting the terms of the accusation himself; their only contribution was the signature. This done, he |56 accepted the memorials from them in the presence of the Church, and proceeded to the governor under the crown,167 with whom he lodged a representation against them in his own name, as archbishop of the diocese of Egypt,168 together with the falsely incriminating memorials, demanding the expulsion of the men, with the help of the military, from every part of Egypt.
Savage Attack upon the Monasteries
Armed with the governor's order, and taking the military with him to cover his doings, he gathered a mob of ruffians, who cared nothing about dignities, and fell upon the monasteries in the dead of night, after priming his young fellows with liquor. First, he ordered their saintly brother Dioscorus, bishop of the mountain, to be expelled from his throne, literally dragged away by Ethiopian slaves, probably unbaptized 169 into the bargain, and took possession of his |57 see,170 which since the coming of Christ had been in the possession of the city of Dioscorus. Next, he raided the mountain, and gave the trifling property of the monks to his youths; when he had stripped the cells, he searched for the three bishops, whom they had let down into a well, putting rushes upon its mouth. As he could not find them, he set their cells on fire with faggots, burning up with them all their copies of the canonical 171 scriptures, and other valuable writings, as well as a boy (so eye-witnesses said), and the sacred elements.172
Flight of the Monks to Palestine
When he had thus relieved his senseless fury, he wcnt down again to Alexandria, giving the saintly men an opportunity of escape; they at once took their sheepskin habits, and fled to Palestine, making their way to Aelia,173 accompanied by 300 of the |58 worthy monks of the mountain, and a body of priests and deacons. The rest were scattered abroad in different places.
Theophilus pursues Them
The serpent who creeps by crooked ways could not tolerate their freedom, and again stirred up Theophilus against them; boiling with rage, he wrote letters to the bishops of Palestine, as follows: "You ought not to have received these men into your cities, contrary to my judgment; but as you did it in ignorance, I grant you pardon. Look to it then in the future, that you admit them neither into ecclesiastical, nor into private premises." In the extravagance of his pride, he not only said, but actually imagined that he was a god.
The Monks arrive at Constantinople
The fugitives, sorely distressed by this continual movement from place to place, arrived at the capital,174 where Bishop John had been enthroned under the good hand of God for the spiritual care of our rulers; they fell at his feet, begging him to help souls slandered and plundered by men better accustomed to this sort of thing than to doing good.
Appeal to Chrysostom
John stood up, and saw fifty first-rate men, their habits worn grey with their holy toils. With his keen sense of brotherly love, he was deeply moved, and bursting, like Joseph, into tears, inquired what wild boar from the forests, or rogue beast, had been doing mischief to this fruitful vine. "Be seated, father," they answered; "give us dressings for our ghastly wounds, inflicted through the frenzy of Pope Theophilus, and see if you can bind up our swelling gashes. If even you give us no attention, through respect to, |59 or fear of, Theophilus, as the other bishops have done, there is nothing left for us to do, but to go to the king, and inform him of this man's ill-doings, to the disrepute of the Church. If then you have any concern for the good name of the Church, receive our petition, and persuade him to allow us our home in Egypt. We have committed no offence, either against the law of the Saviour or against the Pope himself."
Chrysostom' s Dealings with the Monks
John thought that he would have no difficulty in changing the revengeful feelings of Theophilus towards them, and gladly took the matter in hand. He instructed the men, for the love of God, to keep silence, and to tell no one why they were there, until he should send word to his brother Theophilus. He gave them sleeping-quarters in the Church of the Resurrection,175 but did not supply them with any of the necessities of life. Some godly women provided them with food, and they made their own contribution by the labours of their hands.
It happened that at that time there were some of Theophilus' clergy in Constantinople, who had come to purchase promotion from the newly-appointed 176 governors in the province 177 of Egypt, and to secure their favour towards him, in carrying out his plans for the destruction of those who were an annoyance to him. So John called these men, and inquired if they knew the ascetics who were in the city. They frankly gave the men a good character. "We know them," they told John; "it is true that they have been treated with great violence. If it please you, my lord, refuse them communion in the spiritual |60 feast, so as not to annoy the Pope, but deal kindly with them in everything else. This will be expected of you, as bishop."
Chrysostom' s Letter to Theophilus
So John did not receive them into communion,178 but wrote to Theophilus, courteously asking him to do him, as Theophilus' son and brother, the favour of taking the men like little children in his arms. Theophilus refused to do John the favour, and sent to him certain persons well versed in verbal disputes ----the men we have just mentioned----instructing them to present requirements, which as usual he dictated himself, containing statements admittedly false, but dressed out with all sorts of calumnies in regard to the men's spiritual condition,179 as he had nothing to bring against their outward lives. Thus they were to be pointed at as impostors at the palace.
Seeing that Theophilus, so far from coming to a right mind, was all the more bitter against them, the ascetics sent a numerous deputation to him, declaring that they anathematized all false doctrine; and presented a petition to John, detailing the various forms of oppression from which they suffered, and some specific points of complaint. I am ashamed to speak of them in the presence of these young people, for fear of shaking their confidence in my veracity; perhaps, too, even more experienced Christians might not believe me.
John again, both in person and through other bishops, urged them to drop the charges against Theophilus, in view of the mischief which the suit would cause, and wrote to Theophilus: "They are |61 reduced to such extremities, that they are filing a formal indictment against you. I leave it to you to deal with it as you think best; for I cannot persuade them to leave the capital."
At this, Theophilus blazed with anger, and suspended the brother of the monks, Bishop Dioscorus, a man who had grown old in the service of the Church, from ministering in his own church; while he wrote to John: "I think that you are unaware of the order of the Nicene Canons, in which it is laid down that a bishop shall not exercise jurisdiction beyond his boundaries; 180 if so, now that you know it, leave these charges against me alone, if there was any need for me to be put on my trial, it should be before Egyptian judges, not before you, at the distance of a seventy-five days' journey."
CHAPTER VIII. FIRST EXPULSION OF CHRYSOSTOM
The Monks' Appeal to Eudoxia and its Result
John received the letter, but kept it to himself, and discussed measures for peace with the ascetics of both parties. Both were exasperated at what he said to them; the exiles, because they had been tyrannically treated, the others, because they had no power to make peace without Theophilus, as it was at his orders that they had presented the falsely incriminating petitions. This done, John dismissed the matter from his mind, as he considered them to be answered.
Hereupon the monks of the aggrieved party withdrew, and compiled a lengthy petition, formally charging the other monks with libel, and Theophilus |62 ----well, to tell the truth, with everything that any one of them knew him to have done. They appealed to their majesties, approaching the queen in the shrine of the holy John, with the petition that the case of the disputant monks might be investigated before the prefects, and that Theophilus, however much against his will, might appear to stand his trial before John. The petition was made, and the answer was, that Theophilus should be summoned by the magistrate to appear, whether willing or unwilling, and take his trial before John; and that Theophilus' monks should substantiate the charges preferred against the aged saints or pay the penalty of false accusation.
Theophilus Summoned to Constantinople
So Captain 181 (retired) Elaphius was sent to Alexandria to bring Theophilus, while the justices carried out the rest of the Empress' answer. The investigation was held, and an indecisive result obtained; but as they were still threatened with the glittering sword of the law, the poor wretches took fright at the possible issue, and got the matter adjourned until Theophilus' arrival, on the ground that he had suborned, them, and had dictated the petitions. So the officials put them in prison, until Theophilus should arrive, bail being refused under the circumstances of the case. Some of them lingered in prison until they died, owing to the slow movements of Theophilus; 182 others, subsequently to his arrival, when he |63 hurried forward the matter by means of bribes, were at the final inquiry sentenced to transportation to Proconnesus for malicious accusation.
So Theophilus arrived at Constantinople, like a beetle loaded with the dung of the best that Egypt, or India itself, produces,183 emitting sweet scent to cover his stinking jealousy; he entered the city at mid-day on the fifth day of the week, cheered by a mob of sailors.184 Such was the palm of dishonourable glory which he had to bear----the glory of which the apostle said long ago, "Whose glory is in their shame," and added, "who mind earthly things." 185 He took up his quarters in the tents of the unrighteous, and avoided the Church, forgetful of David's verse, "I had rather be cast away in the house of my God, than to dwell in tents of sinners." 186 It was his own conscience that shut him out from the Church. |64
In the course of three whole weeks he never held any conversation with John,187 such as is customary among bishops, and never went near the church, but linked his new hostility with the old, and spent night and day in his efforts to expel Bishop John not only from the Church, but even from life itself. He lavished money in purchasing the support of the superstitious 188 spirits among the authorities against the truth, made the greedy ones his slaves by the abundance of his table, and further, by flattery and promises of promotion, won over his fellow-impostors among the clergy. When he had put all these in bonds----of pleasure, not of rope----like some seducing demon, and bewitched the discerning faculties of their souls, he looked about for some demoniacal person to be his understudy in the play, and succeeded in finding what he wanted.
The Memorials of the Renegade Deacons
There were two deacons, who had been expelled from the Church by Bishop John for criminal offences. He availed himself of their frailty, and persuaded them to present memorials against John, promising to restore them to their office. Their offences were murder and fornication respectively.189 He fulfilled his promise; for after the banishment of John he restored them to their places, obviously because they had presented the memorials which Theophilus himself dictated. They contained not a word of truth, except the one point, that he advised every one, after communion, to take a little water, or a pastille, for fear that they might involuntarily spit out a portion of the elements 190 with the saliva or phlegm. He first adopted the practice himself, to teach reverent care to those who would learn. |65
The Conclave at Eugraphia' s House
On receiving the memorials, Theophilus held a meeting at the house of Eugraphia; at which were present Severianus, Antiochus, Acacius, and every one else who had a grudge against John for his seemly exhortations. For the blessed bishop, like St. Paul, made a practice in his teaching, "both publicly and from house to house," 191 of urging dignified behaviour; he was especially severe with women like Eugraphia. "At your age," he would say, "when you are really old women, and widows into the bargain, why do you force your bodies to become young again, wearing curls on your foreheads like the women of the street, bringing every other lady into disrepute, and giving people generally a false impression?"
The Hostile Synod Meets
So they held a gathering,192 and took steps to bring a suit against John. One of them suggested that they should present petitions to the king, and insist upon his appearing before the synod, however unwilling. This was the course adopted; as with the Jews, so with them, money made everything easy.193 |66
Chrysostom' s Forebodings
We were seated,194 a company of forty bishops, in the refectory at the bishop's house, with Bishop John, marvelling that a man who had been put on his trial, and ordered to appear at the capital on disgraceful charges, had arrived with such a numerous following of bishops, and that he had suddenly brought about such a change in the minds of the authorities, and perverted the majority of the clergy. While we could see no answer to the question, John was inspired by the Spirit, and said to us all: "Pray for me, brethren, and, if ye love Christ, let none desert the Church of which he is in charge on my account; for like the writer of the words, 'I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.' 195 And I shall endure much persecution, and depart from this life, I see. For I know the cunning of Satan; he can no longer bear the annoyance of my invectives against him. The Lord have mercy upon you.196 Remember me in your prayers."
Words of Consolation
So profound was our distress, that some of us began to cry, others left the gathering with tears, and broken hearts. We kissed his eyes, and his sanctified head, and his facile and blessed lips. But he bade |67 us, as we were flying hither and thither, like bees buzzing round a hive, to come back to the gathering, and said: "Be seated, brethren, and do not weep, to give me greater pain. For to me 'to live is Christ, and to die is gain.' 197 It was often said, that I should lose my head for being too outspoken. I think you will remember, if you look into your memories, that I always used to say to you, This present life is a journey, and its joys and sorrows are ever passing away. What is before our eyes is but a fair; we finish our buying and selling, and we move elsewhere. Are we better than the patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles, that this state of life should abide with us for ever? "
Then one of the company sobbed aloud, saying, "Nay, we lament our orphaned condition, the widowhood 198 of the Church, the confounding of ordinances, the ambition of those who do not fear the Lord, and leap upon high offices in the Church, the defenceless state of the poor, the famine of teaching." The Christ-loving bishop tapped the palm of his left hand with the forefinger of his right, a familiar gesture when he was in deep thought, and said to the speaker: "Say no more, brother, only remember what I said; do not desert your Churches. The teaching office did not begin with me, nor did it come to an end in me. Did not Moses die, and was not Joshua found? Did not Samuel end his days, and was not David anointed? Jeremiah departed this life, but was there not Baruch? Elijah was taken up, but did not Elisha take his place as prophet? Paul was beheaded, but did he not leave behind him Timothy, Titus, Apollos, and countless others?"
Eulysius, Bishop of Apameia in Bithynia, was the next to speak. "It is inevitable," he said, "if we keep our Churches, that we shall be forced to communicate with them and to sign (your sentence of condemnation)." Said the holy John, "Communicate with them, lest you rend the Church; but |68 do not sign. For my conscience is clear of any thought deserving my deposition."
The Summons from the Council of The Oak
At this moment, messengers from Theophilus were announced. John ordered that they should be admitted; and on their entry, asked to what order they belonged. "We are bishops," they replied. He requested them to be seated, and to state their business. "We only have a letter," they said, "to be read aloud; cause it to be so read." John directed that it should be read, and they ordered Theophilus' young servant 199 to read the communication, which he did. The substance was as follows: "The holy synod assembled at The Oak" (that was the name of the place where they had met----in the suburb of Rufinus,200 on the other side of the sea), "to John" (they omitted his proper title of bishop; the darkened soul never does see things as they are, but imagines what its evil desires dictate). "We have received certain memorials, containing countless grave charges against you; appear, therefore, bringing with you the priests Serapion and Tigrius; for they are needed." The two bishops who came to John were Dioscorus and Paulus, young men who had recently been consecrated in Libya.
The Answer of Chrysostom's Friends
When the document had been read, John's fellow-bishops replied with a statement drawn up by three bishops, Luppicianus, Demetrius, and Eulysius, and two priests, Germanus and Severus, all of them saintly and honourable men. "Overthrow not the estate of the Church, and rend not the Church, for whose sake God from above entered into flesh. As it appears |69 that by your disorderly action you are overthrowing the canons of the 318 bishops at Nicaea, and are trying a case beyond your boundaries, do you cross over to us, that we may first hear what you have to say, in this city where good laws prevail, and do not be like Cain, when he invited Abel to come into the field.201 For we have memorials against you, under seventy counts, alleging palpably criminous actions. Moreover, we, assembled by the grace of God, not for the overthrow of the Church, but in peace, are more in number than your synod. For you number thirty-six, from one province; 202 while we are forty, from various provinces, and among us are seven metropolitans. It is only reason that the smaller body should be judged according to the canons by the larger and the more honourable. Besides this, we hold your letter, in which you press upon our brother-minister John, that he ought not to accept cases from beyond his boundaries. Wherefore do you, in obedience to the laws of the Church, urge your accusers either to desist from their accusations against you, or from their approaches to John." 203
Chrysostom's own Answer
John was distressed at this answer, and said to his bishops, "Write what seems good to you; I feel bound to make a statement for myself in answer to the allegations." So he sent the following reply to Theophilus and his party: "I hereby declare that if any man has aught to say against me, up to this moment I do not know what it is; but if any one has spoken against me, and you wish me to appear before you, put out of your assemblage my open enemies, who are filled with malice towards me |70 because they think themselves slighted. Further, I raise no question as to the venue of my trial, though the fittest place would be the city. Those to whom I object as judges are Theophilus, whom I call to account for having said both at Alexandria and in Lycia, 'I go to the court 204 to depose John.' I know this to be true, because when he arrived, he did not have any intercourse with me, or communicate with me. If then he behaved as an enemy before the hearing, what would he do after the trial? Similarly, I charge Acacius with saying, 'I am seasoning a pot for him.' As for Severianus and Antiochus, whom the divine sentence will soon overtake, what need to speak of them, when even the secular theatres make songs upon their revolutionary doings? I beg you therefore, if you really desire me to appear, in regard to these four; if they are entered as judges, remove them from the panel; if as accusers, put them into the witness-box, that I may know how to prepare to meet them----whether as opponents or as judges. Then I will appear at all costs, not only before your love, but before any synod in the world. Now, then, I give you notice, that however often you write to me, you will hear no more from me."
The Emperor's Summons to Trial
So the envoys withdrew, and a notary immediately arrived, bearing a letter from the king, enclosing the petition (of Theophilus' synod) that John should come up for judgment whether he would or no, and bade him hasten to the trial. When the notary had received his answer, two of John's priests appeared; one Eugenius, who was given the bishopric of Heracleia 205 in payment for the part he had played in the plot against Bishop John, and Isaac, the monk under rule of silence----not to call him anything else. These said, "The synod sends you this message; |71 come over to us, and defend yourself against the charges.'"
Chrysostom Refuses to Appear
To this John answered, through other bishops, "How can you judge me with any show of order, when you have not put forth from among you my enemies, and when you send my own clergy to summon me?"
They seized the bishops, and beat one, and stripped another of his robes, and put round the neck of a third the chains which they had in readiness for the saint, intending so to put him on shipboard, and carry him off to some unknown place; the devil had made them as savage as lions. The holy bishop, aware of their shameful intention, took no steps to meet it; but these worthy gentlemen compiled some paltry dockets, more frail than spider's web,206 for the sake of form, making representations against the blessed bishop, whose face they had never seen and whose voice they had never heard, and in a single day consummated the villainy which they had long been forging. For the onslaught of the devil none can restrain; it waits not for reflection.
Chrysostom Guilty of Lèse Majesté
So they sent an address to the king setting forth that: "Whereas John is accused of various offences, and in consciousness of his guilt has refused to appear,207 he is by the laws degraded from his bishopric, and this has been done. The memorials include a charge of treason.208 Your piety, therefore, will command, |72 that whether he will or no, he be expelled from his office, and pay the penalty for his treason, as we have no powers to inquire into this charge."
You thrice miserable wretches, what thoughts are these? What deeds? They should fill you with shame, if you have any fear or reverence for men, much more any for God. The treason consisted in offensive language against the queen, whom, as they alleged, he had called Jezebel.209 So this was the allegation of these wonderful people, longing to see John killed with the sword; but God brought to light the malice lurking within them, and softened the hearts of the magistrates, as with Daniel at Babylon. For there, the lions turned gentle, and spared Daniel, while the men turned savage, and did not spare the prophet; but God vanquished the unnatural savagery of man, by the unnatural gentleness of the savage beasts. |73
CHAPTER IX. INTRIGUES AND VIOLENCE AT CONSTANTINOPLE
Chrysostom' s Expulsion and Return
Thus was John ejected from the Church;210 a court official was despatched for the purpose, with a body of soldiers, as if it was an expedition against barbarians. On his expulsion he went first to the country district of Prametum, in Bithynia.211 But only a single day had passed, when a catastrophe 212 occurred in the royal palace, which caused such alarm, that a few days afterwards they recalled John, through a notary of the household, and restored him to his own throne.213 So Theophilus, with the Egyptian |74 bishops, secured his own safety by flight; for the populace wished to drown him.214
But two months later, recovering from their wound, they again uplifted themselves against John; and as they could not find a promising opening, they sent to the clever man who managed such things at Alexandria, to this effect: Do you either come here again to take the lead in the campaign against John, or, if you will not do this for fear of the people, suggest to us some scheme, so that we may make a beginning.
Theophilus' New Ground of Accusation
In answer to this, Theophilus did not go himself, remembering how he had escaped, but sent three miserable bishops, Paul, and Poimen, and another, newly consecrated, and at the same time despatched certain canons,215 which the Arians had framed against the blessed Athanasius, suggesting that by use of these they might manipulate a suit against John for having on his own initiative re-entered his bishopric after deposition. For Theophilus is naturally an impetuous person, headstrong, bold, and extraordinarily fond of quarrelling; whatever it be that presents itself to his vision, he rushes at it in needless haste, without any restraint, giving himself no time for judgment or consideration. So he proceeded with a mad fury which carried him beyond the bounds of order, to secure John's submission, and in sure confidence in the verdict passed upon him, vigorously opposed all who wished to bring a counter-charge; |75 his one aim, as ever, being to show that his own judgment and decision conquered and prevailed.
The Plotters and the Plot
Knowing his character, his agents fell in with his scheme. They summoned metropolitans and bishops from Syria, Cappadocia, and the whole province of Phrygia, and Pontus, to a conference at Constantinople. These on their arrival communicated with John in accordance with the canons, so as not to repeat their first mistake. The authorities were annoyed to hear of their act of communion; Theodorus, the respected Bishop of Tyana, aware of the conspiracy from the information which had reached his ears, refused to join in the hasty action of Theophilus, and deserted the main body without further concern, bidding a long farewell to the capital as he retired to his own Church. He fortified his own province with the rampart of his piety, and continued to the end in the communion of the faithful of Rome, to whom Paul bears witness in the words, "Your faith is spoken of in all the world." 216 On the other hand, Pharetrius, Bishop of Caesarea, near Mount Argaeus, alarmed beyond measure, like a little child frightened by a bogey, without even leaving his own city, conferred by letters with John's enemies, although he had not even been invited to take any part in the matter; in his ignorance of episcopacy, he knew no better. Leontius, Bishop of Ancyra in Galatia, joined with Ammonius, Bishop of Burnt Laodicea,217 in burning the church. These two, yielding to the threats of the authorities, and at the same beguiled by the hope of gifts from the king, at the second session made a vile suggestion |76 to the party of Acacius and Antiochus: namely, that Theophilus' judgment, which was no judgment, should prevail, and that no opportunity should be given to John even to defend himself, appealing to the canons sent by Theophilus, which the forty bishops in communion with Arius 218 had passed, containing the clause, "If any bishop or priest who has been justly or unjustly deposed of his own initiative re-enters his Church, without sanction of a synod; such an one shall thereafter have no opportunity of defence, but shall be absolutely excluded." This canon was rejected, as being illegal and passed by illegal persons, at Sardica,219 by the bishops of Rome, Italy, Illyria, Macedonia, and Greece, as you know better than I, my famous friend Theodorus, when Liberius, or rather Julius,220 in the reign of Constans received into communion Athanasius and Marcellus of Galatia, on whose account the canon was laid down.
The Question of Canon Law
This wonderful pair, Ammonius and Leontius, formed a league with Acacius and Antiochus, and |77 Cyrinus of Chalcedon,221 and Severianus, and came before the king, recommending that ten bishops of John's party, which numbered more than forty, should be summoned, to maintain the authority of the canons; as some asserted that they were the work of orthodox persons, while others maintained that they were of Arian origin. However, Elpidius,222 old in spirit and in the years which had whitened his head, Bishop of Laodicea in Syria, and Tranquilius, with their supporters, came and urged upon the king that John ought not to be unreasonably ejected. "For," they said, "John had not been previously deposed, but was expelled by the civil official; nor did he re-enter it upon his own initiative, but obeyed the order of your piety, conveyed by a notary; moreover, we can prove that the canons to which they appeal are of heretical origin."
John's opponents continued very improperly to press their views, some shouting at the top of their voices, others, wild with excitement, impudently gesticulating, and twitching their chests in the presence of the king. Then Elpidius, a most profound student of Church law, in a moment of silence said meekly to the king: "Your majesty, let us not trouble your gentleness further, but let this be done; let our brothers Acacius and Antiochus subscribe the canons which they put forward as the work of orthodox persons, and declare themselves to be of the same faith as those who issued them.223 Then the whole dispute is at an end."
Failure of the Plot
The king noted the simplicity of the solution proposed, and said to Antiochus, with a smile, "Nothing could be better." The king was throughout entirely free from blame; it was others who |78 altered his excellent decrees. Severianus and his party reeled, and began to swirl against one another like water that has burst its bounds; they were struck dumb at the bishop's thoughtful observation, and at the opinion expressed by the king. Their faces turned livid, but in the king's audience chamber they had to restrain themselves. So they promised, sorely against their will, to subscribe the canons, and departed. But as they were afraid of being worsted, they did not carry out their promise, on the ground that it was given against their will; and began instead to devise means to secure John's expulsion.
In these various manœuvres and counter-manceuvres nine or ten months passed, John foregathering with his forty-two bishops, while the people enjoyed the benefit of his teaching with much gladness. For the unselfish mind always expresses itself with greater grace and power in times of difficulty.224
The Emperor takes the Side of the Enemy
Such was the state of things when the Lord's fast recurred, like the spring which puts forth its blossoms year by year. Again Antiochus and his party approached the king, in private, and informed him that John had been deposed, begging him to order his expulsion at the approaching Paschal season,225 and the king, wearied by their importunity, could not but listen to them, seeing that they were bishops. |79 For the true priest or bishop knows not falsehood; these titles belong to the higher sphere, since there is nothing more priestly or more episcopal than God, for it is God Who is the bishop 226 and beholder of all things. The true bishop, then, or the true priest, inasmuch as he bears these titles in fellowship with God, ought also to be in fellowship with Him in His actions. The king accordingly sent word to John, "Leave the Church." "I have received this Church," John sent word back, "from God our Saviour, for the care of the salvation of the people, and I cannot desert it; if, then, this is your will----for the city is yours----thrust me out by force, that I may plead your authority in defence of my desertion of my post."
Chrysostom Ejected by the Civil Power
So they sent men from the palace, with a certain show of respect, and ejected him; but in apprehension of a possible visitation of the wrath of God, bade him stay in the bishop's house for the time being, so that if any misfortune should occur which affected them, they could at once appease the Divinity by restoring him to the Church, while if nothing happened, they could proceed further against him, as Pharaoh did against Moses.
The Storm Gathers
Meanwhile, the Great Sabbath drew near, in which the Saviour spoiled Hades by His crucifixion. Again they sent word to John, "Leave the Church"; to which he sent a suitable reply. So the king, in consideration of the sanctity of the day, and the disturbed state of the city, summoned Acacius and Antiochus, and said to them, "What is to be done? |80 Take care that you are not acting unadvisedly." Then the worthies, high-spirited to a fault, said to the king, "Your majesty, the deposition of John be on our heads." As a last resource, the bishops on John's side, to the number of the days of the holy fast,227 approached the king and queen in the shrines of the martyrs, and besought them with tears to spare the Church of Christ, remembering especially the Paschal festival, and those already prepared 228 for the sacrament of the new birth to be received on that day, and to restore to her her prelate.229 The request was unheeded; Paul of Crateia 230 went so far as to say, with fearless out-spokenness, "Eudoxia, fear God, and pity your own children; do not dishonour the festival of Christ by the shedding of blood."
The Easier Vigil
So the forty bishops returned to their lodgings, and spent the night without sleep, some weeping, others grieving, others again held inactive by a stupor of pacificism which dulled their minds-according as their individual feelings disposed them. However, those of John's priests who had the fear of God in their hearts, gathered the faithful laity in the public baths, called the baths of Constans, and occupied the night vigil 231 in reading aloud the divine oracles, or in baptizing the catechumens, as usual |81 at the Paschal festival. These proceedings were reported by those corrupters of mind and perverters of sense, Antiochus, Severianus, and Acacius, to their champions, with the demand that the people should be prevented from assembling there. The magistrate on duty objected that it was night, and that the crowds of people were large; some regrettable incident might well occur. Acacius and his party urged against this: "Not a soul has stayed in the churches; we are afraid that if the king goes to church and finds no one there, he may recognize the affection of the people for John, and condemn us as slanderers, especially after our telling him that there is absolutely no one who is kindly disposed towards him, but that he is regarded as an outlaw." So the magistrate, under protest, on the ground of what was likely to result, granted them the services of one Lucius, reported to be a Greek, and his commando of armed men, giving him instructions to go and call the people, gently, to the church. This he did, but as they would not obey, he returned to Acacius and his party, and explained the zeal and dense numbers of the people. Hearing this, they seduced him with golden words,232 and promises of further promotion, urging him to hinder the glory of the Lord; instructing him either to bring the people to church by verbal persuasion, or to excite them, and by drastic action prevent the festival from being celebrated.
The Outrages in the Church
So Lucius at once set out upon his mission, accompanied by the clergy of Acacius' party. This was in the second watch of the night; for in our parts of the world they keep the people at church till the first cock-crow. He took 400 Thracian swordsmen (the same number that Esau had), newly enlisted, and absolutely reckless, and at a moment's notice threw himself, like a savage wolf, with the clergy |82 to guide his movements, upon the crowd of people, hacking a way through with flashing swords. He pressed forwards to the blessed water within, to stop those who were being initiated into (the sacrament of) the Saviour's resurrection, pinioned the deacon, and poured away the sacramental elements;233 he beat the priests, men advanced in years, about the head with bludgeons, until the laver was dyed with blood. Sad it was to see that angelic night, in which even demons fall prostrate in terror, turned into a labyrinth.234 Here were women, stripped for baptism, running by the side of their husbands, glad so to escape in dishonour, in their terror of murder or dishonour; here was a man, with a wounded hand, making off, crying; another fellow dragging after him a maiden whose clothes he had torn off. All of them were carrying away loot which they had pillaged.
The Devotion of the Faithful
So those priests and deacons who were seized were thrown into the gaol; the better-class lay folk were expelled from the capital. Orders were issued one after the other, containing various threats against those who would not renounce communion with John. Yet in spite of all this, the bishops of whom I have told devoted themselves to their duties in the open air all the more earnestly; and the gathering of those who love Christian teaching, or rather, love God, was not brought to an end. As we read in the book of Exodus, the more they killed them, the more numerous they were.
So when the king went out next day, to take exercise in the plain beside the city, he saw the |83 waste ground round Pempton 235 clothed in white; and in astonishment at the sight of the newly baptized, thick as blossoms in spring (there were about 3000 of them), he asked the guard what was the great crowd gathered there. Instead of telling him the truth, they said that they were the mis-believers; 236 so as to bring upon them the wrath of the king. Hearing of this incident, those who were responsible, for the affair, the champions of envy, sent to the suburb 237 the most pitiless of their followers, to scatter the audience and arrest the teachers. So once more some few of the clergy, and a larger number of the laity, were arrested.
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit
Deac. Most blessed father, how was it that, when they were so many that the newly baptized alone numbered 3000, these few soldiers mastered them, and broke up the assemblage?
Bish. There is no indication here of small numbers, nor proof of want of zeal. It only shows their exceeding piety, and proves their attention to their teachers, who continually urged them to cultivate a peaceful habit of mind.
And Theodorus said----
Deac. Excellently spoken; certainly it was not to be expected that men who had learnt prudence and gentleness from the holy John should maintain his cause by folly and turbulence. |84
CHAPTER X. CHRYSOSTOM'S DEPARTURE, AND ITS SEQUEL
Prisons become Churches
Bish. So you are satisfied with this explanation. Do not, then, I beg, interrupt my words; they are begotten of sad events. As a general rule, it is events that beget more words than anything else.238 Well, the wives of some eminent men were arrested, as well us the clergy and laity who were taken prisoners. From some of these they snatched their veils,239 and tore their earrings, with the lobe of the ear, from others; seeing this, a very wealthy lady, the wife of one Eleutherus, threw off her veil of her own accord, and ran into the city, disguised in the dress of a female slave, to shield her modesty. For she was endowed with a beautiful face and comely figure. So the prisons of the magistrates were filled, but they were turned into churches; hymns were sung, and oblations of the mysteries celebrated in the prisons, while in the churches floggings and tortures and terrible oaths were brought to bear, to compel people to anathematize John, who had fought against the malice of the devil even to the death.
Final Appeal to the Emperor
The feast of Pentecost 240 passed, and five days afterwards Acacius, Antiochus, Severianus, and Cyrinus came to the king, and said: "Your majesty, as by God's appointment you are not under our authority, |85 but have authority over all, you can do whatever you will. Be not more mild than a priest, and more holy than a bishop; we said to you publicly, Upon our heads be the deposition of John. Do not then be unmerciful to all of us, in being merciful to one man." They employed the same language, I might say the same actions, as the Jews, to persuade the king.
"Leave the Church"
So the king despatched Patricius the notary, with the following message to John: "Acacius, Antiochus, Severianus, and Cyrinus have taken your condemnation upon their own heads. Commend, therefore, your affairs to God, and leave the Church." So Bishop John came down from the bishop's house, with the bishops, and after giving them clear and definite instructions, said to all, "Come, and let us with prayer take leave of the angel 241 of the Church." He rejoiced at what had happened, but grieved over the misfortune of the people.
Farewell to the Devout Women
At this moment one of the officials who loved God sent word to John: "A savage and brazen-laced man, |86 named Lucius, is waiting with his commando in the public bath, ready to drag you out, and expel you from the city by force, if you refuse to go, or delay; and the people of the city are in a ferment. Do your best to get away unnoticed, to prevent the people from coming into conflict with the military, in trying to help you." Then John with tears kissed some of the bishops (his emotion would not allow him to do so to all), and took his leave of them, saying to the rest, within the vestry,242 "Stay here for the present, and let me go and have a little rest." But he went into the baptistery, and called Olympias, a lady who spent all her time in the church, and Pentadia, and Procle, the deaconesses,243 and Silvina, the widow of the blessed Nevridius,244 who adorned her widowhood by a beautiful life, and said to them, "Come here, my daughters, and listen to me. I see that the things concerning me have an end; 245 I have finished my course 246 and perhaps you will see my face no more.247 What I want to ask you is this: let no one dissever you from the good-will you have always borne to the Church; and whoever succeeds me, if |87 he be brought forward for ordination not by his own wish, and without place-hunting, with the approval of all, bow your heads to him, as you have done to John. The Church cannot exist without a bishop. And so may you find mercy. Remember me in your prayers."
Chrysostom's Departure from the Church
The ladies burst into tears, and threw themselves at his feet. Then he made a sign to one of the reverend priests, and said, "Take them away, for fear of their raising a disturbance." So they were kept under control for a while, and apparently acquiesced. And so he moved away to the eastern part of the church (there was nothing western 248 about him!); but he had given orders for the mule which he generally rode to be waiting at the west end, where was the porch of the church, in front of the main door, so as to mislead the people, who were waiting for him there. With him went forth the angel, unable to bear the desolation of the Church, brought about by wicked principalities and powers, who had produced a sort of theatrical exhibition. Yes, there was a roar, like that one hears in a theatre; the ungodly hissed and booed, Jews and Greeks yelled at the top of their voices. And there were blows and body wounds, inflicted by the soldiers, as if they were dealing with criminals in a prison; while every faculty of the soul was tortured by the withdrawal of the teacher, and by the blasphemy against God. For in the place appointed for the remission of sins, there took place the shedding of blood.
The Church on Fire
Now after this scene of awful and inexplicable |88 darkness, a flame 249 appeared from the middle of the throne in which John usually sat, like a heart set in the midst of a body, to expound to the other organs the oracles of the Lord; and sought for the interpreter of the Word. Not finding him, it devoured the chamber used for the Church vessels. Then it spread like a tree, and crept through the rafters to the roof; and consuming the belly like a viper, it leapt upon the back of the church building. It seemed as though God was paying the reward of iniquity 250 appointed as its penalty, to admonish and warn those who will not be warned, except by the sight of such heaven-sent calamities; and more, leaving to posterity a memorial of the savage synod.251
The Strange Behaviour of the Flames
But what happened to the church was nothing wonderful, in comparison with the destruction of the building, commonly called the Senate, which lies opposite the church, many paces away to the south. The fire seemed to be possessed of reason; it passed over the heads of the people in the street between, like a man crossing a bridge, and first caught, not the part nearest to the church, so that we cannot ascribe the misfortune to the proximity of the two buildings, but the part on the side of the king's palace. This clearly showed that the marvel was heaven-sent; for one could see crowds of people passing without harm upon their ordinary business |89 between the mountains of fire. In the same way the flames, whirling and surging like the sea tossed by a fierce wind, seemed to advance in obedience to signal; they seized the buildings all round without mercy, but showed consideration for one little outhouse, that in which the bulk of the sacred vessels was stored. Not that they reverenced the gold, or the rest of the precious materials; it was to give no ground to his accusers for the false charge 252 against the good bishop, that he had appropriated part of the valuables.
So the fire, after doing all this mischief, gradually withdrew to the back parts of the city, following the track of the malice of the criminals; to expose the madness of Theophilus, who apparently had been scheming to use the treasures of the Church as a plea for John's ejection. There was no loss of life from the fire, of man or beast, among the great crowd; but the filthiness of the men who were behaving so foully was purged by the violence of the flames, which in three hours of a single day, between twelve and three o'clock,253 destroyed the work of years.
CHAPTER XI. EXILE AND DEATH OF CHRYSOSTOM
Chrysostom sent to Cucusus
Deac. And where were John and the rest of the bishops, father, while this was going on?
Bish. The rest of the bishops were put in prison, or haled out of the city, or found means of concealment; John, Cyriacus, and Eulysius were carried off in bonds to Bithynia by the soldiers of the prefect,254 |90 under threats of punishment for setting fire to the church. Later on, Cyriacus and Eulysius, with other clergy, were brought up for trial, but were acquitted, and set at liberty, while the holy John, outspoken as ever, sent them this last message: "You refused to give me the opportunity of defending myself on the other matters; at least let me have a hearing in regard to what happened to the church, as to whether I am guilty, as you allege, of the incendiarism." His request for a hearing on this point was equally unsuccessful, and he was sent in charge of soldiers to a very lonely village in Armenia, called Cucusus,255 in the hope of getting him killed by the Isaurians, who were continually raiding the place, by night and by day.
Arsacius succeeds Chrysostom
The successor appointed in the place of John the inspired teacher was Arsacius, brother of the blessed Nectarius; a man with less power of speech than a fish, and of action than a frog.256 For there are times when action speaks, especially when it is for good. However, Arsacius only held on to life for fourteen months, when he died; for he had broken an oath upon the gospels. He had sworn to his brother Nectarius, that he would never accept consecration as bishop, when Nectarius reproached him for refusing to be Bishop of Tarsus, saying that he was waiting for his own death. What led to his perjury was first of all ambition, for the sake of which he wooed, so to speak, his brother's wife; and after that, shame. His brother's reproof was indeed prophetic. |91
Atticus succeeds Arsacius. Coercive Edicts against the Johnnites
A priest named Atticus,257 who had taken an active part in the schemes against John, was appointed as successor to Arsacius. Observing that none of the eastern bishops, or even of the laity of Constantinople, would communicate with him, because of the lawless and irregular proceedings which had taken place, in his ignorance of the divine scriptures he set to work to coerce those who would not communicate with him by means of rescripts.258 The edict against the bishops contained the following threat: "If any of the bishops does not communicate with Theophilus and Porphyrius 259 and Atticus, let him be expelled from the Church, and deprived of his personal property." Some of them, crushed by the pressure of circumstances, thereupon communicated, against their will; those who were poorer, and less firm in a sound faith, were induced by promises of gifts to communicate, while those who set no store by birth and possessions and fatherland, and perishable glory, and bodily suffering, preserved the nobility of their souls by flight, mindful of the gospel oracle, "If they persecute you in one city, flee unto another," 260 and repeating to themselves the words of the Proverb, "Possessions shall not benefit in the day of wrath." 261 Some of them reached Rome, some the mountains, and others escaped from wickedness like that of the Jews in the retreats of anchorites.
The edict against the lay-people contained the clause, "Those in high position are to be deprived of their official dignities, soldiers are to lose their |92 girdles, the common people are to be heavily fined, and submit to banishment." In spite of all this, the prayers of the devout were offered in the open air,262 amid much suffering; because they were friends 263 of the Saviour, Who said, "I am the way and the truth," and again, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
Chrysostom Transferred to Arabissus
Meanwhile, the blessed John resided at Cucusus for a year, feeding great numbers of the poor of Armenia,264 where a great famine occurred at the. time; not with corn, so much as with words. This again roused the malignity of the fratricides, who transferred him to Arabissus,265 exposing him to hardships of all sorts, in the hope of bringing about his death. Here once more the light of his virtues shone brightly (for a city set upon a hill cannot be hid, nor can a clearly burning lamp be hidden under a wooden bushel-measure); 266 he awoke people from all the surrounding districts who were slumbering in the depths of unbelief, from the sleep of ignorance to the rays of the word.267 |93
Then the flames of malignity blazed yet more fiercely in Severianus and Porphyrius and other bishops of Syria, and they set to work to get him again transferred elsewhere; for he was obnoxious to them not only in his days of what men call prosperity, but also, and much more, in his adversities. They were dunces in knowledge of the nature of temptations,268 and forgot the divine message to the apostle when tribulations befell him, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is perfected in weakness." 269 So when they saw the Church of Antioch migrating to the Church of Armenia, and the gracious philosophy 270 of John chanted from there back again to the Church of Antioch, they longed to cut short his life. The accounts they heard tortured them like blows of a whip----such is the power of malice, which hates the good----until their clerical followers saw what was going on, and said in astonishment, Here is a formidable dead man, who frightens living men, and men in authority too, as bogies frighten children. The wonder of it! Men supported by the powers of the world and by the wealth of the Church, men with authority and control of affairs in their hands, turning pale and writhing |94 in fear of a priest, alone, disfranchised, infirm, exiled! 271
The Terrible Journey to Pityus
At last they could hide the serpent in their tent no longer; so they sent to the capital, and again produced a rescript, more severe than the last, prescribing a narrow limit of time, within which, under penalty of a fine, John was to be transferred to Pityus, a desolate spot in Tzane, situated on the shore of the Black Sea.272 The soldiers of the praetorian prefect who formed his escort accordingly hurried him over the ground at forced speed. They said that such were their instructions; if he died by the roadside, the higher the promotion they would earn. One of them, who thought less of service in the present world, showed him by stealth a certain amount of kindness; the other was so savage and ill-tempered, that he took as insults the courteous requests made to him by persons who fell in with them, that he would spare the saint. The only thing he cared about was, that John should die a miserable death. For instance, he started out regardless of a heavy shower of rain which was falling, so that the water ran in streams down his neck and chest. Another time, an unusually hot sun gave him great delight, as he knew that the head of the blessed bishop, which was like Elisha's, ached under it. When they reached a city or village where the refreshment of a bath was available, the wretch would not allow a moment's delay. This most distressing journey took three months; yet the saint among all these annoyances was always the same shining star, his poor body like an apple reddening in the sun at the tip of a branch. |95
Chrysostom' s Last Hours and Death
They approached Comana,273 but passed through the town as men cross a river by a bridge, and lodged outside the wall in the shrine of a martyr, five or six miles from the town. The name of the martyr of the place was Basiliscus, who was Bishop of Comana, martyred under Maximian at Nicomedia,274 at the same time as Lucianus, priest of the Church of Antioch in Bithynia. That night the martyr 275 stood by him and said, "Be of good cheer, brother; to-morrow we shall be together." It is said that he had first called to the priest who shared his abode, "Get ready the place for our brother John; he is coming." John took this as a sure warning, and next day begged them to stay where they were till eleven o'clock. They refused, and pushed on; but when they had covered about thirty furlongs, he had such a sharp attack of illness, that they had to return to the shrine from which they had started. On his arrival, he asked for white clothes 276----clothes befitting his life----and taking off those he was wearing, he put these on, deliberately 277 changing everything down to his shoes. All but these he distributed |96 among those present. Then he partook of the symbols of the Lord's appointment,278 and offered his last prayer, in the presence of those who stood by, using his customary formula, "Glory to God for all things;" 279 and signing himself 280 at the last Amen, he raised his feet, which were so beautiful as they sped for the salvation of those who chose repentance, and the reproof of those who persistently cultivate the fields of sin. If reproof did not benefit the wicked, it was not from the carelessness of him who had spoken out so fearlessly,281 but from the recklessness of those who would not accept them.282
Thus was he gathered to his fathers, shaking off |97 the dust from his feet, and passing over to Christ, as it is written, "Thou shalt come to thy grave, as ripe corn gathered in its season; but the souls of the transgressors shall die before their time." 283 Such a concourse of virgins and ascetics and men renowned for their devout lives came together from Syria, and Cilicia, and Pontus, and Armenia, that many supposed that they had been summoned by signal. The rites of internment and the funeral gathering 284 took place; and so his poor body, like a victorious athlete's, was buried in the same shrine as Basiliscus.
CHAPTER XII. A DEFENCE OF CHRYSOSTOM'S ABSTEMIOUS HABITS
Theodorus, amazed at what he had heard, here asked a question, quoting scripture words----
The "Cyclopean Meals"
Deac. As it is written, "Neglect not the recital of elders, for they also have learnt from their fathers," 285 |98I will trouble you to tell us what was the reason for his custom of eating alone, and whether it is true that he used to eat alone, as they say he did.286
Bish. I admit that he used to eat alone; but I am sorry to find such a very careful person as you, Theodorus, asking the questions that greedy children put. A grown man like you ought to inquire about the virtues which belong to men; what was his disposition in regard to courage, wealth, self-control, gentleness and righteousness, almsgiving, practical wisdom, manliness, memory or forgetfulness. For meat does not commend us to God, neither if we eat nor if we do not eat; 287 but knowledge working with activity.
Yes, he did eat alone, and I know that in part at least it was for the following reasons: 288 first of all, he drank no wine, because it sent the blood to his head, except that in the heat of summer he took rose-water. Secondly, owing to some ailment, his stomach was disordered, so that often he found the food prepared for him distasteful, and asked for something not on the table. Next, at times he forgot his meals, and put them off until evening; either because he was occupied in ecclesiastical concerns, or because he was absorbed in spiritual meditation.. For he was ever striving to grapple with every difficulty in holy scripture, and such researches require a light diet, or no diet at all. Again, bons vivants, if they have a friend 289 to sit at table with them, or to swill with them, or to cackle with them in unseemly mirth, with the cup of warm wine held in the tips |99 of his fingers, generally turn the good fellowship of the table into malicious gossip.
Delicate Living an Abuse of Stewardship
But in my opinion, the whole secret, and the truer explanation, was this: he was careful to excess in dealing with men of pleasure, counting the expenditure of money on such people as sacrilege.290 At the same time, it was a way of minimizing opportunities for theft on the part of his stewards, preventing them from multiplying by ten the costs of the food, and securing for themselves what the poor needed. Besides this, with the whole population 291 of the city in his mind, he considered that as the steward of Christ he ought to regard every one, of whatever rank, as worthy of the honour of dining with him, or else to grant the privilege to none. And he dwelt upon the bad behaviour which occurred at table, and the many expenses which fell upon the poor, until he detested the whole business, and would put out of his mind the malicious comments you mention, repeating to himself the words of the Acts, "Men and brethren, it is not meet that we should serve tables; but let us appoint devout men over the matter, and let us give ourselves to the word and to prayer." 292
The Snare of the Table
When a racehorse is too old to run a race, he is relegated to the mill, and tramps round and round in an endless circle. In the same way, a teacher, if he lacks the spirit to speak the words of virtue, sets himself to catch men with the net of the table. And well for him, if it be among the hungry and the needy, from whom he may win the blessing promised by the Lord, "I was hungred, and ye gave me meat." 293 |100 Alas, it is often only among the rich that he lays his snare, to earn a good name, or reputation which fades away, or to secure return-invitations of the same kind, or at least to avoid having a bad name. Such a man forgets the curse pronounced by the Lord, "Woe unto you, when all men speak well of you."294 He did not say, "All the poor," but, "All men." "For even so did their fathers unto the false prophets." Let us not, then, Theodorus, seek for the reputation of a false prophet, as the vainglorious do. "For John came neither eating nor drinking, in the way of righteousness, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber, the friend of publicans and sinners." 295
The Need of Discretion in Hospitality
Deac. It was not, O excellent father, to blame, or to run down such austerity, that I put my inquiry to your accuracy; for I knew the mind of the man from common report, and from those writings of his, homilies and letters,296 which have come into our hands. I wished to learn his aim, and so to emulate his actions. Who could be so absolutely stupid, as to be unaware that one loses more than one gains from the table, unless there be need to entertain saints in their necessity?
Bish. Nor did I say what I did, Theodorus, most careful seeker after truth, to belittle the virtue of |101 our fathers, least of all their virtue of hospitality. It is one of the many virtues which make for piety, practised by the lord 297 patriarchs. One caught in the snare of his table the Saviour God,298 another entertained the angels; one was rewarded by a son in his old age, another by deliverance, with his daughters, from Sodom. The apostle himself speaks of them, urging us to follow their example. "Be not forgetful," he says, "of hospitality; for by it some have entertained angels unawares." 299 But an host must have the practical wisdom of the serpent, as well as the harmlessness of the dove; he must give heed to both the oracles, "Give to every man that asketh of thee," 300 and also "Admit not every man into thine house," 301 or else he will entertain a wolf instead of a sheep, or a bear instead of an ox, and barter away his gain for loss.302 And first he ought to investigate the place in which a man has been set----whether it be desolate or populous; and then his own fitness for the position of host----whether he can bear with the manners of other people. Then he must use discrimination in regard to the man who claims his services----whether he be rich or poor, well or ill, in need of food, or of clothes; for it is with these things that operative charity deals.
The Danger to a Priest of Excess in Hospitality
The blessed Abraham did not entertain governors, or generals, or the great men of the world around him, vaunting horses with glittering bits and bridles, or trousers 303 set with metal bells, eructating their conceited tinkling far abroad. He lived in a desolate |102 district, and entertained those who visited it; they came to the patriarch across the desert, either attracted by his virtue or under the stress of penury and poverty. Poverty is a mean between excess and deficiency; the excess of wealth, and the deficiency of penury.304 In the same way, Lot lived in a city which was worse than a desert, and entertained the strangers who visited it, because of the bad manners of its inhabitants. But a priest living in a very well-ordered city, like Constantinople, where everybody entertains,305 may easily come to neglect the ministry of the word, even to excess, and be always busy with food-bills. Such a man unconsciously comes to regard himself as an innkeeper, rather than as a teacher, till pure knowledge vanishes in wishy-washy talk; and he earns the reproach of the prophet, "Thine inn-keepers mingle the wine with water." 306 For teaching is as much superior to hospitality, as wine is to water if one is run down. The one benefits a man's contemporaries, the other posterity; the one does good to those present at the time, the other to those who are not present as well; those present, by word of mouth, those not present, by writing. So it was with the Saviour, in the days of His flesh. He fed five thousand men with the loaves, not in a city, but in a wilderness; but He taught those who were present by word of mouth, while He saved the world through the written gospels. This is true especially of the words of inspired men.
Bodily and Spiritual Food
And do not be impressed, Theodorus, when a man satisfies the hungry with food, but when he delivers a soul from some form of ignorance. For plenty of |103 people can be found to feed the belly, either gratis, or for money, with bread or vegetables, in case of need; while it is rare to, find one who provides the nourishment of the word, and when he is found, he wins acceptance for his message with difficulty, if at all. For the evil spirits always do their best to prevent the salvation of souls. It was this famine of the word of teaching, that the Lord God threatened to bring upon the people by way of punishment, when He said to the prophet, "I will bring upon them a famine, not a famine of bread and water, but a famine of hearing the word of the Lord." 307 Moreover, in the case of a famine of material food, it is always possible to leave the city or the country where the shortage exists, and find safety in another, as the holy patriarchs did, when they went down to Egypt from Palestine; while in regard to famine of mental food, which befalls the Churches only for want of teachers, the prophet said again, "They will run from the east to the west, seeking the word of God, and shall not find it." 308
Old Testament Warnings against High Living
Why, what good thing is there, that does not spring from teaching? And what trouble, that is not to be. traced to errors of eating and drinking? I mean ailments, quarrels, disorders in the sub-gastric regions, and the sequelae of these. When was it that Eve was expelled from Paradise? Was it not when she ate of the tree at the serpent's suggestion, instead of being satisfied with her appointed food? When did Cain commit the foul crime of fratricide? Was it not when he kept the best for his own greedy self, and ate the first-fruits before offering them to God? When did the children of Job meet with the disaster which at a moment's notice made their table a grave? Was it not when they were eating and drinking? |104 When did Esau lose the blessing? Was it not when he yielded to the lure of the kitchen, a slave to his belly? When did Saul lose his kingdom? Was it not when he ate the best of the sheep, contrary to the law? And when did the people of Israel provoke God? Was it not when they lusted after the table of Egypt, and required of the teacher flesh and cauldrons? Why were Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, slain in one hour, in the war? Was it not because they used to draw the meat which belonged to the sacrifice out of the cauldrons with their flesh-hooks? And why did Jacob, the blamed,309 kick? Was it not when he was "filled with bread, and anointed, and waxen fat, and enlarged"? 310 When did the people of Sodom ran unnatural riot? Was it not when they had ruined their powers of sound judgment by continual drinking? So they are scornfully referred to by the prophet Ezechiel,311 in the words, "In abundance of wine and fulness of bread they lusted, themselves" 312 (that is, the city) "and her daughters" (that is, the villages, which always follow the example of the city). When was it that the principle of moderation passed away from the people of old? Was it not when they, too, had grown old upon their beds, as the prophet complains, "They that eat the lambs out of the flock, and sucking calves out of the stalls, that drink strained wine, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments, and they were not grieved for the affliction of Joseph." 313 Upon whom did Isaiah pronounce the woe? Was it not upon those who rise up early to drink? Here are his words: "Woe unto them that rise up early, and follow strong drink; who tarry late into the night; for wine shall inflame them; for with the harp and the lute they drink wine, but they regard not the work of the Lord." 314 When were the priests of Bel put to shame by Daniel? Was it not when the |105 dust ensnared them, and proved their guilt by means of food and drink? 315
No need for me to talk of those who have chosen to go by the broad way, and abuse the narrow; the words of the Saviour are to my mind sufficient condemnation of the roast-hunters, in the passage in which he shows the unnamed rich man, who fared sumptuously every day in this life present, longing for the poor man Lazarus to bring him crumbs and drops of water, and not getting them. Let us look, too, at the company of the saints of old, and see what kind of teaching they employed; whether that of a devout life and words of uprightness, or that of drinking parties and high living. Enoch was the first to be translated; was it by faith, or by joining in drinking parties? Then Noah preserved the human race on the face of the earth, by faith, in the ark of wood, when the world around was purified; was this through a course of drinking parties and unclean works, or by fasting and prayers? And when after this tremendous flood he found a little relief in drinking,316 do not the scriptures proclaim his disgrace, and not his honour? When the blessed Abraham overcame the five kings at Sodom, and rescued Lot, was it by faith and righteousness, or by eating and drinking?
A Single Instance no Basis for a Universal Rule
Then Theodorus said----
Deac. If you bring Abraham into the discussion, let me call your attention to this point; some one will tell you, that he won the war by faith, but he ensnared God, as you yourself explained just now, by means of the table.
Bish. What an idea! As Abraham ensnared God by means of the table, had we not all better abandon faith and the rest of the virtues, and cultivate |106 drinking parties? Then we shall be no better than inn-keepers and caterers, who line the streets with buildings for the purpose, for filthy lucre's sake. And then the virgins, who strive to be holy in body and spirit, for the glory of God, had better bear children, because Mary bore Christ; if they do so, they will be no better than prostitutes. If our teachers must furnish the pleasures of the table because Abraham did so, then our virgins should bear children because Mary did so.
No, no, my honoured friend; we must not bring ridicule upon things which have been done, or are being done, with the justification of special circumstances; for each man's conscience tells him his duty, if he will have it so.
Further Old Testament Illustrations
Again, did Jacob the wrestler carry off the goods of Laban by austerity, or by taking the chair at drinking parties? "I was consumed by the heat," he said, "and by the frost at night, and sleep departed from me." 317 And he asked in his prayer for no more than bread and clothes: "If thou wilt give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, of all that thou shalt give me I will give the tenth part unto thee." 318 He did not say, "I will spend it on tables." What sort of table did Moses, the spokesman and faithful minister of God, prepare, when he gathered the people to the assembly upon the mountain? What sort of drinking cups did he have? He melted the rock with his rod, because of the unbelief of the people; he led six hundred thousand men out of Egypt; he carried the tables of the law to guide the people in the right way; was it transparent bowls, and pork haggis, and birds from Phasis,319 and fish from the sea, and Tyrian wine well refined, and snow-white loaves, that he set before those under instruction, or was it words? |107
Deac. But some one will meet your argument by saying, Give me too manna, and the water that Moses produced, and I ask for no more.
Bish. Who is so dull of wit as to prefer material manna, and water from the stream, to spiritual teaching? Let us pass on. Whom did Samuel, the teacher of the people, after his twenty-five years of retirement at Armathem,320 ever turn away from idols by means of the table, and not by words? And the king who was at the same time prophet and psalmist; he who said, "I have eaten ashes as bread, and mingled my drink with weeping";321 when did he set a luxurious table? Elijah the Tishbite, who brought about a fast all the world over, and made the greedy to go short of food against their will for three years and six months-----by what sort of table did he deliver them from their sin? What cooks had he? Did he not receive his daily bread through ravens?
Daniel the wise, the seer of the future----by what sort of table did he instruct the Assyrians? Was it not by prayer and fasting that he destroyed the dragon, and overthrew Bel, and stopped the mouths of the lions, and moved the king to deny his ancestral gods by the confession of the God who essentially is? 322 What tables, and what sort of good cheer, did the rest of the company of prophets, or of apostles, employ? Were they not teachers? Was not the whole world entrusted to them? Are we not their successors? Does not the word wish us to be imitators of them and observant of their ways, as Paul teaches, when he says, "And considering the issue of their manner of life, imitate their faith"? 323
The Teaching of John the Baptist
What sort of honey-cakes had John the Baptist, the herald of repentance, in the wilderness; he who was so far from providing meals for those who came to him, that the bitterness of his reproofs actually |108 offended his visitors' taste? His fierce looks, and even his appearance, shook their defiled consciences like an earthquake; much more did his words cut away the abscesses of their souls like knives. "Ye offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance," 324 and do not rely upon baptism by itself, or upon your descent from Abraham.
The Teaching of the Apostle Paul
What of the teacher of the Gentiles, who abolished 325 circumcision, to establish the circumcision of faith, the chosen vessel, Paul? Do we find him busying himself with a table? He was a debtor;326 but this was the last item of his debt. Does he owe it to the unbelieving Gentiles, first of all, to have table relations with them?
Again, what does he write to Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus? "Take heed unto"----the splendour of thy table? Or "Unto the reading, the exhortation, the doctrine "? 327 These were just the duties in which the blessed John was diligent and strenuous. "Be instant out of season, in season," he continues. "Reprove, rebuke, exhort." 328 No one raises the objection that two of these methods of address are bitter, and one pleasant; or suggests that he brings in the third with a touch of leniency. The exceedingly bitter "Reprove, rebuke," are coupled with "Exhort" (not "flatter").329 Exhortation, given scientifically, is more bitter to lovers of pleasure and degenerates, than reproofs, though they may find these the more vexatious. For under the influence |109 of some passion, the soul may perhaps set itself in opposition to reproof, and remain indifferent to what is said; but by exhortation, gently and gradually administered in kindly and truthful language, it is consciously devoured, so to speak, in a slow fire, and sawn in pieces. Now of what does he remind Timothy? Of drinking parties and festivities, or of the revered stories 330 of his tribulations? "Thou hast fully known," he says, "my manner of life," 331 how in my persecutions I set myself with purpose of heart to do all to the glory of God. Does he anywhere mention a table, when reproving error?
Again, let us see what he writes to Titus, Bishop of Crete. Does he discuss meat and drink, or reproofs and teaching? This is what he says: "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou mightest set in order the things that are wanting, and persuade them not to teach a different doctrine, nor to give heed to tales and endless genealogies";332 and he adds the kind of reproof needed: "The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, idle gluttons." 333 We may ask the belly-olaters, and table-giants, and women-preying hawks,334 who find fault with John's asceticism, to look through the Old and the New Testaments, and tell us when they find drinking commended, except perhaps in dealing with aliens, and that only as a pledge of peace, since barbarians, like wild beasts, are softened by table law?
The Mischief wrought by Excess
And when did drinking parties lead to anything but sin? When I say "sin," I ought perhaps rather to say, "more grievous idolatry, and fratricide"; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." 335 The play was the issue of |110 drunkenness. "Come, let us make gods, who shall go before us." 336 They were so much shaken by wine, that they looked for gods who could be moved, and departed from the God Who is unshaken, and fills all things without walking a step. And what says the prophet? "The priest's lips should meditate upon drinking parties, for they shall seek from him dinners and lunches"? Or that, "The priest's lips shall guard law, and they shall seek the word from his mouth"? "For he is a messenger of the Lord," 337 and not a cook. Once more, when was it that the, tower was built in Chalane? 338 Before wine, or after wine? Was it not with wine, when Noah had planted the vine-stock, and was the first to gather the fruit of reproach? This shows that it was not the result of drinking, or of planting, but of excess.
When was Joseph sold by his brethren? Was it when they were busy tending the sheep, or when they were killing and eating the best of the flock in idleness, and devising malicious schemes against him over their cups? When did they deliver the head of John the Baptist on a charger to the young harlot? In an assemblage of the wise, or at a drinking party of the lawless? Was it in drinking and eating that the blessed Paul continued his discourse until midnight, or in fasting and teaching, and leading to faith those who knew not God?
As for the Chief of shepherds, the Chief of teachers, the Chief of wise men, Jesus the Christ, the Corrector of human error, where do we find Him eating in a city, except at the Passover?----and this was the fulfilling of mysteries.339 And what do we find Him discussing with His disciples, when they were anxious? Food, or reading? "Labour," He says, "not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth." 340 |111
Chrysostom's Action Justified
So the good John may well say, with the Lord, My drinking-party is the teaching and distribution of the word, for which I was chosen, for the salvation of the people. For meat does not commend us to God, neither if we eat it, nor if we do not eat it.341 It is with the Gentiles that the custom prevails, of winning with tables those whom they seek to ensnare; as they cannot persuade them with words, they say, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." The apostle launches upon them an unusually severe correction: 342 "Be not deceived; evil communications corrupt good manners." By "evil communications" he means the whirl of talking which goes on over such things.
CHAPTER XIII. A DEFENCE AGAINST THE CHARGE OF TYRANNICAL DEPOSITIONS
No Exception made for Bishops
Deac. You have delivered yourself with sincerity and learning; your contention is sound. "Woe unto him that calleth sweet bitter, and bitter sweet. Woe unto him that setteth darkness as light, and light as darkness." 343 Still, some one will say, We do not assert, any more than you do; that John was given to such tables as these. It is true that extravagant ambition is at the bottom of the love of pleasure; 344 excessive parsimony is equally a proof of slovenliness |112 and pettiness of mind. He might have invited bishops only, especially the more devout bishops; if not bishops, at least his own clergy, after the example of the Lord when He ate with the twelve apostles.
Bish. The objection you raise, most truth-loving of men, would be most valid, if only the clergy would have been content to have their meals with John, and get their food an hour, or a day, late;345 but they expected lavish hospitality, and great style, punctually to the minute. It would have been absurd to waste the food of the sick or the poor on feasting the healthy. Besides, what an idea it is, for the pupils to lay down the law for the teacher, or the patients for the doctor, or the passengers for the pilot.346 It is always the doctor who cures the sick, the teacher who instructs the pupils, the pilot who woos the welfare of the passengers. Moreover, the love of life makes those who take the advice of a doctor or a pilot willing to bear any pain or hardship, though they cannot guarantee success; the teacher of the higher life is entrusted with the duty of eradicating diseases and infirmities, and trained to overcome the fiercest waves of lust. Yet people do their utmost to oppose him with their unbridled tongues, and stir up all the mud with unwashed feet. And if John had surrendered himself, and given himself over to tables, how many of the important people could he have satisfied, living as he did in a great city, where every one wanted to dine with him, either to get a blessing,347 |113 or because he was poor, or because he was greedy? And how could he have found time for religious meditation, the ministrations to his flock, the study of holy scripture, the care of the widows, the en couragement of the virgins, the nursing of the sick, the assistance of those in distress, the conversion of those in error, the anxious thought for the broken in heart, the visiting of the prisoners? How could he have escaped the reproachful curse of God, pronounced in Ezekiel? "Woe unto the shepherds who feed themselves, and feed not the flock! Ye did not bring again that which had wandered, that which was lost ye sought not, the weak ye visited not, that which was broken ye bound not up; the fatlings ye killed and ate." 348 Of whom Paul writes, "Ye bear with a man, if he bringeth you into bondage, if he devoureth you, if he taketh you captive." 349 "And ye clothe yourselves with the wool, but ye feed not the flock." And He says in Jeremiah of the idle shepherds, "Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard." 350
The Good Name of a Priest
Deac. In time, he might have paid his respects to these people, without neglecting ecclesiastical duties, so as not to get himself a bad name, when in everything else he was so eminent.
Bish. This is just what is wanted in a priest----not to get himself a bad name, so as to have full scope for his gifts of speech, his energy, his zeal, and |114 all the other right dispositions of a priest.351 Do you not know, my most honoured Theodorus, that one of the beatitudes laid down by the Lord deals with unreasonable accusations? "Blessed are ye, when men shall reproach you, and say all manner of evil things against you.352 But woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you; for so did their fathers to the prophets." 353 And how could lips trained in divine oracles, and an car accustomed to listen to divine precepts, endure the gossip of the table, when the Lord says, "No man can serve two masters," 354 continuing, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon"? We had better find out what is mammon, or we may find ourselves not even serving the two masters, but mammon only. For in this passage He does not mean by "mammon" "the devil," but the vain industry of this world, from which the word of God bids His disciples to stand aloof.
True Priestly Work not in Earthly, but in Spiritual Things
Deac. I am quite satisfied with the light you have thrown upon this question of the table. Now, most holy father, come back to your narrative of events. And do not be vexed with me for raising objections; it is only because I wanted to learn more that I kept questioning your abundant learning at greater length than you liked.
Bish. Let me make this point still more clear to you, Theodorus, most earnest lover of learning. I was myself once one of those who are bent on pleasing the masses with the table; and I say that a bishop, especially the bishop of a large city, who leaves the ministry of the word, and has not in his hands by night and day the tables of the law, and performs his ministrations to the poor not in person, but by proxy, is quite a different person from those who said, "Lo, we have left all, and followed thee; what |115 shall we have therefore?" 355 He must be ranked with those who said, "Lord, did we not in thy name do this or that?" and like them, he will hear the answer, "Depart from me, ye cursed; I know you not whence ye are." 356
For the Word 357 knows not wordless 358 workers; His eye is too pure to look upon evil things. For many so-called bishops, anxious to get rid of the quite reasonable hatred in which they are held, owing to their own characters, and their indifference to spiritual things, do but exchange one evil affection for another----covetousness for vain-glory. While with one hand they do wrong without stint for the sake of unrighteous gain, with the other they set elaborate tables, and rear pillars for lofty buildings,359 so as to gain a reputation for being good and laborious workers, and win honour instead of dishonour. They forget the Ecclesiast, who built great buildings, and hated them; and clearly forbad such things, when he wrote, "I built me houses and gardens," etc., "and behold, all are vanity; and I hated all my labour, wherein I labour under the sun." 360 He did not say, "Above the sun," or he would have brought spiritual toil into disrepute. In saying this, I do not include in my condemnation those who build reasonably, and of necessity, or beautify Church property; I am thinking of those who waste the money of the poor on hanging corridors, and water-cisterns raised into the air three storeys high, and disreputable baths, hidden from sight, for effeminate men; or spend their gifts of energy upon buildings, either as an excuse for collecting more money, or again, to win the esteem of popular favourites. That is simply to sacrifice everything to give pleasure to sinners. As for me, God forbid, famous Theodorus, that I should ever |116 please bad people, for I shall never please them, except by methods which do not please Christ.
The Alleged Deposition of Sixteen Bishops
The deacon, much impressed by these remarks, here made a request to the bishop:----
Deac. Your observations are perfectly sound, and there is nothing to be said against them. Now, if you have any knowledge of the arrangements 361 made by the holy John in Asia, as it is with him that our discussion is concerned, let me share it.
Bish. Certainly I have such knowledge.
Deac. From being personally present? Or did you gain your information from others?
Bish. No; I did not miss a word of the trial.
Deac. Then tell me in detail what followed, and how it ended, and how it began. I especially wish to know, because Theophilus said in his indictment, in his anxiety to dignify or to hide his own rash conduct, that the blessed John was so much influenced by the love of power, that he deposed sixteen 362 bishops in a single day and ordained creatures of his own in their stead.
Bish. It was just what one would expect from the character of this wonderful person, to write, and to write falsehoods, against John. By the very steps which he took to hide his own shame, he made it the more conspicuous, and involuntarily established the innocence of John; just as it was in the case of Balaam. If he had succeeded in deposing him, there would have been no need of indictment, or of banishment, |117 as the deposition is enough to disgrace a deposed person; but as our bishop stood firm in his virtue, against the attempts to depose him, and won victory in defeat, his opponent's malice is as fierce as ever, bearing the palm of defeat for its senseless victory. He swells like a bubble, chafing against himself, writing tracts and detractions. This is what Isaiah meant, when he cried woe upon him who seizes every opportunity of doing, and telling, and writing, lies; "Woe unto them," he says, "who write; for they write iniquity." 363
The Accusation brought by Eusebius against Antoninus
The number of the bishops whom John deposed in Asia was not sixteen, but six; I make the assertion as at God's judgment throne, not subtracting a single unit from the figures, nor adding a single qualification of his action. My statements are in exact accordance with the facts.
In the thirteenth year of the sixth indiction364 some bishops from Asia came to Constantinople on business and stayed with us. Besides these, there were other bishops, including one from Scythia, Theotimus,365 one from Thrace, Ammon the Egyptian, and one from Galatia, Arabianus----all metropolitans, advanced in years; making a total of twenty-two bishops.366 A certain Eusebius, from the district known |118 as Kilbia, Bishop of Valentinopolis,367 took the opportunity of these being assembled and holding communion together to come forward in the assembled synod,368 on the first day of the week, and lay memorials before it, against Antoninus, Bishop of Ephesus; to these charges, so as to be in order, he of course prefixed the name of John. The charges fell under seven heads; first, that he had melted down Church plate, and placed the proceeds to the account of his son; second, that he had carried away marble from the entrance of the baptistery, and used it for the improvement of his own bathroom; next, that he had set up pillars belonging to the Church, which had been in position for many years, in his own dining-room; fourth, that his servant had committed murder, and that he was still keeping him in his service, without bringing him to trial; fifth, that he had sold some land bequeathed to the Church by Basilina, the mother of King Julian, and kept the money; sixth, that after separating from 369 his married wife, he had taken her again, and had had children born to him by her; seventh, that he regarded it as law, and dogma, to sell consecration to bishopricks at prices in proportion to the emoluments. He added that there were persons present who had paid such money, and been consecrated, as well as the man who had received it; and that he had proofs of his statements. |119
CHAPTER XIV. THE TRIAL OF ANTONINUS----CHRYSOSTOM 'S VISIT TO EPHESUS
Deac. Pray, father, cut your narrative short; for those who are here with us 370 are grieved to hear of bishops making such assertions, to say nothing of bishops doing such things.
Bish. Woe is me, that I have lived to see these days, in which a sacred office----if under the circumstances it is a sacred office----is being sold for money. "I have become a fool" 371 in giving my account of the doings of John's accusers, who have brought us to this pass. But be patient with me, and you will be surprised at the reasonableness which John showed in this matter, as in others. He restrained his indignation for the time, and said to Eusebius: "Brother Eusebius, as accusations made in a moment of vexation are often not easy to prove, I beg you not to bring a written charge against our brother Antoninus; we will set right the matters which have vexed you."
At this Eusebius was very angry, and indulged in harsh language, raging with all his might against Antoninus, and persisting in his accusations. So |120 John requested Paul of Heracleia,372 who seemed to be a warm supporter of Antoninus, to bring about a reconciliation between the two. Then he rose, and went into the church, as it was time for the sacrifice; gave the people the usual salutation,373 and took his seat with the other bishops. But Eusebius, the accuser, came in unobserved, and in the presence of all the people, and the bishops, presented another memorial, containing the same charges; conjuring John by terrible oaths, nothing less than "by the salvation of the king and queen." He made such a disturbance that the people took alarm at his audacity, and supposed that he was urging John to petition the king for reprieve from a death sentence. So John, struck by the man's persistence, and anxious to keep the people quiet, accepted the document, and after the reading of the divine oracles requested Pansophius, Bishop of Pisidia, to offer the gifts, while he himself retired with the rest of the bishops. For he always objected to offering the sacrifice with a disturbed mind, as the gospel requires: "When thou bringest thy gift," etc. 374
The Charges made Public
After the dismissal of the people, he carefully considered the situation, and taking his seat in the baptistery 375 with the other bishops, called the accuser, and said to him in the presence of all, "I repeat what I said before, that people under the influence of |121 vexation or anger, often say and write a great deal, while their proofs are feeble. If, then, you have certain knowledge of the charges which you wish to bring----for if you can maintain them we do not reject them, nor, if you cannot, do we invite them----before the memorial is read, decide what is best to be done; for after the charges are read, and reach the cars of the public, the proceedings will be on record, and you cannot then, as a bishop, ask for an annulment.376 However, Eusebius still persisted; so orders were given for the document to be read, and the seven counts which I detailed were read.
The Charge of Simony to be first Investigated
With the contents of the document thus brought to their ears, the senior 377 bishops said to John, Without doubt, each single point of each single count is impious, and forbidden from every point of view by the sacred laws; but we must not appear to spend all our time upon the less weighty charges. The investigation therefore should begin with the most awful of the points; for if that be found to be true, there is no answer to be made upon the other counts, as that one count contains the root which bears fruit in every kind of evil, as the writer said, "The love of money is the root of all evils." 378 For if a man has accepted bribes against the innocent, and thought fit to barter for money his powers of distributing the Holy Spirit, how is he likely to spare the plate,379 or the stones, or the property, of the Church?
Then John began the investigation, asking Antoninus, "What answer do you make to these charges, brother Antoninus?" He, of course, denied them; |122 for how could he admit his disgrace at the very beginning? Those who had paid the money were questioned, and they, too, denied the charge. These stages of the carefully conducted investigation lasted till two in the afternoon, when the verdict began to take shape on the strength of certain points of evidence.
Absence of the Necessary Witnesses
At last, the result of the inquiry turned upon the question of witnesses, in whose presence the money had been given and accepted. These witnesses were not at hand, and their presence was necessary. In view of the trouble which their attendance would involve, John expressed his readiness to secure the purification of the church, and to save the witnesses inconvenience, by going to Asia in person, and completing the investigation there. Then Antoninus, conscious of his guilt, and observing the resolution and impartiality of John, went secretly to one of the officials, for whom he was looking after some estates in Asia,380 and begged him to arrange that John should be prevented from going to Asia, promising that he would himself see to the attendance of the witnesses. This man at once had a communication sent from the palace to Bishop John, to this effect: "It is out of the question for you, the bishop, the champion of our souls, to leave the city, when there is such grave expectation of disturbance, and commit yourself to a long absence in Asia, when the witnesses can easily be brought over." It was Gainas, the barbarian, who was expected to cause the disturbance.381 |123
The Delegation of Bishops to meet the Witnesses
Well, to make a long story short, he consented to stay in Constantinople, as he had to consider not only the burden placed upon the witnesses, but also the claims of justice. This postponement for the appearance of the witnesses was a godsend for the accused, as it was now possible to get rid of them by bribery or by pressure. This John foresaw; and accordingly deliberated with the assembled synod the question of sending to Asia some of the bishops present, to examine the witnesses.
Chicanery and Delay
Three bishops were at once appointed to go-----Syncletius, metropolitan of Trajanopolis,382 Hesychius, Bishop of Parius,383 and Palladius, Bishop of Helenopolis; a resolution of the synod being entered upon the minutes, that if either of the litigants did not within two months appear, and stand by his pleas, in Hypoepi, a city of Asia (chosen as at a convenient distance both for the accused persons, and for the other bishops who had to take part with Syncletius and his companions in, the trial), he should be |124 excommunicated. Two of the bishops nominated, Syncletms and Palladius, went down to Smyrna; for Hesychius, who was a friend of Antoninus, pretended that he had fallen ill. They at once notified both parties, by letter, of their arrival, bidding them to go together without delay to the city designated in the resolution, and carry out their promises. Instead of this, they came to terms with one another, thanks to bribery 384 on one side, met by an oath on the other, and before the judges arrived, had become friends. Then they made a great show of hastening to the district of Hypoepi, and calculated to fool the judges by putting off the appearance of witnesses again, on the ground that they were away from home for various unavoidable reasons. Upon this, the judges asked the accuser: "Within how many days will you produce the witnesses? We will wait for them for so long." As he expected that they would soon leave the place, owing to the oppressive weather ----it was the hottest period of summer----he promised in writing that within forty days he would either produce the witnesses, or submit to the penalties prescribed by the canons. He was accordingly set free to look for his witnesses; but he did nothing of the sort, but came down to Constantinople, and there remained in hiding.
Death of Antoninus
The judges duly waited for the forty days, and as he did not appear, they sent word to all the bishops of Asia, declaring him to be excommunicate, either as a shirker 385 or as a false accuser. Then they held out for thirty days more, and as he still did not appear, they departed, and came to Constantinople, where they fell in with him, and reproved him for his contemptuous action. He again pleaded the excuse of ill health, and promised to produce the witnesses. |125 Thus matters dragged on, until Antoninus, the defendant in Eusebius' suit, died.
The Invitation from Ephesus
At this juncture John received a resolution forwarded from Asia, on the part of the clergy of the Ephesian Church, on the one hand, and of the bishops on the other, making requirement of him, with an awful adjuration, as follows: "Whereas for years past the laws of the Church, and we ourselves, have been in a sad state of confusion for want of good shepherds, we beg your honour to come and lay down an order 386 issued of God for the Church of Ephesus, so long oppressed, on the one hand, by persons holding the views of Arius, on the other, by those who make a great show of professing the views we hold, to secure advantage and domination for themselves; especially as there are many who are lurking like savage wolves, eager to seize the episcopal throne with the help of money."
Chrysostom' s Visit to Ephesus
Now John was seriously ill, and it was the stormy season of winter; but he dismissed every difficulty from consideration, and thought only of the settlement of the troubles from which the whole province of Asia was suffering through the inexperience, or lack, of shepherds. Strengthened by his zeal, he embarked and left the city. A violent storm from the north came on, and the sailors were afraid of being cast upon the Proconnesus,387 so they set the prow to windward, and ran under Mount Trito, where they |126 cast the anchors, and rode, waiting for the south wind to enable them to reach Apameia. For two whole days they lay without food, the ship rolling heavily, but on the third they arrived at Apameia, where Bishops Paul,388 Cyrinus,389 and Palladius 390 were waiting for them; for John had appointed them to be his companions on his visit.
They accomplished the journey to Ephesus on foot, and on their arrival gathered together the bishops of Lydia, Asia, and Caria, making in all seventy persons. Thus they held the ordination,391 the majority meeting them in the most friendly spirit, especially the Phrygian bishops; so much did they appreciate the wisdom which fell from his mouth, as it is written, "Wisdom is praised in the streets"----that is, in those that speak; "in the broad places she uttereth her voice with outspokenness," 392 that is, in the hearts that have been enlarged through manifold distresses, as the scripture saith, "In distress thou didst enlarge me." 393 For wisdom is straitened in those that cultivate tares, and choke the word. |127
CHAPTER XV. SIX BISHOPS DEPOSED----CHRYSOSTOM'S WORK UNDONE
Eusebius' Request for Immediate Procedure
This was the state of things when the man who caused us all this long story, Eusebius, the accuser of the six other bishops, presented himself to the whole body of bishops, claiming to be admitted to communion with them. Some of the bishops objected, maintaining that as a false accuser he ought not to be admitted. Upon this he played the suppliant, saying, "As the main part of the case has been under investigation for two years, and the adjournment was made to enable the witnesses to be examined, I beseech your love of God, to let me produce the witnesses this very day. For although Bishop Antoninus, who accepted the money, and performed the act of ordination, is dead, there yet remain those who gave the money, and received ordination."
Confession of the Accused Bishops
The assembled synod resolved that the inquiry should be held, and the proceedings began with the reading of the minutes of the previous transactions. Then the witnesses were introduced, and also six of those who had given bribes and received ordination. At first they denied the charge; but the witnesses, some of whom were laymen, others priests, in whom they had evidently trusted, others again women, held to their assertions, and stated the nature of the pledges exchanged, the places, the dates, and the amount. At last, their consciences so much troubled them, that with very little pressure they confessed of their own free will. "We have given bribes," they said; "the thing is admitted, and we have been made bishops, in the expectation that we should be |128 regarded as exempt from civil duties.394 And now we beg to be allowed to continue in the ministry of this Church, if there is no impiety in our doing so; or, if that is impossible, that we may receive back the money we have paid. For some of us have given furniture belonging to our wives."
John in answer promised the synod, that with the help of God he would present a petition to the king, and get them freed from civil duties; and bade them order the accused to recover what they had paid from the heirs of Antoninus. So the synod ordered, that they should recover from the heirs of Antoninus, and should communicate within the sanctuary,395 but not be reckoned as priests, for fear that if their doings were condoned, a custom might arise worthy of Jews or Egyptians, of selling and buying the priesthood. They say that the pestilential patriarch 396 |129 of the Jews, whose acts belied his title, used to change the rulers of the synagogues every year, or every other year, as a means of raising money; and that the Patriarch of Egypt emulated him by doing the same, that the word of prophecy might be fulfilled, "Her priests made answer for gifts, and her prophets divined for money." 397
Re-introduction of the Condemned Bishops
The minutes of all those proceedings, and the names of the judges, are on record. Further, the investigation was not a matter of a single day, as Theophilus falsely asserted, but of two years. Moreover, those who were deposed acquiesced, thankful to be delivered from the judgment to come; indeed, one of them was appointed solicitor for dealing with public affairs.398 In their places six others were instituted, unmarried men, adorned by graces both of life and speech. And the noble and quarrelsome gentlemen, after John had been exiled, got what they did get (for their villainy has no name,399 any more than it has a substantial existence),400 and brought back into the Churches those who had four years before been expelled, while those who had been enthroned with due order they thrust out, scattering the sheep of Christ.
A Vile Person enthroned at Ephesus
Yet the most ridiculous thing of all, though it calls for lamentation rather than laughter, Theodorus, |130 best friend of learning, is yet to follow. As the prophet says, "Both thine ears shall tingle," 401 if you hear it, but as a lover of God you will mourn for the bishops who are behaving as madmen, and with darkened 402 hands outraging the gifts of Christ. The ordinations which Peter and John and their brethren administered with fasting and prayer, and with careful testing by lot, and fear, they administered with revelry and drunkenness, and lamentable bribes, to abortions 403 of men, not worthy to be set with pigs or dogs, creatures without reason; as Job prophesied, impersonating the Saviour, "Whom I thought not worthy of the dogs of my flocks, who lived beneath the nettles." 404
So these companions of actors and Jews are entrusted by our clever friends with the secrets 405 of the priesthood, as if they were friends 406 of the Saviour, and in consequence the orthodox laity avoid the houses of prayer. For this new and most contemptible form of audacity has actually spread from the Church of Ephesus as far as to us; and it is not to be wondered at, as Ephesus stands upon the sea, and exports its news as easily as its cargoes. For in the place of 407----no, I will say, in the place of John, the author of the gospel, the loyal disciple who leaned upon the bosom of wisdom, called in Scripture the disciple whom Jesus loved; who was succeeded by Timothy, the disciple of Paul, to whom are addressed |131 the two epistles of the apostle----there succeeds an abomination of desolation.408 For they consecrated and enthroned the eunuch 409 Victor the tribune, and cast into prison, where he is still languishing, the bishop enthroned by seventy bishops; a man who had lived a solitary life in the desert, trained in every branch of learning,410 possessed of a profound knowledge of Holy Scripture, and with three years of service as deacon to his record. Would that the eunuch who was consecrated had been trained by a holy life, for then the evil would have been halved; but as it is, we have a worm of earth, a slave of the belly, lustful, fierce, drunken, profligate, venal, illiberal, covetous, a jail-bird 411 from his birth, a sexless creature, neither man nor woman, raging mad; a man who (so I have often been told) carried theatre girls upon his shoulders at drinking parties lit for satyrs, his head garlanded with ivy, and a bowl clasped in his hand, playing the rôle of Dionysus 412 in the fable, as master of libations. All this he did, not before his initiation into the mysteries of Christ, but after his baptism;413 from which it is a plain inference, that he does not even believe in the resurrection. For how can a man believe in the resurrection, who has made rotten the foundation 414 of the resurrection? As the apostle says, "How shall they preach, unless they believe?" 415 He is moral, thanks to the knife, as to deeds which bring no reward; but |132 he is mad upon unfruitful works,416 from his natural depravity.
Now I have answered your inquiry as to events in Asia, which arose from the statement in Theophilus' letter that John had deposed sixteen bishops. You may be quite sure that the number is six. We have the records preserved, with the signatures of the twenty-two bishops who heard the case from the beginning, and the seventy who effected the deposition, and brought the trial to a conclusion.
CHAPTER XVI. PORPHYRIUS
The Deacon's Inquiry
Deac. Pardon me, father; such deeds overpass 417 drunkenness, and madness, and youthful folly. Madmen, drunkards, and young men, when they are sober again, or have digested their food, or when they have come to years of discretion, as the case may be, are ashamed of their disgraceful or disorderly doings or sayings, and renounce them; these people, after all they have done in mature age and apparently in a sober frame of mind, so far from repenting of their deeds, hope and pray that their wickedness may be permanent and undisturbed. When men have not shrunk from placing the gospel on a polluted head,418 upon which coarse women have danced; |133 with whom are they fit to be ranked, but with those who put the crown of thorns about the head of the Son of God? However, if you have personal knowledge of the circumstances of the consecration 419 of Porphyrius to the bishopric of Antioch, or of those who performed the act of consecration, or of the previous life of the man, whether it was distinguished or not, and of his teaching, whether it be true or false, tell us what you know; especially as he has sent a letter to the Church of Rome, and was not considered worthy of an answer.
A Protestation of Veracity
Bish. My words shall again be the words of truth, for I will not forget the voice of the Master, which says, "For every idle word shall men give account in the day of judgment." 420 Let me venture to add a clause, and say, "For every idle hearing." Do you then guard yourself; if you find me not speaking the truth, do not let my grey hair weigh with you, but only the veracity of my statements. For what profit shall I have from what I have said to-day, or yesterday, if I have told lies, when I am put to shame for ever before the unerring judgment throne? And how shall I bear the mill-stone 421 of slander cast about the neck of my mind, when I am cast down into the pit of hell for the souls who have been caused to offend by my lies?
Porphyrius' Career Well, this Porphyrius 422 had long been in the Church, |134 and held office both as deacon and as priest in the presbytery; but his character was quite out of keeping with his long tenure of office, and he was never of the slightest spiritual benefit to the Church. He was always in opposition to the devout bishops in his neighbourhood, and used his position as bishop of the most important city, with the magistrates under his jurisdiction, to make ordination a matter of barter; he exerted his ingenuity to prevent seemly ordinations, and by his uncanny abilities wormed himself into friendship with the bishops in office for the moment, as one may call them, even dragging them down with him against their will, to hold ordinations blasted by the wind.423 Flattery, coupled with an evil disposition, is a terrible thing; as the comic poet Menander says, "It is hard, Pamphile, for an honest woman to fight with an harlot." 424
The more such a man knows the more harm he does. He is ashamed of no one, but the worse a man is, the more he flatters him. As the wise Solomon says, "The words of flatterers are soft; they smite upon the innermost chambers of the belly." 425 He is as much a stranger, or rather an enemy, to self-control in the pleasures of the flesh, as the vulture is to scent; indeed, common report credits him with the unnatural wickedness of Sodom. Nature imposes upon our pleasures laws, and limits, and barriers; if what they say is true, he has trodden down the barrier, burst |135 the limit, and made despite of the law, until he has produced the impression that he takes the chair and joins in the convivial gatherings of jugglers, and jockeys, and actors who represent incidents of ancient times with improper posturings and distortions of the leg.426 He had the hardihood to enter into contests of skill with jugglers, and have friendly intercourse with them; indeed, charges of so doing are entered in the records of several of the magistrates. Pie has not read the gnomic poet's words, "What thou ought-est not to do, do not even think." [Thanks to him the Mediator was slain with blows,427 and "he who found was exiled, and the juggler was put to flight."] 428
They say that besides all this wickedness, he was guilty, after his ordination, of melting down (Church) plate, and lavishing the proceeds upon the magistrates, to produce the appearance of having the authority, not of a spiritual guide, but of a tyrant, over those who unhappily fell into his power.429
Constantius desired as Bishop
Now the death of Flavianus, Bishop of Antioch, coincided with the exile of John to Armenia. Porphyrius observed that the whole population, men and women alike, hung upon the neck of Constantius the priest, longing to have him (as bishop). He had been the servant of the Church from his earliest childhood; an ambidextrous man, to use a term from the book of Judges.430 What is generally considered the left hand, was in him stronger than the right of other men. He had first rendered service by writing letters,431 and been found blameless in regard to unrighteous gain and bribes; next he had been promoted to be reader and |136 deacon, and without an effort had mastered the sexual delights which reign among men. As the author of Proverbs says, "The hand of the elect shall easily prevail." 432 For possibly even the vilest of men can master pleasure; either through fear of consequences, or from shame, they may by great exertion restrain their bodily impulses. But it is only those that love God, who through love of the higher can rise superior to the lower----those whom the scripture calls "elect," in the text, "The hand of the elect shall easily prevail." If ever a man was gentle, it was he; or if ever a man was self-disciplined, penetrating of vision, sharp of comprehension, slow to punish, thoughtful, able to draw inferences by reflection, merciful, generous, just in judgment, long-suffering under insults, of ability to win men, oft continuing fasting until evening, so as to relieve the oppressed, of dignified appearance, stern of look, swift of step, celibate, as a bishop should be, ever wearing upon his face, even in sickness, the blossom of a smile.
Porphyrius' Private Ordination as Bishop
Such a man it was whose banishment Porphyrius set himself to bring about by means of bribery; and his method was this. He sent to the capital a message addressed to the officials in authority over the bishops, and procured his exile to Oasis by royal edict, as a seditious agitator. Constantius, however, at once heard of this, and with the help of his friends escaped to Cyprus. But Porphyrius himself had Cyriacus and Diophantus, priests, and other clergy, put under arrest; and then, keeping by his side in hiding the party of Acacius, Severianus, and Antiochus, he waited for the occasion when the whole city went abroad to the suburbs on one of the great pagan festivals, observed every four years in honour of the labours of Hercules, called Olympia, upon which flocks of women stream out with the crowds to Daphne,433 to |137 see the sports. Bursting into the church, with the bishops I mentioned, and a few clergy, he was privately ordained, with closed doors, and in such haste, through fear of discovery, that they did not give themselves time to finish the prayer. Such is adultery, its offspring and its deeds ever bastard.
Porphyrius' Acts of Violence
Severianus and his friends took their bribe-money, and fled through mountains and pathless wastes; they escaped the terror of man, but were pierced through by the terror of God, which they had ignored. Now when the public theatre emptied, and the crowds re-entered the city, they were told what had been done to Porphyrius, and of the drama that Acacius had played. That evening the people forbore, like men flogged for adultery; but next day they rose, and poured through the streets in a great throng, with fire and faggots, determined to destroy Porphyrius with his house. Porphyrius, however, quite aware of the hatred in which he was held, deserted God, and fled to the officer in command of the camp,434 put money in his hands; and so diverting him from the war with the Isaurians, opened a campaign against the disciples of the Saviour. So the marauding Isaurian savages ravaged Rhosus 435 and Seleucia, while Porphyrius and Valentinus the governor pillaged the Church of the orthodox with an armed force; trampling with their own feet upon the most awful sign of the Cross, which they (the orthodox) bore upon their shoulders 436 to be their teacher, while they offered litanies 437 upon the desolated land. |138
The Indignation of the People
A few days afterwards, Porphyrius sent to the capital in great haste, and urged upon the magistrates, who were such men as himself, that a certain creature of their own, old but active, and of an evil disposition and a twisted mind, should be appointed 438 night-prefect, that he might so make himself master of the city by bringing false charges against the good citizens without fear of consequences. It was a fine imitation of the ways of Nero the fighter against God. It is not in him to win men by reason, but to vex them with unreason and cruelty; since he does not make it his aim to please God by leading to Him wandering souls, but to fill his serpent-like belly 439 that crawls upon its chest. So a certain number of the laity, in fear of rough treatment, unwillingly assembled in the church, for the sake of appearances, but in reality, they vituperated the lives of the men, and awaited succour from God.
Cruelty Preferred to Flattery
At this point Theodorus said, in amazement----Deac. I note something contrary to natural order in these events, father. As a general rule, vainglorious persons are men-pleasers, and prove to be flatterers, and provide sumptuous tables, to get themselves liked and well spoken of. Often they will even let people spit upon them. So I cannot see how Porphyrius, or any one else, can have practised methods of threats, and punishment, and banishment.
Bish. Yes, this is the extraordinary thing, Theodorus, that they reached such a pitch of wickedness, that so far from being anxious to please men, they did not even give a thought to the disgraceful character of their doings; for wickedness outdoes wickedness in wickedness. Wickedness casts the net of vainglory, when it hopes to catch simple folks by means of |139 flattery; but when the quarry proves to be superior to flattery and the pleasures of the table, it brings up threats and torments, to terrify by cruelty and fear those whom it could not seduce by the pleasures of the table or by flattery. We have seen this in the case of the martyrs. Both methods were employed against them; the snare constructed of bribes and honours, which caught those who had their mouths open for worthless reputation, and also the threat of punishment, which provided the roasting iron, the rack, and the wild beasts, and every kind of horrible torture, and revealed the courageous and the lovers of God.440 But to return to my story. The leading clergy of Antioch met in secret, without even going near the walls of the church, and all the leading women, for whose sake more particularly the covetous prelates have gone out of their wits. I need not tell you what happened in Constantinople, or what numbers of people, as I told you before, left the church, and gathered in the open air, so that not even our rulers in ecclesiastical affairs had so many auditors----of their silence, for they never tried to speak.
Olympias and Theophilus
Deac. You have relieved the doubts which were in my mind, father, by your presentation of the facts to my eyes. The consistency of your narrative, and your ingenuous explanation, convinces me that these events really happened; for a fictitious narrative cannot be consistent with itself. If it will not burden you, please tell us about Olympias, if you know anything of her.
Bish. Which Olympias? There are several ladies of that name.
Deac. The deaconess of Constantinople, who was the wife of Nevridius the ex-prefect.441 |140
Bish. I know her very well.
Deac. What sort of a woman is she?
Bish. Do not say woman, but manly creature;442 she is a man in everything but body.
Deac. How so?
Bish. In life, and in work, and in knowledge, and in her patience under afflictions.
Deac. Why then did Theophilus revile her?
Bish. Which Theophilus?
Deac. The Bishop of Alexandria.
Bish. You appear to me, Theodorus, to have buried in oblivion oceans of words.
Deac. How so?
Bish. The man who did not spare the truth, but trod it underfoot, as my narrative has established, and did not respect the Church universal, for whose sake the Only-begotten, as we proclaim, was done to death, that He might make it one, but disgraced it by his behaviour----has he it in him to spare a widow woman, who spends her life in prayer? Look all round, and see if he ever reviled a bad man; he always has hated devoutness. Why do you not gather from his very letters, how contrary they are one to another? He vituperated Epiphanius, the blessed Bishop of Constantia in Cyprus, who for thirty-six years ruled the Church there, as a heretic, or a paltry schismatic, in the time of Damas us or of the blessed Sericius; 443 but afterwards, in his letter to Pope Innocent, in which he reviled the blessed John, we find him calling Epiphanius a most holy saint. How often do you suppose he kissed Olympias' knees, when he |141 hoped to get money from her, the woman whom he now reviles; while she threw herself upon the ground in vexation, and shed tears at such things being done by a bishop. However, what were the grounds on which he reviled her?
Olympias' Reception of the Monks
Deac. He said that she had received into her house the monks whom he had expelled.
Bish. Well, is it right or fitting for a bishop to expel any disciple whatever; to say nothing of a monk?
Deac. Yes, if they have offended him, or slandered him.
Bish. Even if they did, ought he to have satisfied his personal indignation? How then shall Theophilus look for the insults which Christ endured, when he is always thinking of his own reputation? Why did he never imitate the teacher who said, "Being reviled, we bless"? 444
Deac. Then what was he to do, if the monks were unorthodox?
Bish. Whatever they were, he ought to have corrected them and convinced them, not to have expelled them.
Deac. But what if he did this, and they were so contentious, that they refused to be convinced?
Bish. He ought to have carried out the apostle's precept, "The man that is an heretic after one or two admonitions refuse, knowing that such an one is perverted." 445 He does not say, expel him, and rob him, and drive him from his native land, under threat of magistrate's sentence.
Deac. You tell me of rules for a perfect man, a lover of God, enduring of evil.
Bish. And yet it is not a matter for great praise, to bear with an inferior. But if a man is not perfect, so far as is possible, how can he be a bishop? The imperfect will never have consideration for the |142 imperfect. And how can he be called Theophilus, if he does not love God,446 for Whose sake he ought readily to have borne the insults of men? And if he does not love God, clearly he does not love himself either; and how shall he who is his own enemy love others? So it is not at all strange, that he blamed Olympias for receiving the monks.
Deac. I admit that Theophilus was carried away by his temper when he expelled them, whether they were orthodox or heretical; still, the deaconess ought not to have received them.
The Rightfulness of Olympias' Action
Bish. Well, what did you think of it? That she did right or wrong?
Deac. I said, that she did wrong.
Bish. And doing good is sometimes judged?
Deac. Most certainly, when good is done to bad people, and people who ought not to be treated well.
Bish. Then what were the five thousand, whom the Saviour fed with five barley loaves----good or bad?
Deac. As they were fed by the Saviour, clearly they were good.
Bish. If they were good, why did he feed them with loaves of barley?
Deac. Perhaps because wheaten loaves were scarce, and they were hungry.
Bish. Then how is it that they are reproved for want of faith; as good, or as bad men?
Deac. If they are reproved, clearly they were bad.
Bish. Well, can the same man be both good and bad?
Deac. They can be good in comparison with the worse, and bad in comparison with the better.
Bish. Splendid. According to this, the monks were both good and bad. And the most faithful |143 deaconess provided hospitality for them, as good men, but our wonderful bishop expelled them, as bad. He ought not to have done so.
Deac. But he will say to you, "You received my enemies, to my hurt."
Bish. I object. It was wrong for him to call them enemies at all. As an imitator of Christ he ought to endure insults.
Deac. One moment; where are the five thousand reproved, as you said they were, by the Saviour? There is no record of reproof of them in scripture.
Bish. When they assembled and came to Jesus the second time, and were told, "Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs and wonders, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." 447
That is very clear, said Theodorus.
Bish. If a man is blamed, he is so far bad.
Deac. Very true.
Bish. Then were those whom the Saviour fed bad, or good?
Deac. I admit that they were bad; for "they that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick." 448
Bish. Well then; did Olympias do wrong in imitating her Lord, who "maketh his own sun to rise, and sendeth rain, upon righteous and unrighteous"? 449 Even though the Pharisees reproach Him, and say to the disciples, "Your master eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners." 450
Deac. It appears that, contrary to the general instincts of mankind, noble actions are being condemned, and disgraceful actions approved.
Bish. What makes you say that, Theodorus, most truth-loving of men?
Deac. I mean that, if you had not made the matter |144 clear to me, by your logical explanation, I should have been led astray to hold the same senseless opinion as other people; the babblings of Theophilus caught my attention more than the ideal of truth.
Bish. Then conversely, if these holy men are proved not only to be not bad men, but men who have turned many from vice to virtue, clearly their persecutor deserves not to be persecuted in his turn, but to be pitied,451 as one who is always oppressing the good, and receiving 452 the bad.
Deac. Just so. Even if they cannot be proved to be wise and holy men, as most people say they are; by the lines of reasoning we have been following, Olympias must be freed from blame, as she put into practice the imitation of the Saviour.
Bish. And which testimony to the value of actions do you regard as strongest; that of the gospels, or that of Theophilus?
Deac. Hush, I beg you; I admit that he expelled the men through ill temper and love of domination, and that he reviled Olympias through superstition 453 and enmity, making the monks his excuse. The fact is, that when he found his servile flatteries fail in getting anything out of her beyond food and hospitality, he turned and reviled her; this is his way with every one. |145
CHAPTER XVII. THE VIRTUES OF THE MONKS, AND OF OLYMPIAS
Hierax and Ammonius
Bish. Listen, then, best of deacons. [You are worth the trouble], for I see that you will do much good in the world; your youthful zeal is a pledge of an honourable old age.454
These men from their earliest childhood, brought up by Christian parents, submitted themselves to God, and when quite young refused to be the slaves of vanity, and to associate with the multitude, but found a desolate spot far out of the world, in the south, where they set up huts, to shield them from the fierce heat of the sun, and the dew from the air. Here they lived, spending their time in prayer and reading, producing by manual labour enough fruit of their toil to provide for their frugal nourishment; thinking it better to herd with deer and sparrows and buffaloes, than to feast with people who knew not God. The eldest of them, who was called Hierax,455 and is still generally known by that name, once an associate of the blessed Antonius,456 had attained the age of ninety years, or thereabouts; another was Ammonius, sixty years old, and there were besides two anchorite brethren, and one bishop, who were put in pillory and banished under Valens, as all Alexandria knows. Such masters of learning were they, that not a single |146 point of difficulty which men generally find in the scriptures escaped them. Two of them fell asleep, ending their days in Constantinople; Ammonius, as Aurelius and Sisinnius 457 related, had prophesied of his decease, that there would first be a great persecution and schism among the Churches, but that the originators of it would come to a most disgraceful end, and that so the Churches should be made one. This shall come to pass, as it has already come to pass in part.
The Divine Punishment of the Persecutors
For presently certain of the bishops, and of the lay people as well, were attacked by disease, which rent them with sufferings of various kinds, burning their vitals with slow fever, and setting up such intolerable itchings, that they excoriated with their nails the whole surface of their bodies, and by continual intestinal pains. One man had livid dropsical swellings in the feet; another found the fingers which had written the unrighteous signature 458 shaking with discharges, now hot, now cold, which ran from his four limbs. The abdomen was inflamed, and putrefaction in one member exhaled a far-reaching stench, and bred worms. Other symptoms were asthma, and difficulty of breathing, and tensions of all the limbs; nightmares of ravening dogs changing to savages brandishing swords and yelling in strange tongues like the roaring of the sea, made their sleep to be no sleep. One had his right leg broken like a cabbage stalk, by a fall from his horse, and died immediately from the shock; another entirely lost the use of his voice, and for eight months suffered torments 459 upon his bed, unable to lift his |147 hand to his mouth. Another's legs were almost eaten away as far as the knees, apparently by aggravated erysipelas; the tongue of another swelled so terribly, they say, with raging fever, that it pressed against his teeth, and blocked the [main channel of] the body. As there was no room for his tongue in the space naturally appointed for it, he wrote a confession of his sins upon a tablet.
One could see the divine wrath carrying out its punitive operations by various forms of vengeance.460 For as they had provoked the Physician who brings relief to souls, and had driven His mouth-piece 461 from the workshop of salvation, they were delivered over for torture to physicians of the body, who administered pains by the drugs usually prescribed as remedies, and wrought no salvation. For who shall heal him who is being punished by God? As the prophet says, "Shall physicians rise, and praise thee?" 462 Thus perished all who work against the peace of Thy Church, O Lord.
More of the Monks
On the other hand, it is said that the tomb of the monk Ammonius expels the shivering fever;463 he was buried in the shrine of the apostles, beyond the sea. Bishop Dioscorus, they say, had made it his special petition, that he might see either the peace of the Church, or his own death; as the world was |148 not worthy of peace, he was granted death, and was buried in the martyr's shrine facing the gate of the city,464 with the result that most of the women gave up taking oaths by the martyr, and now swear by the prayers of Dioscorus. As for the rest of the anchorites, the telling of the tale would take many words; and perhaps you cannot spare the time, famous sir.
Deac. Nay, who is so sorely pressed, that he must refuse a hearing to tales of heroism? Speak, I pray you, and by every fair word at your command draw away my mind from earthly thoughts.
Bish. Well, there is another Hierax; though he bears a Greek name, his life is adorned by the beauty of his character. On first embracing the life of solitary retirement, he withdrew to Mount Porphyrites,465 quite outside the boundaries of Egypt and Thebais, free from the breath of men; where he lived for four years of strict devotion, finding the virtues of the life themselves sufficient for his comfort. Then he spent twenty-five years in Nitria, with the fathers I have mentioned. He was assailed by demons, as he told us himself, who were transformed into angels of light, and tried to shake him from the hope set before him, by promising him a long life. "You have fifty years to live," they said; "how shall you endure, here in the desert?" But he with the intelligence of faith replied, "You distress me when you tell me of a period shorter than my purpose; I had prepared myself for two hundred years in the desert." Hearing this they vanished howling. Such was the man, whom demons could not shake by the invention of a vast space of time to bring him to accidie,466 whom Pope |149 Theophilus drove from his home by an edict, and brought to such distress, that he made his way to the capital; a man who now has again, since the falling asleep of Ammonius, returned to the sheer desert, in fearful remembrance of the parable of the plough.467
Another, a priest called Isaac, a disciple of Macarius 468 the disciple of Antonius, a man who loved the desert to a fault, fifty years of age, who had the whole scripture by heart, and took up horned snakes in his hands unharmed, a virgin from his mother's womb, who at seven years of age had taken to the desert, after forty years was sifted out 469 by Pope Theophilus, with the aforesaid monks.
Another priest Isaac, also the disciple of a disciple of Antonius, the priest Cronius,470 whom he succeeded, extraordinarily learned, like the first Isaac, in the scriptures, hospitable if ever man was----so much so, that in his extraordinary love of his fellow-men, he established a hostel in the sheer desert for the refreshment of sick monks, and of strangers who visited the district to see the blessed fathers----a stranger, they say, to anger, who had lived for thirty years in retirement, was cruelly treated along with the others. The first of these Isaacs had a hundred and fifty ascetics under him; Theophilus, while he was really a Theophilus,471 appointed disciples of his, to the number of seven or eight, as bishops. The other had two hundred and ten, and many of his disciples, too, are on the roll of bishops.
These are the men of whom I told you two days ago; 472 how they were driven by Pope Theophilus |150 from the desert, on account of Isidore the priest. Those are the men, whom priests and Levites passed by, and whom to the shame of men a manly woman received, and to the condemnation of bishops a deaconess hospitably entertained; a woman whose praise dwells in the Churches for many reasons. She followed the example of the famous Samaritan, whoever he was, who found the man maltreated by the robbers half dead in the descent to Jericho, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to the inn, and mingled the oil of love for his fellow-men with the astringent wine, and so healed his swelling wounds.
The Life of Olympias
Now I must leave the monks, to speak of her. What wealth of money or of goods she distributed to the needy it is not for me to say, but for those who benefited by her generosity; 473 as I lived elsewhere, I had no need to be a burden to her.474 But listen while I tell of greater virtue yet. She was an orphan, and married; but she was not allowed by the foreknowing God, Who sees the issues of men's lives before they come to pass, to be the slave of the pleasure of the flesh which claims the obedience of all, even for twenty months; her husband being speedily called to pay the debt of nature. It is reported by common rumour that she is still a virgin; while she might have yielded to the apostolic rule, "I will that the younger widows marry, keep the house," 475 she could not bring herself to do so, although she had all the advantages of noble birth, and wealth, and an expensive education, as well as personal beauty and the grace of blossoming womanhood----but leapt free as a gazelle over the snare of second marriage. "For the law is not laid down for a righteous man, but for lawless persons, profane," 476 insatiate for destruction. |151
Now it happened that through some kind of satanic malice, her premature widowhood was reported to the ears of King Theodosius, who at once set himself to marry her to a kinsman of his own, one Elpidius, a Spaniard. He again and again urged the brave creature 477 to consent, but to his vexation she refused, declaring, "If my King had desired me to live with a husband, he would not have taken away my first; 478 but as He knew me to be unsuitable to the conjugal life, since I am unable to please a husband, He at once set him free from the bond, and delivered me from the burdensome yoke, and from slavery to a husband, while He laid upon my mind His gentle yoke of continence." At this reply, he ordered the prefect, that her property should be held under trust, until she reached her thirtieth year. The officer, instigated by Elpidius, carried out the king's command by causing her all possible annoyance; she was not allowed to have any dealings even with the most eminent of the bishops, or to attend church, in the hope that in utter weariness she might be driven to prefer the proposed marriage. But she rejoiced all the more, and gave thanks to God, and made answer to the king: "You have shown towards my humble self kindness worthy of a king, and suitable to a bishop, in commanding this very heavy burden, which caused me anxiety, to be put in trust for proper administration; you will do better yet, if you order it to be dispersed among the poor, and the Churches. Indeed, it has long been my prayer, to be delivered from the vainglory which might come from distributing it in charity, that I may not be so engrossed in material things as to lose the soul's true wealth." Hearing on his return from the war with Maximus 479 of her enthusiasm for the disciplined |152 life, the king ordered that she should have the control of her property.
Deac. Then John had good reason to hold her in honour, if she was so strict in her self-discipline.
Bish. Yes indeed; she abstains from flesh food, and seldom visits the baths; if her health requires it (she has chronic stomach troubles) she enters the water in her chemise, because, they say, modesty forbids her to look upon herself.
Deac. It is reported that she has entirely maintained the blessed John.
Bish. Even if she has, what kindness did she show to him that was worthy of his virtue? She certainly spared him anxiety for his daily barley bread; and this is no small thing for Christ's workers, whose care, night and day, is for the things of Christ. As Paul says, in saluting Persis, who probably had toiled like Olympias; "Salute," he writes, "Persis the beloved, who laboured much in the Lord," 480 "for all seek their own, and not the things of Christ." 481 I know that she did more to maintain the blessed Nectarius----so much so, that he took her advice even in ecclesiastical affairs----and I need not mention Amphilochius, Optimus, Gregorius, Peter the brother of Basil, and Epiphanius Bishop of Cyprus, those saints to whom she actually made gifts of lands and money. When Optimus was dying in Constantinople, she closed his eyes with her own hands. Besides these, she generously provided everything they required for the wretched Antiochus, Acacius, and Severianus; and to put it briefly, for every priest who visited the city, and a host of ascetics and virgins.482 |153
Chrysostom's Sparing Acceptance
However, as John had decided that he was sent to be a pattern, so to speak, to future bishops of the manner of life required of them, and therefore, that he should preach Christian repentance, as Paul says, at his own charge,483 without touching anything that belonged to the Church, he accepted meat for each day as it came, and avoided anxiety about such things. They say that he was like a man ashamed of himself,484 when he partook of material food. When apples are fully ripe, they cannot endure to stay on the branch, but look for the hand of their master; so it is with the saints. When they rise above nature in their love for the beauty of heavenly things, they long, even before the time appointed for their decease, to attain to the promise. We see the same thing in the children of great houses; when they know that honey-cakes are to follow, they often refuse to touch the food set before them, so as to save their appetites for the sweets with which they look forward to satisfying themselves. I leave my observations to the judgment of those who have set out upon the same track in the spiritual journey; for "if the wise man hear a prudent man, he will commend him, and add unto it." 485 |154
CHAPTER XVIII. CHRYSOSTOM'S IDEALS
The Example of St. Paul
Deac. You have eased my mind, honoured father, by your painstaking and complete explanation; your narrative is quite consistent with the rumours which had reached our ears, but gives them a new flavour of grace. Yet I must say, that the maintenance of the bishop would have been no burden to the Church, if the holy John had taken his share from the Church; as the writer says, "For the labourer is worthy of his food," 486 and again, "Who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Who planteth a vineyard, and partakes not of its fruit?" 487 Do we not find these words, and many others to the same effect, in scripture?
Bish. Appropriately and intelligently spoken, Theodorus; but add to the texts you have quoted the words that follow. True, the sacred law gives to those employed upon sacred things the right to eat of the sacrifice, but note what Paul, ever covetous of the good, adds: "I did not use the power" 488 in things of the body, "that I may be a partaker of the gospel" 489 in things of the spirit. He would not be "a stumbling-block to the weak"; as he says, "If any one see thee, who hast knowledge, sitting at meat" in weakness, "will not his conscience, as he is weak, be edified" 490 into imitating thy weak doings? If the matter ended with us, and there were none coming after us to receive in their turn maintenance from the laity, it would be possible for an offender to say, Let us live as we will, and enjoy the good things of life. But as those who come after us treat us as teachers, and set our rule and our behaviour before their eyes, we are bound to live |155 not only for ourselves, but for Him Who died and rose for us;491 to constrain the weakness of the laity, and to lead their ranks to a higher standard of temperance and simplicity, admonishing ourselves. As the writer says, "What man is he that feareth the Lord? He will lay down for him a law in the way that he hath chosen." 492
The Sense of Responsibility
For the Master lays down the law for the self-willed and miserable people who sin in thoughtlessness, welcoming the spirit of bondage; as the psalmist David says, "The Lord shall lay down a law for sinners in the way," 493 but will punish transgressors. But the righteous man, breaking the bounds of the law of bondage, for his love of the Master, presses on to his rights of sonship by adoption, and becomes his own law-giver. Such was Job, both in deed and word---- "I made a covenant with my eyes; I will not look upon a maid." 494 Now what was this covenant? That they who rebel against temperance should have their eyes cut out.495 In the same way David says, "I have sworn, and am steadfastly purposed, to keep thy righteous judgments;"496 where his will was hesitating and wavering, he bound it with an oath.
John followed the example of these fathers, as no bastard, but a true son, and in his longing to make the way easy for the common herd of men, enervated through divers lusts, to a sounder standard of life, he made himself his own law-giver;497 steeling himself by an unalterable decision, he withdrew himself from drinking parties and gatherings of triflers, jokers, and gossips, arming the eye of his soul with the panoply of the spirit, lest folly should find an entrance through revelry and improper talk, and make havoc of |156 temperance. As the writer says, "Evil communications corrupt good manners." 498
Chrysostom's Action in Accordance with Scripture
This is why plots were laid against him; for even when his light shone brightly, he was offensive to them, as a lamp is offensive to watering eyes. Such was his fellow-sufferer, Jeremiah, who lamented with tears the faithlessness of the rulers and the priests, crying, "Who will give to my head water, and fountains of tears to my eyes? And I will weep for my people day and night;" and again, "Who will give me a lodging-place, the furthest in the desert? And I will leave my people, and go from them, for all commit adultery." 499 He calls the assembly of the false prophets and priests a gathering of them that disannul the law.500 So in another passage he appeals to God, not because God did not know, but because we have to follow his example: "Lord, if I have sat in the assembly of them that make merry; but I lived in godly fear away from thy face; I sat alone, because I was filled with bitterness." 501 Similarly David sings, "I have not sat with the assembly of vanity, and with the transgressors I will not enter;" and he adds, to make his meaning clear, "I have hated the congregation of the evil-doers, and with the ungodly I will not sit; I will wash my hands"----my active powers----"in innocency, and will go round thine altar, O Lord." 502
But these men cared less than he for the altar, and turned their back upon it, not only in purpose, but in their manner of life; not content with defiling it with unwashed and blood-stained hands, with giving and accepting bribes, and making false statements in writing, they trampled upon it with muddy feet. It is of them that Ezekiel speaks in figure: "And he brought me to the door of the court, and I saw, and behold a hole in the wall. And he said unto me, |157 Dig through, son of man. And I dug through, and behold, a door. And he said unto me, Go in, and see the wicked lawlessness, which they do here. And I went in, and behold, every likeness of creeping thing, and beast, and vain idols, abominations. And he said unto me, Thou hast seen, son of man, what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, in the chamber" (he means, in their minds). "For they said, The Lord seeth us not, the Lord hath forsaken the earth. And he said unto me, Thou shalt see yet greater lawlessness, which these do. And he brought me to another place, and showed me; and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz." And again, "He brought me into the inner house of the Lord; and behold there, twenty and four men, and their faces turned away, and their backs to the altar. And he said unto me, Are these small things, that the house of Israel doeth?" 503
We could not help calling to mind the passage of the prophet, at the thought of these particularly reckless people, who think that they are somewhat 504 and deceive themselves; who disturb the peace of the Church, because they have given their backs to the Lord's table, "Whose judgment ceaseth not, and their destruction slumbereth not;" 505 "who mind earthly things." 506 Of them Judas the brother of James says, "These are they who are hidden rocks in your love feasts, feasting with you without fear, shepherds that feed themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds, wild waves of the sea foaming out their own shame, wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved for ever." 507 In calling them "clouds without water," he suggested the evil hail with which they mar the vine; "wandering stars" more distantly suggests the plot against the ship. Both ship and vine are the Church. What consequences are bound to follow from such things? Hear again the same prophet Ezekiel, telling us: "And he |158 showed me, and behold men came from the way of the upper gate, which looketh toward the north, every man with his slaughter weapon in his hand. And one man in the midst of them, clothed down to the feet, and a girdle of sapphire upon his loins. And they went in, and stood beside the brazen altar, and the glory of the God of Israel which was upon them went up from the cherubim to the threshold of the house. And he called the man who was clothed down to the feet, who had the girdle upon his loins. And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, even Jerusalem, and set the sign upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the lawlessness that is done in the midst of them. And to them he said"----clearly, to the six who had the slaughter weapons----"in mine hearing, Go into the city after him"----clearly, after the man who put the signs upon their foreheads----"and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity; slay utterly the old man, the young man, and maiden, and little children and women. But come not near any man upon whom is the sign, and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the elders which were in the house of the Lord."508
A Piece of Exegesis
If any one should imagine that this prophecy is concerned only with occurrences in Judaea, I should consider him to be in ignorance of the fact of the Lord's sojourn upon earth; for Ezekiel was not a priest prior to the Captivity. Under the dispensation of God, he was carried into captivity while quite a child, with the rest of the tribe of Levi, and only in his thirtieth year, while fulfilling his office as a priest among the exiles, was he found worthy of the vision of things to be; as he tells us himself, "And it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month; and I was in the midst of the captivity by the river Chebar." 509 And again, shortly |159 afterwards: "The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, the priest, in the land of the Chaldaeans by the river Chebar."
If our objector, finding himself in difficulties, should now say to us: It is the Saviour who went first and set the sign of the cross upon the foreheads of the men, and then, when they would not believe the Saviour, the Roman empire followed, in the days of Vespasian, who forty years later destroyed the synagogue which had worked iniquity; we accept 510 [as a Christian] a man who holds these views, but we urge him, as a son of the New Covenant,511 to follow the guidance of Paul our instructor in these mysteries, who says of all the books of this kind, "These things happened to them in figure, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." 512
Now I do not say this because I make it my prayer that the sword may come upon the enemies of God. God forbid. The prophet does not indicate a sword of steel, but some other punitive force, of which the same Ezekiel says, "The land upon which I bring a sword" ("I bring" for "I will allow"), "and the people of the land take a man, and set him for their watchman, and the watchman seeth the sword coming, and bloweth with the trumpet, and warneth the people, and he that heareth hear, and keepeth not guard; and the sword come and take any one, his blood will I require of him, because he heard not the sound of of the trumpet." And again: "But if the watchman seeth the sword coming, and blow not the trumpet, and give not warning to the people, and the sword come and take any one, his blood will I require at the watchman's hand, because he saw the sword, yet did not blow." 513
Now the blessed John slept not the sleep of unbelief, |160 nor was he heedless with the heedlessness of pleasure-seeking, but with this peril ever before his eyes, he cried more clearly than a trumpet;514 no uncertain sound he uttered,515 but gave men certain knowledge of the sword of the devil, and urged all men to flee from it. And all who had a clear conscience like a sign upon the forehead of their souls, by the grace of God were saved with you the faithful of Rome,516 while all whose conscience is defiled set people and priests on fire with quarrels among themselves, so as to hide their own in the general wickedness.
The Use of the Opportunity
Deac. Admirably said. But it is admitted that it is impossible for a man to be found blameless and perfect in this earthly life; for the Scripture says repeatedly, "Who shall boast that he hath his heart pure? Or who shall be confident that he is clean from sin?" 517 Be that as may be, the blessed John at any rate did not know how to use the opportunity, for one ought not to interfere with those in power.518
Bish. My good Theodorus, I believe you are a rascal. At first you showed us the sympathy that we expected of you, and a certain amount of compunction;519 but little by little you are proving to have a liking for scurrilities. Why, even his recognized enemies never found such severe fault with his behaviour.
Deac. Why are you angry, father, you who have the reputation for being a lover of truth, because I said that the blessed John did not grasp the opportunity? The scripture says, "Stand not in the place of rulers," 520 and again, "Buying up the opportunity."521 |161 A specially necessary rule in dealing with men who will not accept advice or improvement.
Bish. Blessed are ye, who so interpret the scriptures. The verse in Ecclesiastes,522 "Stand not in the place of rulers," is addressed to those who are unworthy of, and unequal to, the priesthood, to prevent them from seizing upon it. By "rulers," he means the teachers of righteousness; first the apostles, who were rulers, clothed with the spirit of power, and next, those who follow their example. And the phrase "to buy up the opportunity" is used, not to make us hypocrites, but to bid us, when the opportunity of sin arises, to buy the opportunity by means of virtue, and not to sell it to sin. He who little by little thus buys up the opportunity, finds that he has bought up his whole existence; he has passed by the pleasures of life, to find those that are above life.523 This is what the martyrs have done; they gave away their life in the flesh, and inherited immortality. So they bought up the opportunity in the true sense.
If my view is unsound, it will appear that Moses, Elias, Michaiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Esaias, Peter and Paul, not to mention others, were ignorant of their own opportunities. Moses, because he reproved a man, secured his safety by flight, and fed the flocks of a Gentile upon the mountains; Elias, overcome by drowsiness in his grief, fell asleep, but as he could find no shade of wall or rock, it was under a juniper bush, which gave him scanty shelter. Esaias was sawn asunder; Daniel for his piety was let down into a den of lions; Michaiah was kept a prisoner in gaol |162 (by which we must understand some underground chamber), condemned to be fed with the bread of affliction and a bare allowance of water, that after prolonged languishing there his life might be cut short through his bad treatment; all because of his outspoken language to one of the kings. What will you say to me of John, unequalled among them that are born of women? Did he not know how to use the opportunity, because he had his head cut off for his undisguised reproof of the king's adultery; he who showed the same care for Herod as a physician, when he cuts away, or cauterizes, the incurable ailment of a patient?
No Shrinking from Reproof
On the same principle, John reproved his patients, from pity or from affection. If the Baptist did not know the opportunity, how is it that he recognized the Artificer and Maker of the ages, when he said, "Behold the Lamb of God, who beareth the sin of the world "? 524 And how is it that Paul and Peter did not know the opportunity; those pillars of the Church, who even after their deaths shut and open the opportunities of repentance to those who desire it, and knock at the door? I suppose they were specially ignorant, as one was crucified with feet in air, as a sign of his heavenward journey, the other beheaded, because of his bold speaking in Christ; that he might not fall away from the Head Who is Head indeed. Do not then listen to those who criticize and revile the bold speaking of the saints. This is the practice of the Gentiles, and of those who think themselves clever, to whom life, and scurrilous jests at the courage of the saints are dear.
Reproof must not be Personal
No, the sword must not be blunt, and the bold word must not be left unspoken. Kindness and bold speaking are as inseparable as scent and perfume. I |163 will admit that if reproofs were offered personally,525 before a man's own household, or friends, or relatives, in whose presence he would not like even to blush, the bold speaker would be open, possibly, to the charge of ignorance of the right opportunity or place; but if the Church is like a butcher's shop, in which praise is given to those who do well, and blame to those who are careless, why should we be vexed at reproofs given without names being mentioned, and for our good? That means feeding our faults, instead of obeying him who said, "All that is sold in the shambles eat, asking no questions." 526 Otherwise, we shall again 527 find the saints to have been the occasion of stumbling to some cities and countries through their reproofs, and to have ruined others by their praises. .
The Universal in the Particular
Job is the first instance in point; he censures the land of Phoenicia,528 for inviting his enemy, Satan; as he says, "The peoples of the Phoenicians part him among themselves." 529 Next, Moses and the prophets censure Egypt, and call it an iron furnace,530 and darkness, while they praise Palestine, and call it a land of promise; yet Egypt proves to be a land of promise to the good, and Palestine, not only an iron furnace, but outer darkness, through unbelief, to the |164 sluggard. It is not the places that are blamed or praised, but the practices of their inhabitants. However, I need not elaborate my argument at length; it will serve for a beginning, briefly to suggest instances. When Paul calls the Cretans liars,531 and the Galatians foolish,532 and the Corinthians puffed up,533 and so on, was he thinking only of the faults of these particular peoples, and reproving them alone, or of those of men in general? Or again, when he calls the Romans faithful,534 and the Ephesians, to whom he writes in a loftier strain, enlightened,535 and the Thessalonians, lovers of the brethren,536 was his commendation intended only for those peoples? Certainly not; guided by the Spirit, he bestowed praise and blame, that the man who is worthy of praise may know it, and be strengthened in his zeal, while he who is otherwise may be distressed as he reads, and purge himself from the .cause of blame. So the Galatians are not the only foolish people, the Cretans the only liars, the Corinthians the only proud; for all these are universal failings, because the human nature which sins and works righteousness is one, and in one and the same matter tends to sinfulness or to righteousness, according to the man's conscious choice.
This was the principle of John's boldness of speech in the Church;537 it would be more true to say, that to the hungry he gave their portion of the meat of virtue, and banished sin with open reproofs, in obedience to him who said, "Him who sins, reprove before all, that the rest also may fear." 538 But if some people are so grievously afflicted with pride or |165 folly, that they wish the pleasures in which they indulge to be commended, the servants of God have no such custom. You see, those who are indignant at reproof given to covetousness, and fornication, and other foul pleasures, virtualfy declare simply that these offences, however poisonous, ought to be accepted (as Christian).
CHAPTER XIX. A DEFENCE AGAINST THE CHARGES OF PRIDE AND INSOLENCE
Pride shown by Self-isolation
Deac. Very many thanks, father, for the visit of your brotherly love; it has been helpful to us, and a remembrance for all our lives.
After these high compliments, Theodorus held his peace; but one of the company burst in with:
Well then, how do you account for his being haughty,539 if he was adorned with all these excellencies?
Bish. Did you know him to be haughty by personal experience, or did some one tell you that he was so?
The speaker answered:
I do not know the man; but I heard the remark made by a certain tanner, that it was rare for him to enter into company, except in the Church, and that he chafed at lengthy interviews with persons who wished for them. It is a proof of conceit and pride,540 to avoid intercourse with those who desire it.
The Example of Our Lord and of the Baptist
Bish. Ah, a tanner; a man who takes the stench of his workshop home to live with him. Quite the right man to find fault with John's philosophy.541 |166 If it is a proof of conceit to avoid crowds, according to your argument, John the Baptist must have been a conceited man, when he retired into the deserts. One step further, and it will be the Saviour Himself; for it is written, "Jesus, seeing the multitudes, went up into a mountain, and when he was set, his disciples came unto him" 542 ----not the multitudes----and again, "Seeing the multitudes, he withdrew apart." 543 It was to follow His example, so far as he could, that good Bishop John too withdrew from the multitudes, while he delighted in the company of those who really wished to learn.
Deac. A good argument from scripture proofs. But what have you to say to the charge that he was insolent,544 when he kept himself in retirement not only from large gatherings, but even from the society of one or two individuals?
A Single Person can be a Crowd
Bish. A single person can be a particularly unprofitable and misleading crowd. Such was the man who said to Jesus, "Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest." 545 Do you not see that the Saviour was escaping from the crowd, when He said, "Foxes have holes," etc.? But you cannot convince me, that after his baptism John ever swore, or made another swear, or slandered, or lied, or cursed, or indulged in frivolities.546
Deac. No, I make no assertion of this sort; only that he was insolent.
Bish. My excellent friend, how was it possible for the man who was guilty of none of these things to be insolent, and lose control over his tongue? A small sin defiles as much as a great one.
Deac. Well then, tell me, what do these popular statements mean? And when will they cease? |167
Christ Himself was Similarly Reviled
Bish. Hear the whole story, and do not pay attention to idle reports; you will never find an excuse for doing that. People whose lives are not upright never have upright thoughts; they are for ever gossiping, and have no time for anything else, especially if no one dares to disagree with them. Why, they made all sorts of monstrous statements about the Saviour----God Himself, Who in life, and speech, and act, was above man, above prophet. They heaped insult upon insult, as thick as a herd of swine or a swarm of flies; such was the manner of the time. Some said, "He deceives the world;" 547 others, "He casts out devils in Beelzebul, chief of the devils;" 548 others, "Behold a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber;" 549 others again, "He is a Samaritan, and has a devil." 550 What would be the good of my gathering all their vapourings together? The Saviour Himself knew what was going on, when He said to His apostles, "Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" 551 The disciples replied by mentioning the most complimentary of the current ideas about Him: "Some say Elias, some Jeremias, others, John the Baptist;" they do not quote the language of the vilest of men. So He asked them again, distinguishing them from the "men" of whom He had spoken before (and rightly; for in mind they were not men, but the sons of God, for to us the Word "gave power to become children of God"),552 "But whom say ye that I am?" Then Peter, expressing the mind of them all, answered, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." The Saviour accepted the correctness of this answer, and declared, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock," that is, "the confession," 553 "I will build my Church, and gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." |168
Abuse of the Living turns to Honour of the Dead
You will find the same characteristics in the blame or praise given not only to John, but to all. Just as at that time all the work of Christ and His apostles was being reviled----the Ephesians shouted, "These are they that have turned the world upside down," 554----but all that has ceased now, and they are glorified; so you will find it when this generation has passed. John will be honoured as a martyr,555 when those who are set against his good reputation are brought to dust; people on the level of pigs or dogs will say, "He deceives the world," etc., while disciples will honestly and cautiously inquire into his conduct, and say,556 "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." And if, in the case, of the Saviour Christ, among so many thousands of men only twelve were found at first to recognize Jesus, while the majority even to this day talk nonsense about Him; why need we be so particular as to what is said about John, a man who was not fit to be compared with the spittle of Christ? With the spittle, do I say? Not with the hem of His |169 garment. "All the nations," says Esaias, "shall be counted as a drop from a bottle, and as spittle." 557
Jesting Words taken Seriously
As for what you said about his being insolent, the facts are these. In the first place, it was impossible for him to grant favours, much less to be insolent, to everybody; but in dealing with any of his genuine disciples, or clergy, or bishops, if he noticed them boasting of their abstinence from anything, or of their correctness in the practice of bodily discipline, he playfully rallied them, by giving them nicknames expressing the opposite.558 For instance, he would call the teetotaller a drunkard, the man living in holy poverty covetous, the charitable man a thief. It is a kindly method of instruction for true men, to strengthen qualities which they possess, by speaking of qualities which they do not possess. The truth is, that he used to honour a self-restrained youth more than a licentious senior, a studious senior more than an ignorant junior, a layman who had embraced holy poverty more than a trained scholar who was covetous, a virtuous man living in the world more than an idle monk.
Scriptural Reproofs far more Severe
Perhaps people who are always on the look-out for honours call this insolence; but John says to those who came to put themselves under his instruction, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" 559 And Paul, in the Acts, says to the chief priest, "God shall smite thee, thou whited wall;" 560 and the Saviour in one place says to the Jews, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign," 561 and in another, to all the apostles, |170 "O fools and slow of heart." 562 In yet another He calls Peter, Satan----" Get thee behind me, Satan; for thou art an offence unto me." 563 Yet there was no grave offence, which called for these severe expressions.
The Purpose of Self-isolation; with Scriptural Examples
Let us then make the love of learning 564 our delight in silence, as we cannot judge spiritual persons.565 They are not insolent to us because they hate us, nor do they love solitude because they are puffed up with pride; their one aim is service springing from love. This again is why we find all those that are described to us in the holy records as good men, declining and turning away from ignorant 566 persons, for fear that they may in time become used to their ways through familiarity, and so adopt a lower standard of virtue, or acquire their failings. Let Sarah be our first instance. She urged her husband Abraham to banish from the domestic hearth the son of the bond-maid, while he was still quite a child; for she objected to his playing with her son Isaac, for fear that if they amused themselves together, he might be demoralized by Ishmael's behaviour and manners. Then Jacob secured his safety by flight, and set out for Mesopotamia, to sojourn there. Next, Lot was warned by the angels to move from among the impious men of Sodom; yes, and Moses, as I said before, when he grew up, and had refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter,567 determined to separate himself from the tyrant and his men-at-arms,568 and warned those who were of the same mind as himself to start off with him, and make the exodus their first care. The prophets, too, shunned the |171 worthless crowd, and generally lived in the deserts; the apostle said of them, "They wandered in deserts, and mountains, and caves, and the holes of the earth." 569 This was to avoid mingling with the lawless, and because they knew that association has power to deceive, and reduce to a common level those who spend their days together, and more, that such intercourse is of itself blameworthy and poisonous, and even disgraceful. It is against nature to put up with a thing one dislikes, or even to 570 tolerate it for a short time; for like always attracts like (as the saying is, "Every beast loveth his like;" 571 but the unlike is hostile and alien). Who in the world can train a grain-eating dove or pigeon to feed with carnivorous martens or ravens? Or the herbivorous goose or crane to herd with vultures that pick bones? For what communion hath light with darkness,572 or virtue with vice, or the bad with the good?
The Meaning of "all Things to all Men"
Deac. How then is it that the apostle says, "I became all things to all men, to the Jews as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to the weak as weak, that I might gain the weak; to them that are without law as without law, that I might gain them that are without law"? 573
Bish. This quotation, my dear sir, does not support your contention; for Paul did not say, I became careless to the careless, or frivolous to the frivolous, or covetous to the covetous, or anything of the sort, but, "I became as this or that"----not, "I became this." For "I became as this" is not the same as "I became this." The words and deeds of the apostle are "such as" (those of others). His condescension possibly did no great good, but it certainly did no harm; "I became to the Jews as a Jew, that I might gain Jews." And yet he was of the Jews, for he was circumcised; in what sense then does he say, |172 "As a Jew," not, "I became a Jew"? He was often to be found keeping the Sabbath, and fasting, with Jews, without detriment to the teachings of the Saviour, in hopes of leading them on to a more perfect knowledge, through familiarity and companionship with 574 him; just as physicians do not always stay with their patients, or surfer from the same complaints 575 or the same delirious cravings as they. The manner of life which befits a teacher requires that he does not spend much time among crowds, but that he keeps quiet, and investigates the differences between various characters by careful research. This is the method of scientific physicians. They devote themselves mostly to their books, and so can diagnose the causes of complaints, and prescribe the remedies for them; they only come near to the sick so far as is necessary to discover the mischief, and administer the medicine, and do not play, or take meals, with them. Medical skill does not profess to be able to eat or play with patients, but to restore the sick to health.
Have done then, I beg, and do not keep worrying me with the same objections. Virtue is never vanquished by the cavils of chatterers. Instead of that, accept my view, and set a guard at the doors of your cars, to keep them from reporting everything they hear, and receiving it into the store-room, to the disturbance of your mind. And now allow me to tell the rest of my story; for I must hasten on my way.
And Theodorus said----
Deac. Where are the bishops who were sent with our delegates, Eulysius and Palladius, and Cyriacus and Demetrius?576 We have heard a vague rumour that they were banished.
Bish. If my account of the career of the blessed John appears to you clear, and to contain no hidden falsehood, and if you bear in mind what I have said, I will answer any question you wish to ask. |173
CHAPTER XX. THE SUFFERINGS OF THE SAINTS, AND THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD
The Value of Saintly Example
Deac. I am as fully persuaded of the truth as if I had been on the spot myself. The best proof of my acceptance of your narrative is the attention I have paid to it. While I have the recollection of it still ringing in my ears, I shall possibly commit it to writing 577 in ink, upon a prime piece of parchment, as a memorial to our own generation, and for the benefit of those who aspire to the episcopate; so that they may either be such as was the holy John, or such as you, who have emulated the way of the martyrs on behalf of the truth, or else may give up trying to bear a burden beyond their strength, and be content with the unadventurous life of the layman.578
When experienced pilots are available, it is better to pay one's fare, and get safely to port as a passenger, than to take the pilot's place oneself, and lose vessel and cargo together by shipwreck. , You have given us an account of the career of the blessed John; of the strict ordering of his life, of his splendid work in the Churches of Antioch and Constantinople, of his advancement, of the plots formed against him, and of all his |174 bitter trials, laboriously brought upon him by ill-disposed persons in carrying out these plots. You have told us, too, about Porphyrius, and the eunuch of Ephesus.579 Now tell us the rest. Who died in prison? Which of those in communion with John were banished? It is but common justice that we should hold such men in memory, to encourage the living. In things which belong to earthly life, servants who for their masters' sake suffer imprisonment, or blows, or torture, are rewarded by them with kindness and emancipation; how much more do those deserve honour and good-will from the Church who suffer for the sake of Christ? The apostle says of them, "As prisoners with the prisoners, evil entreated with those that are evil entreated, as being yourselves in the body." 580 For "right dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." 581
The Sufferings of Chrysostom's Adherents
Bish. Excellently spoken. Listen then. At first, a rumour was circulated that the bishops had been thrown into the sea; but the true account shows that they were sent into banishment beyond the boundaries of their native provinces, into barbarian climes, where they are still kept under the guard of the police. A deacon who had been their fellow-traveller told us on his arrival that Cyriacus 582 was at Palmyra, the frontier fort of Persia, eighty miles further inland from Emesa 583; that Eulysius of Bostra 584 in Arabia was about three days' march away at a fort called Misphas, near the land of the Saracens; Palladius was under guard in the neighbourhood of the Blemmyans, 585 |175 a tribe of Ethiopians, at a place called Syene;586 Demetrius was far inland at Oasis----the one in the neighbourhood of the Mazici (there are other Oases)----and that Serapion, accused of countless unproved charges, sustained personal injuries from his savage judges (who went so far, it is said, as to draw his teeth), and was then banished to his own native country.587
Hilarius,588 a holy man, advanced in years, was transported to the innermost Pontus, after being beaten, not by the judge, but by the clergy; a man who for eighteen years had not tasted bread, but lived on nothing but herbs and boiled wheat. Antonius went into voluntary exile among the caves of Palestine; Timotheus of Maroneia,589 and John of Lydia, are said to be in Macedonia; Rhodon of Asia made his way to Mitylene; Gregory of Lydia is said to be in Phrygia; Brisson, brother of Palladius,590 of his own free will left his Church, and is living on his own little farm, working the land with his own hands. Lampetius, they say, is being maintained in some place in Lydia, by one Eleutherus, and devoting himself to reading; Eugenius is in his own native country; Elpidius, the great Bishop of Laodicea, and Pappus, have spent three whole years without coming down the house-stairs,591 in their devotion to prayer. Heracleides of Ephesus has been confined for these four years in the prison of Nicomedeia.
As to the rest of the bishops in communion with John, some lost heart altogether, and communicated with Atticus, and were transferred to other Churches, in |176 Thrace; others are lost to sight. Anatolius is said to be in Gaul.
To turn now to the priests; some were banished to Arabia and Palestine; Tigrius 592 to Mesopotamia. Philip escaped to Pontus, and died; Theophilus is living in Paphlagonia; John, son of Aethrius, founded a monastery in Csesarea; Stephanus was banished to Arabia, but was taken by the Isaurians out of the hands of the guard, and allowed to go up to the Taurus district. Salustius is said to be in Crete. I understand that Philip the anchorite, priest in charge of the school,593 is lying sick in Campania. Sophronius the deacon is in prison in the Thebaid; Paul the deacon, the assistant steward, is said to be in Africa; another Paul, deacon of the Church of the Resurrection, is in Jerusalem. Helladius, the presbyter of the palace,594 is living on his own little farm in Bithynia. A large number are in hiding in Constantinople, others have gone to their own native countries. Silvanus the holy bishop is in Troas, supporting himself by fishing; Stephanus the ascetic was flogged at Constantinople, and thrown into prison for ten months, simply for |177 having brought the letters from the Church of Rome.595 He was offered his freedom, on condition of communicating [with Atticus], and on his refusal had the skin most cruelly torn from his ribs and breast; I myself have seen the marks. However, in the gracious care of Christ his life was preserved, possibly for struggles yet to come, and after ten months of medical treatment he was banished to Pelusium.
A soldier named Provincialus, of the Imperial guard,596 accused of being a lover of John, was first flogged repeatedly and tortured unmercifully, and then banished to Petrae. A servant of Elpidius the priest accepted a bribe, they say, of fifty pieces of money, to kill the holy John by treachery, but was caught in the attempt with three swords upon his person, and injured seven of his captors one after the other. Four of them were at once buried, and three were under treatment for a long time before they recovered; yet the murderer was acquitted.597 The blessed Eutropius, undefiled of women, a singer,598 was terribly flogged, and the skin torn from his ribs and forehead; his eyebrows were torn off, and finally his ribs were laid bare on both sides, and burning oil-lamps placed |178 against the bones, until he expired upon the rack, and was buried at midnight by the priestly perpetrators of the crime. But God bore witness to his death, by a vision of singers, in token of its likeness to the passion of the Saviour.
The deacon who came back to us from the bishops 599 reported that the prefect's officers in charge of them treated them so badly, in accordance with instructions received from some source or other, that they prayed for death and release from life.
They robbed the bishops of every penny they had for the expenses of the journey, and divided it among themselves; they set them on bare-boned asses, and made a two days' journey into one, going on till late at night, and starting off before it was light in the morning, until their stomachs could not keep down even the meagre food allowed them. They never lost an opportunity of insulting them with foul and disgraceful language. They carried off the servant of Palladius, and compelled him to surrender his ledger. One of those in charge, who had cruelly ill-treated Demetrius, so as to reach Zibyne late in the evening, was racked with pain from head to foot, and died in agony; inspired men recognized this as the punishment for his cruelty. Palladius had told him before, as a fellow-soldier who returned informed us, that "Thou shalt not make another journey, but shalt die in misery." They would not allow them to go near a church, but lodged either in inns, where there were numbers of prostitutes, or in the synagogues of Samaritans or Jews, mostly from Tarsus; where their distress suggested to them a new thought, which had not occurred to them before. Said one of the bishops: 600 "Why should we trouble about our |179 lodgings? Does it lie with us where to stay, so that we can be responsible, as if we misbehaved ourselves of our own choice? Do you not know, that by all this that has happened, and will happen, God is being glorified in all things? 601 How many of these prostitutes, who have forgotten God, or never had the knowledge of Him, have been brought by the sight of us in this condition to the fear and thought of God, and so perhaps been turned to better things, or at least been kept from plunging into worse? It is no small thing, to a reasonable soul, in a time of suffering, to have even a little respite; we must regard it as a stimulus to self-control. Paul the seer, who himself suffered like us, says: 'We are a sweet savour of Christ among them that are being saved and among them that are perishing, because we have been made a spectacle to angels and to men.'" 602
The local bishops in communion with Theophilus all over the East went so far in their savage cruelty, that some of them, so far from showing ordinary humanity, actually bribed the officers to get them out of the cities more speedily. The chief offenders in this respect were the Bishops of Tarsus and Antioch, Eulogius,603 Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, and especially the Bishop of Ancyra, and Ammonius, Bishop of Pelusium, who made the soldiers in charge of them still more savage against them by bribes or by threats, urging them not even to allow those of the laity who wished to do so to give them hospitality.
History Repeals Itself
On similar grounds the blessed John, writing to Gaius, in his Catholic epistles, condemns a certain bishop, but commends the hospitality of Gaius, and exhorts him not to imitate wicked bishops. The words are these: "Unto Gaius the beloved, whom I |180 love in truth. Beloved, I pray that in all things thou may est prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when some came and declared to me, that thou walkest in truth, and wherein thou didst refresh the saints. I have no greater joy than this." 604 And after this he adds, "I wrote unto the Church; but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not, prating against us with wicked words; and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and them that would he forbiddeth, and casteth them out of the Church." A little later he gives him the advice, "Beloved, imitate not that which is evil; for he that doeth good is of God; he that doeth evil hath not seen God." 605
I have quoted this whole passage, relating to the wickedness of by-gone days, to pourtray the mind of the Diotrephes' of to-day.
But (my friend) praised and admired the bishops of the second Cappadocia, for their deep sympathy, even to tears, with the banished bishops; especially the most gentle Theodorus of Tyana, and Bosphorus of Coloneia, a bishop of forty-eight years' standing,, and Serapion of Ostracine, who has held the episcopal office for forty-five years.
The Problem of the Prosperity of the Wicked
Long was Theodorus speechless with distress, and at last said----
Deac. What shall we say to all this, father? Can it be that it is the last hour, and the falling away of which Paul speaks is being ushered in by these events, "that the son of perdition, who opposeth, may be revealed"? 606 The thought of the wicked prospering, and succeeding in their aims, and going on for so long, and having such power, while the good are |181 being persecuted and pillaged, fills me with dread that this person is near at hand.
The Last Hour
Bish. Very certainly, most intelligent sir, the end is near; as we read, "Little children, it is the last hour;" 607 and "The master of the house went out about the eleventh hour to hire labourers into his vineyard." 608 The last hour is the twelfth; and if the apostle spoke of the last hour four hundred years ago, much more, by all showing, is it the last hour now.609
The Test of Suffering
Again, we have to remember that from the first these things have occurred by the permission of the Lord, for the training of the saints; the devil desires to have them, as the word of the Saviour says, "Simon, Simon, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat; but I made supplication for thee, that thy faith fail not." 610 Assuredly the Lord did not pray for Simon alone, but for all who have Peter's faith; the sieve can only mean, the circle of earth filled with pleasures and pains, which form, so to speak, holes through which earthly people fall down to hell, separated as dust from nourishing grain by the perforations.
Some pass through the hole of gluttony----those "whose god is their belly"; 611 some through that of love of pleasure, those of whom the prophet speaks, who were "led astray by the spirit of fornication"; 612 for "neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor abusers of themselves, shall inherit the kingdom of God." 613 Others pass through the hole of covetousness----those who have espoused the bride of idolatry; others |182 through that of anger and passion----those who loved bestial darkness, of whom John says, "He that hateth his brother is in darkness until now," 614 for "Anger," says the author of Proverbs, "destroys even the prudent;" 615 others through accidie and forgetfulness, because they do not persevere in sleepless remembrance; whose address to God is, "My heart slept through weariness." 616 "Woe unto you," the word warns them, "who have lost patience, and what will ye do when the Lord shall visit you?" 617 Others pass through the hole of senseless ostentation; of whom the Psalmist declares, "For God hath scattered the bones of the men-pleasers;" 618 others, again, through that of false pretension 619 or pride, which is arrogance. It is these whom the prophet rebukes as deserters----" The proud have transgressed exceedingly, yet have I not swerved from thy law." 620 Each of these vices is followed by others, worse than itself; pride by envy, covetousness by hatred, and stinginess 621 and lying, passion by anger or revengefulness, insolence, and envyings; 622 fornication by forgetfulness, deadness of conscience,623 idleness, indifference, unprofitable loss of sleep; vainglory by meddlesomeness, acts of bribery, idle fancies, hypocrisy, respect of persons, deceits; pride by foolish ideas, pitilessness, impiety, folly; and so on. I need not over-weight my argument by giving further illustrations, as what I have said is perfectly clear.
Righteousness Revealed through Trials
To each of these vices God has appointed its contrary virtue; for instance, self-control is opposed to lust, temperance to greediness, justice to |183 covetousness, gentleness to anger, joy to sorrow, mindfulness to forgetfulness, patience to accidie, good sense to folly, courage to cowardice, humility to vainglory, and so on; and to all, holy scripture. Only to pride has He not given its contrary virtue, because of its exceeding viciousness, but has reserved Himself as its contrary, as He said, "God resisteth the proud," 624 So, too, the prophet prays, "Lift up thine hand against their pride, even to the end," 625 and again, "Render to the proud their desert." 626 And just as the tree is known by its fruit (as the Lord says, "By their fruits ye shall know them"),627 so is each man, whether he be a saint in fact, or only in name.
This is why the happiness of the wicked is always long-continued; because God bears long with them. This is always His property; He has told us to expect it, in the part played by the afflicted saints in times past, as an encouragement to us who suffer to-day. Look first at Job, the son of patience; what says he, after much suffering? Mark it well. "As for me, is my reproof of men?" he points to his blamelessness. "Why should I not be impatient? . Look unto me, and be astonished, and lay your hand upon your mouth. For if I remember, I am troubled, and pains take hold of my flesh. Wherefore do the wicked live, and become old in riches? Their seed is according to their desire, and their children are before their eyes; their houses prosper, nowhere is fear; the rod of the Lord is not upon them. Their cow casts not her calf; she is preserved from heat; she is with young, and faileth not. They abide as sheep for ever. Their children play, taking the psaltery and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the psalm, they fulfil their life in good things, and they sleep in the rest of Hades. Yet he saith unto God, Depart from me, I desire not to know thy ways." 628 |184
David the forbearing, the singer of the divine judgments, uses similar language: "I will sing to thee of mercy and judgment, O Lord." 629 "How good is God to Israel, even unto them that are pure in heart. But my feet were almost shaken; my steps had well-nigh slipped." 630 Why? "For I was stirred at the lawless, when I saw the peace of sinners." And in another passage he inveighs against their wealth, as follows: "Their oxen are fat, their sheep bring forth abundantly, abounding in their streets; their garners are full, affording store from this unto that; their daughters are beautiful, adorned in the likeness of a temple." And he adds, in astonishment at the harmony and peace which they enjoy, "There is no outcry in their streets, nor falling of a fence in their houses." Then he attacks the corrupted opinions of the common herd of men, saying, "They counted as blessed the people who have these things." And he adds, "Blessed is the people whose helper is the Lord God of Jacob." 631
I must not end my quotations here, or I shall imperil my argument for want of completeness. Hear what Habakkuk says, as he seems to beat his breast in his distress at the same problem: "O Lord, how long shall I cry, suffering wrongfully, and thou wilt not hear?" He calls the wrongs of his neighbour his own; and in his love for his brethren he adds, "I will cry unto thee, and thou wilt not save. Why didst thou show me iniquity, and that I should look upon labours that lead to hardship and impiety? Judgment is against me, and the judge taketh reward. Therefore is the law perverted, and |185 judgment goeth not forth, unto the end; for the wicked doth oppress the righteous." 632
In the same spirit Jeremiah, the most sympathetic of the saints, perplexed beyond all other men, cries, "Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I, shall plead with thee; yet will I speak judgments unto thee, O Lord. Why doth the way of the wicked prosper? All they that set at nought are at ease; thou didst plant them, and they took root" (this is instead of saying, "they spend their days in profligacy"); "and they bore fruit" (certainly not of the spirit). "Thou art near their mouth, and far from their reins." 633 The prophet Sophonias 634 the wise has a passage to exactly the same effect. He is reproaching men for slandering their neighbours, finding fault with the providence of God,635 and calling the saints unhappy. "You," he says in the person of the Lord, "made your words stout against me, saith the Lord. And ye said, Wherein did we speak against thee? Ye said, He is vain who serveth God; and what profit, that we kept his charges, and that we walked as suppliants before the Lord Almighty? And now we call strangers happy, and all that work lawless things are built up, and they resisted God, and are delivered. These things spake they that feared the Lord, each one to his neighbour."
Paul, the preacher of piety, adds his testimony to the same truth: "But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." 636 |186 Then he points out the low esteem in which the saints are held: "For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death; for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. For even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and have no certain dwelling-place, and labour, working with our own hands" (a description of his bodily sufferings); "being reviled, we bless, being persecuted, we endure, being defamed, we entreat, we are made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things even until now." 637 The good and just God spreads the world before us, for certain ineffable reasons, like a racecourse; and has given us free will, that we may deal with circumstances according to our own choice, and pay the just penalty for our deeds. As the law says, "1 have set before thy face, death and life, choose what thou wilt." 638 Why He set it so, it is not for us to say in this present life; the fact remains, that He has so set it. It would not have been wise for us to be created impeccable,639 with no struggles before us, and minds not established in righteousness. Impeccability is the attribute of the eternal Godhead alone.
Deac. You have met our difficulty admirably and wisely, father; you have given eyes to the souls of our friends here, who have found this matter a continual perplexity, arising partly from their lack of acquaintance with scripture, partly from the very fact that the Church is throughout the ages appointed as a training school.640 She points to her victors, |187 men and women alike, as not having eaten of the flesh of Christ in times past without paying a price. Yet the disorders among you, and the break-up of the Church, cause us distress.
The Blessedness of Truth Countervails all Suffering
Bish. You astonish me, most honoured of men. You almost unreservedly admit the beneficial results of suffering, and then turn round and say something to the contrary effect. You call us blessed, as victors, and yet you call us miserable, as banished men, because we have been deprived of our Church buildings.641 You seem to me to be in the same state of mind as the rustic spectators at the Olympic games, who gape with delight at the prizes, but shed tears of pity at the blows exchanged between the combatants. To my mind, it is better to hasten away to ravines, and thickets, and seas, in company with the truth, than to be burdened with falsehood, while enjoying high honour for what is in this life considered prosperity. For if I possess truth, I shall possess all things, for all things are her servants; if I have made falsehood my own, I do not possess even myself, as I am not hers. But if I possess truth, I do not wish to possess her merely as a mistress, or a servant, or a neighbour, but as a sister; nay, if it be possible, as a bride, whose sweetness I may enjoy and presently inherit 642 as my very own wife. For she is the sister of the absolute truth, whose son-in-law the good man is. For he that bears this seal becomes young a second time, grows not old, and |188 fades not away; he has zeal fiercer than fire, words sharper than swords, life freer than an eagle's; he devotes himself untiringly to meditation upon the scriptures, as to a house-mother; he never ceases to blossom with gladness, he is not overcome by fear, he holds up his head undaunted, he dances in his holy enthusiasm, he hates no man, he pities those who misuse life, he calls blessed those who mind their own business in contentment, he sorrows with the sorrow of the spirit at the careless lives of priests, of whom the apostle said, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." 643 He it is that grieves the Spirit, who turns his back upon Him in carelessness.
And at last (there is much that I must pass by) in his out-spokenness he dies; he has given pain to none, save to the demons, and to those who are like them. His time has been more than enough; he did not higgle away his days in evil doings. He doubled the money 644 that was given to him, he forwarded interest, of good works, in a short time he fulfilled long years; he makes no will 645 disposing of his property, for by his life and thought he wrestled with it, and gravelled it. Did Death knock at the door of his frail flesh? Before he sees him outside, he cries, Let us go hence, and sings, "Woe is me, that my sojourn has been so long;" 646 and were it not for the Master Who sent him on his mission, he would have, served him with a summons, and sued him at law, for coming too late. Well content is he, when at last he is set free from the frail flesh, with its manifold ailments, as if he were leaving a ruinous hostel, threatening to fall; he pricked up his ears at the voice of Him Who says, "Well done, good and faithful servant," 647 confident of hearing the rest as well. |189 Take this torrent of words as a proof of my contention; "for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." 648
The Misery of Falsehood
But he who dwells with falsehood has a disturbed life; one moment in boundless delight at an addition to his wealth, or to his poor little reputation, or at the friendship of a wretched harlot, or at the misfortunes of his enemies; the next, sick to death with sorrow, dreaming of changes and uncertainties. He passes restless or sleepless nights, he imagines plots made against him by his closest friends, he has no confidence even in himself, and distrusts all men, as liars. Such is he; cowardly as a hare, bold as a pig, deceitful as a chameleon, unreliable as a partridge, pitiless as a wolf, untameable as a mouse; his own enemy, unceasingly jealous, inevitably punishing himself, though he does not know it; for he who is always planning evil against another, first brings evil upon himself.
Did Death prick his skin? He gives away everything, to gain a little respite, so precious is his life to him; the time given him he higgled away to no profit, so far from doubling his penny 649 he did not even keep it safe. He trembles continually, like a leaf, in his dread of the approach of old age; he is troubled with the silly ideas of old men, he fears death as a god; for to him the visible world is God. And what then? He turns pale, he shivers with fright, he is in an agony of distress; he anticipates the judgment of God, and inflicts punishment upon himself. His conscience torments him without mercy, and reminds him of his evil doings one by one, till his sufferings are more terrible than those of criminals under the lash. He grovels like a slave to those in office for the moment,650 and flatters the world to his disgrace; instead of One Lord he has ten thousand |190 masters, to save himself from being the servant of the truth. He does all he can to get himself feared, yet he himself fears every one.
The Decision of the Church of Rome
I will say no more; I have done all I can. If any one can speak more truthfully or elegantly, and put my nothingness right, I will gladly welcome him as a corrector of error and a lover of the brethren, and give thanks to the Saviour for all things.651 Now do you in return give me an account of the decision of the western synod, and set the seal upon my words, if they commended themselves to you as being of any value. So the narrator ceased, and Theodorus said----Deac. The Lord grant to you who have given us this narrative, to find mercy in that day,652 for your refusal to hold communion with such people, and for the clear account you have given us. And may the Lord remember every sacrifice of John, because he surrendered not his out-spokenness, even unto death. The decision of the Church of Rome was, under no circumstances to communicate with the eastern bishops, especially with Theophilus, until the Lord grants the opportunity for an ecumenical synod,653 to heal the putrefied limbs of the men guilty of these crimes. For though the blessed John has fallen asleep, yet the truth is awake, and for the truth search will be made. |191
Chrysostom's Enemies Interrogated
As for those that have committed these offences in the Church, gladly would I meet them face to face, and ask them, Where is your priesthood? Where is the holiness required of you? Where is the gentleness and unselfishness 654 of the Christian character? Where are the commandments of the Saviour----" If thou art offering thy gift, and remem-berest that thy brother hath aught against thee, go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and so offer thy gift"? 655 Where is that saying, "If any man smite thce on the right cheek, turn to him the other also "? 656 Where is your meditation upon the scriptures? What of the verse, "Behold, what is beautiful, and what is pleasant, but for brethren to dwell together in unity"? 657 Or, "Let brothers be helpful in times of necessity"? 658 Why have you perverted by your actions the words, "A brother helped by a brother, is as a strong city"? 659 A brother falsely accused, or robbed, by a brother, is like a city distressed and defenceless. Why in the world then did you, who are wretched, nay, wretched to the third degree, try to carry through this project of yours, as if no reconciliation were possible? 660 On what principle did you let your murderous rage against John run its course, as if he were your enemy? And how has it come to you, to be so savage towards one another? Why did you let the world see such an extraordinary change in you, from gentleness to ungentleness and savagery? I am amazed, indeed, I am overwhelmed with amazement at your perversion; as I see everything thrown into this hopeless state of confusion.
And why have you so far exalted yourselves in your daring, as to insult this suckling, nursing |192 mother, this teeming womb, the Church of God, and hack her in pieces? In you is fulfilled the prophet's words, "Because they did pursue their brother with the sword, and brought to destruction the womb upon the earth." 661 With this womb the divine and saving Word combined, to sow and to plant you and John alike, for good and profitable works without number. What has happened to you that instead of helping one another to do your duty, you have made up your mind that you will not keep quiet, and live at peace, even in the future? You were created for mutual service; why did you mishandle the grace of God, and instead of lightening other men's burdens, actually thrust them away from you, and cut them off from their own kindred? while the prophet cries to you, "Have we not all one Father? Did not One God create us?" 662
The Real Law-Breakers
But you will tell me that John sinned against the law. What law? The law which you trod underfoot, and shivered into fragments by your wickedness. Where, then, is the law of nature, which bids us to right wrongs with gentleness? Why, pray, do you abuse even the law which holds between enemies, and persecute them, and carry out these schemes which you devise against them, schemes bearing all the marks of hostility? How much better would it have been, to live in harmony with them, and to share their life; to join with one another in counsels for the common good, unto rendering of thanks and well-pleasing of the Father of you all? Harmony in their enjoyment of blessings is one of the virtues of children; and this is specially acceptable to their parents, who look for nothing else from their offspring, save this. And be assured that there is no other bond of friendship and goodwill, but to be in earnest, and to do everything as it is well-pleasing to the |193 Father, to Him Who is the source of our being, of our sustenance, of our preservation.
The Divine Vengeance in Store
But you have despised Him as a fool, and kindled wars within the Church, as the prophet said, "They established madness in the Lord's house;" 663 instead of spurring and urging one another forward. More, you have carried on truceless wars among one another, contrary to 664 the mind and purpose of the Father. I will go further, and say, that the thing sorely maddens, and stirs to wrath, even God Himself, and all who draw nigh to Him----His sons, your brethren----and suffers Him not to hold His peace. For He is not neglectful, or unmindful of the welfare of His children.
Therefore is He wroth at your folly, and at your tyrannical oppression of those whom you wrong; and therefore He judges it not right to pass you over without punishing you, as indeed He has begun to do. For this would not be becoming in Him, nor would it be without peril to you; your complaint is intolerable, and needs more than ordinary treatment. He sees you actually the worse for bruises, and weals without number, the result of your chastisement. Yes, a cloud of senseless and most obdurate wrong rests upon you, your brothers, your kinsfolk, and your households, even your allies, those who share with you bed and board, those who are bound to you by the closest ties of blood----all these relationships you have perverted into the bitterest hatred; insomuch that they are expelled from their own countries and from their family hearths, and wander far away, without a city or a home to dwell in. Further yet, you have made them exiles, so far as it was in your power, and that, not with a limit of time fixed for their exile, but for ever, so far as it lay with you; so savage were you, so desperately thrown off your balance. |194
Chrysostom the Blessed
This is what you have gained by your victory over them, and the blessed John; by fanning your spiteful enmity, and letting your tongue run wild against him, like a sharpened sword. Instead of profitable instruction, you nurse your ill-temper, and pour out upon the Church your false accusations, defiling the cars of those who hear them; accusations against men to whom the Lord in mercy and loving-kindness will give according to their works. But for you, O blessed John, with what words shall I weave you an unfading crown? I need not fear to praise you now, as you have passed from the field of combat, the fiercest waves of struggle breasted. Shall they be the words of the law of Moses, which he used in the blessing of Joseph the strenuous, and Levi the contemplative, the priest? For in you I see both of these. "Blessed of the Lord be his land, and from the mountains of heaven, and dew, and abysses of springs beneath, and in the time of fruits, the turnings of the sun and the comings together of the months, from the heads of the mountains which are from the beginning, and from the heads of the everlasting hills; they shall be on the head of Joseph" (and every man who shall be as Joseph) "and upon the head of the brethren whom he ruled, glorified among his brethren as the first-born.665 The beauty of a bull are his horns, his horns are the horns of an unicorn; with them he shall push the nation, even unto the end of the earth."
And to Levi he said (and to whosoever imitates him), "Give to Levi his signs, and his truth to the holy man, whom they tried in trial, and reviled at the water of contradiction. Who saith to his father and mother, I have not seen thee, neither did he acknowledge his brethren, he observed thine oracles, and kept thy covenant; he showed thy judgments to |195 Jacob, and thy law to Israel. He shall ever place incense upon thine altar upon thy feast day. Bless, Lord, his strength, and accept the works of his hands; smite the eyebrow of the enemies that rise up against him, and let them that hate him rise not up again." 666 And I would weave with these one word more: "Let them that love him, O Jesus Christ, be not ashamed; for Thine is the power for ever. Amen."
Bish. This is the constant effort of your understanding mind, Theodorus, seeker of noble thoughts, to bring forth from the treasure of your mind, as the Saviour said, "Things new and old;" 667 things old, the lessons of human wisdom; things new, the oracles of the Holy Spirit. From these treasures you have given its due to each side of his character. It was worthy of your sound judgment to express yourself in language so well suited to the offences committed, and to weave from the blessing of Moses the crown John deserves; who served as a priest without thought of self, and in his extraordinary righteousness did indeed know not father or mother, or ties of blood, but only those who love, and practise, the word of God. But those who in our time profess to be bishops, have run their muddy breed aground upon money-getting, and military operations, and high position; transgressing the law which says, "The priests shall not give their sons to be rulers, and them that run beside the king," 668 while they waste the things of the spirit upon plots, and vexations, and imprisonments, and banishments, drinking madness undiluted, thinking by these methods to dishonour the friends of virtue.
The Curse of Ambition
Of them the Saviour said, "The days shall come, in which they who kill you will think that they do God service." 669 I take it that He did not speak of |196 Gentiles, for then He would have said "gods," as they profess not one, but many, gods; when He made mention of the One and Only God, He pointed to those who are now despoiling us, under pretence of benefit to the Church. They hide their own depravity and jealousy, representing themselves in words as concerned for the welfare of the Church which they have ruined by their deeds. But however clever they are, the outcome of events will prove them to have been underlings of him who boasted, "I shall never be shaken from generation to generation, without evil." 670 For the serpent, the deviser of lawlessness and cultivator of the vilest covetousness, as he could devise no more novel form of heresy, goaded those in authority in the Church to mutual destruction, to satisfy their craving for high position, and the highest position of all;671 for the sake of these they rent the Church in twain.
The Satanic Work of Chrysostom's Enemies
For if the harmony of God the Spirit had existed among the bishops, and John deserved deprivation from his office, whether for causing wrong-doing, or as being unworthy of the priesthood, or, as Theophilus maintains, as being guilty of pride; the all-powerful wisdom of God 672 was well able to debar him from the exercise of the priesthood by constitutional restraints, or devise means by which he could be expelled without all this confusion and lamentation, whether by death, or by paralysis, or by loss of voice----as we know some of those who have thrown themselves against him have suffered, and others will suffer. But seeing that the steps taken against him were unworthy of the Saviour----he was not deposed, but exiled 673----it is |197 abundantly clear that it was the work of the devil, whose kingdom was being destroyed by John's teaching. I know that John deservedly deposed from their office six persons, of whom I spoke earlier, for buying the dignity of the priesthood. Who wept then? Whose nose bled? What spider's web was broken? Who left his home? Who was fined a farthing? Who in the whole of Asia----vagabond, mob orator, farm-labourer, cobbler, or plebeian----was not glad at what had been done to vindicate the sacred laws? "How," each cried, "are thy works magnified, O Lord? In wisdom didst thou do them all." 674 For where God is at work, all is done in wisdom; where the malevolent demon, everything is correspondently done in unwisdom. And upon unwisdom follow monstrous evils----envyings, murders, strife, emulations, evil tempers, quarrels, discord, noise, conspiracies of ignorant men, hot-headed actions of men in authority, crucifixions, tortures, burnings, streams of blood, intolerable fines, stakes, breaches of the divine ordinances, contempt of law, rejection of self-control, world-wide schism, watch set upon land and sea, engines employed on shipboard, on horseback, on foot, to hinder those who travel for the truth's sake.
God had not Forgotten
How then can they dare to say, John was expelled in the dispensation of God? I ask those who use such words, Was the all-powerful wisdom of God, as I said, without resource to stop John, if he was unworthy, by unseen power? Or to persuade those who disagreed with him, patiently to bear with his action, without all this exercise of force by the magistrates? For if God is the same God Who worked with Moses for the freedom and obedience of Israel, when Pharaoh openly cried, "I know not God, and I will not let the people go," 675 how, in dealing with |198 John, did He need the help of earthly magistrates? He had grown old, I suppose, or weak, or resource-less. And was He Who brought to light the adulteries of some, the unnatural crimes of others, and again the impostures of others, now without resource to convict John? Or again, He Who made the tongue of a man to swell with constriction, until he had to make his confession in writing, and allowed another to meet with his death from a sudden seizure; He Who tormented another with a brood of worms, as he lay speechless upon his bed for nearly a whole year, or laid upon another unspeakable horrors from chronic gout, or burnt the legs of another, because He so willed; or Who prematurely snatched away another, whom every one knows, by a nauseating death; was He too weak, as you assert, in the case of John, if he was a sacrilegious man, to do any of these things, but was in need of so and so, before He could expel John in disgrace, and thereby add to His glory?
God will Recompense
No. They deceive themselves, in their ignorance 676 of the command of the word of God. For he cannot properly be called sacrilegious, who distributed to the poor gold, and silver, and fabrics of silk, the food of moths 677; but he who for money and reputation and the pleasures of the table sells the teachings and ordinances of the Saviour; and after him, he who ruins a holy man, adorned by his life and words, through whom, as by a chalice or a piece of plate, the Saviour oft gave the drink of the word, the diet 678 of their salvation, to those who love the word of God. No, let them be called sacrilegious, who have sacrilegiously robbed the apostolic Church, and |199 deprived her of such teachers, and who sell ordinations for money; whom divine justice will pursue, to correct their wickedness. For if those who corrupted the law of Moses were for their wanton heedlessness driven out of the temple by the Saviour with a scourge, a scourge of cords, because they were selling doves within it; what punishment shall they have, who higgle the priesthood of the New Testament, except to be shattered by the Chief Shepherd with His rod of iron? As the apostle says, "A man that hath set at nought Moses' law dieth without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the spirit of grace? For we know him who saith, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." 679
May God, Who glorified this holy man, this saintly shepherd, this lamp of righteousness, grant to us to find part and lot with him, in His awful day of righteous judgment; to Whom belongs glory, honour, majesty, and magnificence, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto all ages. Amen.
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