« ForrigeFortsett »
thousand sermons, or homilies, has authorized the critics' of succeeding times to appreciate the genuine merit of Chjysostom. They unanimously attribute to the Christian orator, the free command of an elegant and copious language; the judgment to conceal the advantages which he derived from the knowledge of rhetoric and philosophy; an inexhaustible fund of metaphors and similitudes, of ideas and images, to vary and illustrate the most familiar topics; the happy art of engaging the passions in the service of virtue; and of exposing the folly, as well as the turpitude, of vice, almost with the truth and spirit of a dramatic representation.
The pastoral labours of the archbishop of nUtration Constantinople provoked, and graduallly united fa.ts.e~ against him, two sorts of enemies; the aspiring Ajfi•398 clergy, who envied his success, and the obstinate sinners who were offended by his reproofs. When Chrysostom thundered, from the pulpit of St. Sophia, against the degeneracy of the Christians, his shafts were spent among the crowd, without wounding, or even marking, the character of any individual. When he declaimed against the peculiar vices of the rich, poverty might obtain a transient consolation from his ipy,ectives: but the guilty were still sheltered by their numbers; and the reproach itself was dignified by some ideas of superiority and enjoyment. But as the pyramid rose towards the summit, it insensibly diminished to a point; and the magistrates, the ministers, the favourite eunuchs, the ladies of the court," the empress Eudoxia herself, had a much larger share of guilt, to divide among a smaller proportion of criminals. The personal applications of the audience were anticipated or confirmed, by the testimony of their own conscience; and the intrepid preacher assumed the dangerous right of exposing both the offence, and the offender, to the public abhorrence. The secret resentment of the court encouraged the discontent of the clergy and monks of Constantinople, who were too hastily reformed by the fervent zeal of their archbishop. He had condemned, from the pulpit, the domestic females of the clergy of Constantinople, who, under the names of servants, or sisters, afforded a perpetual occasion either of sin, or of scandal. The silent and solitary ascetics, who had secluded themselves from the world, were entitled to the warmest approbation ofChrysostom; buthe despised and stigmatized, as the disgrace of their holy profession, the crowd of degenerate monks, who, from some unworthy motives of pleasure or profit, so frequently infested the streets of the capital. To the voice of persuasion, the archbishop was obliged to add the terrors of authority: and his ardour, in the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, was not always exempt frdm passion; nor was it always guided by prudence. Chrysostom was naturally of a choleric disposition." Although he struggled, according to the precepts of the gospel, to love his private enemies, he indulged himself in the privilege of hating the enemies of God, and of the church; and his sentiments were sometimes delivered with too much energy of countenance and expression. He still maintained, from some considerations of health, or abstinence, his former habits of taking his repasts alone; and this inhospitable custom,7 which his enemies im
1 As I am almost a stranger to the voluminous sermons of Chrysostom, I have
yet t)ke good taste of the farmer, is sometimes Vitiated by; ti'juitv; and the good sense of the latter is always restrained by prudential considerations.
0 The females of Constantinople distinguished themselves by their enmity or their attachment to Chrysostom.' Three'noble anil opulent widows, Marsa, CastnciA, and Eugraphia, were the leaders of the persecution. (Pallad". Dialog, tom. 13. p. 14. i It was impossible that they shonld forgive a preacher, who reproached lii.-ir affectation to conceal, by the omaments of dress, their age and ugliness. (Pallad. )•• 27.) Olympius, by equal zeal, displayed m a more pious cause, ha» obtained the title of saint. &ce Tillcmont, Mem. Eccles. tom. 11. 416—110.
* Sozomen, and more especially Socrates, have defined the real character of Chrysostom with a temperate and impartial freedom, very offensive to his blind admirers. Those historians lived in the next generation, when party violence was abated, and had conversed with many persons intimately acquainted with the virtues and imperfections of the saint.
* Palladius (tom. 13. p. 40, &c.) very seriously defends the archbishop. 1. H« never tasted wine. 2. The weakness of his stomach required a peculiar diet. 3. Bonness, or study, or devotion, often kept him fasting till sunset. 4. He detested the noise and levity of great dinners. 5. He saved the expense for the use of the poor. 6. He was apprehensive in a capital like Constantinople, of the envy and reproach of partial mvitations.
puted to pride, contributed at least, to nourish the infirmity of a morose and unsocial humour. Separated from that familiar intercourse, which facilitates the knowledge and the dispatch of business, he reposed an unsuspecting confidence in his deacon Serapion; and seldom applied his speculative knowledge of human nature to the particular characters, either of his dependants, or of his equals. Conscious of the purity of his intentions, and perhaps of the superiority of his genius, the archbishop of Constantinople extended the jurisdiction of the imperial city, that he might enlarge the sphere of his pastoral labours; and the conduct which the profane imputed to an ambitious motive, appeared to Chrysostom himself in the light of a sacred and indispensable duty. In his visitation through the Asiatic provinces, he deposed thirteen bishops ofLydia and Phrygia; and indiscreetly declared, that a deep corruption of simony and licentiousness had infected the whole episcopal order/ If those bishops were innocent, such a rash and unjust condemnation must excite a well-grounded discontent. If they were guilty, the numerous associates of their guilt would soon discover, that their own safety depended on the ruin of the archbishop; whom they studied to represent as the tyrant of the eastern church.
This ecclesiastical conspiracy was managed Theophilus,1 archbishop of Alexandria, em- an active and ambitious prelate, who dis"played the fruits of rapine in monuments of
A.D.403. ostentation. His national dislike to the rising greatness of a city, which degraded him from the secbfad to the third ratik iii the Christian world, was e*as^eira'ted by some perSbtf&i disputes With GHfysostom himself.1 " % the private irivitatibn 6f the e'ftip're'M; Thefc phiiiis landed at Constantinople; with a Stoat bbdy of Egyptian mariners, to etiebunte* the populacte; arid a train bf dependent btshdpik to sfectire, by their Voices, the Majority of a synod: The s^nodc was convened in the Suburb of Ghalcedoii, siirnkmed the Qa#, where Rtififaus had erected d stately church and tnohasitery; and their proceedings Wfere continued during fourteefl day§j or session^. A bfehop aSd a deacon accused the archbishop of Constantinople; but the frivolous ot improbable nature of thfe forty-seven articles which they presented against him, may justly be considered as a fair ftnd unexceptionable panegyric. Four successive summons were (Signified to Chrysostom; but hfe still refused td trust either his person, or his reputation, in the hands of his implacable enemies, who, prudently declining thS examination 'of an^ particular charges, condemned his eontumacibufc disobediettce, and hastily bronounced a sentehcfe of dfe^ositidh. The syhOd of tn6 Oak imme^ diately Addressed the emperor to ratify ahd execute their judgment, and fthaTritttbly insinuated, Inat the penalties of treais6n mignt bte infficted 1oh thfe audacious preacher, who had reviled, under the name <6f Jezebel, thfc empress Eudbkia herself. The archbishop was rudely arrested, and conducted through the city, by one of the imperial messengers, who landed him, after a Short navigation, near the entrance of the Euxine; from Whence, before me expiration of two 'days, he was gloriously recalled.
1 Chrysostom declares his free opinion, (tom. 9. hom. 3. in Act. Apostol. p. 29.) that the number of bishops who might be saved, bore a very small proportion to those who would be damned.
> See Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. 11. p. 441—500.
b I hnrr purposely omittffl tho rontn'vcrsy which aro*• aniong th'e monk? of Egypt, conceming OnVenism and AntropumorpMsm; the dissimulation land violence of Thcophilus; his artful management in the simplicity of Epiph:inius; the persecution and flight of the long, or tall, brothers; the ambiguoud support which they received at Constantinople from Chrysoatom, &c. &c.
c Photius (p. 53—60.) has preserved the original acts of the Synod of the Oak; which destroy Ihe false assertion, tku Chrysostom tras condemned by no more than thirty-six bishops, of whom twenty-nine were Egyptians. Forty-five bishops subscribed his sentence, flee Tillomont, Mem. Eccles. tom. 11. p. 695.
Popular The first astonishment of his faithful people had been mute and passive: they suddenly rose with unanimous and irresistible fury. Theophilus escaped; but the promiscuous crowd of monks and Egyptian mariners were slaughtered without pity in the streets of Constantinople.11 A seasonable earthquake justified the interposition of Heaven; the torrent of sedition rolled forwards to the gates of the palace; and the empress, agitated by fear or remorse, threw herself at the feet of Arcadius, and confessed, that the public safety could be purchased only by the restoration of Chrysostom. The Bosphorus was covered with innumerable vessels; the shores of Europe and Asia were profusely illuminated; and the acclamations of a victorious people accompanied, from the port to the cathedral, the triumph of the archbishop; who, too easily, consented to resume the exercise of his functions, before his sentence had been legally reversed by the authority of an ecclesiastical synod. Ignorant, or careless, of the impending danger, Chrysostom indulged his zeal, or perhaps his resentment; declaimed with peculiar asperity against female vices; and condemned the profane honours which were addressed, almost in the precincts of St. Sophia, to the statue of the empress. His imprudence tempted his enemies to inflame the haughty spirit of Eudoxia, by reporting, or perhaps inventing, the famous exordium of a sermon, Herodias is again furious; Herodias again dances; she once more requires the head of John; an insolent allusion, which, as a woman and a sovereign, it was impossible for her to forgive.* The short interval of a perfidious truce was em
4 Palladium owns, (p. 30.) that if the people of Constantinople had found Theoptiilas, t hny would certainly have thrown him into the sea. Socrates mention! (lib- 6. c. 17.) a battle between the mob and the sailors of Alexandria, in which many wounds were given, and some lives were lost. The massacre of the monks i s observed only by the Pagan Zosimus, (lib. 5. p. 324.) who acknowledges that Cbrrsostom had a singular talent to lead the illiterate multitude, it y*i ° orfpm; tfXcyiv P2£tav vjra.ya.yi ffBtii &uyo;.
•See Socrates, lib. 6. c. 18. Sozomen, lib. 8. c. 20. Eosimus (lib. 5. p. Sit. 3X7.) mentions, in general terms, his invectives against Eudoxia. The homily, which legini with those famous words, is rejected as spurious. Montfaucon, tom. 13. p. 151. Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. 11. p. 603.