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Words from GOD – Words to GOD

Chrysostomos: The Orator, book 2 – via Archbishop Uwe A.E. Rosenkranz



JOHN of the Golden Mouth was born in Antioch, the Antioch of Daphne and the Orontes. Fifteen other cities founded by Seleucus Nicator were named after his father Antiochus. The birthplace of the great orator was, however, called by Pliny the “Queen of the East,” and in many respects was worthy of her illustrious son.
It was a glorious city through whose streets the feet of the youthful Chrysostom wandered. Located by Seleucus after watching from Mt. Silpius the flight of an eagle, all who settled within its walls were endowed with the rights of citizenship. Each successive monarch added to the extent and glory of the favored spot. Antiochus Epiphanes laid out a magnificent street straight through from wall to wall, the center of the street open to the sky, the sidewalks covered from the sun and the rain. Pompey gave the city independence. Cæsar erected a handsome basilica and called it the Cæsareum. Herod the Great constructed a new street, with columns, such as stand even now in broken splendor at Samaria. Constantine builded a church splendid with gold and precious stones. Favored of her masters, this Eastern city soon ranked next after Rome and Alexandria, the third city of the empire.
Only a short distance away, through the Heraclea Suburbum, past medicinal springs and sparkling fountains and magnificent villas, was the Grove of Daphne. Here the maiden Daphne was transformed into a laurel-tree, according to a revised and localized mythology, and to the confusion of the ardent Apollo, and here the ancient rites of Greece were practiced in all their luxury and licentiousness. Classic poets extolled the charm of this enticing spot, and the senses of pilgrims were intoxicated with fascinating odors and languorous sounds.
Only forty miles east may still be found the ruins of the church, between whose chancel and nave stands the base of the column on whose top St. Simon Stylites perched for thirty-seven years,

“In hungers and thirsts, fevers and cold,
In coughs, aches, stitches, ulcerous throes, and cramps.”

With Daphne on the one side and the Stylites on the other, the merry Antiocheans were not without object lessons of excesses alike of the flesh and of the spirit. The one blighted the body by self-indulgence, the other by self-denial. Eventually Daphne’s cypress shades were deserted, while the mercurial people, captured by the anchorite’s self-torture, brought their sick for healing to the foot of his column, and by and by bore away the filthy body that had atrophied at the top of the column, to be buried in a temple built for its reception in the midst of the city.
The intellectuality of the Greek was tinged with the mysticism and crossed with the frivolity of the Orient. Hence came the famous skill of the Antiocheans in coining nicknames. Not long did the followers of Jesus preach in their streets before they had invented the name by which these followers would be known through the ages. The Emperors Hadrian, Marcus, Severus, and Julian were lampooned by the same nimble wits; and even in the overthrow of the city, in 538, Chosroes was more outraged by the sarcasm of the defenders than by their defense, and it was the tongues of the people rather than their weapons of defense which doomed the city to plunder.
In the days of which we write, one-half the population seems to have espoused the Christian faith. In fact, there were at this time two candidates competing for the attention of the city; namely, Christian assemblies and earthquakes, the former a little in the lead. Of these there were ten from A.D. 250 to A.D. 380; while of the latter there were eight, from the first recorded in 148 B.C., to the awful disaster which came in A.D. 526, during one of the assemblies, and by which two hundred and fifty thousand persons lost their lives.
In this city lived Secundus, an officer of the imperial army of Syria, and his wife Anthusa. The times were strenuous. The army might be called into the field at any time to meet the Persian king, and to resist the irregular incursions that occasionally swept to the very gates of the city. The position of Magister militum, held by Secundus, was not a sinecure, and suggested large responsibility and ability. Not much is known personally of the father, as he died while John was yet an infant. It is the mother whose name is written in letters of gold upon the life of the boy. Born before his mother was twenty years old, the father dying soon after, John was companion at once and son. Anthusa lived for her boy. There was one sister older than he, but it is supposed that she died early in life.
All offers of marriage were refused by the widowed mother, either because of the current prejudice against a second marriage, or in order that she might give herself wholly to her boy. The Church fathers, as is well known, opposed remarriage. Widowhood was second in sanctity to virginity only. Somehow Chrysostom himself did not seem to entertain the reverence felt by the fathers for this class of females. In his treatise concerning the priesthood, he makes the following adroit statement: “Widows are a class who, both on account of their poverty, their age, and their natural disposition, indulge in unlimited freedom of speech (so I had best call it).” This is shrewdly said. It is the voice of the diplomat. He is not always so suave and so discreet. He assured Basil that “with widows it has become a common practice to trifle and to rail at one another, to flatter or to be impudent, to appear everywhere in public, and to perambulate the market-places.” Perhaps he was more discriminative than the fathers in general. Perhaps he had larger veneration for the institution than for individuals. Perhaps it was widowhood in the abstract that was to be commended. This appears to be the case. He writes a letter to a young widow in which he declares that “widowhood is a state which is admired and deemed worthy of honor among men, not only amongst us who believe, but even amongst unbelievers also.” He has his mother in mind now. And so he gives here the celebrated expression of his instructor, who learns that his mother has been a widow twenty years, and who exclaims: “Bless me! What remarkable women there are among the Christians!”
Anthusa ranks with Monica and Nonna and Macrina as among the women who have nurtured giants. She appreciated her gifted son, and planned that he should have the best teachers of the day. At Antioch was living at this time the celebrated Sophist Libanius. This city was his birthplace. He had studied at Athens, and his earliest manhood had been spent in Constantinople and Nicomedia. As a rhetorician and classic Greek scholar he had no rival. Indeed, his popularity at Constantinople as a private teacher of rhetoric had prompted the public professors to plan his downfall, and he had been expelled on the charge of practicing magic. The same success as a teacher and the same jealousy and persecution followed him to Nicomedia. Eventually he settled in Antioch. He was vain and querulous, a pagan and a great admirer of Julian; but Anthusa had insight enough to recognize his capacity, and faith enough in her home training and in the stamina of her boy, to risk the latter in the school of the great rhetorician.
Here was laid the foundation for a splendid career. Libanius was a faithful student of Demosthenes, a close analyst of the speeches of the famous orators, an ardent lover of the old Attic style, indeed in his own productions he seems at times more concerned with the form than with the substance. There are not wanting traces of this same mistaken emphasis in the matured style of Chrysostom. Our young orator being himself of irritable temper and inclined to the brutally frank in speech, the wonder is that the “declamations on fictitious subjects,” and the “models for rhetorical exercises,” according to the published circulars of the teacher, did not give place to diatribes more direct and expletives more personal in the intercourse between the mercurial pupil and his moody pedagogue. Yet their relation was always tender and affectionate, and whenever his teacher-friend was referred to directly or indirectly by Chrysostom, it was with the greatest respect and veneration.
Libanius was a consistent pagan. He never surrendered. He refused even to compromise. Yet he was tolerant of the Christian faith during the period of its eclipse under Julian. As a consequence, on the return of Christianity to power, the rhetorician enjoyed the favor of the Christian emperor. There was perhaps more humor than bitterness intended in his famous tribute to Chrysostom, as quoted by Sozomen. When asked whom he would wish as his successor, he answered, “John, if the Christians had not stolen him.” But John had larger ideas than rhetoric even before he caught visions of the monkish sackcloth or the archbishop’s miter. His elocutionary training had larger aims than mere phrase-making and facial gymnastics. His nature was cast in too generous a mold to be satisfied with the rehearsal of other men’s thoughts or the simulation of other men’s passions. He could never have been satisfied with Buckingham:

“To counterfeit the deep tragedian;
Speak and look back, and pry on every side;
Tremble and start at wagging of a straw,
Intending deep suspicion.”

His purpose was the practice of law. Here was the open door to the heights. All civil magistrates were selected from this profession. Justinian promised to students of Roman law an important share in the government of the republic. Down at Berytus on the Mediterranean was one of the most famous law schools of the age, and after five years’ course the graduates were marked for distinction, or were capable of acquiring princely wealth. The empire was bewildered by the multiplicity of laws. Law-books, we are told, were published by the cartload. Justinian, and his eloquent but infamous minister, Tribonian, had not at this time reformed and condensed the laws that for ten centuries had deluged the empire. In this revision it was found that the contents of two thousand treatises could be published in fifty books, and that three million legal principles could be reduced to a hundred and fifty thousand. In the midst of this confusion and disorder, this tangled labyrinth of legal cobwebs, where, according to Bacon, the small flies are caught and the great break through, the need for the services of the lawyer was imperative and habitual, and the influence and standing of the lawyer were necessarily commanding. The court of the pretorian prefect of the East required the services of a hundred and fifty advocates, many of them distinguished by special honors. Instances were frequent of a rise from the humblest position to the most illustrious dignities of the State by gifts of eloquence and skill in litigation.
Into this arena came John, the trained rhetorician, the polished orator, with an imagination as rich as the myrtle-grown valley of the Orontes, and with a mind within whose splendid realm dwelt the fauns and dryads of Castalia and Pentelicus side by side with the cherubim and seraphim of the Euphrates and Mt. Zion. And very soon he was a marked man. He was conscientious; he was clean; he was impartial. There was room for such a man in such a place. The profession of law was being prostituted by those who practiced law. “Careless of fame and justice, they are described, for the most part, as ignorant and rapacious guides, who conducted their clients through a maze of expense, of delay, and disappointment.” Many of them, “recluse in their chambers, maintained the dignity of the legal profession by furnishing a rich client with subtilties to confound the plainest truths, and with arguments to cover the most unjustifiable pretensions.”
John gave his soul to the profession he had chosen. He was constant in his attendance upon the courts. His fresh, vigorous fancy and transparent style was a revelation to the blasé lawyers in the market-place and the cloyed libertines of the Heraclea. But it did not last. It could not last. The laws of the empire required every witness in a case to take oath. Our young lawyer had been taught the Bible by the best of teachers, his mother Anthusa. He regarded the word of Christ as final. He could not tolerate an oath. We hear him saying a little later: “Is it possible not to swear at all? Hath God commanded, and darest thou ask if it be possible for His law to be kept?” “To swear in any way is a diabolical thing, and the whole a device of the evil one.”
The oath of Constantine, “As the most High Divinity may ever be propitious to me,” patterned after an old pagan form, rattled off by the flippant Antiochean, with his hand upon the Gospels; the oath “by the safety of the emperor,” a concession to the Christians, who declined to swear by the genius of the emperor, taken by the volatile Oriental, or the truculent Barbarian who would stab the emperor at sight,—all this revolted the young puritan, and he soon grew restive. The pathway to the heights political was too warped and devious for the feet that were in training for the steeps of devotion; the statutes of Constantine were too cold for the heart that was ripe for the precepts of Christ.

IN his twenty-third year, certain influences that had made themselves felt in the life of John from childhood reached their meridian. The gentle insistency of his mother, the beautiful integrity of Basil, his boyhood friend, and the example of Meletius, the bishop of Antioch,—all these, like the warm spring showers in the olive-groves of Lebanon, were waking into life and bringing to maturity the mysticism and ideality that slumbered in the soul of the young advocate. Among these influences, not the least was the personality of the bishop. Here was a force to be reckoned with. Libanius for the brain, Meletius for the heart. Libanius taught him to speak, Meletius filled his soul with great, throbbing aspirations and ideals worthy the rhetorician’s art. John seems to have been peculiarly fortunate in his early friendships and alliances. His sensitive soul ripened under the sunshine of high thoughts and noble deeds. Of the full-orbed bishop he says, in his “Homily on Saint Babylos:” “They [the martyrs] gave their bodies to the slaughter; he has mortified the members of his flesh here upon earth. They stopped the flame of fire; he quenched the flame of lust. They fought against the teeth of beasts; but this man bore off the most dangerous of all passions, anger. For all these things let us give thanks to God, because he hath granted us noble martyrs, and pastors worthy of martyrs.”
Bishop Meletius, although appointed to the see of Antioch by Arian influence, stood loyally by his anti-Arian principles. Exiled again and again because he did not oppose the Nicene Creed, as he was expected to do, he eventually adopted the creed, and so cut off all hope of reconciliation with his powerful enemies. At the same time he was not indorsed by the Athanasians. Though opposed to Arius, he did not favor his enemy, Athanasius. Though refusing to join the dominant party, he would not ally himself with the extreme left. And so he lived between two hostile camps, not Arian enough for one and too Arian for the other; yet so correct and sincere that, living, his name was engraved in the signet-rings worn by the people, and dying, he was enrolled among the saints by both the Greek and the Latin Churches. This was the subtle atmosphere which the young advocate was breathing at the most critical period of his life. The music of a charming personality and of a powerful example was exorcising the world-spirit from the heart of the young Saul who was set for a leader of the people. So at twenty he takes an important step. Discouraged by the revelations of his legal experience, and disgusted by the Jesuitism and jugglery of his associates, he abandoned the law and entered a class of catechumens, and after three years of instruction and probation, according to the Apostolic Constitutions, was baptized by his beloved bishop, and gave himself to the service of the Church.
By and by he was appointed reader. It was not a distinctly honorable position. He was expected to read the Scripture lesson of the day from the inclosed stand, but he was not permitted to take any other official part in the public service. The promising lawyer had humbled himself. He had laid down the robes of office upon the altar of the Church. The gifted author of the famous “Panegyric on the Emperors,” which had stirred alike the pagan and the Christian world, the brilliant young orator whose rising to speak filled the court-room with eager and expectant hearers, had consented to be a mere retainer for the privileged speaker of the day, and to listen in respectful silence.
But even this degree of self-abasement was not enough. Other and more strenuous humiliations were soon contemplated. Monasticism was the order of the day, and perhaps deserves a word or two in passing. It was a typical Oriental product. It was making and unmaking creeds and kingdoms. The history of the Eastern empire and the Eastern Church can not be written if we ignore this strange cult. It caught John of Antioch in its grip of steel.
In its root idea the principle of monasticism is correct. It is the emphasis of personal responsibility, the concrete form of an intense individualism. It has found a place in all religions. Eight centuries before Paul the Egyptian forsook his inheritance and his Greek classics for the desert, the India prince, Gautama, had fled to the forest in order to find the peace of the Infinite. Poverty, asceticism, self-annihilation were the articles of his creed, and thousands of his followers still dwell in desert places to meditate over the Dhamma-pada or to wait for Nirvana. Judaism had its Essenes and its Therapeutæ, who sought escape from the world into a life of simplicity and virtue. Mohammedanism has its howling dervishes; Brahmanism has its anchorites.
Moreover, there were conditions prevalent during the early centuries of the Christian faith which made monasticism a haven of refuge. In the first place was the growing ecclesiasticism. Steadily, subtly, irresistibly was the Church taking the center of the stage. The orders of the priesthood, the development of ritual, the assumed authority to withhold the sacraments at the will of the ecclesiastic,—all these were creating suspicion, awakening antagonism, and making keen the longing in many ardent souls to repudiate the form and to come face to face with God without altar or priest.
Added to this was the prevailing sensuality, flagrant in pagan quarters, not unknown even in the Church. The Barbarians were pouring into the empire, crude, unsophisticated, unaccustomed to luxury, and ready victims to popular vice. New converts were flocking into the Church. It was the surest road to promotion. It was an easy way out of a dilemma. It allayed suspicion. It was compassed by the simplest methods; the Church door stood wide open. Constantine saw, or imagined he saw, or pretended he saw the flaming cross in the sky, and the empire became Christian. Ethelbert and ten thousand of his people are baptized on Christmas-day, and Anglo-Saxon Christianity is assured. Said the Roman Senator, Prætextus, to Pope Damasus, “I will turn Christian if you will make me a bishop.” The very service of the sanctuary was being paganized. Rites and ceremonies taken boldly and bodily from the heathen ritual were stamped with official sanction and accepted with popular enthusiasm. Bitter was the need of a new emphasis upon change of heart and purity of life. The lesson of self-restraint was becoming the supreme necessity of the age.
A mighty reaction was at hand; it must come if the integrity of the Church be preserved and the faith of the fathers be transmitted pure and vital to the children. This reaction came in the form of monasticism. To be sure it was an exaggeration and a monomania. Incipient reforms are apt to be. St. Antony never used clean water. St. Abraham for fifteen years washed neither hands nor feet. St. Simeon wore a rope about his naked waist so tightly bound that it sunk into the flesh and cut to the bone, until indeed it was out of sight. St. Bessarian slept forty nights in the thorn-bushes of the desert. But in spite of its grotesqueness and fanaticism, this new institution made its appeal. Its voice could not be silenced. It was a tremendous object lesson to the multitudes “clothed in silk and redolent with perfume, who strode through the market-place with much pomp and a crowd of attendants.” It was a conspicuous foil to the “costly splendor of the banquets, the throng of musicians, the attention of flatterers, the enervation of music, the voluptuous, abandoned, extravagant manner of life” to which Chrysostom had grown accustomed, and which later he flayed so unmercifully in his sermons.
The excesses of the hermit might be as extreme as the excesses of the voluptuary; his life might be as sterile and unproductive. He might spend his days in the indolence of morbid introspection, the hideous glorification of filth. The diseased body might react upon the perverted mind. But Chrysostom did not see this any more clearly than did the adoring crowds. He saw only what they saw,—the glamour of consecration. He caught glimpses of rumored miraculous powers. He thought of escape from sense, and of long, direct, uninterrupted communion with God; and so he was filled with desire to desert his home and fly to the desert that he might “pursue the blessed life of monks and the true philosophy.”
This finally he planned to do in company with Basil, his long-time friend and counselor. But there was an older friend and a wiser counselor who was to be reckoned with. His mother discovered the purpose of her boy. The interview that followed is inexpressibly tender. Chrysostom naively describes it in his work “On the Priesthood.” “She took me into her own favorite chamber, and, sitting near me on the bed where she had given birth to me, she shed torrents of tears, to which she added words yet more piteous than her weeping.” She reminded him how short had been her term of happiness with her husband, his father; how worldly care and business responsibility came to add to her lonely sorrow. In the midst of it all she had endured the fiery furnace of her widowhood, content to look into his face and to feel his little arms about her neck. Now she asked but one return, and that was that he would not plunge her into the sorrow of a second widowhood by forsaking her; that he would stay near her until death should come. Then, when her body had been laid away, he would be free to pursue his favorite scheme. Indeed even now, and at home, she would give him the largest liberty, and he might be a recluse under his own roof.
What a tender strain of music is this coming to us out of the dead past! It shows Anthusa in all the strength of her womanly character and in all the tenderness of her mother love. Of course her prayer was successful. The great-hearted John surrendered to his great-hearted mother. This history would not be worth writing if he could have done otherwise. Basil seems to have ignored the plea of Anthusa, as he used all his persuasive powers upon John to bring him back to the original plan. This is hardly what we would expect from the noble youth who, when commended for an act of great self-sacrifice, said, “I do not know how otherwise to love than by giving up my life when it is necessary to save one of my friends,” and whose understanding is said to have exceeded even his loving kindness. But his persuasions were futile; the mother had settled the matter.
And so, as Mahomet could not or would not go to the mountain, in this case the mountain made a concession and came to Mahomet. The young zealot organized a monastery of his own. He took Anthusa at her word. She had offered absolute liberty for seclusion and contemplation at home. He might be as miserable as he wished in his own bedchamber. Only stay where she could see him occasionally, and she would eliminate herself entirely. This was actually done, and, without entering a monastery, Chrysostom became virtually a monk. He associated with himself three others as zealous as he: Basil his friend, Maximus, and Theodore. Like Luther and Melanchthon at Wittenberg bending over the new translation of the Bible; like the Wesleys and their two fellow-students searching the New Testament at Oxford,—these four disciples of Diodorus at Antioch were preparing for marvelous revelations and startling revolutions. It was a training-school for bishops. Seleucia, the future see of Maximus; Mopsuestia, forever associated with the name of Theodore; Constantinople, the Eastern world, the Christian Church,—are waiting upon this little class-meeting.

“And out of darkness came the hands
That reach through nature, molding men.”

Jealous for the Church, they were also jealous for each other. One of these embryonic monks chanced to fall in love. It was a natural thing to do, even in the fourth century, and it increases our respect for one at least of this vigorous quartet of enthusiasts. But it was a fatal slip. It must not be allowed to stand. It might establish a most dangerous precedent. It might inoculate the whole establishment. Heroic treatment must at once be used. So special prayers were made for the repentance and restoration of the derelict; and to Chrysostom was assigned the task of his recall. This was compassed by means of two letters which are extant, and which are called Ad Theodorum Lapsum, or “To Theodore the Fallen.” John begins his first letter with the pathetic words: “O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears!” He declares that the devil has set Theodore’s mind afire; that the temple of his soul is desolate; that a ponderous millstone is hanged about his neck; that he has stepped overboard and fallen into the pit of destruction. And all this whirlwind of rhetoric, and jeremiad of lamentation, and jumble of imagery, because the unfortunate Theodore honorably loved and honorably desired to marry a beautiful woman. But what is beauty? quoth our venerable philosopher of twenty-eight summers. “Nothing else but phlegm, and blood, and humor, and bile, and the fluid of masticated food.” The volatile French essayist who recently said that woman was “a vain little pinch of rose-colored dust,” had perhaps been reading Chrysostom.
Moreover, see what a dilemma is before you, foolhardy Theodore! If you marry a poor wife, it will be injurious to your means and your prospects; if you marry a rich wife, it will affect your domestic authority and jeopard your personal independence. It will be a grievous thing to have children, for a bitter bondage will be imposed upon you; it will be equally grievous to be childless, for then marriage has been to no purpose. It was Scylla and Charybdis with a vengeance, with the water shallow and the weather foul. Theodore surrendered; he broke his engagement with Hermione and returned to his asceticism, and the poor girl disappears from history.
But the desert was calling,—calling.
At this time occurred an incident which reveals to some extent the modesty and humility of the young man, and illustrates the laxity of the age on some questions of casuistry. Meletius was banished, and, because of certain political conditions, it was thought advisable to elect a thoroughly orthodox bishop in his place. The eyes of the Church were turned toward Chrysostom and Basil. These splendid young men seemed eminently fitted for this exalted position, and their election was publicly discussed. At once Chrysostom was thrown into an agony of fear. He was well aware that in a matter of this kind his personal inclination and preference would not for a moment be consulted. He would be literally and hopelessly in the hands of his friends. In those unsophisticated days the office had the habit of seeking the man, and seeking him without any noticeable reference to his wishes in the premises. More than one bewildered priest had been elected and ordained bishop nolens volens. The ecclesiastical sponsors might lay hands suddenly on no man, in deference to apostolic injunction, but the operation was sometimes performed very vigorously and peremptorily. St. Martin, of Tours, a pagan born, was dragged from his cell in Gaul and forcibly ordained bishop. Augustine protested against his own election with tears, but he was ordained none the less. The patriarch of Alexandria is even now brought to Cairo in chains and ordained under guard, as if he would strive to escape. How this Oriental timidity and repugnance has been overcome in later years, and how the intrepidity and chivalrous devotion of the modern divines, as they calmly dare the hazardous office of bishop, might shame the fearsome patriarchs of the elder day.
On consultation, the two friends agreed to act together, either in accepting or refusing the office. Chrysostom, however, deliberately deceived Basil, concealed himself from the messengers who had been sent to bring him to the Council, and allowed them to tell Basil that he had yielded, and that they would be consecrated together. Thus Basil was entrapped and ordained and Chrysostom escaped. A cold-blooded deception was practiced. There is no question about that. Indeed, Chrysostom laughingly greets his distressed and indignant friend, and ingeniously and gleefully justifies the fraud. But let us not be too hasty in our judgment. In many aspects the Christianity of the day was but little improvement upon the maxims of the Greek sophists. Plato would have justified the deception by the same arguments. It was not called deception but “administration” or “management” (οἰκονομια). It was making the ends to justify the means, a thousand years before Ignatius Loyola made that creed the slogan of the Jesuit movement.
The fathers introduced this Jesuitical gloss into the most sacred subjects. When Paul withstood Peter face to face at Antioch on account of Peter’s vacillation, some of the early commentators claim that it was a clever piece of prearranged acting by which the uselessness of circumcision was to be emphasized. They even held that Christ deceived Satan into believing that he was a mere man, in order that Satan might be led to compass his crucifixion, and so set in operation the agencies by which the world was to be redeemed. So writes St. Ignatius: “Now the virginity of Mary was kept in secret from the Prince of this world.” Origen also declares, “Our Savior purposed that the devil should be ignorant of his Œconomy and Incarnation. So, when tempted, he nowhere owned Himself to be the Son of God.”
But it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. Out of this singular episode grew the six books “On the Priesthood.” We are almost ready, as we read this work, to admit that in this case the end justified the means; that here, at any rate, the event trammels up the consequence. We forgive Chrysostom his deception as we read his splendid apology for it. The extenuation is warrant enough for the offense. This brilliant work “On the Priesthood” is Socratic in its form, consisting of questions and answers. The first part is a vindication of his deception, and gives no hint of the breadth and splendor of the treatise in general. As a discussion of the duties and responsibilities of the priestly office, it is unique. It is classic. The wonder is that it has never appeared in popular form. It is full of valuable information concerning certain abnormal conditions in the early Church. Its ideal for the preacher is lofty and comprehensive. He must “combine the qualities of dignity and humility, authority and sociability, impartiality and courtesy, independence and lowliness, strength and gentleness, and keep a single eye to the glory of God and the welfare of the Church.” Who is sufficient for these things?
But the desert was calling,—calling.
Soon after this event, either by the death of his mother or by her final yielding to the fever that burned in the veins of her son, he found himself free to listen to the promptings of his hungry soul. South of Antioch were the mountains, and all through the mountains were the tabernacles of the saints. Thither he fled and here his immolation was complete. For four years, clothed in a rude coat of goats’ skin over a linen tunic, sleeping on heaps of straw, he lived the life for which he had pined. It was paradise after the turmoil and luxury of Antioch. He has left us a graphic program of daily life in these abodes of the saints. Before the rising of the sun they rise hale and sober; sing, as with one mouth, hymns to the praise of God; then bend the knee in prayer under the direction of the abbot; read the Holy Scriptures; and then go to their labors. At nine o’clock, at twelve, and at three come other seasons of prayer. After a good day’s work, a simple meal of bread and salt, perhaps with oil and sometimes with pulse, they sing a thanksgiving hymn, and lay themselves on their pallets of straw without care or grief or murmur.
In his fifty-fifth Homily on Matthew, he has preserved one of the hymns:

“Blessed God who feedeth me from my youth up,
Who giveth food to all flesh;
Fill our hearts with joy and gladness,
That having sufficiency at all times
We may abound unto every good work,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord;
With whom be unto Thee
Glory, honor, and might,
With the Holy Spirit
For evermore. Amen.”

When one dies, the survivors say, “He is perfected,” and all pray God for a like end, that they may come to the eternal Sabbath rest in the vision of Christ. This for four years.
But this was not enough. The life was too languid and self-indulgent; and so there followed two years of still greater rigor. He sought a still more solitary place, where he dwelt entirely alone. Here he shut himself up in a cell, allowed himself no rest, never going to bed, not even lying down day or night, but perpetually intent upon self-mortification and the study of the Bible.
It was not a life of idle contemplation or introspection. His pen even here was busy. Out of the desert he spoke. The world was not allowed to forget him, though he had rejected the world. The letter to Demetrius was written in the hermit’s cell. In this letter he emphasizes the misery and woe of the world. In the companion letter to Stelechius he glorifies the life of the ascetic. Here also he wrote his three books against the opponents of monasticism. The Emperor Valens had issued a decree against monks and monasticism. This decree was a national expedient, as the institution in question had become a national menace. Because of its stress upon heaven and its scorn of earth, men despised their citizenship and became drones. The military front of the empire was weakened because of the great host of religious neutrals. Instead of arming themselves against the invader, they regarded invasion as a judgment of God. They assumed an attitude of insolent superiority. They looked upon the national evils with Pecksniffian complacency, and their warnings against the ruin of the State were largely in the form of prophecies in which the prophet seemed to take a diabolical pleasure. Hence came the decree of the great Arian Emperor Valens, removing the civil and military exemptions of the monks, and compelling them to discharge their duties to the State. And then came the treatise of Chrysostom. To him the decree was but little less than sacrilege. His reply is burning and sincere. His words are the words of an honest man. The veil has not been taken from his face. The Dead Sea fruit has not yet turned to ashes. He sees only the sacred, tender, devotional side of monasticism.
Indeed he never ceases to look with reverence and affection upon this institution. In his Homily on “Take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt,” he apostrophizes Egypt as “the mother of poets and wise men and magicians, the inventor of every kind of sorcery, but now taking pride in the fishermen and protecting herself with the cross; and not in the cities only, but in the desert even more than in the cities, since everywhere in that land may be seen the camp of Christ. Heaven is not more glorious with its encampment of shining stars than the wilderness of Egypt, studded with the tents of the monks.” Again, in his sermon on “The Marriage of the King’s Son,” he says: “Call to mind those holy persons that wear garments of hair, that dwell in the desert. If thou wert able to open the doors of their mind and to look upon their soul, surely thou wouldst fall upon thy face, smitten by the glory of their beauty and the lightning brightness of their conscience.”
For six long years he lived in the midst of these ideal conditions. Here he studied the Holy Scriptures, practiced self-denial, and waited.

“And behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadows,
Keeping watch above his own.”

OUT from the desert came John of Antioch with broken health, but with broadened horizon. His strong common sense had become convinced that there is no special sacredness in suicide. He had learned that in order to render our bodies a living sacrifice, they must be living bodies, living in the best and quickest sense; that a live dog is better than a dead lion. At the same time his knowledge of the Scriptures had been marvelously increased, and his vision of God wonderfully clarified. He was thus better and worse for his desert experience; better, because of an intimate realization of the invisible; worse, because his habits of thought, his views of life, his ignorance of practical affairs, were a serious handicap in the heyday of publicity toward which he was hastening.
This he understood to some degree. In his work “On the Priesthood,” he writes: “Much worldly wisdom is required of the priest; he must be conversant with secular affairs and adapt himself with versatility to all kinds of circumstances and men.… The monk lives in a calm; there is little to oppose or thwart him. The skill of the pilot could not be known till he had taken the helm in the open sea amidst rough weather. Too many of those who have passed from the seclusion of the cloister to the active sphere of the priest or bishop prove utterly incapable of coping with the difficulties of the new situation. They get bewildered, their heads are turned, they fall into a state of helplessness, and, besides adding nothing to their experience, they often lose that which they brought with them.”
He is about to learn how wisely he had written. He is preparing to take the helm, and the weather promises to be rough enough. The herald will soon be in the lists and the challenge will speedily be sounded, and the young champion will learn the strength and the weakness of his armor. Immediately after his return to civilization he was ordained deacon, and a few years later he was made presbyter. And now the voice is beginning to be heard which is to affect the religious thinking of the world. The pulpit was to be his throne, and he has long been fitting himself to occupy it. In the early Church it was the duty and privilege of the bishop to preach. If a deacon or a presbyter preached, it was as a substitute for the bishop. As the Church broadened, it was found impossible for the bishop to supply the demand for preaching. In the time of Chrysostom, while the privilege was not allowed to the deacon, the presbyter was expected to be a preacher. Hence the induction of Chrysostom into the office of presbyter meant the unchaining of his lips, and the world that had waited so long soon thrilled with his deathless words. His first sermon is extant. It is not promising. The bishop was present. Chrysostom was forty years old, but he had much to learn. The sermon is altogether too fine. The pent-up flames burst forth with volcanic splendor. Pope had the phenomenon in mind when he wrote:

“Fired at first sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of art;
So pleased at first, the towering Alps we try,
Mount o’er the vales, and seem to tread the sky.”

So it was with our “fearless youth.” He soars. It is all “towering Alps.” It is embroidered rhetoric gone wild. He flatters the bishop to his face, in spite of the fact that this dignitary occupied his position as the result of bad faith and a broken promise. Side by side with this glorification of a rather inglorious bishop is a vast quantity of an exaggerated and dramatic self-depreciation. It might be said, with apologies to D’Israeli, that it was an acute attack of intoxication with the exuberance of verbosity. Hear him: It can scarcely be believed that he, an insignificant and lowly youth, should suddenly find himself lifted to such a height of dignity. The vast multitude hanging upon his utterance quite unnerved him, and would have dried up the fountain of eloquence even if he had possessed any. What should he do if the little trickling stream of words should fail, and the few feeble thoughts which he had gathered with so much labor should vanish from his mind? He wished to offer the first-fruits of his speech to God. He would praise the name of God with a song, and magnify it with thanksgiving. But the consciousness of his unworthiness made him shrink from such ascriptions; for as in the wreath not only must the flowers be clean, but the hands which weave it, so in sacred hymns not only must the words be holy but also the soul of him who composes them.
Instead, therefore, of praising God, since, according to the wise man, “praise is not becoming in the mouth of a sinner,” he would rather dilate upon the merits of some of his fellow-men who were worthier than he. The mention of their virtues would be an indirect way of paying honor to God, and this was legitimate even for a sinner. To whom should his praises be offered if not to the bishop, who is nothing less than the teacher of the country, the instructor of the world? But here again was he baffled. For, to enter fully into the manifold excellencies of this exalted personage was to dive into so vast a sea that he feared that he should be lost in the unfathomable depths. To do justice to such a theme would require the tongue of apostles and of angels. And so on.
The vast audience was delighted with this oratorical display, but, providentially, it had no successor in kind. The new preacher never repeated his first sermon. He was apparently satisfied with the effect he had produced, and after this magniloquent introduction he settled down to his matchless work as a prince among preachers.
Not more than a year from his inaugural an opportunity was given him to prove his caliber. Theodosius was emperor. The tenth anniversary of his reign was at hand. At this celebration it would be necessary to make liberal donations to the army. The soldiers had proved themselves expert at making and unmaking emperors, and they must be kept in a good humor; and so money was very much needed. But the imperial coffers were empty, the imperial credit was low. The war with Magnus Maximus, the rebel, had been expensive, and much moneys had been spent along the frontier before peace could be concluded with Athanaride the Goth. As usual, the people were expected to pay. Special taxes were therefore ordered, and the machinery set in operation which was expected to grind out the golden grist. The edict fell like a pall upon Antioch. The people received its announcement in ominous silence. The great city was sullen and dangerous. The wiser counselors of the emperor would have advised caution. But law is law; the edict had been issued, and the officers were clothed with arbitrary power. Those who refused payment were imprisoned, and those who resisted were banished or hanged.
And then the storm broke. A great mob, made up of foreign adventurers and vagabonds, surged through the streets, attacked the palace of the prefect, broke into the judgment hall, and, throwing down the statues of Theodosius and his wife Flacilla, broke them in pieces, and then dragged the fragments through the mire of the city. It was a deadly offense. It was an attack upon the most sacred traditions of the Roman Empire. The wanton mob had not even spared the memory of the queenly woman who but a short time before had passed away; and it had hacked to pieces the equestrian statue of Count Theodorus, father of the emperor, the just and tireless soldier who saved Britain and reclaimed Africa, but who was basely murdered at Carthage by imperial decree and because of imperial jealousy.
No wonder Theodosius raved. No wonder the aged Bishop Flavian left behind him a dying sister and set out in winter to make the long journey of eight hundred miles to Constantinople. The Church was the only possible hope, and the voice of the bishop was the only possible voice to which the outraged emperor might be expected to listen. No wonder the city was filled with remorse and consternation. Theodosius was generous, but he was also just. He was subject to mighty paroxysms of anger. The doom of Antioch seemed to be sealed. The magistrates had already begun their work of death while waiting the expected sentence from the court.
Chrysostom now stepped to the front. It was, to use a battered phrase, the “psychological moment.” The empire was keeping Lent. He summoned the people to the Church of the Apostles. He mounted the pulpit, and with marvelous eloquence spoke of the dangers and the hopes of the city. Never before had there been such a dramatic situation and opportunity. Never before had such sermons been preached. The anxiety, the surprise, the fugitive rumors, the flattering hopes, the awful despair, kept the city in a whirlwind of excitement, and prepared the people to listen to his words. The theaters were empty, and the men and women came in the morning to the sanctuary and stayed until dark. So tense was the excitement that the pickpockets found a fruitful field in the disquieted thousands who packed the church and the adjacent streets.
Day after day the city waited for tidings, and day after day Chrysostom thundered from the pulpit. The people, wrought up to fever pitch, broke out again and again into applause. They even applauded his impassioned rebuke of applause. “What shall I say or what shall I speak of?” he asks. “The present season is one for wars and not for words, for lamentation and not for discussion, for prayers and not for preaching.… I mourn now and lament, not for the greatness of that wrath which is to be expected, but for the extravagance of the frenzy which has been manifested; for although the emperor should not be provoked, or in anger, although he were neither to punish nor take vengeance, how, I pray, are we to bear the shame of all that has been done?” He warns them to renounce selfishness and greed, to turn their backs upon cruelty and superstition. He inspires them to courage and patience. He reminds them that the philosophers of this world have forsaken the city and deserted their kindred, and have concealed themselves in caves. He points to the monks who have hastened into the city, poor, lean, ragged, and hungry, but breathing the spirit of their mountains and fearless as the desert lion, to stand or fall with the unhappy citizens. He persuades them to have confidence because of the sacred season through which they are passing, the season of Lent, which even the unbelievers respect, and which is held in such reverence by the divinely favored Theodosius; that now if ever the emperor will have mercy. He reminds them of a recent earthquake, and says: “Lately our city was shaken; now the very souls of the inhabitants totter. Then the foundations of the houses shook; now the foundation of every heart quivers.” He even suggests that their extreme fear is a reflection upon their faith, a “making provision for the lusts of the flesh;” that the true Christian is ready at any moment for “tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword,” or even for death.
These are the famous “Homilies on the Statues.” They are twenty in all. The first was delivered before the insurrection, and is included in the number because referred to in the second. It is from the text, “Drink a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” This is not by any means a temperance sermon. He sees no harm in a little wine provided it is little enough. He suggests possible stomach disorders from the use of water. There is much drinking water in the East even yet that might plead guilty to this indictment. Some modern readers might be inclined to see a relation of cause and effect between the sermon and the sedition, only there is no reason to believe that the wild mob was at all affected by strong drink. A most telling illustration has thus been lost to the teetotaler.
The preacher then refers to his first sermon: “I made a prolonged discourse lately unto you, beloved. Yet I saw all following it up and no one turning back in the middle of the course. I return thanks to you for that readiness, and have received the reward of my labors. But there was another reward besides your attention which I asked of you: … that you should punish and chasten the blasphemers that were in the city; that you should restrain those who are violent and insolent toward God.… God, seeing what was coming, injected these things into my mind; for if we had punished those who dared to do these things, that which has now happened would never have happened. The crime was that of a few, but the blame was to all. If we had taken them in time and cast them out of the city, we should not have been subjected to our present terror.… It is not sufficient for us to say in defense, ‘I was not present; I was not an accomplice nor a participator in these riots.’ For this very reason shalt thou be punished because thou wast not present, and didst not check the rioters, and didst not run any risk for the honor of the emperor.”
The Second Homily, from which the last quotation is made, followed immediately upon the vandalism of the people. The Third relates to the departure of Flavian, the bishop who went to Constantinople to intercede for the city. This was delivered on the Sunday before Lent. It began most dramatically: “When I look upon that throne [the bishop’s], deserted and bereft of our teacher, I rejoice and weep at the same time. I weep because I see not our father with us; but I rejoice because he hath set out on a journey for our preservation; that he is gone to snatch so great a multitude from the wrath of the emperor! Here is both an ornament to you and a crown to him! An ornament to you, that such a father hath been allotted to you; a crown to him, because he is so affectionate towards his children, and hath confirmed by actual deeds what Christ said. For having learned that ‘the Good Shepherd layeth down His life for the sheep,’ he took his departure, venturing his own life for us all.” Here is a suggestion of his methods, a glimpse of his marvelous power. The most formal, the most evenly balanced and studiously poised audience would vibrate to a touch like that.
The Fourth Homily was delivered on Monday. From this on, he spoke nearly every day, alternately bidding them hope for mercy and fortifying them against threatened despair; now commending them for a marked improvement in the moral condition of the city, now holding up the entire incident as a dispensation of Providence to shake the sloth from the minds of the people and to kindle a flame of righteousness.
The Seventeenth Homily is memorable in that it was spoken after the imperial commissioners, Ellebichus and Cæsarius, sent by Theodosius to investigate the outrage, had reached the city.
These officers were known to be men of high character. They would give a fair hearing. The matter was safe in their hands. Moreover, the sentence they brought was so much lighter than was feared that a great wave of relief swept over the city. Chrysostom breaks out into thanksgiving: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. For marvelous and beyond all expectation are the things which have happened! A whole city, and so great a population, when just about to be overwhelmed, to sink under the waves and to be entirely and instantly destroyed, He hath entirely rescued from shipwreck in a single moment of time!” “We had expected innumerable woes; that our property would be plundered; that the houses would be burned, together with their inmates; that the city would be plucked up from the midst of the world; that its very fragments would be entirely destroyed, and that its soil would be placed under the plow. But lo! these things existed only in expectation, and did not come into operation.” “Let us give thanks, not only that God hath calmed the tempest, but that He hath suffered it to take place; not only that He rescued us from shipwreck, but that he allowed us to fall into distress and such an extreme peril to hang over us. For St. Paul bids us ‘in everything give thanks.’ ”
But Chrysostom was not alone. The hermits came flocking into the city. Careless of the people while the people were happy and safe, when the dark days came they left their mountain caves and desert cells, and, besieging the government palace, they offered to die for the people. As the commissioners were passing to the court on the day after their arrival, a weird-looking, ragged, half-starved man flung himself in the way of the horses and ordered them to stop. It was Macedonius, the hermit. “Take this message to the emperor,” he said. “Man is made in the image of God. Do not destroy the image lest you anger the Artist. For one statue of brass destroyed you can erect a thousand; but destroy a human life, and not one single hair can be restored.” The commissioners pledged themselves to postpone the sentence of punishment, and made an appeal to the emperor, one of them even undertaking to convey the letter written by the hermits to Constantinople.
In seven days this commissioner, Cæsarius, had traveled the eight hundred miles, and had reached Constantinople. But Flavian had anticipated him, had secured audience with Theodosius, and had made his appeal. He shrewdly allowed the emperor to do all the talking first. He listened with bowed head and tearful eyes to the dignified statement of his imperial master, the bitter charge of ingratitude against the city of Antioch in attacking their royal benefactor, and of the heartless ribaldry with which they had insulted even the dead. Then the bishop pleaded for mercy. He admitted the wrong; he deplored the insult; he acknowledged that it was impossible to make explanation, reparation, or apology; and he simply threw himself upon the mercy of the court. With princely grace, the emperor granted mercy, and the bishop hastened back to Antioch, and was received with acclamations of joy. The city was wild; the forum was festooned with garlands; doors and windows were decorated with couches of green leaves; and, to crown it all, the great preacher gathered the people in the church and once more spoke in words of splendid eloquence.
It might be too modern to say that the sedition and the sermons were followed by a sweeping revival of religion; but, at any rate, the effect was marked. Even the most determined opponents of Christianity could not help discerning the hand of Christianity in the great deliverance. It was a bishop of the Church who had hurried to Constantinople and had appealed to the emperor as a Christian. It was a recluse of the Church who had changed the purpose of the judges, and a letter signed by Christian hermits was borne by the judges to the imperial court. It was a Christian preacher to whom the multitudes, shut out of the baths and theater, listened day after day when speaker and hearers were dominated by the same purpose and magnetized by the same hopes. It is not surprising, therefore, that hundreds of unbelievers were convinced, that the cause of the true faith was gloriously advanced, and that John the Presbyter was henceforth to be known as the Prince of Pulpit Orators, the pride of Antioch, the mightiest champion of the truth in all the wonderful East. It was an advanced class of the school in which he was being trained; an exalted place was waiting, and he must make himself ready.
During these years he delivered many of his greatest sermons. It was a quiet and industrious life for the most part. As a result we have sixty-seven sermons on Genesis, sixty on the Psalms, ninety on the Gospel of Matthew, eighty-eight on the Gospel of John, and a large number on Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, and Timothy. And thus did he come to the year 397 A.D.
In the meantime great events were passing in the outside world. This same Theodosius, who had yielded so courteously to the pleading of Flavian, had turned the circus of Thessalonica into a shambles. The people of this city had murdered the governor of Illyria and many of the chief officials because a renegade charioteer had been imprisoned by the authorities, and thus kept away from the games. It was an aggravated case, as the culprit deserved all the punishment he received, and the action of the populace was highhanded and revolutionary. In stormy passion, Theodosius sent his avengers to the city with orders to spare neither innocent nor guilty. The people were penned in the circus, and seven thousand of them were slaughtered in three hours.
Again did Christianity rise to the occasion. Ambrose, the magnificent Bishop of Milan, forbade the emperor to enter the church during divine service. The latter protested, he pleaded, he even attempted to violate the law by force; but the bishop was calm and inexorable, and not until the emperor laid himself prostrate upon the ground and implored forgiveness was the ban removed. The ecclesiastical organization was developing a giant’s strength. Less than a hundred years after Christianity was acknowledged as the national religion, Theodosius, the mighty emperor, the unconquerable soldier, the autocrat, the fierce, ungovernable master of the world, the terror of the Goths and the restorer of the empire of Constantine, was on his knees, suing for mercy at the hands of the Church. Indeed, into his own special domain the Church had gone. In the realm of military law and civil justice the emperor had been regarded as supreme. Even here came the young Church, and laying its hands on his scepter had said, “Halt and retract,” and he had obeyed.
The battle near the River Frigidus had been fought. Here was another clash between Christianity and recrudescent Paganism in the person of the grammarian Eugenius, who, instigated by Arbogastes the Frank, aspired to be emperor. After a vision of St. Philip and St. John on white horses, seen by himself and one of his soldiers—history has not preserved the lucky soldier’s name—the emperor rode into battle, shouting, “Where is the Lord God of Theodosius?” The stars in their courses fought against the soldiers of Jupiter and Hercules under the banner of Eugenius. At any rate a great storm blew their arrows back upon them, according to the concurrent testimony of the Church historians of the day, the hosts of the usurper were defeated, and the last hopes of Paganism were stamped out in blood.
One year after this (A.D. 395) the emperor died. And after him, the deluge. “His life lies like a ruined sea-wall amidst the fierce barbaric tide, leaving ravaged lands beyond.” His work was only partially done. It was a gloomy day for the empire and for the world when he passed away. His two sons, Honorius and Arcadius, were sullen, stupid, half-imbecile. Honorius was made ruler of the West; Arcadius inherited Constantinople. The empire was split into two fragments at the grave of Theodosius, and was never united.
In 397 A.D. the Bishop of Constantinople died. His name was Nectarius, though perhaps the world is but little interested in his name, as the world was but very little affected by his bishopric. For sixteen years, or since the resignation of Gregory Nazianzen, the great Cappadocian, he had reaped the emoluments and enjoyed the ease and luxury of this high office. He lived in the glamour of universal praise, and died in the odor of sanctity. His death was the noblest service he could render his fellow-men, since it made vacant the throne. His peerless successor was forewritten.
At his death there was at once the confusion of intrigue and of partisanship. The Church became, according to Chrysostom, like Euripus, a narrow, rapid, dangerous strait of whirlpools and shallows between Eubœa and Greece. Constantinople seems to have been more modern than Antioch in its ecclesiastical polity. There was no dearth of candidates for the episcopal office, and no lack of henchmen and grooms-of-the-chamber who were ready with the right man for the place. We now get our first glimpse of Theophilus, the Patriarch of Alexandria. He came to electioneer for Isidore. We shall meet his reverence again. But the power behind the throne was Eutropius, the chamberlain of the palace. He had heard some of the sermons of John at Antioch. They had deeply impressed him. He might not be a very safe judge of preaching, but he had a way of bringing things to pass. He also had knowledge of certain treasonable passages in the life of Theophilus. The crafty Patriarch had, once upon a time, when two candidates were fighting for the throne, sent a messenger so instructed and a message so couched that it would be a cordial indorsement of either candidate. So, when Eutropius presented the name of John of Antioch, Theophilus suddenly quieted down, while Arcadius at once approved of the selection.
Afar in Antioch our hero was busy preaching to the multitude, visiting the poor, grappling with antiquated heathen customs that still obtained among the people, burning books of magic, happily indifferent to the storm that was raging in Constantinople, and totally unconscious of the revolution that was about to take place in his own life. Then, one fateful day, Asterius, the Count of Antioch and representative of the emperor, invited him to drive to a martyr chapel just outside the gate, on private business. It was in obedience to secret orders from Constantinople, for Antioch would have risen in uproar and rebellion had the emperor’s purpose been known. Once outside the city gates, the unsuspecting preacher was quietly transferred to the royal chariot, and then, in charge of palace guards and against his earnest remonstrance, he was hurried to the court of the emperor. Here, without any delay, he was presented for ordination, and Theophilus was chosen to perform the ceremony. But there was something in the face of this bucolic presbyter, this short-statured, hollow-cheeked, keen-eyed ascetic, that stirred vague and unpleasant emotions in the breast of Theophilus. He therefore refused to obey the mandate of the court. After an interview with Eutropius, however, he swallowed his resentment, and so, on the 26th day of February, 398 A.D., John of the Golden Mouth was elevated to the episcopal throne, and Constantinople and the Eastern world might well hold its breath, for great deeds were bound to follow. Clearly did the far-sighted scholar discern the steep path on which he had entered, and the dark-visaged Theophilus never forgot his own humiliation, never forgave the innocent cause thereof.

CHRYSOSTOM now stood at the center of the ancient world. By the Council of 381, the Bishop of Constantinople was given primacy of honor and authority next to the bishop of Rome. The presence of the emperor and the court added to this dignity.
Let us get in our mind a picture of some of the prominent features of the city as it appeared to the new bishop. Along the Bosporus, and occupying the southeastern section, was a park of one hundred and fifty acres. Within this was the imperial palace. Here also were extensive gardens and pleasure-grounds. A wall running north from the lighthouse, across the promontory about a mile to the sea again, shut in the park from the city. Just outside this wall were the baths of Zeuxippus. The courts of this vast building were adorned with the old Greek masterpieces: the Zeus of Dodona, the Amphitrite of Rhodes, the Athene of Lyndus. Next to the baths came the senate house, and next and connected with the senate house by a colonnade was the palace of the Patriarch. Here Chrysostom was to live, backed up by the imperial buildings, and fronting the marble-paved Augusteum, where Constantine had placed a bronze statue of Apollo, which was made to do duty for himself by substituting his own head for the head of the god.
Beyond this stood the hippodrome, a magnificent circus embellished with three monuments, which may be found in the Constantinople of to-day, occupying their original positions, the obelisk brought from Egypt, the three-headed serpent of brass dedicated at Delphi by Pausanius, and a square column of bronze of more modern workmanship. Over the gate through which the horses entered stood the quadriga, or four bronze horses of Lysippus. This group was originally set up in Athens and has had a remarkable history. In 1206, when Constantinople was stormed by the Crusaders, the Venetians laid claim to these four horses and bore them to their island city. They set them up at the arsenal, and afterward fixed them over the west front of San Marco. In 1797 when Venice was handed over to Austria by the treaty of Campo Formio, Napoleon despoiled the despoiler and carried these horses to Paris, where they were given a prominent position on L’Arc de Triomphe. Finally, in 1815, at the breaking up of the world after Waterloo, these much-traveled animals were taken back to Venice, and in the presence of a vast multitude were restored to their original place over the entrance of San Marco. Here they stand to-day, the only horses in the beautiful city; whose unseeing eyes have looked upon strange and wonderful scenes and under whose motionless hoofs, since first the artist gave them form, have passed the pomp and power and tumult of two thousand restless years.
North of the Hippodrome, and but a short distance from the palace of the patriarch, was the great St. Sophia, where the new bishop was destined to be supreme. From the west door of this church was builded a gallery supported by arches, crossing the square and leading to the royal gate of the imperial inclosure. Through this the emperor and his family might pass unseen from his palace to the church.
Here was the heart of the city. Here the people came to walk in the cool of the day. Here they flocked to witness the great chariot races between the two factions, “The Blues” and “The Greens.” And here these same factions gathered their clans, and more than once threatened to overthrow the city government. Here the emperor, seated in the great central throne in the Kathisma, or royal box, which occupied the northern end of the Hippodrome, showed himself frequently to the people. Here, on Sundays and on feast-days, the multitude thronged St. Sophia to listen to the bishop as he thundered against the ostentatious display of the nobility, the gross superstitions of the masses, and the laxity of the clergy.
The social conditions at Constantinople were no better and they were no worse than might be expected at the time and under the circumstances. With a population hastily gathered together from every part of the empire, a dying Paganism whose purer ideals have perished, and whose superstitions and sensualities remain; a new Christianity not yet in control of the lives of the people, with its tenets unformed and its standards uncertain; a wild, uncontrolled, irresponsible mixture of Northern barbarism and Western knight-errantry and Eastern voluptuousness,—here is the compound, and it swarms with the elements of disorder.
But, as has been said, it was no worse than might have been expected. Lecky, in his “History of European Morals,” writes of life in Constantinople as follows: “The universal verdict of history is that it constituted the most base and despicable form that civilization ever assumed, and that there has been no other enduring civilization so absolutely destitute of all forms and elements of greatness, none to which the epithet mean may be so emphatically applied. It is a monstrous story of intrigues of priests, eunuchs, and women; of poisoning conspiracies, uniform ingratitude, perpetual fratricide.” Here speaks the disciple of Gibbon. And the Christian world has accepted this libel of the rationalist without a dissent or a murmur. A later school of historians is investigating for itself these early conditions, and is reaching vastly different conclusions. For instance, it is an established fact that Christianity, even in its confused and immature stage, raised the morals of the East to a higher level than had been known for a thousand years. The orgies of Isis and Daphne had been outlawed. The hermits who came hurrying into Antioch at the time of danger to the city were a decided improvement upon the priests of Rhea and of Dionysus, obviously superior to the self-contained, self-satisfied pagan philosophers who disappeared as soon as bodily harm was threatened. The gladiatorial shows of Rome, one of the most repulsive features of Roman life, were never tolerated in Constantinople. The nameless crimes which were the open practice of the earlier emperors, were capital offenses under Justinian. Not a single tyrant of the old school was produced in the three hundred years from Constantine to Heraclius.
The people have been called weak and cowardly. This is not the testimony of the defeated and humiliated Goths and Vandals. This is not the reading of the bitter Persian wars and the shock after shock of Saracen invasion met and broken for four hundred bloody years. The same people have been charged with “treason, stratagems, and spoils.” And yet in three hundred years not one legitimate ruler was dethroned, although the highest military positions were within reach of the lowest, and preferment at court was quick and unchallenged, when there was ability, for Goth and Persian, Syrian and Copt. Gainas and Stilicho and Rufinus and Belisarius are names to juggle with, but they are not family names of Constantinople. These men were aliens. By their supreme ability they reached the highest places. They found a ready following when their swords were unsheathed against the foes of the empire; they found a ready sword when they became foes.
It may be asked, in the presence of these facts, what is the meaning of the deadly feud between Chrysostom and Constantinople? The explanation is that Chrysostom was an ascetic, and he was fearlessly and fearfully honest. He not only impaled the graft and intrigue of politics, but he lampooned the cosmetics of society and the indecencies of the theater. It was not that Constantinople was unusually base, but Chrysostom was categorically frank, and such a man with such a message would create a sensation in any age, not excepting this year of grace and this century of complacency and of social poise.
Moreover, our preacher was not satisfied with generalities. He did not deal in blank cartridges. He always took ruthless aim, and there was not a trick of the market, not a subterfuge of politics, not even an article of dress, that was out of range. He pictures the life of the spendthrift, “rocked as with a tempest when he longs for that which is still beyond him, despised by his servants, insulted by his inferiors, with ten thousand ready to accuse him and to condemn his costly living.” He gives the husband minute directions how to reform a wife who is “fond of dress, gaping and eager after modes of painting the face, talkative, and foolish,” though he admits it is not at all likely that all these weaknesses are to be found in one woman. He waxes eloquent over the shoes worn by the young exquisites of his day because they use shoestrings of silk. “A ship is built, manned with sailors, furnished with pilots; the sails are spread, the sea is crossed, wife and children left at home alone; the merchant commits his life to the waves; then enters the land of Barbarians, and after countless risks he secures these silken strings, that, after all, you may place them in your shoes. So on the earth the eyes are fixed, instead of upon heaven, filled with anxiety as you walk on tiptoe through the Forum lest you will stain them with mud in winter or cover them with dust when summer is at hand.… The gold bit on your horse, the gold circlet on the wrist of your slave, the gilding on your shoes, mean that you are robbing the orphan and starving the widow. When you have passed away, each passer-by who looks upon your great mansion will say, ‘How many tears did he take to build that mansion; how many orphans were stripped; how many widows wronged; how many laborers deprived of their honest wages?’ Even death itself will not deliver you from your accuser.”
Such were his pulpit ministrations. In addition to this, the personal equation must not be overlooked. Our court preacher was not a courtier. He was not a subtle statesman like Ambrose, not a superb organizer like Basil the Great, not an impersonal, imperturbable stoic like Athanasius. He was irritable, suspicious, easily imposed upon, ignorant of the world, impatient of contradiction. He carried into the bishop’s palace the asceticism of the mountain cave. With digestion broken down by his hermit mortifications, he denied himself all social enjoyments and conventions. He carted off the rich plate and luxurious furnishings of the palace, and sold them for the benefit of the poor. He had no mercy for shams and no tact in dealing with them. Ardent in temperament, he could not understand neutrality. Absolutely transparent himself, he could not tolerate fraud. He came to a court that had patronized its bishops, and to an episcopal palace that had been but a branch office of Vanity Fair, and he brought the mean attire of the cloister and the fresh, rude, unconventional ideals of the desert. He was a Satyr in the halls of Hyperion, and it was soon war to the death.
His first attack was upon the clergy. A peculiar custom had obtained. Many of the celibate priests had taken unmarried women into their homes to keep house for them. These housekeepers were called “spiritual sisters.” The custom runs back to an early age, and to these females was applied the technical name συνείσακται—“the sub-introduced.” This custom had given rise to much scandal. The new bishop determined upon reform. He not only summoned these women to a private interview, but he delivered two sermons on the subject. He did not mince matters. He called plain things by plain names. He even said that a bishop who allowed such a condition to exist was worse than a “pander.” Chrysostom was perfectly right, but he was not adroit. He did not try to be; it is doubtful if he even wished to be. He destroyed the hornet’s nest, but he stirred up the hornets, and they were to sting him by and by.
He set about reorganizing the financial methods at the palace. His predecessors had been careless and obliging. No account had been kept, no reckoning had ever been demanded. The bishops were too busy dining with the emperor and intriguing with prime ministers to spend their time in serving tables. The new bishop, however, kept his own books. He demanded a clean balance-sheet at regular intervals, and the surplusage of receipts ceased to be a perquisite of the officers, and was devoted to the building of hospitals and the needs of the poor. A very large source of income was thus cut off from the stewards and custodians of the Church and palace. He urged upon laymen the obligation of attendance upon Church service, insisting that those whose business kept them employed during the day should come at night and exercise themselves in prayer and devotion. In order that these latter might be accommodated, he ordered the churches opened in the evening, and demanded extra services of the clergy. Moreover, he planned by these evening services to counteract the popular methods of the Arians, and so he required this extra attention and preparation on the part of the priests. The Arians were suggestively modern in their methods. Their churches were outside the city limits; but on Saturday and on Sunday they came inside the gates and marched in procession from street to street, singing hymns written for the occasion; one company of singers responding to the other. This they did all Saturday night and through the next day. They needed only a drum and tambourine to become accredited pioneers of another picturesque movement which has converted one branch of Christianity into a military camp. The Salvation Army was evidently not the first of the kind in the field.
The clergy of Constantinople resented these new impositions, and rebelled against the bishop’s orders. He promptly suspended the ringleaders. The revolt spread, and the rebels increased. He denied them the Eucharist. In less than six months the entire establishment was seething with unrest and insubordination. Moreover, it was not possible that he escape collision with those who were higher up. Eutropius, the prime minister, had secured his appointment to the see, and would gladly have patronized him. But Chrysostom did not seem to appreciate to the full his obligation, and Eutropius received his share of rebuke and sarcasm. Here was indeed a target worthy of the bishop’s shafts. Only a few years before, this same Eutropius had inveigled the emperor into marrying Eudoxia on the very day appointed for his marriage with the daughter of the prætorian prefect, Rufinus. It was a master-stroke of intrigue and court politics. He had succeeded to the place of chief adviser to the emperor when Rufinus was murdered. He had also succeeded to the avarice and cruelty of Rufinus. He was deformed, decrepit, and despised. His early years had been spent in unspeakable infamy, but now he had attained to the rank of patrician, and as a “strange and inexplicable prodigy,” according to Gibbon, he was even made consul, and was enabled to grasp the riches of the empire and to barter the provinces of the world. So open was he in his corruption and graft that he placed a tablet in his antechamber on which was regularly displayed the market price of the several provinces and the advantages that would accrue from their purchase by the ambitious place-seeker.
It was when this all-powerful favorite robbed the Churches of the right of sanctuary, and sent his officers to the very altars to apprehend those who had fled from his tyranny,—it was then that the watchful bishop was aroused and prepared himself for a death-grapple. Eutropius might farm the taxes of the empire, and put its provinces into the market, and the sky was serene, but when he touched the ancient and the inviolable right of sanctuary, one of the brightest jewels in the crown of the Church, it began to thunder.
It was this conflict which gave Chrysostom the opportunity to prove the splendid greatness of his character, the matchless power of his speech. Not long after his attack upon the Church, the sun of Eutropius went down at noonday. Tribigald, the chief of an important family of the Ostrogoths, came to the city to seek preferment. He was contemptuously snubbed. The Barbarian in his blood awoke to life and he defied the throne. He defeated the force sent to punish him, advanced upon the city, and Gainas, the master of the home troops, refused to meet him unless Eutropius were humbled. In the meantime the gods were making mad the object of their proposed destruction. Eutropius broke with the empress. He reminded her that he had lifted her to the purple, and boasted that he could just as easily drag her down. Eudoxia reported this amazing effrontery to the emperor. It was more than Arcadius even could tolerate, and Eutropius was driven from the palace in disgrace.
The people had waited for this. Long years of cruelty and tyranny were to be accounted for, and the vengeful thousands gathered in the streets thirsting for the blood of the outlawed favorite. At bay, deserted, powerless, he fled to the church, and, laying hold upon the altars, he claimed the very asylum he had denied to others. It was a critical moment. The soldiers had followed him into the church. The clash of their arms could be heard by the trembling suppliant in the sacristy, whither he had been led by Chrysostom. Back of the soldiers were the people. The whole city was aroused and determined. But the bishop was equal to the occasion. He had resisted the removal of the right of sanctuary; had stubbornly contended that the civil power could not thus rob the Church of that which belonged to it inherently, and now, taking his stand upon this principle, he confronted the soldiers and refused to surrender Eutropius. It was not only the grace of mercy but the fearlessness of consistency. He had never yielded to Eutropius in his attempt to violate the sanctuary by the seizure of other refugees; he would not now yield to the soldiers in the attempt to seize Eutropius when he came a refugee. The same inviolable principle which defied Eutropius now defended him. “Over my body,” he quietly said to the soldiers, and none there so insolent, so reckless as to accept the challenge. He demanded finally to see the emperor. Leaving Eutropius to the shelter of the altar, they marched Chrysostom in armed procession to the palace. The emperor pleaded the inviolability of the laws which Eutropius had insulted; the bishop argued the superiority of the divine laws over the human and the absolute authority of the Church. The emperor yielded, and not only did he grant pardon to the guilty officer, but, under the spell of the bishop, he begged the culprit’s life of the soldiers with tears and as a personal favor.
And then on the next day came a fitting climax to this stirring drama. It was Sunday. The church was thronged. The furious crowd surged from vestibule to altar. The assembly was tense with excitement. What would be the message of this fearless bishop who had defied the emperor, thwarted the soldiers, and faced the frenzy of an angry mob? The preacher was in his place; the opening services had been concluded. Then suddenly the curtain was drawn aside and there, prostrate on the floor, his gray hair mingled with the dust, his wrinkled old face haggard with woeful fear, his hand grasping one of the marble columns of the holy table, was Eutropius, yesterday the master of the empire and the dread of the city; and as the people caught their breath, the preacher spoke: “ ‘Vanity of vanities. All is Vanity.’ It is always seasonable to utter this, but more especially at the present time. Where are now the brilliant surroundings of thy consulship? Where are the gleaming torches? Where is the dancing, and the noise of the dancer’s feet, and the banquets and the festivals? Where are the garlands and the curtains of the theater? Where is the applause that greeted thee in the city? Where the acclamations in the Hippodrome and the flatteries of spectators? They are gone,—all gone. A wind has blown upon the tree, stripped it of its leaves, and torn it up by the very roots. Where now are your feigned friends? Where are your drinking parties and your suppers?… Where are they who courted your power, and did and said everything to win your favor? They were visions of the night, dreams which vanish at dawn; they were spring flowers that wither when the spring is past; they were a shadow which has passed away.” Then, turning to the awe-struck people, he said: “How terrible is the altar now, for lo! it holds the lion chained!”
Splendid was the triumph of the bishop and magnificent was the trophy thus won for the Church. “The king is great in crown and purple; but the king is still greater with the bound Barbarian kneeling at his feet.” “For this,” he declares, “is more glorious than any kind of trophy; this is a brilliant victory; this puts both Gentile and Jew to shame; this displays the bright aspect of the Church in that, having received her enemy as a captive, she spares him, and when all have despised him in his desolation, she alone, like an affectionate mother, has concealed him under her cloak, opposing both the wrath of the king and the rage of the people.”
The dwarfed, diminutive patriarch was born for the tempest. He met and conquered its raging fury. He was risking his own life for the sake of his enemy. But the king was his puppet and the people as wax in his hands, and the day was saved.
But another storm was at hand, more portentous than the last. Gainas the Goth, having attained his ends in the overthrow of Eutropius, brought his army to Constantinople and proceeded to dictate further to the emperor. Among other demands he insisted that a church be assigned the Arians within the city. The emperor laid the matter before the archbishop, suggesting that a man of such power as Gainas must be propitiated. But this was not the spirit of Chrysostom, and he suggested the advisability of a discussion of the matter at court. Gainas rashly accepted the challenge. The meeting was appointed, and the Goth was hopelessly silenced by the keen logic and overwhelming eloquence of his unrivaled antagonist. It was more than defeat; it was paralysis. Not only was Gainas thwarted in his purpose, but the fearlessness of Chrysostom and the blunt reminder of the miserable state in which he had entered the empire, seems to have broken the spirit of the great Goth. He was never himself again. He seemed henceforth under a powerful spell that blunted his faculties and paralyzed his will. He attempted to sack the city, but his soldiers were lukewarm. He left the city, ordering his officers to hold their positions until he came again with re-enforcements. But Constantinople was not Rome. The enemy, even within the walls, was not always the enemy triumphant. The people resented the presence and the insolence of the foreign legions; the same people that had sought the blood of Eutropius but had cowered before the words of Chrysostom. The gates were closed, and then the world saw a strange sight: an army that had broken into a city and had been turned loose upon a people, trapped by the people in the very streets they came to loot, and crushed. Seven thousand of the dreaded Barbarian soldiers fled like Eutropius to the Greek Church for sanctuary. But now there was no bishop to plead, no magic voice to quiet the storm, and they were mercilessly slaughtered before the very horns of the altar.
According to old historians, the outlawed Gainas now gathered his armies and carried desolation into the provinces of the empire. It was necessary to send an embassy to treat with him, but not an officer of the court could be found to dare the hazardous venture. Once more the bishop steps to the front. He undertakes the mission, though, of all the city, he is the most hated and the most feared by the rebel. He was received with the respect due to his great courage, and a peace was patched up. It does not seem to have lasted long. Gainas was soon in the field again. But his good fortune was gone, and in a few days his lifeless head was sent into the city as a special gift from Uldin, King of the Huns.
Over the first gate of the enchanted palace in Spenser’s “Faerie Queene” was the inscription, “Be bold.” Over the second gate was written, “Be bold. Be bold, and ever more be bold.” Over the third gate appeared the words, “Be not too bold.” Chrysostom has passed the first gate and the second, now the third is at hand. He has met the chief chamberlain and the Magister Militum, and he has conquered. Two Richmonds has he slain already, but a third is in the field. He has had his Austerlitz and his Jena, but Wellington is waiting for him on the heights of St. Jean, and Blücher is coming from Ligny.
Eudoxia, the empress, was the daughter of Bauto, a general of the Franks. She was as haughty as she was beautiful. She was ambitious, artful, relentless. Like Eutropius, she, too, was ready to make an ally of the great preacher. Her gifts to the Church were magnificent; her interest in the work of the parish beautiful to contemplate. She even graced by her royal person, unveiled and barefooted, a procession in honor of certain saintly relics. The enthusiastic Chrysostom went into ecstasies over the edifying spectacle. But he did not modify his crusade against the vanity, vice, and luxury enthroned in high places. The empress knew that the people did not hesitate to apply his denunciations to herself. She had a lurking suspicion that the preacher was entirely willing that they be thus applied. Her gathering wrath was fostered by the three intriguing widows of notorious celebrity, Engraphin, Marcia, and Castricia. These last had all the reasons of the empress to hate the preacher, with the added insult that he publicly reminded them of their age and ugliness. He even threatened to drive from the Lord’s table these gaudy Jezebels, with their trinkets, their false hair, and their paste.
Poor, simple-minded bishop, he does not realize that now, at last, he is beginning to handle real dynamite. John the Baptist had his Herodias, John Knox his Mary of Scotland, and John Chrysostom his Eudoxia. He has walked safe and invulnerable among men antagonized, he now is to have his first experience with a woman scorned.
In January, 401, he was called out of the city by the clergy of Ephesus to investigate certain charges made against Antoninus, Bishop of Ephesus. He convoked a synod, deposed six bishops who had been convicted of buying their offices, and one adventurer who had secured his consecration by political influence. In his absence the see of Constantinople was left in the hands of Severian, Bishop of Gabala. This official used his position to undermine the popularity of Chrysostom and to ingratiate himself into the favor of the court. The bishop returned to find a court cabal formed against him, originated by the adroit Severian, and headed by the ladies of the palace. With his usual impetuosity and fearlessness he opened the attack. He ordered Severian to leave the city. He publicly spoke of him and of others who were in league with him as “priests that eat at Jezebel’s table.” He broke off all communication with the empress. This ruthless woman accepted the challenge and the battle royal was on.
The imperial strategist soon found a weapon at hand.

“How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds
Makes deeds ill done! Hadst thou not been by,
A fellow by the hand of Nature marked,
Quoted and signed to do a deed of shame,
The murder had not come into my mind.”

Theophilus of Alexandria had never forgotten the heavy hand of Eutropius which had forced him to consecrate Chrysostom, and had never forgiven Chrysostom for taking the place he had coveted for one of his own henchmen. He had been but biding his time. He was now about to have his revenge.
In order to get the direction of the current, we must go up-stream a few years. About the middle of the second century Titus Flavius Clement was born. Athens the cultured, and Alexandria the cosmopolitan, both claim to be his birthplace. His life-work, however, was done in the latter city. He is the father of Greek theology. He was one of the founders of the famous School of Alexandria. The school was organized for the defense of Christianity. The whole system of Greek philosophy was laid under tribute. The Scriptures were freely allegorized, and the traditions of the Church were explained in a mystical sense. Clement makes large use of classic literature. He refers to Euripides as entertaining a noble conception of God.

“Tell me what I am to conceive God to be,
Who sees all things and is Himself unseen.”

He holds that Cleanthes “received scintillations of the Divine Word.” We are ready to sympathize with this view when we note the “Hymn to Jupiter” by this poet.

“But ah, great Jove! by whom all good is given,
Dweller with lightnings and the cloud of heaven,
Save from their dreadful error lost mankind,—
Father, disperse these shadows of the mind;
Give them Thy pure and righteous law to know,
Wherewith Thy justice governs all below.
More blest nor men nor heavenly powers can be
Than when their songs are of Thy law and Thee.”

If this is not Christianity, it is as good Deism as Alexander Pope or Matthew Arnold has written. Clement found, or claimed to find, the word of truth in Plato. He taught that philosophy was the schoolmaster among the Greeks, as the law was among the Hebrews, to bring them to Christ, and that this philosophy was the direct gift of God.
Clement was driven from Alexandria in A.D. 202, and his place was taken by his illustrious disciple, Origen. This new leader was not yet eighteen years old, but he was called to the front by common consent, and at once began to develop the system of his master. Even in boyhood, according to his biographers, Origen was not satisfied with the plain and obvious meaning of the Scriptures. In later years he became the great allegorist of the Church. We do not here enter at large into a discussion of his creed. Only a few salient views need to be mentioned.
He held that all Scripture was susceptible of a threefold interpretation: First, the plain historical teaching; second, the moral lesson; third, the mystical spiritual sense. He held that the spirit, or “reasonable soul of man,” is pre-existent; that it committed sin before time was, and was clothed in human flesh as a punishment. That the Logos, or the self-unfolding of God, united itself with an unfallen spirit and was made known as Jesus. That even as the union of the soul and body glorifies the body, so the union of the Logos and the sinless human soul glorified the soul, and thus Jesus was altogether Divine. He believed in the final restoration of men and evil angels. Indeed, he antedated by many generations the sudden, unexpected repentance of Satan in “Paradise Lost” when the arch-plotter repines in sonorous antithesis and stately heroics; or the inimitable outbreak of sympathy in which genial Bobby Burns expresses a hope that his Satanic Majesty “wad tak a thought and men’!”
This hope he based upon the theory that there is an indestructible union between God and all spiritual essence. He reaches the same conclusion from a belief in the indestructible freedom of the will; hence the power forever possessed by the soul to return to God. Such were some of the peculiar views of Origen. No writer of antiquity made a profounder impression on human thought than he. Two hundred years after his death one-half the sermons preached were taken from his works. Even Jerome, the greatest scholar and keenest thinker of his times, did not scruple to borrow the best part of his Commentaries from this old master.
Now, Theophilus had once been a great admirer of Origen. He had been greatly exercised over the condition of the Sketic monks, who, in their hostility to Origen, were ready to accept literally the Scripture expressions about the hands and the feet of God. Origenism was fashionable, it was select, and so Theophilus was an Origenian. But Epiphanius, “the hammer of heretics,” had begun his furious crusade against these tenets. Jerome, “always ready to sacrifice a friend to an opinion,” had begun to impale John of Jerusalem because of his warm support of Origen. The tide had turned. Then Theophilus, the Amphallax, the Trimmer, seeing the popular trend, wheeled in his tracks and became a rabid opponent of this sinister heresy.
In order to prove his zeal, he attacked the four “Tall Brothers” of Nitria. These men were monks who had been visiting the city, and refused to stay because of the irregularities in the bishop’s palace. Moreover, they declined to become palace witnesses against Isidore, whom Theophilus was seeking to destroy. So they were excommunicated, their refuge in the desert sought out and attacked and the monks driven from their caves with great fury. From Nitria these monks went to Jerusalem, then finally to Constantinople. Of course they appealed to Chrysostom. He heard them patiently, assigned them quarters near the church, then wrote Theophilus seeking to make peace. The reply of Theophilus was tart and offensive,—a suggestion to the bishop of Constantinople that he was exceeding his authority; that the bishop of Egypt was not in the jurisdiction of another ecclesiastic seventy-five days’ journey away; that the sooner Chrysostom learned these things the better, etc.
Then the persecuted monks appealed to the emperor. This was a different matter, and Theophilus was ordered to report at Constantinople. He came, not alone, as the emperor had stipulated, but with twenty-eight of his dependent bishops, and attended by a bodyguard of Alexandrian sailors. He came, not as accused, but as accuser; not, as was later shown, to stand trial for his own misdeeds, but to put on trial for heresy the great bishop of Constantinople. With great pomp the landing at the port of Constantinople was made, and instead of proceeding to pay his respects to the bishop as might have been expected, without even acknowledging the courteous preparation which had been made for his entertainment, Theophilus marched directly to the suburbs of the city, took up his abode in one of the emperor’s houses, and began at once to plot against Chrysostom.
It is impossible to explain the attitude of Chrysostom during the days that followed. The lion had suddenly become a lamb. The fearless defender of Eutropius, the relentless antagonist of the Gothic Gainas, seemed utterly helpless or strangly unconcerned in the presence of Theophilus. He never seemed to understand treachery. He could oppose might with might and thunder his defiance in the face of an open foe, but a situation that would have steeled the nerve of Ambrose and stirred Jerome to fury, seems to have made no impression upon John Chrysostom; at any rate, he has so skillfully concealed his emotions that the world has been wondering ever since. He even disobeyed the order of the emperor that he should at once proceed with the charge against Theophilus; he left unguarded every avenue of attack and contented himself with a few mild and obliging messages to the ecclesiastical traitor who was bending every energy to compass his downfall.
And then this foreign bishop, called to the court to answer for crime, took the astounding step of organizing a council by which to try Chrysostom for heresy and misconduct. This council was made up of the bishops he had brought with him, together with a few gathered from the outlying provinces. Before this farcical body Chrysostom was summoned to appear. Twenty-nine specifications made up the preposterous indictment. Only four of them were found worthy of consideration. These were: 1. That Chrysostom had disgraced and ejected John the Deacon for no other reason than that the latter had beaten his own servant, Eulalius; 2. That by his order one John, a monk, had been beaten and hurried away and haled and treated like a madman, being loaded with irons; 3. That calling a convocation of his clergy, he had indicted three of his deacons and had charged them with stealing the cloak that he used to wear about his shoulders; 4. That the revenues of the Church were disposed of, and no man knew what became of them. Seventeen other charges were added to these later on, in a forlorn hope that something might be found upon which a sentence could be based. These new charges were no better than the old ones: that he affirmed the Church to be filled with furies; that he had exclaimed in the Church, “I am desperately in love,” etc.
Twelve times did this synod assemble. Twelve times did it summon Chrysostom to appear before its bar. He declined to be a party to such a ridiculous game. Then by unanimous vote the bishop was condemned and the emperor petitioned to expel him. Nothing was too absurd for Arcadius, and he ratified the monstrous finding. But the people raged. The gates of St. Sophia were guarded day and night by vigilant sentinels appointed by the citizens; and it needed but a word from the bishop to have swept Theophilus and his synod into the Bosporus and to have shaken the palace of the emperor. But this word was unspoken. For the sake of the Church the bishop held his peace. But his heart was sore. The iron had entered his soul. To his friends he said: “Many are the billows and terrible the storms that threaten us; but we fear not to be overwhelmed, for we stand upon the Rock. Tell me, what is it we fear? Death? ‘To me to live is Christ; to die is gain!’ Or exile? The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Or confiscation of goods? We brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. I beseech you to be of good courage. No man can separate us, for that which God hath joined together no man can put asunder. To-morrow I shall go out with you in the litany; for where you are there I am. Though locally separated, we are in spirit united; we are one body.”
The astounded bishops of his own see gathered in the palace. They clamored for war. They pointed out the ease with which he could overthrow his enemies, and triumph over their designs. He said: “I am ready to be offered up, and the time of my departure is at hand. Am I better than the patriarchs that I should live forever? The doctrine of Christ did not begin with me; it shall not die with me. Moses died, but Joshua succeeded him. Saul died, but David was anointed in his stead. Paul was beheaded, but he left Timothy and Apollos and hosts of others to take his place.” The splendid old veteran had received his death-blow, but he would hide the wound. Heart-broken himself, he would comfort those who remained and bequeath a. double portion of his spirit to the smitten and bereaved Church. And so, on the third day after the emperor’s order, he preached a sermon in which he sought to allay the excitement of the people, then slipped quietly out of the church and surrendered himself to the soldiers; and when the night came the great city was without a bishop, the wild mob was without a master, the mighty preacher had met his pitiless foe, and had suffered his first defeat.

IT was a strange thing. The great bishop torn from the people who idolized him, condemned by an inferior who had come to answer charges preferred against himself, and banished by an emperor who had stoutly admonished him for not apprehending this alien, whose crimes had brought him as an accused criminal to the city and whose effrontery had now dethroned his lawful judge. Chrysostom was put on shipboard and conveyed by night to Hieron, a seaport of the Euxine, a port made famous as the place where the Argonauts offered sacrifices on their return from Colchis.
Then the city rose in wrath. The churches were closed, the streets were filled with a surging, threatening mob. To add to the confusion, there came a great earthquake on the night following the banishment. Eudoxia, crazed with fear, fell on her knees before the emperor, beseeching him to recall Chrysostom. To her superstitious mind the earthquake was a solemn portent. It meant the same to the people. God was signifying his displeasure at the banishment of His servant. So letters were sent to the banished bishop containing the most abject apologies and the most urgent persuasions to return. “Let not your reverence imagine,” wrote the versatile Eudoxia, “that I was cognizant of what had been done. I am guiltless of thy blood. I remember the baptism of my children at thy hands.” Perhaps she really thought she was sincere. Perhaps she was sincere while the acrid dust from the earthquake hung low and suggestive along the distant hills.
The letter of the empress and the persuasion of the emperor were successful. The bishop returned. A great concourse of ships went out to meet him. The sea was ablaze with lights, and the city resounded with acclamations of welcome. He refused at first to enter the city until he should be formally cleared by a special council of the charges on account of which he had been banished. The emperor was entirely willing to call such a council. But matters would not wait. The people could not be argued with; they were growing dangerous. The throne was in peril. Another day might mean revolution. Through the gates, therefore, he came, seated on the episcopal chair and borne on the shoulders of the exultant people, while Theophilus, realizing the whirlwind he had raised, took ship suddenly for Alexandria to continue his plots at a safe distance against the man whose ruin he had resolved.
But the truce was of short duration. A greater storm was coming. Scarcely two months had passed and the city was once more seething with disorder and the warring of factions. Eudoxia was still the evil genius of the hour. Already the real mistress of the Eastern World, she aspired to even higher honors. In the great square in front of St. Sophia she erected a porphyry column. On this she placed a silver image of herself, and with pagan ceremony and unseemly tumult this was uncovered in September, 403. The Church services were disturbed by the music and the dancing, and Chrysostom was disgusted and indignant at the pronounced heathenism of the display, and he complained forthwith to the city prefect. This was not diplomacy. The prefect was not his friend. There was a slight difference in religious belief, enough at any rate to keep their relations somewhat strained. The prefect reported the complaint of the bishop to the empress with embellishments. The gauge of battle was again thrown down, and Eudoxia threatened to call the preacher to stern account for his criticism.
Then, it is said, he delivered a Homily in which he declares that no beast on earth, no lion or dragon, is as dangerous as a bad woman. He opened his discourse with the famous but apocryphal words, “Again Herodias dances; again she demands the head of John the Baptist on a charger.” Most likely these words were never spoken. Chrysostom was not the man to make such an historical blunder as to substitute the name of Herodias for Salome. At the same time he was not the man to submit tamely to a threat which seemed to challenge his authority in the pulpit. His sermons became bitter and defiant. The atmosphere was again charged with electricity. His enemies gather. The court is once more alive with intrigue. Theophilus is sent for; but the wily schemer has learned something of the temper of Constantinople. He has heard the howl of the wild beasts, and will not venture into the den again. He therefore writes that his affectionate flock can not spare him at this time. Three bishops are sent with full instructions, and they will take his place in the coming struggle.
Another council is called. New charges are formulated. The main dependence is placed upon what was called the Twelfth Canon of the Council of Antioch, A.D. 341. This canon declares that a deposed bishop who appeals to the secular power for restoration shall be forever regarded as outlawed. It was a critical game. The friends of Chrysostom were ready to show that the body which deposed him was not a legal body. He had been condemned by a so-called council of thirty-nine bishops, mostly aliens, but had been acquitted by a body of sixty-five. So really he had never been deposed. Moreover, it was clearly shown that the council which had passed the canon in question, upon which the enemies of the bishop relied, had been dominated by a strong Arian element; that this very canon had been leveled at Athanasius; and, if this were not bad enough, the canon itself had been repealed by the Council of Sardica. There was therefore great confusion and uncertainty in the camp of his enemies. This confusion was increased when one of the aged bishops said that as the Twelfth Canon had been formulated by Arians for purposes of their own, it could be regarded as patent and conclusive only if Acacius and Antiochus would testify that they belonged to the same faith. With livid cheeks and raging hearts these ringleaders in the great conspiracy even dared to promise their signature to a paper making such a claim. They were willing to abjure their orthodoxy in order to secure a deadly weapon against Chrysostom.
Easter came in the midst of the commotion. The bishops who had the ear of the emperor did not scruple to make false representations. They declared that the clergy had ostracized Chrysostom and that the people had deserted him; that the interests of the empire and of the Church demanded that he be silenced. The gullible emperor was imposed upon, and the imperial order was issued forbidding the bishop to officiate in the church. Chrysostom replied to his royal master: “I received the church from God my Savior, and am intrusted with the care of the people’s souls. I can not desert. Throw me out by force if you will; then you, and not I, will be responsible for the non-performance of my duties.” On the day before Easter he was again challenged by the emperor’s decree, and again he returned a respectful but an unyielding reply. Arcadius was in a dilemma. Three thousand catechumens were prepared for baptism. The solemnity of the great Church festival everywhere brooded over the city. The people were tense, defiant, revolutionary. Paul of Croatia stood before Eudoxia with ashes on his head, like some prophet out of the legendary past, and said: “Consider your own children. Profane not Christ’s holy festival by the shedding of blood!”
Arcadius turned to Acacius and Antiochus for advice. They said: “Wash your hands of the matter. Let his blood be upon our heads.” The fatal order was given to disperse the worshiping congregation. It was the night before the Resurrection. The church was crowded with the thousands watching for the dawn. The chief officer would not act personally, but sent in his stead Lucius, a captain of the band of Scrutarii and a pagan. This officer, prompted by the clergy who had gone with him, entered the church and attempted to break up the service. A scene of disgraceful confusion followed. The catechumens were beaten and driven half-naked into the street, the consecrated wine was dashed upon the floor, the water in the baptistery was mingled with blood, and wounded men and women were dragged about the church or thrust out through the doors or the windows.
The people clung to the bishop. Driven from the churches, they gathered in the baths of Constantine for religious service. This did not suit the purpose of the cabal. The emperor must not discover the public attitude toward Chrysostom, and should he enter the church and find it empty, it would at once suggest to him the true state of affairs. So rude Thracian soldiers were sent to the baths and ordered to break up these conventicles at any cost. Here was witnessed another scene of outrage. The clergy were insulted, the women robbed of their jewelry, and subjected to personal violence, and hundreds were dragged to prison in the name of the emperor.
Five days from Pentecost, the final orders were issued for the banishment of Chrysostom. For two months he had been a virtual prisoner. Twice had an attempt been made upon his life. The people had been roused to fury, and day and night they guarded his palace. The foreign ecclesiastics represented to the emperor that either he or Chrysostom must fall; that the city was not large enough for both. They also, as before, offered to take upon themselves all the responsibility of the edict. And so the crisis came. The order was issued, and preparations were made to have it carried out.
Chrysostom was ready to obey. But the people were not so tractable. They would not hear of surrender. They swore to protect him with their lives. The city was on the threshold of a reign of terror. Then a nobleman friend came to Chrysostom and earnestly begged him not to allow his departure to be known to the public. The Thracian troop was under arms and had been ordered to put down any attempt at rescue with an iron hand. The mob that had swept the Gothic soldiers of Gainas out of the city, that had defied Belisarius and held the city for a week in the days of the Blues and the Greens was not to be intimidated by a band of Barbarians. They would have held the palace of the patriarch against all the soldiers of the empire. But Chrysostom loved the people, and he hated tumult and riot. Better his own sacrifice than confusion and death.
So he called his bishops about him in the chancel and made his last farewell. Thence to the Baptistery, where were assembled the Deaconesses Olympia, Pentadia, Procla, and others. To these he tenderly said: “I have finished my course, and perhaps ye shall see my face no more. If another is ordained to my place who has not solicited it, and who has been chosen by the voice of the Church, submit to him as if it were myself.” He seemed to feel that his doom was sealed. He made preparation for a final departure. He asked most earnestly for the prayers of his faithful friends. His whole soul was filled with an infinite longing and an infinite sorrow. And yet, even in this shadow of great blackness, his first thoughts were for the people. The deaconesses in Oriental style gave themselves to weeping and loud lamentations. He at once asked that they be removed lest the multitudes within and without the church become suspicious of the truth and a riot be precipitated.
Ordering that the mule upon which he usually rode be saddled and led up to the west door of the church, he waited till the people had gathered there to watch his exit; then, slipping through a small door on the other side, he gave himself into the hands of the soldiers. We have a record of the emotions of this mighty preacher as he passed for the last time from the church in which he had reigned supreme. In one of his letters he has told us his thoughts, and they are worthy of the man and his great renunciation. “Will the empress banish me? Let her banish me. ‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.’ Will she command that I be cut in pieces? Let me be sawn asunder, for so was served the prophet Isaiah before me. Will she throw me into the sea? I remember this was the fate of Jonas. Or into a fiery furnace? I shall have the three children for my fellow-sufferers. If she will cast me to wild beasts, I shall think how Daniel went the same way to the lions. If she should command that I be stoned, let it be so. I have Stephen the proto-martyr on my side. Will she have my head? Let her take it; John the Baptist lost his. Has she a mind to my estate? Let her have it. Naked came I into this world, and naked shall I go out of it.”
Thus did he lay aside his scepter. With no sullen fling, like Wolsey, at the fickleness of “princes’ favor,” or gird at the “depths and shoals of honor;” with no peevish consignment of his powerful enemies to hell and to purgatory, like Dante; with no pompous and theatrical jeremiads, like Cicero, who banished himself from his country for his country’s good; but calmly and majestically did the great bishop walk out of the great church, the throne of his power, the theater of his splendid triumphs, without a murmur or a malediction or a sigh, and never again was his voice to be heard within its sacred walls.

NOT long could the people be kept in ignorance. For weeks had they been looking for the climax. They were wrought up to a pitch of fury. The officers commanded that the church doors be locked to prevent confusion. This created the very confusion it was intended to prevent. The people within the church struggled to get out; the thousands who were without struggled just as fiercely to get in. The doors were smashed, the aisles were crowded with a raging mob, the officers were helpless and disconcerted. At this crisis flames were discovered near the altar. It was impossible to reach them on account of the confusion. In a very short time the stately building was a mass of flames. Thence the flames leaped to the Senate House, first kindling on the side furthest removed from St. Sophia, making, as an eye-witness declared, a magnificent arch of fire, under which the people walked back and forth in the lurid glare.
The cathedral was soon in ashes. The Senate House was also completely destroyed, with all the splendid treasures of ancient art which it contained, except the statues of Jupiter and Minerva. These strangely enough were preserved. The melted lead from the roof flowed down upon them, forming a coating of metal in which the falling stones were embedded. When the rubbish was cleared away, these two images were found whole and sound. The few remaining pagans made great capital of this, accepting it as an omen of good fortune for the cult of the ancient gods. With such a Christian emperor as Arcadius and such a Christian priest as Theophilus directing affairs from his far Egyptian home, it might seem that the return of the old pagan régime would really be an improvement.
The origin of the fire has never been discovered. Many blamed the enemies of Chrysostom, claiming that they thus diabolically planned to destroy his church and his people at one stroke. Others charged it to the account of Divine Providence, in punishment of the city for its sacrilege and persecution. The officers contended that it was the work of the people themselves. Nero has fired his city and fiddled again, and the Christians are handy scapegoats, and they who have suffered much may easily be made to suffer more, for so is the way of the world. So hundreds of the people were imprisoned; many were put to the torture in hopes that they would confess or would implicate the real offenders. The clergy who remained faithful to Chrysostom were banished, and implicit obedience to the order of the emperor, as it applied to the church, was made the condition of holding property or even citizenship.
Chrysostom heard with a sore heart of the evils that had befallen the city. As soon as the news of the uprising came, he was placed in chains and his few faithful companions torn from his side. He wrote pitiful letters to the emperor, begging that he might be permitted to return to the city, at least long enough to clear himself and the people of the grave accusation. His letters were ignored, and he was hurried into the interior.
Less than a week after the deposition of the bishop, a successor was appointed. Nectarius, the predecessor of Chrysostom, had a brother Arsacius. He had refused the bishopric of Taurus, declaring with an oath that he would never allow his name to be used for such an office. He was now eighty years old, and described by one ancient writer as “an old block,” and by another as “muter than a fish and duller than a frog.” He had all the apathy and timeserving of Nectarius, and all the relentlessness of Theophilus; a sycophant, “dressed in a little brief authority;” a Frankenstein in his dotage. Yet the faithful were ordered by imperial rescript to recognize his spiritual authority and to receive the heavenly offices of the Church at his hand. It was made a serious crime to attend any other services than those under his jurisdiction. Any bishop or priest who would not communicate with him or recognize his authority was deposed; and whoever entertained in his home such bishop or priest was stripped of his property and punished at the discretion of the soldiers.
Many instances have been preserved of fiendish cruelty on the one side and splendid heroism on the other. Eutropius, a young reader, was brought to trial. He would not confess, and the flesh was raked from his cheeks with a sharp iron, and burning torches were applied to his body. Olympias, the devoted friend of the deposed bishop, was singled out for special persecution. Only her absolute fearlessness saved her from complete ruin. She was of noble blood. She had large estates and was of singular beauty of person. The prefect charged her with the destruction of St. Sophia. She reminded him of the large sums she had given to embellish the church as proof that she could never be a party to its destruction. He informed her that he was well acquainted with her past life. With fine sarcasm she suggested that he take, then, the witness stand and let some one else play judge. He assured her that everything would be overlooked if she would promise allegiance to Arsacius. But she had been openly accused and she demanded an open trial. This did not suit the purpose of the authorities, and so, without a hearing, they imposed a fine and dismissed the case. She soon left the city rather than accept the tool of the emperor in the place of Chrysostom. Pentadia, another deaconess, was dragged through the streets of the city and cast into prison. On her release, she determined to leave Constantinople. This news was brought to Chrysostom, and he, ever mindful of the best interests of the people, begged that she remain, as her presence was needed more in the city than anywhere else. So she staid, and through all the days of darkness and of death she stood her ground and ministered with tender hands to the suffering and the distressed.
At this time Innocent I was bishop of Rome. On account of the wealth of this see, its position at the political center of the world, with the unsurpassed facilities thus afforded for communication with all parts of the empire, there was a growing tendency to defer to the Roman bishop in matters of opinion or of creed. He was gradually becoming the referee of the Church. This as yet, however, was without official sanction. As late as 325 A.D., the primacy of Rome was unknown. Canon Six of the Council of Nice placed the Roman bishop, whose authority was paramount in Italy, on a level with the bishop of Alexandria, whose authority was recognized in Egypt, Libya, and the Pentapolis. To the bishop of Rome, therefore, wrote the bishop of Alexandria. “Pope Theophilus to Pope Innocent” is the phraseology of the formal greeting. In this letter Theophilus announces that he has deposed Chrysostom, and that Innocent should, as a consequence, break off all communication with him. Soon after the receipt of this by Innocent, a letter came from Chrysostom himself, also an appeal from forty bishops who were friendly to Chrysostom.
The letter of Chrysostom began: “To my Lord, the most revered and divinely beloved Innocent, John sends greeting.” He uses the same term “Lord” in reference to the Bishops Demetrius, Pansophius, Pappus, and Eugenius, who were sent to Rome with messages from the exile. In this letter he rehearses the whole incident. He begins: “I suppose that even before receiving our letter, your Piety has heard of the iniquity which has been perpetrated here; for the magnitude of our distress has left scarcely a single portion of the world uninformed of this grievous tragedy; for report carrying the tidings of what has happened to the very extremities of the earth has everywhere caused great mourning and lamentation. But inasmuch as we ought not to mourn, but to restore order and to see by what means the most grievous storm of the Church may be stayed, we have deemed it necessary to persuade my Lords, the most honored and pious Bishops Demetrius, Pansophius, Pappus, and Eugenius, to leave their own churches and venture out on this great sea voyage, and set out on a long journey from home, and hasten to your charity, and after informing you clearly of everything, to take measures for the redressing of evils as speedily as possible.”
He shows how “Theophilus, who has been intrusted with the presidency of the Church of Alexandria, having been commanded to repair alone to Constantinople, certain men having brought an accusation against him to the most devout emperor, arrived, bringing with him no small multitude of Egyptian bishops, as if wishing to show from the outset that he came for war and antagonism.” He also notes how the proffered hospitality of the resident bishop had been insulted and long-established usage violated. “When he set foot in the great and divinely beloved Constantinople, he did not enter the church according to the custom of the law which has prevailed from ancient time; he held no intercourse with us, and admitted us to no share in his conversation, his prayers, or his society; but as soon as he disembarked, having hurried past the vestibules of the church, he departed and lodged somewhere outside the city; and although we earnestly entreated him and those who had come with him to be our guests (for everything had been made ready and lodgings provided and whatever was suitable), neither they nor he consented. We, seeing this, were in great perplexity, not being able to discover the cause of this unjust hostility. Nevertheless, we discharged our part, doing what became us, and continually beseeching him to meet us and to say for what cause he hazarded so great a contest at the outset, and threw the city into such confusion.”
He further explained his own attitude toward the matter. “But as those who accused him were urgent, our most devout emperor summoned us and commanded us to go outside the walls to the place where Theophilus was sojourning, and hear the argument against him. For they accused him of assault, and slaughter and various other crimes. But knowing as we did the laws of the fathers, and paying respect and deference to the man, and having also his own letters which prove that lawsuits ought not to be taken beyond the border, but that the affairs of the several provinces should be treated within the limits of the province, we would not accept the office of judge, but deprecated it with great earnestness. But he, as if striving to aggravate former insults, having summoned my archdeacon, by a stretch of arbitrary power, as if the Church were already widowed and had no bishop, by means of this man seduced all the clergy of his own side.… And having done this, he sent and summoned us to trial, though he had not yet cleared himself of the charges brought against him, a proceeding directly contrary to the canons and to all the laws.”
It is a simple, earnest, naive letter. It carries conviction by its very sincerity. It gives us a glimpse of the great-hearted, simple-minded bishop at this trying time. The writer insists not so much upon personal affront and personal violence as upon the effect such things will have in the mind of the people.
It is the Church that has been insulted; the Church which will suffer. Not even in heathen courts could such things obtain. “May you be induced,” he concludes, “to exert your zeal on our behalf; for in so doing you will confer a favor, not upon ourselves alone, but also upon the Church at large, and you will receive your reward from God, who does all things for the peace of the Church.” Copies of this letter were sent to the bishop of Milan and the bishop of Aquileia also.
Innocent wrote to Theophilus declaring that the deposition of Chrysostom was annulled; that the Synod of Chalcedon was irregular, the charges monstrous and absurd, and that if Theophilus was in possession of serious charges he must appear before a regular council, there to press these charges and to ask for justice. But there was no assumption of authority. It was the opinion of a peer; the verdict of reason and of unbiased judgment. In the reply of Innocent to Chrysostom there was the same notable absence of sic volo, sic jubeo. It is the letter of one friend to another. There is no consideration of the legal questions involved, no promise of redress. “Let, therefore, dear brother, the consciousness of your innocency … comfort and stay your mind. For you who are the pastor and teacher of so great a charge need not to be taught that the best men are ever frequently put to the test, whether they will persevere in the perfection of patience and not succumb to any toil of distress. For he ought to endure all things who trusts first of all in God, and then in his own conscience.”
Rather a tame and nerveless attitude we would say for the reputed lineal successor of Peter, the predecessor of Gregory VII at Canossa, and of Innocent III, who wrested the crown from the English King John.
Innocent did not stop here. He appealed to Honorius, Emperor of the West. A synod of Italian bishops was convened. The synod petitioned the emperor that a General Council be held at Thessalonica, in which both the Eastern and the Western Churches would be represented. In response to this appeal, Honorius wrote Arcadius, and sent messages of peace and cordiality by the hands of five chosen bishops, two presbyters, and one deacon. This august deputation was arrested in Athens, taken by ship to a suburb of Constantinople, their letters wrested from them by force, the thumb of Marianus being broken in the struggle, and finally sent back to Rome in disgrace. Honorius was at this time threatened by Alaric; hence he was powerless to resent the insult to his embassy, and Innocent was only Innocent. His word was but the advice of a fellow-bishop. His authority was limited to his own see. The Church owed him no allegiance. So out of the West no help could come to the distressed Church at Constantinople. The hapless bishop must fight his own battles, and drink to the dregs his own cup of bitterness.
But Themis had not forgotten. Nemesis was not asleep. The powers of heaven seemed more potent to punish than the dignitaries of earth. The stars in their courses were fighting for Chrysostom. His avengers came from the ends of the earth. Out from the North came the Huns, ravaging with fire and sword. Thrace and Illyria were trampled beneath the hoofs of their swift horses. Syria and Asia Minor were smitten by the fierce Isaurians, whose hiding-place was in the fastnesses of Taurus. An awful hailstorm, with flaming lightning and fearful portents, swept over Constantinople. The city was shaken by earthquake after earthquake.
Then the sword struck home to the heart of his enemies. Eudoxia, the arch-plotter, died in horrible agony, and was buried in the same grave with her dead new-born child. Cyrenius, one of the four bishops who had made themselves responsible for the deposition of Chrysostom, had received a slight injury during the Council of Chalcedon. Maruthas of Macedonia had trodden upon his foot. It was not supposed to be very serious; but gangrene followed, then amputation, and then came the end of the plotting bishop by a lingering and terrible death. Another of the cabal died of cancer of the tongue, after confessing the plots of which he had been guilty and the lies he had told.
So portentous was all this that Arcadius, dazed and anxious, sent messengers to Nilus, the famous anchorite of Mt. Sinai, asking his intercession. This recluse had once been the prefect of Constantinople. He had forsaken wealth and family and position for his cell in the desert. His piety and his power in prayer were known all over the East. He turned upon the embassy and said, “Go, tell the emperor of yours that Nilus of Sinai says: ‘How can you expect Constantinople to be delivered from earthquake and from fire after the enormities perpetrated there; after crime has been established by authority of law; after the thrice-blessed John, the Pillar of the Church, the Lamp of Truth, the Trumpet of Jesus Christ, has been driven from the city? How can I grant my prayers to a city smitten by the wrath of God, whose thunder is even now ready to fall upon her?’ ”
It was on June 20th that Chrysostom surrendered himself to his enemies. He was at once hurried to the harbor, placed aboard a small vessel, and carried to the city of Nice. Here he was kept awhile until the excitement caused by the great fire had subsided. The soldiers were courteous, the climate was healthful, and his spirits were greatly refreshed. It had been planned that he should be taken to Sebastia. This, however, seemed too pleasant a place to suit his enemies; so, early in July, he was informed that his destination was the village of Cucusus. This paltry hamlet was on the far borderland of Cilicia, in the midst of the Taurian range. It was remote, barren, and constantly exposed to the inroads of Isaurian bandits. Here, in the reign of Constantius, Paulus, an earlier bishop of Constantinople, had been banished under conditions somewhat similar to the banishment of Chrysostom, and here the hapless man had been strangled by order of the governor. Chrysostom begged for a more tolerable place of exile; but his petitions were heartlessly denied, and preparations were made for the journey.
It was while at Nice that he wrote his first letter to Olympias. He gives no sign of weakening. His heart may be burdened within him, but he will bide the smart. He will not suffer his friends to know his agony. He is still John, Bishop of Constantinople. He writes, not to relieve his mind, though to Olympias he opens his heart more than to any other; but he writes to steady the faith of the Church. In this letter he says: “Come, now, let me relieve the wound of thy despondency and disperse the thoughts which gather the cloud of care around thee.” He then draws in detail a vivid picture of the Church adrift upon the tide. “We behold a sea upheaved from the very lowest depths; some sailors floating dead upon the waves, others ingulfed by them, the planks of the ship breaking up, the sails torn to tatters, the masts sprung, the oars dashed out of the sailors’ hands, the pilots seated on the deck clasping their knees with their hands instead of grasping the rudder, bewailing the helplessness of their situation with sharp cries and bitter lamentations; neither sky nor sea clearly visible, but all one deep, impenetrable darkness, so that no one can see his neighbor, whilst mighty is the roaring of the billows, and monsters of the sea attack the crew on every side.” But the Supreme Pilot is still at the helm. Yea, it is He who waits, not to get the better of the storm by His skill, but who can calm the raging waters with His rod. “Do not therefore be cast down. For there is only one thing, Olympias, which is really terrible, and that is sin; as for all other things—plots, enmities, frauds, calumnies, insults, accusations, confiscations, exile, the keen sword of the enemy, the peril of the deep, warfare of the whole world, or anything else you like to name—they are but idle tales.”
Like the io triumphe of the ancient prophet whose fig-tree blossomed not and whose olive-tree failed; like the shout of victory from the Mamertine Prison of the aged servant of Jesus Christ, who was now ready to be offered up, comes to us the swan-song of the exile. When we are ready to enlarge our canon and recognize as authority other books than those now inventoried by the Thirty-nine Articles of Faith, side by side with the second letter general of Peter and the letter of Paul to Philemon, we will make a place for the first letter of John Chrysostom to Olympias, deaconess of Constantinople.
But other proof he gave that he had forgotten his own misfortunes in his care for the Church. Some years before, through his influence, Paganism had been outlawed in Phœnicia. He also sent out many missionaries into this province to propagate the truths of the Gospel. In the midst of his mental unrest at Nice he still remembers this great cause. He writes letter after letter to the superintendent of this mission; takes a profound interest in every detail of the work; strives to stir up the enthusiasm of the Church, and offers any assistance in his power toward the furtherance of the enterprise.
Then, on July 4th, the exile started on his sad journey. Straight across Asia Minor did the road lie. Through the primeval, shadowy forests of Bithynia, perhaps along the road later followed by European devotees journeying overland to Jerusalem; across the salt deserts and burning trackless wastes of Galatia, through the wild mountain gorges of Cappadocia, went this dismal pilgrim’s progress, heart-sore, foot-weary, hopeless, sick; feeding on black bread, drinking foul water, scorched with fever, shaking with chills; watching by night against the prowling bandit; threatened each day by the bishops through whose diocese he must pass,—no wonder the aged sufferer writes that his lot is worse than the chained convict who works in the public mines.
He would have rested in Galatia, but Leontius, Bishop of Ancyra, warns him that his life will not be safe if he stops for a single day in his diocese. On he hurries to Cæsarea in Cappadocia. There he was received with demonstrations of honor and respect by the people and the civil officers. But Bishop Pharetrius was of another mind. To be sure he had sent word to Chrysostom that a warm welcome awaited him. Says Chrysostom: “I found an impression in my mind precisely the reverse; but of this I said nothing.” Let him tell the story of what followed:
“Now, when I arrived late one evening at Cæsarea in an exhausted and wornout condition, being in the very height of a burning fever, faint and suffering to the last degree, I lighted upon an inn situated just in the outskirts of the city, and took great pains to find some physicians and allay this fiery fever, for it was now the height of my tertian malady. And in addition to this there was the fatigue of the journey, the toil, the strain, the total absence of attendants, the difficulty of getting supplies, the want of a physician, the wasting effects of toil and heat and sleeplessness. Thus I was well-nigh a dead man when I entered the city. Then indeed I was visited by the whole body of the clergy and the people, monks, nuns, physicians, and I had the benefit of great attention, as all paid me every kind of ministration and assistance.
“Pharetrius, however, nowhere appeared, but waited for my departure, I know not with what purpose in mind. When, then, I saw that my disorder had slightly abated, I began to form plans for my journey, so as to reach Cucusus, and enjoy a little repose after the calamities of the way. And whilst I was thus situated, it was suddenly announced that the Isaurians in countless multitudes were overrunning the district of Cæsarea, and had burned a large village and were most violently disposed. The tribune having heard this, took the soldiers which he had and went out. For they were afraid lest the enemy should make an assault also upon the city; and all were in terror and in an agony of alarm, the very soil of their country being in jeopardy, so that even the old men undertook the defense of the walls.
“While affairs were in this condition, suddenly towards dawn a rabble of monks rushed up to the house where we were, threatening to set fire to it and to treat us with the utmost violence unless we turned out of it. And neither the fear of the Isaurians nor my own infirmity, which was so grievously afflicting me, nor anything else made them more reasonable; but they pressed on, animated by such rage that even the proconsular soldiers were terrified. For they kept threatening them with blows, and boasted that they had shamefully beaten many of the proconsular soldiers. The soldiers having heard these things, sought refuge with me, and entreated and beseeched me, saying, ‘Even if we are to fall into the hands of the Isaurians, deliver us from these wild beasts!’
“When the governor heard this, he hastened down to the house, intending to succor me, but the monks would not pay any heed to his exhortations, and, in fact, he was powerless. Perceiving the great straits in which affairs were placed, and not daring to advise me either to go out to certain death, or on the other hand to stay in-doors owing to the excessive fury of these men, he sent to Pharetrius beseeching him to grant a few days’ respite on account of my infirmity and the impending danger. But even then nothing was effected, and on the morrow the monks arrived even fiercer than before, and none of the presbyters dared to stand by me, but covered with shame and blushes—for they said these things were done by the instruction of Pharetrius—they concealed themselves and lay hid, not even responding when I called them.
“What need to make a long story? Although such great terrors were imminent, and death well-nigh certainty, and the fever was oppressing me, I flung myself at high noon into the litter and was carried out thence, all the people shrieking and howling, and imprecating curses on the perpetrator of these deeds, whilst every one wailed and lamented. But when I got outside the city, some of the clergy also gradually came out and escorted me, mourning as they went. And having heard some persons say, ‘Why are you leading him away to manifest death?’ one of those who was warmly attached to me said to me, ‘Depart, I entreat you. Fall into the hands of the Isaurians; only get away from here, for wherever you may fall, you will fall into a place of security, if only you escape our hands.’ Then, having heard and seen these things, the good Seleucia, the generous wife of my Lord Rufinus, exhorted and entreated me to lodge at her suburban home, which was about five miles from the city; and she sent some men to escort me, and so I departed thither.
“But not even there was this plot against me to come to an end. For as soon as Pharetrius knew what she had done, he published many threats against her. But when she received me into her villa, I knew nothing of these things, for when she came out to meet me, she concealed these things from me, but disclosed them to her steward, and ordered him to afford me every possible means of repose, and if any of the monks should make an assault, he was to collect the laborers from her other farms and thus marshal a force against them. Moreover, she besought me to take refuge in her house, which had a fortress and was impregnable, that I might escape the hands of the bishops and the monks. This, however, I could not be induced to do, but remained in the villa, knowing nothing of the plans which were devised after these things.
“Even then they were not content to desist from their fury against me; but Pharetrius beset the lady, as she says, straitly threatening her and forcing her to expel me even from the suburb. So, in the middle of the night, Evethius, the presbyter, came to me, and, having roused me from sleep, exclaimed with a loud voice, ‘Get up I pray you; the Barbarians are upon us and are close at hand.’ It was midnight, a dark murky night, without a moon. We had no companion, no assistant, for all had deserted us. Nevertheless I got up and ordered torches to be lit. But these the presbyter ordered to be put out for fear the Barbarians should be attracted by the light and attack us. Then the mule which carried my litter fell upon its knees, the road being rugged and steep and stony, and I was thrown down and narrowly escaped destruction. After which I dismounted and was dragged along on foot, for to walk was impossible through such difficult country and amongst steep mountains, in the middle of the night.”
Thirty days later he reached Cucusus. Here he found friends. Dioscorus, the principal citizen of the village, provided lodgings for him, and Adelphius, the bishop, treated him with great respect, even offering him opportunity to preach from his own throne. This Chrysostom wisely declined. Later, the aged Sabiniana, a deaconess of Constantinople, came to Cucusus and announced her purpose to stay with him and minister unto him to the end. Others of his friends came and took up their abode here, that they might be near him.
A better day had apparently dawned. His bodily health was greatly restored, and he began once more to lay his hand upon the pulse of the religious world. There was no movement, public or private, that did not interest him. He was once more abreast of the march of events. From his distant point of observation he soon commanded the whole field.
To Innocent he wrote, congratulating him upon the care he had taken to settle the Churches in peace and pleasant serenity, the removal of scandal and disorder, and the reverence paid to the Constitutions of the Fathers. He learned that the missions in Phœnicia were not prospering. He at once wrote various bishops, pleading with them that they excite and encourage fit persons to undertake this work, even making himself responsible for the expenses of this especial field. Gemellus, a layman, was promoted to some high office. Chrysostom writes him that while others might congratulate him on his new honors, he himself would rather dwell on the abundant opportunities Gemellus would now enjoy of exercising wisdom and gentleness on a larger scale. Anthemius had been made prefect and consul. The alert bishop writes: “Nothing has really been added to you. It is not the prefect or the consul whom I love, but my most dear and gentle Lord Anthemius, full of philosophy and understanding.” Theophilus—not he of evil memory, but an obscure priest of Constantinople—begins to neglect public service, and receives a loving epistle of sorrow, expressing the hope that he has been falsely reported, and that he yet shows the devotion of other days.
John Chrysostom, the homeless exile, was still the bishop of Constantinople, the patriarch of the Eastern Empire. The seat of government was no longer on the Bosporus, but in the heart of the lonely Taurian Mountains. Arsacius might occupy the palace, but Chrysostom still wielded the scepter. “All Antioch is at Cucusus,” said Porphyry, the Bishop of Antioch. “This dead man rules the living; this exile conquers his conquerors,” was the angry complaint of his checkmated enemies. The letters that came out of this winter-scarred village were making history, and the Church, from the Adriatic to the Euphrates, was offering homage at this shrine.
But bitter things were yet in store. The Taurian winter is proverbially severe. The winter that followed the coming of Chrysostom was one of the worst of its kind. He could not be kept warm. A fire burned in his room day and night. He did not leave his bed, but lay all the time under heaps of blankets. Night after night he did not sleep. His old infirmities, resulting from the severity of his life as an anchorite, took root again, and existence became a torture and a madness. Nature had been sorely cheated out of her dues and now demanded the pound of flesh nominated in the bond. In the spring the Isaurians came down the mountain gorges and filled all the land with terror. So imminent did the danger become, that in the following winter it was thought best to seek a hiding-place in the country near the village. A cave in the side of the rock, with bed and table and cupboard, is still shown as one of these hiding-places.
All this, however, did not satisfy his enemies. Madame de Stael only ten leagues from Paris, and Paris was still the salon of Madame de Stael. So Bonaparte ordered her to place forty leagues between herself and the obsequious city in twenty-four hours. Chrysostom at Cucusus was too near Constantinople. His hand could reach the highest seats in the episcopal palace; his voice could still be heard in the gatherings of the people. And Cucusus, with its famine and its cold and its wasting disease, was too agreeable a place to satisfy Severian and Porphyry and Theophilus. Far in the north, on the desolate shores of the Euxine, bleak and cold, was Pityus. The place was ideal for their purposes; the journey thither almost impossible. It was a promising scheme, a diabolical scheme, and it was soon arranged. So two guards were appointed, rough, shaggy Barbarians, and they were charged not to spare his age nor his infirmities, but to hurry relentlessly, with the sinister intimation that a tragedy in the wilderness would not be displeasing to their superiors. A certain reward if they brought the bishop safe to the distant place of exile; a larger reward in proportion to the celerity of their movements; a reward larger still if they reached the end of their journey without him.
One of these guards seemed to be touched by the pitiful state of their prisoner. The other obeyed orders. And so for three months, in sun and rain, they dragged the fever-stricken, bareheaded, tottering bishop toward the distant goal. Five miles beyond Comana in Pontus, they stopped for the night. Their charge was put to bed in the church of St. Basiliscus. Bishop Basiliscus had suffered martyrdom during the persecution under Maximian, and had been buried in the oratory.
That night, as Chrysostom tossed on his sleepless couch, a vision of the martyred bishop appeared. This vision said to him: “Be of good cheer, brother, we shall meet to-morrow.” A similar vision was vouchsafed a presbyter of the Church who was charged to provide a place for Brother John, for he was coming soon.
The next morning, cheered by this heavenly message, Chrysostom begged that he might remain for an hour in order that he might offer his devotions at the shrine. The request was denied. The soldiers were obdurate, and the cruel march was resumed. Only a short distance did they proceed. The poor refugee had reached the end of his resources. The mark of death was set upon his face. Even the stubborn soldiers could see that. Hurriedly they returned to the church. There Chrysostom asked for a white robe. He received the Holy Eucharist; he bade his attendants a feeble farewell, and then raising himself to a sitting posture, and looking around upon the company of monks and holy virgins who knelt about his couch, a spark of the ancient flame flashed from his eyes, and an echo of the old sweetness came into his voice, as he uttered the famous words: “Glory be to God for all things. Amen.” And so he passed away.

“He was exhaled; his Creator drew
His spirit as the sun the morning dew.”

The lion is down; the king is dead; the great heart has stopped beating; the mighty brain is cold; the golden tongue is still; the tired spirit has gone out to meet the “good-morning” of the angels on the eternal hills.

THE mills of the gods were grinding, grinding, and they were grinding exceeding small. The poor emaciated body was buried in the grave of the earlier martyr Basiliscus. The promise of the vision had been fulfilled. The lonely grave in the far frontier sheltered now the brother bishop. But the body of the younger martyr did not remain there; nor did his name rest under the stigma which had been placed upon it. Vindication was at hand, swift, splendid, complete.
Innocent of Rome, broken by his great sorrow and incited by a mighty indignation, wrote a spirited letter to Arcadius, sternly declaring that the blood of the martyred bishop cried out from the dust against the cowardly emperor and his vengeful wife. He cut Arcadius off from all Church communion and privileges, making of him a religious pariah. Honorius also wrote his brother, charging him with criminal surrender to the diabolical schemes of a rapacious woman. These letters were as scorpion stings to the conscience of Arcadius. His whole being was stirred and staggered. He whimpered for mercy. He humbly reminded his accusers that Eudoxia had already paid the price of her treachery, and promised that the guilty bishops should be brought to the bar.
But the wheels were grinding, grinding. Before Arcadius could undertake reparation, he himself was stricken; and so lonely was his situation, and so desperate the game of politics in which he was but a miserable pawn, and so doubtful the loyalty of his court, that, according to Procopius, he bequeathed his scepter and confided his son until he should be of age to the keeping of Jezdegard, King of Persia. Bitter sarcasm of authority! The Nemesis of Fate! The harrowing memory of Tewksbury, the ghosts of Bosworth Field, the bloody sweat of Charles IX with the shrieks of St. Bartholomew hounding his tortured soul,—Arcadius knew them all, and suffered them all, as he committed to the care of an ancient and hereditary foe the interests of a kingdom which he had debauched, and the training of a son who was currently reported to be illegitimate.
Theophilus of Alexandria did not long outlive the man whom he had harried to his death; yet long enough to order the picture of Chrysostom to be brought and to bow down in heartbroken remorse before it. So did the dead saint conquer the fierce, unconquerable enemies who had overmatched him when alive. Porphyry of Antioch dying, his successor, Alexander, placed the name of Chrysostom upon the diptyche, or sacred tablets, in the church. Here appeared the names of the illustrious dead and living, and here the triumph of the martyr was complete. Not long afterward, Atticus of Constantinople was compelled to do the same. This example was followed by other great Churches, and thus did the Church and the emperor acknowledge, within ten years of his death, that his deposition had been illegal, that he was innocent of all crime, and that henceforth he was to have his place in the glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets, the noble army of martyrs of whom the world is not worthy.
Thirty-five years after the death of Chrysostom a demand was made that his body be brought to Constantinople. The order was therefore given, and in the emperor’s barge the remains were brought. The ceremony was attended with extraordinary pomp and demonstration. The royal chariot was in waiting. In the midst of profound silence the procession filed through the densely crowded streets. The city was keeping a solemn holiday; the state was in mourning. At the Church of the Apostles the cortege was met by Theodosius II and his sister. The imperial cloak was tenderly thrown over the bier; the emperor humbly knelt, and reverently laid his face against the casket, confessing the mistakes of his parents, and tearfully offering reparation to the memory of the sainted dead. Then at the foot of the communion table they laid his body to rest, the bishops themselves lowering the casket into the ground. Thus came he into his heritage at last, and the day of his burial coronation has been kept sacred by the Church unto this day.
Willey, J. H. (1906). Chrysostom: The Orator (S. 27–152). Cincinnati; New York: Jennings and Graham; Eaton and Mains.


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