Some brief account of this renowned Father will Chap.
properly introduce the fifth century to the acquaint- - *j
ance of the reader, because the transactions with
which his story is connected extend a few years from
the last century into this, and are very descriptive
of the religious state of the East at that time.
He was, at the commencement of the century, bishop of Constantinople, where the emperor Arcadius resided, while his brother Honorius reigned in the West: these two were the sons and successors of the orreat Theodosius. But we must look back to the rise of John Chrysostom. He was born at chrjsostom Antioch* about the year 354. His parents were born' persons of some rank, and by the care of his mo- A- Dther (for he lost his father soon after his birth) his 354education was attended to in a very particular manner. By her means, he had the advantage of being early prejudiced in favour of Christianity. Yet, being naturally studious of eloquence, he devoted himself to the care of that great master, Libanius of Antioch, who being one day asked, who would be capable of succeeding him in his school; " John," said he, " if the Christians had not stolen him from us." So great was the idea he had formed of his powers of eloquence.
He prognosticated right. It would be easy to produce abundance of instances of his oratorical * Cave's life of this Father.
abilities. I wish it were in my power to record as many of his evangelical excellencies.
Having pleaded a little time in the Forum, he began to find a vacancy in his mind not to be supplied by secular arts and studies. The Spirit of God seems, from that time, to have drawn him to study the Scriptures, and one material advantage he derived from his master Diodorus, who was afterwards bishop of Tarsus : By him he was taught to forsake the popular whims of Origen, and to investigate the literal and historical sense of the Divine word; a practice, in which he differed from most of the fathers of his times.
He contracted an intimate friendship with one Basil, whom, by a deceit, he drew into the acceptance of a bishopric ; nor is he ashamed to justify himself in doing evil that good may come *. We have seen the deliberate fraud practised by Ambrose to avoid a bishopric f. And I find Chrysostom, in his exposition of the second chapter of the epistle to the Galatians, supposes, that both Paul and Peter were laudably engaged in fraud, because their views were charitable and pious. We shall afterwards have occasion to consider this matter a little more fully, when we come to the controversy between Jerom and Augustine on the subject. At present, suffice it to observe, that the decline in doctrine had evidently produced a decline in ethics; that the examples of men, otherwise so justly reputable, as Ambrose, Chrysostom, and Jerom J, must have had a pernicious effect on Christian morals; and that the growth of austere superstition was unfavourable to truth and integrity.
Notwithstanding the entreaties of his pious
* Sacerdotio, B. I.
+ See page t75 of this Volume.
X The reader will carefully observe, that Augustine is not in volved in this censure, in the least degree. Let it be observed also, that these pious frauds had no connexion with the love of lucre, and arose more prdpterly from superstition, than from hypocrisy.
mother, he lived in monastic austerities for some time; after which, Flavian, bishop of Antioch, promoted him to the office of presbyter in his diocese. About the year 379, a sedition broke out at Antioch, on account of taxes, and the people dragged about the streets the statues of Theodosius, and of his excellent lady Flaccilla, and of their two sons, in contempt. But finding afterwards the danger of the emperor's resentment, this inconstant and turbulent people were in the greatest distress. Antioch had ever been very favourable to the name, at least, of Christianity, since the time that the disciples were -first called Christians at Antioch. But luxury and the love of the world, were, it is to be feared, much more common in these times than godliness, even among the Christian inhabitants. About two hundred thousand citizens made up the sum total; and half of these were Christians. John failed not to improve the opportunity. Serious as he himself was in Christian views, so far as he understood them, and excellent as a preacher of the law, he exhorted them to repentance, and very properly made the awful suspense they were then in, an instructive emblem of our expectation of the day of judgment. Hymns and litanies were composed to solicit God to move the heart of the emperor to pity; and many, who had never attended the house of God, and had spent their whole time in the theatre, now joined in divine worship with much earnestness and assiduity. Flavian the bishop, though aged and infirm, undertook a journey to Constantinople to deprecate the wrath of the emperor. Libanius the sophist also did the same; but the generality of the philosophers hid themselves in holes and corners, and did nothing for their country in danger; while the monks left their cells, and flocked into the city, and entreated the magistrates and judges to behave with lenity. One Macedonius particularly* ad* Theodoret, B. V. c. 10.
Chaf. dressed the Commissioners, and desired them to ** admonish the emperor not to destroy the image of God, lest he should provoke the Divine Artist; which he might think would be the case, when he reflected how angry he himself was for the sake of brazen statues. Thus, even monks, who exhibited Christianity in a degenerate form, exceeded in benevolence and active virtue the boasted and boasting sons of philosophy!
The spirit of Chrysostom, in the mean time, was softened and overawed with the mingled sensations of pity and devotion, while he observed the severe proceedings of the courts, and the vain intercessions of relations for husbands and fathers. He was led to reflect how awful the day of judgment will be, when not a mother, sister, or father can arrest the course of Divine justice, or give the least relief to nearest relations ; and, in his homilies, he with much eloquence and piety enforced these considerations on a giddy, unthinking people. Pastors may take the hint from hence to improve temporal scenes to the spiritual benefit of their audiences.
The generous and good-natured Theodosius expostulated with Flavian on the unreasonableness and ingratitude of the citizens of Antioch to himself, who had ever been as a parent and benefactor to them. Flavian, admitting the truth of his observations, and confessing the aggravated guilt of the city, pressed him with the divine rule, If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. And his pathetic and pious admonitions prevailed. Theodosius owned, that if the great Lord of the world for our sake, became a servant, and prayed for his murderers, it highly became himself to forgive his fellow-servants ; and with great tenderness he solicited the bishop to hasten his return, and to deliver the citizens from their fears. In the mean time, the active charity of the monks and clergy had prevailed on the judges to
suspend their proceedings till they heard from the Cent. emperor; and Flavian himself returned at length , v~ d with the news of the city being fully restored to his favour. These are some of the triumphs of the Gospel. Its mild influence on society, in the suppression of the fights of gladiators and other savage practices, and in the kind and liberal behaviour of emperors towards their subjects, even in times when true religion was at no great height, demonstrate, not only, that states act unwisely, when they venture to reject Christianity altogether, and to substitute mere ethics in its stead ; but also, that it is the duty of governors and legislators, as much as in them lies, by positive institutions to promote the knowledge and influence of that divine religion.
In the year 398, Chrysostom, by the advice of Made BiEutropius, chief chamberlain of the palace, was coTstantiappointed bishop of Constantinople, being hurried nopie, thither by a fraudulent scheme, such as he himself A- Dhad approved in like cases. The emperor Arcadius, 39^a character of the most insipid insignificance, fixed in the metropolitical chair a person of great integrity, activity, and virtue indeed; but surely not through any wisdom of his own. John began immediately to attempt the reformation of his diocese. He put an end to a custom of the clergy of keeping matrons in their families, which caused much scandal; he censured their covetousness and their luxury; retrenched the expenses of the bishop's table, and applied the surplus to the needy; built a large hospital*
* The superiority of Christianity, considered in an ethical and political point of view, to all other religions, may deserve to be an object of attention. We have seen great proofs of it already. It is difficult to prove a negative proposition; I can only say, therefore, that I do not recollect any such humane and beneficent provisions for the poor in the whole circle of ancient Paganism ; nor do I remember any one of the philosophers, who was ever sedulously employed, by word or deed, for the lower ranks of men. True religion visits the fatherless and widows in their affliction. With justice might Ambrose, observing the liberality which the church exercised to the needy,
Chap- for the infirm, and put it under the most salutary regulations. Such ministers as refused to amend their lives, he suspended from their offices ; and the widows who were maintained by the church, were admonished to abstain from their gay manner of living, or else to marry. And he pressed the laity, whose employments filled up the day, to attend divine worship in the evening.
The common people heard him gladly, as, for a time at least, they generally will hear, in all ages, a preacher who speaks to the conscience, though severely, yet faithfully, with an earnest desire exhibited in his whole manner to do them good. Even some of the Dissenters attended on his preaching; nor did he labour in vain in reclaiming heretics*. The Clergy, indolent and corrupt as they then were, opposed him vehemently, and watched opportunities against him. The wealthy and the great, offended at his plain reproofs, were as ill-disposed as the clergy. Chrysostom however persevered; nor did he confine his cares to Constantinople. In order to overcome the Arianism of the Goths, he ordained some persons of their country, to whom he assigned a church within the city, and by their industry he reclaimed many.
ask the Pagans, Let them tell me, what captives were redeemed, what hospitals maintained, what exiles provided for, by the income of the temples ?
* A visible reformation of manners in a capital, which had long suffered under Arian impiety, and had fallen into a general relaxation of discipline, attended his labours. Persons, who hitherto had frequented the public shows, now came in crowds to public worship. Here he expounded various parts of the New Testament. He preached three times a week, and sometimes seven days successively. The crowd was so great, that to place himself where he might be heard, be was obliged to sit in the middle of the church, in the reader's desk. He reformed likewise the churches of the neighbouring provinces of Thrace, Asia, and Pontus. It appears that various churches in the East were administered with shameful corruption and profligacy, and several bishops, by the vigour of Chrysostom's zeal, were deposed.
He himself often preached there, and prevailed on Cent. others of the clergy to do the same. He made , ^- , liberal and active attempts to spread the Gospel among barbarous nations, though the troubles which afterwards befel him, must have checked both these and other Christian designs *.
In an age of luxury and extreme relaxation of discipline, it might be expected that the uprightness and inflexible integrity of Chrysostom would expose him to many inconveniences. During the negligent administration of his predecessor Nectarius the successor of Gregory Nazianzen, a remarkable alteration for the worse, in point of discipline, had taken place. There had been a presbyter, whose special office it was to receive the confession of penitents, and by his authority they were admitted to the communion. Superstition, most probably, had guided too much the formalities of this discipline; but profaneness was still worse, and the Lord's Supper was now open to all sorts of characters, no other rules being prescribed than what men chose to impose on themselves. It was not in the power of Chrysostom, in a metropolis so dissolute, and so much under the secular influence, to restore the discipline of the church in this respect. What was wanting, he supplied by preaching with the most laudable energy, and he exhorted men to repent again and again, and then to attend the Lord's Supper. He was evidently speaking of private, not of public penitence. Yet his expressions were perversely interpreted by two sorts of men, of very opposite characters, the Novatians, and the more dissolute persons of the general church. The former still maintained their favourite point, of never receiving the lapsed at all: the latter accused him of giving a license to sin. Yet if the distinction between private and public penitence be attended to, the innocence of Chrysostom's expres* Fleury, B. XX. 40. Soiom. B. VIII. c. 5.
CHAP- sions will be sufficiently clear, and he will appear *- . to have only exhorted them to repentance on the encouragement of the divine mercies in Christ, which offer pardon to repeated and multiplied transgressions. With what malevolence this great man was treated by the dissolute, may be easily conceived, when so grave a person as Socrates the historian, who had a partial fondness for Novatianism, expresses his wonder, that Chrysostom should have given such encouragement to sin, in his sermons, and have contradicted the canons of the church, which had been made with the excessive rigour that characterized the third century, and had forbidden the indulgence of communion to be granted any more than once to offenders *. Nor is this the only instance in which the zeal and uprightness of good men exposes them, in a malignant world, to the censure of opposite characters; of those, who carry the profession of strictness too far, and of those, who scarce pretend to any at all. Chrysostom was accused on this account, by the profligate bishops, and was also censured by Sisinnius, bishop of the Novatians in Constantinople, who wrote a book against him, and censured him with great severity.
Of this Sisinnius I shall not record what Socrates thinks it worth while to spend one chapter upon f. For, though he evidently desires to interest the reader in his favour, he records nothing but what tends to show him to have been a polite, facetious, well-bred gentleman, who made himself very agreeable to all parties, and was a contrast to the severity of Chrysostom by his engaging manners. He survived the latter, and lived on terms of amity with Atticus his successor: and I should with pleasure recite an account of his pious labours and success in the ministry, could I find any real proof that he was endowed with the spirit of the Gospel, and exhibited it in his conduct. Though the article * Socrat. B. VI. 91. t ChaP- 2a
of dress is but an external thing, his wearing white garments, against the mode of the times, when the clergy were habited in black, was certainly indecent ; nor is his saying, that there was no Scripture which required the wearing of black, a satisfactory apology.
It is not from such courtly characters as these, that reformation in the Church, in an age of corruption, like that at the beginning of this century, is to be expected. Chrysostom was, doubtless, endowed with many qualities which belong to a reformer. Socrates owns his extreme temperance, and at the same time blames him for the vice of anger, and the charge seems but too just.
This infirmity, too common to men of generous and noble minds, gave, no doubt, great advantage to his enemies, and concurred with various circumstances to crush the bishop of Constantinople. A synod at length, held and managed by Theophilus bishop of Alexandria, his determined enemy, and one of the worst ecclesiastical characters in history, supported by the influence of the proud Eudoxia, the empress, condemned him with extreme injustice. I shall not stain these pages with a detail of their iniquitous proceedings*. It is more to our purpose to notice his conduct under the severe persecution.
Chrysostom, foreseeing the effect of the storm which was gathering round him, addressed himself to the bishops, who were his friends, assembled in the great room of his housef " Brethren, be
* Among the other charges, he was accused of saying, " If thou sinnest again, repent again; and as oft as thou sinnest, come to me again, and I will heal thee." This is the calumny already spoken to. That he spoke contemptibly of the clergy, and had written a whole book stuffed with falsehood against them; these also were among the articles of accusation, which, in general, betray the folly and malice of his enemies, and are more than sufficiently confuted by the piety and godly zeal, which appear in his writings still extant.
f Cave's Life of Chrysostom, Pallad. vita ChrysosU p. 67.
Chap, earnest in prayer; and as you love our Lord Jesus, _ , let none of you for my sake desert his charge. For, as was St. Paul's case, I am ready to be offered up, and the time of my departure is at hand. I see I must undergo many hardships, and then quit this troublesome life. I know the subtilty of Satan, who cannot bear to be daily tormented with my preaching. By your constancy you will find mercy at the hand of God ; only remember me in your prayers." The assembly being afflicted with vehement sorrow, he besought them to moderate their grief; " for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." " I always told you this life is a road in which joys and sorrows both pass swiftly away. The visible scene of things before us is like a fair, where we buy and sell, and sometimes recreate ourselves. Are we better than the patriarchs? Do we excel the prophets and apostles that we should live here for ever?" When one of the company passionately bewailed the desolations of the Church, the bishop, striking the end of his right fore-finger on the palm of his left hand (which he was accustomed to do, when much in earnest) said, " Brother, it is enough, pursue the subject no further ; however, as I requested, desert not your churches. As for the doctrine of Christ, it began not with me, nor shall it die with me. Did not Moses die? and did not Joshua succeed him?—Paul was beheaded, and left he not Timothy, Titus, Apollos, and many more behind him?"
Eulysius bishop of Apamea answered, " But if we keep our churches, we shall be compelled to communicate and subscribe." " Communicate," returns he, " you may, that you make not a schism in the Church*; but subscribe not the decrees ; for I am
* In this he doubtless acted with great propriety. Corrupt as the Eastern church then was, the corruption was rather in practice than in doctrine. And such a separation as afterwards took place at the Reformation, would have been very unjustifiable.
not conscious of having done any thing, for which I should deserve to be deposed."
As Theophilus assumed a power, which doubtless belonged not to him, and as Chrysostom observed, it did not become a man that lives in Egypt to judge one that lives in Thrace, the bishop of Constantinople refused to own the authority of the court. His enemies deposed him for contumacy, and to support their views, they informed the emperor Arcadius, that he had been guilty of treason, meaning the affront he had put on the empress in calling her Jezebel; and it is not improbable, but that he had, in some of his sermons, compared her to the wife of Ahab, whom, in truth, she much resembled in pride and cruelty.
The people of Constantinople, however, who sincerely loved the bishop, insisted on his being heard by more equitable judges, and so strong was their agitation, that Chrysostom, fearing a popular insurrection, delivered himself up secretly to the officer, who came to execute the imperial warrant against him. He was conveyed immediately to a port in the Black Sea. As soon as it was known that he was gone, the whole city was in an uproar; many blamed the emperor, who, in so 'weak a manner, had given up the most upright of men to the malice of his wife and of Theophilus. The tumult was at
Good men by remaining in it might do a thousand times more good, than they would be capable ot- doing by deserting it. And so long as the doctrine itself is preserved sound and pure, by the continuance of holy men in the church, who in that case can remaiu with a clear conscience, revivals may be expected from time to time. Of this we shall shortly see a solid instance in the Western church, and such we have seen in the church of England in our own times. Separation seems only justifiable in the case of a total corruption and incurable malady, such as that at the time of the Reformation. Hasty and intemperate schisms rend the church into miserable fragments, prevent, as far as man can prevent, any great and general revival of godliness, and are strongly guarded against in the epistolary writing* of the New Testament.
VOL. II. U
length so violent, that Eudoxia herself, frighted at the danger, pressed her husband to recal him, and even wrote to Chrysostom a letter full of protestations of sorrow and respect. Chrysostom was, therefore, restored to his bishopric. But the calm season lasted not long. A silver statue of the empress was solemnly erected in the street just before the great church of St. Sophia. It was dedicated with many heathenish extravagancies; and the people used to meet there in sports and pastimes, to the distraction of the congregation. The bishop, impatient of these things, blamed them from the pulpit, and with great imprudence began his sermon after this manner : " Now again Herodias raves and is vexed, again she dances, again she desires Johns head in a charger *."
The enemies of the bishop could not desire a greater advantage. And they improved it to the utmost. Numbers were ready to gratify the resentment of Eudoxia. And Arcadius, overcome by importunity, again ordered his deposition. He was suspended and confined : His friends and followers were dispersed, rifled, killed, or imprisoned. Edicts were issued, severely threatening all that refused to renounce communion with Chrysostom. It was the season of Easter, when the catechumens, who had been instructed, were to receive baptism. The friends of Chrysostom fled into the fields to keep the festival there. The emperor himself went out that day into a meadow adjoining to the city, and espied a field covered with white. These were the catechumens, who had been baptized the night before, and had then their white garments upon
• The rashness of Chrysostom in this affair was so great, that I could not easily believe this account. But 1 see the truth of the story is confirmed by the authority both of Socrates and Sozomen, and on consulting them it does not appear that any apology can be made for the bishop. He certain!}r mixed not the wisdom of the serpent with the iunocence of the dove.
them, being near three thousand in number. The Cent. emperor, being told that they were a conventicle of , ^ A heretics, ordered a party of soldiers to disperse them. Several women of quality were very rudely treated on this occasion, and numbers were imprisoned and scourged. Receiving at length a warrant, signed by the emperor, to depart, Chrysostom exhorted the deaconesses to continue their care of the church, and to communicate with the bishop, who should chrysostom be chosen, by common consent, in his room*, and he from retired once more from his See, in the year 404.
Arsacius, brother of Nectarius, being appointed Arsacius is bishop in his stead, the friends of Chrysostom, in ^op'in his opposition to the advice which he had given them, refused to submit, and formed separate assemblies, A> Dand were severely persecuted by the name of Joan- 404nites. Among these friends was an opulent lady, called Olympias, who had honoured him abundantly, and appears to have profited much by his ministry. She had acted in the church as a deaconess, and was now banished to Nicomedia, whence she supplied the exiled prelate with money. Here she lived many years, an example of piety.
Chrysostom himself was conveyed to Cucusus Cbrysostom in Armenia, a barren cold region, infested with J'curasl's'1 robbery, and mournfully marked already with the in Armeniamurder of Paul, the former bishop of Constantinople. His journey to this place was attended with many grievous hardships, though sweetened with the compassionate care of various persons, who keenly sympathized with injured innocence. At Cucusus, however, he met with very generous treatment. Here he preached frequently to a people who heard him gladly. A grievous famine raging in those parts, he was enabled, by the liberality of Olympias, to relieve the poor. And he redeemed
* Hence it is evident, that the appparance of a popular election of bishops was still kept up at Constantinople ; but it could only be the appearance.
many captives which had been taken by the Isanrian robbers. He had formerly conceived a plan for converting the Pagans which were still in Phoenicia, and had made some progress in it. But understanding that the design had met with a check, he again made vigorous attempts for the support of so good a work, and ordered sums of money for the erection of churches, and the support of missionaries. He seemed to recover his health for a time, but winter approaching he felt the usual effects of that season on persons of weak constitutions. His stomach had unhappily received much injury from the austerities of his youth, and never recovered its tone. The next spring he recruited, but was always obliged to observe the strictest regimen*. Arsaciu* At Constantinople, Atticus was chosen to succeed Arsacius, who died in the year 405, and the Joannites were still persecuted in the Eastern church. Chrysostom himself was obliged to move from place succeeds^" to place on account of danger from robbers, and, the See. ag ^e wrote tQ Innocent, bishop of Rome, who sincerely, though unsuccessfully, laboured in his cause, he was in the third year of his banishment, exposed to famine, pestilence, war, continual sieges, an incredible desolation, to death every day, and to the Isaurian swords.
His enemies, beholding with an evil eye, the respect every where paid to him, procured an order for him to be removed to Pityus, the very shore of
* This great imbecility was one reason why be had always dined alone, when bishop of Constantinople. It is well known, that to persons of his weak habit, the attendance at feasts and entertainments is one of the severest punishments. Chrysostom had still more weighty reasons for his recluseness; the sumptuousness of Constantinople was in a maimer proverbial, and he thought it his duty to check it. If any thing can add to the wickedness of those accusations which drove him from his See, it is, that he was charged with pride for dining in solitude. Yet he had been very hospitable to the poor, and was an uncommon pattern of beneficence and liberality.
the Black Sea. In his way thither, he was brought Cent. to an Oratory of Basiliscus, who had suffered mar- V___3_j tyrdom under Dioclesian's persecution. Here he desired to rest, but his guards, who had all along treated him with brutish ferocity, refused him the indulgence. Nature was however exhausted ; he had not gone four miles, before he was so extremely ill, that they were obliged to return with him. Here he received the Lord's Supper, made his last prayer before them all, and having concluded with his usual doxology, "glory be to God for all events," he breathed out his soul, in the fifty-third year of die9' his age, in the year 407. The Joannites continued A' Dtheir separate assemblies, till the year 438, when 4°7Proclus, then entering on the See, put an end to the schism, by making a panegyric on Chrysostom's memory, and procuring an order from the emperor Theodosius II. the son of Arcadius, that his body should be brought back to Constantinople with
freat funeral solemnity. He, who in his lifetime, ad met with so many enemies, was now uersally esteemed and admired, and Theodosius himself sincerely bewailed the injury done to so excellent a personage by his parents.
I have formerly observed, that the corruption of Christianity was deeper and stronger in great cities than in the country. The bishopric of Damasus at Rome was an unhappy proof of this in the West; and in the East, the bishopric of Chrysostom, in the beginning of this century, affords a lamentable proof of the same thing. Never was there a more striking confirmation of the truth of the Christian doctrine, the original and native depravity of man. How often have we been told, that whatever is said, in the writings of the New Testament, of the carnal mind, and its enmity against God, of the woe denounced against those of whom all men speak well, of the persecution which must be sustained by those who love the Lord Jesus, belongs only to the apostolical age, or at least to the times preceding the era of Constantine, -when heathenism prevailed in the Roman empire! Behold, the empire is become Christian; idolatry and all the rites of heathenism are subjected to legal penalties ; the profession of the Gospel is become exceedingly honourable; and the externals of religion are supported by the munificence of emperors, and by the fashion of the age, even with excessive sumptuousness. Behold a bishop of the first See, learned, eloquent beyond measure, of talents the most popular, of a genius the most exuberant, and of a solid understanding by nature; magnanimous and generous, liberal 1 had almost said to excess, sympathizing with distress of every Tdnd, and severe only to himself; a man of that open, frank, ingenuous temper, which is so proper to conciliate friendship ; a determined enemy of vice, and of acknowledged piety in all his intentions! Yet we have seen him exposed to the keenest shafts of calumny, expelled with unrelenting rage by the united efforts of the court, the nobility, the clergy of his own diocese, and the bishops of other dioceses. What is to be said? His successor Atticus lived long in peace; and, by a cautious conduct preserved the good will of men in general; though he had joined in the persecution of Chrysostom. Sisinnius too, the Novatian, had in a degree joined in the same opposition. Both these men, however, by elegant and affable manners, conciliated the good will of man, and seem to have passed through life without any persecution. Whether men are of the general church, or of the dissenters, it matters not: the favour or the enmity of mankind depends not on such external distinctions. What either of these two did in opposing sin, I know not; nor is there enough recorded of them to fix their characters with certainty. With Chrysostom, who was evidently their superior in holiness and virtue, we have seen liow hard it fared. He was choleric, and too vehement, no doubt; but he knew the importance of divine things, and was, therefore, much in earnest, and the best charity was, doubtless, at the bottom of all his zeal. If the world naturally loved what was good, could it not have thrown a candid veil over one fault, the frequent attendant of the most upright minds ? Should it lavish its favours on men of ambiguous virtue and pusillanimous prudence ? Certainly it seeth not as God seeth; it loves flattery and approves the decent appearance of virtue; not plain truth, not genuine virtue. Such seems the just conclusion from the case: real godliness, under Christian as well as heathen governments, is hated, dreaded, and persecuted. And the important doctrine of our native depravity is confirmed by such events, and proves itself to the senses of mankind.
I miss my aim in this history, if I show not the constant connexion between the doctrines of the Gospel and holy practice. This connexion is sufficiently plain in the history of Chrysostom : though, had he known divine truth more exactly, and entered more experimentally into the spirit of the Gospel, he would have been more humble, and would have known better how to govern his own temper.
This great man, however, Though Dead, Yet Speaks by his works. He laboured much in expounding the Scriptures, and though not copious in the exhibition of evangelical truth, still he every where shows that he loved it*. On those words of the Apostle, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, he says, " What a saying !— what mind can comprehend it? He made a just person a sinner, that he might make sinners just. But the Apostle's language is still stronger: He doth not say, he made him a sinner, but sin,—that
* Hom. 2, on ad Ivpis. to Cor. chap. v.
Chap- we might be made, not righteous, but righteousness. l- even the righteousness of God. For it is of God» since not of works (which would require spotless perfection) but by grace we are justified, where all sin is blotted out." Here is a plain testimony to the Christian doctrine of justification, and under this shelter, this holy man, no doubt, found rest for his own soul.
Those who think every thing too much which is bestowed on a minister of Christ, may read a just defence of the maintenance of pastors, and a proper rebuke of their own uncharitableness, in his comment on Philippians, chapter the eleventh. On the fourth chapter of Thessalonians, in opening the Apostle's direction against fornication, he forcibly rebukes the prudential avarice of many parents, who protract the marriage of their sons, till they are far advanced in life. In the mean time they are led into various temptations; and if they do marry afterwards, are too much corrupted by vicious habits, to behave with that decorum in the marriage-state, which they might have done in more early life. lie recommends, therefore, early marriages; and the advice deserves the more attention, as coming from a man, who often expresses his admiration of the monastic life, which, however, he does without throwing any reproach on matrimony.
In occasionally speaking of that passage of St . Paul to"[the Romans, " it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth*," he introduces the doctrine of free-will, in the same manner as most of the fathers did, who spake of it at all, from the days of Justin, and observes, that the whole is said to be of God, because the greatest part is. So hard pressed is he with the plain words of the Apostle, which are directly opposite to the system he had imbibed. But Platonic philosophy had done this mischief to
* In his exposition on Hebrews, 7th chapter.
the Church, to the great hurt of Christian faith and humility*.
The chief use of his Treatise on the Priesthood, is to excite in young minds a serious awe with respect to the danger of miscarrying in an office so important and so sacred, and to check the levity and presumption with which so many undertake- it! He lays down, however, some good views of the difficulty of steering clear of extremes, in suiting instructions to particular cases, in checking impertinent curiosity, and in directing the people to useful objects.
The practical views of this writer, so far as they relate to the regulation of the conduct, are the most striking. Having lived in two great imperial cities, where plays and shows were very frequent, he earnestly inveighed against those disorders. He calls the stage an academy of incontinence. " What harm, say you, is there in going to a play ? Is that sufficient to keep one from the Communion ? I ask you, can there be a more shameless sin, than to come to the holy table denied with adultery ? Hear the words of him who is to be our Judge. Jesus Christ saith, whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. What can be said of those, who passionately spend whole days in those places, in looking on women of ill fame : with what face will they pretend to say, they did not behold them to lust after them.—They see women adorned on purpose to inspire lust. If, in the church itself, where Psalms are sung, the Scripture is read, and the fear of the Almighty appears, lust will creep in like a
thief, how shall the frequenters of the stage* overcome the motions of concupiscence ?
* It may be worth while just to mention, that he pathetically rebukes the sloth and negligence of parents and masters, who would throw all the work of instruction on ministers, and do nothing themselves for the spiritual benefit of their household. A plain thought, but how true at this day !