CHRYSOSTOM

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CHRYSOSTOM, John, St.; a celebrated father of the church, born in Antioch, in the year 344. Secundus, his father, had the command of the imperial troops in Syria. In those times, eloquence was still the means of obtaining the highest honors in Greece. Chrysostom studied this art, with Libanius, the most famous orator of his time, and soon excelled his master. After having studied philosophy with Andragathius, he devoted himself to the Holy Scriptures, and determined upon quitting the world, and on consecrating his life to God in the deserts of Syria. At the age of 20, he conducted a legal case with extraordinary success; but he soon retired from public business, and, by fasting and penance, endeavored to obtain the mastery of his passions. He remained three years in Antioch. He was united, by the ties of an intimate friendship, with Basil, Theodore, afterwards bishop of Mopsuesta, and with Maximus, subsequently bishop of Seleucia. Theodore having quitted for a time his holy vocation, Chrysostom wrote two beautiful exhortations, in order to recall him to his duty. The bishops of the provinces had determined on electing him or Basil as bishop; but Chrysostom fled, and concealed himself; consequently Basil was elected, who complained, however, much of his friend's withdrawal. Chrysostom defended himself in his beautiful work on the office of priests. He was then only 26 years old. In 374, he retired to the anchorites who dwelt on the mountains in the vicinity of Antioch. He described the life which he led with them in the following manner:" They rise witfc the first crowing of the cock, or at midnight. After having read psalms and hymns in common, each, in his separate cell, is occupied in reading the Holy Scriptures, or in copying books. Then they proceed to church, and, after mass, return quietly to their habitations. They never speak to each other; their nourishment is bread and salt; some add oil to it, and the invalids vegetables. After meals, they rest a few moments, and then return to their usual occupations. They till the ground, fell wood, make baskets and clothes., juid wash the feet of travellers. Their bed is a mat spread on the ground; their dress consists of skins, or cloths made of the hair of*goats and camels. They go barefooted, have no property, and never pronounce the words mine and thine. Undisturbed peace dwells in their habitations, and a cheerfulness scarcely known in the world." After four years, Chrysostom quitted these hermits to seek a still greater seclusion. He dwelt in a cavern, where he remained two years without lying down. His penance and wakefulness, together with the dampness of his abode, threw him into a severe illness, which forced him to return to Antioch (381). In the same year, he was appointed deacon by the bishop of Antioch, and, in 386, consecrated priest. He was chosen vicar by the same dignitary, and commissioned to preach the word of God to the people. Till then, the bishops only had instructed the people in the gospel. His eloquence attracted Jews, heathens and heretics. He was, says Sozomenes, the ornament of his church, and of the whole East, when the emperor Arcadius determined, in 397, to place him in the episcopal see of Constantinople. To prevent the inhabitants of Antioch from opposing his intentions, the emperor caused him to be secretly conveyed to Constantinople, where Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria, ordained him. He commenced his official labors by limiting the expenses of his house, founded and supported many hospitals, improved the morals of the clergy, and converted a number of heathens and heretics. He gave so generously to the poor, that he was universally called John the almsgiver. He devoted himself to attendance on the sick. He sent bishops as missionaries to the Goths, to the Scythians, and to Persia and Palestine. His eloquence twice prevented an insurrection. In 399, Chrysostom held a council in Constantinople, at which several Asiatic bishops were deposed as guilty of simony Severin, bishop of Gabala, in Syria, dared to attack Chrysostom from the pulpit, and to stir up the people against him; but his charges were rejected as calumnies. Chrysostom had two dangerous enemies the empress Eudoxia, whose injustice and extortions gave cause to many complaints ; and Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria, who was jealous of his influence. The latter assembled several bishops at Chalcedon, who were to investigate the complaints made against Chrysostom. But he refused to appear, alleging that they had acted against the laws of the church ; and, on his part, assembled 40 bishops at Constantinople. His enemies, however, prevailed. His removal was determined upon, and sanctioned by Arcadius, who banished him from the country. Chrysostom quitted the city secretly, that he might not be prevented by his adherents, and purposed retiring to Bithynia; but the people threatened a revolt. In the following night, an earthquake gave general alarm. In this dilemma, Arcadius recalled his orders, and Eudoxia herself invited Chrysostom to return. The people accompanied him triumphantly to the city, his enemies fled, and peace was restored, but only for a short time. A feast, attended with many heathen ceremonies, for the consecration of a statue, given by the empress, roused the zeal of the archbishop, who publicly exclaimed against it; and Eudoxia, violently incensed, recalled the prelates devoted to her will, and Chrysostom was condemned, although 40 bishops declared themselves in his favor. Arcadius ordered the soldiers to force him from the church, which was profaned and stained with blood. Pope Innocent I and the emperor Honorius declared themselves in favor of Chrysostom, but Arcadius refused to assemble the council, on which the others insisted, and commanded Chrysostom peremptorily to retire to the place of his banishment. He obeyed, and was conveyed to Nice, in Bithynia (404). Soon after his departure, the church and the palace where the senate used to assemble became a prey to the flames. Many works of art were lost in this conflagration, which the emperor attributed to the friends of Chrysostom. The Isaurians and Huns laid waste the empire. Chrysostom's return was universally desired ; Arcadius remained inflexible. Eudoxia died soon after Chrysostom's banishment, after having fixed upon the little Armenian town Cucusus, in the wilds of Taurus, for his abode. Exhausted by sickness, deprivations, and the fatigues of VOL. IIK 16 his journey, he arrived there, and continued to exert his pious zeal. He sent misr sionaries to Persia and Phoenicia, and wrote 17 letters to Olympias, all of which are moral dissertations. He likewise addressed to her his work entitled, " None can injure him who does not injure himself." All Christendom beheld the pious sufferer with love and admiration; at which the emperor, exasperated, commanded him to be conveyed to the shores of the Pontus Euxinus, to the town of Pityont, situated on its most distant borders. The officers who had him in charge obliged the old man to perform this journey on foot, with his head uncovered, in the burning heat of the sun ; but he fell a prey to exhaustion. In Comana, in Pontus, he was brought to the oratory of the martyr St. Basil. He put on white garments, received the eucharist, uttered a fervent prayer, which he closed, as usual, with the words " Praise be to God for all things," crossed himself, and expired (407), 63 years old. His body was interred at the side of that of St. Basil; but, in 438, it was conveyed solemnly to Constantinople, and there interred in the church of the apostles, in the sepulchre of the emperor. At a later period, his remains were placed in the Vatican at Rome. The Greek church celebrates his feast on the 13th of November, the Roman on the 27th of January. The name of Chrysostom (goldenmouthed) was assigned to him, after his death, to express the eloquence which he possessed in so much greater a degree than the other fathers of the church. He never repeats himself, and is always original. The vivacity and power of his imagination, the force of his logic, his power of arousing the passions, the beauty and accuracy of his comparisons, the neatness and purity of his style, liis clearness and sublimity, place him on a level with the most celebrated Greek authors: the Christian church nas not a more accomplished orator.The most accurate Greek edition of his works is that of Henry Saville (1612, 9 vols, fol.); the most complete Greek and Latin, is that of Montfaucon (Paris, 1618, 13 vols, fol.) Professor Neander, at Berlin, has written a biography of this father of the church, or rather a histoiy of him and his time, entitled St. Chrysostom, a highly esteemed work, full of the important results of the deep researches of its learned author.