What is one to say to the disorders in the other Churches? For the evil did not stop even here, but made its way to the east. For as when some evil humor is discharged from the head, all the other parts are corrupted, so now also these evils, having originated in this great city as from a fountain, confusion has spread in every direction, and clergy have everywhere made insurrection against bishops, there has been schism between bishop and bishop, people and people, and will be yet more; every place is suffering from the throes of calamity, and the subversion of the whole civilized world. Having been informed then of all these things, my lords, most honourable and devout, exhibit the courage and zeal which becomes you, so as to put a stop to this great assault of lawlessness which has been made upon the Churches. For if this custom were to prevail, and it became lawful for any persons who desired it to enter strange dioceses, so widely separated, and expel those whom one wished to remove, and do whatever they pleased according to their own arbitrary power, be assured that all things will go to ruin, and an implacable kind of war will overrun the whole world, all men attacking others, and being in turn attacked. Therefore to prevent such confusion overtaking the whole earth yield to our entreaties that ye will signify by writing that these lawless transactions executed in our absence, and after hearing one side only, although we did not decline a trial, are invalid, as indeed they are by the very nature of the case, and that those who are convicted of having committed such iniquities must be subjected to the penalty of the ecclesiastical laws; and for ourselves, who have not been detected or convicted, or proved liable to punishment may we continue to have the benefit of your correspondence, and your love, and all other things which we have enjoyed aforetime. But if even now those who have committed such lawless acts are willing to disclose the charges on the strength of which they have unjustly expelled us, neither memoranda, nor formal bills of indictment being given, nor the accusers having appeared: yet if an impartial tribunal is formed, we will submit to be tried, and will make our defence, and prove ourselves guiltless of the things laid to our charge, as indeed we are: for the things which they have done are outside the bounds of every kind of order, and every kind of ecclesiastical law and canon. And why do I say ecclesiastical canon? Not even in the heathen courts would such audacious deeds ever have been committed, or rather not even in a barbarian court, neither Scythians, nor Sarmatians would ever have judged a cause in this fashion, deciding it after hearing one side only, in the absence of the accused, who only deprecated enmity, not a trial of his case, who was ready to call any number of judges, asserting himself to be innocent and able to clear himself of the charges in the face of the world, and prove himself guiltless in every respect.
Having considered therefore all these things, and having been clearly informed of all particulars by my lords, our most devout brethren the bishops, may you be induced to exert your zeal on our behalf; for in so doing ye will confer a favour not upon ourselves alone but also upon the Church at large, and ye will receive your reward from God who does all things for the peace of the Churches. Fare thee well always, and pray for me, most honoured and holy master.
To Innocent, Bishop of Rome, Greeting in the Lord.
Our body it is true is settled in one place, but the pinion of love wings its way round every part of the world. Even so we also although we be separated by a journey of such great extent are nigh to your Piety, and in daily communion with you, beholding with the eyes of love the courage of your soul, the sterling nature of your disposition, your firmness and inflexibility, the great consolation, constant and abiding, which you bestow upon us. For in proportion as the billows mount higher, and concealed reefs increase, and the hurricanes are many does your vigilance wax stronger: and neither the great length of the journey between us, nor the large amount of time consumed, nor the difficulty in dealing with events has disposed you to become supine: but ye continue to imitate the best class of pilots who are on the alert at those times most especially when they see the waves crested, the sea swelling, the water dashing vehemently, and the deepest darkness in day-time. Therefore also we feel great gratitude towards you, and we long to send you showers of letters, thus affording ourselves the greatest gratification. But since we are deprived of this, owing to the desolation of the place; (for not only of those who arrive from your regions, but even of those who dwell in our part of the world no one could easily have intercourse with us, both on account of the distance, the spot in which we are confined being situated at the very extremity of the country, and also the terror of robbers acting as a bar to the whole journey:) we beseech you rather to pity us because of our long silence, than to condemn us for indolence on that account. For as a proof that our silence has not been due to negligence, we have now at last after a long time secured our most honoured and beloved John the presbyter, and Paul the deacon, and we send a letter through them, and continue to express our gratitude to you, that you have surpassed even affectionate parents in your good will and zeal concerning us. And indeed so far as your Piety is concerned all things would have been duly amended, and the accumulation of evils and offences have been swept away, and the Churches would have enjoyed peace and a glassy calm, and all things would have floated along with a smooth stream, and the despised laws and violated decrees of the fathers would have been vindicated. But since in reality none of these things has taken place, they who perpetrated the former deeds striving to aggravate their former iniquities, I omit any detailed narrative of their subsequent proceedings: for the narrative would exceed the limits not merely of a letter but even of a history; only this I beseech your vigilant soul, even if they who have filled everything with confusion be impenitently and incurably corrupt, let not those who have undertaken to cure them become faint-hearted or despondent, when they consider the magnitude of the thing to be accomplished. For the contest now before you has to be fought on behalf of nearly the whole world, on behalf of Churches humbled to the ground, of people dispersed, of clergy assaulted, of bishops sent into exile, of ancestral laws violated. Wherefore we beseech your Diligence, once, twice, yea many times, in proportion as the storm increases, to manifest still greater zeal. For we expect that something more will be done for the purpose of amending these wrongs. But even if this should not take place, ye at least have your crown made ready for you by the merciful God, and the resistance offered by your love will be no small consolation to those who are wronged: for now that we are passing the third year of our sojourn in exile exposed to famine, pestilence, wars, continual sieges, indescribable solitude, daily death, and Isaurian swords, we are not a little encouraged and comforted by the constant and abiding nature of your disposition and confidence, and by revelling in your abundant and genuine love. This is our wall of defence, this is our security, this our calm haven, this our treasure of infinite blessings, this our gladness, and ground of much joy. And even if we should be carried off again to some spot more desolate than this, we shall carry this love away with us as no small consolation of our sufferings.
To the Beloved Brother John, Innocent.
Although the innocent man ought to expect all good things, and to crave mercy from God, nevertheless we also, counselling resignation, have sent an appropriate letter by the hands of Cyriacus the deacon; so that insolence may not have more power in oppressing, than a good conscience has in retaining hope. For thou who art the teacher and pastor of so many people needest 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: and certainly conscience is a strong defence against all things which unjustly befall us: and unless any one conquer these by patient endurance he supplies an argument for evil surmising. For he ought to endure all things who trusts first of all in God, and then in his own conscience; seeing that the noble and good man can be specially trained to endurance, inasmuch as the holy Scriptures guard his mind; and the sacred lessons which we deliver to the people abound in examples, testifying as they do that nearly all the saints have been continually oppressed in divers ways, and are tested as by a kind of scrutiny, and so attain to the crown of patience. Let conscience itself console thy love, most honoured brother, which in affliction supplies the consolation of virtue. For under the eye of the Master Christ, the conscience, having been purged, will find rest in the haven of peace.
Innocent, Bishop, to presbyters and deacons, and to all the clergy and people of the church of Constantinople, the brethren beloved who are subject to the Bishop John, greeting.
From the letters of your love which ye have sent by the hands of Germanus the presbyter, and Casianus the deacon, I have studied with anxious care the scene of calamity which ye have placed before my eyes, and by repeated perusal of your description I thoroughly perceived under what great distress and toil your faith is labouring: and this is a matter which can be cured only by the consolation of patience: for our God will speedily grant an end to such great afflictions, and He will aid you in your endurance of these things. Moreover whilst praising the statement of your case which contains many testimonies encouraging to patience I notice this necessary consolation placed at the beginning of the epistle of your love: for the consolation which we ought to have written to you, ye have anticipated by your letter. For this is the kind of patience which our Master is wont to supply to those who are in distress, in order that the servants of Christ when they are in affliction may console themselves by reflecting that the things which they themselves are suffering have happened to the saints also in former times. And we also from your letter shall be able to derive consolation: for we are not estranged from sympathy with you, inasmuch as we also are chastised in your persons. For who will be able to endure the offences committed by those men who ought to be specially zealous promoters of the tranquillity of the Church and of concord itself. At the present time, by a perversion of custom, guiltless priests are expelled from the presidency of their own Churches. And this is what your chief brother, and fellow minister, John, your bishop has unjustly suffered, not having obtained any hearing: no crime is charged against him, none is heard. And what is the object of this iniquitous device? that no pretext for a trial may occur, or be sought, other men are introduced into the places of living priests, as if those who start from an offence of this description could be judged by any one to have anything good or to have done anything right.7 For we understand that such deeds have never been perpetrated by our fathers; or rather that they were prevented by the fact that no one had authority given him to ordain another to take the place of one who was still living. For a spurious ordination cannot deprive the priest of his rank: seeing that neither can he be a bishop who is wrongfully substituted for another. And as regards the observance of the canons we lay it down that we ought to follow those, which were defined at Nicaea, to which alone the Catholic Church is bound to pay obedience and recognition. And if others are brought forward by certain men, which are at variance with the canons framed at Nicaea, and are proved to have been composed by heretics, let them be rejected by the Catholic bishops. For the inventions of heretics ought not to be appended to the Catholic canons; for by their adverse and unlawful decrees they are always intending to weaken the design of the canons of Nicaea. Not only therefore do we say that these ought not to be followed, but rather that they should be condemned amongst heretical and schismatic decrees, as was formerly done in the Council of Sardica by the bishops who were before us.8 For it were more fitting, most honoured brethren, that good deeds should be condemned than that things done in direct opposition to the canons should have any validity. But what are we to do against such things at the present time? A synodical decision of them is necessary, and we have long declared that a synod ought to be convened, as it is the only means of allaying the agitation of such tempests as these: and if we obtain this it is expedient that the healing of these evils should be committed to the will of the great God, and His Christ our Lord. All the disturbances then which have been caused by the envy of the devil for the probation of the faithful will be mitigated; through the firmness of our faith we ought not to despair of anything from the Lord. For we ourselves also are considering much by what means the oecumenical synod may be brought together in order that by the will of God these disturbing movements may be brought to an end. Let us therefore endure for a while, and fortified by the wall of patience let us hope that all things may be restored to us by the assistance of our God. Moreover all things which ye say ye have undergone we have learned by accurate enquiry from our fellow bishops who have already taken refuge in Rome, although for the most part at different times, that is to say, Demetrius, Cyriacus, Eulysius and Palladius, who are here with us.
Homilies Concerning the Statues.
Addressed to the People of Antioch
The Oxford Translation and Notes, Revised by Rev. W. R. W. Stephens, M.a., Prebendary of Chichester Cathedral, and Rector of Woolbeding, Sussex.
Preface to the Benedictine Edition.
1. Among the events which occurred in the time of John Chrysostom,1 there is none more memorable than that sedition of the inhabitants of Antioch, in which the Statues of the Emperor Theodosius and Flacilla his wife were thrown down and dragged about the city, at which Theodosius was so exasperated, as even to think of destroying the city entirely. This afforded ample matter for our Chrysostom to exercise his powers of preaching. For as the people of Antioch were fluctuating between hope and fear (sudden accidents offering of course daily some fresh cause for hope or alarm) Chrysostom, compelled as he was to adapt his style to circumstances as they arose, almost always without preparation, delivered on the spur of the occasion these Homilies, which are certainly well deserving of admiration. At one time his object here is to console a people struggling with present distress; at another, to strengthen minds that were sinking under the extremity of danger; and above all, by repeated admonition, to persuade the people of Antioch, on occasion of the threatened calamities, to correct the vices and to wipe away the crimes that had thus provoked God’s wrath; which endeavour on the part of Chrysostom certainly ended in results aggreable to his desire, as he sometimes acknowledges.
2. But the cause of this great sedition was, according to the testimony of Zosimus, excess of taxation, which was daily inventing new imposts; an exaction required either for the celebration of the fifth year upon which Arcadius had entered, from the time he was proclaimed under the title of Augustus, and the tenth year of the Emperor Theodosius, commencing in the year 388, or for the expenses of the war against the tyrant Maximus,2 or on account of both these events, as well as for other necessities of the state. The people of Antioch, that is to say, the superior class of the citizens, dismayed at the burden of this impost, first approached the prefect, and with tears lamented the excess of the tax that had been announced, and implored the Divine assistance. And next, a multitude of vagabonds and foreigners of the lowest class of the people,3 in a state of excited feeling, broke out into deeds of violence. At first they turned every thing upside down in the public baths; hence they proceeded to the prefect’s palace, and attacked the doors and windows, and were scarcely repelled, when they turned their rage in another direction, and attacked the painted tablets of the Emperors with stones, covered them with filth, and reduced them to a ruinous condition, while they loaded the Augusti themselves with curses and reproaches. At length they threw down the Statues of the Emperor Theodosius and Flacilla his deceased wife,4 and dragged them through the streets of the city; and had already commenced further outrages, when they were put down by a band of archers, dispatched from the prefect. The sedition being thus extinguished, fear took the place of madness, and the expectation of impending punishment caused the burdensome tax that had been imposed to be entirely forgotten. What followed afterwards will be narrated below in the review of the Homilies. Something must now be said as to the year of the sedition, in which these Homilies were delivered.
3. Dismissing the narrative of Sozomen and Theodoret, according to whose account, this sedition, and the delivery of these discourses, must have been after the war against Maximus, learned men, and Tillemont especially (at length in note 27 appended to his Life of the Emperor Theodosius) have proved from far more certain notes of time, that these events took place before the war against Maximus. In opposition to that former opinion, he produces a most convincing argument from Chrysostom’s own words, who in the sixteenth Homily (No. 2.), testifies that this was the second year since he had begun to preach; but he began when he was first ordained presbyter at the end of the year 385, or at the beginning of 386. Wherefore these discourses ought to be attributed either to the year 388, or rather 387. For the former opinion Baronius contends, and after him, Petavius and Henry Valesius, who assign them to the 388, for this reason, that the tenth year of the reign of Theodosius then commenced, for the celebration of which the tax before mentioned was imposed. But what is adduced from Libanius for the defence of this opinion is full of perplexity,5 and is capable of being twisted to suport either opinion. A still more certain indication than any of these is gathered from the circumstance, that the Emperor Theodosius was certainly at Constantinople during the winter and Lent of the year 387, in which year also the sedition must necessarily have occurred; for at the time of the sedition he was most certainly staying at Constantinople,6 but on the other hand at the same season in the year immediately following, he was living at Thessalonica. But what is alleged to the contrary from the celebration of the tenth year of Theodosius, which commenced in the year 388, amounts, as I said, to nothing; since it is evident from the Fasti of Idatius and of Marcellinus, that he anticipated by one year the celebration of the tenth year of his reign, in order that he might celebrate his tenth together with his son Arcadius, who entered upon the fifth year of his reign in 387; just in the same manner as Maximianus Herculius did, when he celebrated the twentieth, though it was only the eighteenth, year of his reign, along with Diocletion, whose twentieth year of empire it was.7
4. But another and not a less difficulty arises, which has been already treated of in the Preface to the work, “Against the Jews;” viz. that in a certain discourse against the Jews, held in the month of September of the year 386, Chrysostom in reproving many of the Christians at Antioch who fasted and kept Easter8 with the Jews, or at the same time observed by the Jews, “Behold,” saith he, “the first day of unleavened bread in this year falls on Sunday, and it is necessary that we should fast throughout the whole week, and after the Passion is past, and the Cross and the Resurrection arrived,9 we should continue fasting; and very often the same thing occurs, that after the Passion has passed away, and the Cross and the Resurrection arrived, we are still keeping the fast, the week being not yet finished.” From these words it is further evident, that those Christians, who acted as Jews in keeping the fast and celebrating the Passover, must sometimes have fasted when other Christians were celebrating the Paschal feast, and at other times not so; for example, they fasted on the day of the Resurrection when the Jews celebrated the feast of the Passover later than the rest of the Christians did, but they did not fast when the Jews celebrated the same feast earlier than the Christians. But in the discourse of Chrysostom above mentioned, and held about the month of September of the year 386, he is doubtless treating of Lent and Easter of the year 387. But in that year, according to the Paschal tables, the feast fell on the 25th of April, that is to say, as late as it can possible occur. How then could these judaizing Christians be fasting this year during the Paschal feast, and celebrate that feast too late, when this could not occur later than on the 25th of April, on which day the other nonjudaizing Christians celebrated it this year, at least if the Paschal tables are to be relied upon? This is certainly a very great difficulty; but one which, as Tillemont himself confesses, is not sufficient to overturn the marks of the period by which we assign the Homily, “Against the Jews,” to the month of September, in the year 386. For as we have said in the Preface to the Homilies against the Jews, it has not yet been made out to us so certainly, whether the people of Antioch always followed by an invariable rule the Alexandrian reckoning as to the Feast of the Lord’s Passover, nd if they had always followed it, can we affirm that they never fell into error in their reckoning? Certainly the persons best skilled in the Paschal reckonings, whom I have consulted, have admitted that an error of this sort sometimes does happen in such reckonings, and did happen not many years since; and that it is not always safe to prefer the Paschal indications to any other notes of time.
5. Tillemont, however, who notices this kind of difficulty, and discusses it in his notes to the Life of Chrysostom, where he treats of the Homilies against the Jews, has not mentioned it in the notes to the Life of the Emperor Theodosius, where he arranges these Homilies of Chrysostom to the people of Antioch as if the Feast of Easter had fallen on the 25th of April, as the Paschal tables have it. The first Homily therefore he places a little before the sedition; but the sedition on the 26th of February, ten days before Lent, which at Antioch began on the Monday of our Quinquagesima, falling that year on the 8th of March. The second Homily either on the Thursday, or the Saturday before Lent; viz. on the 6th of March, the eighth day after the sedition. The third on the following Sunday, the 7th of March, or thereabout. The fourth, on the Monday following, March 8. The fifth, on Tuesday, March 9. The sixth, about the next Wednesday, on March 10. The seventh, on Thursday, March 11. The eighth, on Friday, March 12. The ninth on the Monday of the second week in Lent, March 15. The tenth, after the lapse of a few days. The eleventh, (considering it transposed,) on the Monday of the fourth week in Lent, March 29. The twelfth, on the following Tuesday, March 30. The thirteenth, on the following Wednesday, March 31. The fourteenth, a little after that one which is numbered the eighteenth, which was delivered on the fifth Sunday in Lent, April 5. The fifteenth, on the Saturday of the second week in Lent, or March 20. The sixteenth, on the third Saturday in Lent, March 21. The seventeenth, about the end of the fourth week in Lent. The eighteenth, Sunday, April 5, or thereabout. The nineteenth, after the fourteenth, about April 11. The twentieth, on Easter Day, April 25. The twenty-first, about the same time as the twenty-second following it, which was delivered on the Friday after Passion Sunday, April 16.10 Thus does Tillemont endeavour to restore with the utmost accuracy the deranged order of these Homilies. Whilst however we agree with him in many things, we are compelled to differ from him in others. The order of the Homilies, as he lays it down, we may here further represent in one tabular view.