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with which he arose on the wings of eloquence to the survey of divine subjects. Yet he is very far from permitting-as does Ephrem Syrus-this loftiness of speech to prevail throughout a discourse. It is rather one of his chief excellences and one of the clearest proofs of his thorough acquaintance with the oratorical art, that his discourses present great alternation of manner; the gentle and the forcible, the grave and the sprightly, the towering and the lowly, entreaty and rebuke, warning and consolation, so intermingled and so skilfully expressed, that the hearers' hearts were seized at every point, and all the powers of their souls most vividly challenged. This effect was the greater in consequence of his adroitness in turning to account passing events, whether in church or State, in the city or the congregation, in families or among individuals, and even occurrences which took place in the house of God during the discourse. His discourses were peculiarly the growth of occasions. The greater part, and the most distinguished of them, arose from circumstances existing at the time in the community. Even when no such special occasion suggested a subject, he yet endeavored to direct his hearers to the consideration of individual virtues or vices, instead of dissipating their attention by wide and general themes; for he well knew, that very general themes can neither be fully treated, nor make an enduring impression.1
Finally, we must not forget his astonishing richness in imagery, examples and comparisons, as imparting to his discourses so much lucidness, power of impression, and variety.
With all his great excellences, Chrysostom was not free from very important faults. These must be ascribed, mainly, to the too unrestrained vividness of his imagination, to his having studied under a heathen sophist, to his long residence with the monks who maintained opinions more or less perverted, to the spirit which marked the preaching of his age, and, lastly, to his preaching with too much frequency.2 Still, they are faults; and ought carefully to be exhibited for caution's sake, since he has been so extensively admired as the most complete model of sacred elo
1 He himself expresses the idea, that the art of limiting himself to a small compass in his sermons, and of exhausting a subject, was one of his principal endow
2 He preached very often. Thus he says himself in his 5th Homily to the people of Antioch: "Though I preached on this subject [the using of oaths] yesterday and the day before, I shall yet continue on the same subject to-day, and tomorrow, and the day following."
Faults in manner of Thinking and Style.
Though he distinguished himself in the interpretation of the Scriptures above the most of his contemporaries, yet he is here occasionally in fault. Sometimes, through ignorance of the Hebrew language, he adopts the errors of the Septuagint; then again, he does violence to the language of Scripture from compliance with the current doctrinal opinions of his age.
The definitions which he proposes are often very vague, and include matter irrelevant and erroneous. He not only takes partial views of subjects, but also deduces from such views consequences quite unjustifiable. Related ideas he confounds with one another, and does not, with sufficient accuracy, separate the true from the false.
Many of his doctrinal and practical principles are open to a similar remark. With all his strength and liberality of mind, he was still a child of the age in which he lived and partook, in many respects, of its errors. Were not the external form of his panegyrics and treatises on the martyrs and their relics, on virginity and monasticism, quite as good as that of his other productions, one could hardly believe that a man who wrote so much that is truly valuable could have framed such distorted views of religion.
In the style the materials and the structure of his discourses, there are also important faults. Of these, deserves first to be mentioned the extreme to which he often carries the effort to be perspicuous. His natural copiousness in words and forms of speech, and his desire to be universally understood, mislead him frequently to explanations of things which are already sufficiently intelligible, to an accumulation of objections, in order to refute them, which no hearer would be disposed to make, and to repetitions, which are indeed mostly concealed under new forms of speech, but which are nevertheless repetitions of thoughts that he has already employed with sufficient clearness and energy. His discourses often become, consequently, prolix and lack variety.
To the same category belongs a too careful elaborating of scenes and descriptions in which he knew not where to stop; also, an excessive amassing of examples and comparisons, which at length become tedious, as only presenting one and the same thing under too many forms of speech. No orator is, generally, more happy in comparisons. Still, he often employs such as are wholly incorrect, and even such as from their very nature, do not admit of the supposed resemblances.1
'We should consider, however, that Chrysostom's discourses were designed for
Further, in order to present a subject in the most favorable light possible, he does not hesitate to magnify it excessively, and in contrast with it to lessen below any just estimate other subjects, whether virtues, men, or external conditions, while at another time he estimates these latter not less highly. Akin to this is his propensity to magnify beyond propriety what is really admirable and sublime, and thus necessarily to weaken its force.
Unworthy also of an orator so rich in thought is the playing on words to which he sometimes descends. He occasionally employs a word in a double sense, in senses really diverse, and even directly opposite; then again, he does violence to the various significations of a word so long as to make them seem to fit one and the same thing.
It was a favorite practice among the preachers of Chrysostom's time, to embellish their discourses with quite too many allegories; and they regarded these as the most beautiful and best parts of their productions. He is free from this fault. His allegories are not too frequent, nor are they forced. He does, however, often extend them much too far, and mingles one with another; so that this part of a discourse becomes constrained, unnatural and difficult of apprehension. In embellishments generally, he does not sufficiently restrict himself. Impelled by the prevailing taste of his hearers and by his own exuberant fancy, he is often lavish of tropes, images, and other means which, when discreetly employed, impart beauty and agreeableness to a discourse. And yet, through the perpetual recurrence of many favorite figures, his treatment of a subject, usually so diversified, lacks comprehension and ful
Such are the chief faults in Chrysostom's discourses. While they are sufficiently important to require notice, the shade which they cast is far from being deep enough to obscure the brilliancy of his productions.
hearers, not for readers. Consequently, though some of his comparisons will not bear close inspection, yet as presented to an audience whose minds were engrossed with the subject and the occasion, they doubtless led the hearers to the single point of resemblance aimed at by the preacher, while the incongruities would not arrest their attention.-TR.
In Reinhard, likewise, this fault is of frequent occurrence. As with Chrysostom, so with him, the virtue of which he is at any time treating is the source, the root, the mother of all good; while the vice against which he may be warning is, beyond comparison, the most detestable and abominable.
List of Chrysostom's Writings.
List of Chrysostom's principal productions.- Comparative Estimate of them. Their general Characteristics.
The extant Homilies and other discourses of Chrysostom are so many, that only the titles of the principal ones can be here mentioned. They were in part prepared for the public by himself; in part, copied by clerical scribes. In early times, a number of homilies and discourses bore his name, which were not his. Many of such works were wholly unworthy of him, and were as. cribed to him through a complete ignorance of the style of preaching which prevailed in the fourth century; of others, on the contrary, as being productions of distinguished men of his time, he would have had no reason to be ashamed. The best editors of his collected works, however, Morell, Saville and Montfaucon have separated the genuine works from the spurious, and have assigned the latter, in part, to their proper authors. This task has been continued in later years by other learned men, and is not yet completed.
To the indisputably genuine works belong the following, arranged according to their probable order of time: Twelve discourses against the Anomoians on the Incomprehensibility of God; eight against the Jews and the heathen, maintaining the Divinity of Christ; seven homilies on Lazarus; twenty-one on the Statues to the people of Antioch; nine on Repentance; seven panegyrics on the apostle Paul, and twenty-five on the Saints and Martyrs; thirty-four homilies principally on individual passages of the New Testament; sixty-seven on Genesis; nine discourses on Genesis; sixty homilies on the Psalms; six on Isaiah; ninety are on Matthew; eighty-seven on John; twenty-five on the Acts; thirty-two on Romans; forty-four on 1 Corinthians and thirty on 2 Corinthians; twenty-four on Ephesians; fifteen on Philippians; twelve on Colossians; eleven on 1 Thessalonians and five on 2 Thessalonians; eighteen on 1 Timothy and ten on 2 Timothy; six on Titus; three on Philemon; thirteen on Hebrews. Besides these are many festival and occasional discourses. The occasional discourses which are most important in a historic view are those which relate to his two exiles.
Of these works, the following are particularly distinguished and may be remarked as peculiarly good: The seven homilies on Lazarus, the twenty-one on the Statues, the fifth on Repentance, the nine on Genesis (not to be confounded with the sixty-seven
on Genesis), the three on David and Saul, those on the Psalms and those on Matthew.
Of single productions, the following deserve special mention: The Homily on New Year's Day; on the parable of the Debtors; on the words: If thine enemy hunger, etc.; on Alms; on Future Happiness; the first on Eutropius; on Forsaking the Church to attend the Theatre; besides separate panegyrics on Saints and Martyrs. In general, the discourses preached at Antioch are better than the later ones, as their author had there more time for pulpit preparation. The extemporaneous also, taken collectively, stand last in value.
From the preceding enumeration it appears, that Chrysostom's works consist, mostly, of homilies; and these, on entire books of Scripture. This class of homilies belongs to the most diffuse and inartificial sort of addresses for the pulpit. In these he follows the order of the text, step by step, and connects with the separ ate verses and clauses instructive observations, which taken as disconnected passages, are as eloquent as any in his larger works. Whenever he was desirous to impress a particular subject on his hearers, suggested by the time or circumstances of the address, he introduced it at the beginning, the middle, or the close of the exposition, just as suited his feelings, without regard to the inquiry, whether it was appropriate to the passage under consideration. These homilies have, therefore, not much value, as specimens of art, in a collective view, but only in the individual parts.
In another class of his homilies is an approach to an arrangement according to art; those for instance, which, like the seven on Lazarus, have reference, as a series, to one and the same passage of Scripture. Those, however, in which he employs a passage as the ground-work for one sole occasion, present the most orderly structure. Each of such discourses opens with an introduction almost always too long, though commonly displaying with brilliancy much oratorical skill and power. Then follows the treatment of the subject, which, however, has very seldom a logical distribution, but presents such a series of thoughts as spontaneously arose in the author's mind while reflecting on the subject. Hence, we seek in vain for that accurate and skilfully adjusted arrangement, that similarity of structure in the separate parts of the discourse, which is required by the moderns, and which, indeed, has its foundation in the very nature of oratorical compositions.
Chrysostom does not hesitate to make very long digressions to topics entirely foreign as well from his text, as from his particular