Abbildungen der Seite

sessed themselves of all the churches, and proceeded to such extremities that scarcely any of the orthodox dared avow their faith. He first preached in his lodgings to those that repaired thither, and the congregation soon growing numerous, the house was immediately consecrated by Nazianzen, under the name of the church of Anastasia, or the resurrection ; because the catholic faith, which in that city had been hitherto oppressed, here seemed to have its resurrection. The opposition to his measures but increased his fame, together with the number of his auditors, and even drew admirers and followers from foreign parts ; among whom St. Jerom, lately ordained presbyter, came on purpose to put himself under his tutelage and discipline; an honour in which Jerom glories on every occasion. As the catholics grew more considerable, they chose him for their bishop, and the choice was confirmed by Meletus of Antioch, and Peter who succeeded Athanasius at Alexandria ; but he was opposed by the Arians, who consecrating Maximus, a famous cynic philosopher and Christian, gave him a great deal of trouble. The Arian bishop, however, was at length forced to retire, and his successor Demophilus was deposed by the emperor Theodosius, who directed an edict to the people of Constantinople, February 27, 380, re-establishing the orthodox faith; and afterward coming thither in person, he treated Nazianzen with all possible kindness and respect, and appointed a day for his instalment in the see. :

But this ceremony was deferred for the present at his own request; and falling sick soon after, he was visited by crowds of his friends, who all departed when they had made their compliments, except a young man with a pale look, long hair, in squalid and tattered cloaths, who, standing at the bed's feet, made all the dumb signs of the bitterest sorrow and lamentation. Nazianzen, starting, asked hiin, “ Who he was, whence he came, and what he wanted ?" To which he returned no answer, but expressed so much the more passion and resentment, howling, wringing his hands, and beating his breast in such a manner that the bishop himself was moved to tears. Being at length forced aside by one who stood by, he told the bishop, “ This, sir, is the assassin, whom some had suborned to murder you; but his conscience has molested him, and he is here come ingenuously to confess his fault, and to beg your pardon.” The bishop replied, “ Friend, God Almighty be propitious to you, his gracious : preservation of me obliges me freely to forgive you ; the desperate attempt you designed has made you mine, nor do I require any other reparation, than that henceforth you desert your party, and sincerely give up yourself to God.”

Theodosius being higbly solicitous about the peace of the church, summoned a council to meet at Constantinople in May anno 382. This is called the second general council, in which the Nicene Creed was ratified; and, because the article concerning the Holy Ghost was bnt barely mentioned, which was become one of the principal controversies of the age, and for the determination of wbịch the council had been chiefly summoned, the fathers now drew up an explanatory creed, composed, as it is said, by Gregory of Nyssen, and is the same which in our liturgy is called the Nicene Creed. The see of Constantinople was also now placed next in precedence to that of Rome. Our author carried a great sway in that council, where all things went on smoothly, till at last they fell into disturbances on the following occasion,

There had been a schism for some time in the church of Antioch, occasioned by the ordination of two bishops to that see; and one of those, named Melitus, happening to die before the end of the council, Nazianzen proposed to continue the other, named Paulinus, then grown old, for his life. But a strong party being made for one Flavianus, presbyter of the church, these last carried it; and, not content with that, resolved to deprive their grand opposer of his seat at Constantinople. To prevent this he made a formal resignation to the emperor, and went to his paternal estate at Nazianzum, resolving never to episcopize any more; insomuch, that though, at his return, he found the see of Nazianzum still vacant, and over-run with the heresy of Apollinarius, yet he pertinaciously resisted all intreaties that were made to take that charge upon him. And, when he was summoned to the re-assembling of the council the following year, he refused to give bis attendance, and even did not stick to censure all such meetings as factious, and governed by pride and ambition. In the mean time, in defence of his conduct, he wrote letters to the Roman prætorian præfect, and the consul; assuring them, that, though he had withdrawn himself from public affairs, it was not, as some imagined, from any discontent for the loss of the great place he had quitted; and that he would not abandon

the common interests of religion ; that his retirement was a matter of choice more than necessity, in which he took as great pleasure as a man that has been tossed in a long storm at sea does in a safe and quiet harbour. And, indeed, being now freed from all external cares, he entirely gave himself up to solitude and contemplation, and the exercise of a strict and devout life. At vacant hours he refreshed the weariness of his old age with poetry, which he generally employed upon divine subjects, and serious reflections upon the foriner passages of his life ; an ac. count of which he drew up in iambics, whence no inconsiderable part of his memoir is derived. Thus he passed the remainder of his days till his death in the year 389. He made a will, by which, except a few legacies to some relations, he bequeathed his whole estate to the poor of the diocese of Nazianzum. In this spirit, during the three years that he enjoyed the rich bishopric of Constantinople, he never touched any part of the revenues, but gave it all to the poor, to whom he was extremely liberal.

He was one of the ablest champions of the orthodox faith concerning the Trinity, whence he had the title given him of 0.986Xoyos, « The Divine," by unanimous consent. His moral and religious qualities were attended with the natural graces of a sublime wit, subtle apprehension, clear judgment, and easy and ready elocution, which were all set off with as great a stock of human learning as the schools of the East, as Alexandria, or Athens itself, was able to afford. All these excellences are seen in his works, of which we have the following character by Erasmus; who, after have ing enriched the western church with many editions of the ancient fathers, confesses, that he was altogether discouraged froin attempting the translation of Nazianzen, by the acumen and smartness of his style, the grandeur and sublimity of his matter, and those somewhat obscure allusions that are frequently interspersed among his writings, Upon the whole, Erasmus doubts not to affirm, that, as he lived in the most learned age of the church, so he was the best scholar of that age. His works consist of sermons, letters, and poems, the latter evidently imbued with genius, and have been printed in Greek and Latin, Paris, 1609 and 1611, 2 vols. fol. with notes by the learned abbot de Billi, who was also author of the Latin translation. This edition is more esteemed than the new one of 1630. There are some poems by St. Gregory in “Tollii insignia itines rarii Italici,” Utrecht, 1696, 4to, never printed before. 1. · GREGORY (Nyssen), was the younger brother of St. Basil, and had an equal care taken of his education, being brought up in all the polite and fashionable modes of learning; but, applying himself particularly to rhetoric, he yalued himself more upon being accounted an orator than a Christian. On the admonition of his friend Gregory Nazianzen he quitted those studies; and, betaking himself to solitude and a monastic discipline, he turned his attention wholly to the holy scriptures, and the controversies of the age; so that he became as eminent in the knowledge of these as he had before been in the course of more pleasant studies. Thus qualified for the highest dignity in the church, he was placed in the see of Nyssa, a city on the borders of Cappadocia. The exact time of his promotion is not known, though it is certain he was bishop in the year 371. He proved in this station a stout champion for the Nicene faith, and so vigorously opposed the Arian party, that he was soon after banished by the emperor Valens; and, in a synod held at Nyssa by the bishop of Pontus and Galatia, was deposed, and met with very hard usage. He was hurried from place to place, heavily fined, and exposed to the rage and petulance of the populace, which fell heavier upon him, as he was both unused to trouble, and unapt to bear it. In this condition he remained for seven or eight years, during which, however, he went about countermining the stratagems of the Arians, and strengthening those in the orthodox faith ; and in the council of Antioch in the year 378, he was, among others, delegated to visit the eastern churches lately harassed by the Arian persecution.

He went not long after to Arabia ; and, baving dispatched the affairs of the Arabian churches, he proceeded to Jerusalem, having engaged to confer with the bishops of those parts, and to assist in their reformation. Upon his arrival, finding the place overrun with vice, schism, and faction, some shunning his communion, and others setting up altars in opposition to him, he soon grew weary of it, and returned with a heavy heart to Antioch: and being on this. occasion' consulted afterwards, whether it was an essential part of religion to make pilgrimages to Jerusalenı : Cave.-Dupin. Moreri.-Milner's Church Hist.-Saxii Onomast. .

(which, it seems, was the opinion of the monastic disciplinarians at that time), he declared himself freely in the negative. After this, he was summoned to the great council at Constantinople, where he made no inconsiderable figure, his advice being chiefly relied on in the most important cases; and particularly the composition of the creed, called by us the Nicene creed, was committed to his care. He composed a great many other pieces, commentaries on different parts of the scriptures ; sermons; lives, and letters. There is a good edition of his works by Fronton du Duc, 1615, 2 vols. fol. and another of 1638, 3 vols. fol. more ample, but not so correct. They are, however, in less estimation than the works of almost any of the fathers. He lived to a great age, and was alive when St. Jerom wrote his « Catalogue of Ecclesiastical Writers in the year 392; and two years after was present at the synod of Constantinople, on adjusting the controversy between Agapius and Bagadius, as appears by the acts of that council. He died March 9, 396. He was a married man, and lived with his wife Theosebia, even after he was bishop. Gregory Nazianzen, in a consolatory letter to his sister on her death, gives her extraordinary commendations.'

GREGORY (THEODORUS), surnamed Thaumaturgus, was descended of parents eminent for their birth and fortune, at Neo-Cesarea, the metropolis of Cappadocia, where he was born. He was educated very carefully in the learning and religion of the Gentiles by his father, who was a warm zealot; but, losing this parent at fourteen years of age, he, enlarging his inquiries, began by, degrees to perceive the vanity of that religion in which he had been bred, and turned his inclinations to Christianity. Having laid the necessary ground-work of his education at home, and studied the law for some time, to which he had no great inclination, he resolved to accomplish himself by foreign travels, to which purpose he went first to Alexandria, then become famous by the Platonic school lately erected there. Departing from Alexandria, he came back prabably through Greece, and staid awhile at Athens; whence returning home, he applied himself to his old study of the law; but again growing weary of it, he turned to the more agreeable speculations of philosophy.

The fame of Origen, who at that time had opened a ,! Caye's Lives of the Fathers.-Milner's Church Hist. ---Saxii Onomasticon,

« ZurückWeiter »