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the manner of their death being the fruit of such eminent piety and mighty faith, seemed not to fall short of martyrdom. With the Pagans it was quite otherwise. They drove from them those who showed the first symptoms of disease; and fled from their dearest friends. They cast the balf dead into the streets, and left the dead unburied; making it their chief care to avoid contagion." Chrysostom records that in his time the church at Antioch, which consisted of about one hundred thousand persons, daily maintained three thousand widows and orphans, besides supporting the clergy, and the hospitals, assisting strangers in distress, and ransoming many Christian slaves. Basil the Great established in all the principal towns of his diocese institutions for the reception of indigent strangers, and the care of the sick. Physicians and nurses were in attendance, and every arrangement made for the comfort of the inmates. Workshops were provided for all the labourers and artisans that were needed; so that each establishment was described as having the appearance of a small town. When the brother of Basil died, he left this brief testament: "I will that all my estate be given to the poor.” Paulinus, Bishop of Treves, in the fourth century, was very wealthy; but when he became a Christian, he sold all his vast estates, and distributed the proceeds among the poor. Theodoret, Bishop of Cyros, at about the same period, though he had a poor diocese, saved enough to construct a canal from the Euphrates to the town, which had previously suffered for want of water; to repair and improve the public baths; to erect two porticoes for the use of the city; and to build two large bridges. Ambrose sold the ornaments, and even sacred vessels of the churches to redeem Christians, who had been taken in war, and sold into slavery. He says: “The church possesses gold, not to treasure it up, but to distribute it for the welfare and happiness of men. We are ransoming souls from eternal perdition. It is not merely the lives of men and the honour of women, that are endan. gered by captivity, but also the faith of their children. The blood of redemption, which has glowed in those golden
had be church Po the welteternal pe of w
cups, has sanctified them not merely for that service, but for the redemption of men.”
The Bishop of Nola expended his whole estate to redeem as many as he could. At last, a poor widow went to him and intreated him to rescue her only son, who had been sold to a prince of the Vandals. He told her he had not a single penny left, but he would freely give himself as a ransom. The poor woman thought he was jesting with her anxiety; but he assured her that he was in earnest. Accordingly, he accompanied her to Africa and begged the prince to release the young man, because he was the only son of a widow; offering to labour freely in his stead. The prince accepted his proposition, and employed him to work in his garden. His industry and faithfulness gained the favour of his master, who, after some time, discovered that he had been a bishop. Impressed by the greatness of such an example, the prince gave him his liberty, and promised to grant whatsoever he wished. The good man asked no favour for himself, but begged the release of all his countrymen in bondage. They were accordingly all sent home in ships laden with provisions.
Christians had the same feeling as the Israelites of old concerning allowing their own brethren to be in slavery; and a similar degree of exclusiveness led them generally not to include Pagan bondmen within the circle of their sympathies. It early began to be the feeling that one Christian ought not to hold another as a slave; the relation, even under the best circumstances, seeming inconsistent with Christian brotherhood. Many converts emancipated all their slaves as soon as they joined the church, being impelled by their own consciences, though no ecclesiastical law required it. When slaves were converted, it was common for Christian masters to emancipate them; so that baptism came to be considered a sign of freedom. Arnong the crowds of nominal professors, after Christianity became the established religion, there were of course many who were entirely uninfluenced by its spirit. The Archbishop of Ravenna, in the fifth century, complains of such, who could searcely be distinguished from the hardest masters among the Pagans, in their treatment of slaves. But as a general thing, the difference between the old and the new religion was very striking on this point. Lactantius says: “We may be asked, are there not among you rich and poor, masters and slaves, distinctions of rank between individuals ? Not at all. No reason can be assigned why we call one another brethren, except that we consider ourselves equals. We measure human beings by their souls, not by their bodies. There is diversity in the condition of bodies; but to us none are slaves. We address all as brothers in the Spirit, and regard all as fellow-servants, in a religious sense." Chrysostom says: “In the bosom of the Christian church, there are so slaves, in the old sense of the word. The name exists, but the thing has ceased." “The slave glorifies Jesus Christ as his master, and the master acknowledges himself a slave of Jesus Christ. Both are subjects, both are free in this eommon obedience; they are equals, both as freemen and as slaves." In another place, he exhorts Christians to "buy up slaves, instruct them in the arts, and give them the means of livelihood." Chromacius, Præfect of Rome, who was converted during the reign of Diocletian, was baptized with fourteen hundred of his slaves, to whom he gave freedom, saying: "These, who are the children of God, ought to be no longer the slaves of men.” He crowned this act of justice and humanity by taking paternal care concerning their means of livelihood.
EXTRACTS FROM THE FATHERS. Nearly all the writings of the Fathers consisted of sectarian controversy, Biblical interpretation employed in its service, and fervent exhortations to celibacy; but some precious gems of morality, scattered about, indicate that the world was rising to a higher level of humanity than it ever attained under the pure and elevated, but unsympathizing teaching of the Platonic school. The following brief extracts will serve as specimens:
"God, who creates and inspires men, willed that they should be equal. He made them all capable of wisdom, imposed the same laws on all, and promised immortality to all. No one is excluded from his heavenly gifts. He makes the sun to shine equally on all, and the fountains to issue freely for all. As he furnishes food for all, and gives the sweet repose of sleep unto all, so does he give virtue and equality to all. With Him, no one is a slave, and no one master. He is the Father of all, and we are all, by equal right, his children. In his sight, no man is poor, but him who is wanting in goodness; and no man is rich, but him who abounds in virtues.”—Lactantius.
“The poor shake with cold beneath their miserable rags, while we envelope ourselves in long floating robes of the finest silk. The poor can scarcely find a refuse morsel wherewith to appease the cravings of hunger; while we luxuriate in the choicest delicacies. We lavish the most delicate odours, as if our courage were not already sufficiently enervated. Our tables bend beneath dishes, for which all the elements have been laid under contribution; and all this is done to satisfy the avidity of an ungrateful stomach, an insatiable brute, which will soon be destroyed, together with the perishable viands that are accumulated to nourish it. The poor would think themselves happy to get water enough to quench their thirst; and we drink wine to excess, even while we feel our senses disordered by its potency. My brethren, these diseases of the soul, which infect the rich, are more grievous than the bodily infirmities that afflict the poor. Theirs are not of their own seeking; ours are what we bring upon ourselves. Death will deliver them from theirs; ours will go with us to the grave, and rise with us." — Gregory of Nazianzen.
"Since you alone are amenable for your own vices, or follies, what good does it do to talk of your forefathers, and rake up the ashes of the dead? One man may draw forth nothing but discordant sounds from a golden harp; another will give birth to ravishing melodies on a simple reed. Such is your history, my friend. You descended from an
illustrious race, which is to you as the harp of gold. But if you have no merit in yourself, upon wbat can you build your pride? What real subject of exaltation can you find for yourself in ancestors long since dead? What is all that to us? It is with yourself alone we have to do. Are you good, or are you bad ? Every thing is reduced to that simple question." -- Gregory of Nazianzen.
" What was I before I was born? Wbat am I now? What shall I be to-morrow? I asked the learned to guide me, but I found no one who knew any more than myself. I exist. What does that word mean? Already, whilst I speak, a portion of my existence has escaped me. I am no longer what I was. Should I still exist, what shall I bo to-morrow? In no one thing permanent, I resemble the water of a stream, perpetually flowing on, which nothing stops. Like the brook, in another moment I shall no longer be the same I was a moment before. I ought to be called by some other name. You seize me, now you hold me, yet I escape. Fugitive wavel never again will you traverso the space over which you have already flowed. The same man, whom you have once reflected in your waters, will never be reflected by them again, exactly as he looked in them before."--Gregory of Nazianzen.
"Why is it that you are rich, and your neighbour poor? Is it not that you may sanctify your abundance by your benevolence, while he may sanctify poverty by patience and resignation? Do not deceive yourself with respect to the ways of Providence. The bread that you keep shut up belongs to the hungry. The shoes which you hoard belong to the barefoot. To withhold assistance from those who are in need, when you have the means of relieving them, is not only cruel, it is unjust."--Basil the Great.
“Has any one made use of injurious expressions concerning you? Reply to them by blessings. Does he treat you ill? Be patient. Does he reproach you? Condemn yourself, if the reproach be just; if not, it is a mere breath of air. Flattery cannot impart to you a merit, if you have it not, nor can calumny give you faults you do not really