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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

JOHN was born at Antioch in Syria-Cœle, of a noble family in that country, his father’s name being Secundus, and that of his mother Anthusa. He studied rhetoric under Libanius the sophist, and philosophy under Andragathius. When he had already prepared himself for the practice of Civil Law, reflecting on the restless and unjust course of those who devote themselves to the practice of the Forensic Courts, he resolved to adopt a more tranquil mode of life. Following therefore the example of Evagrius, who had been educated under the same masters, and had some time before retired from the tumult of public business, he laid aside his legal habit, and applied his mind to the reading of the sacred scriptures, frequenting the church with great assiduity. He moreover induced Theodore and Maximus, who had been his fellow-students under Libanius the sophist, to forsake a profession whose primary object was gain, and embrace pursuits of greater simplicity. Of these two persons, Theodore afterwards became bishop of Mopsuestia in Cilicia, and Maximus of Seleucia in Isauria. Being at that time ardent aspirants after perfection, they entered upon the ascetic life, under the guidance of Diodorus and Carterius, who then presided over the monasteries. The former of these was subsequently elevated to the see of Tarsus, and wrote many treatises, in which he limited his expositions to the literal sense of scripture, without attempting to explain that which was mystical. But we must return to John, who was then living on the most intimate terms with Basil, at that time constituted a deacon by Meletius, but afterwards ordained bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia. He was appointed reader in the church at Antioch by Zeno the bishop on his return from Jerusalem: and while he continued in that capacity, he composed a book against the Jews. Meletius having not long after conferred on him the rank of deacon, he produced his work “On the Priesthood,” and those “Against Stagirius”; and moreover those also “On the Incomprehensibility of the Divine Nature,” and “On the Women who lived with the Ecclesiastics.” After the death of Meletius at Constantinople, whither he had gone on account of Gregory of Nazianzen’s ordination, John withdrew from the Meletians, without entering into communion with Paulinus, and spent three whole years in retirement. When Paulinus was dead, he was ordained a presbyter by Evagrius the successor of Paulinus. Such is a brief outline of John’s career previous to his call to the episcopal office. It is said that his zeal for temperance rendered him stern and severe; and one of his early friends has admitted that in his youth he manifested a proneness to irritability, rather than to forbearance. Because of the rectitude of his life, he was free from anxiety about the future, and his simplicity of character rendered him open and ingenuous; nevertheless the liberty of speech he allowed himself was offensive to very many. In public teaching the great end he proposed was the reformation of the morals of his auditors; but in private conversation he was frequently thought haughty and assuming by those who did not know him.








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