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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

THE enmity of the clergy against John was greatly increased by Serapion, his archdeacon, a man naturally prone to anger, and always ready to insult his opponents. The feelings of hostility were further fostered by the counsel which Olympia received from John. Olympia was a widow of illustrious birth, zealously attached to the exercises of monastic philosophy; and, notwithstanding her youth, Nectarius had ordained her deaconess. John, perceiving that she bestowed her goods liberally on whoever asked her for them, and that she despised every thing but the service of God, said to her: “I applaud your intentions; but would have you know that those who aspire to the perfection of virtue ought to distribute their wealth with prudence. You, however, have been bestowing wealth on the wealthy, which is as useless as if you had cast it in the sea. Know you not that you have, for the sake of God, devoted all your possessions to the relief of the poor. You ought, therefore, to regard your wealth as belonging to your Master, and to remember that you will have to account for its distribution. If you will be persuaded by me, you will in future regulate your donations according to the wants of those who solicit relief. You will thus be enabled to extend the sphere of your benevolence, and your zeal and charity will be accepted by God.”

John had several disputes with many of the monks, particularly with Isaac. He commended those who, in conformity with the rules of their profession, remained in quietude in their monasteries; he protected them from all injustice, and supplied all their wants. But the monks who made their appearance in cities were severely censured by him, and declared to be the disgrace of monasticism. He hence incurred the hatred of the clergy, and of many of the monks, who represented him as a hard, passionate, morose, and arrogant man. They therefore attempted to bring his life into public disrepute, by stating confidently, as if it were the truth, that he would eat with no one, and that he refused every invitation that was offered him. I know of no pretext that could have given rise to this assertion, except that, as I have been assured by a man of undoubted veracity, John had, by vigorous asceticism, rendered himself liable to pain in the head and stomach, and was thus prevented from being present at some of the most solemn festivals. Hence, however, originated the greatest accusation that was ever devised against him.








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