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1088

THEODORETUS.

to say, his conduct displays the most marked contrast.

Theodoret was born at Antioch towards the end of the fourth century of our era. The exact year of his birth is uncertain: from a minute examina­tion of the fragments of evidence, which are supplied chiefly by his own works, Gamier has fixed it at a. d. 386 ; and Tillemont, with greater probability, at a. d. 393. (See their works, quoted at the end of this article.) Theodoret himself, who was na­turally infected with the credulity, which was uni­versal in his age,—for even the sceptics of the time were grossly credulous in some matters,—has re­lated various marvels which attended his birth, as well as subsequent passages of his life. His parents were persons of good condition in life, and of dis­tinguished piety ; and his mother, especially, had the most profound respect for the hermits or ascetics, one of whom had healed her of a disease of the eyes by means of the sign of the cross, and had also convinced her of the sinfulness of worldly

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pomp and luxury. After thirteen years of sterile wedlock, during which the praj^ers of several of these pious men had been offered on her behalf in vain, one of them named Macedonius at length announced that a son should be granted to her, but upon the condition that he should be consecrated to the service of God. It was not, however, till three years afterwards that the child was bom, and named ©eoS^p^roy, as being a special gift of God. As the period of his birth approached, the holy man who had predicted it kept continually in his mother's recollection the condition attached to the gift, of which too he frequently reminded Theodoret himself in nfter years. The record of these circumstances, which are only a specimen of the wonders he relates, is important, on account of the influence which the belief of them exercised on the mind of Theodoret.

He was brought up, and instructed in religion, by his mother, with a care suited to his peculiar position, and which he often mentions with grati­tude. At a very early age (scarcely seven years, according to an inference drawn from his 81st epistle) he was sent for his education to a celebrated monastery near Antioch, presided over by Eupre-pius ; and there he remained for twenty years (Ep. 81), until he left it to take charge of his dio­cese. He had for his instructors some of the most eminent ministers of the Eastern Church. He himself names Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodorus of Mopsuestia as his teachers ; but, as the former died before the end of the fourth century, he can scarcely have instructed Theodoret, except through his writings. Still less can we take literally the statement of Nicephorus (H. E. xiv. 54), that Theodoret was a disciple of Chrysostom, which can only mean (and in this sense it deserves notice) that the writings of Chrysostom were studied by Theodoret as a model for his own exegetical works. Of his actual teachers, it appears that the chief was Theodore of Mopsuestia, whose memory and works he constantly defended from the charge of hetero­doxy. The use which Theodoret made of those twenty-five years of study and retirement appears in the fruit which they bore at a later period, in his profoundly learned writings. During his resi­dence in the monastery he was appointed, first a reader, and then a deacon, in the Church of Antioch, by the patriarchs Porphyry and Alex­ander ; and, in the latter office, he seems to have

THEODORETUS.

obtained considerable reputation by his sermons against the Arians, Macedonians, and especially the Apollinarists, who were the most formidable, by their numbers, among the heretics in the dio­cese. This matter is not very certain ; but it is clear that he must in some wav have obtained a

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public reputation, to account for his appointment to the episcopate by Theodotus, the successor of Alexander in the see of Antioch.

It was in a. d. 420 or 423, according to diffe­rent computations from his own writings (Epist. 81, 113, 116), that he left his monastery to suc­ceed Isidorus as bishop of Cyrus, or Cyrrhus, a small and poor city near the Euphrates, about two days' journey from Antioch ; which was, however, the capital of a district of Syria, called Cyrrhestice, and the diocese of which contained eight hundred parishes (Epist. 32, 113). We learn from his own testimony, which there is every reason to believe, that he carried into his new office the quiet spirit of the monastery, and that ecclesiastical domination was never an object of his ambition. He still practised also the greatest moderation in his own mode of life ; while he improved the opportunities, presented by his office, of exercising the utmost generosity towards others. The fortune, which he had inherited on the death of his parents, he had at once divided among the poor ; and his bishopric brought him no property, neither house, nor even a tomb (Epist. 113), and its annual revenues could not have been large. Yet out of these, in addition to his alms to the poor, he expended a large sum in the decoration of the city, in which he built covered porticoes, two large bridges, public baths, and an aqueduct (Epist- 79, 81, 138). He also attracted to the city artists and professional men, who were much wanted there, especially phy­sicians ; and he interceded, both with the imperial procurator, and with the empress Pulcheria, for an aHeviation of the taxes with which the people of his diocese were burthened. In the midst of these acts of his public munificence we see an instance of his generosity to individuals, in the zeal with which he pleads in several letters to his friends, on behalf of Celestiacus of Carthage, who had been stript of his all by the Vandals (Epist. 29—36). After an episcopate of five and twenty years he could declare that he had never had anything to do with a court of justice, and had never received the smallest present; and afterwards, in his ad-versitv, he suffered extreme want rather than ac-

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cept presents which would have enabled him to live in luxury. Not only did he thus conduct himself, but he succeeded, by his example and authority, in inducing his clergy to follow a similar mode of life. (Epist. 81.)

At the same time he administered the spiritual affairs of his diocese with great vigour. At that wretched period in the history of the Church, one of the chief occupations of an orthodox bishop was to maintain the contest with the so-called heretics. The diocese of Theodoret was overrun with Arians, Macedonians, and especially Mar-cionites ; but such was his success in converting them, that he speaks of them, in the year 449, as being all reconciled to the Catholic Church, and he declares that he had baptized ten thousand Mar-cionites. In this contest he ran great personal risks, having been more than once in danger of being stoned to death. Still he never, like many bishops, called in the aid of the temporal power ;

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