Thus miserably did things drag on till Whitsunday, while civil oppression, animated by the burning passions of Eudoxia and the vitriolic malignity of the bishops, permitted scenes of shame and brutality to violate even the sanctuary of God. The fury of oaths, the screams of the tortured, the whistling of scourges, were heard even in churches, while the attempt was made to coerce the faithful to anathematise the holy pastor whom they loved. Men recalled the language of the Gospels -- '
And there shall be signs in sun, and moon, and stars; and upon earth distress of nations in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the billows; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.' Nor was their dread unreasonable. The defeat, deposition, exile, and martyrdom -- for martyrdom to all intents and purposes it was -- of the saintly Patriarch of Constantinople led to age-long consequences, both in the East and in the West. In the West, the events which issued from it tended to establish the influence of the Bishop of Rome at a period when that influence was in many respects for the advantage of mankind, and before it had been distorted by forged donations and false decretals into a cruel and pernicious tyranny. In the East, it degraded the Church into an abject subservience, in which she abdicated her functions as a denouncer of luxury and oppression, and submitted to the Cæsaro-papism' of wavering despots.
The days of trouble and rebuke and blasphemy, in which, to use the image of the prophet,
the children were brought to the birth, and there was not strength to bring forth, dragged on amid alarms, tumults, and attempted assassinations till Whitsuntide, June 5, 404. Eudoxia and her priestly instigators felt that any further delay in the consummation of their plots would be fraught with peril. In the plenitude of autocracy they still felt the terror of the guilt which trembles before unarmed innocence. The passionate enthusiasm of the people for their Bishop might still triumph over the conscientious timidity of the Emperor. Their hideous plots of murder had been frustrated; it might happen that truth and righteousness would still triumph, and so their dark webs of lies and bribery be torn to shreds. Arcadius, terrified lest the crime of his connivance in accusations which he knew to be the perjuries of jealousy and hatred should provoke the intervention of Heaven, had been waiting for some admonitory eclipse and earthquake which might once more frighten Eudoxia. This would have given him the excuse for dismissing the episcopal intriguers to their neglected sees and restoring Chrysostom to his Patriarchal throne. But in those burning days of June no thunderbolt fell, no storm disturbed the azure sleep of heaven. Meanwhile the passionate importunities of the Empress disturbed his abnegation of all effectual power. His conduct was finally decided by the four worst bishops who were leaders of the Empress's party. These men -- Antiochus, Acacius, Cyrinus, and Severian -- urged by Eudoxia, demanded an audience, and came into his presence. Arcadius was no match for these sanctimonious criminals, though even his obtuseness saw to the depths of their villainy. Emperor!' they said to him -- -for it was their snake-like policy to enslime their victim ere they gorged -- 'Emperor! thou hast been appointed ruler by God that all may obey thee, and that thou mayst act according to thy will. Be not more compassionate than priests, more holy than bishops! We have said before all the world, "Let the deposition of John be on our heads." Do not destroy us all that thou mayst spare one.'
Well,' replied the Emperor, if yours is the crime, yours be the penalty. I hold John to be innocent and orthodox; if you force me to offend Heaven by wronging him, let his blood fall on your heads.'
Then they said of Christ's servant as the priests of old had said of Christ Himself:
'His blood be on us and our children'; and Arcadius, like Pilate, practically washed his hands of the matter, and said,
'I am innocent of the blood of this just person. See ye to it!'
At noon that day Patricius, the principal notary of the Emperor, was a bearer of a note to the Patriarch in which Arcadius said: The four bishops make themselves responsible for your deposition. Commend your affairs to God, and depart hence without delay.'
Commend your affairs to God!' Even in that phrase the Emperor betrayed the fact that his rescript was the outcome, not of his convictions, but of his imbecility.
Clearly, however, the order was meant to be final; and it was precise. Chrysostom, anxious to put an end to intolerable complications, which threatened to have a terrible ending, and deeming it a duty in the last extreme to submit to the powers that be, prepared to obey. A group of bishops and clergy were with him in the Patriarcheion. He read them the Emperor's letter, and told them that he would be willing in a few moments to go with them to the Cathedral, and thence to depart he knew not whither.
Then he went into his study, and called Philip and Eutyches to him.
My sons,' he said to them, controlling his deep emotion by a strong effort, the destined hour has struck. The Emperor has sent me his decree of banishment, which I can resist no longer. I depart hence, and a voice tells me that when in a few moments I leave this home, which men call my palace, I leave it for ever. My place shall know me no more. I am in God's hands. His will be done, not mine.'
He paused, lest he should break into uncontrollable weeping; for the two youths had kneeled at his feet and had grasped his either hand, and could not speak, but were kissing his hands and bathing them with their tears.
Gently he disengaged his hands, and laid them in blessing on the dark locks of Philip and the short, fair hair of Eutyches. My dear, dear sons,' he said, I have seen day by day your goodness, and faithfulness, and love to me. It costs me a keener pang to part from you than from any others. You have been utterly true to me. Dear Philip, for years you have brightened my days, you have lightened my labours. I always knew that whatever I trusted to you would be done, and well done. I had but to mention it to you, and then I could dismiss it from my mind. And you, dear Eutyches, I have rejoiced to see you growing up in holiness, "
like the flower of roses in the spring of the year, and like lilies by the watercourses." Farewell! farewell, my children! and the God of mercy and of peace be with you!'
They had hidden their faces in their hands, and he made over them the sign of benediction; but then Philip sprang up impetuously.
Nay, my father,' he said, bid us not leave you. We will go where you go, we will die where you die. As your God is our God, so your trials shall be ours.'
Not so, my sons,' he said gently. Your sympathy, your service, would indeed be to me an immense consolation. But how can I suffer you to blight your youth for my sake? I am an old man; my days are spent; my work is done; mine enemies have triumphed. I go, like St. Paul, knowing nothing, save that in every city bonds and imprisonment await me. The dark days which Michael foresaw have come; I know not even whether for me in this world at eventide there shall be light. But as for you -- live out your lives in God's faith and fear, and may He give you, of His goodness, many happy days!'
We cannot leave you, father,' sobbed Eutyches. Better trial and persecution with you than to know that you were in trouble, and that we were far away, and could do nothing to lighten your griefs.'
Ah! my dear son, Eutyches, it may not be,' said the Patriarch. It would not be permitted, even if I could desire it. But take comfort, my boy. To know that you are well and happy will be a far deeper alleviation to me than to see your young lives devastated for my sake with premature anguish. And oh! cease, cease, my sons. By your weeping you break my heart. Believe me, even in this hour, even in the midst of my grief, I am happy, for I am innocent. If you grow up to suffer, may you grow up also to know and feel that to suffer with Christ is not to suffer.'
But when he saw that neither of them could speak, he added, very calmly, Nay, my sons, give not way too much to grief. To do so were to doubt the goodness of God. You, my Philip, stay to look after my few possessions, and to see that the dear old servants of my youth are conducted safely back to my home at Antioch. And you, my beloved Eutyches, when I am gone, Philip and Olympias will see that you lack nothing till you become a presbyter. I have left you both provided for, in the present and in the future, as this paper will show you, Philip. Farewell! Farewell!'
He lifted them from their kneeling attitude, kissed them on both cheeks, and, with his face still bathed in tears, went out to the bishops and presbyters in the Thomaites.
Come,' he said to them; let us go to pray for the last time, and to bid farewell to the Angel of the Church.'
The distance was short, and they walked to St. Sophia under an escort of the palace guards. They found many assembled in the church, and an immense multitude, dimly cognisant that some great crisis was at hand, crowded all the streets and avenues. Chrysostom and his friends passed up the ambo-stairs, behind the curtains of the Sacrarium. He had scarcely entered when a note from his friend Aurelian was put into his hands. 'Hasten!' it said; the brutal ruffian, Lucius, is posted with a company of soldiers in the Baths of Zeuxippus. He swears that if you linger he will drag you out of the church by force. Leave the church secretly, or there will be a collision between the troops and the people, and the streets will run with blood.'
He read the note aloud, and added: Never, if I can prevent it. My servants have ordered my mule to be caparisoned at the western gate. I will slip out in secret through a postern at the east. Farewell, dear friends!'
He gave to two of the bishops his farewell kiss of peace, but could proceed no further. Farewell all of you!' he said; it would unman me too much to embrace you all. A few moments in the Baptistery to recover my calm, and I will set forth.'
But in the Baptistery four of his holiest, noblest, and most beloved deaconesses -- Olympias, Pentadia, Ampriecte, and Salvina -- awaited him, and there was another harrowing scene of parting.
Listen to me, my daughters,' he said to them. All is over; I have finished my course. You will see my face no more. If my successor is duly and rightly appointed, respect and obey him. Let not the Church of God lose your services -- and oh! think of me in your prayers.'
The noble ladies flung themselves on the marble floor, and kissed his feet and bathed them with their tears.
Conduct them hence,' he said, with a broken voice, to Bishop Eulysius, who had volunteered to accompany him, 'for I feel utterly unmanned, and the sight of their anguish may haply excite the fury of the people.'
Very gently the friendly bishop took the princesses Olympias and Salvina by the hand, and, bidding the others follow, led them out of the Baptistery. Then Chrysostom went out by the small eastern door, evading the throngs of people who were expecting to see him mount his mule at the western gate.
He went forth,' says Bishop Palladius, 'and the Angel of the Church went forth with him.'
A little band of soldiers, under two young and noble officers, Anatolius and Theodosius, had been bidden to await him there. Attended by the Bishops Eulysius and Cyriacus and some honest presbyters, who desired to accompany him on his journey across the Bosporus, and at least as far as Nicæa, he placed himself in the hands of the guards, and, avoiding the most frequented streets, they made their may to the Chalcedonian Stairs. To escape observation as far as possible Chrysostom concealed his face in the folds of his robe; but a few of the people, full of alarm and suspicion, recognised and followed him. Their numbers increased, and nothing but the drawn swords and firm bearing of the Prætorians overawed their menacing attitude, and prevented them from attempting a rescue. But there certainly would have been bloodshed if the Patriarch himself had not stepped forward and said My dear and faithful people, I am departing willingly. Let us obey the will of God and the edict of the Emperor. You will fill me with anguish if so much as one drop of blood is shed on my behalf. To God's gracious mercy and protection I commit you all. Farewell!'
He raised his hand in benediction. The crowd knelt to receive it, and were calmed.
But Philip and Eutyches could not be content to stay in the Patriarcheion while their father was being hurried into unknown exile. How could he even expect such love as theirs to abandon him, when they felt his loss like the parting of the Shechinah from the temple of their young lives? After a moment's hesitation, lest they should cause him needless pain, they said with one voice, 'Let us go, and, if need be, die with him.' Unperceived -- for they had thrown over their ordinary dress the brown robe of the parabolani -- they followed Chrysostom to St. Sophia, entered with others of the people, and saw him ascend to the Sacrarium. Then Philip, familiar with the church, and suspecting what would happen, went with Eutyches to the quiet eastern door, saw the Patriarch come out, and followed his escort of guards to the quay. Chrysostom went on board the vessel which was awaiting him, and both he and Philip involuntarily recalled at that moment with what different feelings they had twice before arrived at the Chalcedonian steps -- once in the gilded, dragon-prowed, imperial barge, rowed by palace servants, when, with Amantius and Aurelian, he had been welcomed by the shouting populace; and once when, after his first exile, the flower-crowned multitude, robed in white, had poured forth in myriads to receive him with overpowering acclamations. And now he was being hurried away in secrecy, amid the fading twilight -- hurried to his ruin by wolves in sheep's clothing, choked in a chaos of hatreds, entangled in a network of odious chicanery and wicked lies.
Philip pressed forward out of the crowd and endeavoured to go on board. The soldiers barred his way with crossed spears, and told him, with objurgations, that no personal attendant was permitted to go with the Archbishop. Then Philip made an intense appeal to the two young officers
Oh, sirs!' he said, the holy Patriarch is ill and weak, and knows not how to care for himself. I have been accustomed to wait on him since my boyhood. I entreat you to let me go with him. I will meet my own expenses. I will give no trouble.'
And let me go, too,' said Eutyches, wringing his hands. I am one of his secretaries.'
The officers, who had none but the kindliest feelings and intentions towards their illustrious captive, were visibly affected, but Anatolius, the senior of the two, laid his hand kindly on Philip's shoulder, and said, 'My good youths, we are sorry for you. But the Emperor's orders are stringent, and you must not come.'
They stepped on board; the oars dipped in the deep blue waters; and the youths caught their last glimpse of their friend and father as he stood on the deck. He had heard their voices; he saw them stretching out to him their appealing hands, and was weeping; but he cried to them, Oh! my sons, why did you not spare me this fresh pang?'
But Philip now felt utterly beside himself. My father! my father!' he cried, I cannot, I will not leave you,' and he made a spring towards the boat.
He barely failed to reach it, but fell short into the water, and one of the oars struck him on the head. He sank under the waves, and Chrysostom and Eutyches both gave a cry. A sailor from one of the many boats plunged after the drowning youth, drew him safely to shore, and handed his fainting form to Eutyches. But the blow which he had received was slight. The shock of the cold water revived him. In a few moments he had recovered consciousness, and, leaning on the boy's arm, with bent head and aching heart he walked back to the Patriarcheion in his dripping weeds.