Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Gregorius Nazianzenus, bp. of Sasima and Constantinople
|←Gregorius I. (The Great), bp. of Rome||Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century
Gregorius Nazianzenus, bp. of Sasima and Constantinople
|Gregorius Nyssenus, bp. of Nyssa→|
Gregorius (14) Nazianzenus, bp. (370–390) of Sasima and of Constantinople, has been fortunate in his biographers. He left them abundant materials in his works, especially in a large collection of letters and a long autobiographical poem.
St. Gregory takes his distinctive title from Nazianzus, a small town in S.W. Cappadocia, near which, in a district known as the Tiberine (Ep. ii. Op. ii. 2; Basil, Ep. iv.), at a village called Arianzus, where his father had an estate, he was born. Both his parents are known to us. His father bore the same name [GREGORIUS (13)] and belonged in early life to the sect of the HYPSISTARII (Orat. xviii. 5; Op. i. 333). His mother's name was Nonna, a child of Christian parents (Philtatius and Gorgonia), and is praised by her son as a model of Christian virtues. To her life and prayers he attributes his father's conversion.
The date of his birth we may reasonably fix from his own words in 325–329.
Nonna, in fulfilment of a vow, dedicated him to the Lord, but not by baptism. She taught him to read the Scriptures, and led him to regard himself as an Isaac offered in sacrifice to God, Who had given him to another Abraham and Sarah. He, as another Isaac, dedicated himself. He rejoices to tell of the examples set him at home and of the bent given to his studies by companionship with good men. The tutor to whose care the brothers were committed was Carterius, perhaps the same who was afterwards head of the monasteries of Antioch and instructor of Chrysostom (Tillem. Mémoires, ix. 370).
At Caesarea in Cappadocia probably was commenced Gregory's friendship with Basil, which, tried by many a shock, survived them all, and was the chief influence which moulded not only the life of both friends, but also the theology of the Christian church. Gregory and his brother went to Caesarea in Palestine to pursue the study of oratory (Orat. vii. 6, Op. ii. 201); Caesarius departing thence to Alexandria, and Gregory remaining to study in the school made famous by Origen, Pamphilus, and Eusebius. Thespesius was then the master of greatest renown, and Euzoïus was a fellow-pupil with Gregory (Hieron. de Eccles. Script. c. 113). >From Palestine Gregory went to Alexandria (Orat. l.c.). Here Didymus filled the chair of Pantaenus, Clement, and Origen, and Athanasius the episcopal throne, though probably an exile at the time. Gregory pressed on to Athens. A ship of Aegina offered him passage (Orat. xviii. 31, Op. i. 351). Off Cyprus a fierce storm struck her. The thunder, lightning, darkness, creaking of the yards, shaking of the masts, cries of the crew, appeals for help to Christ, even by those who before had not known Him, all added to the terror of the scene. The storm continued 22 days, during which they saw no chance of deliverance. Gregory's chief fear was lest he should die without baptism. In prayer he dedicated himself again to God, and sought for help. The prayer was answered, and the rescued crew were so affected that they all accepted Gregory's God.
Among the Athenian sophists of the day, none were more famous than Himerius and Proaeresius, with whom Gregory continued the study of oratory. At Athens Gregory and Basil were together again (Orat. xliii. 15; Op. i. 781); Gregory rendering the freshman Basil various friendly offices, such as exempting him from the rough practical joking which all who joined the Athenian classes had to pass through. [BASILIUS.] The Armenians, jealous of the newcomer, whose fame had preceded him, and with some of the old feeling of antagonism against Cappadocia, tried to entrap him in sophistical debates. When they were being defeated, Gregory, feeling the honour of Athens at stake, came to the rescue, but soon saw their real object, and left them to join his friend (Orat. xliii. 16, 17; ib. 782, 783). These things are trifles, but had important effects. The two friends, rendered obnoxious to their companions, were bound the more closely to each other. Their fellow-students, for various reasons, bore various names and surnames. The two friends were, and desired to be called, Christians; they had all things in common, and "became as one mind possessing two bodies" (Orat. xliii. 20, 21; ib. 785, 786; Carm. xi. 221–235; Op. ii. 687). Among other students then at the university was Julian the Apostate. Gregory claims that he had even then discerned his character in his very looks; and that he used to warn their fellow-students that Rome was cherishing a serpent (Orat. v. 24, Op. i. 162).
Gregory must have spent at Athens probably not less than ten years. He went there a beardless youth; he left about his 30th year. To the effect of those years the matter and form alike of his work bear witness.
Leaving probably about the beginning of 356, Gregory went first to Constantinople, wishing to see the new Rome before his return to Asia. Here he unexpectedly met his brother Caesarius, journeying to Nazianzus from Alexandria. The mother had longed to see both her sons return together, and
Gregory has left a touching account of their meeting; and at this point some of the biographers fix his baptism. Gregory himself tells us that he now laid down the plan of his life. Every power he possessed was to be devoted to God; but the way seemed divided into two, and he knew not which to take. Elias, the sons of Jonadab, the Baptist, were types of the life that attracted him; but on the other hand was the study of the Scriptures, for which the desert offered no opportunities; and the advanced age of his parents presented claims which seemed to be imperative duties. He resolved to live the strict life of an ascetic and yet perform the duties of society (Carm. i. de Rebus suis, l. 65 seq.; Op. ii. 635), but denying himself even the pleasure of music (ib. l. 69).
But in the midst of various trifling irritations of domestic duty, which went far to mar the life he had marked out for himself, Gregory heard from Basil, who had resolved to found a coenobitic system in Pontus, and asked his friend to join him. Gregory answered by proposing to Basil to join them at the Tiberine, where the ascetic life in common could be followed and the duties of home performed (Ep. i. Op. ii. 1). Basil did visit Arianzus, but remained only a short time. >From Caesarea he again wrote to Gregory, after which Gregory set out for Pontus. One substantial result of their joint labours is preserved in the Philocalia, a series of extracts from the exegetical works of Origen. Gregory himself speaks of this work, which he sent as a present to his friend Theodosius of Tyana (Ep. cxv. Op. ii. 103). We know from Gregory's own words also that he took part in composing the famous "Rules" of Basil. It is not clear how long he remained in Pontus. Clemencet thinks two or three years, and the supposition agrees with Gregory's regret that he had but tasted enough of the life there to excite his longing for more (Orat. ii. 6, Op. i. 14). The silence of Gregory with regard to his return may be due to another cause. Constantius had required the bishops throughout the empire to accept the creed of Rimini (a.d. 359–360), and the bp. of Nazianzus, though hitherto faithful to the Nicene doctrine, did so. The monks of his diocese were devoted to Athanasius, and there followed a division in the church, which Gregory alone could heal. He induced the bishop to make a public confession of orthodoxy, and delivered a sermon on the occasion (Orat. vi. Op. i. 179 seq.). If this division at Nazianzus occurred in 360, we have the reason of Gregory's return (Tillem. Mém. ix. 345; Schröckh, Kirchengesch. xiii. 287; Ullmann, Gregorius von Nazianz. s. 41). If with Clemencet and others (Op. i. pp. xciv. seq.) it is assigned to 363–364, we must suppose that the return was due to the general claim of filial duty. In any case he came to Nazianzus, and received letters from Basil asking him to return to Pontus (Ep. vi. ad fin., Op. ii. p. 6). The aged bishop felt the need of support and help, and resolved to overrule the scruples which made Gregory shrink from the responsibilities of the priesthood. The ordination occurred on one of the high festivals, probably at Christmas, a.d. 361 (Nicetas, ii. 1021; Tillem. Mém. ix. 352). Nicetas assumes that the congregation compelled Gregory to accept ordination (cf. Carm. xi. de Vitâ suâ, 345–348, Op. ii.) Such forced ordinations were not unknown (Bingham, Orig. Eccles. iv. 2–5 and ix. 7, 1). Basil was in the same way made priest.
Gregory preached in the church at Nazianzus on the Easter Day following his ordination, and had expected that a crowded church would have welcomed his return and have applauded his first sermon; but the church was almost deserted. Gregory could not be ignorant of the cause of this estrangement. His flight from the work of the priesthood demanded an explanation, and Gregory determined to give an answer worthy of the question and of himself. It is contained in the second oration (Op. i. ii. 65). In no part of his writings do we find proof of greater study. It is practically a treatise on the pastoral office, and forms the foundation of Chrysostom's de Sacerdotio and of the Cura Pastoralis of Gregory the Great, while writers in all ages have directly or indirectly drawn largely from it. The earlier part treats of the reasons for his flight: (1) he was wholly unprepared for the ordination; (2) he had always been attracted by the monastic life; (3) he was ashamed of the life and character of the mass of the clergy; (4) he did not at that time, he did not now—and this reason weighed with him most of all—think himself fit to rule the flock of Christ and govern the minds of men" (Orat. ii. 9). He then discusses for 40 sections the duties and difficulties of the true pastor (ib. 10–49). "His first duty is to preach the word, and this is so difficult that to fulfil it ideally would require universal knowledge. Theological knowledge is absolutely necessary, especially of the doctrine of the Trinity, lest he fall into the Atheism of Sabellius, or the Judaism of Arius, or the Polytheism too common among the orthodox. It is necessary to hold to the truth that there is one God, and to confess that there are three persons, and attributes proper to each; but for this there is need of the Spirit's help. Much more is it difficult to expound it to a popular audience, both from the preacher's imperfection and the people's want of preparation. Zeal not according to knowledge leads men away from the truth. Then, there is the desire of vainglory, with inexperience, and her constant attendant, rashness, inconstancy, based on ignorance of the Scripture; and a subjective eclecticism which ends in an uncertain creed, and leads men to doubt of truth, as if a blind or deaf man were to place the evil not in himself but in the light of the sun or the voice of his friend. It is more easy to instruct minds wholly ignorant than those which have received false teaching; but the work of weeding, as well as that of sowing, must be done. The work of a spiritual ruler is like that of a man trying to manage a herd of beasts, old and young, wild and tame. He must, therefore, be single in will to rule the whole body, manifold to govern each member of it. Some must be fed with milk; some with more solid food. For all this who is sufficient? There are spiritual hucksters who adulterate the word of truth; but it is better to be led than to lead others, and to learn than
attempt to teach what one does not know. Men are foolish if they do not know their own ignorance; rash, if they know it, and yet lightly undertake this work. The Jews did not allow young men to read all parts of the Scriptures; but in the church there is no such bound placed between teaching and learning. A mere boy, who does not know the very names of the sacred writings, if he can babble a few pious words, and these caught by hearing, not by reading, becomes a teacher. Men spend more time and pains in learning to dance or play the flute than teachers of things divine and human spend in studying them. The love of vainglory is at the root of this evil. The true ideal is to be found in the lives of disciples like Peter or Paul, who became all things to all men that they might gain some. The false teachers incur great danger, and the pastor's sin causes the public woe. The prophets dwelt on the fearful position of the shepherds who feed themselves; the apostles and Christ Himself taught what the true shepherds should be; and His condemnation of Scribes and Pharisees includes all false teachers." Day and night did these thoughts possess Gregory. He was aware of the objections of priests that the candle should be placed on the candlestick, and the talent not hidden; but no time of preparation for the priesthood can be too long, and haste is full of danger. He dreaded both its duties and its dignity. "He who has not learned to speak the hidden wisdom of God, and to bear the cross of Christ, should not enter upon the priesthood. For himself, he would prefer a private life. A great man ought to undertake great things; a small man small things. Only that man can build the tower who has wherewith to build it." Such are the reasons Gregory gives for his flight. He adds those which led to his return. "(1) The longing he had for them and which he saw they had for him; (2) the white hairs and feeble limbs of his holy parents—the father who was to him as an angel, and the mother to whom he owed also his spiritual birth. There is a time for yielding as for everything else; (3) the example of the prophet Jonah—and this weighed most with him, for every letter of Scripture is inspired for our use—who deserved pardon, but he himself would not if he still refused. The denunciations of disobedience in Holy Scripture are no less severe than those against the unworthy pastor. On either side is danger. The middle is the only safe course—not to seek the priesthood, nor yet to refuse it. There is a merit in obedience; but for disobedience there is hardly any remedy. Some holy men are more, others less, forward to undertake rule. Neither are to be blamed."
Such is the general character of the famous Τοῦ Αὐτοῦ Ἀπολογητικός. Did it alone remain to us, Gregory must still have been thought of as one of the four pillars of the Greek church, and we should still read the chief traits of his personal character. It was written in 362. Julian the Apostate had entered Constantinople on Dec. 11, 361, and persuaded Gregory's brother Caesarius to remain at court. Gregory was then with Basil, who had indignantly rejected like advances, and he blushes that the son of a bishop should accept them. It made their father weary of life, and had to be hidden from their mother (Ep. vii. Opp. ii. 7). The effect of this letter upon Caesarius we may judge from his declaration before Julian: "In a word, I am a Christian, and I mean to be one," and from the exclamation of the emperor: "O happy father of such unhappy children!" (Orat. vii. 13, Op. i. 206; cf. De Broglie, Constance, ii. 207). Gregory esteemed the victory of Caesarius as a more precious gift than the half of the empire (Orat. vii. 14, ad init.). But Julian had bitter revenge in store. He ordered that no Christian should teach profane literature. This caused Gregory to compose many of the poems now extant, probably as reading-books for Christian schools. Towards the end of 363 or the beginning of 364 he wrote two Invectives against Julian (Orat. iv. Op. i. 78–147; Orat. v. ib. 147–175). The emperor had fallen, pierced by an arrow, in the previous June. The orator in these philippics held him up as the sum of all that was vile. In the first sentence he is called "the dragon, the apostate, the Assyrian, the common enemy, the great mind" (Is. x. 12, LXX); and this sentence is typical. These orations, looked at dispassionately, remind us rather of Demosthenes or Cicero than of a Christian bishop. The admirers of the saint find it still more difficult to explain the panegyric on the Arian Constantius, which these discourses contain. He is "the most divine and Christ-loving of emperors, and his great soul is summoned from heaven. The sin of his life was the inhuman humanity which spared Julian" (Orat. iv. 34 seq., Op. i. 93 seq.) Gregory, indeed, speaks elsewhere of three things of which Constantius repented when dying: (1) the murder of his relations; (2) that he had named Julian Caesar; (3) that he had given himself to the dogma of the newer creed (Orat. xxi. 26, Op. i. 403 A). Yet he knew that the emperor gave his support to impiety, and framed laws against the orthodox doctrine (Orat. xxv. 9, Op. i. 461 A); nor could he have been ignorant that it was by Euzosïus that baptism was administered to the penitent. The character of Constantius is clearly used as an oratorical contrast to that of Julian.
While Gregory was thus employed at Nazianzus, Basil returned from Pontus to Caesarea, where Eusebius had been made bishop, and was ordained against his will. He informed his friend of this, and Gregory replied in a letter which is important as shewing his thoughts about the position in which both he and Basil had been placed. "Now the thing is done it is necessary to fulfil one's duty—such at least is the way in which I look at it—especially in the present distress, when many tongues of heretics are raised against us, and not to disappoint the hopes of those who have put their faith in us and in our past life" (Ep. viii. Op. ii. 8). A difference arose ere long between Eusebius and Basil. Its origin is not known, and Gregory thought it better that it should not be (Orat. xliii. 28, Op. i. 792). It shews Gregory in the character of peacemaker. The warm friend of Basil, he was no less an admirer of the bishop, and an advocate for the rights of authority. Invited
by the bishop to fill the place vacated by Basil's retirement to Pontus, he does not hesitate to assert that the treatment of Basil was unjust and to demand reconciliation with his friend as the price of his own influence (Epp. xvi.-xx. Op. ii. 16). An indignant reply from Eusebius only called forth stronger letters from the same standpoint (Epp. xvii. and xviii. Op. ii. 17, 18), and an equally plain letter to Basil, telling him that Eusebius was disposed to be reconciled to him, and urging him to be first in the victory of submission (Ep. xix. ib.). Hereupon Basil returned to Caesarea, and gave his powerful aid to the bishop in the dangers threatening the church, or rather became bishop in reality, while Eusebius was still so in name—"the keeper of the lion, the leader of the leader" (Orat. xliii. 33, Op. i. 796). When peace was thus established, Gregory returned again to Nazianzus. Here new troubles awaited him. Caesarius had been chosen by Valens to be treasurer of Bithynia, and once more his brother was distressed at seeing him among the servants of an adversary of the true faith. On Oct. 11, 368, Nicaea was almost destroyed by an earthquake. Gregory made this the ground of an earnest appeal to Caesarius to abandon his office (Ep. xx. Op. ii. p. 19). He was on the point of yielding when he suddenly died. The funeral oration delivered by Gregory is placed by Jerome first in the list of the orator's celebrated works (Catal. Scrip. Eccles. 117). It narrates, in the language of fraternal love, the deeds of a noble life, and seeks in that of Christian submission to console his parents and his friends (Orat. vii. Op. 198, et seq.). Sixteen epitaphs remain to shew how often Gregory mourned his loss (Ep. vi.-xxi. Op. ii. 1111–1115). The death of Caesarius brought trouble to Gregory from the administration of his estate which had been left to the poor. Against extortioners who tried to seize it he appealed to his friend Sophronius, prefect of Constantinople (Ep. xxix. Op. ii. 24); and his troubles called forth the kind offices of Basil. He himself tells us plaintively how he would gladly have fled these business worries, but felt it his duty to share the burden with his father (Carm. xi. 375–380, Op. ii. 695). About the same time another loss befell the house of Nazianzus in the death of Gorgonia, and once again Gregory delivered a funeral discourse of most touching gracefulness (Orat. viii. Op. i. 218 et seq.). These sorrows weighed heavily on Gregory's spirit; and while in public discourses he sought to console others, his private poems shew how hard he found it to console himself. "Already his whitening hairs shew his grief, and his stiffening limbs are inclining to the evening of a sad day" (Carm. de Rebus suis, i. 177–306, Op. ii. 641 sqq.). In 370 Eusebius died in the arms of Basil, who at once invited Gregory to Caesarea on the plea that he was himself in extremis. The latter regarded this as a pretext, and in a tone of mingled affection and reproach declined to go until after the election of the archbishop (Ep. xl. Op. ii. 34). The invitation to the bp. of Nazianzus to be present at the election was answered, as all the editors with almost certainty judge, by the hands of the son. He dwells upon the importance of the position and the special qualifications for it possessed by Basil, and promises his assistance if they propose to elect him (Ep. xli. Op. ii. 35). He wrote also to Eusebius of Samosata by the hands of the deacon Eustathius, urging him to go to Caesarea and promote Basil's election (Ep. xlii. Op. ii. 37). Eusebius yielded to this request, but the vote of the aged bp. of Nazianzus was also needed. An illness he had disappeared as soon as he started. The son thought it prudent to remain at home, but sent by his father's hands a letter to Eusebius, expressing his esteem and excusing his absence, and referring to the miracle of his father's restored health (Ep. xliv. Op. ii. 39). He did not go even after the election, but contented himself at first with writing letters which witness to his wisdom and affection (Epp. xlv. and xlvi. Op. ii. 40, 41). When the storm had subsided he went in person, but declined the position of first among the presbyters, or probably that of coadjutor bishop (τήνδε τῆς καθέδρας τιμήν, Orat. xliii. 39, Op. i. 801), which Basil offered him. But in the opposition caused by the bishops defeated in the election, and in the persecution organized by the prefect Modestius at the command of Valens, Gregory was foremost as a personal friend and as a defender of the faith (Socr. iv. ii).
In 370 Valens made a civil division of Cappadocia into two provinces, and in 372 Anthimus, bp. of Tyana, claimed equal rights with the bp. of Caesarea—i.e. the rights of metropolitan of Cappadocia Secunda, of which Tyana was the capital. Basil resisted this claim, and Gregory, who had returned to Nazianzus, offered, in a letter full of affectionate admiration (Ep. xlviii. Op. ii. 40), to visit and support his friend and went to Caesarea. Thence they proceeded together to the foot of Mount Taurus in Cappadocia Secunda, where was a chapel dedicated to St. Orestes, and where the people were accustomed to pay their tithes in kind. On their return they found the mountain-passes at Sasima guarded by followers of Anthimus. A struggle took place, and Gregory implies that he was personally injured (Carm. xi. 453, Op. ii. 699). He seems soon afterwards to have returned to Nazianzus, whither he was followed by Basil, who had resolved (by way of securing his own rights) to make Sasima a bishopric, and Gregory the first bishop. In this he was aided by the elder Gregory, and the son yielded against his own will (Orat. ix. Op. i. 234–238). At the last moment he fled, but was pursued by Basil, and at length consecrated (Orat. x. Op. i. 239–241). But he still put off the duties of his see, until Basil sent Gregory of Nyssa to remonstrate. But Anthimus was again prepared to resist by armed force, and Gregory finally abandoned duties which he had never willingly accepted. Basil wrote reproaching him, and he replied in the same tone. "He would not fight with the warlike Anthimus, for he was himself little experienced in war, and liable to be wounded, and one, moreover, who preferred repose. Why should he fight for sucking-pigs and chickens, which after all were not his own, as if it were a question of souls and of canons? And why should he rob
the metropolis of the illustrious Sasima?" (Ep. xlviii. Op. ii. 44). The "illustrious Sasima" must be described in the words of the poem, de Vitâ suâ: "on a much frequented road of Cappadocia, at a point where it is divided into three, is a halting-place, where is neither water nor grass, nor any mark of civilization. It is a frightful and detestable little village. Everywhere you meet nothing but dust, noises, waggons, howls, groans, petty officials, instruments of torture, chains. The whole population consists of foreigners and travellers. Such was my church of Sasima" (Carm. xi. 439–446, Op. ii. 696). Other letters were exchanged, but nothing could change his determination. He was at length prevailed upon by his father to leave the mountains, whither he had fled for refuge, and to become coadjutor at Nazianzus. This did not deliver him from the quarrel between Basil and Anthimus, for Nazianzus was in the new province of Cappadocia Secunda, and the bp. of Tyana soon visited the Gregories and sought to gain them to his cause. They held firm to Basil, but Anthimus then asked the son to interfere between Basil and himself, and to seek a conference. The option of having one at all, its time and place if resolved upon, all was left to Basil's will, and yet he felt injured and expressed his dissatisfaction at Gregory's conduct. The latter felt and said, in plain terms, "that his friend was puffed up by his new dignity, and unmindful of what was due to others. He had himself offended Anthimus by his firm Basilism (βασιλισμόν). Was it just that Basil should be offended for the same reason?" (Ep. l. Op. ii. 44). He soon gave further proof of affection by taking an active part in the election of Eulalius as bp. of Doaris, and by a remonstrance on the subject of Basil's teaching, which he felt was due from his friendship. He had heard men cavil at Basil's orthodoxy, and assert that he did not hold the Divinity of the Third Person in the Trinity; and humbly asked him, for the sake of silencing his detractors—he himself had no doubt—to express in definite words what he held as the true doctrine (Ep. lviii. Op. ii. 50). Basil did not accept the friendly letter in the same spirit. Gregory saw from his reply that it had given pain, in spite of his care. Yet he submits, and will place himself entirely in Basil's hands (Ep. lix. Op. ii. 53).
The year 373 was an "annus mirabilis" for Nazianzus, and called forth two remarkable discourses from Gregory. An epidemic among their cattle, a season of drought, and a destructive tempest in harvest reduced the people to absolute poverty. They turned in their need to the church, and compelled Gregory to address them. The discourse seems to have been impromptu. Gregory "regrets that he is the constrained speaker rather than his father—that the stream is made to flow while the fountain is dry—and then urges that divine punishments are all in mercy, and that human sins are the ordinary causes of public woes"; then plainly puts before his hearers the special sins of their city and invites them to penitence and change of life (Orat. xvi. Op. i. 299). The inability of the inhabitants to pay the imperial taxes led to an insurrection. At the approach of the prefect with a body of troops they took refuge in the church, and he consented to hear Gregory's plea. While the Invective against Julian reminds us of the Philippics or the de Coronâ, we have here an oration which has borne without injury comparison with the pro Ligario or pro Marcello, or Chrysostom's plea for Eutropius or Flavian (Benoît, p. 355). The first part points the afflicted people to the true source of comfort; the second is addressed to princes and magistrates. "The prefect was subject to the authority of the teacher, which was higher than his own. Did he wield the sword? it was for Christ. Was he God's image? so were the poor suffering people. The most divine thing was to do good; let him not lose the opportunity. Did he see the white hair of the aged bishop, and think of his long, unblemished priesthood, whom, it may he, the very angels found worthy of homage (λατρείας), and did not that move him?" "I adjure you by the name of Christ, by Christ's emptying Himself for us, by the sufferings of Him Who cannot suffer, by His cross, by the nails which have delivered me from sin, by His death and burial, resurrection and ascension; and lastly, by this common table where we sit together, and by these symbols of my salvation, which I consecrate with the same mouth that addresses to you this prayer—in the name, I say, of this sacred mystery which lifts us up to heaven!" He concluded by praying "that the prefect may find for himself such a judge as he should be for them, and that all meet with merciful judgment here and hereafter" (Orat. xvii. Op. i. 317 et seq.) Early in 374 the elder Gregory died, and the son delivered a discourse, at which his mother Nonna and his friend Basil were present, and which was an eulogy of both his parents and of his friend (Orat. xviii. Op. i. 327). Nonna survived her husband only a few months, and died as she knelt at the Holy Table (Epit. lxv.–c. Op. ii. 1133–1149). The brother and sister were already dead. Gregory was left alone. His first care was to devote his large fortune wholly to the poor, reserving only a small plot of land at Arianzus; and then to invite the bishops to elect a successor to the see. Fear lest the church should be rent by heresy induced him to exercise the office temporarily. Two reasons determined him not to preach at Nazianzus again—(1) that he may cause them to elect a bishop to succeed his father; (2) that his silence may check the mania for theological discussion which was spreading through the Eastern church and leading everybody to teach the things of the Spirit without the Spirit.
For two years after the bishop's death Gregory in vain pressed for the election of a successor. His love of retirement was now, as all through life, a powerful influence, and towards the end of 375 he disappeared suddenly, and found refuge for 3 years at Seleucia in Isauria, at a monastery devoted to the virgin Thecla (Carm. xi. 549, Op. ii. 701).
In the beginning of 379 Basil died, and Gregory wrote to comfort his brother Gregory of Nyssa. He could neither visit Basil in illness nor be present at his funeral, for he was himself then dangerously ill (Ep. lxxvi. Op. ii. 65), but he expressed his love in 12 epitaphs. A letter from Gregory to Eudocius
the rhetorician, written soon after, speaks of the loss which made him regard death as "the only deliverance from the ills which weighed upon him" (Ep. lxxx. Op. ii. 72).
But the chief work of his life yet lay before him. At the Nicaean council, Alexander, then bp. of Constantinople, signed the decrees which condemned Arius. He was succeeded by Paul, who was devoted to the true faith, and suffered martyrdom in a.d. 351. For 30 years after the death of Paul, Constantinople was the battle-ground of a constant war with heresy. The followers of Manes and Novatus, Photinus and Marcellus, Sabellius and Apollinaris, were numerous there; and the adherents of the Nicene faith, few in number, humiliated, crushed, having neither church nor pastor, were obliged to conceal themselves in remote quarters of the city (Benoît, Greg. de Naz. p. 397). They applied to Gregory to help them, and many bishops urged their plea. For a long time he was unwilling to leave his retirement, but then came the conviction that he dared not refuse this summons. The date of his arrival at Constantinople is not certain, but was probably before Easter, 379 (Tillem. Mém. ix. 799). A prayer, in the form of a poem, indicates the spirit with which he entered upon his new work (Carm. iii. Op. ii. 667), and another poem shews what that work involved. New Rome "had passed through the death of infidelity; there was left but one last breath of life. He had come to this city to defend the faith. What they needed was solid teaching to deliver them from the spider-webs of subtleties in which they had been taken" (Carm. xi. 562–611, Op. ii. 705, 6). In a private house, where he himself was lodged by relations, his work was begun. It was to him "an Anastasia, the scene of the resurrection of the faith" (Orat. xlii. 26, Carm. xi. 1079, Op. ii. 731); the house was too small for the multitudes that flocked to it, and a church was built in its place. His fame, as a theologian, rests chiefly on the discourses delivered at the Anastasia. His first work was to gather the scattered members of the flock and instruct them in the practical duties of Christianity and the danger of empty theological discussions (Carm. xi. 1210–1231, Op. ii. 737–739). Again and again in the early discourses does he dwell on the truth that only through personal holiness can a man grasp any idea of the Holy One (Orat. xx. and Orat. xxii. Op. i. 376–384 and 597–603). Gregory was exposed to the attacks of all parties. His origin, person, clothing, were made objects of ridicule. They would have welcomed a polished orator with external graces; but his manner of life had made him prematurely old, and his gifts to the poor had made him in appearance and reality a poor man. One night, a mob, led by monks, broke into the place of meeting and profaned the altar and sacred elements. Gregory escaped, but was taken before the judges as a homicide; "but He Who knew how to save from the lions was present to deliver him" (Carm. xi. 665–678, Op. ii. 709). "He cared not that they attacked him—the stones were his delight; he cared only for the flock who were thus injured" (ib. 725 et seq.). His chief sorrow was to come from a division in the flock itself. This started from the schism of Antioch, which had spread through the whole church; but the immediate question was one of competition for the bishopric. Gregory had kept aloof from this quarrel, but some of his followers took an active part in it, and endeavoured to draw from him a decision for one or other of the rivals. Some seem to have favoured Paulinus, some Meletius. Gregory preached a sermon on Peace (Orat. xxii. Op. i. 414–425), dwelling "on its blessings, and the inconsistency of their faith, servants of the God of peace as they claimed to be, and their practice. Their duty was to remain united when the faith was not in question; to weaken the present struggle by keeping out of it, and thus to do the rivals a greater service than by fighting for them" (ib. 14, p. 423). Soon afterwards the news of the establishment of peace reached Constantinople, and was followed by peace in the little church of the Anastasia. Gregory, though ill, preached almost certainly on this occasion another sermon on Peace (Orat. xxiii. Op. i. 425–434) thankfully celebrating its return, and urging those present who were divided from them by heresy "to be at peace with them by acceptance of the true faith. It was the work of the sacred Trinity to give the faithful peace among themselves. The sacred Trinity would heal also this wider breach." At the close of this sermon he promises to deal more fully with the questions at issue between the followers of the Nicene faith and their opponents. This he did in the five theological discourses which soon followed (Orat. xxvii.-xxxi. Op. i. 487–577; vide infra). Other important discourses belong to the same period, of which the most remarkable are a second on the Divinity of the Holy Spirit, preached at Whitsuntide 381 (?) (Orat. xli. Op. ii. 731–744), and one on Moderation in Discussions—a frequent subject with Gregory—in which heresy is traced to its absence (Orat. xxxii. Op. ii. 579–601). He delivered also three (?) panegyrics, the subjects of which were Cyprian, whose name was held in deserved honour in Constantinople (Orat. xxiv. Op. i. 437–450); Athanasius, whose memory was specially dear to Gregory as the champion of Nicene orthodoxy, and who had died but a few years before (a.d. 373) (Orat. xxi. Op. i. 386–411); and the Maccabees (?), whose heroism might well have been specially intended for an example in the present struggle (Orat. xv. Op. i. 287–298). The last two, especially that on Athanasius, are counted by all judges, from Jerome downwards, among Gregory's noblest works (Script. Eccles. 117).
Jerome became about this time a disciple of Gregory and loved to tell how much he had learned from his teacher.
Another stranger who came to Constantinople professed himself a disciple of the now famous theologian. He bore the name of Maximus, and represented himself as descended from a line of martyrs, and as having suffered much through his adherence to the Nicene faith. Professing himself an ardent admirer of Gregory's sermons, this man was planning the overthrow of his teacher, and hoped even to establish himself in the episcopal chair. He had an important ally in
Peter, bp. of Alexandria, who had recognized Gregory as practically bp. of the orthodox in Constantinople (Carm. xi. 858–931), but now joined in the plot against him. Gregory was ill in bed, when one night Maximus with his followers went to the church to be consecrated by 5 suffragans sent from Alexandria for the purpose. While they were preparing for the ceremony, day began to dawn, and a mob, excited by the sudden news, rushed in, drove them from the church, and compelled Maximus to flee from Constantinople. Retiring to Alexandria, he demanded that Peter should find him another bishopric or relinquish his own. He was silenced by the prefect and banished.
In connexion with the story of Maximus, Gregory tells us that he one day uttered the words, "My beloved children, keep intact this Trinity which I, your most happy father, have delivered to you, and preserve some memorial of my labours." One of the hearers saw the hint, and people of all ages, conditions, and ranks vied with each other in cries of affection for him and hatred for his foes (Carm. xi. 1057–1113, Op. ii. 729–731), and one cried, "If you go, you will banish the doctrine of the Trinity as well as yourself" (ib. 1100). At this Gregory promised to remain until the arrival of some bishops who were expected at the council, but retired for a while to the country to recruit his shattered health.
On Nov. 24, 380, Theodosius made his formal entry into Constantinople. One of his first cares was to restore to the orthodox the churches of which they had been deprived by the Arians. Gregory was summoned, and early on the morning of Nov. 26, in the presence of an immense crowd, Theodosius and Gregory entered the church of the Holy Apostles. A thick fog enveloped the building, but at the first accents of the chants the rays of the sun fell upon the vestments of the priests and the swords of the soldiers, and brought to Gregory's mind the glory of the Tabernacle of old. At the same time there arose a cry like thunder demanding that he should be bishop. "Silence!—silence!" he cried. "This is the time to give thanks to God. It will be time enough, hereafter, to settle other things." The service was continued without further interruption. Only one sword was drawn, and that was put back unstained into its sheath (Carm. xi. 1325–1390). In no part of Gregory's life is his true excellence of character more clearly seen than here; to his spirit of moderation and forgiveness is it to be attributed that this great religious revolution was effected without shedding one drop of blood. He tells one incident which reveals his spirit towards his foes. While he was ill in bed an assassin who had attempted his life entered his room, and, stung by conscience, fell weeping and speechless at his feet. Gregory said to him, "May God preserve you! It is nothing wonderful that I whom He hath saved should be merciful to you. Your bold deed has made you mine. Take care to walk, henceforth, worthy of God and of me." Gregory adds that this deed softened the feeling of the citizens towards him.
Not long after the entry into the metropolitical church—perhaps the very next day—the enthusiasm of the multitude led them to attempt to place Gregory by force in the episcopal chair. Yet there were traces of jealousy, and false motives were freely attributed to him. Always sensitive, he delivered in the presence of Theodosius a sermon "concerning himself, and to those who said that he wished to be bp. of Constantinople, and concerning the favours which the people had shewn towards him" (Orat. xxxvi. Op. i. 633–643). It is a forcible Apologia pro Vitâ suâ." He would have been ashamed to seek that bishopric, bowed down as he was by old age and physical weakness. They said that he had sought another's bride (Constantinople): he had really refused his own (Sasima)" (ib. vi. 638, 639). The emperor and the court were present; questions greater than personal ones arose to Gregory's mind, and the discourse became an eloquent appeal to princes, sages, philosophers, professors, philologists, orators, to weigh their responsibilities and fulfil their duties.
Another discourse preached before Theodosius is the only one of Gregory's extant discourses which is a homily in the narrower sense of a definite exposition and application of a passage of Scripture (Orat. xxxvii. Op. i. 644–660). The text was Matt. xix. 1–12. Gregory first shews that "the reason why Christ moved from place to place was that He might heal the more persons. For the salvation of the world He had moved from heaven to earth. This was the cause of His voluntary humiliation, which men who understood it not had dwelt upon as contradicting His divinity, though divine names and attributes are applied to Him. Christ answered some questions (Matt. xix. 3, 4); others He did not answer (Luke xx. 2, 4). The preacher would follow Christ's example" (ib. v. 648, 649). "Christ answered fully their question about divorce. The preacher applying the teaching of Christ protests against the injustice of the Roman law, which distinguished between the adultery of the woman and that of the man. Men made it, and therefore it was directed against women (ib. vi. 649). Marriage for the first time is lawful, the second time an indulgence; more than the second, sinful; but virginity is a higher state (ib. v. iii.-x. 650–652). Husbands, wives, virgins, eunuchs, priests, laymen, all have their duties." He exhorts them to fulfil these, and, as in almost every discourse, passes on to the duty of believing in the doctrine of the Trinity.
Three other important discourses of Gregory, which belong also to the ministry at Constantinople, can only be mentioned. (1) On the Nativity [Dec. 25, 380?] (Orat. xxxviii. Op. i. 661–675; (2) On the Epiphany [Jan. 6, 381?] (Orat. xxxiv. ib. 676–691); (3) On Holy Baptism (Orat. xl. ib. 691–729).
Theodosius had long intended to summon a general council, and in May, a.d. 381, the synod of the 190 bishops who formed the second oecumenical council was held in the capital of the East. Socrates tells us that the object of the council was to confirm the Nicene faith and to appoint a bishop for Constantinople (Hist. Eccl. v. 8; cf. Soz. vii. 7; Theod. v. 7; Mansi, Collect. Concil. iii. 523). No Western bishop is mentioned as present, and the attempt to shew that Damasus of Rome
was either consulted or represented is futile; but 36 bishops who were followers of Macedonius were present, and every effort was made to induce them to accept the Nicene faith. Meletius, the venerable bp. of Antioch, was at first president. The consecration of Maximus was at once pronounced void. The wish of Theodosius that Gregory should be chosen for the vacant see was well known; and the only bishop who opposed it was Gregory himself. He was by force placed in the episcopal chair. But he had this hope—alas! a vain one—that, "as position gives influence, he should be able, like a choragus who leads two choirs, to produce harmony between opposing parties " (Carm. xi. 1525–1545, Op. ii. 755). Meletius dying, the new archbishop naturally succeeded him as president of the council, but who should succeed him as bp. of Antioch? It is said that the two bishops, Meletius and Paulinus, had agreed that the survivor should be the sole bishop, and that to this agreement the chief clergy and laity of both parties were sworn. Meletius himself expressed an earnest wish for it from his death-bed, but a strong party, both within and without the council, was soon organized against it. Gregory has given us, in the poem de Vitâ suâ, a resume of his own speech on the question (Carm. xi. 1591–1679, Op. ii. 759–763). "Now God had given the means of peace, let them confirm Paulinus in the episcopal office, and when the two should pass away, let them elect a new bishop. . . . For himself, he sought their permission to resign the office which they had conferred upon him, and he would gladly retire to some desert far away from evil men." He could scarcely have expected that this address would be received with favour, for the Meletian party was overpoweringly strong in the synod, and Paulinus had not been invited; but he was not prepared for the storm which followed. "There arose a cry like that of a number of jackdaws, and the younger members attacked him like a swarm of wasps" (ib. 1680–1690). He left the synod never to return to it. For a while illness was opportunely (καλῶς) the reason of his absence (ib. 1745), but the council proceeded to name Flavian as successor of Meletius; and Gregory, finding that his opinion had little weight, withdrew altogether and left the official residence, which was close to the church of the Holy Apostles (Carm. xi. 1778, Op. ii. 769). This led to earnest entreaties from the people that he would not desert his flock (ib. 1785–1795). Moved for a while by these prayers, he yet persisted in his determination, which was strengthened by the arrival of bishops from Egypt and Macedonia. The East and the West were now opposed to each other, and "prepared for the battle like wild boars, sharpening their terrible tusks" (ib. 1804). The new members of the synod did not object to Gregory personally; but his election was probably in itself obnoxious as an act of Meletius. It was clearly opposed, they urged, to the 15th canon of the Nicene council, which forbad any bishop, presbyter, or deacon to pass from one city to another. By that canon he ought to be sent back to Sasima. Gregory's party urged that he was released from that obligation by an equal authority, as another general council had elected him bp. of Constantinople; but it could not be expected that this plea would be accepted by bishops who were not a party to that act, nor was Gregory himself justified in speaking of the Nicene canons as obsolete. Gregory exhorted the council to think of higher things and mutual harmony. "He would be another Jonah to pacify the angry waves. Gladly would he find retirement and rest. He had but one anxiety, and that was for his beloved doctrine of the Trinity (ib. 1828–1855). He left the synod, glad at the thought of rest from his labours; sorrowful as one who is robbed of his children." The synod received his resignation with satisfaction, as removing a chief ground of dissension, and probably of jealousy also (ib 1869; Carm. xii. 145–148, Op. ii. 787). Gregory went from the assembly to the emperor, who unwillingly consented. Gregory's only remaining care was to reconcile those who had been opposed to him and to bid farewell to his friends. He delivered a public statement of his position and a public farewell to the council and his church towards the end of June, 381 (Orat. xlii. Op. i. 748–768), before the synod and in the presence of a congregation which filled every corner of the church, and among whom no eye was dry. "Was there needed proof of his right to the bishopric? He would render his accounts. Let his work answer. He found them a rude flock, without a pastor, scattered, persecuted, robbed. Let them look round and see the wreath which had been woven—priests, deacons, readers, holy men and women. That wreath he had helped to weave. Was it a great thing to have established sound doctrine in a city which was the centre of the world? In that, too, he had done his part. Had he ever sought to promote his own interests? He could appeal like another Samuel. No; he had lived for God and the church, and kept the vows of his priesthood. All this he had done through the Holy Trinity and by the help of the Spirit. He would present to the synod his church as the most precious offering. The reward he asked was that they would appoint some one with pure hands and prudent tongue to watch over it; and that to the white hairs and worn-out frame of an old man, who could hardly then preach to them, they would allow the longed-for rest. Let them learn to prove these his last words—bishops to see the evil of the contentions which were among them; people to disregard externals and love priests rather than orators, men who cared for their souls rather than rich men." He then pronounced his lengthened farewell "to the beloved Anastasia, to the large temple, to the churches throughout the city, to the apostles who inhabited the temple, to the episcopal throne, to the clergy of all degrees, to all who helped at the holy table, to the choruses of Nazareans, to the virgins, wives, widows, orphans, poor; to the hospitable houses, to the crowds of hearers; to prince and palace and their inhabitants; to the Christ-loving city, to Eastern and Western lands; above all, to angels, protectors of the church and of himself; to the Holy Trinity, his only thought and treasure." With this pathetic climax,
unsurpassed elsewhere even by Gregory himself, he concluded his last discourse in Constantinople. He left the city and retired to Nazianzus. Here he received a letter from Philagrius, an old friend of Caesarius and himself, animadverting upon his retirement. His answer breathes the same spirit as the poem de Vitâ suâ and the farewell sermon. "He was tired of fighting against envy and against venerable bishops, who destroyed the peace and put their personal squabbles before questions of faith " (Ep. lxxxvii. Op. ii. 76). Among the letters belonging to this period, two addressed to Nectarius, who was chosen to succeed Gregory at Constantinople, deserve special note, as shewing that he cherished for him and the church nothing but the most entire goodwill (Epp. lxxxviii. and xci. Op. ii. 77, 78). Gregory's difficulties were not yet at an end. On his return to Nazianzus he found that church in confusion, chiefly through the teaching of the Apollinarians (Carm. xxxi. Op. ii. 870–877). He tried to find a bishop who would stem the evil, but was thwarted by the presbyters and by the desertion of seven bishops who had promised to support him. His candidate had been hitherto engaged in secular affairs, but he thought him the most promising. He seems to have succeeded in naming another as bishop, and then to have retired to Arianzus. But very shortly he was again urged to take the governance of the church at Nazianzus and check the rapidly spreading Apollinarianism, and, in spite of his own strong disinclination, he agreed to do so. During this second administration the prefect Olympius threatened to destroy the city in consequence of a seditious attack, and it was saved only by a pacific letter from the bishop (Ep. cxli. Op. ii. 118–120). Other letters of the same kind shew Gregory as the father of the city, watching over all its interests with loving care.
But he felt that his constant illness unfitted him for his duties, and we find him writing to the archbp. of Tyana earnestly beseeching him to take steps to appoint another bishop. "If this letter did not affect its purpose, he would publicly proclaim the bishopric vacant rather than that the church should longer suffer from his own infirmity" (Ep. clii. Op. ii. 128). Eulalius, Gregory's colleague and relation, and the man of his choice, was elected in his stead. Gregory's satisfaction is expressed in a letter to Gregory of Nyssa (Ep. clxxxii. Op. ii. 149). Gregory withdrew to Arianzus, and spent in retirement the six remaining years of life. To this period belong certainly a large number of poems and letters; and probably two discourses, one on the Festival of St. Mamas, which was kept with special honour around Nazianzus on the first Sun. after Easter (καινὴ κυριακή) and one on the Holy Passover (Orat. xliv. and xlv. Op. i. 834–868).
Gregory at first retired to the little plot at Arianzus which he had retained when all his other property was given to the poor. Here a shady walk with a fountain was his favourite resort (Carm. xliv. 1–24, Op. ii. 915–917). But even this peaceful spot was denied him, and he was "driven forth without city, throne, or children, but always full of cares for them, as a wanderer upon the earth" (Carm. xliii. 1–12, Op. 913–915). He found a temporary resting-place at a tomb consecrated to martyrs at Carbala, a place of which nothing is known, and which the Bollandists suppose (Mai. ii. 424 F) to be another name for the plot at Arianzus. He was driven thence by a relative named Valentinian, who settled near with the female members of his family, as from another Paradise by another Eve. Οἰκαρχίαις δὴ γυναικῶν οὕτως ὑποχωρήσομεν, ὥσπερ ἐχιδναίοις ἐπιδρομαῖς (Ep. cciii. Op. ii. 169). The poems and letters of this period speak of constant illness and suffering, with but short intervals of relief. A frame never strong had given way under the severe asceticism of the earlier and the burden of the later life. "I suffer," he says in one of the letters, "and am content, not because I suffer, but because I am for others an example of patience. If I have no means to overcome any pain, I gain from it at least the power to bear it, and to be thankful as well in sorrowful circumstances as in joyous; for I am convinced that, although it seems to us the contrary, there is in the eyes of the Sovereign Reason nothing opposed to reason, in all which happens to us" (Ep. xxxvi. Op. ii. 32). Besides physical sufferings he had to bear intense spiritual agony, which at times took from him all hope either in this world or the next. In the thick of the spiritual combat he, like other great souls, learnt the lessons he was to teach to the world. His death must be assigned to about the 11th year of Theodosius, i.e. a.d. 389 or 390.
Gregory's extant works are contained in two fol. vols. of the Benedictine edition. Vol. i. consists of 45 sermons, of which some have been noticed in this article. Vol. ii. includes 243 letters—theological, pastoral, political, domestic; the will of Gregory, taken from the archives of the church of Nazianzus, and the poems arranged in two books. The dogmatic poems are 38 in number. No. 10 (74 iambics) is on the Incarnation, against Apollinaris. No. 11 (16 hexameters and pentameters) is also on the Incarnation. Nos. 12–29 are mnemonic verses on the facts of Holy Scripture, apparently meant for school use. Nos. 29–38 are prayers or hymns addressed to God. The moral poems are 40 in number. No. 1 (732 hexameters) is a eulogy of virginity. Nos. 2–7 in various metres, deal with kindred subjects, exhortations and counsels to virgins and monks, and the superiority of the single life. Nos. 8–11 are on the secular and religious life, and exhortations to virtue; Nos. 12 and 13 on the frailty of the human nature. No. 14 is a meditation on human nature in 132 hexameters and pentameters. It ranks with No. 1 among the most beautiful of Gregory's poems. The remainder of the poems in this section are on such subjects as the baseness of the outer man; the blessedness of the Christian life; the sin of frequent oaths and of anger; the loss of dear friends; the misery of false friends. Four are satires against a bad-mannered nobleman (26 and 27); misers (28); feminine luxury (29). There are 99 poems relating to his own life. One of them (No. 11, de Vitâ suâ) is an autobiography extending to 1,949 lines, to which another (No. 12, de Seipso et de Episcopis) adds 836 lines more. Among the historical poems is an epistle to
Nemesius, an eminent public man, shewing him the errors of paganism, and urging him to accept Christianity. These poetic epistles are of considerable length, and shew the varied interests and practical wisdom of the writer. There are 129 epitaphs and 94 epigrams, most of which are short poems, with little in them of the modern epigram, though some shew (e.g. 10–14, Εἰς Ἀγαπετούς) that the pen of Gregory could, when occasion required, be pointed with adamant. No less than 64 (31–94), belonging probably to the writer's youth, are upon the spoilers of tombs. If the statement of Jerome and Suidas, that Gregory wrote 30,000 verses, is to be understood literally, more than a third of them are now unknown.
In forming an estimate of Gregory's literary position, we have to consider (1) his poems, (2) his letters, and (3) his orations. Of each kind of writing there are abundant materials to form a judgment. (1) Two criticisms of the poems from very different standpoints may help us to arrive at the true mean. To Dr. Ullmann (Gregorius, ss. 200–202) they are "inferior to the letters, the product of old age, whereas the true vein of poetry must have shewn itself in earlier life; cramped by their subject-matters, which did not admit of originality; prosaic thoughts wrapped in poetic forms; involved and diffusive"; though he admits that some of the short pieces are poetry of a high order, and that the didactic aim of Gregory is to be taken into account. "Still they could never be more than a poor substitute for the older poetry of Greece." Villemain considers the poems the finest of all Gregory's works. He instances one especially (de Humanâ naturâ), "the severe charm of which seems to have anticipated the finest inspirations of our melancholy age, while it preserves the impress of a faith still fresh and honest, even in its trouble. . . . His funeral eulogies are hymns; his invectives against Julian have something of the malediction of the prophets. He has been called the 'Theologian of the East.' He ought to have been called rather 'the Poet of Eastern Christendom'" (Tableau de l᾿éloquence chrétienne au 4me siècle, p. 133). (2) Gregory's extant letters, though upon very various subjects, and often written under the pressure of immediate necessity, are almost invariably finished compositions. (3) A higher place has been claimed in this article for Gregory's orations than for his poems. He is now held to be greater than Basil, or even Chrysostom, and to have combined "the invincible logic of Bourdaloue; the unction, colour, and harmony of Massillon; the flexibility, poetic grace, and vivacity of Fénelon; the force, grandeur, and sublimity of Bossuet. . . . The Eagle of Meaux has been especially inspired by him in his funeral orations; the Swan of Cambrai has followed him in his treatise on The Existence of God" (Benoît, p. 721). He was an orator by training and profession. For this he studied at Caesarea, Alexandria, and Athens, and was the acknowledged chief in the schools of the rhetoricians. The oratory of the Christian pulpit was the creation of Gregory and Basil. It was based on the ancient models, and was akin, therefore, to the speeches of Demosthenes and Cicero, rather than to the modern sermon. It has been charged against the sermons of Gregory that they are not expositions of Scripture. As compared with the homilies of Chrysostom, for example, they certainly are not (except one: Orat. xxxvii. Op. i. 644–660); the nature of the case made it impossible that they should be. But the margin of every page abounds with references to Scripture, and no reader can fail to see with Bossuet that "Gregory's whole discourse is nothing but a judicious weaving of Scripture, and that he manifests everywhere a profound acquaintance with it " (Défense de la tradition, etc., iv. 2; Benoît, p. 723).
Great as was the position of Gregory as a writer, he left his chief mark upon history as a theologian. He alone beyond the apostolic circle has been thought worthy to bear the name "Theologus" which had been appropriated to St. John. Ullmann (Gregorius, etc., ss. 209–352), following Clemencet (Op. i. xlix.-lxxviii.), has arranged under their separate headings his views on the articles of faith. Within our present limits we can only refer to them as contained in the five famous theological discourses at Constantinople (Orat. xxvii.-xxxi. Op. i. 487–579).
(1) The first, Κατὰ Εὐνομιάνων, urges that "to discourse about God is a task of the greatest difficulty, not fitted for all times or all persons, nor to be undertaken in the presence of all persons. . . . The teacher of theology ought first to practise virtue. There is abundant scope for work to refute the older teaching of the pagan philosophers, or to discuss simpler questions of science and theology; but as to the nature of God our words should be few, for we can know but little in this life."
(2) Περὶ θεολογίας. Gregory reasserts here his favourite position, that "it is the pure mind only that can know God. . . . The theologian beholds part of God, but the divine nature he can neither express in words nor comprehend in thought. The higher intelligence of angels even cannot know Him as He is. That there is a creating and preserving cause, we can know, as the sound of an instrument bears witness to its maker and player; that God is, we know, but what He is, and of what nature He is, and where He is, and where He was before the foundation of the world, we cannot know. The Infinite cannot be defined. We can only predicate negative attributes, for the nature of the divine essence is beyond all human conception."
(3) Περὶ Υἱοῦ. The two previous discourses were introductory. He now passes to the next subject. "The three earliest opinions concerning God were anarchia, polyarchia, and monarchia. The two former could not stand, as leading to confusion rather than the order of the universe. We hold that there is a monarchia, but that God is not limited to one person. If unity is divided, it becomes plurality. But if there is equal dignity of nature, and agreement of will, and identity of movement, and convergence to unity of those things which are of unity (and this cannot be the case in created things), there may be distinction in number without by any means involving distinction in essence and nature.
Unity, therefore (μονάς), from the beginning going forth to duality (εἰς δυάδα), constituted a Trinity (μέχρι τριάδος). Human words fail to express the generation and procession, and it is better to keep to scriptural terms; but the writer has in his thoughts an overflowing of goodness, and the Platonic simile of an overflowing cup applied to first and second causes. The generation and procession are eternal, and all questions as to time are inapplicable." Gregory then proceeds to state and answer the common objections of his adversaries.
(4) Περὶ Υἱοῦ. Another discourse on the same subject. Gregory has already answered the objection, that some passages of Scripture speak of the Son as human. He here exhaustively examines, under ten objections, the scriptural language applied to our Lord, and then passes to an exposition of the names (a) common to the Deity, (b) peculiar to the Son, (c) peculiar to the Son as man.
(5) Περὶ τοῦ Ἁγίου πνεύματος. Gregory commences this oration by referring to the difficulties arising because many who admitted the divinity of the Son regarded that of the Holy Ghost as a new doctrine not found in Holy Scripture. He expresses, in the strongest terms, his own belief in the divinity of the Third Person. "The Holy Spirit is holiness. Had the Spirit been wanting to the divine Trinity, the Father and the Son would have been imperfect." The most eminent pagan philosophers had had a glimpse of the truth, for they spoke of the "Mind of the Universe," the "Mind without," etc.
No conception of the subtlety of thought or beauty of expression in these discourses of Gregory can be given in an outline. Critics have rivalled each other in their praise, and many theologians have found in them their own best thoughts. A critic who cannot be accused of partiality towards Gregory has given perhaps the truest estimate of them. "A substance of thought, the concentration of all that is spread through the writings of Hilary, Basil, and Athanasius; a flow of softened eloquence which does not halt or lose itself for a moment; an argument nervous without dryness on the one hand, and without useless ornament on the other, gives these five discourses a place to themselves among the monuments of this fine genius, who was not always in the same degree free from grandiloquence and affectation. In a few pages and in a few hours Gregory has summed up and closed the controversy of a whole century." De Broglie, L᾿Eglise et l᾿empire, v. 385; Benoît, Grégoire, etc. 435, 436.
Little is needed for the study of Gregory's life and works beyond the admirable Benedictine ed. referred to above (Migne, Patr. Gk. xxxv.-xxxviii.), and the Lives by Ullmann (Greg. von Naz. der Theologe, 2. Aufl., Gotha, 1867; pt. i. of earlier ed. trans. by Cox, Oxf. 1855) and Benoît (St. Grég. de Naz., Paris, 1876). For a well-known comparison of Gregory and Basil see Newman's Church of the Fathers, pp. 116–145, 551. Gregory's Five Theol. Orations have been ed. by A. J. Mason (Camb. Univ. Press, 1899). See also Duchesne, Histoire de l᾿Egl. vol. ii. ch. xii. Some of his works are trans. into Eng. in the Post-Nic. Fathers.