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Gathering Clouds A Tale Of The Days Of St Chrysostom by Frederic William Farrar


Que' fu al mondo persona orgogliosa. -- Dante, Inf. viii.46.

In the evening Michael ordered tables to be spread on the green turf round the fountain for the children of Nazareth, and gave them a happy meal. The scene -- the gay dresses, the flowers, the balmy air, the pealing hymns, the assembled children, the beautiful maidens of Nazareth, of whom none were so beautiful as Miriam and Ruth -- was one never to be forgotten; nor did the wedded pair ever forget the fervent and touching description of Christian homes given by Bishop John in his address to them.

Whence,' he said, are we to find words enough fully to set forth the happiness of that marriage which the Church cements, and the oblation confirms, and the Benediction signs and seals -- of which angels carry the news to heaven, which God approves? How blessed is the marriage-bond of two believers, sharers in one hope, in one desire, in one discipline, in one and the same service! Both are brothers, both fellow-servants; the two are one flesh and one spirit. Together they pray, together they prostrate themselves before the throne of grace. Mutually they teach, mutually they exhort, mutually they sustain each other. They are alike in the Church of God, at the banquet of God, in straits, in persecutions, in refreshments. Neither conceals aught from the other; neither shuns the other; neither is troublesome to the other. With freedom they visit the sick, they relieve the indigent. Their alms, their sacrifices, their daily diligence find no impediment. They join in |

psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,| in happy emulation of heart and voice. When Christ sees and hears such things, He rejoices. To them He sends His peace. Where the two are there is He, and where He is the Evil One is not.'

David and Ruth were still to live in the house of their father, for David was needed to relieve Michael of the cares of business and agriculture combined; but after a blissful week spent largely in the open air and under the woods beside the Sea of Galilee, Philip and his bride started on their journey to Antioch. They went by land, for Philip did not like to expose Miriam to the possible storms of the Mediterranean. They therefore travelled leisurely, and visited Tyre, and Sidon, and Damascus, and Berytus, on the way.

The household at Antioch was assembled to meet and greet them, scattering roses and lilies. Miriam entered with joy upon the modest duties of her home, while Philip watched for an opportunity to occupy his talents as best he could in the service of God and man.

He had scarcely been a month in Antioch when they were troubled by the imperious threats of Bishop Porphyry.

He was well aware that Philip was living in the house which belonged to Chrysostom, and had been regarded by him in the light of an adopted son. He hated Chrysostom with the concentrated hatred of a base nature; and he hated Philip for his sake, and was determined to use every means to crush him.

He therefore sent a priest to summon Philip into his presence, in order to coerce him into submission, and if he had not been under the immediate protection of the Emperor, Philip must either have fled from Antioch or suffered fresh experiences of priestly dungeons and priestly tortures. But as it was he knew that he was perfectly secure, and that Porphyry would never have dared to molest him had he been aware that he was under the sacrosanct shadow of Imperial kindness.

Philip dismissed the priest, whom he astonished by the message that he denied the right of Bishop Porphyry to summon him, but that as a matter of courtesy he would go.

Before he went, however, he thought it well to pay his respects to Anthemius, the Count of the East. The Count gave him a cordial welcome, and had the Emperor's commands to protect him. He had often seen him at the Patriarcheion, and knew in what high esteem he had been held by Chrysostom, whom he himself regarded with affectionate reverence. For the intruding Bishop of Antioch he felt a scarcely disguised contempt, and, on hearing that he meant to interfere with Philip's rights, he determined to surprise him by a visit at the very time at which he had ordered the young man to come.

So Philip went to the Bishop's palace, where he found himself received in the hall with the shrugs and sneers of Porphyry's clergy. He strode through the midst of them with indifference, only informing the attendant that he had come by the Bishop's appointment.

The attendant announced him, and came out, but Philip was not bidden to enter. He was left standing, and not being even asked to take a seat, he at last went and sat down on a bench at a distance, waiting for some message; but not a word was spoken to him, and there was a silence as of night, while the priests glowered on him with tragic countenances. Luncheon was going on, but he was ostentatiously ignored, as though he were not present at all.

Patience had never ranked among Philip's most conspicuous virtues, and as the attendants came in and out, summoning others who arrived later, but not admitting him into the shrine' where Porphyry sat, he at last started up, and said in a voice indignant enough to be heard not only through the hall but behind Porphyry's curtain:

Tell Bishop Porphyry that he summoned me at this hour. If he does not wish to see me, I shall go. I have no time to waste.'

The priests, accustomed to the awful deference which their bishop demanded, were thunderstruck at the message.

Insolent!' exclaimed one of them, advancing with a threatening gesture.

Touch me with one of your fingers,' said Philip, and I will bring you before the Court of the Præfect.'

He turned round, and was striding out of the hall, when the attendant hurried up, saying that he could now be admitted.

He entered the Bishop's presence in angry mood, and as he was received without even the semblance of courtesy, he did not choose to go on his knees and kiss the Bishop's hands, but contented himself with a slight bow.

How dare you!' asked Porphyry, purple in the face with rage.

How dare I -- what?'

How dare you come into my presence without an obeisance?'

I did not know that they were regarded as compulsory.'

Am I not a bishop?'

Philip was silent. You are no true bishop of Antioch,' he thought. You were intruded into the see, against the wishes of the people, by a conspiracy and a trick.'

Porphyry read his thoughts, and angrily exclaimed:

I have sent to order you to communicate publicly with me, or to take the consequences.'

I am unable to do so,' said Philip.

I know your fanatical devotion to that impure demon, the expelled Patriarch of Constantinople; nevertheless, the Emperor's decree bids all men to communicate with me, and you shall do it.'

He whom, you call an impure demon,' said Philip, with flashing eyes, is a saint of God, whom I revere with all my heart.'

Then you refuse to communicate with me?'

Philip remained silent.

Ah!' said the Bishop. We will soon tame this contumacy. You have felt the rack before, I think? Was it pleasant?'

I have felt the rack, and doubtless it might be your will to inflict it again,' said Philip, swept away with uncontrollable passion; but it will not be in your power.'

His Excellency, the Count of the East is here with his lictors,' announced the attendant priest.

Admit his Excellency,' said Porphyry, and take this young man out. I have not done with him.'

No!' said Philip, with a smile.

As Philip went out the Count was entering, and said to him, Come back with me; my visit concerns you.'

Anthemius greeted the Bishop with cold dignity, and said, I observe that my secretary, Philip, has been with you. I have come to tell your Religiosity that he is not to be molested by ecclesiastical squabbles.'

Ecclesiastical squabbles!' exclaimed Porphyry. The Emperor's authority is, I should hope, loftier than that of your Excellency, and he has expressly ordered everyone in his dominions to hold the faith held by me, Theophilus of Antioch, and Acacius of Beroea.'

Do you question my orders?' asked Anthemius.

I shall consult the Emperor on the subject, Count.'

Be it so. Has your Religiosity ever seen the Emperor's autograph?'


Then you shall see it now. I have just received this order from him to take Philip into the public official service;' and Anthemius showed him an order written by the Emperor's own hand.

That cannot cancel the previous edict,' said Porphyry, still resolute to coerce.

But this exempts me from it,' said Philip. 'Your Religiosity will now be able to recognise both the purple ink and the Imperial signature.'

He laid on the table the protective order which the Emperor had given him. The Count of the East,' he added, is aware of what this order says. After this your Beatitude will perhaps think it safer to persecute the unprotected, and to leave me alone.'

Bishop Porphyry stared at the document, and grew pale. He greatly feared that Anthemius and Philip might make an unfavourable report of him to the Emperor. As he remained silent they bowed and withdrew. The priests, who came in expecting to receive an order from Porphyry to throw Philip into prison and confiscate his goods, were received by the discomfited Bishop with a burst of fury, and bidden never again to allude to the subject.

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