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ST. CHRYSOSTOM's Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans is one of the closest and most argumentative of those he has left us. The style of the Epistle itself called for this, being such as almost constantly to remind an attentive reader of the necessity of forming some notion of the views and feelings of the persons to whom it was originally addressed. To this point St. Chrysostom has paid much attention, and has consequently obtained a far clearer view of the doctrinal bearing of the Epistle than most other commentators. His early rhetorical education would probably have given him even too strong a bias toward that kind of exposition, but for his subsequent course of severe discipline and ascetic devotion. As it is, the rhetorical element in his commentary is of very great value. His ready apprehension of the effect intended to be produced by the style and wording of a sentence, is often the means of clearing up what might otherwise seem obscure or even inconsistent. An example of this occurs in the beginning of the seventh chapter, which he expounds in the 12th Homily. The illustration of our release from the Law of Moses by partaking in the Death of Christ, by the dissolution of marriage at death, is so stated in the Epistle as to contain an apparent inconsistency, as though the death of the Law, and the death of the person, were confounded. And the various readings only shift the difficulty, without removing it. This, however, he has very ably shewn to be, in fact, an argument a fortiori. Other cases will strike other persons as they happen to have sound difficulty in the Text.
A far higher qualification for interpreting St. Paul, in whom, as much as in any of the sacred writers, the Man appears as well as the guiding Spirit, was that peculiar affection with which he regarded him, and which he expresses particularly in the beginning of the Introduction, and at the close of the last Homily. The effect of this is perhaps best traced in the commentary on Rom. ix. 3. Hom. xvi.
The elaborate composition of these Homilies, and the close attention which it must have required, has been thought an indication that they must have been delivered before the Author was engaged in the cares of the Bishopric of Constantinople. But Tillemont has detected even surer indications, which place the point clearly beyond all question. In his exhortation to Charity, Hom. viii. p. 130. he speaks of himself and his hearers as under one Bishop. It has been objected that he speaks of himself as Pastor, in Hom. xxix. p. 472. but he does the same in other Homilies, certainly delivered by him when he was only a preacher at Antioch, and the terms are less definite than in the other case. v. ad P. Ant. Hom. xx. Besides, he seems to address persons who have ready access to the place in which St. Paul taught and was bound, which cannot be shewn to tally with Constantinople, but evidently agrees with Antioch. The binding of St. Paul there mentioned is not, however, on record, and it is just possible he may mean in that expression to refer to another place.
Some account of the life of the Author has been given in the Preface to the Homilies on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, already translated. It may be worth while, however, to notice particularly, in connection with this work, the manner in which St. Chrysostom was quoted in the Pelagian controversy, as some of the passages are taken from it.
St. Augustine, adv. Julianum, l. 1. c. vi. discusses a passage in a Homily to the newly Baptized, which was alleged against the doctrine of Original Sin. He had spoken of infants as not having sins, meaning of course actual sins, as