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LIFE OF THEODORET,
ACCOUNT OF HIS WRITINGS.
THEODORET, the author of the following history, was born at Antioch, about the year 387. His parents had long been childless; and it is related that much prayer was offered, and especially by Macedonius, a hermit, that a son might be born unto them. Hence, when at length, in answer to prayer, this child was granted to them, the name Oɛodwρηrоs was conferred upon him, signifying, given by God.
Little is known respecting the childhood and early youth of Theodoret, except that his mother, who seems herself to have been a remarkable character, dedicated him to God from his very cradle. According to some accounts he was placed in a monastery at the age of seven, where he studied theology and the sciences under Theodorus of Mopsuestia and St. John Chrysostom. Certain it is, that much of his life, was devoted to study; for it is evident from his works that he was a very learned man, conversant with classical and theological literature, and acquainted with several languages besides his own, which was the Syriac. He entered upon the work of the ministry at a very tender age; for he was but a child when he was appointed to be one of the Lectores, or public readers of Scripture. His parents, who were persons of rank and affluence, died when he had scarcely attained to manhood, leaving him in possession of a splendid inheritance. He, however, despised the gifts of fortune, and chose a life of voluntary poverty. He renounced his land and his honours, and distributed all that he possessed among the poor, reserving nothing for himself but his clothes, which were of very inferior quality. The next years of his life were spent in retirement in a monastery about thirty leagues [THEODORET.]
from Antioch. In A. D. 423 he was compelled, almost by force, to relinquish his solitude, and to enter upon the duties of the episcopal office. He was ordained by the bishop of Antioch, and sent to govern the church of Cyrus, in Syria Euphratensis, with its eight hundred villages. This new field of labour offered many discouragements, yet the selfdenying and zealous spirit of Theodoret soon changed the whole aspect of affairs. Although, on his first appointment, the diocese was full of Arians, Macedonians, Eunomians, and other heretics, yet in the year 449 not one heretic could be found throughout the whole region. Nor were his labours confined to his own diocese; for Pagans and Jews from distant countries constantly resorted to him, and he publicly confuted all the arguments and objections which they could advance against Christianity. He attributed his success to prayer, and particularly to the persevering supplications of James, a hermit.
Theodoret was also active in promoting the temporal welfare of his flock. He greatly beautified the city of Cyrus, which was but a small and almost deserted town when he first fixed his residence in it. He built an aqueduct and a canal to supply the former deficiency of water. He likewise repaired the baths, and erected public galleries and two bridges in this city. His whole public life seems to have been one of ceaseless exertion; and in one of his works he describes himself as engaged "in the hurry of a thousand occupations, both in the city and in the country, both military and civil, both ecclesiastical and secular."
The rage of controversy, so characteristic of medieval history, interrupted the useful and dignified tenor of his existence. About A. D. 430, he became involved in a dispute concerning the heresy of Nestorius, whose cause he espoused. The distinguishing tenet of Nestorius was his refusal to give to the Virgin Mary the title of ОEOTÓKOS, or Mother of God. That Theodoret should have sided with this heresiarch can only be accounted for upon the supposition that he did not perceive, that, unlike most of the disputes of the period, this heresy was not a mere quibble about words, but involved a doctrine of no less importance than the Divinity of the Son of God. Theodoret uniformly and strenuously adhered to this doctrine, although he rejected this particular term, ɛOTÓKоc.