One Gainas, a Scythian, but still more barbarous in character, and of cruel and violent disposition, was at that time a military commander. He had under him many of his own fellow-countrymen, and with them commanded the Roman cavalry and infantry. He was an object of terror not only to all the rest but even to the emperor himself, who suspected him of aiming at usurpation.
He was a participator in the Arian pest, and requested the emperor to grant him the use of one of the churches. Arcadius replied that he would see to it and have it done. He then sent for the divine John, told him p. 153 of the request that had been made, reminded him of the power of Gainas, hinted at the usurpation which was being aimed at, and besought him to bridle the anger of the barbarian by this concession. 921 “But,” said that noble man, “attempt, sir, no such promise, nor order what is holy to be given to the dogs. 922 I will never suffer the worshippers and praisers of the Divine Word to be expelled and their church to be given to them that blaspheme Him. Have no fear, sir, of that barbarian; call us both, me and him, before you; listen in silence to what is said, and I will both curb his tongue and persuade him not to ask what it is wrong to grant.”
The emperor was delighted with what Chrysostom said, and on the next day summoned both the bishop and the general before him. Gainas began to request the fulfilment of the promise, but the great John said in reply that the emperor, who professed the true religion, had no right to venture on any act against it. Gainas rejoined that he also must have a place to pray in. “Why,” said the great John, “every church is open to you, and nobody prevents you from praying there when you are so disposed.” “But I,” said Gainas, “belong to another sect, and I ask to have one church with them, and surely I who undergo so many toils in war for Romans may fairly make such a request.” “But,” said the bishop, “you have greater rewards for your labours, you are a general; you are vested in the consular robe, and you must consider what you were formerly and what you are now—your indigence in the past and your present prosperity; what kind of raiment you wore before you crossed the Ister, and what you are robed in now. Consider, I say, the littleness of your labours and the greatness of your rewards, and be not unthankful to them who have shewn you honour.” With these words the teacher of the world silenced Gainas, and compelled him to stand dumb. In process of time, however, he made known the rebellion which he had long had at heart, gathered his forces in Thrace, and went out ravaging and plundering in very many directions. At news of this there arose an universal panic among both princes and subjects, and no one was found willing to march against him; no one thought it safe to approach him with an ambassage, for every one suspected his barbarous character.