Cassianus, Johannes

Cassianus, Johannes (Also Called Joannes Massiliensis, Joannes Eremita), according to Gennadius (De Vir. Illust. 100:61), a Scythian; but the more likely view makes him a native of Marseilles. He was brought up at the celebrated monastery of Bethlehem (q.v.), under Germanus, with whom, about A.D. 390, he went to visit the hermits of Egypt, among whom he lived several years. In 403 he went to Constantinople, where he listened to Chrysostom, who ordained him deacon. About 415 he founded a monastery at Marseilles for monks and another for nuns; the first is the celebrated abbey of St. Victor. He may thus be considered as the founder of monachism in the West; and his treatise De Institutis Coenobiorum, libri 12, afforded a code by which the monasteries were long after ruled (transl. into French by Saligny, Paris, 1667, 8vo). Cassianus, according to different writers, died (aged 97) in 440, or 448, or 435. The Chronicle of Prosper represents him as alive in 433. Some churches honor him as a saint on the 23d of July, though he was never canonized. He was a strong opponent of Augustine's doctrine of predestination, but at the same time, by recognising the universal corruption of human nature, he opposed Pelagius just as strongly. (See his Collationes Patrum.) He admitted the necessity of preventing and assisting grace, but held that, in most men, faith and good will, and the desire of conversion, wrought by natural strength alone, precede such grace, and prepare the mind to receive it; and that such first efforts of the natural man cannot indeed deserve the gift of grace, but assist to the obtaining of it. "His attention was turned to experience; he observed religious natures; a system of mere logical speculation had no charms for him. His doctrines, which are scattered through his writings, were designed to represent in its simplicity the faith of the Galilean fishermen, which had been garbled by Ciceronian eloquence. Free will and grace agreed, and hence there was an opposing onesidedness which maintained either grace alone, or free will alone. Augustine and Pelagius were each wrong in their own way. The idea of the divine justice in the determination of man's lot after the first transgression did not preponderate in Cassian's writings as in Augustine's, but the idea of a disciplinary divine love, by the leadings of which men are to be led to repentance. He appeals also to the mysteriousness of God's ways, but not as concerns predestination, but the variety of the leadings by which God leads different individuals to salvation. Nor is one law applicable to all; in some cases grace anticipates (gratia preseniens), in others a conflict precedes, and then divine help comes to them as grace. In no instance can divine grace operate independently of the free self-determination of man. As the husbandman must do his part, but all this avails nothing without the divine blessing, so man must do his part, yet this profits nothing without divine grace" (Neander, Hist. Dogmas, 2:377). Among his writings are Collationes Patrum, 24, in which Cassian introduces Germanus and other monks as interlocutors, with himself, in dialogues on various monastic and moral duties. In the 11th Conference, Cassian, under the person of Chaeremon, sets forth what has been called his semi-Pelagianism, viz. his views of predestination and grace. The 17th Conference defends occasional falsehood, as being not contrary to Scripture: "A lie is to be so esteemed and so used as if it possessed the nature of hellebore, which, if taken in an extreme case of disease, may be healthful, but if taken rashly, is the cause of instant death; people the most holy and most approved of God have used falsehood without blame," etc. The 20th shows several ways of obtaining remission of sins besides through the death and intercession of Christ. He wrote also a treatise, De Incarnatione Christi, lib. 7, in confutation of Nestorius, about A.D. 430, at the request of Leo, afterwards bishop of Rome. Cassian maintains the propriety of the term "Mother of God." The Collationes were translated into French by Saligny (Paris, 1663, 8vo). His works were published at Basle in 1575; at Antwerp in 1578; at Rome (cura Petri Giacconii), 1580 and 1611, 8vo; at Douai (1616, two vols. 8vo), by Alardus Gazeus; reprinted at Leipsic 1722, fol. (the best edition). They are also in the Biblioth. Patrum, vol. 7. — Neander, Church Hist. 2:627-630; Hoefer, Nouv. Biographie Generale, 9:35; Dupin, Eccl. Writers, 5th century; Meier, Jean Cassian (Strasb. 1840); Wiggers, de Johanne Cassiano, etc. (Rostock, 1824, 1825); Wiggers, Augustinismus et Pelagianismus, 2:19, 47, etc.; also his article Cassianus, in Ersch u. Gruber's Eincyklopädie; Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, § 114; Lardner, Works 5:27; Clarke, Sacred Literature, 2:188.

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