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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chapter III.—The Philanthropy of the Instructor.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter III.—The Philanthropy of the Instructor.

The Lord ministers all good and all help, both as man and as God: as God, forgiving our sins; and as man, training us not to sin. Man is therefore justly dear to God, since he is His workmanship. The other works of creation He made by the word of command alone, but man He framed by Himself, by His own hand, and breathed into him what was peculiar to Himself. What, then, was fashioned by Him, and after He likeness, either was created by God Himself as p. 211 being desirable on its own account, or was formed as being desirable on account of something else. If, then, man is an object desirable for itself, then He who is good loved what is good, and the love-charm is within even in man, and is that very thing which is called the inspiration [or breath] of God; but if man was a desirable object on account of something else, God had no other reason for creating him, than that unless he came into being, it was not possible for God to be a good Creator, or for man to arrive at the knowledge of God. For God would not have accomplished that on account of which man was created otherwise than by the creation of man; and what hidden power in willing God possessed, He carried fully out by the forth-putting of His might externally in the act of creating, receiving from man what He made man; 1043 and whom He had He saw, and what He wished that came to pass; and there is nothing which God cannot do. Man, then, whom God made, is desirable for himself, and that which is desirable on his account is allied to him to whom it is desirable on his account; and this, too, is acceptable and liked.

But what is loveable, and is not also loved by Him? And man has been proved to be loveable; consequently man is loved by God. For how shall he not be loved for whose sake the only-begotten Son is sent from the Father’s bosom, the Word of faith, the faith which is superabundant; the Lord Himself distinctly confessing and saying, “For the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me;” 1044 and again, “And hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me?” 1045 What, then, the Master desires and declares, and how He is disposed in deed and word, how He commands what is to be done, and forbids the opposite, has already been shown.

Plainly, then, the other kind of discourse, the didactic, is powerful and spiritual, observing precision, occupied in the contemplation of mysteries. But let it stand over for the present. Now, it is incumbent on us to return His love, who lovingly guides us to that life which is best; and to live in accordance with the injunctions of His will, not only fulfilling what is commanded, or guarding against what is forbidden, but turning away from some examples, and imitating others as much as we can, and thus to perform the works of the Master according to His similitude, and so fulfil what Scripture says as to our being made in His image and likeness. For, wandering in life as in deep darkness, we need a guide that cannot stumble or stray; and our guide is the best, not blind, as the Scripture says, “leading the blind into pits.” 1046 But the Word is keen-sighted, and scans the recesses of the heart. As, then, that is not light which enlightens not, nor motion that moves not, nor loving which loves not, so neither is that good which profits not, nor guides to salvation. Let us then aim at the fulfilment of the commandments by the works of the Lord; for the Word Himself also, having openly become flesh, 1047 exhibited the same virtue, both practical and contemplative. Wherefore let us regard the Word as law, and His commands and counsels as the short and straight paths to immortality; for His precepts are full of persuasion, not of fear.


Footnotes

211:1043

Bishop Kaye (Some Account of the Writings and Opinions of Clement of Alexandria, p. 48) translates, “receiving from man that which made man (that on account of which man was made).” But it seems more likely that Clement refers to the ideal man in the divine mind, whom he indentifies elsewhere with the Logos, the ἄνθρωπος ἀπαθής, of whom man was the image. The reader will notice that Clement speaks of man as existing in the divine mind before his creation, and creation is represented by God’s seeing what He had previously within Him merely as a hidden power.

211:1044

John xvi. 27.

211:1045

John xvii. 23.

211:1046

Matt. xv. 14.

211:1047

John i. 14.


Next: Chapter IV.—Men and Women Alike Under the Instructor’s Charge.

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