Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chapter XI.—The Knowledge Which Comes Through Faith the Surest of All.
Chapter XI.—The Knowledge Which Comes Through Faith the Surest of All.
But the knowledge of those who think themselves wise, whether the barbarian sects or the philosophers among the Greeks, according to the apostle, “puffeth up.” 2260 But that knowledge, which is the scientific demonstration of what is delivered according to the true philosophy, is founded on faith. Now, we may say that it is that process of reason which, from what is admitted, procures faith in what is disputed. Now, faith being twofold—the faith of knowledge and that of opinion—nothing prevents us from calling demonstration twofold, the one resting on knowledge, the other on opinion; since also knowledge and foreknowledge are designated as twofold, that which is essentially accurate, that which is defective. And is not the demonstration, which we possess, that alone which is true, as being supplied out of the divine Scriptures, the sacred writings, and out of the “God-taught wisdom,” according to the apostle? Learning, then, is also obedience to the commandments, which is faith in God. And faith is a power of God, being the strength of the truth. For example, it is said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard, ye shall remove the mountain.” 2261 And again, “According to thy faith let it be to thee.” 2262 And one is cured, receiving healing by faith; and the dead is raised up in consequence of the power of one believing that he would be raised. The demonstration, however, which rests on opinion is human, and is the result of rhetorical arguments or dialectic syllogisms. For the highest demonstration, to which we have alluded, produces intelligent faith by the adducing and opening up of the Scriptures p. 359 to the souls of those who desire to learn; the result of which is knowledge (gnosis). For if what is adduced in order to prove the point at issue is assumed to be true, as being divine and prophetic, manifestly the conclusion arrived at by inference from it will consequently be inferred truly; and the legitimate result of the demonstration will be knowledge. When, then, the memorial of the celestial and divine food was commanded to be consecrated in the golden pot, it was said, “The omer was the tenth of the three measures.” 2263 For in ourselves, by the three measures are indicated three criteria; sensation of objects of sense, speech,—of spoken names and words, and the mind,—of intellectual objects. The Gnostic, therefore, will abstain from errors in speech, and thought, and sensation, and action, having heard “that he that looks so as to lust hath committed adultery;” 2264 and reflecting that “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;” 2265 and knowing this, “that not what enters into the mouth defileth, but that it is what cometh forth by the mouth that defileth the man. For out of the heart proceed thoughts.” 2266 This, as I think, is the true and just measure according to God, by which things capable of measurement are measured, the decad which is comprehensive of man; which summarily the three above-mentioned measures pointed out. There are body and soul, the five senses, speech, the power of reproduction—the intellectual or the spiritual faculty, or whatever you choose to call it. And we must, in a word, ascending above all the others, stop at the mind; as also certainly in the universe overleaping the nine divisions, the first consisting of the four elements put in one place for equal interchange: and then the seven wandering stars and the one that wanders not, the ninth, to the perfect number, which is above the nine, 2267 and the tenth division, we must reach to the knowledge of God, to speak briefly, desiring the Maker after the creation. Wherefore the tithes both of the ephah and of the sacrifices were presented to God; and the paschal feast began with the tenth day, being the transition from all trouble, and from all objects of sense.
The Gnostic is therefore fixed by faith; but the man who thinks himself wise touches not what pertains to the truth, moved as he is by unstable and wavering impulses. It is therefore reasonably written, “Cain went forth from the face of God, and dwelt in the land of Naid, over against Eden.” Now Naid is interpreted commotion, and Eden delight; and Faith, and Knowledge, and Peace are delight, from which he that has disobeyed is cast out. But he that is wise in his own eyes will not so much as listen to the beginning of the divine commandments; but, as if his own teacher, throwing off the reins, plunges voluntarily into a billowy commotion, sinking down to mortal and created things from the uncreated knowledge, holding various opinions at various times. “Those who have no guidance fall like leaves.” 2268
Reason, the governing principle, remaining unmoved and guiding the soul, is called its pilot. For access to the Immutable is obtained by a truly immutable means. Thus Abraham was stationed before the Lord, and approaching spoke. 2269 And to Moses it is said, “But do thou stand there with Me.” 2270 And the followers of Simon wish be assimilated in manners to the standing form which they adore. Faith, therefore, and the knowledge of the truth, render the soul, which makes them its choice, always uniform and equable. For congenial to the man of falsehood is shifting, and change, and turning away, as to the Gnostic are calmness, and rest, and peace. As, then, philosophy has been brought into evil repute by pride and self-conceit, so also gnosis by false gnosis called by the same name; of which the apostle writing says, “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding the profane and vain babblings and oppositions of science (gnosis) falsely so called; which some professing, have erred concerning the faith.” 2271
Convicted by this utterance, the heretics reject the Epistles to Timothy. 2272 Well, then, if the Lord is the truth, and wisdom, and power of God, as in truth He is, it is shown that the real Gnostic is he that knows Him, and His Father by Him. For his sentiments are the same with him who said, “The lips of the righteous know high things.” 2273
1 Cor. viii. 1.358:2261
Matt. xvii. 20.358:2262
Matt. ix. 29.359:2263
Ex. xvi. 36, Septuagint; “the tenth part of an ephah,” A.V.359:2264
Matt. v. 28.359:2265
Matt. 15:11, 19.359:2266
Matt. v. 8.359:2267
The text here reads θεῶν, arising in all probability from the transcriber mistaking the numeral θ for the above.359:2268
Prov. xi. 14, Septuagint; “Where no counsel is, the people fall,” A.V.359:2269
Gen. 18:22, 23.359:2270
Ex. xxxiv. 2.359:2271
1 Tim. 6:20, 21.359:2272
[See Elucidation III. at the end of this second book.]359:2273
Prov. x. 21, Septuagint; “feed many,” A.V.
Next: Chapter XII.—Twofold Faith.
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