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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chapter XV.—On Avoiding Offence.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XV.—On Avoiding Offence.

“We know that we all have knowledge”—common knowledge in common things, and the knowledge that there is one God. For he was writing to believers; whence he adds, “But knowledge (gnosis) is not in all,” being communicated to few. And there are those who say that the knowledge about things sacrificed to idols is not promulgated among all, “lest our liberty prove a stumbling-block to the weak. For by p. 427 thy knowledge he that is weak is destroyed.” 2812 Should they say, “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, ought that to be bought?” adding, by way of interrogation, “asking no questions,” 2813 as if equivalent to “asking questions,” they give a ridiculous interpretation. For the apostle says, “All other things buy out of the shambles, asking no questions,” with the exception of the things mentioned in the Catholic epistle of all the apostles, 2814 “with the consent of the Holy Ghost,” which is written in the Acts of the Apostles, and conveyed to the faithful by the hands of Paul himself. For they intimated “that they must of necessity abstain from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication, from which keeping themselves, they should do well.” It is a different matter, then, which is expressed by the apostle: “Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as the rest of the apostles, as the brethren of the Lord and Cephas? But we have not used this power,” he says, “but bear all things, lest we should occasion hindrance to the Gospel of Christ;” namely, by bearing about burdens, when it was necessary to be untrammelled for all things; or to become an example to those who wish to exercise temperance, not encouraging each other to eat greedily of what is set before us, and not to consort inconsiderately with woman. And especially is it incumbent on those entrusted with such a dispensation to exhibit to disciples a pure example. “For though I be free from all men, I have made myself servant to all,” it is said, “that I might gain all. And every one that striveth for mastery is temperate in all things.” 2815 “But the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.” 2816 For conscience’ sake, then, we are to abstain from what we ought to abstain. “Conscience, I say, not his own,” for it is endued with knowledge, “but that of the other,” lest he be trained badly, and by imitating in ignorance what he knows not, he become a despiser instead of a strong-minded man. “For why is my liberty judged of by another conscience? For if I by grace am a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God” 2817 —what you are commanded to do by the rule of faith.


Footnotes

427:2812

1 Cor. 8:1, 7, 9, 11.

427:2813

1 Cor. x. 25.

427:2814

Acts xv. 24, etc.

427:2815

1 Cor. ix. 19-25.

427:2816

1 Cor. x. 26.

427:2817

1 Cor. x. 28-31.


Next: Chapter XVI.—Passages of Scripture Respecting the Constancy, Patience, and Love of the Martyrs.

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