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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chapter I.—Plan.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter I.—Plan. 3193

The sixth and also the seventh Miscellany of gnostic notes, in accordance with the true philosophy, having delineated as well as possible the ethical argument conveyed in them, and having exhibited what the Gnostic is in his life, proceed to show the philosophers that he is by no means impious, as they suppose, but that he alone is truly pious, by a compendious exhibition of the Gnostic’s form of religion, as far as it is possible, without danger, to commit it to writing in a book of reference. For the Lord enjoined “to labour for the meat which endureth to eternity.” 3194 And the prophet says, “Blessed is he that soweth into all waters, whose ox and ass tread,” 3195 [that is,] the people, from the Law and from the Gentiles, gathered into one faith.

“Now the weak eateth herbs,” according to the noble apostle. 3196 The Instructor, divided by us into three books, has already exhibited the training and nurture up from the state of childhood, that is, the course of life which from elementary instruction grows by faith; and in the case of those enrolled in the number of men, prepares beforehand the soul, endued with virtue, for the reception of gnostic knowledge. The Greeks, then, clearly learning, from what shall be said by us in these pages, that in profanely persecuting the God-loving man, they themselves act impiously; then, as the notes advance, in accordance with the style of the Miscellanies, we must solve the difficulties raised both by Greeks and Barbarians with respect to the coming of the Lord.

In a meadow the flowers blooming variously, and in a park the plantations of fruit trees, are not separated according to their species from those of other kinds. If some, culling varieties, have composed learned collections, Meadows, and Helicons, and Honeycombs, and Robes; then, with the things which come to recollection by haphazard, and are expurgated neither in order nor expression, but purposely scattered, the form of the Miscellanies is promiscuously variegated like a meadow. And such being the case, my notes shall serve as kindling sparks; and in the case of him, who is fit for knowledge, if he chance to fall in with them, research made with exertion will turn out to his benefit and advantage. For it is right that labour should precede not only food but also, much more knowledge, in the case of those that are advancing to the eternal and blessed salvation by the “strait and narrow way,” which is truly the Lord’s.

Our knowledge, and our spiritual garden, is the Saviour Himself; into whom we are planted, being transferred and transplanted, from our old life, into the good land. And transplanting contributes to fruitfulness. The Lord, then, into whom we have been transplanted, is the Light and the true Knowledge.

Now knowledge is otherwise spoken of in a twofold sense: that, commonly so called, which appears in all men (similarly also comprehension and apprehension), universally, in the knowledge of individual objects; in which not only the rational powers, but equally the irrational, share, which I would never term knowledge, inasmuch as the apprehension of things through the senses comes naturally. But that which par excellence is termed knowledge, bears the impress of judgment and reason, in the exercise of which there will be rational cognitions alone, applying purely to objects of thought, and resulting from the bare energy of the soul. “He is a good man,” says David, 3197 “who pities” (those ruined through error), “and lends” (from the communication of the word of truth) not at haphazard, for “he will dispense his words in judgment:” with profound calculation, “he hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor.”

p. 481

Footnotes

480:3193

[On Clement’s plan, see Elucidation I. p. 342, supra.]

480:3194

John vi. 27.

480:3195

Isa. xxxii. 20.

480:3196

Rom. xiv. 2.

480:3197

Ps. 12:5, 9.


Next: Chapter II.—The Subject of Plagiarisms Resumed. The Greeks Plagiarized from One Another.

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