Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chapter VII.—The Eclectic Philosophy Paves the Way for Divine Virtue.
Chapter VII.—The Eclectic Philosophy Paves the Way for Divine Virtue.
The Greek preparatory culture, therefore, with philosophy itself, is shown to have come down from God to men, not with a definite direction but in the way in which showers fall down on the good land, and on the dunghill, and on the houses. And similarly both the grass and the wheat sprout; and the figs and any other reckless trees grow on sepulchres. And things that grow, appear as a type of truths. For they enjoy the same influence of the rain. But they have not the same grace as those which spring up in rich soil, inasmuch as they are withered or plucked up. And here we are aided by the parable of the sower, which the Lord interpreted. For the husbandman of the soil which is among men is one; He who from the beginning, from the foundation of the world, sowed nutritious seeds; He who in each age rained down the Lord, the Word. But the times and places which received [such gifts], created the differences which exist. Further, the husbandman sows not only wheat (of which there are many varieties), but also other seeds—barley, and beans, and peas, and vetches, and vegetable and flower seeds. And to the same husbandry belongs both planting and the operations necessary in the nurseries, and gardens, and orchards, and the planning and rearing of all sorts of trees.
In like manner, not only the care of sheep, but the care of herds, and breeding of horses, and dogs, and bee-craft, all arts, and to speak comprehensively, the care of flocks and the rearing of animals, differ from each other more or less, but are all useful for life. And philosophy—I do not mean the Stoic, or the Platonic, or the Epicurean, or the Aristotelian, but whatever has been well said by each of those sects, which teach righteousness along with a science pervaded by piety,—this eclectic whole I call philosophy. 1876 But such conclusions of human reasonings, as men have cut away and falsified, I would never call divine.
And now we must look also at this, that if ever those who know not how to do well, live well; 1877 for they have lighted on well-doing. Some, too, have aimed well at the word of truth through understanding. “But Abraham was not justified by works, but by faith.” 1878 It is therefore of no advantage to them after the end of life, even if they do good works now, if they have not faith. Wherefore also the Scriptures 1879 were translated into the language of the Greeks, in order that they might never be able to allege the excuse of ignorance, inasmuch as they are able to hear also what we have in our hands, if they only wish. One speaks in one way of the truth, in another way the truth interprets itself. The guessing at truth is one thing, and truth itself is another. Resemblance is one thing, the thing itself is another. And the one results from learning and practice, the other from power and faith. For the teaching of piety is a gift, but faith is grace. “For by doing the will of God we know the will of God.” 1880 “Open, then,” says the Scripture, “the gates of righteousness; and I will enter in, and confess to the Lord.” 1881 But the paths to righteousness (since God saves in many ways, for He is good) are many and various, and lead to the Lords way and gate. And if you ask the royal and true entrance, you will hear, “This is the gate of the Lord, the righteous shall enter in by it.” 1882 While there are many gates open, that in righteousness is in Christ, by which all the blessed enter, and direct their steps in the sanctity of knowledge. Now Clemens, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, while expounding the differences of those who are approved according to the Church, says expressly, “One may be a believer; one may be powerful in uttering knowledge; one may be wise in discriminating between words; one may be terrible in deeds.” 1883
[Most important as defining Clements system, and his use of this word, “philosophy.”]308:1877
Something seems wanting to complete the sense.308:1878
[Stillingfleet, Origines Sacræ, vol. i. p.55. Important reference.]308:1880
John vii. 17.308:1881
Ps. cxviii. 19.308:1882
Ps. cxviii. 20.308:1883
[See vol. i. p. 18, First Epistle of Clement, chap. xlviii. S.]
Next: Chapter VIII.—The Sophistical Arts Useless.
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