Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chapter XIII.—Valentinians Vagaries About the Abolition of Death Refuted.
Chapter XIII.—Valentinians Vagaries About the Abolition of Death Refuted.
Valentinian, in a homily, writes in these words: “Ye are originally immortal, and children of eternal life, and ye would have death distributed to you, that ye may spend and lavish it, and that death may die in you and by you; for when we dissolve the world, and are not yourselves dissolved, ye have dominion over creation and all corruption.” For he also, similarly with Basilides, supposes a class saved by nature, and that this different race has come hither to us from above for the abolition of death, and that the origin of death is the work of the Creator of the world. Wherefore also he so expounds that Scripture, “No man shall see the face of God, and live,” as if He were the cause of death. Respecting this God, he makes those allusions when writing in these expressions: “As much as the image is inferior to the living face, so much is the world inferior to the living Æon. What is, then, the cause of the image? The majesty of the face, which exhibits the figure to the painter, to be honoured by his name; for the form is not found exactly to the life, but the name supplies what is wanting in the effigy. The invisibility of God co-operates also in order to the faith of that which has been fashioned.” For the Creator, called God and Father, he designated as “Painter,” and “Wisdom,” whose image that which is formed is, to the glory of the invisible One; since the things which proceed from a pair are complements, and those which proceed from one are images. But since what is seen is no part of Him, the soul comes from what is intermediate, which is different; and this is the inspiration of the different spirit, and generally what is breathed into the soul, which is the image of the spirit. And in general, what is said of the Creator, who was made according to the image, they say was foretold by a sensible image in the book of Genesis respecting the origin of man; and the likeness they transfer to themselves, teaching that the addition of the different spirit was made; unknown to the Creator. When, then, we treat of the unity of the God who is proclaimed in the law, the prophets, and the Gospel, we shall also discuss this; for the topic is supreme. 2802 But we must advance to that which is urgent. If for the purpose of doing away with death the peculiar race has come, it is not Christ who has abolished death, unless He also is said to be of the same essence with them. And if He abolished it to this end, that it might not touch the peculiar race, it is not these, the rivals of the Creator, who breathe into the image of their intermediate spirit the life from above—in accordance with the principle of their dogma—that abolish death. But should they say that this takes place by His mother, 2803 or should they say that they, along with Christ, war against death, let them own their secret dogma that they have the hardihood to assail the divine power of the Creator, by setting to rights His creation, as if they were superior, endeavouring to save the vital image which He was not able to rescue from corruption. Then the Lord would be superior to God the Creator; for the son would never contend with the father, especially among the gods. But the point that the Creator of all things, the omnipotent Lord, is the Father of the Son, we have deferred till the discussion of these points, in which we have undertaken p. 426 to dispute against the heresies, showing that He alone is the God proclaimed by Him.
But the apostle, writing to us with reference to the endurance of afflictions, says, “And this is of God, that it is given to you on behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. If there is therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any communion of spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye may be of the same mind, having the same love, unanimous, thinking one thing. And if he is offered on the sacrifice and service of faith, joying and rejoicing” 2804 with the Philippians, to whom the apostle speaks, calling them “fellow-partakers of joy,” 2805 how does he say that they are of one soul, and having a soul? Likewise, also, writing respecting Timothy and himself, he says, “For I have no one like-souled, who will nobly care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christs.” 2806
Let not the above-mentioned people, then, call us, by way of reproach, “natural men” (ψυκικοί), nor the Phrygians 2807 either; for these now call those who do not apply themselves to the new prophecy “natural men” (ψυκικοί), with whom we shall discuss in our remarks on “Prophecy.” 2808 The perfect man ought therefore to practice love, and thence to haste to the divine friendship, fulfilling the commandments from love. And loving ones enemies does not mean loving wickedness, or impiety, or adultery, or theft; but the thief, the impious, the adulterer, not as far as he sins, and in respect of the actions by which he stains the name of man, but as he is a man, and the work of God. Assuredly sin is an activity, not an existence: and therefore it is not a work of God. Now sinners are called enemies of God—enemies, that is, of the commands which they do not obey, as those who obey become friends, the one named so from their fellowship, the others from their estrangement, which is the result of free choice; for there is neither enmity nor sin without the enemy and the sinner. And the command “to covet nothing,” not as if the things to be desired did not belong to us, does not teach us not to entertain desire, as those suppose who teach that the Creator is different from the first God, not as if creation was loathsome and bad (for such opinions are impious). But we say that the things of the world are not our own, not as if they were monstrous, not as if they did not belong to God, the Lord of the universe, but because we do not continue among them for ever; being, in respect of possession, not ours, and passing from one to another in succession; but belonging to us, for whom they were made in respect of use, so long as it is necessary to continue with them. In accordance, therefore, with natural appetite, things disallowed are to be used rightly, avoiding all excess and inordinate affection.
[Kaye, p. 322.]425:2803
[See the Valentinian jargon about the Demiurge (rival of the true Creator), in Irenæus, vol. i. p. 322, this series.]426:2804
Phil. 1:29, 30; ii. 1, 2, 17.426:2805
Phil. i. 7.426:2806
Phil. 2:20, 21.426:2807
[Kaye, p. 405.]426:2808
[The valuable note of Routh, on a fragment of Melito, should be consulted. Reliquiæ, vol i. p. 140.]
Next: Chapter XIV.—The Love of All, Even of Our Enemies.
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