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CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chapter XVI.—Passages of Scripture Respecting the Constancy, Patience, and Love of the Martyrs.
Chapter XVI.—Passages of Scripture Respecting the Constancy, Patience, and Love of the Martyrs.
“With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Wherefore the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed; that is, the word of faith which we preach: for if thou confess the word with thy mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” 2818 There is clearly described the perfect righteousness, fulfilled both in practice and contemplation. Wherefore we are “to bless those who persecute us. Bless, and curse not.” 2819 “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of a good conscience, that in holiness and sincerity we know God” by this inconsiderable instance exhibiting the work of love, that “not in fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world.” 2820 So far the apostle respecting knowledge; and in the second Epistle to the Corinthians he calls the common “teaching of faith” the savour of knowledge. “For unto this day the same veil remains on many in the reading of the Old Testament,” 2821 not being uncovered by turning to the Lord. Wherefore also to those capable of perceiving he showed resurrection, that of the life still in the flesh, creeping on its belly. Whence also he applied the name “brood of vipers” to the voluptuous, who serve the belly and the pudenda, and cut off one anothers heads for the sake of worldly pleasures. “Little children, let us not love in word, or in tongue,” says John, teaching them to be perfect, “but in deed and in truth; hereby shall we know that we are of the truth.” 2822 And if “God be love,” piety also is love: “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.” 2823 “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” 2824 And again, to him who desires to become a Gnostic, it is written, “But be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in love, in faith, in purity.” 2825 For perfection in faith differs, I think, from ordinary faith. And the divine apostle furnishes the rule for the Gnostic in these words, writing as follows: “For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to lack. I can do all things through Him who strengtheneth me.” 2826 And also when discussing with others in order to put them, to shame, he does not shrink from saying, “But call to mind the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of p. 428 afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazing-stock, both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took with joy the spoiling of your goods, knowing that you have a better and enduring substance. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after doing the will of God, ye may obtain the promise. For yet a little while, and He that cometh will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: and if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” 2827 He then brings forward a swarm of divine examples. For was it not “by faith,” he says, this endurance, that they acted nobly who “had trial of mockeries and scourgings, and, moreover, of bonds and imprisonments? They were stoned, they were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts, in mountains, in dens, and caves of the earth. And all having received a good report, through faith, received not the promise of God” (what is expressed by a parasiopesis is left to be understood, viz., “alone”). He adds accordingly, “God having provided some better thing for us (for He was good), that they should not without us be made perfect. Wherefore also, having encompassing us such a cloud,” holy and transparent, “of witnesses, laying aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” 2828 Since, then, he specifies one salvation in Christ of the righteous, 2829 and of us he has expressed the former unambiguously, and saying nothing less respecting Moses, adds, “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect to the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” 2830 The divine Wisdom says of the martyrs, “They seemed in the eyes of the foolish to die, and their departure was reckoned a calamity, and their migration from us an affliction. But they are in peace. For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope was full of immortality.” 2831 He then adds, teaching martyrdom to be a glorious purification, “And being chastened a little, they shall be benefited much; because God proved them,” that is, suffered them to be tried, to put them to the proof, and to put to shame the author of their trial, “and found them worthy of Himself,” plainly to be called sons. “As gold in the furnace He proved them, and as a whole burned-offering of sacrifice He accepted them. And in the time of their visitation they will shine forth, even as sparks run along the stubble. They shall judge the nations, and rule over the peoples, and the Lord shall reign over them forever.” 2832
Rom. 10:10, 11, 8, 9.427:2819
Rom. xii. 14.427:2820
2 Cor. i. 12.427:2821
2 Cor. iii. 14.427:2822
1 John 3:18, 19.427:2823
1 John 4:16, 18.427:2824
1 John v. 3.427:2825
1 Tim. iv. 12.427:2826
Phil. iv. 11-13.428:2827
Heb. x. 32-39.428:2828
Heb. xi. 36-40, xii. 1, 2.428:2829
Who lived before Christ. [Moses was a Christian.]428:2830
Heb. 11:26, 27. [Moses suffered “the reproach of Christ.”]428:2831
Wis. 3:2, 3, 4.428:2832
Wis. 3:5, 6, 7, 8.
Next: Chapter XVII.—Passages from Clements Epistle to the Corinthians on Martyrdom.
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